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lcosgrave7

The Block

A blog for authors and readers by publishers. By Wordsmack - a South African speculative science fiction publisher. Wordsmack accepts short stories, novellas and novels on a year-long submissions basis.

GeekSNACK: A Free Short Story from The Guardian's Wyrd world

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<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">The Party (<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">A
Guardian’s Wyrd</i> short story)<o:p></o:p></span><br />
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">by Nerine Dorman</span></div>
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<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; line-height: 200%;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Also available on bookly via Mxit</span></span></div>
<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">
<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MG9fDoewoA8/U4WD2bTTmFI/AAAAAAAAAOI/hO8U1G4e9Q4/s1600/shield1+copy.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MG9fDoewoA8/U4WD2bTTmFI/AAAAAAAAAOI/hO8U1G4e9Q4/s1600/shield1+copy.jpeg" height="200" width="151" /></a></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“This is a
very bad idea,” I told Rowan as we plodded up Andrews Road. The Hill from Hell
I liked to call it. My calf muscles were screaming.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">There was
enough moonlight for me to see Rowan’s grimace. “This party means a lot to me,”
he said.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“I don’t
care,” I said. “And I don’t see why you’re invited to parties all of a sudden.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">My friend
was the class geek, the one who was the butt end of all the pranks and teasing
whenever I wasn’t there to look out for him.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Angela
invited me,” he said.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Are you
sure?” Knowing Rowan, he had made all of this up. Angela Fourie was the most
popular girl in our grade. Everyone except for me seemed to be obsessed with
her. Okay, she was kinda cute, but she wasn’t <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">my</i> kinda cute. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“She sent me
a Facebook invite.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Does your
mother know you’re on Facebook?”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Shut up.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“The only
thing that’s saving you is that Oryxis and your mom believing you’re sleeping
over at my house,” I said. “If they hear that we sneaked out ...”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“You sound
like Oryxis now, blah, blah-blah-blah.” Rowan made little talking hand movements.
“We’re just going for a little while.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">I growled at
him but bit my tongue. Besides, I needed my breath for the last stretch of road
before we got to the security gate. If Rowan’s claim that he had an invite (of
course I hadn’t received one) wasn’t all a pile of dog poo, then we’d be
allowed in past those hallowed gates to Tierboskloof. If not ... Well, we could
go back to my place and play console games or something.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">I waited
next to Rowan while he sweet-talked the security guard at the gate. My mom had
brought me here a few years ago when she was visiting a friend, and then they
hadn’t had all the security. I allowed myself to relax a little. Rowan would be
safe enough.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">As his
Guardian, I had to look out for him, just like Oryxis made sure nothing
happened to Persia, Rowan’s mum. They were royalty in exile, from the magical
kingdom of Sunthyst, and how I had gotten myself tangled in their lives was
definitely another story for another time. (That’s if you wanted to cue <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">The Neverending Story</i>.)</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">But Angela
confirmed that we were on the guest list, the security guard buzzed us through,
and we followed the avenue up until we reached our destination. We could hardly
miss it. The music was pounding <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">doef-doef</i>.
Yay, my favourite. Not. I was already cringing and wishing I’d brought my earplugs
by the time Rowan rang the doorbell. Squeals of laughter sounded from the other
side.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Are you
sure you want to do this?” I asked him.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Sorry?” he
said, cupping his ear to me.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Whether he
genuinely couldn’t hear me or if he was just joking, I decided to ignore him.
My night had been ruined, in any case. I could only ride it out until the
bitter end. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Fay opened
the door and blinked at us with heavily made-up eyes, and my heart did a little
jig. Okay, Fay was <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">my</i> kinda cute. My
mouth went dry but that was okay, Rowan did all the talking and got us inside.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Oh. My. God.
Fay.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Things were
looking up. Definitely. Just about everyone from our class was here, and then
some. I didn’t recognise some of the older skate punk guys who were hanging out
on the balcony smoking cigarettes and trying to look cool.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Now what,
wise guy?” I asked Rowan.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">He shrugged
and pointed to the kitchen. Drinks, I suppose. Angela’s parents were loaded, so
they could afford to let their daughter throw big house parties. Not an adult
in sight ... </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Loads of
fun, but things could also go horribly wrong if we weren’t careful.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowan, of
course, was completely oblivious to all the dynamics around him – all the more
reason for me to look out for him.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Everyone was
helping themselves to fruit punch in the kitchen, and I made Rowan dilute his
with more orange juice before we headed out to the balcony. From the smell of
things there was already way too much vodka in the punch.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">It was like
we had some anti-cool device strapped to us. The kids sort of shuffled out of
our way so that we clearly stood on our own – outcasts. We might as well have
that tattooed on our foreheads.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Happy now?”
I scowled at my friend.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowan sipped
at his drink and tried not to grimace. He obviously wasn’t used to hard tack,
for all the times he bragged about sneaking beers from Oryxis’s stock. The
stuff tasted pretty vile, so I took small sips. I didn’t want to get drunk. Not
here.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Just as I
feared we’d be standing around with nothing to do the entire night, I heard it
in a brief lull between dance tracks: one of the most beautiful sounds in the
world – a softly played classical guitar. The mystery musician was sitting on
