1st scene from Mirrors and Blue Smoke!

The final book in the Not Like Paradise trilogy, Mirrors and Blue Smoke, will be available in just a couple of weeks!! 😀 But you can get started on it now…read the first scene below!

And if you haven’t read the first two books in Not Like Paradise, check out my website or find them on Amazon!

Not Like Paradise website

Urban Legends on Amazon (Not Like Paradise book 1)

Pandora’s Box on Amazon (Not Like Paradise book 2)

1st scene from Mirrors and Blue Smoke:

That was the summer Jansen started dying her hair black.

Opera on the Pier was the night after Corinne and Jacob’s twentieth anniversary party. Jansen, Jason, Hersh, Clint, and Jessie went, and Jessie’s reaction was about the same as Tierney’s and Brynn’s two years before. Jansen looked at her once during the afternoon, before the opera, and saw her glancing around, her nose wrinkled, repulsed by the mix of people dressed in shorts and t-shirts and eating junk food from vendor carts who would gather at the South Street Seaport for such a distasteful event.

“What’s wrong, Jessie?” Jansen asked. “Not a fan of Opera on the Pier?”

Clint, Jason, and Hersh all turned to look at Jessie as Jessie flicked her eyes to Jansen, caught off guard, then quickly plastered on a smile.

“Oh, no!” She grabbed Clint’s arm and twirled the fabric on her long, flowing, definitely designer dress. “This is so cool! I can’t believe I haven’t been before. I can’t wait for the actual opera later!”

Jansen gave Jessie a bright smile, then picked up her hotdog in its paper holder from the lap of her jean shorts and took a huge bite.

Nobody mentioned Jansen’s overdose, which had been last year on this night and which Jessie of course knew nothing about. But Jansen knew the boys were thinking about it, because Hersh didn’t even offer any coke or E to anyone, and Clint, in a vast departure from his normal behavior, didn’t ask for any.

Finally Jessie asked for some, and Hersh offered her coke but took none for himself. Clint turned it down and ignored Jessie’s surprised look.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Clint said. “Not in the mood. You go ahead.”

Jansen and Jason spiked their Mountain Dews with vodka but didn’t do anything else.

School got out the following week, the last Wednesday in June.

Hersh left Saturday morning for the Vineyard and Summer left the same day for the Hamptons. The Niyots summered in the Hamptons too, and Summer was looking forward to a romantic couple months with Geoff, whom she’d been dating since the Plaza prom, and her best tennis season ever. Jansen figured she wouldn’t see Summer till school started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Perfect.

Tierney was still dating Johnny Drake, who was spending the summer in Hollywood auditioning for parts, as he’d told her the night of prom. Tierney had been bitching nonstop for weeks about having to go to the Hamptons, but she was going to visit Johnny in LA at least twice; she’d already booked her plane tickets. Jansen thought it was good Tierney wouldn’t be spending any more time with Johnny this summer, because if she dropped all her own plans and went to LA with him instead, that would kind of ruin the “control” thing she and Jansen had talked about.

Taylan had fallen hard for Troy, with whom she’d gone out every weekend since prom and would be spending the whole summer living right next door to in the Hamptons. She was hoping he would be her boyfriend before long, and Jansen hoped so too.

Tierney and Taylan left Sunday afternoon for the Hamptons, and Clint left Monday morning at four for the airport with his dad and Jessie. His dad may have given up Mistress of the Sea, but he apparently wasn’t so invested locally he couldn’t still take his summer yacht trips. Jessie had been beside herself with excitement for the last month of school and her gushing had fluttered right through Jansen’s ears with Jansen paying no real attention.

Sunday night Jansen dyed her hair in her bathroom. Monday morning Corinne and Jacob left for work shortly before 8:00, and at 8:30 Jansen and Jason were in a car on their way to Lakeside, Vermont.

Jason had hired the car to pick them up at the Plaza so Culver or Elliott wouldn’t see. They’d decided they had to go with the car this time because it would take a little less than six hours, while on the bus, and then with the cab ride afterward, the trip had taken almost ten. They had to be back in New York tonight so as not to arouse any suspicion from Jason’s parents. And they left for Europe on Wednesday, so this was their one chance to dig up some info they could analyze during their month abroad.

 Their driver dropped them off just outside town around 2:15. Jansen and Jason pulled their rented bicycles off the back of the car and threw their backpacks, packed full of random clothes, over their shoulders. Jason put on the UVM hat he’d ordered online. “Do I look like I’ve been biking around the state for a month?” he asked.

