Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event gives readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes!
In this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the overall hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive TWENTY signed books, one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! And for Team Kaleb fans, when you find my exclusive content, you'll be treated to Kaleb's playlist for TIMEPIECE. There are a few clues in there!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are THREE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter all three! I am a part of the YELLOW TEAM –but there is also a red team and a blue team. For you first timers to the YA Scavenger Hunt, we offer an online blog hop sponsored by authors who write books for both Young Adults and the young at heart. Each of us hosts a different author on the tour. Keep hunting for Kaleb's playlist, but my bonus giveaway (at the end of this post) includes the first chapter of TIMEPIECE!
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Hidden within my post is a single letter that is yellow. Make a note of that letter! It’s a part of a scrambled phrase. When you go to all the author sites of the yellow team, you’ll have all the letters you need to enter the contest.
Entry Form: Once you piece together all the clues to the hunt, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the completed phrase will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 1st. Entries sent without the correct puzzle code or without contact information will not be considered.
Have you already been here? Are you stuck? Confused? Lost? All will be well. You can click HERE to go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage to figure out which authors you missed.Now, on to my guest! I'm thrilled to be hosting the lovely Beth Fantaskey!
I am Myra McEntire, author of HOURGLASS and the upcoming TIMEPIECE, and I am your host today! Thanks for visiting!
I am Myra McEntire, author of HOURGLASS and the upcoming TIMEPIECE, and I am your host today! Thanks for visiting!
I'm a novelist, a professor now and then, and - oddly enough - still technically a college student, even though I'm in my mid-40s. I live in rural Pennsylvania - the land of horses and buggies - with my husband, three crazy children, and a goldfish named PrimeTime, who seems determined to set a longevity record.
For more information about Beth and her books, visit her website here!
To order her books, click here!
Jessica Rules the Dark Side is the sequel to my first novel, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. In the new book, Jessica Packwood has married vampire prince Lucius Vladescu and moved to his familial estate in Romania's Carpathian Mountains. Although certain that she was ready to be a vampire princess - and a wife - she quickly finds herself overwhelmed by her responsibilities and royal intrigue. And when Lucius is accused of murdering one of his devious vampiric uncles and imprisoned without the blood he needs to survive, Jess is forced to stand alone and fight to save the love of her existence.
Beth's bonus content is coming up next, but before you get swept away in the romance, I'm hosing a personal giveaway, too! Check out the form at the bottom of the post to enter to win a signed paperback of HOURGLASS that includes the first chapter of TIMEPIECE!
The link for where to visit next is also at the bottom of the post!
Beth's Bonus Material:
I hope you enjoy these Jessica Rules the Dark Side “bonus chapters,” which take place about a year after the book ends. When I put it up for a vote, the vast majority of you asked me to focus on Jess and Lucius, but there was demand for an update on Mindy and Raniero, too, so I also featured them. And, based on the e-mails I receive every day, I think that A LOT of you will be happy with how things are progressing for both couples.
Happy reading and please keep in touch!
“Antanasia Dragomir Vladescu. Have you listened to a word that I’ve said for the past ten minutes? Processed anything in that gorgeous, brilliant head of yours?”
“What?” I raised the head in question, which had been propped on my hand – and realized that my confused response basically confirmed my royal vampire husband’s suspicions that I had been in la-la land, staring blankly at the ledger before me for... how long?
Judging from the fact that it felt like my palm had worn a groove into my forehead, maybe it really had been about ten minutes.
What the heck is wrong with me?
Why am I always in a fog?
“You’re laughing at me,” I said, sitting back in my massive office chair and frowning at Lucius. He stood on the other side of my wide mahogany desk, arms crossed, like he was frustrated by my inattention. But he couldn’t fight back a smile that revealed not just amusement, but a perfect pair of incisors that distracted me in a different way. And there was definitely laughter in his dark, almost black, eyes. “You think the fact that I’m losing my mind is funny!” I accused him.
“Oh, Jessica,” he sighed, lowering his voice and switching to the informal name that he preferred to use in private, when our servants and less trustworthy relatives were out of earshot. “You are not losing your mind,” he reassured me. Then he took a step, starting to come around to my side of the desk, and like always happened, even after nearly a year of marriage, my slow-beating undead heart began to pound a little harder when he reached out his hand, like we were going to stop working for awhile. “But you are distracted, of late,” he added. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Actually, I wanted to do just about anything that would give me a break from our monthly household budget meeting. I knew that every young, married couple had to make financial plans, but I doubted that most newlyweds had to dedicate a full day each month to “fiscal matters.” And I seriously questioned whether more than five or six couples of any age had a line item for “repairs to crumbling south dungeon wall,” like we did that month.
