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In 1859, Junie Benson was a twelve-year-old genius and enslaved. His older sister, Sari, had her own difficulties, including being auctioned to the highest bidder. She was also beautiful, flighty, and had a repetitive dream about a hazel-eyed white stranger. Everybody with the good sense God had given them knew even her dream was forbidden.

In the present, three things troubled ex-Special Forces Lt. Colonel Zachary Trumble . . . his new job as director of security for Burstein Labs, his loveless marriage, and the green-eyed siren who won’t let him sleep in peace. 

Then time’s fickle hand brewed a recipe for a miracle . . . Stir in three runaway slaves, an avalanche, one mad scientist, and an unhappy, in-love hero to create a dish for revenge best served . . . Later.

Book Information

Release Date: September 1, 2022

Publisher:  Intentional Entertainment LLC

Soft Cover: 204 pages

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dyfTxg 

Prologue

We’ve been here a long time, me and the other shacks. We started out long ago as log cabins. The occupants spoke prayers of hope over shallow grunts as they flexed hardened muscles to build us strong. Then after backbreaking days in the tobacco fields, they made our dirt floors and grass-mixed-mud walls. Our wooden chimneys and brick hearths were the heart of our homes. It was a one-size-fits-all room, where they nursed their aches and caressed their wounds.

It wasn’t all bad. We could sometimes smile as they made babies in a fevered pitch, good groans of satisfaction rolling through the air and out the window. Then we would rejoice, whispering up and down the quarters that it was a good night.

That’s how we used to talk to each other, back and forth through the howling of the winds or the gentle flow of a breeze. There were days we’d moan with the pain of our inhabitants, who were too tired from the grueling work to tend to our needs. Took us a while to decide what to call them . . . inhabitants, occupants, residents? We never could decide. Inconsistency was a malevolent characteristic we all endured. They never owned us. Just stayed a bit while they could. And, to be fair, they tried to keep us up. Oh, we got a hit and a lick of mud before the winter winds blew, but it was meager labor. Neglect was easy when profits were the owner’s goal, and the fields were a harsh partner.

Years later, our dilapidated wooden logs would be eaten, digested by termites with fat bellies. Laid out in a row like coffins after the war. No hero’s welcome for all we had endured. We whisper about it even now through broken windows that no longer hold our secrets. Others may think it’s the wind howling, but those are our screams, held captive for years while we watched, waited, and hungered for habitation. Hungered while generations of slaves and sharecroppers had nothing to share . . . No more to give. Watched as Big Mama, who carried large pots of water to an iron tub, whittled down to nothing but bones as she lay on my dirt floor every evening, moaning in pain . . . waiting for change.

At first, new folk moved in when others gave up. And each added their blood and mud to slather yawning cracks and holes to keep the walls standing. Our neglect could not be camouflaged, but the Missus, she’d hang little bits of cloth on the window and add dandelion flowers to a tin can, hoping to add a touch of pretty.

Just a mile away, majestically, stood the big house. Cruel in its taunting of us as it was painted and scrubbed and loved on—even by those who hated it. It defied the old man’s hands of time. Tick, tick, tick.

Every inch forward of its hand proclaimed a litany.

Poor folk got it bad. Poor folk got it bad. We chanted out of walls with exposed spaces.

We tried hard, this holding on of bones. We struggled when it rained; our roofs had few shingles, more wet than dry, more holes than substance. The hearth hungered. No remembered warmth dwelled here.

I saw the change when the doors fell, one by one. Then it was the disrespect—no knock—just folk walking inside without a “Come in and sit a spell” invite. No longer hardworking folk, slaves, sharecroppers, but now, drug-addled brains lighting up and dozing off. A few of us went up in flames while others watched and bled rusted nails.

One of us lost our balance, teetered . . . and fell over. Me and the other shacks yelled back and forth about it.

No reason to whisper now. No one to listen.

We were ready. Maybe some child could rumble through the wood and find a piece left good enough to make a kite and fly me down the street.

Free.


Colette R. Harrell
 made her debut as an author with the book, The Devil Made Me Do It. As a published author, she has enjoyed meeting her readers; for her, it’s all surreal. She holds a master’s degree and worked as a director of social services, which allowed her a front-row seat to the conflict and struggles of everyday people. 

Her day is filled as an Author, Playwright, Story Editor, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and child of God. She wears many titles allowing twenty-four hours a day to meet the challenge. 

 Her goal in writing is to engage readers and provide them with golden nuggets of wisdom that feed and titillate. Her biggest lesson is that it takes a village to raise a dream. She loves and appreciates her village. 

She prays everything God has for you manifests in your life. And that you stretch and reach for it! 

Colette’s latest book is the historical/interracial/supernatural/paranormal Later.

You can visit her website at Coletteharrell.com  or connect with her on TwitterFacebookGoodreads or Instagram.

Sponsored By:

5 Things You Should Know About Moon Deeds and the Star Children Saga

By Palmer Pickering

1. The Star Children Saga is an adult science-fantasy cross-genre series. It features magic in space and other alien worlds, mixing the hard science of moon colonization with shamanic magic. I think of it more like epic fantasy in a science-fiction setting. Think of Star Wars or Dune in the way spirituality and unseen forces and powers are placed in an offworld setting involving other planets, space travel, alien species, space colonization, etc. 

2. The premise of the long story arc of the series is that humans are descended from an alien race, the Star People, who reside on a lost planet across the galaxy. The Star People colonized several planets, and so we have cousins on other planets. Every thousand years, we need to reconnect with our ancestors in order to stay healthy and overcome our darker tendencies. However, the connection to the ancestral planet has been broken, and it’s up to our heroes, the Star Children, to find the Star People in order to save Earth and the galaxy from descending into a permanent Dark Age.

3. The story arc of the Moon Deeds Trilogy is that one of our alien cousin races, the Cephs, have invaded Earth and are turning it into a slave colony. One of the only remaining free places is the moon. Our heroes want to escape to the moon, using deeds to land on the moon that they inherited, and try to save Earth and their parents. The Cephs and their half-breed army, the Tegs, have alien weapons technology, and the only defense against it is magic.

4. The magic systems are largely based on shamanism. This includes things like elemental shields, plant-spirit medicine, power animals, and lucid dreaming. Other magic systems include clairvoyance, the use of crystals, and portals. The protagonists suffer various challenges and aggressions as other people recognize their power and want to take it for themselves. The more severe the challenges, the more the protagonists unlock their power.

5. The books are long, with adult language and mature themes. Not YA. Some people think because the protagonists are twenty-year-olds and there is some coming-of-age aspects to it that it is YA or New Adult. But really it’s targeted at adults who love epic fantasy. While it is mostly a quest story of hope, family, and friendship, there are dystopian and dark undertones and some graphic scenes. Moon Deeds is available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook. Light Fighters is available in trade paperback and ebook. You can find them anywhere books are sold.

About the Author

Palmer Pickering has been writing fiction since she was eight. She received her BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University, with concentrations in Religion and Race Relations.

She currently works in Silicon Valley in the gaming industry and high tech. In addition, Palmer holds a certificate in Chinese Acupressure, is a certified solar panel installer, and studied Tibetan Buddhism with the 14th Dalai Lama.

She lives and writes in the magical redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.

Her latest book is the scifi fantasy for adults, Moon Deeds: Star Children Saga Book One.

You can visit her website at www.MythologyPress.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Title: SILENT LITTLE ANGELS: DETECTIVE KATIE SCOTT BOOK 7

Author: Jennifer Chase

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 402

Genre: Crime Thriller

The water ripples as the girl’s body escapes the reeds and floats silently upwards. Her beautiful face—blue eyes frozen open, skin as white as snow—breaks the surface. But it’s too late, this innocent soul has taken her final breath…

When camp counselor Carolyn Sable’s body is found floating in a lake beside Eagle Ridge Summer Camp, Detective Katie Scott must dig deep to stay focused. As a child, Katie spent many happy weeks at that camp toasting marshmallows on the fire with her best friend Jenny… until the day Jenny disappeared. The loss will always haunt Katie, but Carolyn’s inconsolable family need answers.

Searching the area, the devastating discovery of two more bodies sends the case into a tailspin. Suddenly on the hunt for a serial killer, Katie’s blood turns to ice when she finds newspaper clippings about her own past cases planted near one of the bodies. Was this twisted killer banking on Katie taking the lead? And why?

Carolyn was adored by children and staff at the camp, so Katie thinks her sudden resignation is key to cracking the case. Uncovering a tragic accident involving a group of children in the weeks before Carolyn left, Katie knows she’s getting close.

But when the carefully laid trap Katie sets to catch Carolyn’s killer backfires, Katie finds herself in unthinkable danger and unable to even trust her own team. Can she stay alive long enough to crack the toughest case of her career, and how many more innocent lives will be lost before she does?

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller from a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author. Fans of of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh will be sleeping with the lights on!

Everyone is talking about Silent Little Angels:

I still have goosebumps! Omg……… amazing…I flew through the pages with Olympic speed. I was hooked from the very first page.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

One hell of an unpredictable rollercoaster ride with several twists and turns along the way… I almost had to read through my fingers… A brilliant, and highly recommended read.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

“It kept me guessing right until the end. There is plenty of action, suspense, and tension. I’ve become so invested in these characters. I was glued to this one and up way past my bedtime. I couldn’t put it down.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

“I read this in one very short sitting, I couldn’t put it down. It was well written with well-developed characters and a gripping storyline that was full of mystery, tension and twists… a thrilling read.” NetGalley reviewer

All-time favoriteI was shouting in my head, don’t go back therewow!” I Spooky’s Maze Of Books, 5 stars

THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS PUTTING THIS BOOK DOWN!!!!!… I was literally holding my breathI HAD TO KNOW!!!!! As for the explosive ending: WOW definitely not what, or who I was expecting.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Book Information

Release Date: April 19 2022

Publisher:  Bookouture

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1803142319; 402 pages; $11.99; E-Book, $3.99; FREE Audiobook with Audible Trial; eBook FREE with Kindle Unlimited Membership

Amazon: https://amzn.to/38HWeJ2  

Chapter One

1

Tuesday 0930 hours

The luxurious dark-gray sedan crept along the rural road that led up to where Eagle Ridge Camp was nestled in the beautiful, wooded hills of Sequoia County, California. In places along the track, large pine tree branches arched downward creating makeshift tunnels. As the car climbed, the views of the rolling hills and the picturesque town of Pine Valley became even more spectacular.

