Spotlight on Only Ashes Remain (Rebecca Schaeffer), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to spotlight Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaeffer.
Read on for more about Rebecca and her book, an excerpt, plus an giveaway!
Meet Rebecca Schaeffer!
Rebecca Schaeffer was born and raised in the Canadian prairies. Her itchy feet took her far from home. You can find her sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world, writing about villains, antiheroes, and morally ambiguous characters. She is the author of Not Even Bones and Only Ashes Remain, the first installments in a dark YA fantasy trilogy.
Meet Only Ashes Remain!
After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she’s still a prime target on the black market.
There’s only one way to keep herself safe.
Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.
~ Excerpt ~
“Nita, meet Fabricio.”
The fluorescent lights of the INHUP refugee center made the white walls glow like a hospital, and Nita wondered for a brief moment if she was in some sort of hallucination.
After all, the set of circumstances that had brought her to the International Non-Human Police had the quality of a nightmare — complete with kidnapping, torture, and Nita burning
all her enemies alive at the end.
All but one.
He stood in front of her now. A few inches taller than her, his pale face was framed by slightly mussed dark brown hair, and his huge blue-gray eyes stared at her with shock she knew
was mirrored in her own gaze.
Fabricio. The boy she’d saved.
The boy who’d betrayed her. Who’d thanked her for helping him escape, taken the money and bus ticket she’d offered him, then turned around and used the phone she’d given him to sell her to the black market. Who’d left her to be kidnapped, cut up, and sold piece by piece.
Rage boiled in Nita’s veins, heating her body from the inside out. Her jaw clenched tighter and tighter, until she forced it to loosen to avoid breaking a tooth.
“Nita?” Agent Quispe, the INHUP agent in charge of Nita’s case, stepped forward, the lines of her buzzcut black hair sharp in the bright light. Her Spanish was slow and calm, with a distinct flavor that reminded Nita of her time living in Peru. “Are you all right?”
Nita blinked and forced herself to nod. “Of course. Sorry, I must have spaced out. What were you saying?”
Quispe frowned slightly and squinted, an expression Nita had come to associate with the agent trying to parse Nita’s Spanish. Her father was Chilean, but she’d lived in Madrid until she was six, and the blend of accents was often hard for people to understand.
“I was saying that I’ve noticed you keeping to yourself a lot. And since we just received another refugee your age, I thought you two might want to meet.”
Quispe waved Fabricio forward. His eyebrows pulled together before smoothing out. A tentative smile crossed his face.
Nita glared. What the hell was he smiling about?
Then she realized: he didn’t know she’d discovered he was the one who sold her to the black market. Fabricio was still playing a part, resuming the role of the scared victim.
Nita stepped forward, fist clenched, wanting nothing more than to smash his skull into the floor and dissect him while he lay dying, the way she should have done when her mother
caught him the first time.
She took a deep breath. She was in the middle of the INHUP headquarters in Bogotá. There was an agent standing right beside her. This was not the time to commit murder.
No matter how much she wanted to.
Nita swallowed and forced a grimace onto her face. She needed to play it cool for now, and not give any indication they’d met before. And hope Fabricio didn’t give her away.
If INHUP found out how they knew each other, Nita’s connection to her murderous mother would be exposed, and Nita’s crimes would be laid bare. And she had a lot of crimes under her belt. You didn’t grow up with parents in the business of dissecting unnaturals and selling their body parts online without committing a few felonies.
Nita couldn’t force herself to extend her hand to him. In a clipped voice, she said, “It’s nice to meet you.”
He blinked and hesitated, then smiled softly, his voice gentle
and whispery. “You too.”
Quispe looked between them, as if she could sense the tension. “Fabricio will be staying here for the next little while. I thought you two would have a lot to talk about, since you’ve both spent time in the black market.”
Nita could almost hear her unspoken comparison. Both of them had body parts hacked off. Both of them had those parts sold and eaten.
Nita shifted her foot, trying not to think about the gaping absence where her toe had once been, and she kept her eyes firmly away from Fabricio’s missing ear. It wasn’t too hard,
since the evidence was covered by hair.
Nita turned to Quispe. “Yes. It was a good thought. Thank you. I’d like to get to know my new floormate.”