Jansen laughed at his appearance because he did. “Yeah,” she said. He was wearing khaki shorts and a plain white Hanes t-shirt, along with his backpack and UVM hat. Jansen was wearing short jean shorts with a green UVM t-shirt, and her newly black hair was in a low ponytail, a style she never normally wore.

“Okay, let’s do it,” Jason said.

“We’ll be back in a couple hours,” Jansen said. “We’ll call you when we’re on our way.”

The driver nodded and saluted them. “I’ll be waiting in the last town we passed.”

Jansen and Jason climbed on their bikes and started pedaling. “Holy shit!” Jansen laughed as she swerved halfway across the road and back. “I haven’t ridden a bike since I was like five!” Her parents had taught her in the Hamptons one summer. By the next summer Jansen had been bored with it and picked up rollerblading instead.

“I know,” Jason laughed. “Me either. I probably learned up here, actually.”

They rode to the courthouse, which they’d seen last time they were in town. It was down Main Street a few blocks from the bar, luckily in the opposite direction from the bed and breakfast. They were praying they wouldn’t run into Nancy.

They parked their bikes outside and were able to walk right into the courthouse, no metal detectors or anything. There was an information desk in a kiosk in the first-floor hallway, and they approached it.

“Hi, kids, how can I help you?” the woman behind the desk asked after she hung up the phone.

“We’re from UVM and we’re doing a project on old houses in the state,” Jansen said. “We heard there’s one here. Le Chalet or something? We wanted to look up the property records.”

“Oh, you mean Le Château.” The woman looked at them with a small frown. “What kinda class is that for?”

“It’s this summer class we’re taking on architectural history,” Jason said. “We had two weeks of class, and now we get to spend two weeks doing research on a topic, and then we have to write a paper on it and do a presentation.”

“Oh,” the woman said, standing from her desk. “Well I don’t know if the property records are gonna tell you much about architectural history.” She went to where several keys hung from hooks and removed one.

“We were hoping to try to find some of the owners or former owners of the houses and interview them,” Jansen said. “We’re just biking around the state doing that.”

“Oh, have you found any other nice old homes so far?”

“A couple,” Jason said. “One in Burlington and one outside Montpelier.”

Jansen almost laughed. Those were probably the only other names of towns in Vermont he knew. She tried to think of any others and drew a blank.

“All right, well sign in on this sheet, and then you can follow me.”

Jansen signed her name as Raina Williams, and Jason signed his as Michael Atley. They had planned everything ahead of time, right down to the story they had just told and the names they would use. They had decided on their middle names and bland, non-memorable last names. Had they been asked for their IDs, Jansen had been going to give hers and use her real name and just hope they didn’t notice that based on her age, she probably wouldn’t actually be a University of Vermont student, and Jason had been going to look for his in his backpack and act like he couldn’t find it. He couldn’t use his real ID, because there was a chance this woman would recognize the name Auerbach as being Corinne Westin’s married name. Maybe they would have let Jason in anyway, if he said he’d lost his ID, and if not, at least Jansen would still have gotten in. But Jansen was glad they were both getting to go; it would be a lot more fun this way.

“Right this way, please,” the woman said.

They followed her down the hall and onto the elevator, and she took them up to the fifth floor, which was the top one. On the elevator it was labeled as County Clerk. They got off the elevator and went down a long, dull hallway. Some doors were open, and the rooms looked like offices inside. Jansen saw only a few people. One office was labeled State and Federal Tax Records, and another was labeled Lake County Civil Court Records. Finally the woman unlocked a room on the right and flipped on a light. The sign above the door said Property Records. No one worked in this office; it was more like a storage room full of files. The overhead light was dim and the shelves were an old 1970s shade of green. It looked like no one had been in the room in years, and that was probably close to the truth. Who really cared about the history of property ownership in Lake County, Vermont?

The woman walked to the left and around a corner, leading them to the very back of the room. She stood on her toes to read the names on files along the top shelf, and finally she pulled one down. She handed it to Jansen. Parker Road, Lot #1, the front of the folder read.

“I’ll leave you guys. Feel free to take as long as you like, make notes, whatever. Return the file to me up front when you leave, and I’ll put it away for you. I will warn you though, I don’t think you’ll have much luck talking to the woman who lives there now. She’s pretty much a recluse. She never talks to anybody. You might have more luck trying the Westins, who used to own it. They were always real friendly people.”

“Okay,” Jansen said. “Thanks. Do they still live around here?”

“Oh, no, honey, it was just their summer house. They live in New York.”

“Oh, okay. Well thanks.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Jason said.

“All right then, I hope you find what you need.” She left the room.

