Michelle Moklebust writes YA paranormal romance and fantasy. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY Buffalo, and then earned a special education teaching credential from California State University Northridge. She has worked as a paralegal,photographer’s assistant, teaching assistant, and as a teacher of young children with special needs. But she always returns to writing and her cameras. A breast cancer survivor, Michelle lives in New York with her family and a rescued Border Collie-mix, Sparky. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, taking pictures, and staying up way too late.
In July, 2012, Michelle first eBook, Ghost Whispers, was published. The first two short stories in the Chosen series are also available for all e-Reader platforms. She is currently working on revisions to her second novel-length story, Riptide (working title, subject to change) and recently submitted the third story in the Chosen series to a charity anthology to benefit the American Cancer Society.
To read more about Michelle’s cancer journey and see some excerpts from her stories, visit http://meesh920.livejournal.com/
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BOOKS BY MICHELLE:
Vampires control Southern California and zombies have overrun the town of Barrel Springs, forcing the three remaining residents to seek refuge in the abandoned lab. The local Hellgate lies dormant (for now), so a group of friends takes a time out from the war to focus on friendship and tradition as they gather to celebrate Christmas Eve.
The streets are deserted, and rubble crunches under my boot heels as I make my way, weaving among the piles of debris, toward the lab. It's the only place left standing in this town, if an underground bunker can be considered standing. We took up residence there shortly after what may very well have been Armageddon, as in the real deal, or at least our town’s version. The three of us, we're the only ones left. At least the only ones that still call this place home, along with a bunch of cadavers that don’t realize they’re supposed to lie down and be dead. The zombies are the only reason the rest of the vampires stay away
(Mariah talking to Dimitri, asking about Bas)
"It's Christmas soon." A note of dismay colors her voice. "Bas has to come. So we can do the Snoopy dance . . . " Her voice trails off, and her eyes fill with tears as she tries to convince me to let him come over. I wish I could give her her life back. Still, I haven't gotten over the fact that she knows it's December, let alone almost Christmas. We have no calendar, the television isn't hooked up to cable or anything, just a DVD player on its last legs. And the radio reception is spotty at best.
Zombies don't sleep and they don't take Christmas Day off. The zombies are on the offenSive. Dimitri and the two Chosen, Bas and Hope, take the fight to them
. Back at the bunker, two powerful uninvited guests leave Peter bleeding from his ears. As if that wasn't bad enough, zombies attack the bunker. It’s just another day in the life of Hope, Bas, D and company.
Bas and Hope don’t bother with body armor. It wouldn’t do any good against the walking dead anyway. They grab their army-issued sidearms and then gather an axe and long stake each. Blow the zombies’ brains out the back of their skulls and they stop. Or decapitate them (and stab the severed head); that’s good for any number of creatures, myself included.
The shovel clangs against the broken cement base surrounding the hatch after he throws it away. In a flowing, unexpectedly graceful motion, those mile-long arms come around me and squeeze. This one is intent on suffocating me, but it keeps moving its head side to side, like it’s examining me and trying to determine what I am. One thing is certain, it’s not trying to eat my brain. I’ll have to explore those implications later.
Trapped in his viselike grip, I struggle to breathe. Unlike him, breathing isn’t optional for me. I can’t even work my arms down between him and me to begin loosening his grasp, never mind break the hold. He grunts and jerks me up. His mouth brushes my skin, tasting me, and something instinctive takes over. He opens his mouth wide to take a nice big chunk out of my neck.
Suddenly, I fall to the ground, free and able to inhale. Probing my flesh, I search for signs that this is some kind of death hallucination, but it isn’t. I am warm and dry. A masculine hand reaches down, long warm fingers wrapping around mine. “You know, I’d dance with you if you asked nicely.” Bas’s brown eyes smile down at me. Accepting the help, I bounce to my feet and retrieve my sword.