William and Jane Faulkner grew increasingly uncomfortable the closer they approached the property. They watched from the car as the beautiful forestry hills turned into a heavily wooded area that was almost impassable. The attraction of the potential investment property seemed to become less valuable the closer they got to Eagle Ridge Camp.

Mr. Faulkner glanced at the real estate agent Daniel Green, who had been highly recommended, and watched him grip the steering wheel tighter as he navigated around road hazards. He turned to the backseat and observed his wife as she strummed her long, polished nails on the door handle: sour expression with a downturned mouth. It was clear that she was not happy about being dragged this far out of town. He had second thoughts too.

“We’re just about there,” Daniel said, forcing a smile.

“The road is… barely passable,” said Mr. Faulkner. He gripped the handle of the door to steady himself.

“It’s nothing that couldn’t be easily cleared in a few hours with some bulldozers. It would be a cinch to clear the heavy brush—maybe remove a tree or two. The road itself is in pretty good condition, so it wouldn’t be difficult to scrape and level with a good construction company. There’s also another utility road that comes into the property from the other side. But…” he continued, mustering some zeal, “this road gives you the best view of the most beautiful fifty acres in the county. It’s an amazing investment opportunity.”

The couple stared silently out the windows—seemingly not convinced.

Daniel pushed the high-performance car up the last incline to where the land then leveled out and opened into spectacular views of stunning meadows and groupings of trees.

“Wow,” Mr. Faulkner said under his breath. Finally, he could see past the overgrowth and grasp the potential. “This is amazing. And thank you for making time for us today. We’re on a flight to France tomorrow.”

His wife leaned forward to get a better look through the windshield. Her face softened in wonder as she gazed at the rolling countryside unfolding around them.

Daniel pulled to the left and parked. “You ready for a bit of a walk? You brought your hiking shoes, right?”

The couple nodded.

“Great,” he replied and opened the car door while the couple changed their shoes.

He checked his pockets to make sure he had the keys that opened the main buildings. Filled with nervous energy, he jingled his own car keys against them as he paced in front of the car, surveying the area.

The pines arched and swayed around them in the breeze, blowing their sweet scent through the air. Daniel turned to look down the valley at the various towns he could see in the distance: pretty as a postcard. Fresh air, birds fluttering in the trees, and the warmth of the gentle rays of sun upon his face.

Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner emerged from the car and slowly closed the doors.

“How about we check out the main buildings and then have a look at the lake?” Daniel said.

“Sounds good,” Mr. Faulkner said, still surveying the area. “So, how long has this camp been closed? It’s been on the market, for what, almost two years?”

They began walking along a narrow trail. Before them were some large buildings, clustered around the main clearing, the gentle rolling hills visible behind them. Weeds crunched underneath their shoes as they weaved along the unkempt path.

“It closed about five years ago,” said Daniel.

“I see.”

“We’ve had several interested parties, but something always went wrong with the escrow. Investors pulled out. Money didn’t get transferred. Things like that. We’ve even had a foreign investor wanting to turn it into a family theme park for a while now, but it’s moving slowly.”

As they walked around the area, Mr. Faulkner felt his enthusiasm grow. He glanced at his wife, and she, too, smiled and raised her eyebrows in growing expectation.

Daniel made an abrupt left turn on the path and began to move downward. The trees clustered closely again around them, before the huge trunks opened into another serene clearing surrounded by gently rolling hills. “This is the south end of Echo Valley, where the lake begins.”

“Echo Valley?” Mrs. Faulkner asked.

Hello, hello,” he called out, letting his voice resonate around them before fading away.

All three of them stood for a moment and listened. The calmness and beauty of the area was worth a moment of silence.

“C’mon. You’re in for a real treat,” Daniel said. He quickened his pace around two large trees. An enormous lake glistened before them, surrounded by the hills. There was not a ripple across the surface, and the reflections of the nearby trees, grasses, and the partly cloudy sky were cast back at them like a visual echo. Just to Daniel’s left, a little boathouse and wharf sat at the lake’s edge.

“I told you,” said Daniel. “This is only one of many amazing views on the plot. Can you imagine taking a kayak out at sunset? Or building a dream house here? Just breathtaking.” He paused and took a gentle deep breath.

The Faulkners walked over to the dock to get a closer look at the birds swooping and diving around the lake. Daniel followed silently behind them, as the weathered boards creaked gently underfoot.

A soft bumping sound could be heard from within the boathouse at the end of the jetty, and curious, Daniel took a detour to take a quick look. He pushed open the door, which hung cockeyed off its hinges. They gave way with a prickling screech. Inside was revealed a long wooden deck along with several well-worn hooks, used to secure canoes and kayaks.

Hearing the couple behind him, he called out, “Watch your footing, one of the planks is missing.”

The couple followed him inside.

Mr. Faulkner looked closely at the structure. He wondered how much it would cost to build a proper boathouse. He saw Daniel looking down into the water at something dark, something that bumped against the underneath side of the deck with the lapping of the wavelets created from the mountain breeze.

“What is that?” asked Mr. Faulkner, straining to see.

Mr. Faulkner watched Daniel awkwardly kneel down to grasp the end of a piece of rope that was floating nearby. It appeared to be clean and new, totally out of place in a boathouse that had been abandoned for years. The agent pulled at it until there was a resistance.

The dark mass came closer into view with every tug of the rope. As it broke the surface, it rolled to one side and, to Mr. Faulkner’s horror, they stared at a woman’s face; dark eyes fixed open, skin opaque and shiny like artificial rubber. Brown hair swirled in the water around her pale cheeks, framing her face.

Daniel gasped.

“What?” said Mr. Faulkner, not believing what he was actually seeing.

“It’s…” Daniel couldn’t form the words. “She’s…”

“What?” demanded Mrs. Faulkner before leaning in for a closer look. There was a pause before she registered the face staring back at her, screamed, and then ran from the boathouse, her hurried footsteps crashing through the valley path.

“What the hell. Is she dead…?” Mr. Faulkner whispered over Daniel’s shoulder.

Daniel leaned forward. His eyes locked on the dead woman’s gaze.

Mr. Faulkner had never seen a dead body before. Sucking in a breath, he watched Daniel pull at the rope once again, dragging the woman’s body closer. Her torso, oversized from bloat, rolled over so her face was forced downward with one arm out to her side. The other arm was… missing. He could see that she was dressed in dark pants and a light short-sleeved shirt. Shoes missing, her feet ballooned and, cartoon-like, floated on the surface.

“Call the police,” Daniel whispered to Mr. Faulkner without looking back at him.

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

Her latest book is the crime thriller, Silent Little Angels.

You can visit her website at www.AuthorJenniferChase.com or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Title: Dangerous Waters
Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Ottawa Press and Publishing
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB:

Old habits die hard…

Sgt. Windflower tries his best to ease away from life as a Mountie, but the lure of an investigation is too hard to resist.

After a missing man turns up dead, Sgt. Windflower is pulled in to investigate. Meanwhile, the arrival of a group of unique foreign visitors during a snowstorm in Grand Bank offers up another mystery. Even with so much going on, Windflower can’t resist the enticement of a good meal and a trip to the island of Saint Pierre off the coast of Newfoundland.

But when things get rough, Windflower can always rely on Eddie Tizzard and the gang to have his back.

As always, Windflower’s wife Sheila and their daughters are beacons of love and support as he navigates dangerous waters.

Grand Bank beckons you to another great story in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series.

Book Information

Release Date: April 30, 2022

Publisher:  Ottawa Press and Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1988437828; 288 pages; $16.95; eBook $4.99: FREE Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3RczNNA  

Chapter One

Eddie Tizzard looked down at the three files on his desk. Three men, all in their early sixties, reported missing from their homes and families in Grand Bank. One, Cedric Skinner, was found floating at the far end of Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s. The other two, Paddy Slaney and Leo Broderick, were still missing. 

He had just finished talking to Leo Broderick’s wife. She was doubly distraught, first by the unexplained absence of her husband, then by the death of Cedric Skinner and the disappearance of Paddy Slaney. “What’s going on?” she’d asked Tizzard. He had few answers for her or the other women in this small community on the southeast coast of Newfoundland. 

“We’ll do everything we can,” he told Leo Broderick’s wife. But truthfully, right now, there wasn’t much anything he or anybody else could do to bring her husband back. He only hoped that it wasn’t too late.

Tizzard leaned back in his chair and looked out the window. There was snow on the ground and more falling by the hour. Nothing unusual there. February in Newfoundland at the easternmost tip of Canada was cold, wet, and snowy. What was unusual was the fact that this wasn’t his chair, and it wasn’t his office. He looked down and saw something else that was new: corporal’s stripes on his uniform. Two chevrons, to be exact, and an Acting Corporal title to go along with them.

He was acting head of the Grand Bank detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Mounties. He had been a corporal before but was demoted when he had an altercation with a superior officer. But now they needed him, so they gave him back his stripes, at least on a temporary basis until they figured things out. What caused all of this to unfold was the sudden resignation of his old boss, Sergeant Winston Windflower. That’s whose chair Tizzard was sitting in as he looked out at the snowy morning in Grand Bank.

Winston Windflower wasn’t looking out the window, nor was he thinking about Tizzard or the Mounties this morning. He and his co-worker, Levi Parsons, were nearly done refinishing the hardwood floors at the beautiful old B&B that Windflower and his wife Sheila Hillier owned and co-managed. Levi was a shy and quiet young man who had somehow built a friendship with the much older Windflower, and under his tutelage, had been working at the B&B for a couple of years now. He was even taking hotel and hospitality classes to learn the management skills he needed to help run the B&B. 