Jansen and Jason sat on the floor and opened the file in front of them. They both leaned over it. The first paper was a copy of the deed that had been gifted to Corinne Westin on June 20, 1980 from her mom, Di Westin.

“That was right before my parents got married,” Jason said. Jansen nodded.

Stapled underneath was a copy of a new deed that had been drawn up in the name Corinne Ella Auerbach on August 19, 1980.

Jason flipped those papers to the side. The next deed showed a transfer of ownership from Katalina Longmont to Di Westin on September 12, 1957. This transaction was also labeled as a gift.

“That’s probably a few years after my grandparents got married,” Jason said. “I know they had their forty-fifth anniversary a few years ago. And yeah, that’d make sense, ‘cause my mom’s forty-two, right? So she was born in November…” He figured in his head. “1957, and her brother’s a few years older.”

“So was it like a tradition to give the house to the next girl in the family when she got married?”

“Maybe, but I don’t know who Katalina Longmont is. My Grandma Di’s mom is dead, but I remember her a little. She died when I was like, six. Grandma Di’s dad’s still alive, but he’s really old and he never does anything anymore. Their last name’s Forsythe. William and Elizabeth. Grandma Liz, I used to call her, and my mom always told me she didn’t like Liz.”

They flipped to the next page. The deed was yellowed with age and was dated July 17, 1936.

“Oh my gosh,” Jansen and Jason said together.

This transaction had also been a gift…from Anabelle Hendrick to Katalina Hendrick.

Jansen and Jason stared at each other.

“Katalina was Anabelle’s daughter,” Jansen said. “Holy shit. I remember that name now, as a Circles of Eight member. Katalina Hendrick. I realized at the time she was probably Anabelle’s daughter but I didn’t look into it that much ‘cause I didn’t know there was some secret about Anabelle.”

“But why would she gift the house to my grandma?” Jason asked. “Instead of her own daughter?”

“Maybe she didn’t have a daughter,” Jansen said. “Maybe she was friends with your Grandma Di’s mom. Elizabeth.”

“Was she a member? Grandma Liz?” Jason asked.

“I don’t remember. I didn’t look that closely at the records from back then. That name wouldn’t have jumped out at me ‘cause I don’t think I even knew your great-grandma’s name.”

There were a couple documents left. The next one was a redrawn deed in the name Katalina Longmont, dated August 3, 1936. The last one was the original deed, in the name Anabelle Hendrick, dated 1911.

“That’s weird her husband didn’t own part of it,” Jason said. “ ‘Cause it looks like she had it built after they were married. It’s under Anabelle Hendrick, not Townsend.”

“Maybe he didn’t even know about it,” Jansen said. “Maybe it was a secret house at first, where she kept all her Circles stuff. Or maybe she always intended for it to be passed down to the girls in her family, but then Katalina never had her own daughter.”

“Well she must have approved of Katalina giving it to my grandma,” Jason said. “ ‘Cause that was in 1957, and Anabelle didn’t die till 1973.”

“I wonder if your Grandma Di was friends with Anabelle. You know, like friends of the family. Like I’m friends with your grandparents or something.”

“Well I never thought about it, but probably.”

“Do you think your mom was? That’s what I really wanna know.” Jansen had wondered whether the letter mentioned in Corinne’s diary, the one Corinne had found in the Vermont house in the summer of 1973, had been left specifically for Corinne, or if Corinne and Anabelle had even been in on something together. But it had seemed more likely the letter was something Corinne had randomly found in the house, something meant for a completely different person long before her.

But now it was clear Anabelle would have known who was living in the house in the summer of 1973…and if she’d written a letter with some big secret in it, or if the letter had once been hers, why would she have left it lying around for anyone to find? She would only have left it for the right person to find…


Hope you enjoyed the scene! I will say…the action only picks up exponentially from here. 😉

Check back soon for more details about Mirrors and Blue Smoke!

Daisy, Jordan, and The Great Gatsby

One of the questions I get asked most as an author is about my name, Daisy Jordan. It comes from one of my all-time favorite books, The Great Gatsby, in which the 2 main female characters are named Daisy and Jordan. However, sometimes people ask, “You want to be named after 2 characters who weren’t likable, or good people?!” Well…of course! And there are so many reasons why…here are a few!

1) The name Daisy Jordan doesn’t just represent these characters, it represents one of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald. It also represents what I think is the most fascinating decade in history and a book that, along with its characters, has inspired so much of my own writing. I am captivated by the 1920s…that exhilarating ride building up to the devastating crash (a theme I often bring into my own books), and the lifestyle of writers and artists during that time.

