Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Shake-Ups (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Better late than never, here's my stop of #IncrdibleTruths' Blog Tour and it features Shakes-Ups, a story by Elea Andrea Almazora. Enjoy! 

Oh! You can also join #AprilBookBash giveaway, see the end of this post. :)



#STRANGELIT: INCREDIBLE TRUTHS

by Various Suthors
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Available on Buqo app!

Links I Goodreads I Buqo I

SYNOPSIS

25-year-old Rosie Rivas worries about a lot of things—her father’s health, her desire to fix everything, and her own social anxiety. The last thing she wanted on a day when the rest of the world is dealing with earthquakes is to deal with strangers claiming to be family. She wanted a grand destiny even less.


EXCERPTS
The rooftop garden was an oasis--boxes and boxes of earth nurturing a variety of flowers and vegetables forming a labyrinthine space for contemplation. Butterflies and birds occasionally flew about, as if acknowledging the peace-within-peace of the place. Rosie comes up here because other people don’t; to them, the ground floor with the smoker-friendly lobby, gym, and swimming pools were much more interesting.

To Rosie, it’s the only place outside of the condominium unit that made her feel comfortably small.

She practically ran into it, taking huge gulps of air and heading for the nearest rooftop edge. The elevator must have broken down. That’s why the girls were taking the stairwell. She kept her eyes on the purple-gray horizon and willed herself to calm down. The eyes were gone, she told herself. The whispers were all in her head.

She felt Christian’s looming presence to her left; it was curiously similar to the feeling of standing under the shade of a tree. He had a strange smell to him, like wood after a storm. Her hands and legs stopped shaking. Her breathing slowed. She felt part of herself uncoil.

As if sensing her recovery, he moved to a more polite distance and quietly sat on his heels, digging his dull, dark fingers into the soil in one of the boxes; this one had the vibrant ixora growing in it, Rosie noted. “Didn’t realize that you can have such great stuff so high up,” he said, sounding less agitated than he did earlier. “Who’d have thought, huh?”

She felt herself smile. “It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it.” She cupped one of the ixora blooms in her hands, it made her feel like she held fireworks in her palms. “This rooftop used to be practically empty, you know. Someone started this garden and just gave up. It took a while, but we managed to get this place up to scratch.”

“We?” he asked.

“Mom was a landscape designer,” she explained wistfully. “She used to design gardens for some really important people, but she didn’t always have the budget to sustain her own. Thankfully, the owner of this complex loved her work and asked her to design a green space that he can add to the brochures. This was her garden.” She stepped away from the flowers, stretching her arms high above her head. “And now it’s mine. I’m practically the only one maintaining this, and I get paid for it. Not that the management needs to do that; this is just a hobby. It's not like I want to turn this into a business. I'd need to interact with people in person. Guh.” She shuddered at that last thought.

Christian rested his forearm on the planter and studied her. “You like plants more than people,” he noted bluntly.

“I like everything more than people,” she corrected him, sighing and leaning against a planter. “People are...they make things up about you. If they see how different you look. If they decide that you don’t fit in. If they think they can walk all over you. Plants don’t do that. They feed you, or heal you, or make the world beautiful.” A bird landed next to her, and she petted it absently with a pointer finger. “Animals are like that too. They know where they and other things in the world fit. But people? We never know where we belong and what we’re meant to do. We just keep hurting each other.”

The tall man raised his eyebrows at her. “That bad, huh?”

Rosie found herself smiling wryly. “Well, maybe some people are okay. Like dad and mom. And the owner of this building. Maybe my employers too--I work as a virtual assistant, though, so I don't know how they'd react to..." she motioned towards her sizeable body. "I’m finding you likable enough, though. You’re polite. Aunt Chloe, on the other hand...” she wrinkled her nose. “I don’t trust her. She just barged in. No courtesy whatsoever. I really don’t think we can be related to someone that rude.”

He shrugged. “Few living people take to her, to be honest. It’s because she barges in whether you like it or not.” He flicked his eyes toward the sky. “As for not being related...I’d like to think that everything is related to everything else. Like the mountains to the sky and the sky to the sun.”

She caught him hiding a grin, and she placed her fists on her hips. “You’re not really my cousin, are you?”

Careful to keep his fingers in the soil, he sat on the floor in earnest and inclined his head, letting out a puff of laughter. “I told her this wouldn’t fly. Your sort are always clever, if not wise.”

“My sort?”

He cursed, realizing what he’d just revealed. “Uh...please forget what I said.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Oh, no. You don’t get to weasel out of this. Explain.”

He hesitated. She glared.

“You probably won’t like it, Miss,” he said in defeat.

“I don’t care, and why are you talking like that?” she muttered, deflating a bit. “What in the world is going on? Who are you people? And what the hell am I supposed to be?”

He stood up, pulling his fingers out of the soil regretfully and wiping them off on his pants. “It’s better if Mistress Huk-I mean Chloe explains what you are, who she is, and what’s going on,” he murmured nervously. “The best case is your father telling you himself. As for what I am…”

He cleared his throat. “I’m kapre, Miss. A tree giant. And all I’m allowed to tell you at the moment is that you outrank me.”

~*~

Well THAT was unexpected, Rosie thought. She expected him to lie, but didn’t realize he could be so bad at it. Everyone knew that the kapre had died out a long time ago. Every 5-year-old was taught to give respect to old trees, where those guardians once resided. Their loss, teachers of old stressed, had been as terrible as the loss of Sinukuan, the last Maria.

Clearly, that man was joking. Or possibly insane.

All in all, though, she felt she took it rather well. She’d stared at him in incredulity for what seemed to be an appropriate amount of time before turning on her heel and starting on the path back to the stairwell. She didn’t dignify his ridiculous claims, and she could take pride in that.

“Wait!” Christian called out. “I’m telling the truth!”

She turned around to look at him, and suddenly felt lost. She heard herself stutter. “K-kapre are extinct,” she said, not quite feeling as sure as she originally did. “They have been since the Fairy Queens died about two thousand years ago. Everyone knows that!”

“More Fairy Queens are born sooner or later, miss,” the giant said, suddenly looking taller than he had before. “And we kapre never died. We just slept until we found a new Queen to serve.”

Rosie tried to ignore the electric shivers going up and down her spine. “Are you saying that a Fairy Queen is walking around right now? That she’s wandering around waking all you guys up? And what does THAT have to do with you being here?”

“Her Graceful Regent doesn’t have to wander around, Miss,” he responded, placing his hands at the small of his back and standing like a soldier. “She just has to be. The rest of us just respond to her existence. You have to understand, Miss. The Fairy Queen is a force of life, and the world hasn’t been alive since the Sinukuan Queen. As for why I'm here...I guess I was hoping that traveling with Mistress Chloe will let me have a glimpse of what the new Queen might be like.”

She began to back away. “You’re nuts.” She tried to reorient herself, but couldn’t, for the life of her, remember how to get back to the stairwell.

“I’m sorry for doing this, Miss,” Christian said. “I can’t let you leave until Mistress Chloe’s finished talking to your father about...important matters.”

Rosie stopped moving, watched his face, studied his posture. She closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. “You’re making me feel lost,” she told him.

“Yes miss.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elea Andrea Almazora graduated from UST with a degree in Literature. She currently works in online marketing by day and spends her free time as a poet, geek, fantasist, and armchair editor. 

She tries to post one written piece per week on her blog, http://readinginbetween.com/  and can be  (@ealmazora) and email reached via Twitter (ealmazora@gmail.com).




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