But today the skills he needed were more of the manual labour type. They had already sanded and buffed the floors over the weekend, and now they were applying a new coat of stain. Tomorrow, they would start on the finish, and three coats of that later they would have perfect-looking hardwood floors to welcome their first dinner guests.

The B&B had been closed for over a year since the pandemic, and they were using this time, and Windflower had lots of it, to fix up the place before what they hoped would be a stellar tourist season. It had better be, thought Windflower. They would soon be without any steady income when his last few cheques from the RCMP dried up. Sheila had lots of business ideas cooking, but none were ready to provide them with the finances they would like to support their lifestyle and two small children. 

Levi went off to clean their brushes while Windflower poured himself a coffee in the kitchen and walked upstairs. He went to the small veranda on the second floor and opened the doors. The cool, fresh air flooded in, aided by the ever-present wind. He stared out, past the lighthouse and what was left of downtown Grand Bank, into the vastness of the ocean. It always calmed him to have this view, and today was no exception. He paused for a few moments, gave thanks for the view and the beautiful day, and went downstairs.

He went out the back door of the B&B so as not to disturb the good work they had done so far on the hardwood floors. He was going to head home when he saw a familiar face waving at him from across the street. Herb Stoodley was the co-owner of the Mug-Up café, the best and only diner in Grand Bank. Herb and his wife Moira were also self-adopted grandparents to Windflower’s two children. Stella was a bright and curious five-year-old and Amelia Louise was a two-and-half-year-old whirlwind. 

Herb and Windflower had hit it off from near the beginning when Windflower was first assigned to Grand Bank. They shared a love of the law, with Herb being a former Crown attorney, and under his tutelage Windflower was learning to share his love of classical music as well. The latest offering that Herb had provided was a version of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 recorded by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Windflower liked listening to classical music when he went on his weekly runs on Sunday morning with Amelia Louise on his back. This piece was perfect, thought Windflower as he thought about the swirling of the instruments and the haunting piano that pulled you back in.

“Morning, Herb,” said Windflower. 

“How are ya, b’y?” asked Stoodley. “You bored yet?”

“The B&B is keeping me going right now,” said Windflower. “Although I have to say that it’s hard to drive past the office without stopping in. My car just naturally wants to turn into the parking lot.”

“It may be like that for a while,” said Herb. “How’s Sheila and the girls?”

“They’re all well,” said Windflower. “Sheila’s working on getting some financing for some of her projects, and the girls are great. Stella is getting figure skating lessons in Marystown, and Amelia Louise is as rambunctious as ever.”

“They’re both so much fun,” said Herb. “Moira is knitting new hats for them, but don’t tell them, it’s a surprise.”

“They love surprises,” said Windflower. “Anyway, I gotta run. Sheila needs the car to pick up some groceries. We’ll see you soon. Oh, and thanks for the Rachmaninoff.”

“Glad you liked it,” said Herb. “It’s one of my favourites. When you’re ready, I have another one for you.”

“Thanks, Herb,” said Windflower as he waved goodbye to Herb and drove slowly home. He paused by the RCMP detachment, just for a moment. It looked busy, he thought, with one car pulling in and another leaving. With a small pang of something that might be regret, he passed by and headed for home. Sheila and Amelia Louise were glad to see him. Sheila, especially. She kissed him on the cheek and took the car keys from his hand. “I’ll see you soon,” she said. “There’s soup on the stove.”

The other one who was pleased that he was home was Lady, his Collie and four-legged ally. There was another pet in the house, Molly the cat. But Molly did not move from her basket in the kitchen, even when Lady started her happy dance around Windflower and Amelia Louise. Windflower looked over at her once and thought he could see her peeking, but she gave no indication that she could care one way or another that the so-called master of the house was home.

She and Windflower had a like-hate relationship. He tried to like her, but she clearly showed him only disdain. “Never mind,” said Windflower, mostly to himself as he looked around at the random display of toys in the living room. He understood immediately why Sheila needed to get out. Fast. Amelia Louise was adorable, but she was also a nonstop Energizer Bunny. Before she could loop Windflower into her next game, he preempted her with an offer of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

They went to the kitchen, and he lifted her up so she could see the pea soup in the pot on the stove. 

“Pea soup,” he said. “My favourite.”

“My favrit, too,” said Amelia Louise.

She helped him get the sandwiches ready. Helping consisted of her eating a slice of cheese and telling him a story that really had no beginning and clearly no end. Windflower knew this game and played along by nodding at what he thought were the most important moments in his daughter’s monologue. He put the sandwiches on the frying pan, and while they were cooking, he took up a bowl of soup for her to cool as they were waiting.

When the sandwiches were done, he put her in her chair and tried feeding her the soup. That lasted about three spoonful’s and then she grabbed the spoon from his hands. There would soon be soup everywhere, but Windflower would clean that up later. He gave Amelia Louise part of her sandwich and sat to enjoy his soup.

The pea soup was excellent, and he savoured every drop of the thick and creamy broth with flecks of salt meat and chunks of carrot and turnip. He was just finishing up when Sheila came in with her bags of groceries. He helped her put the things away, cleaned up Amelia Louise and the kitchen and then got everybody, including Lady, ready for a walk around the neighbourhood. With Amelia Louise in her wagon and Lady on her leash, they walked down their street and then headed down to the wharf.

As Windflower and most of his family were enjoying walking around Grand Bank this snowy afternoon, Eddie Tizzard was on the phone with his new supervisor, Inspector Bill Ford. Ford was actually acting, like Tizzard. He had almost retired but was pressed back into service when the previous inspector, Ron Quigley, took a promotion in Ottawa. 

“I’m sorry, Eddie, but we haven’t got a body to spare over here either,” said Ford. “We’ve got two active drug investigations underway and a hit-and-run that needs to be looked into as well. We’re just getting by in Marystown as it is.”

“There’s no way I can do justice to this case by myself,” said Tizzard. “And we’re getting tons of pressure. Not just from the families of the men who are missing, but throughout the community. We need to figure this thing out.”

“Well, do your best for now,” said Ford. “I’ll call up the line to see if we can’t get you another body somewhere.”

“Thank you, Inspector,” said Tizzard wearily. He hung up and went to the back to get himself a snack. His dad always said never to try to think on an empty stomach. He quoted Albert Einstein to him once: “An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.” Good advice thought Tizzard as he poked around in the fridge and found a piece of leftover pizza that he popped into the microwave. He sat to enjoy his pizza when his cell phone rang.

It was Constable Rick Smithson, the youngest member of his RCMP team.

“Hey, what’s up?” asked Tizzard.

“There’s a body,” said Smithson. “I’m down by the brook, closer to the dam. I got waved down as I was coming back from Fortune. Roy Saunders found him. He was out walking his dog.”

“Do we know who it is?” asked Tizzard. 

“Roy says it’s Leo Broderick,” said Smithson. “I’ve called the paramedics.”

“Okay,” said Tizzard. “I’ll be right over.”

About the Author

Mike Martin

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 12 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Dangerous WatersA Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. Mike has also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present.

Some Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are now available as audiobooks and the latest A Long Ways from Home was released as an audiobook in 2022. All audiobooks are available from Audible in Canada and around the world.

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild and Ottawa Independent Writers and Capital Crime Writers.

His latest book is the mystery, Dangerous Waters.

You can visit his website at https://SgtWindflowerMysteries.com/  or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Title: FALL OUT
Author: M.N. Grenside
Publisher: BloodHound Books
Pages: 455
Genre: Thriller

Book Blurb:

“A page-turning, jaw-dropping thriller of action and surprise. A riveting debut.” – Damien Lewis, international bestselling author

An LA screenwriter is killed shortly after completing his latest script, FALL OUT – a thriller destined to be a blockbuster but written with a secret double purpose.  Echoing events from the past, the screenplay is sent to a very specific group of people and will change their lives forever.  All are connected to a movie that had abruptly stopped shooting in the jungles of the Philippines years before.  FALL OUT exposes the truth about a conspiracy and murder that led to a half-a-billion-dollar fortune for a select few.

Follow the story of Producer Marcus Riley, who sets out on an increasingly dangerous quest to get FALL OUT made.  From a powerful agent’s office in Hollywood, hidden treasures in Belgravia and a remote chalet in the Swiss Alps to murder at the Cannes Film Festival, Marcus teams up with designer Melinda (Mako) de Turris as they and the other recipients of the screenplay are pursued by an assassin from the past.

With clues cleverly concealed in the screenplay, Marcus and Mako unravel a lethal puzzle that for some will bring death, others the truth and ends in a cave with a shocking secret…

“If you want a fast-paced stand out different thriller, I can’t recommend Fall Out enough. I loved it.” —Emma Forbes, broadcaster

“Amazing . . . I agree with all the other reviews that have stated if you like Dan Brown or James Patterson, then this book is for you.” —Joyful Antidotes

“And, action! Plenty of it and super nasty bad guys and stories so outrageously crazy they can only be true . . . Fall Out is inventive and, at times intentionally filmic . . . The fun doesn’t stop for 440 pages.” —Booksplainer

Book Information

Release Date: August 27, 2021

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1912666751; 400 pages; $13.46; Kindle: ASIN: B09C1PJNZ4; 480 pages; $4.99; FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED, FREE AUDIOBOOK WITH AUDIBLE TRIAL

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3M133DQ

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3Fz1DhI  

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/fall-out-11

Meet the Author

Mark Grensideborn and raised in London, began his working career straight out of school at Lloyds of London, specializing in Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion Insurance. At 25 it was time for a career change and to dump the suit and tie, so he started his media career working for Jim Henson and The Muppets©. From that moment on he has been involved in Entertainment and nearly every aspect of it.

He went on to create and produce several television series and mini-series. At the same time, he started a music management company launching million seller artist Neneh Cherry.

In 2004 he arranged the US $250 million buy-out of the Hallmark Channel International which was then successfully sold to NBC. He returned to producing a number of movies and mini-series.

