If at the end of the treasure hunt there will be still unmatched excerpts the giveaway will go to the one who matched more books.
The books are:
A Hunted Man by Jaime Reese
A Kingdom Lost by Barbara Ann Wright
A Place for Cliff by Talon ps
A Special Kind of Folk by Barry Brennessel
About Face by VK Powell
Ancient House of Cards by Bryan T. Clark
Another Healing by M. Raiya
Antidote by Jack L. Pyke
Because of Jade by Lou Sylvre
Beloved Pilgrim by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
Better Than Friends by Lane Hayes
Bird of Paradise by G.J. Paterson
Bite of the Recluse by Azalea Moone & Anais Morgan
Bonds of Denial by Lynda Aicher
Brokenhearted by Cate Ashwood
Camellia by Caitlin Ricci & Cari Z.
Carnal Sacraments by Perry Brass
Caught! By JL Merrow
Chasing the Dragon by Kate Sherwood
Chip off the Ice Block Murder by Jessie Chandler
Clean Slate by Andrea Bramhall
Corruption by Eden Winters
Desire at Dawn by Fiona Zedde
Dirty Beautiful Words by Brooklyn Brayl
Dissonance by Shira Anthony
Dudek by Taylor James
Educating Simon by Robin Reardon
Fight by Kelly Wyre
Filthy Acquisitions by Edmond Manning
Firestorm by Rory Ni Coileain
Forever Hold His Peace by Rebecca Cohen
Forgive Us by Lynn Kelling
Fractured by Mickie B. Ashling
Freak Camp: Posts From a Previously Normal Girl by Jessica V. Barnett
FutureDyke by Lea Daley
Games Boys Play by Zoe X. Rider
Gathering Storm by Alexa Land
Gin & Jazz 1- 4 (4 novellas: Hollywood Bound, Razzle Dazzle, Tarnished Glitter and Starring Role) by Morticia Knight
Girls Don't Hit by Geonn Cannon
Great Pleasures by Edward Southgate
Greg Honey by Russ Gregory
Happy Independence Day by Michael Rupured
Hard Pressed by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Hell & High Water (THIRDS, Book #1) by Charlie Cochet
Highfell Grimoires by Langley Hyde
His Fair Lady by Kimberly Gardner
Hoaley Inexplicable by Declan Sands
How Still My Love by Diane Marina
Hungry for Love by Rick R. Reed
If I Die Before I Wake by Liz McMullen
If We Shadows by D.E. Atwood
Ink & Flowers by J.K. Pendragon
It's Like This by Anne O'Gleadra
Lab Rat's Love by Ana J. Phoenix
Lesbian Crushes at School: A Diary on Growing Up Gay in the Eighties by Natasha Holme
Let the Lover Be by Sheree L. Greer
Like Jazz by Heather Blackmore
Love and Salvage: Loving Emmett by Mathew Ortiz
Love Is A Stranger by John Wiltshire
Love You Forever by Amelia Bishop
Lovers and Liars by Paul Alan Fahey
Mark of Cain by Kate Sherwood
Masquerade by Joy Lynn Fielding
Measure of Peace by Caethes Faron
Mirage by Tia Fielding
More Than Everything by Cardeno C.
Motel. Pool. By Kim Fielding
Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl by Kate McLachlan
Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden
My Brother's Lover by Lynn Kelling
Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall
No Angel by Clare London
Omorphi by C. Kennedy
On Archimedes Street by Jefferson Parrish
Paradise at Main and Elm by Barry Brennessel
Paris Connection by J.P. Bowie
Passage by Evey Brett
Pick Up the Pieces by Tinnean
Piper by Leona Carver
Rapture, Sins of the Sinners by Fran Heckrotte & A.C. Henley
Rarely Pure and Never Simple by Angel Martinez
Rasputin's Kiss by L.M. Somerton
Rest Home Runaways by Clifford Henderson
Resurrection Man by K.Z. Snow
Return of an Impetuous Pilot by Kate McLachlan
Rocky Mountain Freedom by Vivian Arend
Running Through A Dark Place by Michael J. Bowler
Saving Liam by DP Denman
Serpentine Walls by CJane Elliott
Shades of Sepia by Anne Barwell
Shameful Desires 3: Unbound by P.J. Proud
Shirewode by J Tullos Hennig
Silent by Sara Alva
Slide by Garrett Leigh
Something Like Spring by Jay Bell
Splinters by Thorny Sterling
Stitch by Eli Easton, Sue Brown, Jamie Fessenden & Kim Fielding
Summerville by H.L. Sudler
The 42nd Street Jerking-off Club by Mykola Dementiuk
The Calm Before by Neena Jaydon
The Dead Past by Kate Aaron
The Empath by Jody Klaire
The Engineered Throne by Megan Derr
The Family We Make by Kaje Harper
The Genealogy of Understanding by Daniel M. Jaffe
The House on Hancock Hill by Indra Vaughn
The Last Conception by Gabriel Constans
The Line by J.D. Horn
The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton
The Memory of Blood & Lotuses by E.E. Ottoman
The Opera House by Hans M. Hirschi
The River Within by Baxter Clare Trautman
The Seventh Pleiade by Andrew J. Peters
The Thief Taker by William Holden
This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet
Tournament of Shadows by S.A. Meade
True Stories Too: People and Places From My Past by Felice Picano
Turnbull House by Jess Faraday
Zenith by Arshad Ahsanuddin
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Today excerpts are:
I missed my—my everything, my parents, my old life. But eventually I began to doze.
