Amber Lynn Natusch has become an author to watch out for after reading Dare You to Lie and Don’t Say a Word. So when I read about Rogue Reformatory: Busted, I was very curious. Today on my post for the blog tour I have an excerpt for you and a giveaway!
Keep an eye on the blog for my review soon! Thanks to the authors and Pure Textuality PR, I received an ARC to read and review. This was a bit delayed, so my review will be a bit later!
The first novel in the Supernatural Misfits Academy series co-written by Amber Lynn Natusch & Marty Mayberry.
Teenage witches Maddy and Celine are as close as two sisters can be. So when Maddy’s power goes haywire and she’s dragged away to Wadsworth Reformatory for magical rehabilitation, overprotective Cece gets herself sent there to bust her out. Escape was the plan from the moment they reunited, but Wadsworth’s headmaster and the hostile supernatural student hierarchy prove to be a dangerous hurdle.
To break free, the girls enlist the help of two unlikely allies: a sorcerer with a mysterious past and an elite bad boy who cannot be trusted. Together, the four work to unravel the reformatory’s secrets and find a way out. But when Maddy is accused of murdering a classmate and Cece is nearly killed by a mind-splitting power, they know time is running out.
Can Maddy and Cece survive long enough to escape Wadsworth—or will they die trying?
ROGUE REFORMATORY: BUSTED
A Supernatural Misfits Academy Novel
© 2020 Amber Lynn Natusch & Marty Mayberry
My sister was going to get us killed. Not six-feet-under dead, but definitely on-house-arrest-for-the-rest-of-our-lives dead.
At least I’d be on house arrest. Mom would freak out if she found out what I was doing. Dad? He was happy as long as I stayed out of his life.
Stomping my feet to keep them from turning into blocks of ice, I scrunched my fingers deep inside my pockets. Only during a New England summer could it get this cold at night. Not quite what I’d envisioned when my sister asked me to spend the weekend—hanging around outside a 7-11. If Cece didn’t hurry, she’d come out and find nothing but a half-witch popsicle waiting for her, propped up against the brick wall.
I stared through the window, watching as my older half-sister strolled around inside the store. Older by only three months, that is. Well done, Dad. My mom had been a momentary blip on his radar. I wasn’t sure I registered at all.
Cece caught my attention through the glass and winked. Ass. I shook my head, struggling not to smile, to act casual. I needed to pretend this sort of thing happened every Saturday night.
More confident than I’d ever be, though I could tell she was nervous by the subtle twitch of her hands, Cece strode over to the glass refrigerator section, behaving like the twenty-one-year-old she was supposed to be, per her fake ID. In reality, she was seventeen, like me.
She paused and studied the choices, then selected a twelve-pack of what looked like a fancy craft beer. Not that I knew much about it. I’d only had a few sips of a Bud Lite Lime once at a party. After that, I totally got why some people called that stuff dog pee.
Cece told me I’d love whatever she bought for us. I sure hoped so, since it looked like I’d be drinking six of them.
As if she bought beer every day, she strolled up to the counter, flashing a mischievous smile at the two guys dressed in black leather and ripped jeans she passed on the way. Shifters. Being a half-shifter myself, I could tell.
They stared after her as she flicked her long, newly-dyed-blue hair over her shoulder. Then she reached back and snagged the bag of chips one of the guys was holding. With a smirk, she placed it on the counter next to the beer. The guy said something to her that I couldn’t make out, but by his easy smile, I could tell he wasn’t pissed. Probably wanted her number.
That was my Cece. Bad-boy magnet extraordinaire.
About our age or maybe a year or two older, the guys were cute in that rebellious way that made you ache to jump onto their motorcycles if they offered you a ride. Even though we—or I, at least—would never dare.
Cece directed her attention to the tall guy working the register and smiled, but this was not flirting. Dude had to be at least forty. Old. Nope, she was just providing a distraction, making sure he didn’t look too closely at her fake ID.
After pocketing her change, she side-eyed the guys, then strolled out of the store with the twelve-pack in one hand, the chips in the other. I shivered, and not just from the cold. Like predators watching prey, the guys’ intent gazes followed her as she walked boldly through the door.
Eyes wide with excitement, she hurried over to me. Her cheeks were pinker than they ought to be, considering that I was the one standing out in the cold. She held up her victory beers and smiled. “Did I tell you I’d deliver or what?”
“Yeah, but we should probably get out of here.” Leaning around her, I noticed the guys coming our way. “The man at the register might decide you aren’t old enough after all and call the cops.”
