Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This is my second go-around with this bi-annual event, which was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 120 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
I’m David Kudler, author of the YA historical adventure Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale, which follows a young, orphaned samurai girl who is recruited to become a kunoichi — an assassin, spy, and bodyguard.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Today, I am hosting L.H. Nicole on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
L.H. Nicole is a seasoned Pastry Chef at the happiest place on earth and a life long fairytale (Disney and Grimm) lover. She believes in love at first sight, is addicted to 80’s & 90’s cartoons and anything that can capture her ADD-way-too-overactive-imagination. Joan Lowery Nixon and L.J. Smith were the first authors she became addicted to and who inspired her to steal away whenever she could to read and write.
The war is about to begin. Whose colors will you fly as a King rises?
Aliana, Dagg, and the New Round Table are so close. The alignment is only weeks away. All they need is to find the Grail of Power and unite the seven realms, but Mordrid is drawing ever closer and victory is far from assured.
All the bonds, questions, and betrayals will come to a head as the new Knights of the Round Table prepare for the final battle. To win, Aliana will have to do what hasn’t been done in over three millennia: claim the power of the alignment and use it to either save the realms or raze them to the ground.
Join Aliana, and her family and allies, for the final installment of their Legendary quest.
CHASING THE ORION STARS
by L.H. Nicole on swoon reads
1 Aurora Milos- 16 years old
Walking in a Roman vineyard over five hundred years old, even though it’s just in my dream, never fails to take my breath away. Especially since this was the Borgia’s family vineyard in Forli and that my dream prince was here somewhere. Walking the fields at sunset was one of Lex’s favorite things. It was the only time he could find peace from his father and his duties as a lord of the Romagna.
I made my way up the row of multi-colored grapevines that stood just taller than me. I felt the same warm, powerful presence that always hovered in the background of our dream world. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two figures, a man and woman. We got glimpses of the pair sometimes or, if not them, strange shaped creatures. We had imagined dozens of scenarios over the years; maybe they were guardian angels, the gods of old, or phantoms haunting us?
These phantoms weren’t always limited to my dreams either. Maybe it was because for so long I’ve wished for any part of my dream world to be real, but I could swear I’ve seen other phantoms in the real world. Then again, I’ve been told I live in my fantasy world too much, trying to have my own story fit for a teen novel.
The vines ahead rustled. “Lex?” I looked around, my eyes searching the field of sweet smelling vines for my best friend. “Where are you?”
I spun around. As soon as I found his hazel ones I smiled for the first time since that morning when my mother had given me thrilling but terrible news.
“Hi.” I felt my cheeks start to heat. The rough but somehow noble presence of Alexander Borgia always took me by surprise even after eleven years of knowing him, or his dream self at least. Lex was tall and lean with wide shoulders and defined muscles that weren’t always obvious through his heavy layers of sixteenth century clothes. His pale skin laid over sharp cheekbones and a long face; his chin peppered with evening stubble and an adorable cleft. His dark curly locks framed his face and fell just past his angled jaw. He was handsome in a way guys in the twenty-first century couldn’t even come close to. I loved coming back to his time in our dreams. Sometimes I wished I lived in the sixteenth century instead of the twenty first. Then I remember they didn’t have modern plumbing. Still…
“I was afraid you would not come tonight.” His not quite Italian accent rolled over me. “I have not seen you in days, mia gemma.”
‘My gemstone.’ That was one of the pet names he always called me. It was rare for Lex to use my real name, but then I always called him Lex instead of Alexander. A habit from the very first dream we’d shared when I was five years old and couldn’t properly pronounce his name.
I sighed. “I need my best friend after today.” Maybe I was being overly dramatic but after the bomb my mom had dropped on me today I needed the one person I have always trusted.
He took a few steps closer. “What is wrong?”
I dropped my gaze, I didn’t want him to see me cry today. I wrapped my arms around myself, the web of scars on my shoulder pulled uncomfortably. I always keep my scars covered; I can’t stand the way people look at me because of them. Lex was the one person who never flinched away, never made me feel like less of a person because of them.
“Mia gemma,” he whispered, his tone soothing. His hands came up to touch my arms but, like always, they passed through me. Lex’s face turned dark and angry as he clenched his hands so hard they shook. It was our curse.
We could taste, touch, and smell everything in our dream world—except each other. It was agonizing most of the time but tonight I was as grateful as I was resentful.
My gaze focused on the beautiful and sweet smelling fruit. “My mom,” I started, “she told me we’re moving to Rome in a few weeks. She’s been offered a commission to restore and to curate a special show the Italian government is sponsoring.”
“I thought you wanted to come to Roma?” Lex’s confusion echoed my mom’s from earlier.
I bit my lip, nerves fluttering in my blood. “I did… I do, more than anything.”
“Then why are you fighting tears?”
My throat tightened. How could I tell him the thought of being in Rome–in Italy–without him by my side was unbearable? He was the reason I loved Italy. He was the reason I found a love for history. He was the reason I wanted to go to Rome. For eleven years he had been my rock and my greatest friend. I hadn’t realized it until two years ago, but I’m in love with him. It’s not the instant love the Middle Ages are known for, it’s the kind of love that started and bloomed over more than a decade.
