New Books and Free Stuff!

Hi All! Summer is upon us, bringing with it some awesome weather and some awesome new books! Check out this latest release by Ryan Lanz! Also, scroll to the bottom for FREE ebooks!
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Shadows of Tomorrow features two thrilling, post-apocalyptic short stories, Only One Mask and The Price of Art.

 

Only One Mask:

Nob only trusts two things: his knife and his breathing mask–the latter because he has to.

Ever since the world went crazy, he feels like he’s always on the run. Running from those who want to kill you. Running from those who want your food, your water, and your only way to safely breathe.

Tricia once said he takes things too seriously. That was a long time ago. Now taking things seriously keeps him alive.

He’s used to taking what he needs without an ounce of guilt, but now he’s faced with a moral dilemma that threatens his survival. They’ve never given him pause before, but this time, it’s different.

 

The Price of Art:

Jordyn prefers art to friends.

She remembered thinking that growing up, and it’s still true today. Art never let her down. Art never made fun of her. And art never tried to kill her.

She didn’t ask to live in a world where paintings are used for firewood, but that’s her reality. She’s constantly told to think practically–humanity can’t afford anything but the necessities to survive anymore. But she fought back and finally found a community who lets her keep every scrap of art she finds, anything to protect them from being destroyed.

But the day finally comes where she might have to choose between her survival and the survival of her art. The world isn’t a nice place anymore, and hard choices have become a part of everyday life.

Jordyn makes her choice.

 

Read it for only $0.99:

For a sample and more, visit the launch page!

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In other news:

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Because this month is my birthday month, Return to Royalty and Return to Gexalatia are free on Smashwords for the whole month of July! Yay!

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Simply go HERE for Return to Royalty and enter the promo code NM43C and go HERE for Return to Gexalatia and enter the promo code KT77G! Both codes are good until August 6, 2018.

Happy reading!

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Return to Gexalatia is almost here!

We’re now about two weeks away from book two in the Gexalatian Tales Series, RETURN TO GEXALATIA!

 

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Check out this awesome poster! Like it? It could be yours!

To celebrate the launch of book two, I’m running a raffle! Enter in all three categories for a chance to win an autographed copy of Return to Gexalatia and some other amazing swag! Stay tuned for more awesome posts as we count down to book two!!!

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES MARCH 10!

 

Haven’t read book one yet? Get it here!

Books and a Thank You!

I just want to say Thank You to everyone who came out to BrazCon on Saturday! It was a wonderful time, I got to meet some amazing young writers, and I can’t wait for next year!
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I was fortunate to meet some awesome authors as well! Here is a glimpse of some of their books!

D. Marie Prokop enjoys writing and reading stories with riveting adventures, spiritual insights, and enlightening cultural or social critiques. Her favorite authors include Madeline L’Engle, Pearl S. Buck, John Green, and C. S. Lewis.

A member of WriteSpace Houston and the Houston Writer’s Guild, D. Marie gains both education and comradery from her local writing community. She’s written and published YA, children’s fiction, science fiction, adventure, fantasy, and horror.

In 2011, D. Marie discovered the National Novel Writing Month challenge and became enamored with writing fiction. The challenge of NANOWRIMO helped D. Marie create her YA Sci-Fi trilogy, Days of the Guardian. The Days of the Guardian trilogy now includes The Red String, The Red Cloak, and The Red Knot.

D. Marie is also a singer-songwriter and avid fiber artist/knitter. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, the former Yankee now resides in Houston, Texas, along with her loving family, their feisty cats, a beloved ukulele, and much, much yarn.

Follow her literary exploits at Daysoftheguardian@wordpress.com

Check out her books:
The Shorter Things Collection: Poems, Flash Fiction, and Short Stories by [Prokop, D. Marie, Prokop, D. Marie]
Welcome to my non-young-adult collection of shorter things: poetry, flash fiction, and short stories that span various genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and memoir. Every piece in this volume is under five thousand words.
Sifting through my files, I gathered a collection of shorter pieces written over recent years that do not fit comfortably in the young adult genre. Some of these works were the result of writing workshop exercises, and some were prompted by specific challenges, for example, National Poetry Month and various literary magazine submission themes.
Fair warning—though each piece is short, they are not all sweet.
The Red String (Days of the Guardian Book 1) by [Prokop, D. Marie]
It is the year 2053. Ainsling Reid is a spirited and happy 16-year-old. Though she suffers from debilitating seizures, she has hope in the one doctor who has promised to cure her.
Li Griffin wishes his father would let him live his own life. He is angry and resentful that he has been forced to work at his Clinic. His feelings are harsher for the mother who abandoned him many years ago.
Despite their differences, these two teens form an unexpected bond when their lives cross paths.
In “The Red String,” Ainsling and Li will find themselves in need of a rescue.
It’s a good thing that’s what the Guardian does best…