“Nah.” Grinning, she bumped my shoulder with her own. “He’d get in more trouble than I would for selling it to me in the first place. We’re good.”
“He should’ve spent more time checking your ID than staring at your boobs.”
One corner of her mouth quirked up. “Nothing like a little distraction.”
“Gross!” But my uneasy laughter spurted out.
“Not gross. Effective. Now, let’s go.” She stuffed the beer into her backpack, then tossed it over her shoulder and stepped off the curb into the parking lot.
My neck tingled, and I paused as the guys left the store empty-handed. They watched as we walked away, and I tried not to let the weight of their eyes on my back freak me out. I mean, Cece was pretty, and I was cute in a different way; it made sense that they would stare. Maybe they thought Cece had shown interest in the store? Or maybe they were just curious about what we were up to…
Unease razored down my spine as I rushed to catch up to my sister, who’d already reached the sidewalk and was striding down East Main. We’d walked here, since her mom needed the car to take her younger brother somewhere.
Once we got to Cece’s house, we’d easily sneak the beer past our dad, who’d be sitting in the living room with his feet up, enjoying some sports thing on TV. At most, he’d say hi to her. Me, he wouldn’t notice. We’d slink up the stairs, then hang out in her room. He’d never know what we were up to.
At least that’s what Cece had said.
A streetlight flickered and buzzed overhead, threatening to go out. My skin prickled, and I peeked over my shoulder, but I didn’t see anything unusual. Someone could be hiding, I thought. Watching.
Get a grip, Maddy. Everything’s fine…
I shook my head and jogged to catch up to Cece.
Though an icy breeze cut through my coat and made goosebumps ripple across my flesh, I took a deep breath and sucked in the crisp air, but it didn’t calm me. A quarter moon hovered on the horizon, creating barely enough light to see where we were going. Murky shadows chased us.
“In the morning,” Cece said, “if we’re not hung over and half dead, you’re gonna teach me that spell that makes people burst into hysterical laughter in the middle of a test. That shit could come in really handy.”
“We’re not supposed to do spells outside the coven.” Our lessons were held at a local church, where witches under the age of eighteen got together once a month to practice. Ironic to do witchcraft in a church, but it was a central location, and they let us use the basement room for free. But then, they’d bought the story that we got together for prayer sessions.
“No witchcraft outside the coven?” Cece mocked. “That didn’t stop you from using it on Gianna Barber. I heard all about it.”
I shuddered. “Yeah, and you know how that turned out.”
“We’re all learning how to control our power.”
“And I need more lessons.” A lot more lessons.
Our sneakers smack-smacked on the pavement as we turned off East Main and onto Sutter Street. I tried to ignore the steady sound of footfalls that suggested someone paced behind us. We weren’t the only ones out tonight. We’d already passed a guy on a bike, plus a couple strolling arm-in-arm. If we needed help, surely someone would come running.
And then they did.
My heart leaped against my ribs when someone rushed up behind us. I nearly screamed, but my throat was too tight with fear for that. As I whirled around to see who it was, Cece laughed. But it wasn’t her playful laugh—she was just playing along.
Not a good sign.
One of the guys from the store slid his arm around her waist. “Hey, sweetheart. Where you two goin’?”
“Nowhere,” Cece said, her voice neutral yet pleasant. She wasn’t into him or his sweetheart talk. It would’ve been a pleasure to watch her shut him down if it weren’t for the niggling sense of terror pulsing in the back of my head.
His friend slunk about ten feet back on the sidewalk, keeping to the shadows. Wearing jeans and a black coat, he blended with the night around us. I would’ve missed him if the white swoosh on his sneakers hadn’t reflected the moonlight.
I didn’t like anything about our situation. The guys. This part of town. The way the one looked at my sister like he was hungry and she was dinner. And I really didn’t like the fact that we were way too far from home to make a break for it. My breathing sped up, as if I’d been running, and my muscles cramped as adrenaline pushed through them. I wanted to run, but I tried to calm myself instead.
Cece would tell them to leave us alone, and they’d listen. Everyone always did what Cece wanted.
“So, what about going to that movie with me tonight?” the guy said, bending down close to Cece’s ear.
Cece wiggled out from underneath his heavy embrace. “Can’t, Brandon. I told you, Maddy and I already have plans.” The heavy look she threw me made my breath catch.
