Thanks to Aimee Duffy and Michelle Smart, I have some excerpts to share from their Once Upon a Twist Anthology. If you enjoy the excerpts, please use the order link to purchase a copy. Check back tomorrow for an excerpt by Michelle.
Excerpt: Reunited with Red by Aimee Duffy
A shot sounded just as the door behind her groaned in protest at the force of the creature’s attack. She could give in. Best case scenario, the thing would kill her, but she knew if the man-like creatures got anywhere near her she’d become one of them.
Another shot echoed in her ears. The men were close and the bullet took them both out. She closed her eyes against the sight of brain and blood and yuck. Once had been enough.
“Now!” he demanded.
Without thinking, she took off down Grandma’s garden path, ignoring the bodies on the floor. The sound of the wood splitting made her push her legs faster as she headed for the forest.
A muffled curse sounded to her left. She turned in time to see him running toward her, a shot gun aimed directly at her head. Her heart missed a few beats. She stopped immediately.
“I’m not…I’ve not been bitten. I—”
She spun around. Another few of the infected were at the edge of the forest. He let off another shot and her ears rang with the sound. It didn’t muffle the crack of more wood splintering, or the snarl that came from the creature which had managed to make a hole in the door big enough for its head to get through. Snapping jaws gnawed at the gap, trying to create a way out.
He caught her around the waist and picked her off the ground with one arm, pressing her close to every hard, unrelenting muscle of his body. His scent engulfed her, and his rough skin comforted her.
Anger and gratitude rippled through her, as well as something she didn’t want to think about. She bit her tongue to distract herself, but the tears streaming down her face reminded her that Grandma was gone. Her breath choked out on a sob. His arms squeezed tighter around her.
Ruby pushed at his chest. “Don’t touch me, put me down!”
He lowered her to the ground, his jaw tense, his sharp features so severe she probably imagined the flash of hurt in his black eyes. Eyes she’d once happily fallen into. Eyes that had once made her forget everything else in the world. Eyes she’d wanted to gouge out for betraying her in the worst way possible.
“We need to get out of here.” His voice tore her back to the present. She heard the creature tear another chunk of wood from the door. “Now.”
She reached for his outstretched hand, but hesitated. “Grandma.” Her voice broke around the word.
They had to go back, what if there was still a… Ruby stopped the thought dead. Even she knew hoping was ridiculous. Still if they could get her to a hospital… She snatched her hand away and turned back to the house.
His strong, constricting arms banded around her waist and he picked her up again. She kicked and screamed, unwilling to go easy, her mind a haze of grief. The bastard didn’t even flinch, didn’t loosen his hold. And then they were moving. She tried another kick, aiming for his knees.
“Red, quit it.”
Her limbs froze, but her chest ripped out sobs with every breath. “Stop…calling…me…that.” Her hair was more blonde than red, especially now she’d had it highlighted, and the nickname took her back to a time she wanted to forget.
The ground met her feet and suddenly he was in front of her, wiping her eyes, her cheeks. The severe expression on his face had been replaced with wide eyes and a frown.
“She’s…” He cleared his throat. “We can’t save her. It’s too late.”
Rage boiled through her veins, wiping away rational thought. After all, what was the point? She had nothing left. No family. Not even him. “No.”
His teeth snapped together and he grabbed her hand. She tried to pull it away but he was too strong; his grip almost crushed her bones. He turned and tugged her hard. It was either fall or follow, though she was sure if she fell he’d drag her along anyway. Any man who could lug around trees didn’t worry about the weight of a hundred and thirty pound woman. The bastard broke into a sprint, leading them into the thick of the forest in the opposite direction of his home. She tried to push the grief down, concentrate on following him through the darkness.
“Where are we going?” she asked, pushing her legs faster to keep up with him.
She couldn’t see a foot in front of her. Darker shadows than the night around them gave no indication of where they were. The moon hid beneath clouds above, somewhere through the trees. If he crashed into something she was going down with him.
“We need to mask your scent.”
If stranger words had come out of his mouth, she hadn’t heard them. But then it clicked. “The thing can smell me.”
And it did get a good whiff at the house. She swallowed against the tears in her throat. It wasn’t the time to grieve. Now she could think rationally and, although she grudged it, she was grateful he’d come when he did or she’d either be an infected monster by now or the thing would have eaten her.
He didn’t answer, just ran faster. She kept up, but her calf muscles burned and her lungs heaved with the effort. Over her ragged panting, she heard the sound of the river, but she knew they were too high up. He must be taking her to…
Ruby slowed, tried to yank her hand free. “You’ve lost your mind!”
His grip didn’t ease up as he dragged her closer to the ledge. “There’s no other way.”
“It’s at least a ten foot drop. You know I can’t swim!”
He stopped at the ledge and launched the gun into the darkness. She thought for a second he’d thrown it into the river, but it landed in the distance with a thud. The moonlight broke through the clouds, illuminating the scary jump and rushing water below. Her heart sped.
“You’ll be fine. I won’t let you drown.” His lips quirked, like he found her terror entertaining.
All the pent up anger, grief, and fear fought for supremacy inside. She couldn’t control what came out of her mouth. “And I’m supposed to trust you? Are you kidding me?”
His arms banded around her, holding her arms down by her sides in a steely grip. “You could always trust me, Red. I told you everything I was allowed to.”
Before she could argue, or before she could wonder what he meant by allowed, he picked her up and jumped off the ledge.
Glass Slippers and Combat Boots
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, the creatures are coming…
In a land run by misogynists, where fair maidens are deemed liable to fall in a dead faint at the sight of blood, Prince Charming is worried – the creatures that have destroyed their neighboring kingdoms are coming for them. He judges it imperative to get all the females to safety, but first he needs to break the enchantment enslaving his One True Love to her hateful home. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the Ball to get through too.
But when the creatures reach them ahead of their expected time, all plans are foregone. Can Ella break her wicked stepmother’s enchantment? Can she save her handsome Prince and the kingdom before midnight strikes? And can she show his soldiers what it really means to kick a monster’s butt? The clock is ticking…
Reunited With Red
Many, many years later…
When Ruby visits her grandmother in the deep, dark forest, she stumbles into a nightmare. Her grandma’s been attacked by a wolf-like creature, and an ancient disease that turned people into monsters is back… and so is the cold-hearted ex she walked out on a year ago.
Now she has to either accept Jeremy’s help or face becoming a monster herself. Fighting alongside the man she once loved isn’t easy, especially when she discovers there’s more to Jeremy than the cheating bastard she took him for.
As they fight to survive the disease and save those they love, can they keep from falling for each other all over again?