He has recently morphed into a serial entrepreneur and is now a co-founder of seed to shelf CBD producer Dragonfly Biosciences (www.dragonflybiosciences.com) and a founder in two separate digital companies.

In addition to his love of cooking, an unhealthy amount of time and money is lavished on a collection of classic cars that he has raced all over the world. He enjoys risk and has parachuted in New Zealand, scuba-dived in the Pacific, hang-glided in the Himalayas and even tobogganed down the Cresta Run. In nearly every case chasing after his wife who is utterly fearless!

He is now writing the follow up to Fall Out, entitled The Bastion. In addition, he writes a humorous blog with subscribers in more than 40 countries. www.andanotherthing.com

He has two grown sons, two daughters’-in-law, three grandchildren and lives in Malta with his wife and two French bulldogs.

Mark’s latest book is the thriller, Fall Out.

You can visit his website at www.MNGrenside.com and his blog at www.AndAnotherThing.com or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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Title: THE URBAN BOYS: DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES BOOK 1
Author: K.N. Smith
Publisher: Two Petals Publishing
Pages: 340
Genre: YA Action Adventure / YA Thriller / Urban Fantasy / Mystery / Thriller

BOOK BLURB:

Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.

“A captivating and poetic tale of mystery, fantasy, and reality tied together by action!” 5-stars, Lars Jackson, Amazon Customer

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.

“Brilliantly crafted and written!” – Megan King, Indie Book Reviewers

“An energetic adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith’s writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle.” – Kirkus Media

“Author K.N. Smith uses her mastery of the written word to weave an entrancing, yet powerful tale of adventure that keeps you turning pages in an unquenchable desire to find out what happens next.” – Publishers Daily Reviews

Book Information

Release Date: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Two Petals Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0989474757; 340 pages; $12.95; E-Book, $2.99

Available for Purchase in Paperback & Kindle at www.books2read.com/knsmith.

Chapter One

Twenty Years Later

THE COMMUNITY OF DANVILLE HEIGHTS offers the scenic route to a carefully crafted universe.  Casts of shadows cool and soothe, beckoning the weary, comforting their plight. Explosions of color captivate, blanketing the land. A peaceful valley filled with families disinterested in city life, its combination of natural resources and quaint charm enchant those fortunate enough to dwell within.

Nature expressed itself always, as seen in a swirling butterfly as it dipped toward a crimson landing pad. It meandered along clean streets where comfortable homes with large porches seemed to have been plucked from the pages of a country interiors magazine.

Sunlight showered a dwelling with pale mint and  creamy white paint, warming the sun porch and a  shallow saucer of water left for visiting birds.

The butterfly swooped to examine embellished  mailboxes, flapping its orange wings as though it were  clapping for the winner. One of the mailboxes read:  Parker Residence.

A bike lay sideways in the yard.

In this town, folks enjoy ripe tomatoes, fragrant  peaches, and loads of neighborly warmth. People were glad to see each other, or at least they understood the  politeness of saying hello. After all, a warm smile that’s  always on the menu is reassuring indeed.

Across the way, the morning sun seeped into the  bedroom of Kinsu Yamada, an athletic teenager named  after an uncle from Japan. I’m so tired. It’s time to get  up, but I’d rather be dreaming about what’s her name  from sixth period. The girl with the short hair. Dang,  what is her name anyway?  

Getting up now offered a downside, like chancing a  nap in the middle of class. Because his sore muscles  needed a stretch, the option of dreaming quickly  disappeared, so he reached for the headphones on his  nightstand.

“Let’s see, how did that beat go?” He sifted through  rhythms floating in his mind, like the masterpiece he  had laid down yesterday. One, two, dat, boom. Yeah,  that’s it right there! Only the beat master could do that.  

He pushed the blankets aside, then reached across his bed. Where’s my tablet? He felt around until his fingers slid across cool metal. “In you go, headphones.”

He fired up one of his own tracks. The pulse of the beat  brought him to life, but it wasn’t complete. New sounds  were destined to mingle with the melody. I love this  software. “Alright, FastBeats, let’s go.”

Kinsu opened the dashboard. Black and white keys  made interesting noises. He wove drum and guitar  effects into his tracks, dragging and dropping them into  perfect position. Ooh, nice! 

With the track finished, a quick scroll through a beat making contest announcement boosted his confidence.  I’m sure I can win this one. When is it? A few weeks  from now? No problem. I got this! 

Time was moving. He plugged the headphones into  his phone. A shuffled playlist spilled into his ears.  Kinsu rolled out of bed to look outside. The beat throbbed in his head. A bird flew by the window as the  blinds sliced through the view of a picture-perfect  morning in Danville Heights.

A solid rocking chair made of real wood stood in the corner of the porch. It had beautiful grain and curves, just the way Mrs. Perkins remembered from her childhood. At seventy-five, she rocked almost daily, usually late at night, and like today, early in the morning before the sun peeked through sprawling trees.

She moved across her porch to adjust the hanging  pots lined with moss, swaying in the soft wind. “Don’t  you look lovely?” Mrs. Perkins stroked the dark purple  geraniums, gifted to her by an acquaintance. “Such a  rare color. So beautiful.”

She reached up to untangle a stubborn chain on one  of the pots, which had caused it to lean sideways. Much  better, she thought, after a few yanks.

A quiet town near the small city of Sandry Lake,  Danville Heights was just the kind of place she liked.  Small community feel. Occasions to get to know  residents. Moments to find out their business. Just the  way she liked it.

As she admired her flowers, something special met  the morning. When the sun had appeared, sparkling  dew evaporated from tall blades of grass, retracting the  moisture so refreshing to the blades. Drying out right  before her eyes, each blade had a story to tell emerging into the new day. So many stories. Much like the ones  Mrs. Perkins had in memory.

She knew a lot about the history of Danville Heights.  But it was clear to her—some secrets were not to be  revealed. The trick? Imitating the blades’ mastery of  secrecy throughout the decades.

She gripped the arms of the rocking chair, lowering  herself, landing on a striped pillow. So comfortable. So  nice and quiet. 

She looked to the sky and smiled.

The motion of the rocking chair was part of the  puzzle of the day’s awakening. Boys were slowly rolling  out of bed, and the coffee was on, the rich aroma  wafting through the houses. All of it made for a smooth  transition from night to day without interruption of normal events.

A few streets over, Chase Freeman, a junior at  Danville Heights High School, had fallen in love with his  pillow. But he could hear Diane, his older sister, moving  around the house. She had been raising him since their  single mother passed away two years ago from breast  cancer. They were doing their best to make it from  semester to semester.

Diane was definitely in charge. She kept the house in  order doing what her mother would have done.  “Lasagna tonight, loaded baked potatoes tomorr—” She  saw her reflection in the computer monitor as she  zoomed around a corner. “Let me check my grades on  the portal.”

She removed a small laundry basket from beneath her arm, setting it on the floor. With her knee on the  desk chair, she logged-in to her online college courses  to review the rankings. “B+? I was hoping for an A.” She  searched for the message icon and tapped the keys.  Dear Professor, I’d like to discuss this assignment during  office hours…  

As Chase entered his junior year, she gave her all to  keep him focused. A challenging job for a young  woman, but it appeared to be working so far.

Chase loved to sleep, but it wasn’t meant to be this morning. If he was going to catch a ride with Diane, he  had to get up… now.

With her grades reviewed, she was on the move.  Diane passed his room while putting away the  laundry. “Chase, you must not want a ride today.” She  could sense his fancy for feet dragging.

Chase jumped to the floor, suspending his covers in  one hand. “Okay, okay, I’m up, see?” Tossing the  blankets aside, he grabbed a silver bat from the corner  of his room. Step up to the plate. He perfected his swing  in the mirror. Nothing can stop this player. One more  season after this year, then I’ll be an outfielder in  college. 

Diane was still in the hallway. “No, I don’t see anything. Get moving. I have to work at the café this  morning.”

Chase swung one more time. “I am up.”

He bid farewell to his warm sanctuary. His deep  brown skin glistened in the sunlight. A banner above the door with a quote from Babe Ruth caught his eye— ‘Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.’

Often amused with her brother, Diane smiled as she gave her final warning, “You’d better be, or you’re  walking, mister.”

There was no sign of the sun in the not so distant  town of Sandry Lake. Considering the height of the east  side buildings which should have received a golden kiss  by now, this seemed odd.

Didn’t the rooftops feel lonely awaiting the moment to greet the sun’s fresh rays?

Usually, there was plenty of action on the road, but today the mood was low. A dark contrast to the bonds  being made in Danville Heights, where the sun  appeared to believe it had a multitude of friends on  which to rely for the next stretch of time.

About The Author

K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. Her lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist and grind through action-adventure and urban fantasy in edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. has over twenty-five years’ experience in communications and creative design as an award-winning consultant. Reading is still her foremost hobby. K.N. inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits.

Her latest book is the YA Action Adventure/YA Thriller/Urban Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES (The Urban Boys Book 1).

You can visit her website at www.KNSmith.com or connect with her on Facebook.

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Title: HALF MOON LAKE
Author: Steve Brock
Publisher: Steve Brock
Pages: 187
Genre: Suspense / Conspiracy

BOOK BLURB:

Crease Williams lived a charmed life with a bright future. Only in his junior year at Texas Christian University, his skills as a wide receiver had already captured the attention of NFL scouts.

Then a tragedy cost him his family and his desire to play football. Personally devastated, he left his old life behind and got as far from Ft. Worth, TX, and football as he could get.

Keeping mostly to himself, he became a float-plane pilot in the far north of Minnesota. Flying fisherman and hunters into remote locations was how he spent his time. When a group he had flown to Roudy’s Cabin goes missing, he faces accusations and more turmoil than he could have ever imagined. To make matters worse, his quiet existence is upturned by an element from his past bent on vengeance.

Half Moon Lake is Steve Brock’s first novel. A suspenseful mystery written with likable characters and a lighthearted flavor.

