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The Blood Grove

The Blood Grove

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 195+ 5-Star Reviews

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In Italy, it’s not all pizza and pasta. Human trafficking is on the menu.

A Nigerian gang targets Mui and Ryan in the Blood Grove.

"Another grand vacation down the tubes!!" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ — Reader Review

Series: Mui Action #2 (Novella)


Mui and Ryan are having the perfect holiday in Sicily until they encounter a street kid who seems to have one goal in mind: steal everything they own.

But Mui discovers a Nigerian gang is forcing the boy and others to commit these crimes as the boy pleads for help. Is this just another scam by a brilliant con artist, or is the Nigerian gang a real threat?

The Blood Grove is a suspense-driven novella that you won’t want to put down.

Read An Excerpt

“Hey!” I screamed at the short boy running away from me.

I dropped the arancini snack I had been munching on and gave chase. The boy cut in between people on the sidewalk like a skier on a slalom course, and I stuck right on his heels.

Speedy little sucker, isn’t he?

Just as I started to gain on him, he cut sharp to the left and down a small lane filled with produce vendors. He hurdled a crate of lettuce and sidestepped a man delivering a block of ice before bumping into a woman with a basket full of oranges. The fruit tumbled onto the asphalt, and she swore at the kid in Italian. The boy never slowed. I was actually a little impressed—and surprised I hadn’t caught him yet.

“Excuse me. Pardon me.” I said in my most polite get-the-hell-out-of-my-way voice.

I watched him round a corner near a fruit stand. I turned the same corner a few moments later and slammed into a crowd. I sidestepped my way through the cluster of hagglers and window shoppers as best as I could without knocking anyone down. When I emerged on the other side of the crowd, I spotted the boy just as he arm-vaulted over the hood of a car. I followed, vaulting over the same vehicle.

The boy looked over his shoulder, probably surprised he hadn’t lost me yet. 

You picked the wrong person to steal from. 

He made a sharp right into a narrow lane. When I rounded the corner, I quickly saw that the lane ran into a deadend—a wall at least fifteen feet high. No way that kid would make it over.

But much to my surprise, the boy executed a wall climb, pushing back and forth off of the two buildings sandwiching the lane until he effortlessly sailed over the wall. Not to be outdone, I performed the exact same move, but when I reached the top of the wall, the boy had vanished.

I jumped down and hurried out of the lane, but he had disappeared into the crowd. I looped back around, thinking he might be hiding in one of the market stalls, but no such luck. I stood there, stumped as to how some street kid could have given me the slip. Ryan caught up with me then.

“Where is he? Did you catch him?” Ryan asked, breathless from running after me.

If you’re wondering why I was chasing after a street kid, let’s back up a bit. My name is Mui Demos. That out-of-breath-boy, Ryan—he’s my boyfriend. We were on holiday in Sicily. And things were going just fine until that street urchin snatched my phone out of my hand.

“No. He got away,” I said.

“Really?” A confused look appeared on Ryan’s face.

“I know, I know. What can I say?” I rested my hands on my hips as I continued scanning the area.

He and I both attend school in San Francisco. I had wrapped up my sophomore year, and he had finished his freshman year a few weeks ago. Even though he was a grade below me, we were the same age. My mother, Sei, aged me a year on paper because of our past, mainly hers. She and I live in Nafplio, Greece. She’s a retired assassin. Yes, you read that right. That’s why she aged me, and why she does many things—so no one finds us. Does that mean I’m an assassin, too? Not officially.

“Maybe he ditched the phone somewhere. We can look around,” Ryan offered.

“I doubt it. He’s probably on his way to sell it as we speak. I’m so pissed. All of our trip pictures were on it.”

“Not all of them. I took some with my phone.”

Ryan lives in San Francisco with his family, which consists of his little sister, grandmother, and stepmother. His step-mom, Abby, is an FBI agent. Ryan and I actually met through our mothers. We still don’t know the exact story of how they met. They operate in very different worlds.

“I’m sorry, Mui,” he said. “I don’t know what to say except ‘this sucks’ and maybe look at the positive: bucket list.”

The previous summer, Ryan visited me in Greece, and we had a blast. From then on, it was a given that he would come to Greece once a year so we could continue crossing things off our bucket lists. This summer, he had carved out three weeks so we’d have time to travel outside of Greece.

I’m not even sure how we settled on Sicily, but there we were. Catania was the second stop on our six-day trip to the island. We’d spent the first half of the visit in Palermo and had an awesome time. We were all about knocking things off our bucket list, and Catania would help us with two: hiking Mount Etna and visiting the city’s famous blood orange groves.

I turned my gaze back to Ryan. “How is getting my phone stolen a bucket list item?”

“Some random kid outran you, which is very unexpected. Second, you got mugged. Again, very unexpected. This stuff doesn’t happen every day, and definitely not to you. I mean, if your mother found out about this…” Ryan shook his head. “Oh, the embarrassment.”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t remind me. It’s just another reason for my mother to tout that I’m not experienced enough to follow in her footsteps.”

I’d been training to be an assassin since I was two—instructed not by my mother, but by my previous family, an assassin clan. It’s a long story, but I was kidnapped shortly after birth. It took my mother years to find me. After rescuing me from the clan on the side of a mountain in Azerbaijan, she put a stop to my training. 

“Let’s not let this ruin our holiday,” Ryan said as he placed an arm around my shoulder and gave me a comforting squeeze. “It sucks. I wish it didn’t happen, but let’s move beyond it. What do you say?”

“You’re right. I’m still pissed, but I guess there’s no sense in letting it spoil our trip.” I smiled at him, and he grinned back at me and gave me another squeeze.

“That’s the Mui I know. Come on, we’ve got an orange grove to tour.”


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