Nita swallowed after the words came out of her mouth. Stilted. Fake. Why couldn’t she be better at this kind of thing?
But if Quispe noticed Nita’s failing communication skills, she didn’t comment. “Of course.”
She turned and left them alone. After she was gone, the silence was overpowering. Fabricio opened and closed his mouth like he wanted to say something. Nita pursed her lips
and looked around.
She didn’t like being inside an INHUP building. INHUP was a means to an end for her, and she didn’t trust them. Supposedly they both prosecuted and protected unnaturals — or
“non-humans.” Honestly, Nita thought calling people like her “non-human” was just as offensive as calling her “unnatural.”It probably traced back to INHUP’s monster-hunting roots,
before they started advocating for unnatural rights as well as policing them.
Nita was using INHUP for their protection, but she knew corruption had burrowed into the soul of the organization. She was concerned about building surveillance, and the conversation she wanted to have was not one that should be overheard. By INHUP or whoever INHUP might be selling the information to.
“There’s a garden outside,” Nita announced. “Let’s talk down there.”
Fabricio nodded once, slowly, and followed her.
They made their way through the office. Pristine white walls and white tiled floors caged them in, like a futuristic prison. Other unnatural refugees wandered the halls of the
protective housing. Some Nita could’ve passed on the street and never known they were different.
Others were part octopus. Nita’s eyes examined a tired-looking man in a hall, her eyes sliding down to the eight purple tentacles he had instead of legs. Ningyo. Japanese mermaid. She
would have bet money on it.
People said that if you ate their flesh, you’d gain immortality.
People said the same thing about eating Nita.
She tried to pull her mind away from the thought. The memory of Boulder cutting off her toe, popping it in his mouth, and swallowing it whole. His promise to come back the next day and the next, each day taking a different part of her and consuming it until there was nothing left of Nita but bones and teeth.
It didn’t happen. You escaped. He’s dead. It’s over, a soft voice whispered in her head.
But it didn’t feel over. Not when she was hiding in INHUP. Not with Fabricio walking next to her. Not with her face and her ability circling the black market forums. People were willing to pay a lot for a girl who could manipulate her own body — they thought eating her would grant them the same power. Who knew, maybe it would.
Nita didn’t intend to find out.
Her hand twitched at her side, reaching for a scalpel that didn’t exist. What she wouldn’t give to be in her dissection room right now, all her problems vanishing in the simple, clear peace of a dissection. Taking a body apart piece by piece, the world reduced to the organs in her hand and in the jar on her desk.
But the image was spoiled by the memory of Fabricio, trapped and screaming in a cage, disturbing the perfect solitude of the room.
As they turned a corner, Nita tilted her head to get a look at the side of Fabricio’s face, but his hair hid the bandages well. She could hardly believe it had been less than two weeks since she’d first seen him in that cage.
He caught her staring and flinched. Then he looked away, his hand hovering protectively over where his ear had been. He swallowed and lowered his hand.
“It’s better,” he replied, answering her unspoken question as they walked. His accent softened the edges of his words, y sounds whispering into sh sounds. “I’m getting the stitches out
Nita didn’t respond.
She wished her mother had killed him. She wished she’d dissected him. None of this would have happened then. Nita wouldn’t be missing a toe — even though she’d used her ability
to meld the skin over where it once was, there was an absence, as though her nerves hadn’t quite realized they ended in a new place now and still reached out, expecting a toe to be there.
She also wouldn’t have spent the past week watching people die in the black market. Wouldn’t have had to murder them herself.
She could still remember the moment she read the text exchange on her captor’s phone and realized that the person who’d sold her to the black market was Fabricio all along. The
moment of sheer disbelief, followed by the sudden rush of rage, hot and vicious.
Now her anger simmered, a steady glow in the pit of her stomach. If she let it loose, she’d only end up with more problems. She wasn’t sure she cared. She wanted to let it all out, no
matter what the repercussions.
Be rational, Nita. You can’t murder him with all these surveillance
Nita hated when her brain made sense.
Only Ashes Remain
By: Rebecca Schaeffer
Publisher: HMH BYR
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Five winners will each receive a copy of Only Ashes Remain (Rebecca Schaeffer) ~ (US Only)
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