Book Information

Release Date: March 30, 2022

Publisher:  Steve Brock

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0578391977; 187 pages; $9.99; Kindle Unlimited FREE

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3knaPfd

Chapter One

What would it be today? Indigo, purple, or maybe some shade of green? It was something he had grown to appreciate, even anticipate during the last few years. Depending on the season and the hour of the day, the color of the water in Half Moon Lake changed. Ripples on the surface glistened and danced in the sunlight as he approached from the east. Billowy cotton-ball clouds floated high against the evening sky. Pine trees, majestic and tall, surrounded the lake. They seemed to stretch to touch the belly of the plane.

He lingered one last moment to admire the vista, but eventually keyed the mic.

“TC8750 to Half Moon Flight Service.”

The familiar voice of Rose Larson broke a few seconds of static. “This is Half Moon. Is that you, Crease Williams? I hope this is an obscene radio call.” No one ever accused Rose of ridged formality.

“I’m afraid it’s all business today, Rose. I’m here to pick up the floatplane to fly a load of supplies up to that group of fishermen at Roudy’s Cabin.”

“Fishermen? Do you mean those four CEO types who were through here last week? I saw the list of supplies they ordered. I don’t know about the fishing, but it appears the beer drinking is going pretty well up there. The runway’s clear, Crease.”

To call what serves to land small airplanes a runway was generous. A strip along the side of the lake a quarter mile long and maybe one hundred feet wide, it was a grass field dozed free of trees and rolled to flatten some humps. Crease coaxed his little Cessna to the north, taking a wide loop to a course parallel with the landing strip.

Just as he was straightening his heading, pointing the nose toward the windsock that stood just past the end of the landing field, his life changed. At once there was deafening silence and a violent lurch downward. The engine had stopped, and he thought he must have dropped at least five hundred feet. A quick glance at the altimeter said no, but his testicles said yes.

A dozen thoughts fought for attention in his mind. He filtered through the “whys” and concentrated on the one thought that mattered: How do I land a plane without power? He knew it could be done. The space shuttle always lands without power, he thought to himself. Sure, that’s right. Of course, an astronaut pilots the shuttle, not a washed-out wide receiver with a few hundred hours of flight time. Still, he believed he could do it, and it wasn’t like he had a lot of options.

Just as he had convinced himself, the plane jerked forward as the engine started running again. It appeared that his heading was fairly correct, and the desire to touch the ground overwhelmed the urge to swing the plane around to line up perfectly. He eased it down and, with a bit of a hop, came into contact with the grass. He taxied forward, slowing, and came to a stop at the end of the landing area. He sat motionless until his mind and his gonads agreed he was on the ground.

Crease climbed the three steps to the single door that opened into the small reception area that was also the Half Moon radio room. As he walked through the door, an office chair swung around and a well-nourished fortysomething lady sporting a bouffant hairstyle stood. With a big toothy grin, Rose said, “There you are, you big linebacker. Come here and give me a hug.”

“Just try and stop me,” he said as he met her in front of the desk. As they embraced he said, “You know I was never a linebacker. In fact, I tried to avoid them as much as possible.”

“Hell, Crease, all football players are linebackers to me. What have you been up to? I haven’t seen you in a coon’s age.”

“I’ve been down in Texas doing some maintenance on the home place. Which reminds me, I think I might have something for you here in my duffel bag.” He didn’t know everything about Rose. She was divorced twice that he knew of, and scuttlebutt was that at least one settlement was enough to set her up for life. He got the feeling the only reason she helped out around the field was because she was lonely. He liked her. The truth was, he was closer to Rose than anyone since the accident. “While I was home, I picked up a little something for you.” He reached into his bag and produced a two-pound box of Pangburn’s Millionaires.

Her smile increased as he handed her the box. “Are you trying to wreck my perfect figure?”

“God, no. It looks to me like you’re down a few pounds. I don’t want you to dry up and blow away.”

“You’re just oozing that old Southern charm, darlin’. How is it no one has claimed you yet?”

“I guess the bad outweighs the good. I’m not much for long-term relationships. How have you been?”

“I’m still walking upright so I can’t complain.” Rose returned to her chair, clutching the box of chocolate turtles.

Since he had moved up north, Rose was as close to a friend as he had. After losing his family and discovering he had no future, he determined he would maintain a certain distance from people. He had become a loner, and it suited him now. Rose was almost an exception.

He rested his hands on the counter. “Is Ol’ Pete around?”

“He’s here someplace. Walk through the showroom to the garage, and you’ll find him.”

With genuine concern, he asked, “Are you okay? Seriously, you look tired.”

“It’s nothing. I’ve not been sleeping well lately.”

“I’m planning to be around for a while, so I’m gonna keep an eye on you.”

“That just makes my day. Would you like for me to page Pete for you?”

“Nah, I’ll head back to the garage as you said. I’ll come across him.”

“You know you’re not exactly his favorite person, right?”

“Yeah, I remember. I’m not sure what I ever did to make him dislike me so much.”

“You know what you did.”

Crease did know. It wasn’t like he destroyed an aircraft. It could have happened to anyone learning to land a floatplane. Anybody with limited experience could bring a plane down a bit too hard. Yes, the hard landing on the water ruptured a float, and yes, the fuselage took on a lot of water, and yes, they had to use a come-along to drag the plane into shore. The bottom line was that the plane got repaired, and he had paid for it, every cent. That should be enough for any reasonable person, but Ol’ Pete wasn’t altogether reasonable. He had an unnatural attachment to his floatplanes. Three years later now, and Pete still hadn’t forgiven him for that little faux pas.

He had apologized, and he had learned his lesson, but that had little impact on Ol’ Pete. Pete had grown up around airplanes. His dad flew them, repaired them, and even created them. He had taught Pete everything there was to know about single-engine aircraft: what made them fly, and what made them crash. If there was anyone in the world who could make a bowling ball fly, it was Pete. By the same token, if anybody could explain why an almost new Cessna TTX, well maintained and treated with care, would suddenly decide to shut down on approach, that, too, would be Pete.

Following Rose’s direction, he began walking through the warehouse, toward the garage. The warehouse was a local wonder. Around here, if you wanted to do some shopping in a national chain big box store, you were in for a big disappointment. The closest Walmart was over one hundred miles away. The closest thing to that was the warehouse of the Half Moon Airfield and Wilderness Outfitters. Not that it compared to a big box store in ambiance. There was no nicely tiled floor or rows of pristine shelves stacked with goods. The “Outfitters,” as it was locally known, was a large open building with a bare concrete floor stacked with pallets. It was filled with anything useful in camping, fishing, hunting, or any other outdoor activity. Beyond the warehouse and to the right stood the door to the garage. He cringed a little as he rounded the corner.

He hated to ask Pete for anything. Every conversation they had since the “incident” always began the same way. Ol’ Pete sat behind an old metal office desk stained and dented by years of use and abuse. His feet were propped up as he leaned back in his rickety old wooden chair. On his head was the only hat he’d ever seen Pete wear. Ragged and stained with years of head sweat, it was adorned with hooks and fishing lures all around. Sure as spring rain, as if reading from a script, Pete said, “Well, well, if it ain’t the local football star. Sink any floatplanes lately?” He always followed that statement with a snicker. That was what Crease hated the most, the snicker.

Over the last couple of years, he had learned to take a beat before continuing the conversation. Deep down, Crease knew Ol’ Pete didn’t really hate him. Pete wasn’t that kind of person. Pete loved his planes like family, and his harassment at the start of every encounter was Ol’ Pete’s way of reminding Crease that the “incident” was not forgotten.

The truth was that Pete liked Crease a lot, despite the “incident.” Crease had become one of the better pilots he knew. He realized Crease had some rough times in his past and he respected him for coming through it and creating a new life for himself. He figured he would stop harassing Crease about the “incident” soon. Just not today.

After a brief, pregnant pause, Crease answered the sarcastic question with a humble response, “No,” he said with a weak smile, “I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Glad to hear it. So what brings you to our little neck of the woods?”

“I flew in to pick up a load of supplies for the campers up at Roudy’s Cabin.”

“Surely you didn’t come to see me about a beer run.”

“I did not. When I was making my approach today, I had problems with the Cessna.”

“What kind of problem?”

“It just stopped running. That’s an issue I haven’t seen before. There was no warning. One second it was running just fine, and the next second it just quit. Have you ever seen anything like that before?”

Ol’ Pete took a drag from the cheap cigar he was smoking, then took it out of his mouth and said, “Can’t say that I have, not without some symptoms first. Even then, engines don’t just stop completely. Did you put gas in it?”

Crease wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be funny or not, so he didn’t answer the question directly. “I checked everything before I took off this morning.”

“Did you land it without power?”

“No, that’s another odd thing. It started up again all on its own a few seconds later.”

“That’s odd all right, and kinda hard to believe.”

That comment did not surprise Crease. He had a hard time believing it himself. “Would you have time to look at it while I’m making my run?”

Ol’ Pete drew another long puff on his cigar, laid it down on the ashtray and finally replied, “Yeah, I’ll give it a once-over.”

“I appreciate that, Pete. Do you want me to bring it up here to the garage?”

“Nah, leave it where it is. I may take it up for a little cruise around the lake.”

“Thanks, Pete, I’ll check in with you when I get back.”

Crease headed back into the warehouse area and told one of the warehouse guys, Little Al, he was called, what he was there for. In about fifteen minutes, he was looking at a small pallet stacked with the supplies he was to deliver to Roudy’s Cabin. Mostly food items, including steaks, lobster, Crown Royal, and imported beer among assorted other items. The people who rented Roudy’s Cabin were not known for living on the cheap.

After he had confirmed everything was there, Al got an electric pallet lift and took the supplies out to the dock. Crease stopped by the office, got the keys to one of the floatplanes, and led his helper to load it. He did his preflight check and climbed into the pilot’s seat.

