Born of a vampire father to a human mother, Elizabeth Bandores' life was never going to be normal, so she can't imagine why she thinks starting college will be any different.
Having grown up in the affluent Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles and desperate to escape, she decides on the small college town of Sage Springs. With dreams of being a writer, she joins the college newspaper and is introduced to blond, confident Flynn Matthews, Sage Springs' rising swim star.
But a carnival has set up in the small town, and the boy running the Waltzer catches her eye. Dark-haired, leather-jacketed Riley is rude, with an air of danger. Elizabeth can't help but notice him. And when an accident thrusts them together, she discovers he's noticed her, too.
Sage Springs isn't the quiet little town Elizabeth had hoped for. The forests bordering the town harbour a dark secret—one some of the residents have been trying to protect, and the leaders of the carnival have set in their sights...
"Five stars! Definitely Twisted – An Amazon Reviewer. You'll love all the different twists in the story. Some so quickly hit that your head will spin and you'll be...."What just happened?" I highly recommend Marissa as a keeper for those who like it a little dark."– Amazon Review
"Five Stars! Wow! she did it again! – An Amazon Reviewer. Amazing! I couldn't put it down. So glad everything worked out for Elizabeth. Can't wait to read the next book. This book manages to keep your interest from start to finish. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time."– Amazon Review
"Couldn't put it down! The story line dragged me in and I couldn't escape! Highly recommend it for anybody into paranormal!"– Amazon Review
The young man stood, balanced on the edge of the Waltzer, giving each car an extra shove as it passed. The girls inside the cars squealed with laughter, while the guys they were with bit down on their yells, trying to remain cool.
He wasn't particularly tall and didn't possess the broad-shouldered physique of Flynn, but he had high cheekbones and a full mouth, combined with a square jaw. A dramatic combination of feminine and masculine features.
Something about the sight of him made me stop short, my new friends continuing to walk on without me. As I stood, staring, he turned his head and caught my eye. Immediately my heart raced, my stomach lurching into my throat. His bright blue gaze eyed me curiously, and he pushed a hand through his jaw-length, black hair. I forced myself to look away. Heat flooded my cheeks, and I stared at the dirt ground, my cotton candy all but forgotten.
My heart pounded a tribal beat in my chest, my breath quickened. I forced myself to lift my head, my eyes automatically searching him out again.
Despite being with their boyfriends, I didn't miss how most of the girls threw glances in his direction, giving extra screams and head tosses whenever their turn came for him to push their cars. He looked to be around our age, perhaps slightly older, but he obviously didn't go to our school. He had the self-assured air of someone who knew where he belonged, even if where he belonged was constantly on the move. The dark stranger was obviously one of the carnival crowd.
Look at me again, I willed. Notice me.
I'd never learned if persuasion was part of the gifts I'd been cursed with due to my part-vampire gene pool, but this time it seemed to work. He gave another car a shove and then lifted his head and stared right at me.
One side of his full lips turned up in a lop-sided grin, and he gave me a slow, but definite, nod.
Flustered, I didn't even return the smile, but instead looked away and quickly started walking again, trying to catch up with the other girls, who hadn't even noticed I'd stopped. My heart still ran in a pitter-patter, hard enough that it seemed to be beating against my ribs, and heat still burned my cheeks.
As I walked, I glanced to my right. He was no longer looking at me, concentrating instead on his job. A gypsy? Was that what he was? Someone who traveled with the carnival?
Suddenly, a strange buzzing sounded in my ears, as though I were suffering from tinnitus after going to a rock concert. The music seemed to slow down, sounding like morphed voices on an old record player. Everything felt distant, and the world seemed to drag around me, the spinning machines now creeping on slow-down. The edges of my vision blurred, but the center of my line of sight sharpened and focused. My gaze was drawn, dragged into a certain spot at the base of the Waltzer, not far from where the dark haired guy was still standing.
I gripped my fists to my sides, but I could neither turn away, nor walk toward the thing that had gripped my attention. I zoned in on a particular spot, the area racing into my vision as though I'd pressed the zoom button on my camera. Metal plates vibrated under the force of the whizzing cars. As I stared, a part of the plate began to move more than the rest, the vibrating turning to actual shaking. A screw popped out of its holding, quickly followed by the one beside it.
Still frozen in one spot, I couldn't move. In slow motion, one of the cars hit the loose spot, and the whole plate came free. The air was filled with the sound of screams as the plate wrenched away under the force of the movement. Like I was watching a slow-motion car accident on a movie, the car spun off the ride and into the people standing around. A screech of metal on metal filled my ears, cutting right through me. The terrified screams of the bystanders drowned out everything else.
I gasped and squeezed my eyes shut. As soon as I did, my hearing went back to normal, my ears popping as though I was on a descending aircraft.
The sounds of the carnival—music, laughter, bells ringing—met my ears. Not the screams of terror I had been expecting. I opened my eyes to find everything was back to normal. No signs of anyone hurt. But I couldn't change what I had seen. Something was wrong with the ride, and I didn't know if the accident would happen mere minutes from now, or possibly months, but I had to do something.
My bag of cotton candy fell to the ground and bounced once before coming to a rest. I broke into a sprint and pushed my way between the small crowds of people—fellow student-types, families, even an elderly couple watching the fun—and jumped up onto the edge of the ride where the leather-jacketed guy was standing.
"Hey!" I had to yell to be heard over the music, which was almost painfully loud. "You need to stop the ride."
He turned to face me, both confusion and recognition passing across his face. "What?"
"Cut the power. Now! There's going to be an accident."
Despite my panic, in the back of my mind I was vaguely aware that launching myself onto the ride, and yelling at the cute guy running it, made me look like the one thing I always tried so hard not to be, a freak.