Phase

Book 2 of the Liminals series by Maree Anderson

Even the most powerful liminals can’t always save the ones they love…

My name’s Wren, and I can phase in and out of the real world—super-cool, right? Yeah, not so much. See, I’m still struggling to learn how all this liminal stuff works. Not to mention my father’s experiments are mucking with my already volatile liminal abilities. Then there are my twin brothers: Liam, who’s obsessed with destroying Daddy-Dearest’s empire no matter what it costs, and Reilly, who’ll sacrifice everyone—including me—to save the monster lurking Between. Oh, and that monster? She just happens to be my mother.

If not for Kade, I’d be losing it big-time. But my boyfriend’s got major issues of his own—issues that are slowly stripping him of his sanity. If we don’t escape this hellhole soon it could be too late. What’s the point of being so damned powerful if you can’t save the ones you love?

 

Genre: Young Adult
Format: eBook
Length: Novel, approx 80,000 words
Price: US $4.99 (or US$ equivalent)
Publisher: Maree Anderson
Release date: 18 February 2018
ISBN: 978-09941160-8-6

 

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Reviews

 

Liminal: Apple iBooks AUS/NZL Best Books of August

“Self-published Kiwi author Maree Anderson has already established a loyal following with her Crystal Warriors series. In this novel, she embarks on a new storyline featuring Wren, a sassy 16-year-old who finds she’s starting to disappear from her life–literally! She teams up with mysterious bad boy Kade and learns a thing or two about living between worlds. This is great young-adult fun for fans of paranormal fiction.”

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Artwork

 

Cover design by Rob Anderson
(Click on the image to see the full-size cover.)

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Read an excerpt from PHASE

By Maree Anderson

Dread rippled down my spine. I didn’t need to see his face to know it was him. Red. An exceptionally strong liminal whose special talent was extracting information from people’s minds… and inflicting maximum pain while he did it.

Holy crap. I was so screwed right now.

Polluted energy, as foul and rank as the man himself, oozed over mine, probing for weakness. Instinctively I threw up an internal barrier, walling off my energy, denying him access….

And I had a split second’s respite before the wave of power he unleashed crashed over me.

My knees buckled. I locked my joints and slowly straightened, hyper-aware that if I went down it was all over. I would be completely at his mercy.

Adrenaline flooded my body, spurring me to flee. But running wouldn’t help me escape Red’s clutches. So I dredged up the courage to confront the monster my brother had sent after me, and stood my ground.

An inner voice jabbered in my head, insisting that Liam might have simply sent Red to fetch me, and my logical course of action would be to assure him I would come quietly—buy some time. Except in this instance, logic was a crappy option. My brother had given Red carte blanche to scour my mind for scraps Team Liam could use to their advantage—specifically, any information I might have subconsciously gleaned that might aid their quest to pin down the location of KP’s hidden labs. It would be naïve in the extreme to believe that order had been rescinded.

My brother had made it painfully clear he didn’t given a shit how much damage Red caused while he rummaged for information. To Liam, I was nothing but a pawn—a bargaining chip. And if Red reduced me to a drooling vegetable, well, it wasn’t that big of a deal because so long as I was physically whole, my reproductive organs could still be used as a bargaining chip. A win-win situation either way so far as Liam was concerned. But whereas I could kind of understand Liam’s driving need to take down our father’s dirty little empire regardless of the cost, I couldn’t fathom Red at all. A man who ruined people’s minds was pretty damn bad, but a man who got his jollies by making the process as painful as possible? Red was a psycho and a sadist all rolled into one.

Turn around, Wren. Look the asshole in the eye. Quit being such a coward!

I pivoted slowly to confront the most terrifying member of Liam’s team.

Red Devos stood there, arms loose at his sides, no outward sign of the power he was throwing my way save the smirk tilting his lips.

He’s nothing much to look at. A little on the short side. Slight, with no noticeable muscles. At first glance he’s kind of wholesome-looking, what with the shock of red hair and a bunch of freckles. At least my brother Liam looks exactly how he is in truth: a ruthless, nasty piece of work that you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley let alone the cold light of day. But this guy…. Kade was right on when he’d once described Red as a real-life Archie from those old comics.

There was no point in attempting a phase, not with Red’s energy battering mine, trying to force an opening through my protective barriers. The instant my concentration wavered I would be vulnerable, giving him the perfect opening to mind-ream me on the spot. And there was Adam to consider. I couldn’t leave him alone with Red.

“Decided to be sensible, eh, girly? Good. Now how’s about you tell me who unblocked you, and exactly how they did it?”

“How about you crawl back to my asshole brother and tell him to leave me the hell alone.”

“Not happening, girly. I’m gettin’ what Liam wants outta you—no two ways about it.”

I curled my fists, wishing I could smack that smirk right off his freckled face. Since that wasn’t a viable option, I opted for my best toothy smile. “I’d be interested to know what you’re gonna do when I yell ‘rape’ at the top of my voice.”

Something dark and loathsome flitted across his eyes. And when his gaze raked me from head to toe, deliberately taking his time, it was all I could do to hide my shudder. “Skinny little girlies don’t usually do it for me,” he said, “but for you I’ll make an exception. I’m sure by now your boyfriend’s taught you something useful.”