Groans and moans echo through the streets. We stop talking. Dimitri joins us, brushing his hands against his long pea coat. I get the impression he’s wiping zombie goo off his fingers. I’ve never actually seen a vampire kill a zombie and I briefly wonder if he simply punches through the skull and yanks the brain out.
Eighteen year old Alexis had a plan. Go on the ghost hunting field trip, get an easy A in Paranormal Studies and relax. She never expected the ghosts to talk to her again, or that she’d meet someone like Phillip, who can block the ghosts' whispers with a touch. As her relationship with Phillip grows, so does the danger to Alexis. A hellhound tries to kill her. Vampires interrupt their first date. His gorgeous ex threatens her...
Alexis had always known about Other beings, but she never expected to date one. On top of that, Phillip is in the middle of some kind of vampire royal succession, and the threats seem to come nonstop from all directions. His world is dangerous, but there's no place she'd rather be.
(an early Alexis-Gavin interaction)
Snow several inches deep spread outward from the cleared walkway. A few lazy flakes whirled skyward, buoyed by the breeze. Blinking, she tipped her face up, unable to resist the urge to watch the snowflake waltz. The swirling white crystals never failed to mesmerize her.
Phillip trailed at a respectable distance, as if he realized she wasn’t in the mood for conversation. When Alexis glanced over her shoulder, he tipped his face up, squinting at the endless gray stretching above the silent planet.
“You’re safe with him.” The voice was back. Alexis frowned. Now the day was perfect.
“What do you know,” she snapped, keeping her voice low, answering for the first time in years. Head down, she continued marching toward the strand of white trees she’d admired from the window.
“You can hear me!”
“This is so cool!”
Whirling she cursed her inability to see him. “What are you, thirteen?” she snapped.
“Fifteen. Well, technically, eighty-five. I can’t cross over ‘til I get this done.”
“What, I’m some project now?” The camera bounced against her hip as she tromped through the snow.
“Listen to me.” The voice came from the left. “I know you’re frightened. But you have to stay with him. I can’t protect you from what’s coming. Phillip Argot can.”
(Alexis is attacked by a Hellhound)
Snow and ice crunched under the tires as they drove off. When the taillights had faded, something growled. Low, like a guard dog. Alexis turned. A hulking canine stalked toward her, its lip skimming back from its teeth. Nice doggie. She took a cautious step back. The dog followed. It didn’t look like a family pet. It bared fangs and licked its chops as it circled. She rotated with it, unwilling to let it out of her sight. The hair on her arms began to rise. It sprang, spittle flying, with a snarl.
Ignoring instincts that screamed for her to stay still—running emphasized prey qualities—Alexis whirled and took off at a full sprint. She skidded on a patch of ice. Arms twirling, she fought to remain upright and lost. She sprawled on the asphalt. Scrabbling along the slick ground, Alexis tried to regain her footing but her feet refused to cooperate. Snapping jaws came close to her ear. She felt its breath on the lobe as the animal chomped, looking to sink its teeth in. Flipping over so she could see it, Alexis scuttled backward quickly, her eyes never straying from the massive creature.
The dog’s snout hovered inches from her knee. The canine teeth were far longer than was typical. It tried to grab a mouthful of leg, but came away with jeans instead. Its head was large, the muzzle fairly short without being pushed in.
Dripping teeth snapped then pierced her pants and thigh. She screamed and kicked frantically. Her foot connected with its skull and its jaws unhinged, releasing her leg. The dog bit the foot that had kicked it, crushing it and shaking its head as if playing with a toy. Pain traveled up her shin. She hoped it wasn’t broken.
A panicked look across the parking lot revealed how far from the door she’d run. Light spilled onto the stoop. Her foot slipped from the dog’s mouth as something else momentarily captured its attention. The dog bit air the next time it tried to grab her. She slithered toward the bright doorway, pulling with her hands while pushing with her feet. Her progress was achingly slow, but it was the only way. Her legs might not support her, and she didn’t want to be at that thing’s mercy.
