Release Blitz & Giveaway: Cassie Black Sand-M.S. Murray


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All I’ve ever wanted was a boring life. I’ve grown up with the things that go bump in the night, I’ve witnessed the unexplainable, and I’ve had my fill of excitement for a lifetime.
It sounds crazy but being an accountant or something mundane and regular was my dream… until it wasn’t.

Now I’m neck deep in everything I tried so hard not to be.

They took my sister Jess, I don’t know who ‘they’ are yet, but I’ll find out, and when I do, they’ll wish I’d stuck to my boring life plan.

There’s nothing I won’t do for Jess. I’d even seek the help of Gabriel, Vampire Lord of Florida.

Three words perfectly describe Gabriel:

Handsome
Deadly
Expressionless

He’s not the type of monster anyone would seek out for help, but he’s my only hope if I ever want to see my little sister again.

Excerpt

Driving up the long, narrow road leading to my parent’s mansion, I bob my head and tap my fingers while singing a little too enthusiastically to Sweet Home Alabama. Ok, maybe ‘a little too enthusiastic’ is an understatement. It’s more like I’m in the front row of a rock concert screeching like an out of tune banshee, complete with wild body spasms.

Spring has finally arrived! The birds are tweeting happily in the tall green trees lining the driveway, while the sun glares brightly through my car’s windshield. Thank God for my Ray Bans. The vibrant flowers covering my mother’s award winning garden somehow seem more vivid than the day before, more flamboyant as they bask in the bright rays of light shining upon them. My mother takes great pride in caring for the football field-sized garden. Personally, I think she’s crazy. She spends all year planting new seeds, watching them grow and bloom only to watch them slowly wither and die in the fall. Honestly, I think she may be a little sadistic. Got to love her though—you know with her being my mom and all.

I mean everyone’s got to have a little crazy in their lives. Hey, I can’t talk though. I buy bananas with every intention of eating them only to watch them wither slowly in the kitchen fruit bowl. Maybe sadism runs in the family? The thought makes me grin.

Today is a great day for me, I can feel it, and it’s not just because the sun is out. Today is the day I’m finally free from the hellhole people call college. I’m what my dad calls a late bloomer and graduating a little later than most.

Just after high school graduation and my eighteenth birthday I was in an accident that left me in a coma. I remember being at home, running from something or someone, then my memory’s become fuzzy. There was a huge white flash and then nothing. I woke up four years later with little to no memory of the incident. The only thing we know for sure is that whatever caused the bright light was magical in origin. At the time of the accident I was the only one at home.

My parents had been called out to an emergency council meeting. When they came home they found me, lying prone on the hall floor. There was nothing physically wrong with me, no visible injuries or internal damage that the doctors could find. I was just asleep. They told me they tried everything medical and magical to wake me but nothing worked, then one day I just woke up. It took me a year to recover fully.

For the first year I lived in a sort of haze. It was difficult wakening up and realizing that four years of my life had gone, poof, disappeared, while everyone my around me had continued on living their lives. There I was stuck in a dreamless limbo. When I felt ready I finally decided that college was where I was going. I was done with magic. I can’t lie and say that it wasn’t difficult being out in the world and doing something out of the norm for my family. Don’t get me wrong, it was great studying and learning something that I chose, instead of following in my family’s footsteps and joining the family business, like my parents wanted me to. But becoming a Hunter was not something I ever saw in my future—not to mention the huge reservations I had about the job itself. The high mortality rate of being a Hunter tops the long list I’ve compiled over the years.

The five years of my life wasted, was the final straw for me though. I decided the local college was the best choice so I could stay close to home. I could still live at home instead of having to move out and live in the dorms. Plus, I could stay close to my little sister, Jess. Jess, is more than likely going to pursue a career as a Hunter and continue to follow in the footsteps of a long line of Iron Hunters. She has a tremendously wild spirit and a heck of a lot of sass for someone so small. Nope, ordinary wouldn’t be enough for her. I wish she wouldn’t become a Hunter though. I wish I could wrap her up in cotton wool and keep her safe forever. I could never do that to her though, I couldn’t stifle her spirit. Honestly, I just want her to be happy, and if becoming a Hunter will make her happy then I won’t stand in her way. I’ll worry, but I’ll be happy knowing she’s doing something she’s passionate about.