another patio to our right, screened by a thick stand of wild banana.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">The next
track started up and I grabbed Rowan’s sleeve. “C’mon, we’re not going to stand
about like a pair of lost farts in a perfume factory.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">I didn’t
give Rowan a chance to argue and all but dragged him with me down a small
flight of steps into the garden then around the vegetation to where a girl was
sitting cross-legged on a pile of cushions. It was Fay, and she had a
nylon-string guitar clasped to her chest.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Hey,” she
said.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“You’re not
going to get heard over the music.” I gestured behind us.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“It’s fine.
It’s still better than being out there with all the posers.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowan made
to go into the room behind Fay.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“It wouldn’t
go in there if I were you,” she told him.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">He froze. “Why?”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Angela’s in
there with Tom.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowan tried
and failed to hide his disappointment. I hid my smile behind my hand.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Yeah, I
know. Sucks. She asked me to keep chips out front.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“That’s just
twisted,” I said.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Fay gave a
little shrug and played a trill of notes. “It beats getting hassled by boys out
there. Mike’s been trying to make me do shooters.” She stuck out her tongue.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Mike’s an
idiot,” I told her and sat down next to her. “Whose guitar is that?”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Angela’s
brother’s. He’s gone overseas. I always play it when I visit.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“You’re
anti-social.” I smiled at her.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“So are you.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Well, that
was one way of chatting up a girl.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">As it turned
out, Fay and I shared a bunch of similar favourite bands and we took turns
showing each other different songs on the guitar. I hadn’t even known to speak
to her at school, but thanks to the party, we were good. Fay and Jay – it had a
nice ring to it. We had a laugh about that. I guess that’s why I didn’t notice
that Rowan had wandered off. The first we heard of any drama was when the music
got turned off and there was shouting.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Where’s
your friend?” Fay asked me.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">I swore, and
my “Spidey” senses as I called it were tingling – I knew on a gut-deep level
that whoever was responsible for the disturbance, it was Rowan. He was in
trouble.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Crap, crap,
crap!” I muttered under my breath as I rushed through the bedroom behind us and
into the house. Fay and I had been so busy talking music we hadn’t even noticed
when Angela and Tom had finished whatever it was that they’d been doing. Not
that I cared. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">My main
concern now was saving Rowan from getting beaten up. That kid couldn’t hit a
fly if his life depended on it, and it wasn’t difficult imagining a dozen
scenarios varying in degree of horror – Rowan with a black eye; Rowan with his
front tooth knocked out; Rowan with a broken hand ...</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">All these
scenes ended the same way: Jay having to “please explain” to Persia, who could
possibly literally fry me with whatever weird magic she kept up her sleeve. If
she knew we were even here ...</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">There was a
circle of kids out front in the driveway, and for a moment I thought the boy
sprawled on the ground was Rowan. But it wasn’t. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Mike lay
there, moaning. Big-ass bully Mike, who was at least a head taller and twice as
large as Rowan. I couldn’t help but gape, as surprised as Rowan, who stood
there over him rubbing at the knuckles of his right hand. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Angela’s
dating Tom, you douche,” Rowan spat. “When she says she’s not interested in
seeing you anymore, she means it.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Some of Mike’s
friends, eyed up Rowan and were muttering among each other, and it was at that moment
that I figured it would be a good idea if we went back to my place to play
console games. Less chance of Rowan causing any trouble.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“I’ll see
you on Monday,” I told Fay. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">She gave me
a knowing smile and melted back into the house, clearly uninterested in what
was going on out here. Well, there went my chances of having something with a
girl tonight. Plus she’d been sending out all the right signals. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">I sighed and
ploughed through the crowd and grabbed Rowan by the elbow. “C’mon, mate, we
gotta chuck.” </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">He glared at
me but didn’t bitch, thank goodness. </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">I cast one
look behind me, but Mike’s friends were too busy helping him up off the ground.
</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Then I
groused at Rowan, “What did you go and do that for?”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowan’s grin
was devilish. “That was payback.” </span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Dude,
seriously, what would you have done if his friends had piled into you? You were
outnumbered.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“You’re here
now.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">“Dude.” I
shook my head. Had he honestly thought I’d haul his ass out of the fire? No. He
was right. I would. Even if I got hurt.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Running footsteps
from behind had us spin around. I tensed then relaxed. It was only Angela
coming up the driveway.</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">She was
breathless and grabbed both of Rowan’s hands in her own. “Thank you! I can’t
believe Mike was such an idiot.”</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;"><o:p></o:p></span></div>
<div class="normal" style="line-height: 200%; mso-pagination: none; text-indent: 14.2pt;">
<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Then she
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<!--EndFragment--><br />
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<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 200%; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowan just
smiled and touched his fingers to his mouth. “I don’t know, but her lips tasted
like cherries.”<o:p></o:p></span></div>
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<div style="text-align: center;">
***</div>
<span style="font-family: Helvetica Neue, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Did you like this short story? <a href="http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-guardian-s-wyrd" target="_blank">Buy The Guardian's Wyrd for more</a>.</span>&nbsp;</div>

Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/05/geeksnack-free-short-story-from.html

Early praise for The Guardian’s Wyrd

 

 

 

 
The Guardian’s Wyrd, a fantasy adventure book set in Hout Bay, has received five star praise ahead of its release.
 
The book, written by the prolific writer and editor Nerine Dorman, is available from online stores today and is the story of Jay September, a mixed-race boy from Hout Bay who follows his friend Rowan into the deadly politics of the magical realm of Sunthyst.
 
Reviewers have called it ‘a lovely, sometimes harrowing, sometimes heartbreaking tale’.
 
The book is a story of friendship, of magic and best of all: an adventure that will get your kids excited about reading again.
 
But, here’s more about the book:
 
Sometimes having a fairytale prince as a best friend can be a real pain.
 
Jay didn't realise that sticking up for Rowan, the gangly new kid at school, would plunge him into the dangers and politics of the magical realm of Sunthyst. But if anyone is up for the challenge it's Jay September. With his trusty dog, Shadow, at his side, he braves the watcher in the dark that guards the tunnels between the worlds, and undertakes a dangerous quest to rescue the prince.
 
It's a race against time – can he sneak Prince Rowan away from under King Lessian's nose and bring him safely back home – all before the prince's sixteenth birthday? Or is Rowan's mother, the exiled Queen Persia, secretly trying to hold onto her power by denying her son his birthright?
 
Jay is ready for anything, except, perhaps, the suffocating darkness of the tunnels. And that howling …
 
If you’d like to interview the author, or find out more about the book, please don’t hesitate to contact Leani from Wordsmack Publishers at 0834614494 or leani@word-smack.com
 
You can buy the book by clicking here.
See some of the reviews here.
 
 
Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/05/early-praise-for-guardians-wyrd.html

Cover reveal: The Guardian's Wyrd

It's one of our favourite days here at the Wordsmack office: Cover Reveal Day. The other favourites include publishing day and Friday...

 
Now, check out the gorgeous illustration by artist Colwyn Thomas for Nerine Dorman's fantasy novel The Guardian's Wyrd:
 
 
Lovely. And in case you're wondering, that's a rampant unicorn. They come with fangs and attitude. But, before you go away, check out what this book is about:

 
The Guardian's Wyrd:
 
Sometimes having a fairytale prince as a best friend can be a real pain.
 
