Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian . . . and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe — the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.
As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.
I didn’t need to turn around to know it was Roman. His sexy lyrical voice gave him away. Still, I twisted my neck around and parted my lips to say hi, but the book began to shake in my hands. I sucked in air, startled, and fought to steady it.
“I’m sorry,” Roman said softly. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Oh, no-no. It’s just this b—” I started but stopped, realizing how stupid I’d sound if I claimed a snake emblem on a book bit me and that now the book was actually shaking. It was impossible. I knew that. Yet, it was happening anyway. The hush of the library amplified my heartbeat until I was sure Roman could hear it.
Slowly, I released my hand but the book shook again. I gritted my teeth and grabbed the book, shoving it in my bag. Curiously, the tremors stopped. I gulped back a labored breath and said, “Yeah, kinda creepy in here, I guess.” The familiar rush of heat spread across my cheeks.
“It doesn’t help that you’re in the Occult section.” His lips twitched into a little smile as he leaned against the bookshelf nonchalantly.
I hoisted my oversized bag over my shoulder and walked closer to him, inhaling his fresh scent of an ocean breeze mixed with cinnamon. I leaned in a little closer, wishing I could bask in it. “So, what are you doing here?”
He handed me a coffee he’d held behind his back.
“You’re here to bring me coffee?” I lifted a surprised eyebrow, smiled, and took a sip. “And my favorite, too. Impressive.” I took another sip, savoring the caffeine hitting my blood stream. Not that I needed a caffeine rush, of course. Since Roman showed up, my heart had already begun an instant crescendo. I searched for something to say. It’s not like I had much experience talking with extremely hot, mysterious guys bearing gifts. I was definitely glad I’d put extra effort into my appearance that morning. “Thanks. So you here doing some research, or what?”
A grin played on his lips, and I couldn’t help remembering my dream in class of him kissing me. Could the real deal possibly be so amazing?
“Actually,” he said, snapping me back from stolen kisses to the book-lined library. I took another sip, hiding my crimson face behind the cup. “I saw you and Taylor come in, and yes, I thought I’d bring you coffee. I thought you could use it. Everyone needs a pick me up.” He cocked his head. “That...and to remind you about coming down to the Phoenix later.”
I lifted my gaze from the cup, back to Roman’s eyes and across his olive toned complexion. The boy was too gorgeous for words.
Roman’s eyebrows suddenly furrowed together as he took the coffee from me and laid the cup on a bookshelf. He lifted my hand slowly, turning it over and examining my finger, which was pricked with red where I’d nicked the tip.
“Hey I was enjoying that,” I said, eyeing the coffee and trying to avoid questions of the crazy book in my bag.
He looked at me and back to my finger.
“I’ll live,” I said with a forced laugh. “Just a paper cut.”
He stretched my hand up to his lips and kissed my fingertip gently. Electricity ran through my body. I’ve never had a boy kiss me before, not even my finger. And especially not one as hot as Roman. Dreams didn’t count. I must have blushed because he instantly dropped my hand.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” He took a step back, lips tight. I cursed my fair cheeks and telltale blush. I definitely didn’t want him to back off. His gesture was sweet, and I hated that I couldn’t just soak it up instead of being embarrassed by it. Roman shoved his hands in his pockets. “But you should definitely put Polysporin or something on it so it doesn’t get infected or anything—so says my mom.” He smiled again. “She’s a nurse.” He grabbed the cup off the shelf and handed me back the coffee.
A multi-colored butterfly suddenly fluttered down from the ceiling landing on my fingers laced around the coffee cup. I gasped, but didn’t move. Glancing up at the ceiling, I whispered in awe, “Where did that come from?”
Roman’s lips twisted into a grin as he gazed down at it, and then back into my eyes. He raised one shoulder. “One butterfly always knows another.”
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Shannon Duffy writes young adult and middle grade fiction. She grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada and now lives in Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of one boy, Gabriel, her angel. She loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions-shopping. She is the author of the young adult paranormal romance, SPECTRAL. Her upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA is scheduled for a January 2013 release.