Me, I think I’ll go with something boring, like accounting. Or maybe I’ll become an insurance broker? I’m good with numbers so I can go with either way. A nice mundane nine to five position where the scariest thing I have to worry about is which one of my co-worker’s keeps stealing my office supplies or worrying about wither the little un-labeled container in the breakroom fridge holds apple juice or someone’s lab sample.

Not only is today the day I graduate from college, but it’s also mine and Jess’ joint birthday. Yes, somehow my mother managed to give birth to two children twenty-two years apart and on the exact same date. Weird, but true.

I’ve spent most of the day moving all of my stuff from my room and out to my parent’s guesthouse. It will be my new home until I decide to take the next step in being an adult, and move off the family property and really live on my own. I’m hoping it won’t be too far off in the future. Plus, it’s not like my parents don’t have the room. Our house has twenty-seven rooms in the mansion alone, and the guesthouse I’m moving into has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small study and an entertainment room. So it’s not exactly shabby living. My great, great, great, grandfather struck it rich with diamonds or something along those lines. I never really paid attention to that particular history lesson. My bad, I know, but family history was never really my strong point. I’m not ignorant when it comes to my family’s wealth. It’s not like I go around shoving my money down anyone’s throat. I’m just not that type of person, but then again my family isn’t either. I also don’t bathe in hundreds of dollar bills despite popular belief of the rich.

Anyway, today I turn twenty-six and I’m finally moving out. Got my own pad, life is looking pretty great right now. Still, it feels like I’m missing something in my life. It’s like there’s an empty space, just waiting to be filled.

Jess, the sassy little sister I mentioned earlier, turns four today. She was a surprise baby for my parents. It all happened so fast that I can’t even recall my mom ever being pregnant. After delivering the cute little package that was me, my mother had some after birth complications—something to do with a tear in her womb. She never talks about it and I don’t like to pry into something that was obviously very painful for her to go through. Sadly, the doctors said she’d never conceive again. Despite the pain she must have felt, she’d joke and tell me it was a blessing she couldn’t have any more children considering the handful I turned out to be. Don’t get me wrong, I might not aspire to become a Hunter, but I do get into trouble a heck of a lot more than I should.

Anyway, lo and behold twenty-two years later Jess arrives and suddenly I have a sister. Despite our age difference we get along really well. Don’t get me wrong, she can be a pain in the ass at times, but mostly she’s sweet. If and when I have kids of my own, I’d want them to be like Jess.

Since the day she was brought home and we were introduced, we’ve shared a really close bond, and when I’m around her, the feeling that something is missing from my life just disappears. Jess and I, we’re more than sisters. It’s hard to describe how close we are.

When I talked to my parents about moving into the guesthouse I was tempted to have Jess move in with me, but I dismissed it immediately. Mom would have a coronary having her only two children move out on the same day. Instead I decided sleepovers on the weekends are my best options. It’s not like I’m a million miles away either. I’m literally out their back door. If Jess ever needs me I can get to her in two minutes tops. While I’m driving I make a mental list of what’s left for me to move.

This will be my last trip to the house and then that’s me, spreading my wings and all moved out. My mother even cried when I moved my first box. I’m literally a two-minute walk from the main house. I told her that and she started blubbering harder. I’m actually a little scared of how she’ll react when I tell her I’m moving off the property in a few years and plan to live closer to town.

The only reason I’m driving instead of walking is the amount of stuff I have to move over to the guesthouse. It made more sense. Plus, the road that leads to the guesthouse winds around the property from the front gate. There’s no direct road from the front of the house to the back. I have to make my way from the main house, drive as if I’m leaving the property, then at the gate turn right and navigate down the gravel driveway, around the edge of the garden and along the property wall. The road then leads straight to the front door of my little cottage.

My dad offered to pay someone to move my stuff for me, but I refused. I want to make my own way, not live off the back of my family fortune. My parents brought us up to be humble with our money. They taught Jess and I how to make our own way in the world and that’s exactly what I’m doing. The drive is basically a long way for a shortcut, but there was so much to move I decided my best option was the car.