Adam Holt was raised in Friendswood, Texas near NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where his father worked for NASA in Mission Control during the Apollo missions. He was born into the space program and did not realize how special that was until he arrived at college. “Your dad put men on the Moon? No way!”

He attended Baylor University for his undergrad, SMU for his grad degree, and taught English at Greenhill School in Dallas for a decade; however, he left teaching to devote himself to his writing full time as well as sharing his love of human space exploration. He responds to fan tweets: @adamholtwrites.

He travels abroad when he has time and money, loves Victor Hugo and C.S. Lewis, respects Rick Riordan, and loves the crunchy boom of a rocket launch.

Check out his books:
The Conspiracy Game: A Tully Harper Novel: A Tully Harper Novel (The Tully Harper Series Book 1) by [Holt, Adam]WARNING: YA fiction about space travel, friendship, and love. No glittery vampires allowed.
Commander Harper is searching for water on Mars when he makes an unexpected discovery. It makes him a living legend, but that only leads to more missions. Once again, he has to leave his son behind.
Not if his son has anything to say about it.
This summer Tully Harper puts away his video games and plans a mission of his own – to sneak into space on his father’s ship. To do that he will need plenty of help from Little Bacon, his pint-sized android, and his two best friends. Along the way, they will uncover The Conspiracy Game and change the fate of the solar system.
This time Tully Harper won’t be left behind.
“Tully’s enthusiasm for space travel and commitment to his friends sends this story deep into our solar system. It’s a quirky, fun book that also manages to treat space travel seriously.” – Astronaut Jerry Ross, author of Spacewalker
The Rathmore Chaos: The Tully Harper Series Book Two by [Holt, Adam]“Tabitha was kidnapped in the Florida Everglades. That’s what we told the world, but it was a lie. Now I must find her real kidnappers – the Ascendant – before they return for us all. To do that, I’m going to need a lot of help. And another spaceship. This time it’s not for me. It’s for the girl that I left behind.”
With that, Tully Harper begins his second mission into space, an epic journey that takes him to an alien world. A superior race awaits him there, ready to invade the Earth. Will an unexpected partnership – and the return of Tully’s powers – be enough to stop the Ascendant?
In his second book, Adam Holt weaves a wild web of space travel and mythology, humor and drama. The Rathmore Chaos is a redemptive coming-of-age story that takes his young protagonist to the edge of himself – and our solar system.
Martine Lewis
Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived.

Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has.

All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net.

Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist.

Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers.

Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats.
Check out her books:
Crossing the Barrier (The Gray Eyes Series Book 1) by [Lewis, Martine]
High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.
Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.
Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?
Breaking the Mold (The Gray Eyes Series Book 2) by [Lewis, Martine]
A girl stuck in her father’s mold.
Olivia Kendall looks forward to her senior year of high school. But her world is shaken when a new boy walks into school, a boy she cannot help but be drawn to. But her father’s ideas for her life don’t include Alex.
A boy with a gift, desperate for a real home.
Alex Parker begins his senior year in yet another school. The only person he looks forward to seeing again is Olivia Kendall, a girl he knew in second grade, a girl who never made fun of him. One touch, and he knows what he’s suspected all along: there is something unearthly about their connection.
Can the two stay together despite Alex’s secret, despite a town that seems to conspire against them?
Angélique Jamail’s poetry and essays have appeared in over two dozen anthologies and journals, but she’s been writing fiction since childhood. The first time she ever read one of her short stories in front of an audience was fourth grade. The reaction to it was a character-building experience.

She teaches English and Creative Writing to high school students. She resides in the Houston area with her family and a cat which might be immortal. She has otherwise lived in her imagination pretty much her whole life.