Maybe nobody else had that.
Moreover, I would’ve bet my whole existence that not a single other wife – meaning NOT ONE – maybe in the entire course of history, had heard her husband say, like it was completely normal, “I noted the cracks when I was imprisoned – although at times, I wondered if I was just dreaming them, given that I was nearly crazed for your blood and losing complete touch with reality...”
I shook my head and realized that Lucius was still standing over me – and still holding out his hand.
“I’m rather strong,” he teased, with his usual arrogant charm. “But I am getting a bit tired, standing here like a hopeful statue, wondering if my own wife is about to turn me down, as though I were an unwanted partner at a high school dance.”
“Sorry,” I said, taking his cool hand in mine and allowing him to pull me to my feet.
Jeez, why am I so tired, too? Is it all the heavy Romanian food?
“So tell me, Jessica,” Lucius said, guiding us both to the big leather couch where I’d once sat with my cousin Ylenia – before she’d tried to poison me, send my husband to eternal torment, and claim my throne. Don’t think about it, Jess. “What is preoccupying you, these days?” He sat down first, then tugged my hand, so I settled in close to him. I’d grown used to standing on my own while Lucius had been in the dungeons, falsely accused of destroying his uncle, but I still liked to rest against his hard chest now and then. Okay, I liked that whenever I got the chance. “For, in recent months,” he continued, “I’ve grown to rely upon your mathematical acumen to get this budgeting out of the way quickly, so that we can move on to more pleasurable pursuits.”
I felt my cheeks flush, because I was pretty sure that he was referring to more than just horseback riding and wandering around the little town of Sighisoara. We “pursued” each other quite a bit – which was, of course, fine. We were married.
Would I ever get used to that?
I sort of hoped not.
“Are you saying that you value my rational, mathematical abilities, Lucius Vladescu?” I asked, shifting to look at his face and suddenly feeling lighter and more focused.
He was smiling, too. “You know that I value your ‘inner mathlete!’” Then all at once, he grew more serious, dark eyes clouding over. “That part of you saved my existence.”
Indeed, my rational, logical side had helped to reveal my cousin as the real killer and liberate Lucius from the crumbling subterranean prison in the depths of our castle. I didn’t want to dwell on that terrible part of our reign, though, and refused to let Lucius go there, either. “Well, this is the first time you’re admitting, out loud, that my skill with numbers is a good thing,” I reminded him, in a joking way. “It’s about time!”
Lucius didn’t laugh, though. He just brushed some of my wayward curls from my face, a gesture that had become an expected, treasured part of our private rapport, and said softly, “If I ever fail to tell you that I value any aspect of you, Jessica, I deserve to lose my existence. For you are everything to me, and have saved me in more ways than you could ever dream of.”
I knew that Lucius was referring to how loving me had rescued him from becoming just like the cold, calculating uncles who had raised him, and I nearly choked up. My husband was always romantic, but he still rarely completely let down his guard, like he was close to doing then.
I had this vague notion that we were supposed to be discussing something, but I leaned in and kissed him then. His lips were cool and rough, and I closed my eyes, just allowing myself to feel him draw me even closer, into his strong arms. Lucius was dangerous in some ways – vampires uniformly respected him, and most outright feared him – but I felt completely safe in his embrace. It was the one place where I could let down my guard and forget everything except his touch...
Suddenly, even as Lucius shifted and I felt his incisors grow and begin to lightly brush against my throat, right above where my pulse nearly raced, for a member of the undead, a fragment of a coherent thought managed to assert itself in my brain, which was, admittedly, even more addled than it had been a few minutes before, when I’d lost focus at my desk.
Have I forgotten something?
Or failed to see something important that’s right in front of me...?
“Lucius?” I spoke his name quietly and placed my hand against his chest, sort of stopping him. “Lucius... Wait.”
His heart was racing pretty hard, too, but he pulled back, meeting my eyes – and seeming puzzled. “Yes, love?” he asked, searching my face. I saw concern start to grow in his eyes. “Is something wrong?”
My stomach twisted. “I’m... I’m not sure...”
What I suspected, suddenly... Was it incredibly wrong, or the most right thing ever?
“Jessica...” Lucius seemed uncharacteristically uncertain. “You’re very pale.” He began to disentangle himself from me, gently but quickly. “I’m going to get you some water. Call for something to eat.” He kept watching my face as he stood up, obviously growing more worried. “When is the last time you’ve eaten?”
