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Friday 12 August 2016

☀ Under a Million Stars - Rita Branches

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Under a Million Stars, a Contemporary Young Adult stand-alone novel by (, Rita Branches, 263 pages).

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below. Read the first four chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Under A Million Stars is on sale for only .99!

Author Rita Branches will be awarding a $15 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.
Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


Can a beating heart bleed from the shattered pieces?

Her heart cracked when her best friend walked away; it completely shattered when she lost her family in a tragic accident.

Now orphaned at seventeen, Charlotte Peterson is forced to live with her former best friend, Jacob Parker. Charlie, a talented pianist, desperately wants their loving friendship back, but something is holding Jake back. The more she spirals into the darkness of depression, the more she needs him.

Jacob vowed to stay away from her—no matter how much he still loved her. Armed with secrets that would have destroyed both of their families, he chose to end their friendship and walk away, which nearly killed him. As he watches the girl he once knew begin to fade away, however, he realizes that their relationship is more important than the truth he’s hiding.

Now it’s up to Jacob to put the pieces of Charlie’s broken heart back together—even if it means revealing the secrets he so desperately wants to protect her from.

Will Jacob find a way to bring back the carefree, talented girl he once knew, or is it too late for both of them?

Teaser: Excerpt


“Charlotte, you’re up in two minutes,” Judith Ellison, my piano teacher, noted as she touched my arm and shook me from my thoughts. She was as nervous as I was: this was my moment, but she had spent half my life helping me reach it and succeed.
      My hands were shaking and I had to make an effort to stop them. Wiping my sweaty palms on my beautiful, blood red dress, I stepped forward. I could hear the murmurs from the audience waiting for the concert to start. I had to remember that I wasn’t whom they came to watch—I was a student Ms. Ellison had found to open an Edouard Chenevier concert. He was one of the most amazing pianists of the decade.
      We’d been introduced three weeks ago and he was one of Ms. Ellison closest friends. He had wanted to watch me play, of course. I had only two pieces, but it felt like I had played for hours.
      I was so tired after that last meeting, between playing and talking about improvements. Ms. Ellison said it was nerves and to put them aside; she was certain that, if I had marveled Edouard, I would knock the public out. I had snorted, then. I hadn’t marveled Edouard—he’d smiled a couple of times and nodded while I played, saying I had good technique, but nothing more.
      Her answer had been, “That’s just the style he goes for: letting everyone think he doesn’t care about anything. Believe me, he does,” she winked, then, ending our conversation. She now motioned for me to enter the stage and I willed myself to breathe and stay composed. This was, after all, my moment, as she said. This might be the high of my career; I might not get another chance like this one to shine.
      Lifting my head, I walked to the middle of the stage and skimmed the crowd that studied me. I didn’t care about the hundreds of people present—I just wanted to see three of them. They weren’t in their reserved seats in the front row, though.
      My parents had failed me, maybe for the first time. My nerves swelled, and, filled with resentment, I took my place at the black, shiny piano. The music sheet was opened to my first song, but I knew it by heart.
      Eyeing the three empty seats one last time, I placed my hands over the keys and lowered my head. I could do this. Twelve years of studying piano had taught me a lot, but that moment alone was the biggest lesson of all.
      For the first couple of seconds, I had to think about the right keys to play, but—after the self-conscious thoughts subsided— everything came naturally. I forgot about the public, those three empty seats, and even about Edouard and Ms. Ellison at the edge of the stage, hidden from the public by the side curtain as they evaluated me.
      I finished the first piece—the Mephisto Waltz—and started the second, not waiting for applause. This was one of my best performances ever. Not even at home, when I was alone, practicing every waking second of the day, did I play as well as I did now. I was angry, and anger always made me play better.
      I wish I could’ve had recorded it to listen to later. One of the people those empty seats belonged to was supposed to do that, even if I had pleaded that this wasn’t a school play.
      At last, I finished the second song with a deep breath. I had done it. My first public performance—at least the first one that counted—had gone perfectly. My eyes wandered over my teacher and the famous pianist standing beside her. They were both smiling and quietly applauding. I turned and switched my attention on; everyone was clapping and standing up from their seats. I had really done it. I was the first seventeen-year-old to play on this stage.
      My eyes wandered from the moved audience to those three empty seats. They had missed it. This had been for them, to make them proud of me, and they had missed it completely. I looked down, not wanting this hurt to be visible to the crowd.
      After bowing twice, I joined Edouard and Ms. Ellison, who hugged me like I was her daughter. She was proud—I had to remember that. This had been for her, too. I had let a single tear, which she wiped away, smear my mascara. Edouard patted me on the back, before going to claim his rightful place at the piano.
      “They missed it,” I said, lowering my head, ashamed that I sounded so childish. My teacher’s scowl lasted until we got to the small backroom they had let us use before and after the show. She opened the door, picked up her cell phone from her purse, and, after reading one of the texts, murmured, “Strange.”
      I changed clothes, stunned about how quickly everything had ended. It seemed like it had just been a second ago that I was asking my teacher to fasten my dress.
      Edouard ended his performance an hour later; we listened to him play from the same place Edouard and Ms. Ellison had previously stood. I clapped enthusiastically at the end and congratulated him when he joined us. His face appeared no different from the first time I saw him, taking a cup of coffee while reading the newspaper. I hoped I wouldn’t turn out like this, even if I became famous.
      “Are you Judith Ellison?” We both turned around to face two police officers in the hall of the theater.
      “Yes?” Her cautious voice caught my attention and I kept alternating my gaze between the uncomfortable police officer and my teacher.
      “Are you Charlotte Peterson?” The older police officer looked at me, then, as he scratched his forehead, uncomfortable. My heart started beating faster. It wasn’t Ms. Ellison they wanted, after all—she was just the present adult responsible for me.
      “I’m sorry to inform you that your parents and brother were in a car accident an hour ago. They… they didn’t make it.”
      For a second, I thought I had heard him wrong. Maybe they had the wrong person. Just then, Ms. Ellison grabbed my arm to prevent me from crashing to the floor. My mind hadn’t crashed, yet, but my body already had.
      I focused on my racing heart, threatening to explode in tiny sharp pieces inside of me. Maybe they would puncture some important organ. Bleeding to death right there on the floor would have hurt less than losing my heart.
      Later that day, I found out it was entirely my fault—my spoiled, demanding self’s fault.
      I killed Mom, Dad, and Jamie, and, with them, my my dream of becoming a promising musician.

Under a Million Stars
On sale for only .99!

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About the Author

Rita Branches is an independent YA (young adult) author who enjoys spending every free moment (when she´s not reading) writing emotional stories.

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