Hello! I’m Jenny Martin,
Your hostess for this leg of the hunt!
You are currently hunting on TEAM BLUE!
Looking for a never-seen-before, deleted scene from TRACKED? You’ll have to keep searching.
Yep. Somewhere on the YA scavenger hunt blog hop, I’ve hidden a tantalizing, tender deleted scene from my debut, Tracked. But before you go looking for it, check out the amazing author I’m hosting!
Scavenger Hunt Rules
On this hunt, you’ll not only get access to bonus content from each participating author, you’ll also get a secret number.
- Add up the numbers, and enter it for a chance to win a major prize–one lucky winner will receive at least one signed book from each author on my team in the hunt! But play fast. This contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon PST on Sunday, October 4th!
- Below, somewhere in this post, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number (Hint: it’s highlighted in BLUE). Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on TEAM BLUE, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!)
- There are EIGHT 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, GOLD, GREEN, ORANGE, TEAL, PURPLE, & PINK team! Check out each team for a chance to win eight different sets of signed 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
- The hunt is open internationally, but anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, October 4th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
I’m thrilled to be hosting…
Bio: Lish McBride was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. It rains a lot there, but she likes it anyway. She spent three years away while she got her MFA in fiction from the University of New Orleans, and she liked that too, although the hurricane did leave much of her stuff underwater. Her main goal in going to college was to become a writer so she could wear pajamas pretty much all the time. She currently resides in Seattle, spending most of her time at her day job at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. The rest of her time is divided between writing, reading, and Twitter, where she either discusses her desire for a nap or her love for kittens. There are about 777 reasons to adore her books.
Firebug by Lish McBride
Ava is a firebug–she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.
Lish has graciously given us access to a cut chapter from her forthcoming book, Pyromantic. Enjoy!
You’ve Got a Little Green on You
We made it back to our rooms and Bianca didn’t even fight me for the shower. I guess I smelled that bad. I tossed my clothes and my boots into the cleaning bag along with Bianca’s pants and footwear—marsh mud is quite invasive contains a stink beyond all imagining—and put them in the hall. I hoped Alistair employed some amazing cleaning fairies or something, because if we kept up at this rate, we were going to have to start fighting crime naked. Ezra and Sid probably wouldn’t mind. They were used to fighting naked.
We grabbed a few hours sleep before we were sent out again. This time I went with Ezra to put down a swarm of giant magic-eating locusts. We took a company car because Ezra flatly refused to take his. He didn’t want to get “funk” all over it. I guess he didn’t have high hopes for how our mission was going to go. I read the file to Ezra as he drove, because we were finally starting to learn that when Lock wasn’t around, we actually did need to read the files. Locusts, whether magic-eating or their more pedestrian cousins, are basically grasshoppers with an overcrowding problem. Get too many in one place and they change. They swarm, which means they eat and breed like crazy. Regular locusts can devastate crops and put a country into famine. Magic-eating locusts are just like that, only much bigger. On average they weigh in around ten pounds. Like their name implies, they are drawn to magic, which means witches in particular have problems with them. Spells, their plant ingredients, wards, you name it, the locusts want it. It’s like a heady siren call, or scent of a good steak as it hits the grill.
Alistair had taken a call from a witch friend out in Essex. This late at night—or this early in the morning, depending on how you looked at it—there wasn’t much traffic, but it was still about a thirty to forty minute drive out. It was really too bad that we weren’t driving though at a better time. Essex is known for it’s fried clams. Well, and antique shops, but I’m not as excited about those.
According to the witch, she had an infestation and was beside herself. Apparently she was worried that after her garden, they were coming for the house, and eventually, the witch herself. That sounded like solid logic to me. So Ezra drove like the very devil and we made it there by the thirty minute mark.
Her house was an old single story white house set on a small parcel of land. A nice wooden privacy fence surrounded the house and she had a few old trees to help block the neighbor’s view as well. The porch light was on, revealing a cheery red door and blue shutters. The paint looked new, the walkway neat, and the trees and bushes trimmed and healthy. The file had said she was an earth witch, so plants were her thing. Since locusts would be all over that, we headed around back to where here garden would be. Since she had been fending off an infestation for a while, it didn’t seem likely that she’d be answering the door.
