Monday, February 4, 2013
Release Day: Ashes and Ice by Rochelle Maya Callen
Title: Ashes & Ice
Author: Rochelle Maya Callen
Release Day: February 4th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult
Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours
She is desperate to remember.
He is aching to forget.
Together, they are not broken.
But together, one may not survive.
Jade wakes up with no memory of her past and blood on her hands.
Plagued by wicked thoughts, she searches for answers. Instead, she finds a boy who
doesn't offer her answers, but hope. But sometimes, when nightmares turn into reality and
death follows you everywhere, hope is not enough.
LUST. LOVE. LOSS. Sometimes, all that is left are Ashes and Ice
Rochelle grew up dreaming up stories. When she entered high school, she tucked away
her creative side and jumped head-first into academics, work, and service projects. She
graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Political Science and Communication when
she was twenty years old. After years away from her writing, Rochelle picked up a pen
and started fleshing out a character sketch that she outlined when she was twelve. That
sketch was the start of the Ashes and Ice story. Rochelle lives in the DC metro area with
her husband and daughter. By day she works as a behavioral therapist. By night, she is a
dreamer and is busy tapping out new stories on her keyboard.
facebook: Rochelle on Facebook
Ashes and Ice on Amazon.com
The girl’s glassy, dead eyes stare into me, through me, pierce me with a fierce
urgency, with a wicked accusation. The blood is still on my hands.
Red hair, blue eyes, a constellation of freckles on pale skin. She was fragile and
innocent, a lovely thing. That is what I think until I see the gashes on her wrists and
throat. With her blood spilling out, she looks delicious. She’s mine. Possessiveness
shocks me, stabs into me. I run, tearing away from a craving I don't understand.
Breathless, I grit my teeth and run harder, faster.
My feet pound against the earth, away from the lifeless body and toward the lights
of the city lingering on the horizon. Rot and death linger in my nostrils. Unscarred skin
stretches taut over my freezing bones. Echoes of an empty memory reverberate in my
mind, taunting me. The ice chases me, clutches me, and bites at my heels, sending shivers
up my spine. The ice wants me back, but I run forward, toward the lights, toward the
heat, toward a world that burns me, because I have no other choice.
The lights are so close. Heat scalds my skin.
Images race through my mind, paralyzing me. I skid to a stop, my boots digging
into the mud. The vision’s blurred edges materialize into solid shapes.
A new horror rakes my insides. Desperation propels me forward; the pictures
nagging at my seams threaten to tear me apart.
Scorching fire licks over my skin. In my vision, I contort like a vile, ugly creature,
eyes as black as decay. My frame hunches over the small, dead girl, like a demon
looming over a defenseless child. Her blood drips from my mouth.
I lick my lips and taste only salty sweat.
I run, desperate to trample the vision under my feet, to crush it deep into the
I refuse to believe the image, refuse to acknowledge the monster within me
demanding to be unleashed—and the possibility it has already been unbound. An
unrelenting tide of fear washes over me. Past the denial, the fear, and the hope, I think I
can still taste her.
The cold stillness inside me cracks open just as the lights of the city slam into me.
Tears burn. I never realized it before, but they do. Tears reach down my throat
and settle in my gut until the pain cripples me. I clutch my stomach as I look into the
casket. His face doesn’t even look the same. Bloated like a Mardi Gras float, discolored
like a mannequin. This isn’t my father.
But it is.
If I have learned anything in my short life, it is this: funerals are bullshit. People
dress in carefully pressed black suits. Parents give me “meaningful” nods as if that could
ease the grief. It doesn’t.
Then there are the kids from school, the ones dragged along by their parents.
People drag their kids along as if filling the church was a necessary thing. As if the more
pews filled somehow expedite the dead’s trip to heaven. I doubt it does. Maybe some of
the girls went shopping to buy just the right outfit so their cleavage to respectability ratio
was just right, or their ass to waist ratio was cinched properly.
People sit in the pews dressed in their finest let’s-go-pay-our-respects-to-the-
dead-guy-we-never-knew wear, smacking the gum in their mouths, cupping cellphones so
they can LOL any comment buzzing in, and drumming their fingers because the pastor is
going on too long. All they want to do is go home, sneak in a make-out session with their
girlfriends, eat their dinners, and maybe catch a 7 o’clock movie.
I hate these kids. The ones who stare at me, roll their eyes, and yawn. The ones
who trip me at school and slam me into lockers. The ones who sit in a pew, contributing
to the headcount, while I sit up here in front, holding back the tears fighting to make their
appearance. I swallow them down. I won’t cry. Not here. Not with these people.
Dad’s funeral should be an empty church with mom, his three brothers, and me.
It should be the five of us having a messy, sloppy, sobbing affair where we cling to each
other because we are all we have left. The marble floors should be slick with our tears.
It isn’t. We sit here, straight backed, completely composed as if death is just a passing
expiration date and our small, insignificant world has not been split open and left gaping.
I’m in my room, staring at the ceiling. The funeral service was hours ago.
The house feels empty and cold. I hear a stifled whimper from down the hall.
Probably crying into a pillow so the house can’t hear, but it can. It seems unfair
she can’t wail aloud, so loud the house’s hundred-year-old studs tremble.
She doesn’t. I don’t either. We cry in our own rooms, remembering a man who
will never be here again.
The house creaks. Maybe it feels the weight of our grief, maybe the floorboards
are buckling because the burden is too heavy.
I ache, desperate to forget the long battle with cancer, the blood sputtering out
of his mouth with his last words—what where they? I can’t remember because the fear
in his eyes overshadowed anything he said. Now the loss. I don’t want to feel this loss.
Some divine entity has taken dull scissors and cut out a piece of my life and now I have
jagged scars to remind me I lost too much. Too much.
I want to forget, because it hurts to remember.
I bury my head in the pillow, hoping to suffocate the memories, to choke out the
“Have you ever been in love?”
I spill my popcorn on my lap. “I, uh, what?” I say, swiping off the kernels. The
question catches me off guard.
“You know, in love.”
“No. No, I haven’t.” I shift on the couch, needing more space between us. “What
“Nah.” She flicks her hand toward me as if she is brushing away nonsense, but the
hard look in her eyes says something different.
She points to the TV screen and the couple making out there. “Figured if you had
been, then you could explain that to me.”
The guy sweeps the girl up and carries her into bed before they… you know. “Uh,
She bursts out laughing. “That too. But I was talking about what it feels like to
be, you know, in love. Totally, without question. Like, does that,” she points to the screen
“Yeah, I think it exists.” I think of mom and dad—the way they kissed every
morning, hugged a few moments longer than anyone else, laughed so hard they cried, and
cuddled, shutting out the world, looking more content than these fakers on the screen. “It
exists. And in real life, it’s better than that crap.” I say, suddenly uncomfortable by the
moaning coming from the TV.
“I thought you said you’ve never been in love?”
“I haven’t. But I’ve seen it. And I haven’t ever seen anything come close to that in
She opens her mouth as if about to ask a question, but then closes it and smiles,
accepting my answer. “Well, it’s good that there may be something in life to look
forward to.” She drops a kernel of popcorn in her mouth.
“Well nothing is guaranteed. Who knows, I may die an old spinster.” She’s
smiling, but her eyes aren’t.
I think about the movie store guy’s possessive eyes, Jesse’s chair fiasco, and
Dominic’s leering, my heart. “I doubt that.”
He smiles a bit wider and hands out the pin.
As, I reach to pluck it from his palm, he snatches my wrist with one hand, my
bicep with the other and crushes me against his chest.
His grip is tight—too tight, it hurts—and the bend of him hovers over me, leaning
in. I try to shake him off, but he doesn’t let go. I squirm as I feel his thumb trace circles
on the inside of my wrist. The touch sends a skitter of sensation over me. Something
tinges the air; a sweet, cool feeling brushes over my skin, making my knees want to
buckle. He smells like mint, his breath tickles my face. I pull back, hating the sensations
that please my skin and curdle my insides. Bile surges in my throat. I tear myself away
from him, glaring.
“What?” He says coolly as if he hadn’t just bruised my arms with his clutching
“That. Hurt.” I say. I don’t say he smells sweet or his breath is refreshing on my
skin or his touch sends chills up my spine, delicious chills. I step away.
His smile is unnerving. “Don’t worry, Jade.” He winks at me. Damn that wink of
his. “One day, you’ll like it.”