Amanda Ryder V.I.
Book Synopsis:When all signs point to trouble, can Amanda steer clear of disaster?
Amanda Ryder's determined never to fail her coven again. Next time, she won't hesitate to pull the trigger to defend her friends. If only they'd trust her enough to let her set foot outside the Academy…
Frustrated and itching to prove herself, Amanda snags her first Academy mission: she and Toby Laboyteaux, fellow teen witch who "kinda sorta sees the future," must work together to track down a local swamp monster stirring up trouble in the sticks. But overturned suburban garbage cans and blurry tabloid pictures aren't the only problems—strained relationships with her new colleagues, a growing guilt-complex, and the waxing moon all add to Amanda's stress. Add to that the pressure of being hunted by a psychic psychopath, and Amanda's got plenty on her mind.
Meanwhile, Hamilton Nash swears Marian Dupree and her Academy of bumbling do-gooders have thwarted his plans for the last time. Convinced Amanda's the subject of his mother's recent prophecy and the key to his future success, he redoubles his efforts to obtain the mystery girl. But when Amanda proves too slippery a quarry, Nash sets his sights on the next best thing. When a valuable member of the Academy coven is kidnapped, Amanda and her friends are in a race against time. Is a tragic future destined to come to pass?
Born and raised in small-town, rural Indiana, I now live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona with an intimidatingly smart and devastatingly handsome husband and two hyperactively cute and talented sons who will one day be Earth's Overlords (never underestimate the power of Legos). I enjoy cooking, traveling, gardening, sewing, quilting, and embroidery but only when I'm in the right mood and seldom concurrently (I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hobbies). I adore reading and writing in the same way that I love breathing and eating, gaining a similar nourishment from each.
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Excerpt:Hamilton Spencer Nash was pissed the fuck off. This shit between him and Marian
Dupree was at motherfuckin' DEFCON1. Something was going to go thermonuclear, and soon.
As he greeted each of his guests, however, he kept all outward signs of his fury well
hidden. He hadn't wrecked a room in his house, though he was sorely tempted. He hadn't
punched anyone's face in, though his palms itched for contact. He hadn't taken his anger out on
his associates, for that would be undignified, and they were not to blame… technically.
Instead, he'd sat tight. Thought long and hard about what had happened, the how and the
why it had come to pass. He debriefed those involved, checking and rechecking the facts.
And he'd come to the conclusion that Dupree was to blame. She and her bumbling little
scout troop had interfered for the last time. And yes, he recognized how cartoon-villainish that
sounded, thank you very much. Yet another reason Dupree was irritating: she brought out the
worst in him.
He hadn't gotten to where he was—the head of a powerful and lucrative organization—by
throwing tantrums. He'd earned his wealth and position by maximizing opportunities while
minimizing risks. By making calculated, rational decisions. By eliminating problems with
Dupree was a problem. Therefore she would pay. And pay dearly.
He knew something had gone seriously wrong when his pet firebug, Angelica, hadn't met
up with him at their rendezvous point. The girl was prone to panicky overreaction whenever she
sensed the slightest danger, real or imagined, so the fact she'd never even called was ominous,
indeed. And he'd never heard from her again, in fact—nor had his associates managed to turn up
any sign of her. He had no definitive knowledge of what actually happened to her—Dupree
hadn't bothered to inform him, the bitch—other than the firm belief that Angelica was dead at her
He did not pause to consider he'd sent Angelica on a dangerous mission to burn Dupree's
precious Academy to the ground. The only fact that concerned him was that he'd lost a valuable
member of his team. A loss he blamed on Marian Dupree.
It wasn't a personal loss, per se. He had no emotional connection to Angelica, and he was
not the sort of person to delude himself otherwise after the fact. In truth, not long before she went
missing, he'd been wondering if Angelica was worth the hassle: the woman had taken an
inordinate amount of coaxing and coddling to become even slightly useful. But now that she was
gone, he'd never know if she would've matured into a fantastically successful associate. And the
loss of his profit, both realized and potential, wasn't a pittance.
Nor was it something he was inclined to overlook.
Marian Dupree would suffer at his hands. She would experience the kind of setback he
had, but on a much larger scale. She would be made to sacrifice, and she would know who was
the author of her pain.
"I want everything you have on Marian Dupree and the Academy of St. Joan of Arc," he
announced calmly to the assembly.
His highest-ranking associates, seated around his spacious dining table, reacted with
varying degrees of surprise and curiosity.
"Thought you said they were small time," Brittani Rollins yipped impertinently. "Why
the sudden interest?"
Hamilton leveled a penetrating stare at her until she started to squirm. He dragged his
eyes away once she'd been put in her place, scanning the group for any other signs of
insubordination. Finding none, he continued. "The situation has changed. What was once a minor inconvenience has become a serious problem."
He paused once again to inwardly tally the ledger. He'd had to abort the foreclosure-arson
scam with Dale Dalton at Gulf States Bank—without a firebug, the fires would've actually
looked like the work of an arsonist, and their crooked insurance claim adjustor had balked.
Thousands of dollars had been pissed away with that one folded deal alone. Who knew how
much more they might've made running the scam elsewhere?
Hamilton's blood pressure rose once again at the thought. But he was careful not to let
any of the others sense how riled he felt.
"Round the clock surveillance. Tails on everyone who enters and leaves that place.
Wiretaps. Financials. Grocery lists. I want everything," he said in an even voice.
Several of the group nodded, understanding which of these tasks were meant for them
without being specifically told.
"And I want someone on the inside we can trust." He stared straight at Lane Cassidy,
who'd established contact with one of Dupree's litter. The mole's allegiance was in doubt, as far
as Hamilton was concerned. It was time for Lane to put the screws to the bitch and make her
show her true colors.
"Spread the word: I want recruitment stepped up. Finder's fees increased by twenty
percent. Doubled if the new initiate comes from the Academy." He paused for a moment for
effect, then held up a month-old newspaper clipping of a grainy photograph: his only concrete
proof she existed. "And twenty grand for the person who brings me this girl."
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