Fire & Ice Blog Hop featuring Cameo Renae!
|February 7, 2013||Posted by Cambria under guest post|
Other Fire & Ice stops around the web today:
Sara@Sara In Bookland:Komal Lewis: Impossible
Christy@Love of Books: Kristin Halbrook:Nobody But Us
Karla@Book Addict: Jus Accardo
Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings:Pam Jenoff The Ambassador’s Daughter
Kimba@ The Caffeinated Reviewer:Stacy Gail: Nobody’s Angel
Veronica@ Mostly Reviews:RIchelle Mead: Vampire Academy
Today’s stop is featuring Cameo Renae who is a best selling author of Hidden Wings and also In My Dreams. Both of her books are definite hot reads for Icy nights.
Today Cameo has brought along an excerpt from Hidden Wings and there is also a giveaway for an Ecopy of In My Dreams!!
So let’s get to the fun!
Chapter One of Hidden Wings
My eyes snapped open. I was on my back, disoriented, with strangers surrounding me. “Seventeen. She’s fading in and out,” a short-winded voice briefed the others.
A red sign glowed as we passed through a set of double doors.
What the hell happened to me?
My heart pounded furiously against my chest. There was excruciating pain, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. It was everywhere. I tried to raise my right arm but it was fastened to some kind of board, and twisted at an abnormal angle. Strong hands held me down as I tried to sit up.
“Just stay still,” a low voice instructed.
Hot tears streamed from my burning, swollen eyes. With every breath, sharp pains shot through my chest, and every beat of my heart sent throbbing pulses through the rest of my body.
I was pulled into a small room and carefully lifted onto a bed where warm blankets quickly replaced the cold, bloodied ones. A bright light blaring down on me made my eyes ache. Faces in white and blue masks scrambled all around me. I tried to speak but my voice was too weak.
“She’s lost a lot of blood.”
Where are my parents?
I focused on the faces surrounding me, but none were familiar.
“We need to start a transfusion, ASAP!” someone instructed from a hidden corner.
I felt a prick on my left arm.
“Blood type?” a nurse asked.
“AB Negative,” another answered.
“AB Negative?” a distressed voice counters. He was hushed and the voices became muffled.
“It’s alright sweetheart. You’ll be just fine,” a female voice whispered from behind her white mask. Her bright, blue eyes fixed on mine, offering a glimmer of hope.
A mask was placed over my nose and mouth just as the pain started to numb. Voices trailed off as I faded into darkness.
Before my eyes opened I felt pain, and slowly peeled my lids back to reveal a hazy world. My right arm was casted and places I never thought existed… ached. My head throbbed and acid twisted in my stomach making me nauseous. Scents of freshly bleached “things” didn’t help much.
I was in an unfamiliar room. The walls were painted in a light pink, with a thin boarder of pastel wallpaper lining the top. A TV hung from the wall, and to the side was a large bay-window with white blinds pulled half-way shut. Wires attached to my arms and face, were connected to a machine next to my bedside.
I glanced around but there were no signs of my parents. Maybe they’d stepped out for a while, or went to get a bite to eat.
Something happened. Something horrible. But I couldn’t remember. My mind was dark and blank, like a fresh canvas waiting to be painted on.
“Knock-knock,” a voice called from the doorway. “Is it alright if I come in?”
A tall, blonde woman with her hair pulled back into a long ponytail, and dressed in a black, pin-striped suit stood in the doorway. Her face was warm, donning wide, green eyes.
I nodded, returning a weak smile.
She stepped into the room and pulled a stray chair from the corner, setting it next to my bedside. After placing her leather briefcase on the floor she reached over and laid her soft, warm hand over mine.
“Hello. My name is Abigail Reed. I’m a social worker assigned to you by the state of California. I’m here to help you.”
Social worker? Assigned to me? Why’d she be assigned to me? What the heck did that mean anyway?
“Can you tell me your name?” she asked, gently squeezing my hand.
“Emma,” my voice exited in a whisper. At least I remembered that much.
“Do you remember anything about the accident?”
“Accident?” I questioned, shaking my head. “I can’t… I don’t remember anything. Where are my parents?” My mother would usually be glued to me if I was hurt or sick, and my dad was always within a glancing distance.
