July 4, 2017

FREEZE First Chapter Reveal...Happy Fourth!!

Freeze (Midnight Ice Book Two) goes on sale in just ONE WEEK!! 

I'm so excited because I'm obsessed with the turn this series is taking and I'm loving these characters right now! I just finished my rough draft of the third book, and I'm already itching to dive into the fourth! There's nothing more fun than when the words are just rolling off my fingers :)

So...to celebrate the release of Freeze in one week, and for #teasertuesday, I decided to post a first chapter reveal! I hope you enjoy! And as always, Freeze is available to pre-order wherever ebooks are sold (and it'll only be $2.99 for another week)!

Oh, and to all my fellow Americans, Happy Fourth of July! 


If you're new to Midnight Ice, you can check out the series page to learn more :)

Without further ado...the first chapter!


(Midnight Ice Book Two)

Chapter One

Pandora woke in a fog of hazy memories, unable to see clearly, unable to think clearly, adrift in a space where time had no meaning. She blinked, once, twice, trying to clear the heady confusion.
Slowly, a face came into view.
A beautiful face, almost too perfect, as though chiseled from stone, crafted by an artist’s hands. Pandora had always thought so, even before he’d fully grown into those just-plump-enough lips and sultry hooded brows. The lashes that any girl would kill for were currently closed in sleep, hiding his best feature—those sometimes-brooding, always-loving seafoam eyes.
Her heart thudded painfully.
Painfully? Pandora thought, her own brows coming together in a frown as her chest continued to constrict, as her pulse quickened, as her groggy mind fought for clarity.
Jax moved toward her, rolling almost imperceptibly closer in his sleep. A lock of hair fell over his forehead, slipping down over his eyes. Pandora reached for it instinctually, fingers moving on their own to push the wayward strands back behind his ear, to run through his silky hair, to feel him, to be near him.
Her palm hit a wall, stopped by an invisible barrier. 
Pandora bolted awake, sitting up in an instant, bringing her other hand against the thick, unbreakable, pristinely clear glass.
Jax, she sneered.
Jax with his perfect lips and perfect jaw and perfect hands—hands that always knew just what they were doing, hands that could unravel her with the softest caress or spell her doom with the swiftest push of a button. Jax with his empty words and broken promises. Jax who made her love him twice. Jax who’d locked her in this cell.
 Pandora curled her fingers into furious fists. She slammed them against the glass as her blood boiled—her titan blood—and all the memories of the past few days came crashing down around her.
Jax finding her in New York.
Jax charming her.
Jax traveling with her.
Jax pretending he only had her best interests at heart.
Jax make-believing he still loved her.
Jax pressing his hands against her shoulders as the conduit fire started to rage around her, pushing the buttons to call the other titans, to tell them she was weak and vulnerable, to inform them her vampirism was being cured, to give them the signal to move in. Jax doing nothing as they carried her away, as they brought her here, to the titan jail, to the most fortified prison in North America.
Four years of running.
Four years of hiding.
But that wasn’t even the worst part.
Pandora closed her eyes, fingers falling open as they dropped away from the glass wall and collapsed in a defeated lump, no longer fighting, instead resting uselessly on her lap. Jax, the cell, the prison—all of it faded away as the memory washed over her. The memory she’d tried so hard to forget, the memory that being cured had unleashed from the hidden depths of her mind. The memory of her last night with the titans. The night Jax had been initiated. The night she’d run away. The night she discovered that her own father meant to kill her and no one, not even Jax, was trying to stand in his way.
What am I?
The thought came swift and quick, eliciting a gasp from Pandora’s lips as it sliced right through her, a deep, painful cut.
What was she?
And without even trying, she was drawn back—not a woman trapped in a prison, but a frightened girl huddled on the stairs, eavesdropping on a conversation she was never meant to overhear, balanced on the blade’s edge of before and after.
Souls? Pandora could almost hear her father’s dark laughter as he spat the word at Jax’s father that night four short years ago. Don’t talk to me about souls. Mine broke a long time ago, on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, the day my daughter was born—the day her mother and I realized that the child we spent years trying to conceive, months planning for, a lifetime dreaming of, was a child who could destroy the entire world, was a child I would have to murder the very second she turned sixteen. Don’t talk to me of souls, Javier. I don’t have one anymore.
Before that moment, Pandora had been a naïve fifteen-year-old about to run away with her one true love, dreaming of freedom from a life and a destiny she’d never wanted. 
And after?
After, she’d been broken.
Broken by the iron sound of her father’s voice as he spoke of ending her life.
