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Friday, 18 December 2015

☀☄ From Shattered Pieces - Traci Jo Stotts

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the release of  From Shattered Pieces, a Young Adult Contemporary Romance by (, Evernight Teen, 204 pages).

From Shattered Pieces is an Evernight Teen Editor's Pick.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below.   Read the first three chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Author Traci Jo Stotts will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.   Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).


Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

Synopsis

Ian had no intention of running away. She lived with her abusive parents for sixteen years, so surely she could endure two more. But something changed the night she fought back.

Leaving home was one thing but being on the streets of Reno brings scary to a whole new level. A chance run-in with Jubal proves to be both a blessing and a curse.

Now, Ian must come to terms with who she is and what she must do to survive.


Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter One

I don’t know why at this moment my brother, who died before I was even born, pops into my head. At first, the look on my father’s face is one of sadness but it quickly turns to rage. I guess I’ve had all I could take from him. I meant what I said. Timmy was the lucky one.
     I’m ready for him: his clenched fists with white knuckles. His poisonous words, mixed with spit, land on my skin and pierce my ears as I brace myself for the pain. I look around for my mother, who usually disappears during my father’s fits of rage, and as I expect she is nowhere in sight. I don’t need her. This has been my life for so long, it’s all I know.
     My father is not a big man, but he’s strong. I’m very quick, and today I’m so filled with adrenaline, I feel like I can shoot through the ceiling, like a comic book superhero.
     He swings his clenched fist at my face and I duck at the last second. He spins around and clumsily trips over the coffee table, sending its contents to the floor in a scattered mess. Before he has the chance to stand upright, my shoe meets the side of his head.
     “Ian! What’ve you done?” Now my mother stands there holding her hands to her colorless face. It infuriates me that in all the years of beatings she has never once intervened. No hugs or caresses in the dark afterward, either. She would just carry on as if everything was normal. But nothing in my house has ever been normal.
     At the sound of her voice, my father begins to stir a bit. I kick him again before my mother can take another step closer to us. I look down, first at the crumpled mess of a man on the floor, then at my mother. I move so close to my mother our noses are touching. "Don’t you dare come looking for me! If anyone asks, you tell them I went to live with an aunt in Tennessee or an uncle in Florida. You make up any story you want!” Both my mother and I know these relatives don’t exist, but she’ll need to have a story ready if anyone asks.
     Pushing by her, I rush down the hall to my room, tossing my backpack onto my bed and filling it with only my most treasured belongings. I make sure to pack my toothbrush, my Ozzy hoodie, some clean panties, and flip-flops, along with a change of clothes. I’m almost back into the living room, where my mother is sure to be helping my father, when I spot the file cabinet in the corner of the den. I’m on my knees pulling folders out until I find what I’m looking for, shoving my birth certificate and Social Security card into my pack. Before leaving the den, I empty my father’s coffee can into my outside pocket. This is where they keep their beer money. They’ll miss the money a lot more than they’ll miss me. No doubt about that.
     I make my way to the kitchen and am shocked to see my mother sitting at the table, not kneeling next to my father trying to nurse him back to life. Her hands are still cupped to her face. I’m not about to have a mother-daughter moment now, so I reach behind her for a jar of peanut butter and a sleeve of crackers.
     “I’m sorry.” Her words are barely a whisper.
     “What?” Surely, I misunderstood her. Still, my breath catches in my throat and my limbs stiffen.
     “I’m sorry you were ever born.” Her hands, now folded on the table in front of her.
     Now that’s more like it. My mother, the one human being on the planet who is supposed to love me unconditionally and protect me from all evil, almost has me believing she cares. Almost.
     I slam the back door with every bit of strength I can muster and am pleased to hear the panels of glass shatter, littering the ground and floor. With shaky fingers, I unlatch the gate and turn for one last glance at the life I’m leaving behind forever. Nope, can’t say I’ll miss it. The gate closes behind me and I begin walking towards the bright city lights of Reno.
     The full moon dims with each step closer to the casino and its flashing neon lights, until it disappears altogether behind the tall hotel towers. I weave in and out of the casinos, as I’ve done a million times. When my parents would get their drink on, I’d climb out my bedroom window and walk around until I knew they’d be passed out.
     Families walk by laughing and pointing at the games on the midway or visit as they wait in line for the buffet. Sometimes I linger to take in the kind words spoken between them.
     I make my way to the ladies’ room and plop down into an ugly paisley chair surrounded by gaudy gold-trimmed mirrors. I count out how much money my parents gave me. Yes, that sounds better than how much money I stole. Sixty-three dollars. I stuff the money into my shoe and wonder if it’ll be enough to get me to California.
     Not sure what my next move is, I curl my legs under me and recall the events of the day. I woke up early, before my alarm, as I do every morning. I ate some leftover stuffing for breakfast, passed my chemistry quiz, and completed all of my chores before my father got home. Well, almost all of my chores. It was an honest mistake. I’d only forgotten the trashcan that sits next to his chair once before. He told me he was going to make sure I’d never forget again. I guess he was wrong.
     A spanking was never just a spanking in the Ross household. I don’t know what I did to my father to make him hate me so. He didn’t save all of his rage for me––no, my mother also had her share. That’s why it’s so sickening she could sit by, when she knows perfectly well what a punch from him feels like.
     I was used to his “punishments”: slaps and kicks or being pulled this way or that, usually by my hair. But today he said one too many hateful things to me and I couldn’t keep my angry thoughts to myself any longer. I don’t recall the exact words I used, but I know I told him to go fuck himself a time or two.
     A glance into the mirror reveals a black eye and I can still taste the blood from the cut on my lip. “What an asshole.”
     I have a year-and-a-half until I turn eighteen, and then I will be free. I’m out of the house and away from them … but for how long? They can find me and make me go back. That is not an option. I really don’t expect them to come find me. I just have to figure out a way to take care of myself until I’m considered legal. Taking care of myself I’m used to, but that was in my parents’ house. Out here, I am totally alone.
     Before sheer panic can take over, I’m up and wandering the casino. My mind is racing in a million different directions. I sit at the counter in the diner and scribble on the back of a Keno ticket.
     Find a place to live.
     Maybe if I start smaller, this won’t be so difficult.
     Find a place to sleep tonight.
     I stare at the paper and remember the river. Lots of people sleep along the riverbanks. My lips relax into a half-smile when a very old waitress with very tall hair and way too much makeup slaps a menu down and asks me what I want to drink. “I’ll have a root beer.”
     Three refills later, I pay my tab and get my nerve up to make the trek to the river, checking to make sure I’m carrying a pocket-knife. Tim Walters gave it to me in the sixth grade for letting him feel me up behind the gym. I love that memory now––so silly, and so innocent.
     My life hasn’t always been so dark and sad. I had lots of friends and school was always a place where I felt comfortable. The teachers liked me and I liked them. They told me I was smart and praised me when I did a good job. I soaked that up like a sponge. It wasn’t only the teachers who made me love school, though––it was football. A group of boys played, every recess and lunch break. It just so happens I was better than most of them. My girlfriends would cheer me on and we’d rub it into the boys’ faces that they were just outplayed by a girl.
     Home was always a lonely place. But it wasn’t always so angry. I think I was six when my dad first hit me––before then, he had only hit my mother. I was trying to get help with my homework. I lost my balance and fell onto his lap, leaving a long trail of black marker up his pant leg. I had to stay home for a couple of days because the bruise on my cheek was too dark to hide behind my mother’s makeup. My friends began to pull away from me in junior high school … or me from them. Either way, I no longer had a group of friends laughing and cheering me on. I still did everything I could to impress my teachers. I needed the validation.
     I step out into the warm night air, still lost in my thoughts. The streets are abuzz with people, mostly tourists. A group of guys stumble past me, whooping it up about the strippers and how someone named Mark still has a hard-on. I have to step out into the street to get around another group. This group is not young guys, but a bunch of senior citizens in town for a poker tournament. Some have walkers and a couple of them have power scooters, which is the reason I have to step out into the street. It’s that, or I get run over by Mable and her motorized death mobile.
     The closer I get to the river, the emptier the streets get. I’ve never been this far from South Virginia Street. The buzzing lights are far behind me now and I find myself regretting my bright idea to stay the night at the river. I doubt I’ll get any sleep. Maybe home isn’t so bad. Who am I kidding? I can never go back. He’ll kill me for sure.
     My mind wanders to my parents. I try to stop myself from wondering what I did wrong. I washed dishes, vacuumed, and even cleaned toilets, and they never had to ask for a cold beer. I was trained that way, from the time I could open the fridge by myself.
     A woman’s scream brings me back to the present, and I stop just in time to avoid getting smacked by a door being flung open and two drunken idiots being hauled out by the largest black man I’ve ever seen. He simply carries them by the napes of their necks like they’re dolls. The woman adjusts her too-high heels, and waves her long fake fingernails in his face.
     “Let go of him, you asshole. He didn’t even do anything. It was that prick who started it.” She reaches out to scratch an already bleeding man, but he tilts his head back and manages to push her away with his dangling leg.
     
     I am frozen to the spot. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The lady reminds me of a chubby Dolly Parton impersonator. She is total white trash and owning it in every possible way, but her man looks like my chemistry teacher: tall and skinny, with glasses riding the tip of his nose.
     The enormous black man doesn’t care to hear the debate. “I’ll let you go if you agree to shut up and go your separate ways. Got it?”
     “I got it,” Dolly’s man says. His pale skin has turned red and purple from lack of oxygen. “Shhhh!” he shouts, as Dolly opens her mouth to protest.
     “I’m not screwin’ wit’cha. I’ll put a boot in your asses if you continue this bullshit.” Jubal releases them.“Go on, now. I don’t get paid to babysit.”
     The three keep their promise and head in separate directions. Only when the couple is about to turn the corner does “Dolly” turn around and scream some profanity with both middle fingers held high in the other guy’s direction.
     I’m still standing there like a moron when he notices me. “What the hell? Out a bit late, ain’t ya?” He’s grinning the smallest grin.
     “What are you, my babysitter?” I return his grin but inside I’m scared and my legs are shaking so bad he’s sure to notice. I adjust my backpack and sidestep around him.
     “Better sleep with one eye open, crazy white girl.”He sees my expression change from a fake grin to a look of pure disbelief. “Don’t gimme that look. Where’re you headin?” He gives a chuckle that irritates me. I’m about to tell him so, when the door flings open and an older woman who has spent more time in the sun than out of it hollers at him.
     “Jubal, get your big black ass in here and take care of this!” she demands, as she flicks her cigarette butt into the gutter.
     “The freaks come out at night. Huh, Sylvia?” Jubal adjusts his shirt.
     “Apparently.” Sylvia disappears inside.
     I’m happy for the interruption, because Jubal’s talking like he’s inside my head and I don’t like it. I’m no more than a few steps away when he calls out, “You take care, and I’m not kiddin’ when I tell ya sleep with one eye open. Crazy white girl.” He’s gone when I turn to ask him if he has a better idea of where I’m supposed to sleep.
     I get to the river and wonder if I’ll ever sleep at all. The people around me are twitchy and dirty, and their eyes look too big for their sockets. There are groups of people standing around garbage can fires, couples sharing sleeping bags, and one guy barking at a tree. I stay far away from all of them as I continue looking for a place to hide away. There’s a chain-link fence with large bushes growing along it, and upon closer inspection I see a hollow. I crawl inside and look for any signs this spot belongs to anyone. I find nothing. I’m hard to see, if I can be seen at all, which helps slow my pulse a bit. I’m freaking out because of Jubal’s stupid words of wisdom.
     I count out what’s left of my money after root beer and a burrito from the gas station, then stuff the folded cash into my shoe. I put my Ozzy Osbourne hoodie on over the backpack and curl up in the fetal position. It’s the most comfortable I can get and I really feel like a helpless infant.
     “What am I doing here?” I ask the dark sky above me.
     I spend an eternity sorting through memories, making plans for my future, thinking my first stop in the morning will be the bus station. I’ll buy a ticket to anywhere in California and bum around trying to find work until I’m able to sign myself back into school and get my diploma. Until then, I have no parental permission to do anything. I don’t want to, but I find myself thinking about my mother and father and I have to remind myself that yes, they are that bad. Sometimes our minds can trick us into thinking situations aren’t as bad as we believe. It’s a tool of survival: you can continue with the familiar, if you make yourself believe you’re happy.
     I feel something crawl across my leg. I don’t care what it is––I just brush it away as quietly as possible. There’s a flashlight on a keychain, but I’m afraid to turn it on. The slightest noise or movement of a branch causes me to jump. I want to run back to the bar and tell Jubal to get his big black ass down here and make these people stay far away from me. I also have my Walkman, but I’m afraid to take away my sense of hearing. I fall asleep with a death grip on my pocketknife.

From Shattered Pieces
Available NOW!

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from Amazon.com purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo purchase from Smashwords

About the Author

I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Always one to daydream, I’m often teased for the many bits and pieces of paper with notes and ideas for different books littering my desk.

After spending most of my life in rural Nevada, I’ve recently moved to Washington.

To my husband and sons…I finished!

Follow Traci Jo Stotts:

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Follow From Shattered Pieces's tour at:

Dec. 14
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Reviews by Crystal ℚ

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Dec. 16
Stormy Nights Blogin' & Reviewing ☀
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Dec. 17
Cover 2 Cover ✉
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Dec. 18
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Natural Bri ✉✍
Books Chatter ☀♫
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The Naughty Librarian's Playground  ✍ by Dec 21

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