Sometime in the night, my blankets were whipped aside. I blinked, startled and dazed. Then a man sat on me.
I jackknifed up, out of pure reflex, and somehow managed to clobber my nose against a warm flesh.
The man cursed in full color, of the like I’d never heard, and sprang up. His footsteps thudded across the wooden floor. Then came the snick of a striking match. The flare of light steadied as the room’s single tallow candle burned.
The man towered over me, tall and broad-shouldered as if from sport. He had aquiline features, haughty cheekbones, full lips, a strong chin. Straight hair the color of black coffee fell across his dark eyes.
His garb could only be described as bizarre. He wore no shirt. Ropes acting as bracers held up his rough, grayish trousers. He looked like a man who, on the run from the law, had avoided all civilization for years. I’d seen better-dressed beggars.
“What the fuck are you doing in my bed?” His low voice resonated through the air.
“What right have you to demand answers of me?” I stood up and stepped toward him. “I am Lord Cornelius Franklin, and my kind host, the schoolmaster Mr. Barnabas Nobbsnipe, has given this room to me as mine. I am to be the instructor at this school. Who are you?”
“Wait, you’re saying the drive is powering up? For real?”
“Yes,” answered Charles, frantically typing commands into his own board. “I can’t shut down the reactor. We’ve got just over a minute before the drive fires.”
Martin’s gaze snapped to the viewscreen, now showing the shipyard around the vessel. “Jesus, Chuck. We’re dirtside. What happens if we try to jump while we’re still inside the planetary gravity well?”
“Best case?” said Charles. He wiped his brow again. “The ship tears itself to pieces from the gravitic torsion.”
“And worst case?” asked Martin.
“We open a black hole in the center of the city,” answered Henry, sagging in his chair.
Martin’s breath caught. “Are the conventional engines live?”
Charles began typing commands into his console. “Yes. We might have just enough time to get in the clear.”
Martin entered a delayed launch program that would take the ship out over the ocean, away from populated areas. Then his board went red.
“Fuck! Navigation computer just locked me out. I can’t program an automated course,” Martin yelled.
“Manual?” Charles asked softly.
Martin hit keys on his console and nodded. “Manual control is still active.” He toggled a shipwide announcement. “All hands, this is Commander Atkins declaring Distress Condition One. Abandon ship. I repeat: abandon ship. This is not a drill. Anyone who is still on board in forty-five seconds is going to die.”
“What the hell are you doing?” yelled Henry.
Martin stared at the screen with icy calm. “If we can’t shut down the foldspace drive in time, we have to scuttle the ship or we could lose the city. I’ll give them another thirty seconds to evacuate, but then I’m going to take us out over the ocean at maximum burn. Anyone who’s still here will have to take their chances with the escape capsules.”
“Now wait a damn minute.” Henry jumped to his feet. “You can’t just—”
“We don’t have time to debate this!” snapped Martin, glancing at the jump clock. “The drive will fire in seventy seconds. If your people can’t head this off, my duty is clear.” He turned to stare at Henry, standing frozen in front of the Captain’s chair. “You want to be a survivor? Then get the hell out. Now!”
“Thanks for coming, Father,” a female voice said from somewhere near the building. Mark looked over to see a young blonde woman in the dark uniform of a police officer. “I’m Constable Brady. We spoke on the phone.”
She eased closer, but kept most of her attention on the bench. “He seems to be getting a bit agitated. I think he’s wondering why we haven’t arrested him.”
“So am I,” Mark said wryly, then held up his hands in defense against her raised eyebrow. “I’m not complaining, I’m just confused. Is it standard procedure to be this understanding of someone who blatantly stole a bottle of liquor and is now violating his parole by drinking it? In public, and coming up on his curfew time?”