Read more of her work, and find out about upcoming publications, on her blog Sappho’s Torque (www.SapphosTorque.com). Also find her in the realm of social media on Facebook and Twitter. She’s available for book club appearances in person or via Skype.

Check out her books:
Elsa’s family grows more unkind by the week. Her boss, a seven-foot-tall rage demon, has control of everything but his anger. And her cat wants to eat her. Things could be better.
**
In a world where one’s Animal Affinity is a sign of maturity and worth, Elsa’s inability to demonstrate hers is becoming more than a disappointing nuisance; it’s becoming a danger. She has no confidence she’ll ever conquer her Plainness by “blossoming.” She also fears both the wolf packs that prowl her neighborhood and being stuck in a life plummeting rapidly from lackluster to perilous. Fortunately, she has a cousin and a co-worker who know her better than she knows herself and can see through to what society won’t.
**
FINIS. is the magic realism of our time, a story of finding one’s way to the end of things, of persevering through the dregs of life to discover something more.
The Milk of Female Kindness: An Anthology of Honest Motherhood by [James, Kasia, Pascoe, Dr. Carla, Cass, Sarah, Dickerman-Nelson, Judith, Marshall, Marie, Roman, Cheri, Garie, Sabrina, Muhammad Ali, Khaalidah, Danby, Sandra, Jamail, Angelique]
‘Mother’ is a word heavy with associations.
Becoming a mother is surely one of the biggest changes and challenges in a woman’s life. It is at once an absolutely unique experience, and yet one which is so common that it is often overlooked. Motherhood is intense, relentless and absorbing, in all senses of the word.
Popular culture seems to have a split personality when it comes to motherhood – at once holding it up as a sacred ideal, and yet being a little dismissive of women as mothers.
A diverse international group of women have been brave enough to share their stories, poetry and artwork to encourage you to think and feel about this most influential of relationships in a new and enlightened way.

And don’t forget that Innovation is still going until February 10, which is Saturday! Don’t miss out on a chance to get some great free books!
 

 

More TTC to start off the New Year right!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and that you’re all looking toward a bright, new 2018! To kick it off right, I wanted to share another chapter of The Time-Traveler’s Cat!

CHAPTER THREE

Piper rubbed his face, looking at the clock. If it hadn’t been important, the time would have dragged by, but now that it was, it seemed like time was standing still.

He shook his head, blowing a breath between his lips as he looked down at the paper he’d been scribbling on all day. Formulas and graphs filled up the page, with lines crossing out some parts, and pencil-eraser marks nearly wearing holes through the paper.

“Well?” Daniel called, turning in his chair.

Piper shook his head, handing the mess of mathematics to his friend. “I just don’t know what I’m missing,” he said, his throat hoarse with exhaustion.

Daniel took the paper and looked over it, his glasses sliding down his nose as he did so. “Some of this looks like math,” he said slowly. “And some of it looks like you’re crazy.”

Piper scowled as Daniel tossed the paper toward him. “Not helpful,” he snapped, turning the paper over to reveal a blank backside.

“Look, it’s nothing to worry about, okay?” Daniel said, leaning across the cubicle. “Just finish running the wires tonight and we’ll bring the team in tomorrow to review the formulas.” He offered a helpful smile. “You always think best when you’re surrounded by those morons.”

Piper’s lips quirked slightly. “This is true.” He leaned back in his chair. “I still need to tell Charlotte the news.”

Daniel waved his hand as he turned away. “Good luck with that.”

Piper moved to his feet and dug his comm out of his desk drawer. He left their lab and stepped into the hallway, lifting the device to try to get a good signal. Beyond the window at the end of the hallway, Piper could see clouds gathering, lightning illuminating the sky. Tonight would have been a great night to stay in.

He leaned against the wall, scrolling to Charlie’s number. He pressed the call button, holding the phone out in front of him. It rang a few times before she answered, her smile filling the screen.

“Hey there, cutie,” she said teasingly. “Thinking about later?”

Piper felt the tension ease a bit as he returned her grin. “Well, yes and no,” he said slowly. He watched the smile slide from her face.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“Bobby’s making me stay late since I was late this morning,” he said, slumping back against the wall.

Charlie’s face fell and Piper felt his heart twist. “Oh,” she said.