Taking off in a floatplane gives you a different feeling than taking off from a runway. The spray picked up by the prop and the gentle bobbing up and down in the water make you feel like you are driving a boat. Then, as you gain speed and the floats began to lift out of the water, you become a pilot again. It is a unique feeling that most people, even pilots, never experience. It was something Crease had come to appreciate.

The wings of a floatplane are set farther off the ground than land-based planes like his Cessna TTX. That gives them the ability to climb more steeply and turn sharper, attributes that are necessary when taking off from the surface of a small lake and clearing the surrounding trees. It was only a thirty-minute flight to Roudy’s Cabin. He could make the entire trip at one thousand feet if he wanted to. From that altitude, he could sometimes see herds of deer or elk in the openings in the tree line.

The job paid well, but that wasn’t why he chose it. He chose this life because his old one had died, and this was as far away from being a Texas football player as anything he could think of. That and it gave him a sense of freedom that he’d never had before, and freedom was something he needed very badly right now.

The sun still hung high in the sky as he approached Roudy’s Cabin. He brought the plane down, and gently, ever so gently, touched the floats down on the surface of the lake. He pulled it over and nudged the frame up against the dock.

Floatplanes aren’t particularly loud, as planes go, but out here in the wilderness where the closest automobile is over fifty miles away, it normally gets people’s attention. Usually, someone comes down and helps anchor the plane to the dock. He could do it and had occasionally, but it was unusual.

He walked up to the utility shed positioned not far from the end of the dock. He retrieved the ATV from within, hooked up the small trailer, and drove it down to the plane. He off-loaded all the supplies onto the trailer, climbed aboard the ATV, and headed toward the cabin.

Despite the image conjured by the name, Roudy’s Cabin was neither rowdy nor a cabin. The style of the structure could best be described as “rustic elegance.” Sitting just fifty yards from the water’s edge, the cabin was a well-appointed, 5,500-square-foot structure with five bedrooms, four baths, two fireplaces, and a game room complete with a billiard table and wet bar. The kitchen, with a full complement of professional-grade appliances, was the envy of every chef who saw it. The whole building was surrounded by a twelve-foot covered porch furnished with chaise lounges, rockers, a built-in grilling station, and a whirlpool tub. It was definitely constructed for leisure living.

The forest had been cleared all around the cabin, stumps removed, and a nice stand of grass nurtured to grow. Most people who stayed in the cabin probably never adventured beyond its lawn. The exception was those who wanted to hunt moose or elk. There were several places much better for that, however, so die-hard hunters rarely stayed here. Most people who used the cabin wanted to get out of the city and “get back to nature,” at least as long as nature came with five-star accommodations.

It was for that reason that it was unusual for Crease not to be met at the dock upon arrival. He thought perhaps they were grilling out back of the cabin, and since the back entrance led into the kitchen, where most of the supplies should go, he slowly drove around the cabin to the grilling station.

Finding no one, he shut off the ATV and just listened for a moment. He thought perhaps he would hear music or the TV from inside the house, but there was nothing but the sounds of nature around him. He picked out a couple of bags of frozen items and headed to the double doors. The doors were unlocked, but there was nothing unusual about that.

Out here, the visitors who showed up in the middle of the night would not turn the doorknob. Other than the residents of the cabin, there were probably no other human beings within twenty square miles. There were plenty of other creatures milling around in the dark. Raccoons, possums, skunks, foxes, and rabbits were always looking for any food scraps that might be left out. Those critters, as Rose called them, could be a bit of a nuisance, but not dangerous.

There were dangers in the north woods, but nothing was likely to break through the door. The most obvious concern, if you asked people, would be bears and wolves. Certainly, both species were present in the woods around the cabin, but black bears were shy around humans, and grizzlies didn’t inhabit the area. A pack of wolves could certainly ruin your day, but only if you presented yourself as a weak or wounded target.

What surprised most people was learning that the most dangerous animals in the area were elk and moose. Not that either is aggressive by nature, but many people who have never seen them don’t respect their space. The problem comes when people approach elk expecting Rudolph, but what they find are charging, pointed antlers propelled by a bristled, snorting, seven hundred pounds of pissed-off.

Crease walked through the door into the kitchen. He deposited the frozen items in the large freezer. He went about unloading the rest of the supplies, being intentionally loud, hoping to draw attention to his presence. With the last bag delivered, he stood silently for a moment. The beautiful house felt more like a derelict, abandoned mansion. It was creepy-silent.

He decided to do a walk-through to make sure no one was around. Walking room to room he found the same, a house that could have been a college dormitory, in desperate need of a maid. There was no question guys had been living here, but they weren’t here now. In one of the bedrooms, he found a journal. Someone’s musing about daily happenings. He knew it was personal, and he hated to read it, but maybe if he just peeked a little, he might discover what they’d been doing.

He decided to start with the previous day and only go as far as necessary to find a clue. He didn’t have to read any further. There was an entry that said the group had been doing some hiking through the woods, and yesterday they came across something interesting. All it said was it was they wanted to explore it further, but the daylight was fading so they came back to the cabin. They thought they might go back to continue tomorrow.

Crease gladly closed the book, he felt like he was a peeping tom as it was. They were probably traipsing through the woods at this very moment. The creepy feeling kind of went away as he made his way out of the cabin and back to the ATV. He drove back down to the dock, put the ATV back in the shed, and climbed into the plane. Looking at that journal made him feel better, but he would keep it to himself.

About The Author

SB

I’ve been an author in search of a novel for just about forty years now. Writing was the first thing I ever wanted to do seriously. Over the years I’ve done quite a variety of things. My first real job, the kind where you have a schedule and get paid hourly, was as a cook at the local Sonic Drive-In. I’ve been a machinist, a forklift driver, a production worker, a computer programmer, an IT guy, an installation manager, a software trainer, and an education department manager. Those are just the employment highlights. Through it all, I was a husband and father, and I attended college at night to get my bachelor’s degree in technology management.

Before all that started, I wanted to be a writer. It just didn’t work out that way. Maybe that’s ok, I’ve had a good life and I have a wonderful family that I am proud to have. I don’t regret any of what I’ve done to support my family over the years. The desire to write has persisted, however, and I took a look at my odometer one day and it read 61 years old. None of us know how high our personal odometer will go, but I knew if I was ever going to be a writer, now was the time.

I’m bringing my lifetime of experience to my novel writing. Many of my characters are loosely based upon people I’ve known in real life. Some of my plot elements are also influenced by real-life experiences as well. As of this writing, my first novel, Half Moon Lake, will be published on Amazon in a few weeks. I have begun work on my second book as well. I hope you will take time to register your email address so I may keep you apprised of announcements and special offers. I’d be thrilled to count you as one of my first dedicated readers.

Steve Brock’s latest novel is Half Moon Lake.

You can visit his website at www.BrockNovels.com or connect with him at Twitter.

 







Title: Almost an Army Cadet, Always a Forester
Author: K C Linggi and Laing Imang
Publisher: Partridge Singapore
Genre: Autobiography/Biography General
Format: Ebook
The book is about the trials and tribulations of Laing as a forest surveyor and partly as a community officer dealing with local forest people. In his works, he encountered the Penans and related some anecdotes of Penans and white men. He talked about the dialogue with Kayan, Kenyah and Penan; Long Moh Agreement which excluded the Penans. He was involved with Baram Operation Master Plan and witnessed subsequent blockades by Penans against logging. Penan blockades at Layun, “Blockade Satan” and Sebatu brought fame to environmental activitists like Bruno Manser, Harrison Ngau and Anderson Mutang. He oversaw heli-logging, ISO9001 documentation and sustainable forest management certification. He was able to share his experience and knowledge with interns and under-graduates who chose forestry as a career. His more than two decades of working in the forest has enhanced his appreciation of nature conservation and cordial engagement with Penans.


PURCHASE HERE
K C Linggi is a professional forestry graduate from Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. He was project manager for Bridge & Infrastructure Unit. Laing Imang is a trained forest surveyor in the Survey and Engineering Unit. Both worked in the same timber company for almost two decades and shared many trials and tribulations together.


K C Linggi and Laing Imang are GIVING AWAY A $25 GIFT CARD!

  
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins May 16 and ends on May 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 28.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js


Title: UNORGANIZED CRIME
Author: Judy Serrano
Publisher: 6K Publishing
Pages: 220
Genre: Romantic Suspense

 As Jazz finds herself falling from a helicopter, Gage St. Claire comes to her rescue. Organized crime is once again the culprit of her parents’ situation, and as usual, she is caught in the crossfire. Gage pulls her out of the water and helps her escape to safety. The love between them is undiscovered as he tries to leave her behind in an attempt to keep her safe and move forward with his black ops pursuit. Jazz becomes an undercover cop with wiping out organized crime forever as her goal. After Jazz exposes one of the largest crime families in the country, quite by accident, she is hired to expose crime syndicate leader Michael Giambetti Jr., otherwise known as Achilles. Achilles earned his nickname because he has no weaknesses. He has no weaknesses, that is until he meets Jazz. Achilles has been untouchable, and if she were to break this case, she could finally prove herself as a serious undercover officer. Her job is not an easy one, and people around her are not who they appear to be. Will Gage come back for Jazz, or will he be lost to her forever? Will she crack the case on her own? Read as this courageous upstart stumbles through another adventure.

Book Information

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher: 6K Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN: 979-8655914537; 220 pages; $10.99; E-Book, $2.99

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Bq8uru  


Chapter 1

            The doors flew open, and the room filled quietly with black shirts marked “FBI” looking almost like smoke blackening my vision. Some were wearing black ski-masks to conceal their identity. Those would be the undercover agents. Somehow it made the whole situation a bit more disconcerting. “Hands up!” the voices shouted, as more FBI officers appeared, shoving several bystanders up against the walls. “Everyone down on the floor!” was shouted to those who had not yet surrendered. People were running for cover, jumping out windows, screams of desperation were heard all over the building, as FBI climbed the stairs and handcuffed anyone and everyone who crossed their paths. One of the masked agents approached me and grabbed my hands, handcuffing them behind my back, hard.