2) While I don’t admire Daisy Buchanan or Jordan Baker or want to be like them, I like living vicariously through them in a way…experiencing that decade and the thrill ride to the crash I am so intrigued by but would never want as my own life.

3) While many people dislike Jordan Baker, she is my favorite character in the book. Like Nick, I forgive her dishonesty and am not in the least bothered by it. She is shamelessly, unapologetically herself, and yet she can be secretive or put up a front, and many of my own characters share some of these qualities.

So, I have always felt Daisy Jordan is the perfect name for me! 🙂 Check out my post about this on Instagram for more details! @authordaisyjordan

great gatsby

Urban Legends 5-star review! :)

I have submitted a few of my books for reviews at Readers’ Favorite, and I have always had a good experience with this website and their reviewers! I was so excited to find out that the most recent book I submitted for review, Urban Legends, the first in the Not Like Paradise trilogy and the one that comes right before my most recent release, Pandora’s Box, received 5 stars! Here is an excerpt from the review:

“Urban Legends by Daisy Jordan was far more intense and dramatic than I had anticipated. Jansen and Jason were my favorites out of the four main characters. They were smart, they took their time, they paced themselves and allowed themselves to evaluate the situation before delving into it. I enjoyed how shrewd and calculating they were because this is what helped everyone in the end. The story itself is strong enough to make me want to know more, crave more, and just hope that the author has more in store for us to enjoy. The element of mystery was very well handled. Daisy Jordan masterfully allowed it to bloom and become almost an entity in the story. Entertaining and action-packed. Needless to say, I loved it!”

If you haven’t checked out Urban Legends yet, you can get it on Amazon at the link below, or look for me at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 22 to buy a signed copy! 🙂

Urban Legends on Amazon

ALSO, I just realized I never posted the link to buy Pandora’s Box, the 2nd book in the Not Like Paradise trilogy following Urban Legends! (What was I thinking?!) So, here it is! Please enjoy, and write a review to let me know what you think! 🙂

Pandora’s Box on Amazon

And don’t forget to shop on Amazon Smile so you can support your favorite charity – mine is Best Friends Animal Society!

Happy reading! 🙂

Pandora’s Box cover and website!!

Pandora’s Box will be available on Amazon in a matter of DAYS!!! In the meantime, check out the cover and the website! On the website you can meet the characters, remind yourself what happened in Urban Legends, the first book in the Not Like Paradise trilogy, and get a few small clues about Pandora’s Box (no spoilers, though, promise)! If you read the individual character webpages, that is where you will find the best review of what happened in Urban Legends, because each page is told from that character’s own perspective. Have fun exploring, and check back, because I’ll update both the blog and the website when the book is available!!

Pandora’s Box website

pandora's box front cover

Pandora’s box cover

pandora's box back cover

Pandora’s box back cover

So you don’t have to try zooming in on the text, here is what the back cover says about the book:

Jansen has long resented her conceited parents, their money-and-social-standing-mean-everything attitudes, and the pretentious tennis-club and Hamptons-parties lifestyle they push on her. But after learning her mom, Scarlett, tried to murder Clint’s mom, Cindy, Jansen’s resentment turns to a hatred she has no idea how she’ll conceal.

As she, Clint, Jason, and Hersh reel in the wake of their discovery, everything feels surreal to Jansen. The inane love lives of her school friends, nights out at Red Sulfur, the dangerous need for a high that continuously requires more and more stimulation to attain, and even the sordid past of the Circles of Eight. It is only with the boys she feels like her true self, especially in the world she and Jason have created when it’s just the two of them, a mystical yet very real Paradise, their “best ever.”

But when a long-awaited revelation hits Jansen out of the blue, she snaps out of her foggy reverie and, along with Jason, throws herself deeper into uncovering the mysteries of the Circles of Eight. The trail leads away from her mom’s murder attempt fifteen years ago and takes Jansen and Jason back ten years earlier, to the childhood of Jason’s mom, Corinne.

Despite warnings they are opening a treacherous Pandora’s box, Jansen and Jason set out to connect the clues littered across Corinne’s and the Circles’ intertwining pasts. An old diary hidden in a bookshelf, a boy named Robert, a letter that can’t be found, an unknown object of dire importance, a forgotten summer house in Vermont. And, ultimately, questions Corinne seems determined to leave unanswered.

pandora's box author pic

Pandora’s box author pic

The above picture is me on the 1 train at South Ferry Terminal in NYC (along with the awesome @gypsythetravelingcatpurse). Watch for the scene in the book where Jansen and Jason ride the subway to this stop…it’s a good one. 😉

Stay tuned for several more pictures from NYC that will show you real places Jansen, Jason, Hersh, Clint, and others go in Urban Legends and Pandora’s Box!