“I’m so sorry, babe,” he said quickly. “I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

Charlie glanced over her shoulder and Piper got a glimpse of the dining room table set with candles and plates, prepared to host a meal. “I guess I’ll put the food in the warmer,” she said, her voice heavy with disappointment.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Piper promised. “I’ll be on the seven o’clock train and home before seven-thirty.”

Charlie nodded as she looked at him. “Okay,” she said. “Just be safe.”

Piper nodded. “I will.” He tried to smile at her. “Can I get a hint at what your surprise is?”

The mischievousness returned to her eyes then. “Nope,” she said, the comm jiggling a bit as she walked into the kitchen. “You’re just going to have to wait.”

Piper sighed in annoyance, even though a grin was on his face. “Fine,” he said. He made a kissy-face at the camera. “I gotta get back to it. I love you.”

Charlie smiled. “Love you too,” she said.

Piper disconnected the call, tucking the comm into his pocket. He turned to go back into the lab, feeling a strange mixture of excitement and irritation. He wanted to go home and eat dinner with his girlfriend. His eyes landed on the machine inside the containment room. He did not want to be here messing with that thing.

He managed to sit still at his desk until the clock struck five. He also managed to keep his mouth shut as Daniel ragged on him on his way out the door. Once he was alone, he looked at his computer, pulling up the design schematics for the machine. He sent the wiring codes to his comm, standing and walking to the refrigerator in the corner.

It was small, but the perfect size for them to throw their lunches and extra sodas in. He popped the top on one, taking a sip and setting the can on his desk as he put his hand on his hip. He glared hard at the machine through the glass.

“This better not take all night,” he said to it.

The machine, of course, didn’t answer, but it looked like it was taunting him as it sat there, shining in the bright laboratory lights.

Finally, Piper knew he had to do the inevitable. He walked toward the door to the containment room, shrugging off his coat and opening the door. He pulled on a different white coat, one that was supposed to be ‘clean’, and headed toward a toolbox nearby. He pulled out the comm, flicking it to make the diagram jump into a hologram.

He set the schematics next to the machine on a work bench and pulled out a tool. His heart was pounding as he stepped inside the door to the machine. It was cool and crisp inside the door as Piper knelt under the dashboard of flickering lights. He found wires that still needed to be connected and run, and he set to work.

For the most part it was pretty mindless, but his fingers were raw from splicing and twisting the copper pieces. He glanced at the clock beyond the room after a while, thankful to see that it was almost time for him to go. He reached for the last green wire, feeling a smirk coming to his face.

It seemed like he’d be home earlier than he thought.

He lifted a pair of pliers and stripped the rubber away, leaving the copper innards bear. He did the same to a black wire, his mind in other places. He was thinking about what Charlie had made for dinner, and what they would get up to afterwards. His brain was on auto-pilot as he pulled the strands together, giving a good twist.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

A siren suddenly began to blare in Piper’s ears, making him drop the pliers and cover his head. He jumped to his feet, fear filling him as he thought back to his uncertainties about the math. He was almost to the door when it suddenly slammed, the dashboard flickering brightly as all the lights turned on.

“Oh, hell no!” Piper yelled, pulling desperately at the door. He knew it had a lock that was trigged from the outside, but none of it should have been functional yet.

“Hello!” he yelled, his voice cracking. “Help!”

The machine suddenly began to vibrate, the sound of motors whirling to speed filling his ears. Piper was yelling curses over the siren as he ran to the dashboard, trying to make heads or tails of the code that was racing across the screen. He pushed buttons, trying to get it to slow down, but it just sped up.

“Come on!” he yelled angrily, slamming his fist on the console. He blinked stupidly when the scrolling stopped, four bright green numbers stuck on the screen.

2028

“What the…?”

The machine suddenly rattled, throwing him backwards, away from the console. A deafening sound filled the machine, like the sound of a gun-shot. Then, just like that, everything was still.

Piper was breathing hard as he stared at the console, wondering what had just happened. He scrambled to his feet when he heard the lock on the door slide open, a hissing sound filling the room. He dashed out, desperate to get away from the damn thing, but unprepared for what awaited him just beyond the door.

As he staggered out into darkness, a cold feeling of dread came over him.