            “Ouch!” I shouted as he pulled the cuffs around my wrists. “You know who I am, right?” I asked.

            “Yes, Miss Burns, painfully aware.” He squeezed the cuffs tighter.

            “And I am painfully aware that you are cuffing me. Lay off, will you?”

            “Right now, you’re just a whore, Miss Burns, just like the rest of them.”

I turned around to sneer at him. I was pissed. It took me almost a year to bust this establishment wide open. He had to pretend to arrest me so that my cover wouldn’t be exposed, but he didn’t have to be so rough. He was tall and muscular. As a matter of fact, he was so well-built that I could see the muscles in his arms through his shirt. Because my hands were restrained behind my back, I was unable to wipe the drool from my mouth. Okay, not really, but he was looking pretty good from where I was standing, even if my point of view may have been obstructed by the activity in the room. He pulled off his mask so that I could see who he was. Now, it all made sense. He had dark brown eyes, black hair, and a small mustache just around his nose and mouth.  Even though he towered over me, the temptation to kick him in the shin was overwhelming. So, I succumbed.

            “Ouch!” he shouted, letting go of me and grabbing the shin I just injured.

            “Just trying to keep it real, Special Agent, sir.” He grabbed me by my cuffs and dragged me out the door, backward. I knew he was ticked. He wanted in on this case for months, but I was so close that I didn’t want him messing it up for me. I was about half the way in when they discovered the madam of this fine establishment was connected to organized crime. I was personally responsible for bringing down one of the largest crime families in Las Vegas. It was totally accidental. The only thing they ever let me do was bust whorehouses and puppy mills. This was the first time I’d seen the FBI get involved. It was exciting and intrusive all at the same time.

            He turned me around so that I was facing the squad car, put his hand on the top of my head, and pushed me inside. Needless to say, the ride to the station was a tense one. We said nothing to each other the whole way there. When we finally arrived, he opened my door and dragged me out, pulling me by my elbow into the captain’s office. “Cut it out!” I shouted moving to kick him again, but he managed to avoid me this time. “Un-cuff me, Special Agent … what’s your name?”

            “It’s Alex, and I’m getting to it.”

            “Come on, Alex, don’t be a sore loser,” the captain offered. Alex finally removed my cuffs. I rubbed my wrists and showed the marks left by the cuffs to my captain. “Was that really necessary?” he asked him.

            “She kicked me,” he answered.

Luke laughed. That was my captain’s name. “I’m sure it wasn’t unwarranted.”

“Look,” I said, “I’m sick and tired of these low budget cases. I want something bigger. I want to break something open that makes it worth dressing like this.” I pulled off one of my red, high-heeled shoes and showed it to him.

“Please, Burns, sit,” Luke suggested, motioning to the chair. I put my shoe back on and gave him my best wounded-expression before complying with his request. Just then, Hector walked in with another man. Ah, Hector Montiago. He was quite the firecracker in his day. Even now, he could melt an ice cream cone with just his smile, leaving you glad that your hands were warm and sticky. He had blond hair, blue eyes, was tall and well built, but that’s not the best thing about Hector. Hector was Mexican with a thick Spanish accent with surprisingly light skin. If he didn’t have that accent, you would never know that his family was connected to the Mexican Mafia. That’s right, I said it. He was well connected. Oh, and one more minor detail. He was a highly respected FBI operative. I know, crazy, right?

“Jazz,” he said, smiling. I stood up and hugged him. “Gosh, Jazz, I’m so proud of you. You busted the Russo family business wide open. Good job.” Then he touched my hair, which was an auburn color for this particular job. My natural hair color was blond. I was also wearing brown contacts to cover my blue eyes. I could tell he wasn’t impressed. “We’re going back to blond tomorrow, yes?” He smiled again, and the butterflies in my stomach became less than dormant.

“Yes, Hector, going back to normal tomorrow. And thanks, by the way. I’m kind of proud of myself.”

“You should be. Your parents would be proud.” I sneered, not as subtly as I had hoped.

“What are you doing here?” Alex asked him. Clearly, Hector made him a little uncomfortable. That was only to be expected. Hector had an interesting background story. Not only was he ridiculously yummy, but Hector was unique in his situation. As I mentioned before, Hector was well connected. He belonged to one of the biggest crime families in the United States and Mexico. The Montiagos were untouchable. Hector and his brother, Max, were FBI planted in their brother’s organization to try to take him down many years ago. To make a long story short, his brother, Max, is dead, and the family business is still up and running. That’s right- untouchable. Diego Montiago Jr., otherwise known as simply Junior, runs the organization now. It appears that the only person who can keep him in line is his uncle Hector. Hector does a rather dangerous balancing act on the delicate line between right and wrong and we sort of, “look the other way,” in return for Hector’s very unique skills and insight.

Hector looked over at me and patted Alex on the back. “I understand you’ve already met Alex.”

“Yes, I’ve had the pleasure.” Alex winked at Hector, which I did not appreciate.

“Would you mind excusing us, Burns? We have business to discuss,” Hector said.

“I want in,” I told him. “If you’re here, it must be big. Let me in.”

“Jazz, this is out of your league. I’m not sure you’re … well … that you’re right for this.” No matter how old I got, no matter what successes have headed my way, to Hector I was still a little girl. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get past that image of me that he must have had in his mind.

“I can do it, Hector. What is it?”

He laughed a little, smirking at me. “You’ve probably never even had to pull your gun.”

I pulled it out of the back of my waistband and pointed it at him. “How’s this?”

“Oh, little girl, if I had a dime for every woman who pulled a gun on me. Put it away, and play nice.” He put his hand on the barrel of my gun and pushed it so that it was facing the floor. He and all the other men in the room let out some quiet laughter at my expense. I could feel my face flush, much to my own disgust. He was quite the bad boy in his day. Never slept alone. Never had to. “You wouldn’t be working with me,” he continued. “I’m just here to let go of the information I have acquired personally from my own experience. You’d be working with them.” He motioned to the man he came in with and Alex. “This is Jacob.” Jacob walked closer to me and shook my hand. “He is the Lieutenant in charge of the case. I’m too close to this,” he continued. “I need to plant a woman. I was going to use McCall. She’s been around the block a few times and…”

“Hector, I can do this. Who’s the mark? Give me a chance.”

He sighed. “It’s the Giambetti family. Michael Giambetti Jr., to be specific.”

My heart started pounding. It was crashing against my chest so hard that I was afraid they would hear it if I didn’t get ahold of myself. I could feel my face flush again, as I began to understand why he was afraid to put me inside. Michael Giambetti Jr. was the biggest competition for the Montiago family. He also had a reputation for being quite the playboy. They called him Achilles. Just like Junior Montiago was famous for having no remorse, Michael Giambetti Jr. was famous for having no weaknesses. Trying to find his so-called “heel” has been a fruitless venture. No one has found anything or anyone that has meant enough to him to control his behavior. So consequently, that’s what he was known as by his peers. Achilles.

“Michael Giambetti?”

“The father’s deceased. Michael Giambetti Sr. used to be involved with…” Hector paused and looked like he might be a little embarrassed. “There was a woman. Never mind, it’s not important. Let’s just say we have too much history. That’s why Jacob will be your contact. I will bow out after this conversation.” Hector smiled for a second as though he was thinking about something naughty. “Besides, the whole Achilles, Hector thing just weirds me out.” We all laughed, thinking about the old myth where Achilles actually kills Hector. I guess that could be a prophecy that one would not want to explore. “Alex has been Michael’s right-hand man for two years, and we’re no closer to busting him now then we were back then.”

“So, his incompetence is causing you to call in the big dogs,” I added.

I am pretty sure that was steam now coming out of Alex’s ears. “I’m not incompetent. He’s very clever. He owns a few nightclubs and restaurants and only discusses his sleazy little business with his brother and sister. So, we are going to have to plant a woman.”

“You want me to sleep with him?”

“God, no,” Hector answered. “You and your long blond hair and curvy body will certainly catch his attention. You will be blond again, I’m assuming.”

“Yes, yes, would you cut it out.”

He looked at me like I was nothing more than a mild form of entertainment for him as he continued, already set on leaving me out of this. “The plan is to set it up so that the woman and Alex hook up at a bar. You would flash your baby-blues; Alex pretends to take you home and BAM! You’re in.”

“Ewe…”

“The thought doesn’t do much for me either,” Alex added. “McCall is the better choice.”

“I dunno,” Luke interrupted. “Jazz possesses a sort of innocence that McCall doesn’t have. This may intrigue Achilles, and he may decide to try to get close to her. This might work.”

 “No,” Hector added. “I’m with Alex. McCall it is.”

“Hector, I am not a little girl anymore. I am a grown woman. I can do this.”

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much,” Hector says, quoting Shakespeare of all people, obviously still entertained by my persistence.

“I just burned the Russo’s organization to the ground,” I reminded them.

“Quite accidentally,” Luke added.

“Fine,” I said. “Ask McCall.”

I got up and walked away. My pride was injured, and I was sick and tired of all these weak assignments. So, I went home like a good little girl to lick my wounds.

***

When morning came, I was rudely awakened by my doorbell. I was only wearing an undershirt and a pair of short-shorts and clearly, I wasn’t thinking straight at the time, or I would’ve covered up. I grabbed my gun and walked to the front door. I carefully peeked through the peephole. It was Hector, Jacob, and Alex. This couldn’t be good.

            I pulled open the door, and Alex greeted me with a, “Good morning, sunshine.” He pushed his way through the door and sat down presumptuously on my easy chair. A little too comfortably if you asked me. “Thanks for the outfit,” he continued, looking me up and down like I was some kind of poster girl. “I think you just cheered me up considerably.”

            “Shut up, Alex. It’s not like I invited you here.” I noticed the worry in Hector’s face, which sobered me up a bit. “What’s going on? What are you all doing here?”

            “We need to talk,” Hector answered. He and Jacob walked in and made themselves comfortable on my couch. “Jazz, please … sit.”

