By Blood by Tracy E. Banghart
Series: By Blood #1
Publication date: February 18th 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.
Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll be witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.
But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom...and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.
Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.
By Blood is a novel about the ways that blood can bind us to others – or tear us apart.
Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.
The baby was still crying. For a split second, I imagined taking my static-y, synthetic airplane pillow and pressing it against his face, until the blood-curdling screams stopped and there was, finally, silence.
“Come on, you little poop machine!” I muttered, voice edging into desperation. I made yet another silly face and wiggled my fingers at him. I tried bouncing him on my knee. Not that it made a difference. He kept crying, his face an angry red verging on purple. I peeked furtively at the other passengers; their dirty looks were hard to ignore. At any moment the leathery, pack-a-day military guy across the aisle was going to vent his obvious frustration, or the flight attendant intervene.
Mom breathed deeply next to me, her soft, doughy body slumped against the wall of the plane. Her black hair was swept into a low bun, clearly exposing a neon orange ear plug.
“Mom,” I whispered, nudging her more gently than she deserved. She didn’t move. “Mom!” I hoisted the kid into her lap and her arms automatically reached out to cuddle him close. Her eyes opened a slit.
When she saw me looking, she raised an eyebrow in question and removed the ear plug. And winced, as the baby’s wails redoubled.
”Please take Vermin,” I begged, “I’m pretty sure the guys in Row 14 are trying to figure out how they can kill us and make it look like an accident.”
Mom glared. “Emma, don’t be silly. And don’t call him that. Your grandfather would roll in his grave.” I opened my mouth to tell her I didn’t care what Grandpa Fermin did in his grave, but her look when she turned to gaze at her little mutant son stopped me. No scowl for him, even though he was still huffing and sputtering in distress. She tickled his belly – just like I’d done not two minutes ago – and elicited a mostly toothless and more importantly silent smile. Her expression melted into a look of love so obvious I thought for a moment I might be sick. When I slumped back in my seat, my elbow cracked painfully against the armrest.
With a happy gurgle, Vermin reached out and grabbed a chunk of my hair. I gave him a grimace, the closest thing to a smile I could manage. I tried to keep the revulsion from my face. It’s not like he was ugly. He already had a full head of silky dark hair, and wide, deceptively innocent eyes. He looked mostly Filipino, like Mom, except for his milky skin.
It wasn’t his fault I hated him.
But the fact remained that his presence meant my mom was having sex with someone other than my father. His very existence meant that my family would never be the same.