“Mia gemma, please look at me.” The gentleness in his voice couldn’t be denied. Slowly I looked up attempting to hold back tears.
His eyes, filled with compassion, held me enslaved. “You do not ever have to hide your tears from me, angioletto. Nobody knows you like I do. You are safe with me always,” he vowed, the sincerity and vulnerability in his voice crushing my resolve.
“I’m sorry, Lex.” I sniffled and took a breath.
He waited while I gathered myself. His hands gripping his sword belt, his shoulders tense. Something he always did when he was trying to remember he couldn’t touch me.
How had I fallen so hopelessly in love with a dream, a figment of my imagination? Every record I searched didn’t mention Cesare’s favored son. Not a name, a birthday or even a damn favorite color, nothing. But then how could I have imagined him when I was five years old? How could I see and talk to him, both of us aging over the years in our dreams?
“You don’t have to tell me,” he offered. That made me smile. Lex always wanted to know everything about me, just as I did him.
I cleared my throat. “Part of me is so excited to go. I’ve wanted this forever.”
If we had been in the real world, and not my dream, I know there was no way I would even imagine telling him the truth, but this wasn’t the real world. “You won’t be in Rome waiting for me.” I hugged myself tighter, wishing it were his arms holding me.
He looked stricken his astonishment mixing with a hopeful gleam that widened his eyes. “Angioletto, I don’t know what to say.” He stepped closer, only an inch or two between us.
I couldn’t touch him, but I imagined how he would feel. Strong, warm, gentle when most men of his time were rough and uncaring. I could almost feel his hand stroking my hair, holding my waist, cupping my cheek. My heart raced. God, why couldn’t he be real?
“I’m being stupid I know.” I wiped away my tear that escaped. “I just always pictured myself walking the streets of Rome with you by my side.” There I said it, and it made the twist in my chest pull tighter.
Sorrow and happiness warred on his face. “Mia gemma, I…”
I held up my hand to stop the words I knew he would say. “Please don’t.” I begged. “It…hurts… too much to have my dream guy whispering promises I know can never happen. You’re not real, and being in Rome without you… I’ll have to face that truth. That’s why I’m so torn up. I fell in love with a dream.”
His eyes and face darkened, the late evening light casting shadows over his sharp face. “Say it again,” he pleaded with a voice gone hoarse.
Fat tears welled, and, try as I might, I couldn’t keep a few of them from escaping.
“I’m in love with you,” I whispered, my voice as soft as the wind.
Lex’s face lit up, his body relaxed, and breath whooshed out of his lungs. “I lov—”
“No!” Desperation swamped me. “I can’t,” I explained, not wanting to hurt him. “I can’t take hearing you say you love me. A dream can’t fall in love with me.” I turned away shoving my shaking hands through my hair. “God, I should be committed for my delusions.”
“Stop this now, Aurora!”
“Stop apologizing and listen to my words.” My eyes shot up, lips sealed. No one was stupid enough to ignore the absolute authority in a Condottiero’s voice. They were some of Italy’s best and most dangerous mercenaries or military leaders; and Lex had learned from the best: his father, Cesare Borgia.
“I love you too,” he declared. “I think I have since we first met so long ago as children.” He closed the distance between us. I had to tilt my head up to hold his gaze. “I do not care what I have to do. I will find a way to you, to your time,” he vowed, his gaze intense and determined. His voice dropped, losing the hardness but none of the passion. “I will prove to you I am real, prove to my self that you are real. I never make a vow I cannot keep.”
Ever so slowly he raised his left hand, palm facing me, like he was resting his hand against a window and waited. It was our way of touching like we had when we first met as children and realized we couldn’t touch each other. It had become our promise over the years. Whenever one of us was angry or hurting or making a promise, this was what we did.
I could see his fierce determination, and his worry that I would reject him for the first time, ever. My raging heartbeat was so loud in my ears it was hard to think. Accepting his dream promise would only shatter me even more in the next few weeks when I finally arrived in the Eternal City and he wasn’t there. I was crazy and a glutton for pain for even thinking of accepting this promise. Nothing good could come of it, but my heart and mind had different ideas. Turning my back on his words—from Lex—was never going to happen.
I was trembling as I placed my smaller hand against his. Our fingers blurred together like I was touching a hologram. I couldn’t physically feel anything, but there was something else holding us together. Something neither of us understood. A bond that had brought us together despite the centuries keeping us apart.
“I’m going to hate myself for this in the morning,” Maybe I would, but I also knew that if Lex were indeed real, he wouldn’t want me to be sad and unhappy.
I saw the two figures from earlier watching us from the other end of the vineyard, but they weren’t important right now. I made my own silent vow.
I would go to Rome. I would do all the things we had talked about. I would go to all the places he told me about. I would experience his city and country the way he would want me to. I would find a way to be happy… without him… somehow.
To read more go to SWOON READS by clicking on this link 🙂 —LHN
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, by L.H. Nicole, and more!
To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 24.
Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the blue team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
CONTINUE THE HUNT