Jay didn't realise that sticking up for Rowan, the gangly new kid at school, would plunge him into the dangers and politics of the magical realm of Sunthyst. But if anyone is up for the challenge it's Jay September. With his trusty dog, Shadow, at his side, he braves the Watcher in the dark that guards the tunnels between the worlds, and undertakes a dangerous quest to rescue the prince.
 
It's a race against time - can he sneak Prince Rowan away from under King Lessian's nose and bring him safely back home - all before the prince's sixteenth birthday? Or is Rowan's mother, the exiled Queen Persia, secretly trying to hold onto her power by denying her son his birthright?
 
Jay is ready for anything, except, perhaps, the suffocating darkness of the tunnels. And that howling…
 
 
Sign up here to be notified when the book has gone live on Amazon and other digital platforms: http://www.word-smack.com/#!newsletter/c152j 
 
 
 
Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/05/cover-reveal-guardians-wyrd.html

The Ripmender is live!

The Ripmender - Julianne Alcott

And ready for downloading

Johannesburg, 6 May 2014 – A science fiction romance novel set in part in Durban and on an alien planet? Done. Wordsmack Publishers is excited to announce that The Ripmender by Julianne Alcott, has gone live today. The novel follows Cathy as she tries to navigate going from a friendless, isolated first-year to the best friend of the world’s biggest teen rock-sensation, Nathan Jake.

As the demand for ‘off-centre’ fiction takes off in South Africa, authors like Lauren Beukes, Charlie Human and Cat Hellisen are becoming known for meshing supernatural elements with local backdrops. Zombies in Cape Town and aliens in Durban – it’s the next wave of fiction in a country teeming with interesting and shocking stories.

The Ripmender is part of this trend as it brings science fiction and romance to teen and young adult readers. Teen readers especially will relate to the multicultural characters and the local language used in the book.

More about the book:

“In the real world, one’s idols end up going to rehab or jail, or marrying someone for three days. They don't end up being from another planet.”

Cathy Slater dreams of meeting the love of her life ... teen rock sensation, Nathan Jake. Of course, this is impossible – he is adored by millions, and she has trouble fitting into her own family. Even if he is a tutor at her university, she can’t compete with the packs of adoring fans constantly surrounding him.

But then her life changes forever when she stumbles onto Nathan Jake’s biggest secret. She wasn’t meant to see what he could do … what he was.

Becoming part of his secret means that Cathy is thrown head first into his world – the one in which Ripmenders keep unsuspecting worlds like ours safe from invasion. And then there are the jealous super-fans to deal with …

But can Nathan ever reciprocate Cathy’s feelings? As she discovers more about the Ripmenders and the shadowy organisation that runs them, the more she worries that his cold, calm demeanor will never give way to the loving man she always imagined him to be. Follow the couple from South Africa across the galaxy to fantastical planets through the rips of space.  View it here

About the author:
Julianne Alcott lives in Durban where she works as a librarian at a primary school library. She loves inventing strange plots that she then can research – she’s done it all – from rubbing stinging nettles on her skin to going to the mall with a borrowed wheelchair.  She loves hearing from readers, so send her a Tweet @JulianneAlcott or visit her blog at http://juliannealcott.wordpress.com. She’s also on Wattpad, and every so often publishes stories for free.

For more information on the book, the speculative fiction industry in South Africa or for an interview with Julianne, please don’t hesitate to connect with me at 0834614494.
Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-ripmender-is-live.html

City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments)

City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare In my review of Book 4 I mentioned that it seemed like an epilogue and like the author/publisher decided to continue with the series because the first three were so successful, but that the rest hadn't been planned out that well. In this book that becomes clear. A whole new plot has to be set up so that we are sucked into the rest of the series. It makes for a slower and less entertaining read, but I am excited about the rest of the series. I have, however, decided to take a bit of break so that I can read the next one closer to the release of Book 7.

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare I'm still really enjoying the series because it's hard to put down and I care about the characters now, but it really feels as if the first three were planned and then because they were a success they decided to publish the rest.