Pandora’s Box excerpt!

Last summer I published Urban Legends, the first novel in the Not Like Paradise trilogy. The second novel, Pandora’s Box, will be coming in June! As promised, below is an excerpt. If you’ve read Urban Legends, it ended with Jansen and Jason leaving Cindy’s house in South Carolina and heading to the airport, not knowing where they would fly. Here’s a peek at what comes next… 😉

(If you haven’t read Urban Legends yet, check it out here.)

Pandora’s Box Sneak Peek!

Jansen and Jason flew to Paris.

It had long been Jansen’s favorite city besides New York. It was high fashion, dirty streets, astonishingly beautiful architecture, pretentious food, cafés on every corner, some of the best art in the world, centuries of tragic and triumphant history, and a haze of cigarette smoke. It was mysterious, intriguing, and impersonal…a bold, careless, beautiful face turned to the world, completely content with its identity and uninterested in the opinions of anyone. It was exactly where Jansen wanted to be…

***

…They got ready, left the hotel holding hands, and walked to the closest Métro station. They rode to the 4th arrondissement and walked along the old streets of Le Marais until they found a bookstore. They wandered in and browsed the titles, looking for anything that struck them as interesting or romantic or tragic or intrinsically Parisian…a book that captured some essence of this city they both loved.

Jason stopped to pull a book off a shelf, and Jansen let go of his hand and continued walking slowly down the aisle.

Regarde ça,” Jason said, his voice quiet.

Jansen heard the piqued interest in it. She turned.

Jason held a book out to her.

Jansen took one look at it and felt her heart race a little. “Oui. Ça y est.

Le Paradis Souterrain.

Paradise Underground, or The Underground Paradise, depending how you translated it. The picture was of an underground passageway littered with bones.

She and Jason shared a small grin, then hurried to the front, excited to get to a café and dive into their find…

***

…They had both heard vaguely of the Paris Catacombs before, but it wasn’t a place either of them had visited, and they knew little about it or its history. Jansen wondered if maybe people went there to worship the dead or something creepy, and that was how those dead had now become “revered.” It sounded really cool though…a tunnel under the city lined with remains of people who had been dead for centuries. It would be fun to go.

They turned the page to the next chapter, and that’s when they realized the first chapter had really been nothing more than a surface story, a necessary histoire before they got to the real content of the book…

The “underground paradise” named in the title had nothing to do with the remains of dead people found in the Ossuary…the couple kilometers of tunnel making up the Ossuary was literally only a fraction of the former quarries, or what Parisians considered les catacombes. The tunnels stretched for an estimated three hundred miles under Paris in an intricate maze. Many of the passageways contained nothing of interest, and some were flooded with water or blocked by cave-ins. The tunnels were described as illegal and dangerous, because you were as likely to encounter escaped criminals, who supposedly entered the tunnels from a secret passageway under La Santé Prison in the 14th arrondissement, as you were a member of the special division of Paris police who were responsible solely for patrolling the tunnels with their dogs.

But the tunnels were also described as alluring and irresistibly tempting, because tucked in the deepest recesses of the maze, if you knew where to look, were rumored meeting places of secret societies such as the Illuminati, former wartime hideouts, squatter villages with electricity and untraceable phone lines, and amphitheatres carved into the rock where people called cataphiles—those who frequented this underground otherworld—came to throw highly illegal and insanely outrageous multiple-day parties.

This was the Paradise. It had nothing to do with dead people at all, and everything to do with taking a risk to obtain an unparalleled reward. Sneaking away to give in to your fantasies or simply to escape to another realm where the laws of society didn’t exist.

The last few chapters claimed that while police were constantly blocking off newly discovered entrances into the Catacombs, secret access points existed all over Paris. They were ladders inside manholes or drain shafts, abandoned tunnels underneath Métro stations. You had to stumble across one, or you had to find somebody willing to take you. The author told of several specific ones he had heard of and tried, but every single one had been sealed…blocked off by police if it had ever been a way in.

The very last chapter, entitled “Une boîte de Pandore,” warned again about the dangers of going, including cave-ins, floods, drug dealers and addicts, escaped prisoners, and the possibility of getting lost or arrested, but said if one was going to try, the absolute essentials were boots, flashlights, and a map.

