Book Spotlight: “Beneath The Chapter” by Jessica Walsh & Briana Lawrence

book spotlight

BtC

Synopsis

Was this why? Was this the reason he’d told her to be quiet, because this needed to happen?

The middle of winter has given the residents of the warehouse plenty of time to mull over their last adventure. The Storyteller has been found, but has left behind only more questions and no real answers. Just when the group exhausts all of their resources, a new organization comes to the surface that could tie up all the loose threads. 

Unfortunately, the Chapter isn’t what it appears to be, and the Hunters are now left to deal with a new threat that hits a little too close to home. What secrets is the Chapter hiding, and is it worth uncovering the truth?

Beneath the Chapter is the second in the Hunters series.  Book 1, Seeking the Storyteller, is also available on Amazon.


Book Excerpt

The door slid closed behind Harris Jameson with an audible hiss. The walls were a sterile white, practically glowing from the fluorescent lights above him. His lab coat was just as dull as the walls, the only splash of color being the dark blue company logo stitched onto the corner pocket – a book with the Roman numeral II on it to fit with the company name: The Chapter. Harris turned one corner, then another, and every couple of feet there was a door with a single number under the small window: 223, 224, 225. Back when he’d started working at the lab counting the doors had practically been a necessity to make sure he reached the correct one. It had been so easy to get lost, each door the same bland shade of gray and each connecting hallway identical to the last. Now he could make it to the rooms without giving the doors a second glance, a dismal sign of working at a job for far too long even if he’d only been there long enough to get an extra vacation day to celebrate a year’s worth of work.
Room 227.
Harris let go of the pages on his clipboard as he stepped inside the room. It was a carbon copy of every other room on this floor, and to add to the blandness, there were no windows to the outside since the floor was well below street level. The room was outfitted with a couple of plastic chairs, a medical bed with a plastic curtain draped around it, and off white machinery hooked up to the wall, beeping and hissing away. Standing near the bed was a woman who Harris rarely saw in this patient’s room. Her tattoos, white tank top, and black pants stood out better than a highlighter in a fat old textbook. Her hands were shoved in her pockets, the discomfort wafting off of her like a physical thing. She hadn’t even bothered to push the curtain back, instead opting to lean against the wall and peer through the small opening to silently watch the sleeping boy.
“You can wake him up if you want, I have to check on him anyway.” Harris did his best to keep his eyes on his clipboard and give her space. He pretended he had a form to fill out, letting the room stay silent as she debated, then pushed away from the wall and shook her head.
“I’ll pass.”
“If you’re sure.”
Harper Blake pulled her hands out of her pockets to rub them together, then slid them back in again; shifting from one foot to another. She always felt like time stopped in this room. Outside the door and beyond the hallway was a world full of color and life, a bartending job and a certain secretary with legs for days, but inside of this room was a dream – no, a nightmare – that threatened to suffocate her the same way it choked around the young boy’s neck. The boy in front of her was small, thin, and his black hair was short around his face in a boyish cut that set off his eyes. Harper knew his eyes were green like hers, or at least they used to be, but now they were something else and she was glad they were closed. His small body and pale skin she could deal with, but his eyes were something she absolutely hated looking at ever since he’d gotten sick years ago.
Had it been years? He looked far too young for his teenage years. He was thirteen now, right?
Harper frowned and shifted again, her fingers brushing against the cellphone in her pocket. It hadn’t gone off, but it would soon enough, right? Cell phones always had a knack of interrupting things. She needed hers to ring now, to give her a reason to leave the room without feeling guilty. Maybe a call from the bar to pick up some extra hours, or a pleasant dinner date. “Come on, Katalynne, call me.” Perhaps her roommate would call for that gallon of milk their fridge needed. Actually, she mentally decided, she didn’t need a call for that. Errands, she had errands to run. Good ol’ adult responsibilities. Clutching the phone, she turned to head for the door.
“Harper, you can stay and talk to him.” Harris was looking at her now. He knew better than to make the plea but he couldn’t help himself.
“No, I’ve got stuff to do,” Harper said quickly, and she left the room before Harris could protest more.
As soon as the door closed the boy in the bed opened his eyes and frowned sadly. He wanted to sit up and go after her, but his body was too tired to contemplate the thought. Harris was forced to watch his hand slide across the sheet as if he could reach her.
“Evening,” Harris said softly, doing his best to give an encouraging smile and ignore the lonely look on the boy’s face.
It took a moment, but the boy turned his head to look back at him. “Good evening.”
Harris tucked back the curtain then went about looking over the various computers, taking in the readings and numbers with practiced ease. He checked a few boxes on his clipboard, not at all surprised to see that no changes had occurred since his last visit. Actually, nothing had changed for the last couple months. According to all the computers and equipment his patient was dying of a cancer that had filled most of his body. Oddly, the cancer had paused, not attacking or retreating no matter what they tried. Samuel “Sammy” Blake looked to be a sick 10-year-old, lying in bed and waiting to die. Yet, according to the information Harper had given them, Sammy should’ve been nearly 14 and on his way to a growth spurt. Even with the treatment, the baby fat should have disappeared from his face and his voice should have started to change. It was as if he was trapped in this form no matter what drugs he took, what food he ate, or how much sleep he got.
Sammy’s eyes were the other thing that couldn’t be explained. Like Harper, they were a bright green, but there was a strange, crooked, dimly glowing line in them. The crack – the only thing Harris could think to call it – was a deep gold, breaking the iris horizontally like a single strike of lightning. The crack skipped his pupil and didn’t affect his vision but it had been there ever since Sammy had gotten sick. Harris had no idea what the crack meant, but it was part of his job to find out what was so different about Sammy and why.
“She hates my eyes,” Sammy whispered.
Harris sat down on the edge of the bed. “That doesn’t mean she hates you. She’s your sister. Sisters don’t hate their younger brothers.”
“Liar,” Sammy muttered softly.
Harper’s visits were always quick, but her exits were even quicker when she bothered to stop by at all. She never came in if he was awake and Sammy had taken to pretending to sleep whenever she was around just so he could be near her, if only for a moment.
Harris reached over and squeezed Sammy’s hand to try and comfort him. “Should I bring Ryan in tonight? Do you feel up for playing a bit?”
Sammy smiled and nodded his head. “I’d like that.”
Ryan Jameson was a year younger than Sammy looked. Harris had started bringing him to work just so Sammy could have a distraction and more human interaction. It seemed to be having a positive effect as it always brought a smile to Sammy’s face. He’d even managed to sit up around him to play a few games. Harris knew that what Sammy really needed was his big sister, but Ryan was, at least, a close second.
“Let me do the rest of my rounds and I’ll bring him by.” Harris squeezed Sammy’s hand once more before he stood up and retrieved his clipboard. He double checked to make sure everything was recorded as needed, then smiled at Sammy before stepping out of the room. He listened to the familiar sound of Sammy pulling a book off the table next to his bed before he let the door shut and moved down the hall.
Sammy was the best way to start his shift, sadly. Something about checking on the boy, even in his strange condition, cemented Harris’s purpose. Sammy was the most normal of the people kept on this floor and talking to him reminded Harris to stay grounded.
Fishing the keycard from his pocket he moved on down the hall, ready to check on the other rooms. Sammy’s was the only room that was never locked, then again, Sammy was the only one down here that wasn’t trying to get out.
Before reaching room 283, Harris stopped at a small locker and removed his lab coat. He slid on a protective vest over his shirt and tie before he put his coat back on and checked the power on the attached panic button. After taking a deep breath he grabbed his clipboard, ready to proceed to the room.
“Going to check on him?”
Harris jumped when he heard the deep voice. “Jesus, don’t scare me like that!”
Standing in front of him now was a much taller man who wore a similar lab coat, his dark skin standing out against the stark, white fabric. He was completely bald, his normally serious expression replaced with an amused smile from Harris’s jumpiness. “I apologize. I wanted to accompany you to that room.”
Before, Harris would’ve been intimidated by Mr. Suttic’s presence – Allan if you were close enough to the man – especially since he ranked well above him in the company. However, as the two men approached the door, he couldn’t help but feel relieved to have the extra company. Harris swiped his key card in the reader that led to room 283, a low growl coming from the back of the room. The familiar sound of straining restraints filled the room and Harris stopped at the door, his finger hovering over the panic button. Despite the number of times he had come to the room, he could still feel his heart pounding against his chest.
“It’s all right,” Mr. Suttic said as he placed a hand on Harris’s shoulder. “We’ll make this a quick visit.”
“R-right.”
Harris waited for what felt like an eternity before he was sure the restraints would hold, then he stepped into the room with Mr. Suttic, one last growl echoing around them.