It's still dark, funny and deals with issues that normal YAs often skirt around, but it's a bit like reading an epilogue. I know it's now building up to a new villain, new grand plot, but... Maybe the next one will be better.

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments)

City of Glass - Cassandra Clare This one is kind of the final in what I like to think of as the original trilogy. It is great! I couldn't put it down.

Dark, funny and does not skirt around issues that YAs deal with.

The paranormal world is big and the kids deal with real race, sexuality and diversity issues. It's not too teen-angsty (although there is a heathy dose of that too).

My main problem is that I already know that I will fnish the first 5 books very soon and will then be waiting around for the next one. I would highly recommend the series.

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments)

City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare The second one is just as good or better than the first.

Dark, funny and does not skirt around issues that YAs deal with. That's the type of YA I like.

The paranormal world is big and the kids deal with real race, sexuality and diversity issues. It's not too teen-angsty (although there is a heathy dose of that too).

I didn't want to like this series because it just felt like another one made into a movie and now they're splitting the second book into two movies, which is just ridiculous. BUT the books are great!

My main problem is that I already know that I will fnish the first 5 books very soon and will then be waiting around for the next one. I would highly recommend the series.

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments, Book 1)

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare Dark, funny and does not skirt around issues that YAs deal with. That's the type of YA I like.

The paranormal world is big and the kids deal with real race, sexuality and diversity issues. It's not too teen-angsty (although there is a heathy dose of that too).

I didn't want to like this series because it just felt like another one made into a movie and now they're splitting the second book into two movies, which is just ridiculous. BUT the books are great!

My main problem is that I already know that I will fnish the first 5 books very soon and will then be waiting around for the next one. I would highly recommend the series.

Calling all book bloggers!

Here at Wordsmack Publishers we realise the power of book bloggers - we love that the Internet has made it possible for anyone's voice to be heard. So get hold of us and we'll send you ARCs and cover reveals and interviews and all kinds of goodies!


If you're into speculative fiction - fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal - that kind of stuff, then our books are right up your alley. 

Currently, we have two Young Adult books waiting to be reviewed and published, here's more info on them:


The Ripmender by Julianne Alcott:

"In the real world, your idol usually ends up in rehab or, even worse, at a wedding altar in some tacky Vegas chapel. What they don't do is tell you they are from another planet ... Just my luck!"

Cathy Slater dreams of meeting the love of her life ... teen rock
sensation, Nathan Jake.

He's adored by millions, while she has trouble even fitting into her own family! Although he is a tutor at her university, there is no way she can compete with the packs of worshipping fans constantly surrounding him.

But then fate intervenes and her life changes forever when she stumbles onto Nathan's biggest secret ... She wasn't meant to see what he can do ... what he is ... Now there's no going back.

Who are the Ripmenders and what is their purpose here on Earth?

Follow Cathy across the galaxy as she uncovers the truth about the shady organisation behind Nathan's secret. Can she ever truly understand the mystery behind the man she loves? ... Or will an enemy from the past ruin everything?


The Guardian's Wyrd by Nerine Dorman:

Sometimes having a fairytale prince as a best friend can be a real pain.

Jay didn't realise that sticking up for Rowan, the gangly new kid at school, would plunge him into the dangers and politics of the magical realm of Sunthyst. But if anyone is up for the challenge it's Jay September. With his trusty dog, Shadow, at his side, he braves the watcher in the dark that guards the tunnels between the worlds, and undertakes a dangerous quest to rescue the prince.

It's a race against time - can he sneak Prince Rowan away from under King Lessian's nose and bring him safely back home - all before the prince's sixteenth birthday? Or is Rowan's mother, the exiled Queen Persia, secretly trying to hold onto her power by denying her son his birthright?

Jay is ready for anything, except, perhaps, the suffocating darkness
of the tunnels. And those eyes ...

~


Talk to Wordsmack by checking out our details here: www.word-smack.com

Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/04/calling-all-book-bloggers.html

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, Book 1)

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, Book 1) - Pittacus Lore Hmmm... I decided to read this because I'm going through a stressful time and needed something fun and easy to read while everything else is going on. And it delivered. It was easy and fun. However, unlike most other YA series that are incredibly popular, I could easily put it down at night and I didn't really care about the characters. I would also be hard pressed to call this sci-fi. It is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy at best.