The sky was black. Shadows danced between the trees that surrounded Piper as he dashed through the brush. He could feel brambles and twigs grabbing at him, as if they were gnarly fingers, trying to trap him. Panic was filling him as he struggled through the dense forest. He could smell smoke and he finally caught himself around a tree, turning to look at where he’d come from.

The machine was leaning precariously, sitting in a small crater in the earth. The trees around it had been smashed and broken, and Piper stared at the door. Inside, the lights flashed, the siren still sounding loudly, echoing throughout the forest.

He drew a ragged breath, trying to decide where the hell he was. Had the machine worked? Had his worries about the numbers been accurate?

Piper wiped sweat from his brow. He definitely wasn’t in Crystalline City anymore, and this definitely was not the year 3088. The sky was too clear, and the night air tasted too clean.

A sudden screech made him jump, and he held tighter to the tree he hid against, swinging around. Unfamiliar sounds began to echo through the woods, making Piper tremble. He glanced back at the machine, knowing that he had two options: stay and die, or run and maybe survive. He chose to run.

Dashing like a madman, Piper ran through the tangled mass of trees until his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead weights. It felt like he was running in circles, all of the trees looking the same. Finally, unsure of how long he’d been crashing his way through, Piper staggered toward a fallen tree, collapsing on it.

He was definitely going to be late for dinner.

The Time – Traveler’s Cat

Today I want to share with you guys an excerpt from The Time – Traveler’s Cat! We’re three days into NaNoWriMo and I’d have to say it’s going great! I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you’re doing so far!

PROLOGUE

The sky was black. Shadows danced between the trees that surrounded Piper as he dashed through the brush. He could feel brambles and twigs grabbing at him, as if they were gnarly fingers, trying to trap him. Panic was filling him as he struggled through the dense forest. He could smell smoke and he finally caught himself around a tree, turning to look at where he’d come from.

A tall machine was leaning precariously, sitting in a small crater in the earth. The trees around it had been smashed and broken, and Piper stared at the door. Inside, bright lights flashed, a siren sounding loudly, echoing throughout the forest. The machine didn’t fit at all in the wooded background, and neither did Piper, his white lab coat protecting him against the bitter wind.

He drew a ragged breath, trying to decide where the hell he was. Had his machine worked? He looked around the forest and lifted his eyes to the sky, astounded by the number of stars in the black night.

Piper wiped sweat from his brow. He definitely wasn’t in Crystalline City anymore, and this definitely was not the year 3088.

A sudden screech made him jump, and he held tighter to the tree he hid against, swinging around. Unfamiliar sounds began to echo through the woods, making Piper tremble. He glanced back at the machine, knowing that he had two options: stay and die, or run and maybe survive. He chose to run.

Dashing like a madman, Piper ran through the tangled mass of trees until his lungs burned and his legs felt like lead weights. It felt like he was running in circles, all of the trees looking the same. Finally, unsure of how long he’d been crashing his way through, Piper staggered toward a fallen tree, collapsing on it.

He let his head fall into his hands, his breaths haggard and wheezing, tears filling his eyes. How was he going to get out of this?

 

CHAPTER ONE

The smog was heavy today. From the fortieth-floor window, Piper could barely see the lights of the other city buildings. He sighed as he sipped at his drink, grimacing at the taste.

“What the hell is this?” he asked, turning to look at his girlfriend as she flitted around the kitchen.

She paused, her long auburn hair falling over her right shoulder, teased on top and flipped to the side, the left side of her head buzzed in the latest trend. She pinned him with an annoyed look. “I told you, baby,” she said, her voice pitching to an octave that Piper found irritating. “It’s a nutritional shake.”

Piper scowled as he set it down on the coffee table. “What was wrong with plain old coffee?” he griped, walking back into the bedroom. He stood in front of a floor-length mirror, fiddling with his tie. He looked up when Charlie appeared in the mirror behind him.

“Are you excited?” she asked, crossing her arms as she leaned in the doorway.

Piper frowned. “About what?” he asked. He turned when she came closer, wrapping her arms around his neck.

“Tonight is our six-month anniversary,” Charlie said, pouting softly.

“Oh,” Piper said, his brow rising and his eyes becoming distance. On the inside he was kicking himself. Did people really celebrate six months together anymore?