The gate to the back yard squeaked as we opened it. Considering the state of the rest of the house, I had to wonder if she’d left it rusty on purpose. A good squeaky gate or door makes an excellent warning system. The back yard was all garden and greenhouse, the latter having a small covered work table attached to it. At least, it was clear the backyard had been all garden. Now, not so much. The locusts had ravaged a lot of the greenery.
Eliza Trement was by the greenhouse and she looked about ready to fall over. Her pajamas were a mess and her hair was falling out of its hasty ponytail.
“Oh, thank the heavens, you’re finally here. I have them trapped in the greenhouse.” She grimaced. “All my best plants, my new starters, gone.” Her shoulders slumped. “Still, I guess it could have been worse.”
It could have been. She’s lucky she had a greenhouse and that she was able to trap them.
“The spell won’t last much longer—I can feel those little buggers chewing their way through it.”
That was the big problem with magic-eating locusts. They went after creatures who’s first response was, well, magic. So the cure just made the problem worse, like throwing water on a grease fire.
“If I open the door, will they get out?”
She trembled as she considered, and I could see the sweat beading on her brow in the faint light coming from the house. We really didn’t have much time.
“Not if you’re quick.”
I opened my mouth, but Ezra put his hand over it. “If you say quick like a fox, I’m throwing away your birthday present.” He dropped his hand.
“You didn’t get me a present,” I said. Not to mention that we didn’t actually know when my birthday was because my mom had done her best to obscure that fact. Cade thought we should just keep celebrating the one we’d been using, but I hadn’t decided yet.
“No, but I had my eye on one.”
“That you were going to steal?” We centered ourselves in front of the green house door.
“No, actually. So there. I’m going against a dearly held fox tradition for you.”
“Using stolen money or conned money to purchase it counts as stealing,” I said.
“So picky.” Ezra put his hand on the door handle since his reflexes were better. “Now!” He grabbed my arm, yanked the door open, and pulled us inside while Eliza held the spell.
Have you ever walked into a room, like maybe a class room where you’re the new student, or a crowded auditorium and maybe you drop something so everyone turns and stares at you? And then you get this overwhelming feeling that everyone is against you?
That’s kind of how it was in the greenhouse. As one, three dozen beady little bug eyes turned on us as we pressed out back against the door. For regular locusts, three dozen does not a swarm make. But then, regular locusts can’t be walked on a leash. Anything over a dozen was bad news.
“That’s a lot of locusts.” Ezra shifted against the door. “Eliza must be some witch.”
I nodded, the heat of the green house, even this late at night, combined with the press of the bug-stare making me break into a sweat. The locusts had demolished most of the greenery in the greenhouse. Plants lay wilted in their pots, their magical essences drained. I could see a lot of wards on the green house walls and tables and spell workings spread out on tables. I’m sure they were all defunct now. The fact that so many locusts were drawn here and had only now started eating at Eliza’s outer spell containment field told me that she’d had a high concentration of magic in here to begin with.
But that magic was running out, and we’d just walked in and offered ourselves up like dessert.
Ezra licked his lips. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I’ll shift to fox and herd them, you kick some ass.”
This is about as complicated as our plans went. “I’ll lob a few to get them to focus while you change.” I tossed a small fireball at the nearest locust while Ezra stripped down. The locust swallowed the fireball. The whole thing. He didn’t skitter out of the way or get hurt. He ate it. Then he hiccuped and a wisp of smoke came out.
Now, I knew the locusts ate magic, but I didn’t think my fire counted. It was an element more than anything else. But I guess the locusts disagreed. I hurled another, this one much larger and sent with more speed. Another locust jumped in to help the first, but the flame was still gone in a few quick bites.
Crap. We were going to have to do this the old fashion way. I scanned the greenhouse. Eliza was very orderly, which was nice. I could plainly see a neat row of tools hanging from a wall organizer. Unfortunately, the locusts squatted between me and the tools. A tug on my pants leg told me Ezra was ready and wanted to know why I wasn’t getting a move on. Eliza couldn’t hold on forever, and we would make a quick snack if I just stood here.