However, since my stressful time is continuing, I am continuing with the series - thanks to Kobo discount vouchers.

10 Cakes For Book Lovers With a Sweet Tooth

Reblogged from BookLikes:

Book cake

 

Warning: this is a mouth-watering post and a rapid need of a snack while reading may appear. 

 

Have a look at 10 cakes inspired by books. Read BookLikers' reviews, grab a book and plan your next literary cake. We'd love to try out some new recipes :) 

 

 

Wonder Woman

 

Wonder Woman Cakevia

 

 The Fangirl: I've been meaning to read this reboot for a while. Despite all the mixed reactions people have had to the New 52, I've been hearing a lot of great things from people I trust about this new take on Wonder Woman. But I was still on the fence so I waited until my library got a copy of the trade. Now after reading I feel like an ass for waiting for so long, because it is awesome... read more

 

 BOOKWRAITHS REVIEWSWonder Woman Volume 4: War is my first foray into the world of the New 52, and I have to say this graphic novel left me with mixed feelings: some good and some bad. The story itself revolves around Wonder Woman protecting a baby from a group of characters who are desperately seeking it... read more

 

 

 

The Help

 

The Help cake

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Bloggeretterized: I know, I was late for the party, and one more review might even be irrelevant at this point of the book’s life, but there was so much buzz around this book that I had to check it out and see for myself. The Help for me was a fast read. Once you get hooked and used to all the slang in the book, you’re on your way to finish it... read more 

 

Books, Dogs, and Other Blogs: The audiobook was great, and had several different narrators, and it was really quite engaging, even for me.  I've seen the movie as well, and the book is a little bit different, but they pretty much follow the same story line... read more

 

 

Gone With the Wind

 

Gone with the wind cake

via 

 

A Great Book Study: While I was reading the last chapter of Gone with the Wind, I could feel this lump welling up inside my throat, and my eyes became blurry with tears.  I did not want to believe this story was going to end this way.  I wanted to fix Scarlett and Rhett, but that was not possible... read more

 

The Armchair Librarian: Oh, Gone with the Wind - how you do go on. Seriously, though, this was one of the most difficult books I've read in about five years. Not just because of the length (1,000 pages!), but also because of the subject matter; the main character is so repulsive that you just want to slap some sense of her... read more

 

Frankenstein 

 

Frankenstein cake

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kneubeck: Frankenstein is beautifully written. Mary Shelly really has a way with words. I liked this version of the book because it suprised me. I always thought that Frankenstein was old (he is in his early 20s) and that the monster was not able to speak but in fact he can speak quite well. Also, he is not green but yellow-ish... read more

 

The Realist: Who is the monster? And who is the man? A question that could be answered either way depending on your perspective of things. When I first went into this book, I wasn't expecting much. Considering that I haven't had much experience reading the horror genre, I decided that I couldn't go wrong with a Gothic horror. And I didn't... read more

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

Hungry Caterpillar cake

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Kate Says: "Reading Is Fun!": This was a favorite book of mine when I was much younger. I used to beg my grandma to read it to me whenever she came over. There's just something about the wonderful artwork, the hands on quality of the book, and of course the story itself of the cute little caterpillar that eats and eats and eats some more until he feels sick and goes into his cacoon to hide and comes out a beautiful butterfly... read more

 

 

Harry Potter

 

 Harry Potter cake

via 

 

mattries37315: This is the third time I've read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but the first since finishing Deathly Hallows and first time reading it critically. I've tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book (much younger than myself) and it's place in the series... read more

 

The Book-Addled Brain: Whoa, this series has certainly taken a turn down a very dark and twisted path!  I absolutely loved it, but I've been considering reading this series aloud with my 6 1/2 year old daughter, and if I thought the incident with the unicorn in the first book would upset her, then there's no way I'm unleashing the soul-sucking dementors on her just yet... read more

 

 

Narnia

 

Narnia cake

 

via

 

Lisa (Harmony): Narnia is filled with imagery, imagination, symbolism but above all ideas conveyed through the events of the story. I find that rare in adult literature let alone childrens' literature. I couldn't help but admire how Lewis uses the intricacies of a spell in The Silver Chair to convey the ideas in Plato's of Allegory of the Cave or the echoes of Dante in The Last Battle. There's so much that's rich and wondrous here... read more