Broken by the sight of Jax in the woods, tattoo freshly carved into the soft skin at the base of his neck letting her know he’d chosen his side and it wasn’t with her.
Broken by the lies.
Broken by finally having heard the truth and, instead of instinctively denying the possibility that she could mean something so evil, having the soul-crushing realization that all the pieces of her life were somehow falling into place, that somehow it all made sense. The fact that her mother killed herself. The fact that her father never once showed her an ounce of love. The fact that the titan parents didn’t want their children getting close to her. The fact that her power of invisibility never fit. The fact that she herself never fit.
Pandora was born to be discarded.
But that didn’t mean she’d go willingly. Because something else had happened during her four years of running and running and never looking back—she’d learned how to fight for herself.
And I’ve become pretty freaking great at it, Pandora thought, taking a deep breath before feeling her lips twitch with the whisper of a smile. If I do say so myself.
And then she stood, easing to her feet before brushing the nonexistent dust from her pants. Not bothering to take another look at Jax, Pandora reached out and coaxed her shadows, wrapping herself in a thin veil of ebony, letting the world fade as the darkness surged around her. She became invisible to the cameras relentlessly focusing and refocusing through the glass. The lens was constantly pinned on her location, searching for a target who’d disappeared.
“Sam,” Pandora called into the space around her, knowing he’d somehow hear, knowing without a doubt that he’d come when she called. Because while she was strong and independent and sure she could figure out how to fight this battle on her own, it never hurt to have help. And as much as she hated to admit it, a small part of her brightened at the idea that there was at least one person standing by her side. A small part of her was grateful that she wasn’t completely alone.  
“Pandora,” a deep voice whispered, breath brushing the back of her neck, shooting a delicious little tingle down her spine.
“Would you stop doing that?” she grumbled, jumping and spinning in one quick, shocked motion. Every freaking time, she thought, annoyed that she couldn’t control her own body’s response to his sudden appearance, couldn’t quiet the flutter of her heart. Maybe she could have when she’d been a vampire, but she was utterly human at the moment—and frustratingly hormonal, at that. Getting her period again for the first time in four years? Yeah, not fun. But it was almost over, thank god.
Sam just shrugged, grinning. The shadows undulated around his frame, pulsing quietly as though they moved in tune with his heartbeat, somehow alive, somehow part of him. Then he quipped, “Probably not.”
“Because I enjoy watching you squirm,” he teased, stepping next to her. And then he leaned closer, lips a hairsbreadth from her ear as he whispered, “And I like knowing that even after a thousand years, the sound of my voice still makes your blood sing. That even the softest brush of my breath still brings a swarm of eager goose bumps to your skin.”
Pandora swallowed, cheeks growing warm as those very goose bumps he mentioned rippled with delight.
But Sam stepped past her, letting his words linger, probably basking in the swell of feelings he knew they brought rising within her.
Well, in that case… Pandora mused, mentally shaking herself out of it. Then she turned, tracking his movements before tossing out a single question. “A thousand years?”
Sam lifted a brow as if to say, I thought you’d catch that. But he just cast a wry glance toward the glass wall of her cell. “Walk through that, and I’ll explain.”
Pandora pursed her lips, fighting back a groan. She’d been in this cell for three days. And for three days, Sam had appeared, teased her with little tidbits of information, and goaded her into attempting to walk through solid glass. Guess what else had happened for three days? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because she could become invisible, and, well, that was about it.
“You can do it,” Sam urged, tone earnest. “I know you can. The only thing holding you back is you, and the lies they always told you, the doubts they put in your mind to make you weak. Discard all of that, believe in yourself, and you’ll succeed. I know you will. After all, you’ve done it before.”
Another piece of bait.
Another juicy little tidbit for her to hang on to.
When had she done it before?
And how had he known her for a thousand years?
Fine, damn you, Pandora cursed, taking a deep breath and stepping up to the glass. She needed answers, and if there was one thing she’d learned about Sam in the short time she’d known him, it was that answers didn’t come easy—if they ever came at all.
Palms pressed against the cool glass, Pandora closed her eyes and drew the shadows closer, letting the darkness swell as she slowly sank deeper and deeper into the abyss, letting her mind empty, letting all thoughts of the real world drift away until there was only swirling black and Sam’s presence by her side. The prison disappeared. The cool presence of the glass faded. The boy lying fast asleep on the other side of the wall drifted away. When her body was entirely calm, entirely relaxed, Pandora took a small step forward, and—smack.