“Okay,” I said. “I need to get to the tools over there. Do your best.” Ezra yipped, a clearly disdainful sound. Foxes have a huge vocal range, and Ezra could add layers of attitude on top of that. I threw a fireball off to the left, hoping to draw some of the bugs. Ezra bolted in from my right, his red fur a blur as he tried to herd the locusts. The insects weren’t keen on his plan. They looked more like they wanted to herd him. He hopped around, nipping at legs, pushing with his nose. Nothing.
I edged along the wall, trying to not draw too much attention. A handful of beady eyes followed me, but most of the attention was on Ez. Annoyed at the lack of movement, he darted in and crunched down on the back leg of a locust. The locust screeched. Ezra immediately backed away and started gagging and retching. He looked like a cat with a hairball. I guess he’d forgotten about the part of the file that said locusts exude a sort of toxin when they swarm. It makes them inedible. He pawed at his muzzle, and any other time I would have laughed. I’d have to save it for later when things weren’t trying to eat us.
The screeching bug lunged at Ezra who hopped out of the way. Ezra was a little over twice the size of the locusts, so if he’d been one on one, he probably would have been fine. But with this many, he had to watch his step. The movement of that one locust apparently galvanized the others, who lunged toward Ezra en masse. He yelped and hopped away, then took off running. As he passed me, he cast me a look that plainly said, “Well, not our original plan, but it’s working, so hustle.”
I kept to the wall, heading for the tools. One or two of the locusts came at me, but I kicked them away. I kept an eye on Ezra, shooting a few fireballs his way if the insects got too close. I heard a sizzle and an indignant whine and knew my aim had been slightly off. Ezra passed me again, locusts in tow, the smell of his singed tail wafting behind him. I was going to get an ear full later.
The rake would be too cumbersome. The shears looked sharp, but they would require closer contact. I grabbed the hoe. Ezra raced by again, his tongue out, and I took a swing. Nice, light weight, well balanced, plus the little metal end crunched through the hard exoskeleton of the bug. All in all, I think the hoe is an undervalued weapon.
I swung again, hitting a few more bugs. One flew off and hit the side of the greenhouse, stunned. I hit the other right at some pivotal stress point and it exploded, covering me in a viscous green goo. I used my jacket sleeve to give my face a quick swipe, spitting out the bit that got in my mouth. Apparently, the flavor of locusts is reminiscent to bile. I gagged. At laughed at Ezra a minute ago for the same thing. Karma is a harsh mistress.
Ezra ran behind me again, his tongue out, and I could tell he was getting a little tired of sprinting. Foxes have a lot of endurance, but we were going on low sleep and fluctuating adrenaline over a long span of time can be exhausting. Not to mention the amount energy I was expending as a firebug. Who knew how much Ezra had been shifting back and forth. We were beat.
I got into a nice steady rhythm with the hoe. It became almost musical. Swing, whoosh, crunch, with the occasional thump thrown in. Goo splattered and bug bits were everywhere. Ezra, tired of running, bolted behind me to shift. I threw up a line of fire in the dirt floor to slow down the bugs so they didn’t jump me all at once. The lined up like pigs to a trough. Ezra, man-sized and starkers, joined me. He’d found a shovel. Not as balanced as the hoe, but the larger metal surface area made a nice sound as it struck the bugs.
By the time we were finished, my arms ached and I was covered in green slime, black ichor, and some other mystery liquid that smelled bitter and acrid. Oh, and bug bits. I held one up. “Is this an antennae?”
Ezra leaned on his shovel. “I think so.” He reached over and pulled a hind leg out of my hair, tossing it on the ground. Ezra hadn’t made out much better. He was smeared in all the same things as me, only he didn’t have the same barrier of clothing I had. He wrinkled his nose. “There isn’t a shower long enough. We reek. Again. And it’s starting to dry and it itches.”