Jansen and Jason turned another page and found an estimated map, one that mirrored the streets of Old Paris, as it was rumored the streets had been aligned directly over the quarries and that street signs could even be found in the tunnels, labeling the city streets above. Based on all the research the author had done, his map even included the locations of some supposed secret rooms, but he was very clear that it was just an inference and shouldn’t be used as an actual guide.

Jansen closed the book and looked at Jason.

“There must be some kickass parties down there on New Year’s Eve,” Jason said with a wicked grin.

Jansen grinned back. “I’m not afraid of a little Pandora’s box.”

“Me either.”

“All we need is a map and a way in.”

***

…They had walked only a little way when Jansen spotted something down a cross tunnel they were passing.

“Oh my gosh, look,” she said, shining her flashlight to the right. She stepped into the passageway, her mouth falling open.

All over its walls were paintings of a woman with long reddish-brown hair. Jansen quickly realized the walls were a mural of Paris, with the woman at all the different landmarks. The Tuileries Gardens, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, a sidewalk café, a boat on the Seine, a street market, L’Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde. In each scene the lady was disproportionately large compared to the buildings and the other regular-sized people who interacted around her.

“Look,” Jason said from back in the entryway. He was looking at something above his head.

Jansen went back to see what it was, and she realized there was actually a small arch formed in the entrance.

Le paradis de Pandore,” she read aloud. Her heart skipped a beat. “Pandora’s Paradise?!”

Jason had moved inside. “Look,” he said again. “All the people in the pictures are fighting.”

Jansen looked closer, and it was immediately apparent. Their faces were angry, their arms raised or crossed as they yelled at one another, their mouths open in frozen shouts whose words would never be heard. At Place de la Concorde, a man was bent over the guillotine, its blade raised and ready to strike.

But one face wasn’t angry. In every depiction of Pandora, she was smiling…a small, delighted curl of her lips.

“It’s her Paradise because she set all the bad things free,” Jansen said. “Hate, and anger, and vengeance.” It was just like the myth, in which Pandora had opened the jar that released everything bad and evil into the world.

“I wonder who painted this,” Jason said. “And if the author of that book knew about it. The first one we read, in Le Marais? He didn’t mention it, but the title had the word paradise in it, and he called that one chapter ‘Pandora’s Box.’ ”

“He implied that to come down here would be to open a Pandora’s box.” Jansen looked at Jason. “And that’s why it’s her Paradise. People get lost, or arrested, or run into prisoners or floods or…whatever.”

Jason nodded. “Exactly.”

Jansen looked around at the painting again, slightly horrified and immensely more intrigued.

“She looks like you,” Jason said.

“What?”

“All these pictures of Pandora. She has your hair color, and she’s young. And beautiful.”

Jansen looked at Jason, but he wasn’t even looking at her. He hadn’t been trying to be sweet; he’d just said it matter-of-factly. Her heart melted, and she smiled in his direction.

Then she looked back to the nearest painting of Pandora. “She looks like my mom too.” Jansen wrinkled her nose. “How fucking ironic, ‘cause my mom’s like the modern-day Pandora. Everything evil in the world is here because of her.”

“Except you,” Jason said, finally looking at her.

“What?”

“You’re here ‘cause of her. And you’re not evil. No matter what all your mom’s done, I’m still glad she was born, and that she moved to New York and married your dad. ‘Cause otherwise I wouldn’t have you.”

Jansen’s heart melted again, and she felt tears well up in the corners of her eyes. She ran to Jason and threw her arms around his neck.

He hugged her back tightly. “It’s just the truth,” he said.

“I’m so glad I have you too. You’re my Paradise. I really am happiest when we’re together. I really am only truly happy when we’re together.”

They kissed.

“I’m really glad we came here,” Jason said.

“To Paris, or the Catacombs?”

“Both.”

“Me too.” Suddenly something else on the wall caught Jansen’s eye, and she stepped out of Jason’s arms and walked over to it. It was cursive writing etched through the middle of the mural.

La plus belle femme du monde dans la plus belle ville du monde,” she read aloud. “The most beautiful woman in the world in the most beautiful city in the world.”

“Pandora was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world?” Jason asked. He had come up beside her to read the writing too.

“Yeah.” Jansen looked back at her picture. “And she is a lot like Paris. She’s considered the most beautiful, but she doesn’t care what people think of her. She’s bold and her reputation speaks for itself, but not a lot of people know the real her. She’s…devious. She has secrets.”

“That’s kinda like you too,” Jason said.

Jansen looked at him in surprise. “Yeah, I guess it is.” She smiled. “And it’s everything I love about Paris too.”