Miss Reed’s eyes flitted downward.
“Emma,” she started, and then paused. Her brow furrowed and then she sighed. “I’m so sorry, Emma. There’s no easy way to tell you-”
“Where are my parents?!” I demanded. A pang of fear surged through me. My heart constricted and doubt rushed through me like a tidal wave. What if they were injured? I needed to know. I needed to see them… NOW!
She took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “Emma… your parents were killed in the accident.”
It took a few moments for my brain to absorb her information.
Your parents were killed. Those horrifying words echoed over and over through my mind. And then it slammed me – reality did – like a Mack truck hitting me at full force. A shattering pain surged through my heart, quickly spreading like a brush fire, torching everything inside of me. My body began to tremble as hot tears of horror and panic sprang from my eyes.
“No-no-no. It’s not true. It can’t be true,” I cried, shaking my head. This had to be a nightmare.
“You’re going to be alright Emma,” Miss Reed said in a calming voice, gently rubbing my hand.
“How could I be alright? I just lost everyone I’d ever loved!” I suddenly realized I was alone; an only child – no aunts, no uncles, no grandparents, no surviving kin.
My world started to dive into an uncontrollable spin, and my mind became completely numb. “How… how did it happen?” I sobbed, looking directly into saddened eyes for answers.
“Well, it seems that the car you were all in, swerved off an embankment, and hit a tree while traveling at a very high speed. There were no other cars involved, so the police are running an investigation. They think it could’ve been an animal, but they aren’t certain. If it’s any consolation, your parents didn’t suffer. It was a complete miracle that you survived,” she said softly.
I couldn’t think. All I heard were loud sobbing sounds…from me. Ms. Reed suddenly became quiet.
“So what now? What happens to me?” I asked, swiping the tears from my face. Foster care? I was too old for adoption and would never let that happen anyway. Maybe my friends would take me in. In a year I’d be eighteen anyway, and could technically take care of myself. But the mere thought of being alone sent acid racing through my stomach.
Abigail cleared her throat. “Well, Emma. We’ve been contacted by a woman,” she uttered slowly, cautiously, looking at me, while her hands twisted nervously around each other. “Her name is Alaine Gray, and she’s asked the courts to appoint her full guardianship over you.”
“Alaine Gray? I’ve never heard of her.” I tried to think of all my parents’ acquaintances. None of them were named Alaine Gray, and I was sure this was the first time I’d heard that name.
She paused… “Alaine Gray is your aunt.”
“Aunt?” I shrieked. “There’s no way she can be my aunt. I don’t have any living relatives… Not anymore!” She paused, and glanced down to her briefcase on the floor and sucked in a deep breath. “Well, I hope the courts have looked into this. I hope they’re looking out for my interests, and not just sending me away to some stranger because it’s the easiest thing to do. What if this lady is a kook? Has anyone done any research on her…checked her background?”
I was angry, my words were trembling, and new tears of uncertainty flooded my eyes and cascaded down my cheeks.
“Emma,” she said nodding her head, gazing at me thoughtfully. “I’ve personally looked into this matter myself, and have undoubtedly confirmed that Alaine Gray is in-fact, your mother’s half-sister. She is your last living, blood relative and genuinely wants to take care of you. I spoke to her personally on the phone, and she has already prepared a room for you.”
“Why haven’t I ever heard of her? My mother never mentioned that she had a half-sister. Not once. Shouldn’t that have been a priority in my life? Why would she hide my only aunt from me? ”
“I don’t know sweetheart. Maybe your mother had a good reason. Sometimes things in life are better kept secret,” she expressed with a furrow in her brow.
Great. Family secrets. I never thought that my family would or could have had any secrets. We were a seemingly normal family. A happy family.
I suddenly wanted my mom. I wanted her to hug me and tell me everything was going to be alright. I wanted my dad to kiss me on the forehead, give me an encouraging word. I wished I’d died with my parents in the accident, because the thought of living without them was too much to bear.
I turned away from Ms. Reed as hot tears poured from my eyes. She placed her warm hand on my back, and I heard her sigh.
“Your Aunt Alaine is widowed. Her husband passed away a few years ago from some sort of illness, but he left her with a large inheritance. She has a beautiful home in Alaska.”
Alaska? God, wake me from this nightmare!
I kept my back to her and wept. This couldn’t be happening to me. The once beautifully, quilted fabric of my life was quickly unraveling into one giant, tangled mess.
“What if I don’t want to go?” I sobbed. Maybe there was a better way. There had to be another way to get out of this.
“Because your parents hadn’t appointed a guardian for you, the court has granted full custody to Mrs. Gray. It’s only until you’re eighteen, Emma,” she sympathized. “One year is really not that long. It will come and go before you know it.”
There was another long pause, and just when I thought she was done, she spoke again.
“I spoke to your Aunt this morning. She’ll be working closely with the state and your parent’s lawyers to take care of all the details. She is also sending an escort to take you to your new home tomorrow. I know it’s so soon, but she insisted and assured us that you’ll be given the greatest care. Don’t worry, Emma. Everything will be alright,” she expressed in an optimistic tone.
Yeah right. How could she know? She was getting paid for delivering news like this to who-knows-how-many countless kids. Miss Reed paused and then the warmth of her hand left my back. A few moments later, footsteps exited the room.
I couldn’t think. My brain hurt too much, throbbing to the brink of explosion. I was glad she left. I wanted to be alone. I wanted everything around me to completely disappear.
“Mom. Dad,” I whispered to myself. Muscles in my stomach tightened. I gripped my pillow and pulled it to my face to muffle the uncontrollable sobs. My world was quaking beneath me, opening up, sending me falling into a dark, endless abyss.
For the first time in my life I felt completely and utterly alone. Helpless. Abandoned. Lost. Why were my parents taken from me? Why did I survive? Unanswered questions pierced my already fragile heart. I hoped this was all just a nightmare. I prayed that when I opened my eyes again, everything would be back to the way it was.
I pulled the blanket up, covering my face and cried. I cried like I’d never cried before; mourning the death of my parents, and the scary unknown my life was steadily spiraling into.
I must have fallen asleep for a while, and woke to whispers at the door. Whispers astonished and baffled that I had survived; that anyone could have survived such a horrific crash. But here I was… a medical marvel, with lacerations that seemed to be healing remarkably fast, and one broken arm. No head injuries, no internal bleeding, no major damage. A complete and total miracle.
I kept silent and still hoping they’d think I was still asleep, and leave me alone.
But my mind was awake and kept wondering how it all happened… The crash, that is. I tried to think back but my mind was blank, and I couldn’t seem to remember anything beyond my seventeenth birthday, so I went there. I went back to that happy place, and pulled the memory from the depths of my mind.
We were all at home, a beautiful home near the beach. My parents were in real estate and made that first purchase together.
My mother adored throwing parties, and had decorated our pool area with hundreds of twinkle lights. Floating candles bobbed in the water, and everything was decorated in lime green, pink, and turquoise. There were balloons, streamers, tables filled with fancy-filled cupcakes, a chocolate fountain with an assortment of fruits, colorful candies in iridescent bags, sorbet-punch, and a spread of make-your-own sandwich stuff, neatly arranged on colorful platters.
Dad hung a huge banner which read: HAPPY SWEET SEVENTEEN, EMMA! with swirls of the matching décor colors around it.
My parents had invited my friends, along with some of their closest friends as well. I had two friends, to be precise…Jeremy Needles and Lia Ling.
Everyone sang Happy Birthday, I blew out the seventeen candles flaming atop my strawberry-cream cake, and then opened my gifts.
The adults gave me envelopes filled with cash or gift cards, which was the safest gift for a teenager these days. Lia gave me a bright-pink digital camera, with a matching pink case and scrapbooking kit, and Jeremy got me a Kindle.
“Kindle Fire,” he said with excited eyes as I opened the box. “It’s touch-screen.” He even managed to download all of his favorite books onto it. Wonderful! A lifetime worth of Jeremy Needle’s lit-picks. Just what I always wanted…Not!
They slept over that night and we watched the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, ate popcorn, and drank Dr. Pepper until four the next morning.
