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Welcome Santino 🙂
Fifteen years before OVERSIGHT
No matter how tightly I squeezed my fists together, I didn’t feel stronger. Usually it worked. Or at least, that’s what I’d been telling myself for the past several years of my shitty life. That if I tilted my chin up, narrowed my eyes, and balled my hands into fists, I’d look so fucking tough that no one would mess with me—Sixtus Rossi—the brawny kid with shoulders too big for his age group and the mega mental shield that wouldn’t allow any psychics to mess with my brain matter.
But it wasn’t helping now.
The Community guards had dragged me down from the office where I’d been snooping on a computer, and had gone from treating me like a wayward youth they’d helped, to a criminal. It was the most interest they’d ever shown in me. After all, I just had a mental shield. I wasn’t a pre-cog. Or a telepath. I wasn’t like Meadow.
I flicked my eyes around the room, searching for… something. Something besides the sea of angry faces, all lined up in an auditorium as I sat awkwardly beside a podium. They were so pissed that I’d been snooping. Except… I didn’t know why.
Meadow would have known. She’d have powered through their mental shields to read their thoughts. Even an empath would be able to work out whether they were truly angry or just… worried. Worried that maybe I’d found something I shouldn’t have. But I had no clue because my own shield was so strong that I couldn’t pick out their moods or vibes, even the way a normal person could.
When I looked from face to face, I felt nothing. Just blankness. It was the coldest fucking feeling. Like an icy wall between me and everyone else in the world.
“He’s a thief,” one of guys in the front said. “We took him off the street, offered to train him, and he broke into our office.”
I cleared my throat quietly. It was a good time to disagree, but I couldn’t tell if that would make them madder.
“The worst part,” a woman said slowly. “Is that Sixtus isn’t valuable to us. He’s an Invulnerable, not a true psychic.”
Yeah, tell me something I don’t know, I thought to myself. They went back to raging, and I slowly tried to raise my hand. It instantly earned me a vicious glare from yet another man I didn’t know. This one wearing a T-shirt and baggy jeans, looking more like a pothead than a founder.
“This isn’t the time, Six.”
“But I didn’t steal anything. I was just looking for…” The words tangled in my mouth, a foreboding sense building in my gut that I couldn’t understand. “For Meadow. She came here with me, and I haven’t seen her in—“
“This is a waste of time,” yet another faceless vibe-less suit thundered. “This is why I’ve always been against these charity cases. What is the point of collecting these psy children if they don’t have a real gift?”
The questioned earned a flurry of responses, but a sharp gasp stood out from the rest. I looked to the side of the room and saw another kid, a teenage boy like me, sitting next to a distinguished looking man. The man who’d regularly made the rounds looking in at kids and asking pointed questions about our skills. He was the one who’d first noticed Meadow.
Payne, his name was. Richard Payne.
And the kid had to be his son. The little prince of the Community. Holden.
He had light brown hair and eyes with golden flecks. He was pretty. Like Meadow. And right now he was clenching his hands together and looking around the room in terror. Like it was him up in this chair and not some random no-account homeless kid.
I licked my lips, squirming in the chair, and wondered why I could tell he was scared. After all, who was he to me? I couldn’t figure out what anyone else was thinking. I couldn’t work out their intentions although it wasn’t looking good. It was like everyone in the entire room was dead. Except Holden.
The words jolted me out of my distracted stupor, and I looked up sharply.
“He’ll go to the Farm, and he’ll be realigned.”
In the computer, it had said people went to the Farm to be… reprogrammed.
My heart thrummed in my chest, just enough for me to feel the alarm working its way through me, but I couldn’t find my voice. There were so many of them all around me, glaring at me or each other, and no one seemed to give a shit about what I had to say.
When one of the guards jerked me up from the chair and started to haul me out, no one even looked at me. They were over it. Already returning to the debate about whether it was worth it to “save” kids like me.
No, I wanted to scream. So leave me the fuck alone!
But I didn’t say anything. I just balled up my hands and kept my head down, planning somehow, some way, to escape.
“Dad, will he be okay?”
My head snapped up, and I zeroed in on Holden. His hands were digging into his father’s arm, and he was staring straight at me with damp golden flecked eyes.
“Can’t we help him? He’s just a kid like me.”
His father glared before shoving him at a woman, probably his mother. Holden shut down, maybe taking a cue I couldn’t pick up on, but he didn’t look away. And I didn’t stop looking at him until I was dragged through the door.
As they led me down the hall, Holden’s words rang in my ears.
Can’t we help him?
I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had even wanted to try.
Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.
Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.
As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.
Now available from:
About The Community Series
What lies beneath the surface of the world you thought you knew?
Secrets and lies have twisted an underground community founded by psychics escaping persecution. Blackmail, sex, and social climbing in the name of power has created an irreparable rift.
In the eyes of the founders, there are two sides: loyalists and everyone else. Surely no one would emerge from their tightly woven webs. And they certainly wouldn’t sow the seeds of rebellion within the heart of the Community’s only queer night club.
Now an outcast, a scion, and a runaway are leading a revolution to save not only the men they love, but the entire Community.
Check out The Community series! https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/series/community
About Santino Hassell
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.
He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Connect with Santino:
- Website: santinohassell.com
- Blog: com/blog
- Facebook: facebook.com/santinohassellbooks
- Twitter: com/SantinoHassell
- Tumblr: tumblr.com/
- Pinterest: pinterest.com/santinohassell/
- Instagram: com/santinohassell
- Google+: google.com/u/0/+SantinoHassell/
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/santino_hassell
To celebrate the release of Oversight, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!