“Well,” Jason said, “the most beautiful girl and the most beautiful city should have a few things in common, don’t you think?” He looked away, shrugging and making his face aloof. “I think they should.”

Jansen laughed and hit him in the shoulder. “Yeah,” she said. “I guess they should.”

website launch for urban legends!!

Before you read my new book, Urban Legends, the first in the Not Like Paradise trilogy, check out the website and MEET THE CHARACTERS!! There’s a description of the book on the home page, then you can go to the character page, where you can click on each character’s name to learn about him or her! On the home page, you can also read about the photo featured on the book’s cover! Have fun!! 😀

Urban Legends website

urban legends front cover

Urban Legends front cover

 

 

urban legends sneak peek!

Below is the first scene from my new book, Urban Legends, the first in the Not Like Paradise trilogy! Urban Legends will be available on Amazon and other online booksellers early next week (July 10), and I will have copies to sell by July 17! I will post links to online buying options when they are live. This is my first mystery (but of course still contains the usual relationship drama too)! I’m so excited! See below for the sneak peek! 😀

urban legends front cover

Urban Legends front cover

First scene from Urban Legends:

Jansen Montgomery first got into a bar on her fourteenth birthday.

It was a dive bar in the East Village called Red Sulfur. She and her friends hadn’t planned on going to a bar. They had been wandering aimlessly away from the West Village, looking for anything to do that sparked their interest in the moment. The East Village appealed to them because it lacked glamour and had a reputation as a more dangerous area.

It was almost completely dark when Jansen, Hersh, Jason, and Clint looked across the street and saw the black awning with the words RED SULFUR shining through in an orangish-red print similar to the color of blood. It reminded Jansen of someplace out of a low-budget horror movie.

“Hey, I bet we can get in that place,” Clint said. The four of them exchanged excited, mischievous grins and knew they had to try.

The doorman, an old, friendly man whose work shirt bore a cursive inscription reading Claudio, gave them only a brief look-over before letting them in.

Jansen held hands with Hersh, whose real name was Corbin Hershey but whom all his friends had called Hersh since they could talk, flashed a flirtatious smile at Claudio, and walked down eight steps into the smoke-filled room. She briefly raised her right hand, the one not in Hersh’s, and grinned at the huge sapphire-look-alike ring on her middle finger.

A forty-something female bartender with short red and purple hair came to their table as soon as they sat down. “Whadda y’all want?” she asked with a bright smile.

Jansen liked her immediately. She embodied everything Jansen loved about the East Village. She seemed rebellious, and she was a far cry from anybody Jansen’s parents would hang out with, even though she was probably about their age.

“It’s her birthday,” Hersh said, locking his arm around Jansen.

“I won’t ask how old you are,” the bartender said. “So whaddaya want?”

Jansen, Jason, and Clint darted looks at each other, but Hersh totally kept his cool.

“We’ll have shots of Patrón,” he said. “And then Jack to wash it down.”

“Coming up,” the bartender said and spun away.

Jansen looked around. Even though the air was potent with smoke, there weren’t really that many people. Only four other booths were occupied. The room was long and narrow. The booths lined the wall opposite the bar, and there were a few tables in back. The floor was a dark shade of wood and uneven in places. The walls were also a dark wood, and the whole room was lit only by two dim bulbs hanging from the ceiling at either end of the bar. Jansen somehow felt protected and safe here, even though it was so grungy. She wasn’t sure why, but she thought it had something to do with how they’d come down steps right inside the door, and now they were underground.

“Happy birthday, honey,” the bartender said when she brought their drinks. She plunked the round tray in the middle of the table. There were limes to go with the tequila. “What’s your name?”

“Jansen.”

“I’m Hersh,” Hersh added, reaching out his hand to shake the bartender’s.

She shook his hand and looked to Jason and Clint.

“Oh, I’m Jason.”

“Clint.”

“I’m Lydia,” the bartender said as she turned to go. “Let me know if y’all need anything else.”

“Sure thing,” Hersh said as he lifted his shot of Patrón from the tray.

They hit their shot glasses together and tipped their heads back. Jansen made a slight face as hers went down. She grabbed her lime to suck on. “This isn’t what we had at your birthday party,” she said to Jason. That had been in his parents’ Park Avenue penthouse last fall, the first time she’d tried tequila.

“No,” Jason said, shaking his head and making a face too.

They smoked and drank their whiskeys and ordered more. When they were on their third, Hersh said to Jason and Clint, “So I have coke.”

“No fuckin’ way!” Clint cried. “I’ve been wanting to try that for so long!”