Two years prior to that day, we were living in an apartment in the middle of Los Angeles. It was close to my parent’s office, but mom started second-guessing me attending high school in the city. I’d gotten into some trouble with friends. You know… the friends who weren’t really friends; preppy, wannabe bitches who used and abused everyone around them, thinking they were better than everyone else.
Well, a few of them started a cat-fight in the bathroom with some Gothic chicks. The Goth girls kicked their butts (which I was secretly happy to witness), but everyone involved was dragged into the Principal’s office. I wasn’t a bad kid, just guilty by association, and therefore, suspended for a week.
That’s when the desperate search for a new high school began. My mom chose a religious, stuffy school; a total 180 from the previous one I attended. No one stood out there, because everyone looked the same. The dress code: navy blue, no-more-than-one-inch-above-the-knee skirts, white blouses, mid-calf socks and covered shoes for girls, and khaki pants with navy polo-shirts for the boys.
It was hard starting a new school without any friends. Everyone had settled into their own cliques, and I was suddenly the clique-less outsider. I remember that first day in the cafeteria, standing alone with my tray in hand, searching for a place to fit. As I did a quick scan of the tables filled with students talking, laughing, teasing, and staring; two smiling faces, sitting all alone at the back corner of the cafeteria, caught my glance. They waved for me to come and join them, and so I did… and every day since for the past three years.
Lia Ling is a shy, sweet, Asian girl: short and thin with long, stick-straight, black, shiny hair, with a cute, round face, and slightly pudgy cheeks under pink-rimmed glasses. Her mother makes her homemade lunches, which she carries in a tin Care Bear lunchbox.
Then there’s Jeremy Needles, our nerdy sidekick, aka: The Nerdmeister. Even a makeover wouldn’t work for this guy. Nerdiness was too deeply embedded into his genetic make-up. He’s tall, stick-thin, and his only noticeable muscle is his brain, which is covered with untamable, curly-brown hair. Every day he wears his bright orange, coke-bottle glasses on a large, pointy nose, and has barely-there lips. His true loves are his books and anything electronic.
Because of them, I remained an outsider with the other cliques. But, I didn’t care. I actually liked the fact that I was flying under the radar in the new school. I had no pressure to please, and a chance to breathe and have some fun.
The accident must have been directly after my birthday, because there was nothing but darkness after that.
To make it worse, there was one, single question that kept beating on me, again and again… How was I going to survive without my parents? It was something a teenager should never have to worry about.
Regret started to seep into the cracks of my shattered heart. Did I tell my parents I loved them enough? Did they really know how much I appreciated them? I think they did. At least…I hoped they did.
And then, I heard my mother’s voice speaking softly in the recesses of my mind. “Don’t dwell on the negative,” she’d say. “Always look on the positive side of things. It’s a lot brighter there, and easier to find your way.” A tear escaped my eye as my thoughts lingered on her.
My future looked grim, but then… even in the darkness, there was the tiniest glimmer of hope. A hope that I did have a relative still living on this God forsaken earth that did have a part of my blood flowing through their veins, and she actually wanted me. That should count for something.
And the fact that she was related to my mom, the kindest, most beautiful person that ever walked the face of the earth, was definitely a plus. I missed my mom and the thought of her sent a piercing pain straight through the middle my heart. I wished the pain would go away, but I knew that every time I’d open my eyes, it would be there in some form, haunting me for the rest of my life.
I was tired; more like exhausted, and my eyes were still heavy and swollen. So, I closed them and faded back into a deep, needed sleep.
About the Author
Cameo Renae was born in San Francisco, CA, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with her husband and children to Alaska.
She loved reading from as long as she can remember, and it was C.S. Lewis’ – Chronicles of Narnia – which sparked a fire in her soul and made her want to create her own wondrous, magical worlds, and awesome characters to go on adventures with.
Writing is her passion, and right now, her head is stuck in the YA genre and anything that has to do with the paranormal.
She self-published her debut novel, In My Dreams about a year ago, but it was picked up and re-published in December 2012 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. Her newest novel, Hidden Wings (Book 1 in a series), waspublished through Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing on January 18, 2013.
One day she hopes to find her own magic wardrobe, and ride away on her magical unicorn… Until then… she’ll keep writing!
And now for the giveaway!