Pandora groaned, eyes snapping open as the world drew back into acute focus, bright and mocking. She flicked her gaze toward Sam and noticed his frown.
“You’re holding back,” he said.
“I am not,” Pandora protested, glaring at him. “Maybe you’re just not explaining it very well.”
“At the last second, you’re holding back,” he repeated, ignoring her accusation as he narrowed his eyes and stared again at the wall as though trying to unravel its secrets. “You don’t trust me,” he mumbled to himself. “Or maybe you don’t trust your power. Or maybe you don’t entirely trust yourself.”
And why should I? Pandora mused, rolling her eyes. I haven’t exactly been the role model for good decision-making, what with turning into a vampire, letting the same guy break my heart twice, and falling for the same tricks over and over again.
Sam whipped his head around as though he could hear the thoughts running through her mind, gaze inquisitive, blue eyes penetrating as he analyzed her. And then his expression cleared. “I have an idea.”
Pandora rolled her eyes. “That’s new.”
“Just take my hand,” he drawled, tossing her an amused stare.
Pandora was immediately intrigued. Normally he danced around her, keeping his distance, getting close but not too close, teasing her with the warmth of his presence before gracefully pulling away. But now he held his palm out, golden skin lit with an inner glow that somehow absorbed the darkness always pulsing around him. Slowly, Pandora extended her hand and entwined their fingers. She inhaled sharply at the burning feel of his touch.
“Focus on me,” Sam murmured, almost hypnotically.
Yeah, like I could focus on anything else. Pandora almost snorted but managed to control it at the last second. His closeness was intoxicating, overwhelming. She couldn’t help but tighten her grip, thumb brushing over his knuckle. But as always, there was something not quite real about him—as though the palm touching hers was there, yet not. He wasn’t quite solid. Heat and life surged into her skin, yet her fingers felt wrapped around little more than a temporarily firm patch of air, as though Sam himself was little more than a shadow pretending for the moment to be a man.
“Close your eyes and listen to the sound of my voice,” he continued, soft and alluring, pulling her in deeper. “Let yourself get lost in my world. Join me here. I know you can.”
Pandora focused on the warmth of his touch, willing it to become more real, more solid. The shadows pressed closer, not needing to be pulled, only welcomed as they enshrouded her in darkness, wrapping her in ebony, stealing the light from her eyes and blackening out the real world. Pandora brushed her thumb against Sam’s knuckle again, this time feeling the soft ridges of his skin, the curves of his bones. He flexed his hand, grabbing her tighter, his own fingers dancing with hers like long-lost lovers finally returning home. Distantly, she heard his breath skip a beat, heard him release a long, trembling sigh, as though he’d been waiting a lifetime to hold her again, to feel her again. Pandora leaned in closer, pressing her shoulder against his arm, her hip against his leg, longing to rest her head against the nook of his neck, a spot she somehow knew she’d fit into perfectly.
Sam stepped away.
Pandora followed, thinking only of closing the gap between them, willing his ghostly presence to grow more solid with each passing second, willing him to life.
Sam stepped.
Pandora followed.
Again and again.
“Open your eyes,” he whispered, nose pressed to her ear, breath the lightest tickle.
Pandora listened, holding on to her invisibility but letting the shadows fall away just enough for her to realize she’d followed Sam straight through the glass and cleanly to the other side.
“I did it!” she said, spinning and throwing her arms in the air, body extending for an excited hug before her mind caught up and she froze.
Sam sidestepped the embrace, little more than smoke and air and spirit once again. A smile wavered on his lips, sad for a moment before firming to something sturdy, something proud.
Pandora dropped her arms to her sides, and she swallowed thickly, fighting the sting of rejection. A somewhat forced smile rose to her lips. “So,” she said, willing the grin to become real as the challenge rolled off her tongue. “I’ve done this before, have I? You’ve known me for a thousand years, have you? Time to spill. Start talking, mister.”
“Walk back through by yourself,” Sam said, a challenge of his own, “and I will.”
“Hey.” Pandora’s brows came together in a frown. “No fair.”
“You want to escape this prison?” Sam asked, turning to face her as he slowly walked backward. “You want to get out of here alive? You’re going to have to learn how to walk through more than glass to do it. This is only the beginning, Pandora. Only the beginning.”
And then he retreated to the shadows, melting into the silky darkness as he eased back, drifting completely away before reappearing on the other side of the glass.