“I’m not sure.” I hadn’t been hungry much lately. And the thought of food, right then...
“I’m going to our room, Lucius,” I said, practically jumping off the couch. I rested one hand on my stomach. “I’ll... I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Then, before he could say anything, I darted out of my office and through the dark corridors, glad that I’d finally memorized the layout of the castle so I could go places alone when I needed to – like I did right then. And a few minutes later, I was in our capacious bathroom searching for something that my best friend Mindy had given me as a joke, at our two-person bachelorette party, where we’d gotten less than wild eating TastyKakes and rehashing memories from high school.
Good old Mindy, I thought, finding the gift where I’d tucked it away.
She always knew what I’d need, even before I did.
* * *
“Jessica? Are you all right?” Lucius knocked again. Of course, he’d ignored my promise to return to the office and followed me to our room. “You are making me very nervous, and I would much, much appreciate it if you’d open this door.”
Before I could bring myself to turn away from the mirror, where I kept studying my face in disbelief, Lucius took matters into his own hands, and I heard the door behind me open. “Jessica?”
What could I do but break the news?
Turning, but slowly, I met the eyes of the vampire I loved with every fiber of my being and advised him, in a shaky, terrified, excited voice, “Lucius... You’re going to be... I mean, I guess you ARE... a father.”
I yanked my cell phone away from my ear and gave it a good shake, ‘cause reception in me and Raniero’s temporary beach shack in Tahiti wasn’t so hot, and Jess was talking from her castle, which was located in the exact middle of nowhere. Maybe I hadn’t heard her right.
“Tell me again,” I said, putting the phone back to my ear. “And say it slow.”
In the split second before she answered, I looked across the room and saw that my boyfriend, Raniero Vladescu Lovatu, was watching me with a curious look in his amazing, gray-green eyes as he “planed” one of the surfboards that he was getting kind of famous for hand-crafting, just like he used to make perfect stakes to kill other vampires. I frowned and gave him a little brush-off wave, like, “Mind your own beeswax.” As if that was possible when you lived in one and a half rooms, without even a real door anywhere.
He smiled at me in that peaceful way he had, like being told not to eavesdrop was fine with him, and started working again, while I turned my attention back to Jess, who was definitely, in no uncertain terms, telling me, “I’m having a baby, Min. For real.”
Why the heck did my heart stop?
That was all I could say at first. And for once in my entire life, I took a second to think before I talked again.
The stuff that wanted to come rushing out of my mouth included, “Are you crazy? You are way too young! Do you have any idea how this is going to change your life? The RESPONSIBILITY you’re gonna have?”
Then I took a deep breath and remembered that my friend Jess was now really Antanasia Dragomir Vladescu, and that she ruled a freakin’ vampire nation, for crying out loud, and that she’d sentenced people to death – not to mention that she was incredibly happily married to a guy who would be as great a dad as he was a husband and a ruler. Lucius Vladescu didn’t screw up anything.
I watched my boyfriend again. At first glance, he seemed like a screw up – like the poster boy for screw ups – standing there shirtless in a pair of swim trunks and working on a surf board that he’d probably practically give away, maybe for like a few pieces of fruit, instead of a couple hundred dollars. But he was perfect, too. At least, to me.
Those Vladescus... There was something about them.
I smiled, and Ronnie looked up and smiled back, so my heart kind of melted, and all of a sudden I knew all the right stuff to say to Jess. Actually, I knew that I should let her do all the talking.
“So, how do you feel about the whole thing?” I asked her. “And how’s Lucius taking the big news?”
I looked at Raniero again, and I could tell from the way he was standing up straight, not even pretending to work anymore – and the look on his hot, tanned face – that he’d already guessed what me and Jess were talking about. Ronnie was formerly the world’s greatest vampire assassin. It was pretty hard to get anything past him.
I nodded, telling him without talking, “Yup! It’s a little vampire on the way!”
Ronnie gave me a really huge grin, like he thought that was great. That was Raniero for you. For a guy who used to stake people’s hearts for a living, he was definitely all about the wonders of life now. And maybe he was also not-so-secretly glad that he wouldn’t have to be heir to the Vladescu throne anymore, like he still technically was then.
I kind of liked that idea, myself. Jess could have the castle and the servants, thank you very much. Not that I was, like, in line to be vampire queen. I was still waffling about being a vampire anything.
“Lucius is beside himself,” Jess was telling me, so I gave her my full attention again, forcing myself not to think about how it felt when Raniero nipped at me with those gorgeous fangs. “It’s the closest I’ve ever seen Lucius Vladescu to being ‘excited’ about anything,” she added. “Yesterday, he actually suggested a paint color for the nursery – which I signed off on right away, so our baby won’t have to look at stone all day.”