How did she know these guys? Sweat trickled down my spine, and I couldn’t hold back my shiver. “Yeah, we have plans already,” I said, wishing my voice didn’t shake. That I didn’t shake.
“Maybe another time,” Cece said, her voice like a honey-coated blade. Sweet, but deadly.
“Yeah, see, I’m not so sure I feel like waiting,” he said, his grip on her tightening.
She shot me a sideward glance and mouthed, ‘on three.’
“Move your arm or I tear it off,” she said, the familiar press of magic in her tone.
Brandon did as she said, but the crease in his brow showed his suspicion. He knew she was using her empath ability on him.
“Three!” Cece shouted as her backpack full of beer dropped from her hand and crashed onto Brandon’s foot. While he bellowed and hopped around, we bolted.
“Can you keep them from following?” I asked as we ran, trying to maintain our minimal head start.
“I don’t think so,” she yelled back. “I have to be calm for it to work, and I am not fucking calm right now!”
The guys quickly gave chase, hooting and swearing and gaining on us much too fast.
We ducked down a side street to try and lose them. It turned out to be an unlit alley. Just what we needed.
“We’ll hide,” Cece panted out in a hissing whisper from beside me. “Maybe they’ll give up and go away.”
Abandoned and dilapidated buildings rose around us, and we searched for somewhere to hide. Maybe if Cece could calm herself, she could use her magic to make them go away. Or maybe not…
Until I learned some control, I didn’t dare use my power.
Our sneakers hit the road and we splashed through puddles as we wove around cars and a dumpster in search of a hiding spot. Or a cracked doorway we could shove open. Or a random cop walking a beat.
“No!” Cece’s voice echoed defeat as she came to a shuddering halt. “Dead end.”
A solid stone wall stood in front of us, buildings encroaching on either side. “We’ll go back, and they’ll—”
“Lost?” Brandon asked from much too close behind us.
His friend snickered and dug his elbow into Brandon’s side. “Not too lost. Looks like we found them, huh?”
We turned and Cece stepped in front of me, as if to protect me from harm, like she’d done since I was little. My sister took her three months of seniority to me seriously. But until she could center herself, there wasn’t much she could do to make them go away—at least not magically. If they’d been human, she probably could’ve kicked their asses MMA-style, but shifters were far too strong for that, even in human form. Not me, but I wasn’t like other shifters. Or other witches, for that matter.
A gust of wind swept through the alley. It caught her hair and whipped it around her face like blue threads of power. Unlike my sister, I had more power than I knew what to do with. ‘Endless potential’, our coven leader called it. ‘Untrained and unpredictable’, another had hissed when she’d thought I wasn’t listening.
“Leave,” Cece ground out, but they didn’t obey. Brandon advanced on Cece, stalking her until his hands were on her shoulders, forcing her toward the wall. She kneed him, but he barely even grunted from the blow. Her back smacked against the run-down brick building with a thud, and she cringed at the impact. Above her, a twisted, rusty metal fire escape scissored back and forth, from about eight feet up all the way to the roof. It swayed with the wind, and the structure creaked and groaned.
I nudged my head toward it. A quick boost up from me, and she could get away.
“Maddy, run!” she yelled at me as Brandon held her tight.
“No,” I cried, my voice wavering with fear. But there was anger building inside me, begging to be let out. If I could channel it, maybe I could drop that ladder on Brandon, and Cece and I could make a break for it. Two of us against the other guy would work.
It had to.
“If you don’t want to go to the movies, we could just go back to my house. No one’s home tonight. We’d have all the privacy in the world…” He nudged his chin toward his friend looming a few feet away, ready to strike at any moment. “I bet Jason here would be happy to keep your friend occupied.”
Jason studied me like I was a slab of meat hanging in a market. “Too lanky.” His gaze drifted across Cece, and he grinned. “But I’m happy to share the blue-haired one.”
The fear on Cece’s face heightened the tension growing inside me to the bursting point. As Jason strode toward Cece, I felt power ripple inside me, fueled by fear and panic and an overwhelming urge to do something. Cece had always been the one to protect me, to take on the world if it hurt me. It was my turn to do whatever I could to help her.
The power surged into my hands like a kettle about to boil over.
“Run!” Cece shouted as she tried to wriggle free of Brandon. Jason sneered.
The sight sent me over the edge.
Something forbidden and ferocious churned inside me. It begged me to unleash it, to let the rage free. In our coven classes, I’d been aware that I hadn’t been tapping my full potential, but I’d been too scared to give in to the demands of my inner beast, worried that if I did, I’d level the world around me.