Pandora clenched her fists, wanting to wring his neck just a little. But she knew he was right. The titan prison was more fortified than anything she’d tried to break into or out of before. She needed to become stronger, more powerful, and she needed to do it fast. Because she’d been trapped for three days already, and the clock was winding down—it was only a matter of time before her father made good on his word, before the titans decided to kill her, before whatever moment they were waiting for finally arrived.
Against her will, Pandora’s gaze traveled down ever so slowly, eyes fighting her instincts until they landed on Jax and stayed there, stuck.
This was the third time she’d woken up to find him asleep outside her cell, body pressed to the glass as though he could somehow osmose his way inside. It was the third time she’d retreated into the shadows, refusing to speak to him, refusing to give him the satisfaction of waking up to find her watching him. Because she wasn’t quite sure which expression her gaze held—pure fury or pure agony? The gaping tear in her heart hinted at the latter, as much as she wished it weren’t true, and there was no way she’d let Jax know just how easily, just how hard she’d fallen once again.
Pandora knelt, reaching for Jax’s face—his perfect, backstabbing face.
Her hand hovered above his cheek, and she held it there, uncertain. The heat from his skin drifted up, melting into her palm, making her wince. Part of her still yearned to brush the hair from his forehead, to tuck it safely behind his ear, to lie down and let him wrap his arms around her and tell her he was sorry, tell her that everything would work out in the end. And the other part of her? The furious, spewing, nearly volcanic part of her? Well, that part yearned to wrap her fingers around his throat just to show him she didn’t give a damn, to show him the titans hadn’t won yet.
Her thumb twitched, curling inward.
Jax sighed, rolling onto his back, neck straining toward her as though he’d heard her thoughts and was offering himself up for judgment. Pandora paused. Had he noticed her presence somehow? Had he felt her soul aching deep within the shadows, a place where only he and Sam had ever been able to sense her?
“Dory?” The words came out as a puff of air, a sleepy sigh lured to life from whatever scene played behind his closed eyes. The edges of his mouth curved up. A sound passed through his slightly parted lips, a humming purr, satisfied and happy—the stuff of dreams.
His entire body froze.
Pandora snatched her hand back and hugged her wayward fingers to her chest.
Jax’s eyes shot open.
She jumped away and pulled the shadows tighter.
Jax rolled to his feet, staring into her cell, expression sharp as a thousand different emotions passed over his face, fluttering like bright lights in the depths of his eyes. He pressed his hands to the glass, aggressive and frustrated, fists clenched as he saw her cell was empty—a sure indication that she was still hiding from him, still unwilling to talk. And just as fast, all of that gave way to utter hopelessness. He dropped his head between his raised hands, shoulders bending in as his back hunched, as his muscles all gave out, barely having the strength to hold him upright. He directed his gaze to the floor, ashamed, unable to look at the empty space where she might be standing. A silent sob shuddered through him.
And then he paused, head tilting as though he’d heard something strange.
Or sensed something strange, maybe.
Ever so slowly, his gaze shifted, rolling over the floor, lifting up, up, up, and landing on the exact spot where she stood hidden, completely invisible on the wrong side of her cell.
His brows drew together, his expression curious.
He took an uncertain step toward her.
Pandora dove into the shadows, plunging into the darkness, knowing it would be there for her, knowing it was the one thing that had never abandoned her—not as a titan, not as a vampire. The shadows had always been there in her deepest, darkest moments, sheltering her, saving her, protecting her when no one and nothing else would. She trusted these ebony tendrils more than anything else in the world—more than her own mind, definitely more than her heart.
Unseeing, unfeeling, letting her power lead her, Pandora walked.
Five steps.
Not a long distance.
But when she opened her eyes, she was on the other side of the glass, back in her cell but no longer trapped, no longer a prisoner. Now there by choice, biding her time, emboldened by the sudden advantage she’d earned—something the titans would never see coming.
Jax was forgotten behind her. Wherever he moved or whatever he said was blocked by the soundproof wall at her back, and she didn’t care to turn around. Because when she looked up, hungry cerulean eyes held her captive. She was lost for a moment in the pleasure and elation sparkling like the sun across the deep sea in his gaze.
Sam’s lips twitched into a grin for the barest moment, and then he nodded, signaling that he’d never doubted her and had always known she could do it. “Good work.”
Pandora lifted a teasing brow, high on her own bursting confidence. “Good work? That’s all I get?”