Fetid breath on her arm made it easy to ignore the new throbbing pains that demanded her attention. The dog leapt, snapping at her face. Shielding her eyes with an arm, feeling the stiff fur of its neck brush her fingers, Alexis waited for it to tear the skin from her skull. By some miracle, it didn’t. Flipping, she scrambled to her feet, intent on putting as much distance between her and those snapping jaws as possible. Hobbling toward the townhouse, she tried to watch it over her shoulder.
Her attention elsewhere, she tripped over a curb, sprawling face down in the snow. This is it, she thought. The dog launched itself into the air. She turned over and braced for the impact and pain of having the flesh ripped from her body.
(Alexis and Phillip)
“Shut up,” she snapped. “The more you talk, the more I get to think about what I’m doing. You don’t want me to go there.”
Thankfully, he understood without her having to resort to drawing pictures to explain her position.
Walking her backward toward the bed, he held her upper arms. His grip was bruising; she was sure black and blues were already blossoming. Adjusting his hold, he swooped in for a kiss, moving a hand down to her waist. The other worked its way around to hold the back of her neck. This kiss was greedy, and her lips were going to swell from the force of it. She didn’t care. Once their lips touched, it was electric, and she didn’t want him to stop.
Dots swam beneath her eyelids. Swirling black and red eyes greeted her when she opened her own. She tried to cover her gasp with a cough. His gaze swept over her and finally came to rest on her neck, where it lingered for an uncomfortable amount of time. Unable to not squirm under the strange look, she pressed against him, hugging him tightly. When that didn’t ease her nerves, she rained light kisses on his jaw.
Growling, he seized her shoulders. Nuzzling the hollow of her throat, he moved a hand to tangle in her hair. He held it just tight enough to immobilize her. Her heart thundered in her chest. “Shhhh,” he coaxed, his voice dark and low. Mesmerizing. Gathering her in one arm, fingers still tangled in her tumbling waves, he gazed into her face, his eyes darting back and forth as he searched for something she couldn’t define. The other hand wrapped around her waist, slipping under her tank top to rest against the small of her back. Icy fire gathered at the spot he touched.
He kissed her again. This one was different. Gone was the desperation from earlier. It was almost reverential. Then he hesitated, looking at her neck with longing. Need. Was this his just once? “It’s okay,” she whispered.
“Alexis.” His thick voice held and edge of warning. Tearing his gaze from her throat, he once again met her eyes. She raised her wrist. She wanted to do this. She wanted him to mark her. He grabbed her arm, squeezing a little too tightly for a moment before relaxing his fingers. “I could kill you.” His fingers released their hold on her hair and smoothed it.
“You won’t.” Her gaze never left his. He needed her complete acceptance. The offerings that were bound to be thrown in his direction included. This was the only way she could give him that. She tried to free her arm. He didn’t let go.
When he drew back, glistening fangs filled her field of vision. He was going to do it. And she was going to let him. She’d vowed to never be prey, but she was yielding to him without a fight. But she didn’t feel like prey. There was a real connection, and this was an act of love. And something she would do for no one else. Shaking her head, she tried to clear the errant thoughts crowding her brain.
“Alexis?” He sounded concerned. She waved him off, not trusting her voice. This was the biggest moment of her life. If she talked, she’d wreck it. “You’re sure,” he asked once again, to clarify. She nodded.
Pulling her to her feet, he wrapped his arms around her. It felt so right to be enfolded in his embrace, sheltered from all the bad things that came out at night. Phillip guided her toward the door. He flipped the lock. Returning to the window, he double-checked the latch. Dipping his head, he kissed her again, fangs scraping her lower lip a few times. He healed the nicks with little licks. She shuddered, stomach clenching.