About the Authors

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In 2001, two women met online on a Gundam Wing yaoi mailing list, of all places. Briana was attending college at Iowa State University, while Jessica attended St. Cloud State University. The two would chat on a nightly basis and even wrote a fanfic together. At some point, the two began roleplaying as different anime and video game characters. As they roleplayed together, they began coming up with original story ideas, but thought nothing of it.
After graduation, Briana moved to Minnesota and moved in with Jessica. One year after living together, their apartment was broken into. Among the list of stolen things were their laptops, and the two had to start their online roleplay all over again. This gave birth to a character called, “The Storyteller,” a creature who could read your life-like a book and change anything he wanted. They started roleplaying stories revolving around this character until, one day, Jessica wrote the prologue to a book idea. After many car rides and ice cream trips, the two planned out the first book to a series, “Seeking the Storyteller,” and planned out the rest of the series.
While this was going on, both women were writing their own, solo projects and promoting each other’s work. They would edit each other’s works and act as each others’ muses, always encouraging and, occasionally, adding interesting tidbits to their tales. Between the two of them they have a variety of books that cover several genres, ranging from Urban Fantasy, to Mystery, to Horror, to LGBT, and whatever their muses whisper to them. They bring their books to conventions all across the country to promote them and get them into the hands of readers who are ready to be taken into an entirely different world.
For more information about Jessica & Brianna and their books visit:

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