“How about you, Jess?” I asked again, ‘cause I noticed she hadn’t exactly said how she felt. “Are you excited?”
There was some trans-Pacific-Ocean silence, then Jess said, more quiet, “I’m pretty nervous, to be honest. I didn’t think much could scare me anymore – you know, after nearly losing Lucius – but this is a big deal.” There was another big pause, and she asked, so soft that I almost didn’t hear, “What if I’m a terrible mother? I never even used to babysit!”
It was finally my cue to weigh in, doing my best-friend thing. “Jessica Packwood Dragomir Vladescu, you come from the world’s longest line of amazing moms. You’re going to be a natural. I mean, look how great that cow that you raised for 4-H – Stinky – turned out! He won a ribbon, for crying out loud. You’re going to do even better with a kid – especially one that has you and Lucius’s genes to begin with. It’ll probably raise itself!”
Halfway around the world, I knew that I’d made Jess feel like everything was going to be okay. She was laughing pretty hard when she reminded me, for the millionth time, “The cow’s name was SAMMIE.”
Across the shack, Ronnie was biting his lip and had one hand on his washboard abs, like he was trying hard not to laugh, too. I loved the look in his eyes. It was so great to see him just being happy, after everything we’d gone through in Romania. The way he’d nearly changed back into an assassin, and I’d had to stop him from destroying Jess’s evil cousin...
Yeah, let that go, Min. It’s over. He’s even got his ponytail back!
“Thanks, Min,” Jess added. “I knew I’d feel ready to go forward with this once I talked to you. Not that I can really go back!” I could almost hear her smiling, too, when she promised, “I really am happy. Scared, but deliriously happy.”
“You honestly will be a great mom,” I told her again. “And I’m always here for you, when you wanna freak out a little.” I squished the phone between my ear and shoulder so I could brush off my hands, which always seemed sandy. “Well, not always in Tahiti. This gig’s temporary. But you know what I mean.”
“And I’m always here for you,” she reminded me. “If you ever want to discuss any big issues, or decisions...”
I knew Jess wanted to help me decide whether I should commit to Raniero forever – to let him sink his teeth into my neck – but I didn’t want to talk about that right then.
Maybe I didn’t need to talk about it anymore, at all.
Because there was something about hearing how content Jess was, and how her life was changing but she was okay with that – not to mention the way Raniero was watching me like he didn’t need anything else in the world – that made me say, “Hey, Jess. Congrats and big hugs to you and Lukey, and we’ll talk soon. But right now, I gotta go, okay?”
“Yeah, me too,” she said, because there was always something she needed to deal with, there in Romania. “I’ll call you in a few days, okay? Convince you to come visit?”
We hung up without me making any promises, ‘cause – while I’d definitely be there when the next little Vladescu prince or princess arrived – I had a feeling I was going to be busy for the next few weeks, at least, adjusting to a whole new life. Maybe I’d even be planning a wedding on a beach somewhere.
I went over to where Raniero was waiting for me, already putting down his tools so he could pull me close to his rock-hard, surfer chest, and I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him. He tasted like saltwater and... happiness, and I slid my fingers up into his scruffy hair so I could whisper into his ear, “You know what? I think I’m ready, Raniero.”
I felt him get kind of tense against me, and his powerful hands squeezed my waist. “You think?” he asked, in his crazy Italian accent. “You think that you are ready, Mindy Sue?”
He was giving me a chance to back out. A chance I’d taken a few times, when I’d come close to letting him bite me. This time, though, I leaned against him for just one super slow vampire heartbeat – really just to “live in the moment,” like Ronnie was always reminding me to do – then promised, “No, Raniero... I don’t just ‘think.’ I know that I’m ready to be with you. Like, for always.”
And I guessed Raniero was ready to be with me, too – heck, I’d known that for months – because it only took a second before I felt his fangs against my throat, right where they’d always been meant to be.
Then without a single doubt in my heart – in a shack on a beach in a country I still couldn’t exactly find on a map – I closed my eyes and just trusted the vampire, assassin, semi-royal philosopher beach bum who was holding me tightly, and let him change everything, forever.
SO SWEET! I love seeing into the future of favorite characters. It all lives in the heads of authors anyway, and I love opportunities like this where it can be shared. Thanks so much, Beth, I know your readers appreciate it!
Enter my giveaway by filling out the form below, and receive an extra entry by liking the HOURGLASS BOOKS Facebook page! Click here to visit!