Constable Brady didn’t lower her eyebrow. “When cops do something too rough, like the other night with that mess on Main Street, people just shrug and say, damn, cops are assholes. But when we stretch in the opposite direction, you’re surprised and confused?” She waited for Mark’s reaction, then let her face relax. “My sister went to school with Luke Cain. She said he was a quiet kid, never caused any trouble except for whatever Sean dragged him into. And Darren Samms seemed willing to be flexible on it. If the parole officer doesn’t want someone’s parole violated, I’m not going to get bent too far out of shape about it.” She looked over toward Cain’s bench. “But he can’t stay there all night, drinking and waiting. If you can’t get him home, I’ll have to arrest him, and then, like I said—once he’s in the system, it’s out of my hands.”
“I’ll try,” Mark said. Apparently that was enough to satisfy her because she stepped back into the shadows of the building and watched as he took one more deep breath, squared his shoulders, and started across the concrete.
He was a step away from the end of the bench before Cain noticed him and jerked to his feet. The half-empty bottle of vodka slid from his fingers and shattered on the paving, and Cain stared at it as if unable to understand what had happened. He grimaced at the shards of glass, then at Mark. “You’re not supposed to be here,” he said.
“I think you’re the one who isn’t supposed to be here,” Mark said pointedly, looking at his watch. “At least, as I understand the terms of your parole. It’s almost nine o’clock.”
Cain squinted at him as if trying to judge his sincerity, then looked down at broken bottle. He looked back at Mark, and took a few deliberate steps away from the mess. “And I’m littering. Or something worse, maybe, because someone could get hurt. What’s it called when you litter with something dangerous?”
“I have no idea. But if they haven’t busted you for the rest of your transgressions, I’m not sure high-risk littering is going to be what pushes them over the edge.”
Cain seemed to think about that, then leaned in closer. He swayed a little, but stayed upright. “Why haven’t they busted me?” he whispered, and again Mark was reminded of a confused little boy.
He saw the curl of mists, moving ahead of the figure before it came around the corner, and Guy rocked forward on his toes, put a firm grip on both dagger and sword and started to action. Then he witnessed the nigh-silent, wary intruder’s appearance: clad head to foot in a dove gray, which fanned the mist and gleamed even in the clouded dark. Guy uncoiled himself from the preamble to attack; his stalker wore a novice’s habit.
Though she had made an error in assuming he was no longer there, surprise did not make her lose that eerie and quiet grace as she turned to flee.
“Wait!” he hissed after her, and she hesitated, half turned.
“I mean you no harm, Sister. Please, don’t go on my account.” Even as Guy said the words, something within him wondered why.
Perhaps it was her stealth which so puzzled him. Perhaps it was the sideways slide of her eyes, gleaming like a trapped hind in the dim.
He knew that look. Had hunted it. Had felt it.
“I should no’ be here alone.” It was muted.
“But you are not alone,” Guy protested, also soft, again unsure of why he did so.
A downward dip of the veil, a hint of a smile beneath it. “I should suppose, to have the company of a Templar Knight is to be well-guarded indeed.”
Guy was surprised; surely she had not looked at him enough to see his clothing.
“I am sorry,” she said. “I was watching you.” The gray-clad shoulders lifted and dropped, and the novice went over to the parapet’s edge, laid her hands on the stones and looked out over the mist-shrouded shadows of fields and forest.
Watching him? Even more intrigued, he stepped closer. “If you were watching me without my knowledge, then surely you need rely on none for protection.”
Another hint of a smile. The novice’s profile seemed young in the shadow of veil and clouds, but not a child’s no matter the soft hesitancy. “I thought you were here for the view. ’Tis a lovely one.” She had the burr of peasantry rippling through her voice—Yorkshire, certainly, but also perhaps the North—a mélange of familiarity to soothe his soul yet also twist his heart. He’d believed both impossible. “I’ve precious little chance to see the forest in this way. All the beauty, ’tis there. All the... danger.” Her head cocked sideways, as if curious, the veil laid a whisper across her cheek. “But you weren’t here to look. It surprised me.”
It was Guy’s turn to cock his head, curious.
“Such things could surely snare anyone’s gaze, but not you. You’d hardly a glance for it; your attention was confined, by stone and your own thoughts.”
“Are you chastising me for ignoring the forest’s beauty? Or heeding its danger?” Or for talking to you. Why am I talking to you?
Neither did he turn and walk away, as he should have done. Instead he moved slightly closer, trying to see her face.
“I merely find your concentration admirable.” The thick veil fell behind her shoulders as she shrugged, lifting her chin. There was an ease about the gesture that rang an alarm deep within; there was something, something indefinable about her profile, now bared to the faint light. “You so easily shrug away the world, set yourself on your meditations. For myself, I find such diligence... difficult. I do envy you, Templar.”
Guy’s ears were ringing. No, not ringing, more like a deep-set hum, a breath of sound trickling up his spine and behind his ears... it made no sense. His words were gruff to cover it. “I assure you, if you truly knew me you would not. I have done... terrible things.”
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