I gave his shoulder a sympathetic pat, smearing some goo in the process. “We’ll probably have to house you down.” I brushed a chunk of thorax off my shoulder. “Do you think they’re all gone?”
Ezra scratched his chin. “I think so. Hard to count them, though. It’s like a bug puzzle in here. Why don’t you send up a flare and see if anyone comes out of hiding?”
I lobbed a softly glowing fireball into the middle of the greenhouse. A faint scritching noise came from the corner and Ezra walked over and bludgeoned whatever had made the noise into the ground.
“We’re done,” he said, tossing his shovel. I picked it up, putting it against the wall with the others. I didn’t hang it up. Eliza was going to have to wash it before it was put away, but I didn’t want to leave it on the floor. She was going to have enough of a mess to deal with.
Ezra grabbed his clothes off the floor, his mouth turned down in distaste at putting them on over his goo-covered body.
“Waiting isn’t going to make it any better, and we’re not showering here. We need to get back to the Inferno and try to catch a little sleep.”
His shoulders slumped and I heard him sigh. Oh, the hardships of a fox. Once Ezra was decent, we left the greenhouse. Eliza was slumped in a chair. She looked like she could sleep for a week.
“Is it over?” she asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, I think we got them all. You might want to consider bringing in a cleaning crew. The locusts made a right mess of your greenhouse.”
Eliza looked crestfallen and her lip trembled. Oh no, she was going to cry. I would rather face ten more locusts than deal with crying. People always wanted to hug you when they cried and I never knew what to do with my hands. Should I pat them? Hold them? Sing a song?
Eliza sniffled. “It’s that bad? I was hoping some of it was salvageable.”
My cheek itched where the bug juice was hardening and I fought to not scratch it. I wanted to point out that she still had a greenhouse and her life and complaining to us wasn’t going to help, but knew that would just make it worse. The bugs had just taken things, and things could be replaced. Crying certainly wouldn’t help.
Ezra could see that I was struggling to find my manners and he reached over and put his hand on my arm. “It’s like your bookstore.”
Then I understood. The bugs had taken away her sanctuary. It wasn’t about the broken things exactly, but at the violation of her innermost sanctum, her quiet space. The place where her heart lived. That I understood. I sent Ezra a silent thank you.
I took Eliza’s hand. “It could have been much worse. The structure is still sound, and I don’t think the locusts had dug into the soil yet.” If they had, they might have created a null spot, a magically dead zone, and Eliza would have to move her greenhouse. “Get a cleaner out here and replant. Are there any local witches that might give you some cuttings to help rebuild?”
Eliza wiped her cheek with her pajama sleeve. “I’m not sure. I don’t spend a lot of time with the community. The other witches around here, well, we’re not always that…social.”
I was betting that she meant they were proprietary over their spells and plants. Some practitioners didn’t like to share. “Well, reach out to them. Or give Alistair a call. He might be able to put you in touch with some empathetic friends.” Eliza sniffled again and straightened, steeling herself for the upcoming ordeal.
Ezra dug the car keys out of his pockets. “Just don’t call Mike’s Sparkle Time Cleaners right now. They’re swamped. It’s been a busy couple of days. Maybe someone local?” Eliza nodded and we made our goodbyes.
We climbed into the car, the early dawn light making it easier to see. Ezra and I stared at each other. We looked like we’d crawled out of an alien egg sack or something.
“We’re not stopping to get food on the way home, are we?” I asked.
“Not unless you want someone calling the cops. I’ll get us back as quick as I can.”
I sighed and tipped the back of my car seat back a little. “Better stick to the speed limits. The last thing we need is to be pulled over like this.”
Ezra scratched his arm and some dried bug juice flaked off onto the floor. “You see, this is what I love the most about our job—the sheer glamour of it all. Can’t be beat.” He threw the car into reverse and we headed back to the Inferno.
Wasn’t that awesome?
You can snag Firebug HERE!
Or catch up with Lish on her website or on twitter!
Ready to move on to the next link in the hunt? Then head on over to visit Melinda Salisbury’s website.
Thanks for visiting!
Want an extra chance to win a copy of Tracked? Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway