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BLOOD TIES
A Grace Harper Novel
by J.T. Hardy

On the run from beings that can’t possibly exist…

Grace Harper has spent her life on the run, ever since her mother’s unnatural death at the hands of creatures that shouldn’t be real. It’s hard to believe in vampires, but the things chasing her fit every legend she’s ever heard. She dubs them “Pretty Boys,” though their beautiful faces hide ugly appetites.

For twenty years, she and her father have stayed ahead of them, but for the last five years, their lives have been quiet. Grace has found a home, a life, and people she could even care about. She thinks the nightmare is finally over, but then a man shows up asking questions about a missing woman who’s somehow connected to her and her mother. He might also have answers about her mother’s death, if she’s willing to take a risk.

Before she can decide, she’s attacked by a Pretty Boy and barely escapes. If the Pretty Boys have found her, it’s time to run. Reluctantly, she prepares to abandon her life, possible answers, and the only friend she’s ever had.

Until they take her father.

Fleeing is no longer an option. To find him, she must face ancient secrets, creatures from legend, and an unbelievable truth that will shatter her world. But to save him, Grace has to do the hardest thing of all: stop running and start fighting.

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Excerpt from BLOOD TIES:

“Dad, look around. Do you know where you are?”
“Hospital.”
“Do you remember why?”
He was quiet again, but then he groaned like he did when he rubbed his eyes in frustration. I’d been hearing that groan a lot the last few months. “’Cause there’s a tumor named Glioblastoma Multiforme trying to kill me.”
“Right. It also lies, Dad. Focus, think. Has anyone come to see you recently?”
“Just the nurses.”
“Do you know why someone would have a list with Mom’s name on it?”
“I don’t know. He never told me why they came after her.”
After us. My name was on that list, too. Twice. Plus all those other people I’d never heard of. But not his. Did that mean he was safe?
“Dad, is there someplace you can stay besides your apartment or the hospital for a few days? You have enough cash for a motel?”
“Always do.”
I’d stopped asking him to come live with me months ago. He always said no and swore we were safer apart, but the urge to start that argument again was strong. If he had one more bad memory lapse, I’d drag him here whether he liked it or not.
“Time to go, Grace.”
I’d heard those words all my life, right before we’d pack everything we owned into the car and vanish. It wasn’t real this time, only his faulty memory, but the familiar fear crackled through me same as it had six months ago when I’d fled Santa Fe for Ft. Lauderdale. Except then, he hadn’t even remembered he’d told me to run. Stay or go? I knew which one Dad would insist on.
I sighed and gave him the expected coded response. “Gotta run, Dad, talk to you soon.” Love you, Dad.”
“Stay safe, my radish. We’ll chat soon.”
Heart pounding, I stared at my phone. It had been five years since we’d had a legitimate Pretty Boy sighting. I’d started to think maybe it was over, that we were finally safe, until Cavanaugh showed up with that damn list.
But was he a threat? He didn’t fit anything Dad had trained me to watch for. Cavanaugh knew something, but it couldn’t have been about me specifically or he’d have known who I was. Maybe I was part of something else? That opened up a whole list of new and unsettling questions. I’d always thought the Pretty Boys were only after our family, but that list suggested otherwise.
Was it a clue about what happened to Mom, and why we’d been running ever since? If Cavanaugh wasn’t a threat, he might be an opportunity for answers. Though he could be both.
I pulled up the list and a browser and typed in the third name from the top—I already knew what had happened to the Antonellis. Number three—name crossed off. The woman was fifteen years dead, with a straightforward and detail-free obituary. Number four followed the trend with a line through it and a twelve-year-old obituary, plus a news article. Girl’s body found. Exsanguination. Police baffled. I huffed. Join the club. But it was another indication that this was connected to Mom. Number five—also crossed off. No search results, but my money said she was dead as well.
Number six was a college student who’d been in an accident six months ago and was still in a coma. Number seven was Anita Rosenberg, also missing. And then me.
No, that didn’t bode well for my future at all.
I rubbed my temples. Running sucked, and Dad couldn’t do it anymore. Another few weeks and he’d need supervision, maybe even constant care. Living with me near Andrews Medical was better for him than living alone in Boulder City, Nevada. We’d have backup here.
Unless the Pretty Boys had found us.
I pulled out Cavanaugh’s card. Threat or opportunity? Unsure, but worth the risk. I typed in the number. I needed answers before I threw my life away again.
“Yes?”
“Hi, it’s Grace Harper. I think I might have remembered a name on that list. Someone I might have gone to school with as a kid.”
“Which name?”
“Can we meet around, say five, at Frisco’s? Sports bar down the street from the hospital.”
No answer right away, then a sigh so soft I barely caught it. “Sure, I’ll meet you there. Five at Frisco’s.”
“See you then.”
I tucked the card away. If he gave me any hints he wasn’t alone, he wouldn’t see me at all.

______

Meet Author J.T. Hardy

J.T. Hardy is the writing team of Janice and Thomas Hardy. She’s the word smith, he’s the idea generator, and together they bring their worlds and stories to life. They frequently get caught up in weird conversations over lunch, and many of those conversations lead to more book ideas than they have time to write.

Janice is also the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall, from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. When she’s not working on novels, she writes books on the craft of writing.

Janice and Thomas live in Central Florida.

Visit www.janicehardy.com for more information about the novels, or www.fiction-university.com for more on writing.

 

Interview with J.T. Hardy:

Q: Hi J.T. Hardy. Please introduce yourself.

JH:  Hello! I’m J.T. Hardy (the J stands for Janice). I’ve lived most of my life in Florida, currently just outside of Orlando. It’s only 58 minutes from my driveway to a good space in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, which satisfies my Disney obsession. I write fantasy and science fiction for adults and teens (in my other life, I also write books on writing). I read pretty much everything, though the SFF spectrum is what I love best (And I’m always open for book recs, so lay them on me). I have three fellas (two cats and a husband), who each help and hinder my writing in a variety of ways. Most of them adorable, to be honest.

Q: Why paranormal? What drew you to the genre?

JH:  I’ve always loved stories with an element of the fantastic—monsters, myths, other worlds and incredible situations. As a kid, I woke up way early in the morning just to watch “Creature Feature” on TV (and yes, I’m dating myself here. I was a little kid). There wasn’t a lot of variety back then in “children’s books” beyond Nancy Drew and the classics, and then something amazing happened. The “Twilight” Series. (No, not that one).

The Twilight Series was paranormal for teens. Spooky stories with paranormal elements, mixed up with teen problems, romance, and adventures. I’d never read anything like that before (and I started on Stephen King at twelve). I was HOOKED. When I started writing, all my ideas had a fantastical element to them—paranormal, fantasy, science fiction.

Writing paranormal satisfies a different part of my soul than just reading it. Anything is possible; there are no limits to the type of story I want to tell, because every problem and every character struggle can happen in a paranormal world—and dealing with personal baggage is a lot harder
and more interesting when you add monsters and weird goings on to the mix.

Q: What’s your favorite type of paranormal creature and why?

JH:  Zombies for sure. I saw Dawn of the Dead as a kid, and the line, “I can smell your brains!” still gives me the chills. There’s just something creepy and fascinating about losing all control of who you are and becoming this mindless, unstoppable, walking plague. It works as a horror trope, as a
comment on society, as humor, and even as romance, as with Warm Bodies. Zombies are just so versatile. I keep promising myself that one day I’ll write a zombie story—but only if I can come up with a great idea that hasn’t already been done. So many amazing ones out there already. I want to add something fresh to that richness.

Q: For those who are new to your books, what is the story about?

JH:  Blood Ties is about a woman named Grace, whose mother was murdered by a handsome, yet deadly “something” when Grace was five. She and her father have been on the run ever since, staying one step ahead of the monsters they nicknamed “Pretty Boys.” For twenty years, they’ve been hunted, but they don’t know why.

As the story opens, Grace is contacted by a man asking questions about a missing woman. He has a list of other missing people, and both Grace and her mother’s names are on it (she’s been living under a variety of alias at this point). Grace wants to know how she and her mother wound up on
that list, and thinks this missing woman is a clue to help her find out why her mother was killed, what’s after her family, and how she can stop it.

And of course, as she pursues this lead, things go horribly wrong. She reveals herself to the things hunting her, her father is kidnapped, and she discovers the truly horrible reason why the Pretty Boys want her family. Bwahaha.

It’s book one of a series, and Grace’s adventures will continue. She has a key role to play in this paranormal world, and between you and me, she’s really not going to like it. *rubs hands together gleefully*

Q: How did you come up with this idea?

JK:  My husband and I were discussing vampires and myths (as folks are wont to do) during a nine-hour drive to Thanksgiving dinner. Then out of the blue, he said something that blew me away:

“What if XX?” (sorry, this contains a spoiler that ruins the whole novel, so I can’t quote it directly, but it’s a super-fun twist).

He had this take on vampire lore that was so out-there-fun I HAD to write it, and we spent the next six hours building the world based on this “What if?” premise (which is why he’s the T in J.T. Hardy).

Back then, I had just finished my middle grade fantasy series, so I actually started this as a young adult novel. But it didn’t work at all, and I scrapped the idea for a while, then re-thought and re-wrote the entire thing during a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Grace grew up, the story shifted to adult, and everything clicked into place.

The next Thanksgiving drive after that, we kept brainstorming and expanded the world. Before we knew it, we had an entire series figured out.

Q: Where can our readers find you? (Social media, website, etc.)

JH:  If they want to know more about me as an author, they can find me at: www.janicehardy.com, or sign up for my newsletter. For writers, visit www.fiction-university.com, sign up for my other newsletter, and find writing advice and tips on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. I’m also on
Goodreads

Thanks so much for having me!

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