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I Belong


Fantastic Fables: Avenger by Heather Burch

Heather Burch stops by for today’s Fantastic Fable set in her Halfling world. The third novel, Avenger, will be released on March 26,  2013. Please check out Heather’s sweet story below!

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Glimmer sends Vine to the library to check out a book for her–Hansel and Gretel. Below, Vine tells the story of what happens:

Hansel and Gretel … and Vine

By Heather Burch

It’s not that I minded going to the library for Glimmer, but Hansel and Gretel? Seriously? I mean, she could have asked for something a little less girly. I didn’t want to give people the wrong impression; I’m a man.

So, I’m sitting there, waiting for this mom with five rugrats crawling all over her to finish looking at the book. I’m exhausted. Like, wiped out. I didn’t sleep last night after the hell-hound fight (uh, that’s another story) Anyway, I close my eyes for one second ‘cause this super comfy chair is all but singing me a lullaby, and before I know it, the librarian is shaking me awake, shoving the book into my hand and asking me to stop snoring. Like I snore.

Call it utter curiosity, but I open the book. Yeah, big mistake. From out of nowhere, wind is pushing me forward right out of the chair, my hair’s flying and I’m being propelled toward … You guessed it, the pages of the book. Before I can even take a breath or fight back, everything goes dark. And I land. Face first. I grunt and slide my tongue over my lips to see if they’re bleeding. Instead of blood, I taste … sugar. My eyes focus on the floor. It’s marble, but sticky.

Someone says, “Are you okay?” I feel hands, girl’s hands closing around me as the voice draws close to my right ear. She’s trying to pull me up, but I just want to stick out my tongue and taste that floor again. The girl has hair as long as mine but when she moves, I see her face. About my age, but dressed … I don’t know, like a character in one of those old black and white Shirley Temple movies.

My eyes adjust easily in the dimly lit room as I make it to my feet. First, I notice the bars. They look like chunks of glass or maybe … “Oh! Rock candy!”

“Shhh,” the girl tells me and throws a concerned look to the far corner of the room. “The witch will hear you.”

Okay, this is the point any mortal man would panic. But I’m no mortal man. I’m a Halfling. And rock candy is one of my favorites. So concentrated on the glassy goodness, I barely notice the rest of the room.The giant cupcake in the middle demands my attention. That’s right, a giant cupcake. I am in heeaaaaaven.

But the bars. They’re between me and my ultimate prize. The girl is yammering, so I tune in for half a second in case she’s telling me where the key is. “Aren’t you listening? We’re trapped. My brother Hansel is outside trying to figure out a way to rescue me.” She grabs my shirt and squeezes her hands into fists. “The witch is planning on eating us!”

Her eyes had gone wide with the last few words. She was serious. I shrug out of her grip. “Let’s just escape.”

“We can’t break through the bars, and even if we do, there’s a frosting mote surrounding us, the front door has an alarm. Plus, the giant cupcake blocks the secret exit through the floor.”

I stare at her.

“Yes, I’ve done my research on the house’s layout.”

I take a second to look around, rub my hand over the wall to test it.

“Gingerbread. Hard as bricks.”

“What about—”

“The ceiling? Check it out.”

I look up to see a thousand spikes pointing down at me. Uh, okay, that way’s not an option. “We have to eat our way through.”

Her mouth dropped open. Good start. “We can’t eat our way through.”

She seems really convinced. Huh, she’s never seen me loose in a candyland house before. Okay, well, I’ve never done this before, but how hard could it be? It was all candy. I love candy.

So I begin. I crunch away at the cage bars until we can slip through. I grab a candy cane off the wall and used it as a paddle across the mote, eating as I go. The girl is thrilled and a little freaked out. She tries to keep up, but she’s a lightweight. Finally, we reach the cupcake. “There’s a secret doorway out?”

She nods and wipes remnants of whipped topping from her mouth. Her dress is covered in multi-colored bits of frosting. Mmmm.

“The trap door is in the center of the floor. Directly under the cupcake.”

That’s all I need. I dive in. Literally. Head first and work my way down until my head bumps the floor. I slide the door open and reach out to grab her. She comes easily and together, we escape. Then, the weirdest thing happens. Someone is shaking me. Hands clamped on my shoulders, saying my name.

“Vine! Wake up! The library is closing.”

I open my sleep-groggy eyes to see Glimmer. Hey, how’d she get here? Then I realize I’m back in the library.

“You’ve been here for hours.” She plants her hand on her cocked hip and tries to tuck all that luscious hair behind her ear. “Vine, did you hear me? You were having a nightmare.”

My hand aches. I glance down to find a bag of M&Ms clutched so tightly between my fingers, I’ve likely crushed every single one.

Glimmer blinks those amazing golden eyes at me as if waiting for an explanation. I have none, so I yawn and stretch.

“At least you’ve got the book.” Her mouth quirks into a smile.

I hold the book up for her. She takes it, then pulls me to my feet and laces an arm through mine. Aaaah, that’s nice.

“You sure you want to read that one?” I ask her.

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

I rub a hand over my stomach. “It might make you fat.”

Glimmer laughs and the sound rolls over me like warm honey on toast.

Giant cupcake, wicked witch, rock candy cages and an upset stomach? Oh yeah, it was worth it. Just to make Glimmer smile.

Heather Burch’s YA series debuted in 2012 with Halflings, followed later that year by its sequel, Guardian. The latest book in the collection, Avenger, is in stores March 26th. halflings.ning.com

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About Heather:

I write full time and love being involved with groups that promote books! Writing about the Halflings has been the most exciting writing journey of my life! Before novels, I wrote teen curriculum published in both the U.S. and Asia Pacific.
I’ve had a blast the last several months traveling the country and meeting fans! From Missouri to Miami, I’ve gotten to meet awesome Halflings enthusiasts at book stores throughout the U.S.
I’m repped by the AMAZING Jennifer Schober at Spencerhill Associates and as of today, I’m working with a fabulous publicist who is planning a cool Florida book tour of YA authors. I’ve taught in the U.S. and Mexico at women’s and teen conferences. Teen conferences … sooo fun!!!!

You can visit Heather around the web here: Website | Halflings Network

Want to read more from Heather Burch?

HalflingsGuardianAvenger11:15 The Making of a Halfl...A Halflings Rescue (Halflin...

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Available  March 26, 2013 from Zondervan

About this Book:

Praise for the series: ‘Sure to appeal to fans of both star-crossed lovers and Stephenie Meyer.’ — Booklist ‘A well-written, thoroughly thought-out, and utterly addicting read.’ — USA Today Sometimes the Truth Comes with a Price Nikki knew Damon Vessler would not let his prized creation go easily—she simply never imagined the lengths he’d go to get her back into his clutches, and turn Nikki’s heart toward darkness. A Seeker at her heels, trained on her blood, Nikki flees with Raven alongside her for protection, while Mace and the other Halflings fight the battle that has erupted on earth. But even as the two boys she loves fight for her, she knows the battle will be hers to win. Determined to uncover the secrets of her past, and exactly how she fits into Vessler’s twisted plans, Nikki sets off on her own, and soon discovers facing hellacious beasts is nothing compared to the decision she will need to make. One that could change not only the war, and her relationship with Mace and Raven, but her future with the Throne.

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