The shadow surged up into my throat, a panting, writhing mass of fury. It hungered. I’d never tasted magic like this before. It was lovely. Gruesome. Frightening.
As Brandon pressed his body against Cece’s and she cried out in pain, the restraints I’d learned how to place on the power snapped. Magic burst out of me in a shockwave that shoved me backward. My body smacked into a dumpster, and I slumped to the ground.
Everything around me exploded, as if a category-five hurricane was roaring through the alley on a rampage. It wouldn’t stop until it found satisfaction.
A huge crash resounded as the fire escape and part of the building broke free and plunged down onto Jason and Brandon.
“No!” A guttural cry erupting from me, I staggered to my feet and raced toward my sister.
She lay beneath the concrete and metal structure, unmoving. Her arm was extended, her palm facing the sky. Her hand didn’t move.
“Cece?” I whispered, straining to reach her. I tried to lift the frame, but it wouldn’t budge. “Help! Somebody help me!”
But no one heard. No one came running.
With horror spreading like a plague through me, deadening me, I yanked my phone from my pocket and dialed.
“Yeah?” Dad’s controlled voice came through the line. In the background, a whistle blew and people shouted. Damn, he had the TV too loud.
“Dad!” I sobbed out. “Cece. I need help. She needs help. Please come.”
I killed her!
Terror combined with guilt inside me, taking away my will to go on.
Dad cut the TV and his voice shot through the line. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“We’re in an alley off Sutter Street. Please. I need you,” I gulped out. Tears poured down my face as the realization of what I’d done filled me. My knees gave out, and I collapsed on the ground.
“I’ll be right there,” Dad said grimly. “Don’t go anywhere, and don’t call the police.”
Jason and Brandon hobbled by, heading for the street, but Cece remained motionless.
Dropping my phone, I crumpled into a ball and sobbed.
I stayed like that even as Dad’s car screeched into the alley and he got out. He ran to the fire escape, and his gut-wrenching cry echoed around us.
I’d done this. I’d killed my sister.
As I rose to lean against the wall, a black, unmarked car pulled in behind Dad’s, and two men got out, a blond and a redhead. They paused beside me and stared down, saying nothing, before walking over to Dad. Heated whispers swirled around me as I slowly died inside.
Cece, I’m so, so sorry.
“You sure you want us to take her?” one of the men asked.
“Do it,” Dad grated out. “Make sure she doesn’t return.”
The men walked over, grabbed my arms, and hauled me away from the wall.
“What are you doing? Help my sister!”
They strapped a band of cold, hard metal around my neck.
“Please,” I said, my voice hoarse. “Cece!”
They guided me toward the car. “You need to come with us.”
“But Cece.” I strained to break away, to reach my sister. I needed to touch her one last time. “Please. I need to go to her.”
The blond man placed his finger on my temple, and the alley disappeared.
To celebrate the release of ROGUE REFORMATORY: BUSTED by Amber Lynn Natusch & Marty Mayberry, we’re giving away a first-in-series paperback set! One winner will receive a paperback copy of Outling by Marty Mayberry (Crystal Wing Academy Book One) and a paperback copy of Caged by Amber Lynn Natusch (Caged Book One)! Click here to enter.
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will each receive a paperback copy of Outling by Marty Mayberry and Caged by Amber Lynn Natusch. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of the authors. Giveaway ends 6/30/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.
About the Authors
AMBER LYNN NATUSCH is the author of the bestselling Caged series for adults. She was born and raised in Winnipeg, and is still deeply attached to her Canadian roots. She loves to dance and practice Muay Thai―but spends most of her time running a chiropractic practice with her husband, raising two young children, and attempting to write when she can lock herself in the bathroom for ten minutes of peace. Dare You to Lie is her debut YA novel with Tor Teen.
Badass Bitches Book Club https://www.facebook.com/groups/535396066472384/
All Things Natusch Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/128199120696406/
MARTY MAYBERRY writes young adult fiction and infuses it with suspense, romance, and a touch of humor. When she’s not dreaming up ways to mess with her character’s lives, she works as an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist. She lives in New England with her husband, three children, three geriatric cats, and a spunky Yorkie pup who keeps her on her toes.
Marty is a member of YARWA and a PAN member of RWA, as well a four-year PitchWars mentor.
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This book sounds so good and I can’t wait to get started! What do you think? Does it sound like a book you’ll pick up?