Breaking the kiss, he ran his hands up her arms and over her shoulders. Holding her tightly, he moved in for another kiss, lifting her up and straightening to his full height. Her mind swirled as her feet dangled, and her breathing changed again, slowing until its rhythm matched his. They moved into a corner. This was so different from what Yadira had tried to do to her.
Setting her down, he took his time kissing a line from her mouth to her pulse. Teeth scraped her throbbing pulse, teasing. If he was trying to make her melt, it was working. She was so completely pliant that the only reason she was still upright was his weight holding her in place. She couldn’t have resisted him if she wanted to.
His hand fisted in her hair. She tensed. His fangs pressed against her pulse again. A shiver of terror whispered across her skin as she involuntarily recalled what had happened after the shower.
His teeth punctured the skin quickly. Her fingers tightened on his arms involuntarily at the initial prick, but then relaxed as she began floating on ocean waves.
Alexis clung to him, legs unable to support her, brain unable to think. He swallowed quickly. A wave of warmth radiated from her middle, and her body hummed. She felt his lips tip up in a smile against her skin.
(Alexis and Phillip at his coronation. This scene was the inspiration for the original cover)
Vanessa ferried her to a distant corner, shielding Alexis from the blond vampire’s sapphire gaze. “It’s going to be okay, Lexie,” she cooed, rubbing her back. “He’s got to mix and mingle. That’s his job tonight.”
Alexis nodded, feeling absolutely pathetic. She’d known about all this. But no, she just had to come. Well, you get what you deserve, she thought as Vanessa continued. “And that guy seems nice enough to dance with. Come on, sweetie. Try to have a good time.”
Chance said something to Vanessa; the girl walked away, leaving them alone in the shadows. “Alexis, don’t get discouraged.” Her head snapped up, eyes widening. The smile that greeted her stunned expression was slow and sexy. Dangerous. “Let’s keep this between us, okay? Michael would kill me. Us,” he corrected quickly.
“What’re you doing?” she hissed. They were going to be in so much trouble if they got caught.
“Let’s just say that sometimes it doesn’t suck to be a twin.” He winked and led her back into the whirling bodies. Pursing his lips, he watched her steadily. If you honestly thought I was going to wait until midnight to touch you, you’re out of your mind, his voice whispered in her head.
The blond vampire watched them closely, his expression neutral. She didn’t like that. She was starting to not like him. “What’s his prob . . . ” She clutched Phillip’s hand, the only way she could think to transmit how uncomfortable Blondie was making her without causing a scene.
“Shhhhh.” Phillip’s hand skimmed up the side of her neck, tucking a strand of hair that had escaped her up-do behind her ear to bare her scar. “That’s better.” He leaned forward and kissed her. Then his lips trailed little kisses to her collarbone, raising goose bumps in their wake. “You taste good. We should just leave.” Dancing onyx eyes greeted her surprised expression.
Her hand came up to slap him, but his fingers caught her wrist, wrapping around it gently. Leading her into a darkened nook, he nuzzled her neck, his nose sweeping up the curve to her jaw. Warm breath tickled her earlobe. “Milena does good hair,” he said against her skin. “It’s as if she did it on purpose.”
“Piled it up there like that to entice me. Your neck looks incredible.” Another light rain of kisses. “Irresistible.” His voice was muffled.
A wave of giddiness swept through her. “Is it working?” His mouth covered hers in response, and a soft growl rumbled through his chest. She worried Michael would see, but Phillip tightened his arms around her, forcing her reservations back down.
Coming Soon: Riptide
Teasers are unedited and may change
(Dani POV, At lunch the day after she and Max meet)
A shadow falls across our food, and our conversation abruptly dies. If it’s Reese, he’ll be pissed that we were talking about our argument. He thinks that’s our business, no one else’s, and I shouldn’t go airing our differences to everyone. If it’s not my boyfriend, whoever it is doesn’t need to hear.
“Hey.” I recognize the deep voice instantly. My stomach does a little somersault. “Mind if I join you guys?”