 

 

Water for Elephants 

 

Water for elephants cake

 

via

 

 : This is the first book I've ever read where I didn't find a single error. Not one. My hat goes off to Sara Gruen's editing team. The plot is tight, almost too tight; so well plotted that the author kinda shows her hand by building the reveals. Strangely enough, this book reminded me of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, and I'm sure you'll understand when you read it... read more

 

: Boy, was I surprised! It was wonderful! Usually, the popular books everyone loves I tend to hate. But this was so beautiful. The romance, the imagery, the time period. I knew nothing of circus life, but this was as informative as it was whimsical... read more

 

 

Divergent

 

Divergent cake

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MIKELA: Giving in to an impulse to purchase a book without knowing anything about it has the advantage of surprise; the book can be wonderful, a dog with a neat cover or anywhere in between. The story line was inventive and for the first 3/4 of the book I was glued to the pages as I followed our narrator... read more   

 

Kindle Gal: Knowing I eventually wanted to read this series, I tried to stay away from spoilers and kept myself in a bubble about the movie so I could truly experience it "fresh." But, in the end, it was the movie trailer that got my butt in gear to finally pick up the book. (Hello, Theo James!) I also know about "the big bad thing that happens in Book 3," because the internet doesn't ever shut up... read more 

 

It

 

Stephen king Horror cake

via

 

kerryWhat can I say about this chilling masterpiece? Well, I can add that I'm pretty sure most of my generation is afraid of clowns, because of this book/movie. Although, I do remember going to the circus at a very young age and experiencing an old, drunk clown that scared me a bit, but I also saw the movie rather young (that and Killer Klowns from Outer Space)... read more

 

Dantastic Book Reviews: In 1958, seven kids took it upon themselves to rid the town of Derry of a child killer that took the form of a killer clown.  In 1985, the clown is back and the kids return to Derry to finish what they started... Yeah, I'm a couple decades late to the party on this one.  So what?  Some friends were doing a group read and I decided it was time to tackle this kitten squisher... read more

 

Enjoy! 

 

pic source via

Books for the price of a cup of coffee

Publishers have been vocal recently about the fact that you can now buy a book for the same price as a cup of coffee. Isn't that sad, they lament? How will it last? Well, of course we'd also like to make big profits and pay rent and eat something other than 2 Minute Noodles. But for now, we need to get more people with those eyeballs of theirs onto our books so that their minds can also be blown by how incredible (and sometimes a little scary) our authors' minds are.

To do list:
#1: blow people's minds
#2: make money when Hollywood comes a-knocking
#3: eat something other than 2 Minute Noodles

So therefore, the point, dearies, of this rant: Look at what you get for a measly R20 these days. It's not much. OR you can spend R20 on a book which will blow your mind, broaden your horizons and leave you looking down at your old school friends who clearly are not as impressive as you are.

Below shows: you can buy a Woolies smoothie, a cup of coffee (not even a double shot anymore), a song on iTunes, a cheapass app or ten diapers. OR you can do better.

 
This price is only available on the awesome Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-folds 
 
We were generous and thought we'd even look at what R40 can give you. It includes a Woolies meal, better apps, or a movie on box office movie and some homemade popcorn (no easy popping for you). OR the brain explosion thing.

 

This price is only available on the awesome Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/idea-war
 
Be good, but if you can't, you may as well enjoy.
 
Leani

 

Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/03/books-for-price-of-cup-of-coffee.html

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing - Steven Luna I feel like I missed something here. Everyone else seems to have loved it, but I just found it a bit formulaic.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the book, but it felt unoriginal, very teen angsty and the main character's stupidity really got to me. The music is nice to read about, but the storyline is just like so many other stories, that I knew exactly what was coming when. I guess I might feel differently about it if I had a teen. If you're a teenager going through the same stuff, I would recommend it. Otherwise I wouldn't bother.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys  - Maggie Stiefvater 4.5

I loved this book. It was so typically YA and then it changed and I was delighted and surprised. I haven't read many books like this, because so I haven't read much paranormal ghost stories. And then there is quite a bit of urban fantasy, romance and magic thrown in too. It was fun and every now and then you go, wow I didn't see that coming.