I would only have one shot at this, so I had to make it count. “Go ahead,” I invited, widening my smile until my face ached with the strain of keeping it confident. “Give it your best shot. Meanwhile, I’ll scream at the top of my lungs until Dinah’s patrons come running. Which I’m sure they’ll do. You know, since one of my talents is being able to scream really, really loud. What do you think they’ll do given that you’re a sleazy bastard, and I’m an innocent, underage teenage girl and all? Not to mention it won’t go well for you when Liam hears ’bout all the witnesses.”

My attempt at gaining the upper hand was pretty pathetic really. He knew it, and so did I. Because I was watching his face so intently, I spotted the tell—the tightening of the tiny muscles around his eyes paired with the slightest flaring of his nostrils.

Oh shit. Here it comes….

But Red was way smarter than me. For while I was desperately shoring up my mental defenses, pouring all my energy into my protective barriers, I neglected to take into account that he was a grown man. In a hands-on fight I was outweighed and physically disadvantaged. Untrained, too. Meaning I had no moves whatsoever to counter Red’s lunge, and it took me completely by surprise.

In a breath he pinned me against the side of the car, his torso pressing me against the cold, unyielding metal body of the vehicle, imprisoning me from thighs to chest. I was caught. I couldn’t even scream—not with his palm slapped across my mouth, mashing my lips against my teeth.

He leaned so close I could see the soot-black ring encircling the watery blue of his irises and the ginger hairs lining his nostrils. So close that I could feel his breath feathering over my skin, smell the garlic from his last meal. But worse than that, worse than even the nauseating wrongness of the energy that still pummeled me demanding surrender, was the hard bulge behind the zipper of his jeans as he ground his hips into my belly.

I must have made some involuntary reaction—eyes widening, body recoiling, perhaps—because his lip curled. And then he said, in a tone that was upbeat and happy, like he was simply passing the time of day, “Yeah, I’m hard for you, girly. Figure least I can do is show you a good time while I go dumpster-diving in your hormonal teenage brain—seeing as how it might be the last thing you ever remember and all.”

Oh no. No, no, no—

My mental barriers fell. The glut of energy that had gathered in my chest was expelled in a violent metaphysical punch that lifted Red off me and catapulted him against the neighboring car, rocking the vehicle on its wheels.

I waited for the blare of a car alarm but there was only silence as I slid to ground, so weak and exhausted the desire to curl up and close my eyes was almost overwhelming… and would quite likely be the last conscious thing I ever did, because a rustling sound and a guttural groan told me Red was coming to.

I opened my mouth, attempted to yell for help… couldn’t muster more than a guttural croak. And then, hyper-aware I had scant minutes before my brain got reamed, I rolled to my knees and started to crawl, slowly, painfully, hoping against hope to fool Red into believing I’d phased before he got his shit together and came after me again.

As much as I yearned to head for Dinah’s and beg someone to help Adam, I couldn’t risk it. Dinah’s would be the first place Red looked for me. He wouldn’t even need to get close to do me harm. Once he had me in his sights, I was screwed. I needed a place to hide. An unlocked car. The back of a truck. Behind a trashcan. Any hidey-hole that would conceal me from view.

It wasn’t much of a plan but it was the only one I had, and it hinged on me being so low on energy that Red wouldn’t be able to track me via liminal means. Of course he still had eyes, but I wasn’t going to think about that right now. All I had to do was hide until he convinced himself I’d gone. And then I could get help for Adam—

Behind me, something scraped the ground.

Shit. Out of time.

My hindbrain knew I had a huge target painted on my back. Skin prickling, I dug deep, forcing myself to crawl faster, ignoring bone-deep exhaustion and the gravel slicing my palms and knees.

Another rustle of clothing. A grunt. And then… footsteps.

This time when I tried to scream my lungs out I managed a hoarse groan.

Not good enough—sooo not good enough, Wren. Do something!

Desperate, willing the adrenaline to do more than merely seep into my noodle-like limbs, I clambered to my feet… stumbled, fell, hands outstretched, barking my knees on the ground, the gravel scraping a layer of skin from the palms of my hands. And then I heard the most chilling sound I’d heard in my life: a low-pitched crow of laughter that floated out of the darkness to nip at my heels.

Biting my lips against the whimpers building in my throat, I crawled faster, heading for the nearest car, figuring I could roll beneath it and—

“Nice try, ya stupid little bitch,” he called. “But you should’a finished me off while you had the chance. See, before you put a world of hurt on me, I was inclined to make it fun for you. But now, I’m gonna make it hurt so bad you’ll beg me to end you.”

“I’ve never much cared for scumbags who get their kicks hurting defenseless little girls.”

What the—?

A pair of scuffed black boots swam into my line of vision an instant before my forehead connected with denim-clad legs. I glanced up to see a tall lean figure standing there, thumbs hooked into the belt loops of worn and faded jeans.

~*~

Phase by Maree Anderson

© Copyright 2018,  Maree Anderson

 

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