Happy Birthday, Amanda Ryder!

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Psychic Amanda Ryder was born on a Friday… the 13th of February. She was born with the ability to see, hear, and sense things around her no one else could. Only her pious family never believed her innocence…

She hadn’t expected anything special. She certainly knew better than to look for gifts or a cake. No one ever marked the anniversary of her entry into this world. Such celebrations smacked of paganism and were an affront to God—just ask her father.

But to her surprise, she’d discovered a stranger seated at the kitchen table. Along with her brother, her mother, and… her father. Amanda had stood in silence at the foot of the stairs, frozen in confusion.

“Good morning, sissy,” her father addressed her.

Amanda knew a greeting should sound more welcoming. Her still-sore stomach clenched. “Good morning.”

An unusually large pile of food lay on the table. Nervously, she slid into her seat. She knew better than to serve herself any of the breakfast—it was clearly not intended for her, but rather for the benefit of their guest. She swallowed anxiously as her older brother, Phillip Jr., shoveled toast and sausage down his gullet, taking advantage of the uncommon bounty rather than questioning it, despite the warning glares from their parents.

“Today is your birthday, is it not?” her father asked her.

Even Phillip Jr. paused his gorging in stunned silence. A crumb fell from the corner of his mouth onto the table.

“Yes, sir,” Amanda replied, carefully controlling a spike of fear that threatened to affect her voice.

“And you are now eighteen years of age?”

“I am.” She averted her eyes in what her father chose to interpret as a sign of respect rather than loathing.

“I thought so,” he said. “Amanda, you will be pleased to know your presence at school is no longer required.”

“What!?” Her head jerked up, and she insolently searched her father’s face, praying she’d misheard. Regrettably, she was unable to master her shocked disappointment more quickly.

Phillip Ryder Senior did not have an especially expressive face. His features were taciturn; his grey eyes generally cold. Amanda was a practiced reader of his expressions, however, and saw far more than the stranger at the table did. Her little outburst—which he construed as a threat to his authority—would surely cost her something later.

“You are finished with school,” he said, carefully enunciating every word as if she were mentally defective. Each one was a dagger twisting in her gut.

Amanda scanned the room and noticed her book bag was nowhere to be seen. Her father must’ve hidden if not outright destroyed it while she’d slept last night.

Without any warning, he cut her off from the real world—which was drowning in sin, as he frequently asserted. Instead, he lashed her to the slave ship his house had become. Any chance of normalcy had just been scuttled; without even a high school diploma, she’d have no hope of escape, unfit for anything but ignorant breeding of more mindless, subjugated witnesses to his version of the truth.

“I’d’a thought most kids your age would be glad not to go to school no more,” the stranger chuckled. But the unfamiliar man’s awkward attempt at levity was unappreciated and largely ignored by the family seated around him.

Against her better judgment, Amanda risked speaking the truth. “B-but… I like school.”

Phillip Senior’s eyes narrowed. The gesture was barely noticeable, but Amanda recognized it for the glaring scowl it represented. “I am your father, girl. And I will not be questioned.”

Amanda’s dulled stare expressed a sublimated fury of her own. “Yes, sir.”

He shook his head minutely in angry warning, then took a sip of steaming coffee. “And now, we’ll see to purifying your immortal soul.”

She glanced at the stranger, understanding finally settling on her mind. Other kids her age got presents of clothes, concert tickets, or video games for their birthdays. One boy in her class had even received a car on his sixteenth. But it was in that moment she realized her gift was to be yet another exorcism.


Amanda’s stories—Brimstone and Portents—are available on Amazon. Prime members and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read both for free!

Portents’ Book-iversary!

portents_cover8-page-0This month I’ll celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Portents‘ release. Amanda Ryder is one of my favorite heroines: young, smart, and snarky. I sure love doing all the research about ESP and quantum physics that has gone into her series. If you’re interested in paranormal suspense without those pesky vampires or werewolves, I hope you’ll give Amanda’s stories a try! Here’s a snippet of Portents, book 2 in the Amanda Ryder, V.I. series, to whet your appetite…

In a lightning move, Eric leveled a .45 at the intruder. “I strongly suggest you turn around and go back to wherever the hell you came from.”

The beast of a man shook his head and sneered. “If you think I’m leaving without her, you’re an idiot.”

Amanda’s heart seized. The brute’s East Coast accent wasn’t the same one that had lured her here over the phone. Damn!

Eric didn’t flinch. “If you think I’ll let her go, you’re dead.”

“Tell your clingy boyfriend he’s about to pay for his caveman attitude with his life,” the man growled.

Amanda fingered the hilt of the knife she’d pilfered from the kitchen, easing it out of her sleeve. Whoever he was, she decided Nash must’ve sent him. She took a slow, cautious step toward the guy, away from Eric. “He’s not my boyfriend.”

“Like I give a shit,” the creature grunted. “Get rid of him. Now. Or I will.”

She tore her eyes from him to look at Eric. “I’ve made my decision.” Whatever dreams she had of belonging to the Academy were just that: dreams. Not reality. It’s for the best, she added mentally. Trust me and just go.

But Eric shook his head. “She’s not making a fully informed decision.”

Fury singed through her like a pyrotechnic flare. He thought she was stupid?

“Don’t give a fuck what you think,” the man retorted. “She’s comin’ with me.”

“And I say she isn’t,” Eric countered.

Hearing them fight over her like she was the last slice of meatloaf on the table brought to mind her father, how he used to snap at her mother for all his daughter’s many failings. Her father, who thought education was wasted on a female mind like hers. Her father, who believed every awful thing imaginable about her. Her father, who contemplated killing his own flesh and blood, but mercifully threw her out of the house instead on her eighteenth birthday.

“You sure this job is worth dyin’ for?” Eric taunted.

But his voice was drowned out, as was the man’s response, by an emotional dam breaking within Amanda. Her fury gushed forth, finally free of the repressive wall she’d built within her, the one that had kept her safe in her father’s house. Amanda’s skin cracked and itched like a dry winter’s morning as she seethed, riding the crest of this new wave of ire. It lifted her, bearing her upwards like a geyser releasing.

How dare they? she screamed in her mind, her breath coming in lung-jarring gasps. No one else was the master of her fate. She decided what happened to her, dammit!

“Stop this,” Amanda hissed in warning.

Both men glanced at her, then did a double take.

The stranger narrowed his eyes in a suspicious scowl. “The fuck?”

Eric’s eyes widened. “Um, Amanda?” he muttered tentatively. “You okay?”

“I will do… whatever the hell… I want to do,” she snarled. “It’s my choice. Not yours!”

“What is this shit?” the man demanded, a note of fear coloring his voice.

“Amanda? Buddy?” Eric tried coaxing, his attention fully on her. He lowered his weapon and took a step closer. “I need you to try to calm down now, okay?”

“Back off, loverboy,” the man barked, jabbing his gun in Eric’s direction.

Heat boiled off her, to the point she imagined waves of it distorting her vision, altering her perception of the room. Fear suddenly gripped her. She had no idea how to rein in all this powerful anger. Like a Pandora’s box of ire, the wildfire was out of control.

“Stay back,” Amanda begged, her nervous system in full rebellion.

Eric spread his hands in supplication. “It’s okay, Amanda,” he soothed. “You’re not in danger,” he lied.

But that only made her angrier. This was so clearly not okay. She’d leaped off the cliff of okay and was hurtling toward seriously fucked up at breakneck speed…


Portents is available in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon.