Title: Outside Blessings
Author: Penelope Marzec
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Welcome to Blessings, N.J. .... a seaside town with dark and dangerous secrets. Neema wants to prove her sister was murdered, that she didn't commit suicide, but the murderer is still out there, still dangerous, and Neema could be the next victim if she asks too many questions. She has a secret, one she dare not divulge, even to Emmett, the young lifeguard she falls in love with. But Emmett has a secret of his own.
Her heart thundered as she opened her hand and stared at it. It was Lila’s silver heart locket— the one Gustave had given to her on her birthday. Lila’s initials were engraved on the surface, so there could be no doubt.
She trembled as emotion swamped her like a giant wave. With knees too weak to hold her, she sank upon the hard, cold granite. Her chest tightened as she realized she sat in perhaps the very spot where her sister had met her doom.
She tried to open the tiny clasp with her frozen fingers, but she could not. A small sob escaped her lips.
Seamus inched closer, but she was too distraught to care.
“What are you doing there? Can’t you see the sign? Don’t climb on the rocks.” A deep voice shouted at her. “Seals bite! Get away so I can get rid of that creature!”
Neema’s heart quailed when she saw the man holding a pistol not twenty feet from her. Beside him stood a giant, hairy dog, the lifesaving station’s St. Bernard.
Panic gripped her. “Don’t shoot!”
“Move away from the seal.” The man aimed the gun at Seamus. “Those beasts can crush shells with their teeth.”
“Put that gun away!” she shouted.
Seamus wriggled away and slid into the water.
The man and the dog clambered up onto the rock wall.
“Are you crazy?” he shouted at her.
“What if you missed him and shot me?” Neema fired back.
“You should have listened to me.” The insignia on his uniform marked him as one of the surfmen of the lifesaving station.
“That seal didn’t hurt me.” She gave him her fiercest glare and managed to get to her feet though her knees still quaked. The surfman’s rugged face would have been pleasing but for the livid scar across his cheek which went all the way to his chin. She stared at it and wondered if it went further down along his neck, but she could not tell for a thick scarf lay wrapped around his throat.
“Seals attack without warning.”
“Only when they feel threatened,” she retorted. Her hands clenched into tight fists.
“What if he dragged you into the water? You weigh less than half as much as that creature. You’d make a good breakfast.” The young man stood a head taller than her. She looked up into eyes the same color as the aqua sea—unusual and fascinating. A tingle crept up her spine.
He’s human, she reminded herself. Humans were unreliable at best and often dangerous. They had no regard for animals of any kind. She ground her teeth together. Yes, she was half-human but she couldn’t help that. Look what happened to Lila. She trusted humans too much.
“Seals are interested in fish, clams, octopus, and other ocean fare,” she stated. She was well aware Seamus had another agenda in mind, which had nothing to do with food. She hoped he returned to the seal’s bachelor island and stayed there.
She slid the small, silver heart into the deepest recesses of her pocket.
“Those creatures appear harmless with their big eyes, but they are sly, wicked, and never to be trusted.” The deep rumble of his voice seemed to vibrate right through her.
“I know that seal.” That much was true, though Seamus wasn’t a friend. In fact, she had no friends in the pod. Although, she did have her two caring aunts.
“Seals are wild animals.” The young man growled as fiercely as Seamus and she bristled with indignation. “For your own safely, stay away from them and do not climb on these rocks. The sign is there for a reason. If you ignore the warning, you will be fined.”
“It says nothing about a fine on the sign.”
“Article 587 clearly states...”
She rolled her eyes. He was the most annoying kind of human, all wrapped up in rules and regulations. Arguing with him would be pointless. Whirling about she intended to leave but the huge dog blocked her path. The animal sat on his haunches and studied her.
She feared most dogs, especially large ones who easily detected her anxiety, but this one had often visited Lila, who always gave him a treat of some sort. He displayed a measure of patience she rarely saw in canines. With his sad, dark eyes, she sensed his condolences for her sister’s death. However, she couldn’t be sure for she had never learned to communicate with dogs. Most of them wanted to bite her.
“Come,” the man ordered.
The dog heaved a sigh and, despite his massive size, he deftly moved around Neema to stand at the man’s side.
Relieved, she picked her way carefully over the ice-encrusted boulders until the church bell rang again and her heart quailed. She was very late now and could expect a reprimand the moment she stepped in the door. If Mr. or Mrs. Court saw her, she might be dismissed on the spot.
She hoisted her skirts and ran. Jumping down to a wide, flat slab of granite, her foot slid. She screamed as she fell, but then...all went black and she knew nothing.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
New Concepts Publishing: https://www.newconceptspublishing.com/product-page/outside-blessings-1
Why is your featured book a must-read?
This is a story of two, young outsiders trying to understand where they belong. Perfect for young adults!
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Penelope Marzec grew up along the Jersey shore. She started reading romances at a young age and fell hopelessly in love with happy endings. Two of her inspirational romances won EPIC’s eBook Award and another was a finalist in that contest. Her paranormal, Irons in the Fire, was a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award. Visit her website at penelopemarzec.com for more information.
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