“Max! Hi!” There’s no reason for me to be so excited to see him. He doesn’t even know who I am.
(Dani and Max at the dolphins’ cove)
He purses his lips, and his eyes dance in amusement, reflecting the vivid pinks and purples of the sky above us. Wordlessly, we bob in the current, the heat rolling off his body warming me despite the chill ocean temperature. Strong legs wrap around my middle. My eyes widen and I gasp as he leans back and strips off his shirt. His arms wrap around me again. “Wouldn’t want you to float away.” His voice is husky, his gaze unnerving. I swallow, my mouth suddenly as dry as a desert.
(Dani POV, when Reese finds her alone on the beach with Max)
He can’t see me here with Max and no one else. He’ll flip.
Gathering my chalks and pencils, I stuff everything into my beach bag and stand. Max hops up, confusion marring his features. He begins to say something, but a few items drop to the sand. I stoop to retrieve them and glance up to see if the beach is still clear. A figure in shorts and a hoodie stands near the edge of the sand, hands shoved in the jacket’s pockets. My eyes travel up over his torso to his very pissed-off expression. Reese scowls. “Too late,” I grumble, hopefully too soft for Max to hear.
Reese stops a short distance away and crosses his arms. A breeze ruffles his hair. “Okay, Dani. I get it.” The sharp undertone of accusation slices through me. “I’m done.” He whirls and stomps back toward the aquarium. My face grows hot.
(Dani POV, after swimming away from the aquarium with the Mer)
A strong arm crushes me against a broad chest. The Mer is warm, and I stop shivering. His other hand seizes my chin, and I get an informal introduction to his claws. Thankfully, they just press into my skin as opposed to puncturing it. The fingers flex, forcing my mouth into an O-shape. His face drifts closer to mine, mouth slanting across my lips. I thrash and toss my head. No way. I’m not kissing this thing. I’m not going to let him turn me into whatever he is.
(Max POV, when he picks Dani up for their date)
I arrive to pick her up at dusk. All the house lights are off except the ones upstairs. My hand is poised to knock when she pulls the door from under my fist.
She chose a pair of skintight jeans and knee-high boots to go with her black V-neck top. My mind immediately turns to more carnal thoughts, and I have to rein them in before my mouth gives these notions voice. The short leather jacket emphasizes her narrow waist. “You look incredible.” She smiles graciously, accepting the compliment, and her burgundy lips entice me to walk her inside, go up to her room, and take it from there.
(Max POV, Max’s secret revealed)
Dani’s eyes sweep down my torso, stopping just above the waterline. Readjusting my grip on her shoulders, I steel myself for the accusations and the drama, all the things that chased me from the sea onto land in the first place. The reprieve was too short. “Let me see,” she coaxes in a whisper while her legs and arms churn beneath the small waves, keeping her afloat.
Retreating a couple of feet, I lean back, raising the fluke above the gentle ripples, making a few of my own. My insides roil violently, and I realize I’m nervous about her reaction. My gaze is fastened on her angelic countenance, awaiting her proclamation that I am some kind of mutant. I want to look away to soften the blow but can’t drag my eyes from her beautiful face.
(Dani POV, at the aquarium after a fiasco with Reese at the sideshow)
From my position by the doorway, I watch as Max sinks back through the water. The lights flicker and his body arches. What just happened? I step back through the doorway, intent on making my way back to the tank. Mom clamps a hand around my wrist to hold me in place. The overheads wink a second time. Max gnashes his teeth. When the lights come back on, he’s still wearing board shorts. I release a breath I wasn’t aware I was holding.
“Third time’s the charm,” Mom mutters.
This time, the lights go out completely, plunging the room into darkness. I hear people scrambling, their shoes scuffing against the floor as they hurry around the chamber. A sloshing noise and then a damp hand too large to be Mom’s grabs mine, pulling me into the darkened hallway.