Jansen laughed a little. She thought Clint tried too hard to act like Hersh sometimes. She figured it would suck to have your best friend mature physically and athletically a lot sooner than you though. And Clint hadn’t had a girlfriend yet either.

“Dude, cool,” Jason said.

Jansen smiled again, studying Jason while he waited for Hersh to get out the coke. Jason had medium brown hair, which he wore kind of long, almost to his eyes, and tousled. Her favorite part about him was his eyes. They were really dark blue-green and really unique. He was the only person she’d ever seen with that eye color. Her favorite non-physical thing about him was how he never tried to be anything or anyone but himself. He didn’t feel a need to please other people or try to impress them. He was the most real person she knew. Hersh was real too, but sometimes Jansen thought he tried pretty hard to look cool to the older guys at his school. He cared more about his reputation than Jason did.

Hersh looked around to see if any workers were close, then pulled the bag out of his pocket. Lydia had left the drink tray on the table, and he emptied a little onto it, dividing it into four lines with a broken, hollowed-out piece of a pen. Then he put the bag away, looked around again, and offered the pen in the direction of Jason and Clint.

Jason took it. He leaned forward with total confidence, put his head down, balanced the pen between the tray and his nose, and snorted one of the lines. He sniffed as he raised his head, then grinned at them. “That was badass.” He held the pen out to Jansen questioningly.

“I just did some. In the park. I can still feel it. I did some at Hersh’s after school too.” Jansen smiled to herself, thinking back to Hersh’s bedroom in his West Village townhouse a few hours ago. He had done a line first, demonstrating for Jansen, and then she had done one. She’d liked the way her nose felt afterward, and she’d liked the immediate rush. The aftertaste in the back of her throat had been unpleasant but overlookable.

“Oh,” Jason said, raising his eyebrows, excited for her. He handed Clint the pen.

Jansen thought Clint looked nervous, but he did it without hesitation.

“Yeah, that was awesome,” he agreed, nodding.

“I can feel it already,” Jason said.

Hersh grinned at both of them, then leaned down to do a line himself. After he did, he looked up at Jansen. “You sure?” he asked, motioning to the one he’d prepared for her.

“I’m sure,” Jansen said. She felt wide awake and excited, like she had since her first line at Hersh’s.

“Have you done it before tonight?” Jason asked her.

“No. Hersh surprised me for my birthday.”

“So you like your present?” Hersh asked her now.

“Oh yeah.” Jansen felt the ring between her fingers. “I like it a lot. Hey, will you put some more in my ring?” She held out her hand.

“Why, you gonna do some later by yourself?” Hersh asked.

“It goes in your ring?” Jason asked, leaning forward curiously.

“Yeah, look, the top twists off!” Jansen spun the dark blue stone off and held out her hand to Jason to show him. “See? Hersh got me this too.”

“Sweet ass,” Jason said.

“Jewelry?” Clint asked sarcastically. “What are you guys, like engaged?”

“I saw it in a shop on Broadway like a month ago and said I liked it,” Jansen snapped defensively. “He remembered and went back and got it for me.”

Hersh took her hand and funneled some more coke from the bag into the ring. “There you go, baby.”

“Thanks.” Jansen spun the blue stone back on, then squeezed her fingers around the band again as she put her hand under the table. She didn’t even know if she would use the coke in the ring, but she liked having it there. It made her feel daring and reckless.

“Are you guys bored?” Hersh asked.

Jansen looked at him in surprise.

“No, I’m having fun,” Jason said.

“No,” Hersh said. “I mean like, in life. I feel like we need to shake things up. We just do the same stuff all the time.”

Jansen frowned. They were doing something new right now. A couple new things, actually. This night was huge for her, in a really good way. Hersh’s comment made her uneasy. What else could he possibly want?

“Shake things up how?” Jason asked.

“I don’t know. Like something to fuck with our school friends. A practical joke or something.”

Now Jansen smiled as relief washed over her. “Oooohh, I like that.”

“What kind of joke?” Clint asked.

“Something they’d never see coming.”

“You could pretend you and Jansen broke up and she was back with Jason,” Clint said.

Jansen glared at him. He was so annoying sometimes.

Hersh quickly shook his head, blowing off the idea. “No. Something better than that. Not just like, a joke that’ll blow over in a day. Like, a project.”

“I love it,” Jansen said, picturing the four of them spending hours here at Red Sulfur, leaning together across the table, laughing hysterically as they schemed up something genius to blow the minds of all their school friends. It was her idea of heaven.

“I have an idea,” Jason said, and all eyes turned to him.

“What?” Hersh asked after a moment of dead silence.

“A secret society.”