嬰櫻 (Little Cherry Blossom)

After a month’s absence, Lieutenant-General Liu was back again that evening to celebrate another major victory, but one thing had changed: he was no longer a Lieutenant-General, but a full-fledged General. Word of Liu Yang’s courage and intelligence on the battlefield quickly spread. When Ying-Ying wasn’t afraid for his life, she worried that he might begin to choose the fancier diner over their modest wineshop due to his newfound fame. Most of the high-ranking officers chose not to mingle with the juniors and soldiers at mealtime.

But luckily for Ying-Ying, General Liu was friends with a small group of his men from his own province. As he rose up the ranks, he remained close to them, and these soldiers continued to follow his lead. Ying-Ying considered them a less pretentious bunch than most of the men she encountered. They were young and old, sickly and strong, warriors and commanders – but they stuck together.


Stealer of Hearts

October felt like it would never end. In the rainy late-afternoon haze, it was hard to distinguish the ponchos from the ghost costumes, the umbrellas from the vampire capes. Tom kept a firm grip on Howie’s sticky hand. Whenever they came across a wide puddle, he would give Howie arm a little tug, and Howie would float over the puddle before landing toes-first on his shiny new rain boots.

The usually peaceful bookstore was now jam-packed with adults and children alike in a flurry of colorful Halloween costumes. Near the main entrance, several young women wearing dresses made of realistic flowers giggled and took pictures of each other next to a poster on a wooden stand, until the security guard shooed them away to make room for more people.

Meet Brennan Stone, the poster read. Hear Brennan read his latest book and join us for an evening of fun and games—face-painting, Croon checkers, make your own pop-up page, and more! Don’t forget to buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win a giant stuffed Buttermumsy! All proceeds will be donated to our Free Books for Children Fund. There was a picture of a man with dark curly hair and clear blue eyes—a perfectly ordinary young man at first glance, handsome by most standards—but there was something atypical about his appearance. On a closer look, his whimsical smile seemed both impish and wise, and he could have been any age between twenty and forty years old.


Second Chance

“You’re just going to leave me out here? Just like that?”

Anthony rubbed his temples, leaning against the gate of his Queens apartment building.


Something metal grazed Anthony’s shoulder and clattered to the ground. It was an empty soda can. “Hey,” he said, frowning, too worn out to retaliate. “Don’t push it. We only agreed to fool around at my place—I didn’t say you could stay.”

He waited for the retort, but heard only a strangled sob and the patter of running feet against pavement. The silhouette grew smaller and smaller until it disappeared around the corner.

Anthony sighed and started to head back in, but stopped again. “Wait!” he called, dashing after the figure. “Hey, the train station’s that way!”