I can’t wait to start this new chapter in my life. Excitement courses through me, causing my heart to beat rapidly within my chest, at the prospect of what’s to come and also the party we’re having later to celebrate our birthday’s. It’s just a small gathering of our family, but they’re the best. Uncle Rick usually retells a story about his younger days as a Hunter, and how he caught the eye of a certain young lady who we all refer to as Aunt Cece. They both get a little too touchy-feely at the end of the story and we will all sit and complain about it in good nature. With jibs like ‘get a room’ and ‘I’m blind, I’m blind too much PDA’, that one usually comes from me.

As I’m driving to the main house a sudden feeling of apprehension slithers up my spine causing the tiny hairs on my body to stand on end. There’s a tension now replacing my prior excitement. I watch through my car’s windshield as a black Lincoln sedan drives slowly towards me from the main house then passes by on the long driveway. I can’t see through the blacked out windows to identify who is inside, but for some reason I get an odd feeling in the pit of my stomach, like something isn’t right. Shaking it off I wriggle my shoulders and adjust my slightly sweaty grip on the steering wheel, trying to dispose of the odd sensation.

It’s more than likely a member of the Council of Hunters here to see my dad. Nothing to worry about. The council are a bunch of stuffy old men and women who spend all day, complaining about anything and everything they can, while not doing any real work at all. They’re a bunch of old farts if you ask me. My dad’s been working toward becoming a member of the council for a few years now. He wants to change a few of the laws that cover our secret society of Hunters. I’m proud of him. He’s actually trying to make changes to insure a better future. He really is a great man and one of the best Hunters out in the field. I think they’d be lucky to have him on their stuffy council.

As the sedan leaves through the main gate I watch in my rear view mirror unable to completely shake the bad feeling that’s settled like lead into the pit of my stomach. I badly want to shake it off, but I’ve been taught to rely on my instincts. Turning my attention back to the road, I drive around the fountain that sits directly in front of the house when the festering feeling in my stomach starts to intensify. Worry makes my entire body clench and I don’t have time to analyze my feelings, because a second later, the main house in front of me explodes.

The blast is so strong, that the force of it causes me to lose control of the wheel and the car to flip several times before landing upside down on its hood. I must lose consciousness for a few seconds because when I come to, the horn of the car blares through the thick fog around me.

Groaning I blink several times to clear my fuzzy vision. When I finally manage to open my eyes fully, I instantly regret it as intense pain radiates through my entire body like little electric currents. Looking out the through the kaleidoscope of my smashed windshield I see fragmented smoke coming from beneath my car’s mangled hood. An urgency takes hold of me. I need to move—I have to get out of this car before the fire spreads and my car blows. I’ve got minutes if I’m lucky. I wiggle my feet, my hands, then my head in a series of small movements up my entire body. To my relief I’m able to move my legs. Good, that means they’re not trapped. It was something I was starting to fear. The next step causes a cold sweat of dread to cover my body—unbuckling. As soon as I undo my seat belt, I’m going to drop straight down onto my already bruised and battered body. Judging by the pain in my right shoulder, I’d say it’s dislocated and is going to hurt like a bitch when I land on it, since I’m going to have to use my good arm to unlock my belt. Ok Cass, on the count of three, one, two, click.

“Ahhh, motherfucking son of a bitch!” I cry out through gritted teeth, then gasp as a new wave of pain radiates through my shoulder. Gritting my teeth, I take a few seconds to allow the pain to dull.

Well that hurt as much as I’d expected. Wriggling my aching body, I manage to maneuver myself out of the open car window without too much pain. Once I’m free I stand and assess the situation before me.. I’ve trained my entire life for situations like this, I just never actually thought I’d have to put it to use. Dad insisted I at least enter Hunter training. There are always monsters or demons trying to bring down the Hunter Order, add in the Iron name and I’d be a sitting duck without some hand-to-hand combat training and knowledge of what might come out of the woodwork. It made sense at the time, now I’m grateful for his foresight. Pulling myself out of my head I limp quickly around the back of my car and using my good arm, I pull out my khaki-green duffel bag from the trunk. It’s my survival kit.

About two years ago my dad helped me put it together. I remember the day he came to my room with the empty bag, shaking it in excitement like it was a bag of gold dust. I’d just graduated from my other after school activities my hunter training We’d gone down into the basement and had filled it with stuff I might need—weapons, special first aid kit, and a spare change of clothes just in case. Dad knew that I never planned on using it, but he convinced me to have it just in case. I didn’t argue. You just never know what life was going to fling at you. It was best to be prepared. Expect the unexpected and all that. Plus, putting it together with my dad was really fun. I think it was his way of saying he worried about me.

My other after school activities weren’t your normal everyday kind. I didn’t take piano or art lessons—instead I got combat and senses training. I was taught how to fire a gun, how to take down my opponent with a staff, and how to defend myself with knives. I was taught so many different forms of martial arts my body ached. My father taught me to rely on my other senses like how to enhance my hearing if I couldn’t see and vice-versa. I spent six hours each night study the monsters and myths regular people believe are mere tales or bedtime stories.

Stories made up to scare children into behaving. The kind of monsters that haunt your darkest nightmares—the preverbal boogieman. Oh he’s real by the way. I killed him when I was eight. Well one of them anyway. There’s more than one boogieman out there that lurks in the shadows and they breed like cockroaches. Boogie was the first monster I ever killed. I could have at any time read up on how my family got their money, but that wasn’t important in the grand scale of things. I needed the other history lessons, the ones that would keep me safe at night. My parents were Hunters. Were. I’m already thinking about them in past tense.

Oh God, Jess too. Agony rips through my chest. My poor, sweet Jess. My Parents were fourth generation Hunters on both sides. From the outside, my father was a run of the mill, lucrative businessman, and CEO of Iron Enterprises. My mother was the doting housewife who loved her children and her garden, but behind their masks laid expert killers. They we’re the kind of parents who could bake cookies or mow the lawn during the day and by night they were out exorcizing demons and monsters, and expertly handling deadly weapons. They were truly amazing parents.

Swinging my duffel bag up onto my good shoulder I walk in agony with every step I take toward the perimeter wall guarding the grounds of the house. Walking along the wall I locate the secret gate leading to the wooded are on the other side. The need to get out of here before the authorities arrive pushes past everything else. There will be too many questions to things I can’t answer yet. The council will take care of the rest. They’ll make sure our secret society stays secret. My dad told me to be smart, think first and to do whatever I can to avoid the authorities at all cost. So that’s what I’m doing. No matter how much I want to run into that house and see if Jess and my parents are still alive, I can’t. They might not even be inside the house. Even as I think it, the icy hand of foreboding twists around my heart, sending sharp icicles of frigid reality pumping through my veins forcing me to acknowledge what deep down inside I refuse to accept.

As I walk I try to tread lightly on the ground so I don’t leave any footprints, but with my limp it’s hard to keep form leaving a trail, even if it’s only visible if you know what you’re looking for. No doubt whoever blew up my parents’ house assumed I was also inside it at the time of explosion. If I’m discovered alive, then whoever set this up will come after me again. I know how this goes. No loose ends.

Turning one last time before I step through the secret gate I take one last look at the burning house before me. Tears gather on my lashes, it’s completely unsalvageable. Flames engulf the entire house burning through every window and door. Once the flames die down there will be nothing left, but ash and dust. Most of it is already turning to piles of black, sooty sand-like mounds. The home that contained so much love, where I grew up, where most of my childhood memories were made is gone. My home, destroyed. As I make it to the other side of the wall I hear the loud explosion of my car. Now Gabby’s gone too.

authM.S. Murray Author PhotoFacebook/Twitter/Amazon/Goodreads

Hi I’m M.S. Murray, (Michelle) I live in the West of Scotland. I’m a stay at home mum to two crazy children, a dog that thinks he’s a person, a cat that thinks she is Master of the house, and a dwarf hamster that chases the cat. My poor husband has to live with us all in our mad house!!

I started writing in my spare time, as a hobby after I discovered my love for reading a few years ago, (Reading is an addiction I refuse to get help for, Seriously!!). 

I finally decided I wanted to do writing as a full-time gig.

So here I am, taking a leap of faith that you will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

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Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

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