The only reason I'm reluctant to give it 5 stars is because the end disappointed me a bit. I get that a lot still has to happen in the second one, but it was just too abrupt.

Highly recommended though - I'm buying the second one immediately.

Get to know your business geeks. Part 1

I stumbled across a magazine last week that left me with a renewed sense of impressed-ness (I'm keeping that word) at how creative and innovative our little industry is here at tip of the continent. Spliced Magazine is a digital mag, based in Joburg, aimed at the geek community. It looks and feels like something with an enormous budget and teams of clever and artistic people. But, having stalked the poor editor (online. for now ...) I realised it's pulled together by three people: Pippa Tshabalala, Chris Savides and Tim Hulme.

Having worked at a magazine I fully realise how difficult it is to just publish it, never mind getting it to look this good and have great content. However, what I had to be reminded of (and that was mentioned in the first Spliced editorial) is that there are incredible initiatives like this, but somehow we don't know about them or they don't get enough face-time on traditional media platforms. 

So this week's blog is dedicated to amazing small businesses or operators that are working to bring great content or services to a growing market that is looking for original content or original ideas for everyday issues. Share it around and support them and keep the hope alive!

The publications:
Something Wicked is a horror anthology and Jungle Jim a pulp fiction magazine both based in Cape Town. Both accept writing from local authors and the magazines give them the opportunity to be published, which adds a whole new level of craft to their work, we can tell. These are also cracking good reads bringing a local relevance to horror and speculative fiction that for long has been missing from our shores.

Spliced, as mentioned above, is giving 'geek' a sexy new look. Well worth the read (or you can just ogle the editor's boobs).

The competition:
Nova short story competition - Run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (say that fast, I dare you), the Nova is a short story competition in the speculative genre. This year it was judged by Lauren Beukes (the author) and Arthur Goldstuck (of WorldWideWorx), among others. This opportunity gives local, green writers an incredible leg-up in terms of the quality of their work. And we can see it in the quality of their writing.

The venues:
Deetwenty Geeking Venue:  A house in Blairgowrie dedicated to gaming and other geek endeavours. It's where the Trekkies meet and other gamers can drink coffee and do their thing.

 

Fairy Gothmother: An arts and crafts coffee shop in Linden where you can go find your 'inner geek' or buy geek merch. Having gone to school in Linden I can tell you, a geek shop  here is a development worth mentioning. It means the community is growing and businesses are catering to our needs.

Outer Limits: A brilliant comic bookstore that gives you everything geek-related your heart desires. Think the comic bookstore in Big Bang theory - exactly that. 

The events company:
Orsum Source: A collaborative effort by ourselves and Kate Barnes - we're organising geek-centric events including a Steampunk picnic and Live Action Role Play (Larp) parties. Enough with hipster food markets over the weekends!


The platforms:
Paperight - Making it cheaper to study, Paperight turns any old photocopy shop into a bookstore by allowing customers to print their textbooks there. This is an incredible initiative in a country where textbooks are prohibitively expensive and access to bookstores  is a real problem for many school goers.

bookly - So it's pretty clear that we have a massive thing for this business. In case you haven't read any of our older blog posts, bookly is a reader for cellphones - and this includes feature phones, not just smartphones, bringing free books to millions of people in South Africa. You can access the app on Mxit and see how many people have read and liked a range of local (and classic) books. It's a library on your cell.

 

The Community:
Make Games SA is a registered association and an online community for professional, hobbyist and student game developers, artists, designers for support in creating games. Very nice. Check them out: 

The stuff:
Arwen Garmentry: Ok, so they've been around for years, but their gorgeous work often features on the wish lists of Steampunkers and anyone else, really, that has seen some of the beautiful clothes they make. 

Sin Bin: This business creates custom accessories, clothing and illustrations and has a loyal following among the cosplayers in SA. 

This list is by no means done, we'll publish a Part 2 soon!

Stay cool, and support your local business geeks!

Leani



Source: http://wordsmacked.blogspot.com/2014/02/get-to-know-your-business-geeks-part-1.html