The corners of his eyes crinkled as a bright light flashed across them. “What else do you want?”
The suggestive undercurrent in his voice, smooth and controlled, made her pulse quicken. But she forced the attraction down, forced her mind to clear. “I want answers. How have you known me for a thousand years? How have I done this before? Who are you? Who am I? What’s going on?”
Sam dropped his gaze with a sigh, shaking his head. “Those aren’t the right questions.”
“Then what are?” she pressed.
He took a step closer, lifting his hands so his palms cupped her cheeks, whispering against her skin like fluttering silk, there but not there—always teasing, always elusive. He tilted her head so she looked up at him, realizing how much taller he was—just the right height to make her want to stretch onto her tippy-toes, wrap her arms around his shoulders, and close the gap.
“I have a question, one I’ve wondered for many years, many lifetimes,” he murmured, gaze flicking over her shoulder to the man possibly still standing outside her cell, wondering if she’d ever speak to him again. Pandora knew the answer to that question—no.
Sam brought his attention back to her and brushed his thumb adoringly across her cheek, as though she were fragile, precious. Her focus was completely on him when he continued in an open voice, one laid bare, vulnerable.
“What is worse?” he said simply, with an undeniable undercurrent of despair. “Is it worse to love someone with your entire being and have that love stripped away, realizing it exists only in your heart? To carry that love from afar, never being able to hold her, to touch her, to comfort her? To watch her die a thousand lonely deaths or survive a thousand broken hearts, knowing you can never save her, knowing that even with all your strength and force and invincibility, you are powerless in the one area that means the most to you? Or is it worse to love someone with your entire being and have that love stripped away, forgetting that it existed in the first place? To live a thousand lives with the unyielding sensation that a part of you is missing, that a part of you is empty and wrong, the part you gave him but have now lost? To be always searching for someone just out of reach, stumbling through life utterly alone? Which is worse, do you think, Pandora? To know love, to feel love, and to lose it over and over in an unending cycle you can’t break? Or to forget your love ever existed in the first place?”
Pandora couldn’t breathe.
Couldn’t move.
Deep down, her soul felt suffocated by his words, was choking on his heartbreak, struggling to find an answer she had lost so long ago, one she couldn’t remember.
Still gently caressing her cheek, Sam disappeared into the shadows. One moment he was there, watching her with the weight of a history she didn’t understand, and the next he’d faded from sight, slipping deep into the darkness, gone.
Pandora stumbled on shaky feet, a boat abandoned by her anchor, floating without a tether, off balance and unsure.
Damn you, she thought, annoyance acute as the fog his presence created suddenly cleared.
“That wasn’t an answer!” she shouted into the emptiness of her barren cell, listening as her voice reverberated across the stone, bouncing from wall to wall, filling the small space. “You still owe me! You promised!”
For a moment, there was nothing.
Pandora’s gaze raced across the stone walls, up to the ceiling and down to the floor, passing over the glass wall just long enough to notice that Jax had disappeared.
And then she sensed it.
Laughter rippling through the shadows. Pure, untainted amusement that washed over her in a crashing wave, dispersing the darkness and piercing through her. And despite her best efforts, the response brought a frustrated yet somehow honest, somehow joyful smile to her lips.
Men, she huffed, wondering how to retaliate.
But at the same moment, the smell of hot oatmeal drifted to her nose, and she turned just in time to see a little tray of food pass through the hidden door in the glass. Her stomach grumbled as the opening snapped shut, sealing her breakfast into the cell. Just like always, there were no utensils, no knives. The bowl was plastic and the cup was paper, nothing sharp, nothing breakable.
Pandora’s grin only deepened.
If they thought a concrete cell and dull dinnerware were enough to stop her, they had another think coming. Because now that she’d walked through walls once, she was sure she could do it again. So it was only a matter of time before she waltzed her adorable, invisible behind out their front door, escaping right beneath their noses.
The answers could come after she was free.
Because no matter how intriguing, how sexy, how slyly evasive he was, Pandora had no intention of letting Sam off the hook so easily. One way or another, she’d steal the secrets hiding in his smile.
She did, after all, have an uncanny knack for thieving. 


I hope you enjoyed the first chapter :)

Like I mentioned above, Freeze is available for pre-order, and the special $2.99 discount is ending soon! 


YAY!! Now back to the beach...

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