“Don’t worry,” Charlie said, smiling mischievously. “I’ve planned it all out.”

“Oh,” Piper said more confidently, his hands resting on her hips. He watched as she twirled a strand of her hair around her finger.

“I got a little something for later,” she said suggestively.

Piper caught her face in his hands, kissing her gently. “I wish I could stay home and see it,” he said, having a pretty good idea what she was alluding to.

Charlie laughed then, stepping back from his grasp. “You should get going,” she said, nodding toward the TV. “It’s getting late.”

Piper looked at the morning news, scowling. “Shit.” Sports was on. Piper knew if he made it that far into the broadcast, he would miss his train. He grabbed his coat and his shoulder-bag, rushing to the front door. “Bye, babe!” he called as he opened the door.

Charlie poked her head around from the kitchen. “Bye, love you!” she returned as he waved and closed the door. She shook her head and laughed to herself once he was gone. She loved Piper, but he could be so scatter-brained sometimes.

*****

Piper pushed the button quickly to the elevator, sighing impatiently. He knew he was going to miss the train. He didn’t know why he was bothering waiting for the elevator. It was possibly the slowest elevator in Crystalline City, and it had to take him forty-five floors down to the train station.

He turned to look out the hall window, seeing that the smog was thickening beyond the glass. He debated on whether he should try to catch a cab instead, pressing his hand against his forehead. On days like this, when he was scrambling to decide how he could get to work on time, he wondered what it would be like to go outside and walk the few blocks to the building. He knew the idea was ludicrous; the smog was so dense and deadly that anyone in it for more than a minute would develop cancer and other horrible diseases pretty quickly. It was too bad that the city hadn’t finished repairs on the underground walking tunnels yet.

Finally, the stupid elevator dinged, and Piper jumped inside, accepting that he’d just have to wait for the second train and resigning himself to the fact that his boss would tear him a new one. He leaned against the wall as the elevator began its slow crawl downward, rolling his eyes hard every time it stopped to pick up another passenger. To try to keep his head from exploding, he pulled a small device from his pocket, pressing a button on the side to turn it on.

He used his thumb to scroll through it, finding his lab partner’s contact information. He held the phone up, hitting the record button. “Hey Daniel,” he said quietly, trying to ignore the others in the elevator. “I’m going to be late. Try to stall Bobby, alright?”

Once he was done, he hit the send button, a little swoosh confirming that his message had been sent. He drew a slow breath as he leaned against the back of the elevator, knowing there was only so much D could do to keep the Master of Rage busy. And, most likely, it would only make the Rage Monster worse when Piper finally arrived. He figured that, at this point, the only reason he still had a job was because his work was really important.

He was the lead on his team as an astrophysicist. His mother had asked once what he did all day at his job, and the best he could explain to her was that he worked on computers and wrote code, but it was a lot more complicated than that. Piper was the most knowledgeable in his field, and their most recent project was sponsored by The Free People’s Chosen. It used to sound silly and science-fictiony, but now it was really happening – Piper was helping his team build a machine that could travel through space and time.

It was still in its infancy, and it had a lot of bugs, but most of the advancements they’d been able to make were because of him. Piper had known from a young age that he was weird; he never saw the lessons in school the way the teacher or the other students did. He used to have bad grades because of it, but, over time, he realized it was a gift. More often that not, Piper saw the solution when everyone else only saw endless questions. He often wondered how he knew what to look for when his co-workers were so stumped.

The elevator finally shuddered to a stop, drawing Piper from his thoughts. He felt anxiety rise in him as the throng of people that had amassed in front of him began to shuffle slowly into the tunnel. He wanted to start elbowing people out of the way, but he clicked the button on his hand-held device, seeing the time. He’d missed the train by five minutes, and it would be another ten before the next one came.

Piper sighed shortly as he plopped on a bench to wait. He unlocked his device to open some sort of bubble-popping game, when it dinged, alerting him that D had responded. He swiped to the message.

Daniel’s face appeared on the screen, his eyes wide and his hair a mess. He normally looked that way, but this felt different. “Dude,” he whispered into the camera. “I can’t do anything for you today. Did you forget that the higher-ups were coming??”

Piper felt his heart sink into his feet, his breath leaving him in a whoosh. His ass was grass.