            Hector motioned for me to sit beside him. He took my hands when I did. “You’re scaring me, Hector. What’s going on?”

            “McCall tried to get inside last night after we saw you.”

            “And…” My voice cracked. I was pretty sure what they were going to say.

            “Her plan was for her to hook up with Achilles directly. She didn’t want to go through Alex. She thought she was better than that.”

            “He killed her, Jazz,” Alex interrupted, “and if you don’t want to do this, we understand completely.”

            I swallowed hard. “Tell me what happened.”

            “First of all,” Hector started, “she didn’t follow directions. She went to him, climbed all over him, and went home with him. He was suspicious from the get-go. Maybe he was tipped off … we’re not sure. This is very risky. We know you’re engaged. Why don’t you take some time to talk to Sean. See what he says. We’ll give it a few days. Let things cool down a little. Then you decide.” I nodded, unable to speak. “The plan is pretty simple. You will go home with Alex. When you get there, just bounce around a little on the bed, make some noises and … you know … make it sound believable.” I think I threw up a little inside my mouth. “You’ll have to tell your fiancée that you can’t see him for a while. You will have to appear to be exclusive with Alex. Do you think he can handle that?”

            “In public, you mean, right?”

            “Someone like Achilles will have you checked out and watched the moment you step foot inside his house. So, no booty calls for a while. Fortunately, since you are an undercover cop, he won’t be able to find any real details about you.” Hector sat there, tapping his foot, staring at me, waiting for an answer.

            “I’ll talk to him,” I answered. “No problem.” I was lying of course. There was no way Sean was going to go for this.

            “Listen,” he continued, “under no circumstances are you to sleep with Giambetti.” I looked at him, quite startled. “My brother, Max, sacrificed his integrity all for the glory of the case.”

            “Hector, I…”

            “He’s very dead now. Understand?”

            “Yes, sir, I understand.”

            “Think it over. Give Luke your answer in the morning.”

            They all left except for Alex, who was still invasively sitting in my easy chair. “Give us a minute, will you please?” Alex said, waiting for them to go. They nodded as they vacated, and he stayed behind. He got up and stood next to me at the door putting his hands on my shoulders. “I won’t think you’re weak if you don’t want to do this. He made McCall right away. He may figure you out too. I’m willing to let this one go. There will be another case.”

            “Where did she meet him?”

            “She didn’t wait for me. She went to one of his nightclubs and hit on him. You would go to a place called Troy’s. It’s the downtown mob hangout. You’d wait for me. I’ll hit on you. You come home with me. I live in the Giambetti estate.”

            “Troy’s? How … uncomfortably fitting.”

“Don’t think the irony isn’t lost on me.”

“I’ll do it, Alex.”

            “Think about it.”

            “I’ll do it. I’ll go see Luke in the morning for my instructions.”

            He looked at me and sighed realizing he was losing this battle. “There will be other cases.”

            “Not for me,” I told him. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Lieutenant.”

            “That’s Special Agent Hawkins, to you, young lady.” I smiled. He put his finger under my chin and looked me in the eyes like the sun losing its desire for fire. “God, I hope I don’t regret this.”

***

            I didn’t talk to Sean. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even wait till the morning. I ran down to the station and staked my claim on this job. I was pretty sure Luke would still be there, blaming himself for all that had happened to McCall. It appeared that he had been up all night. His eyes were bloodshot, and he looked quite shaken. Luke reluctantly handed me a piece of paper with my instructions, and after what felt like several hours of him trying to talk me out of this assignment, I went home to get ready. I was feeling a little shaken myself. Was I crazy to take this on?

 My first instructions were to find a beauty salon and get my hair color changed. Apparently, Alex likes blonds, and it had to look authentic. Somehow that little fact didn’t surprise me even a little.

When morning arrived, I headed out to the hairdresser. She turned me back into myself, so to speak, straightened my hair, and sent me on my way. I put on a short red dress, high heels, and extra makeup. Sticking my double D’s into that tight red dress was no easy feat, I might add, but certainly worth it once the task was done. My eyes were bluer than blue with my black eyeliner making its statement. As darkness began to cloak the city, I called a cab and headed for Troy’s. The cab driver asked me twice if I was sure I wanted to go there. I assured him that I knew what I was doing. The truth was that I really had no idea.

            When I walked inside, all eyes were on me. Not that I could blame them. I was stunning. I walked over to the bar and got the bartender’s immediate attention. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in here before,” he stared. “I’m sure I would remember eyes as blue as yours.” As if he was looking at my eyes. I smiled, trying to stay in character. He passed me a quick wink and then checked me out quite obviously. The temptation to remind him where my eyes really were was overwhelming. “What can I get you, pretty lady?”

            “Scotch on the rocks, please.” He raised an eyebrow at me, which made me think I should have ordered something foofier like a white wine or a strawberry daiquiri. He handed it to me, and I sipped it. Alex was supposed to show up with Achilles at 9 and it was 8:55. A man sat down next to me and put his hand on my bottom. To say I was surprised was an understatement.

            “How much, baby?”

            I put my drink down and looked at him. “How much what?”

            “How much for a little piece of this?” He squeezed my bottom. No, I’m not kidding. Then it dawned on me. Oh my gosh … he thinks I’m a hooker. Of course, he does … jeez.

            “I’m not for sale, so if you wouldn’t mind, you can remove your hand now.”

            “Come on, sweetheart, I’ve got lots of cash.” He showed me a roll of bills with his other hand and began to work his hand under my skirt.

            “I told you, I am not a prostitute. Remove your hand.” I reached to move his grip from my very inappropriate area, but he was too strong, and I began to realize that I may have to blow my cover to get him off of me.

            He put his face in my neck and whispered something that a lady would never repeat, so I won’t. At that point, I reached over to where I had sat my drink and threw it in his face. I could see Alex and who must have been Achilles come through the door. They made a beeline for me. The man jumped up and grabbed me, roughly by the arm, unsteadying me as I fell off of the barstool, standing off balance on my heels. “You bitch!”

            “Let her go, Jimmy,” a voice said from behind. I turned and looked. It was Achilles. “She’s with me.”

            The man was visibly stunned and slightly traumatized. “I’m sorry, Mr. Giambetti,” he stuttered. “I thought … I had no idea … I’m really sorry, man … I…”

            “Apologize to the lady, and go home to your wife. You understand me, Jimmy?”

            I rolled my eyes. Of course, he was married. “I’m sorry, Miss, for mistakin’ you for a whore. Real sorry.” He ran off like a cockroach under a flashlight.

“Thank you,” I said to Achilles. Although that was the most ridiculous apology I have ever heard. I tried to steady my hands, but it was tough. I sat back down at the bar in a valiant effort to stop shaking. Alex attempted to come over to me by stepping past Achilles, but Achilles put his hand up to Alex’s chest and pushed him backward. “This one is mine.”

About the Author

Judy Serrano graduated from Texas A&M University-Commerce with a master’s degree in English. She is the owner of Make Cents Editing Services, is an English teacher at a local high school, and an adjunct professor at a local junior college. Judy writes romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and Mafia romance novels. She is the author of The Easter’s Lilly Series, The Linked Series, Ivy Vines Visions, and Unorganized Crime. Although originally from New York, she lives in Texas with her husband and near her four boys. In her spare time, Judy plays guitar and sings at her church, and dotes on her fur babies. 

You can visit her website at https://www.judyserrano.com/ or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Title: ERABON PROPHECY TRILOGY
Author: Randy C. Dockens
Publisher: Carpenter’s Son Publishing
Genre: Christian Science Fiction

An exciting trilogy where an astronaut, nicknamed Nuke and working on an interstellar gate, is accidentally thrown so deep into the universe there is no way for him to get home. He does, however, find life on a nearby planet, one in which the citizens look very different from him.

Although tense at first, he finds these aliens think he is the forerunner to the return of their deity and has been charged with reuniting the clans living on six different planets. What is stranger to him still is that while everything seems so foreign from anything he has ever experienced, there is an element that also feels extremely familiar.

He has to gain the trust from each alien clan and demonstrate through various acts that he is the one they have been waiting for so each culture can fully accept him and follow him. But for the aliens to accept him as the prophet to their deity, Erabon, he has to first accept it and believe it himself.

Book Information

Release Dates: Book One: Myeem: 23-Dec-2020

Book Two: Sharab: 06-Apr-2021

Book Three: Qerach: 01-Oct-2021

Publisher: Carpenter’s Son Publishing 

Link to books on Amazon:

Book One: Myeem: Amazon.com: Myeem: Book One of the Erabon Prophecy Trilogy (Erabon Prophecy Trilogy, 1): 9781952025129: Randy C Dockens: Books

Book Two: Sharab: Sharab: Book Two of the Erabon Prophecy Trilogy (Erabon Prophecy Trilogy, 2): Dockens, Randy C: 9781952025136: Amazon.com: Books

Book Three: Qerach: Qerach: Book Three of the Erabon Prophecy Trilogy (Erabon Prophecy Trilogy, 3): Dockens, Randy C: 9781952025143: Amazon.com: Books

Chapter One

Triton

     “What’s wrong with me?” 

     Nuke waited the fifteen seconds it took for his message to transmit to earth and another fifteen for the answer to return. The wait was a pain, but this was better than no communication at all. Being at the corner of the solar system and circling Neptune, communicating with family on Earth—even if delayed—made life tolerable. 

     Nuke knew what his mom’s answer to his question would be. He smiled as she appeared onscreen. Everyone said he got his good looks from her. His father had more of a dark complexion and rough look to his face. Nuke could see he had his mother’s high cheekbones, olive-tan-colored complexion, and smile, which always displayed a slight mischievous look. He even inherited her slightly wavy hair. 

     In another few moments, he was listening to his mother’s reply: “Yohanan Chaikin, you know there is nothing wrong with you. You’re just unique, just like Yahushua.” 

     Nuke laughed to himself. That was always her answer to this question he had asked both of them many times. What    others saw in him as abnormal, she only saw as special. He stared out the window as he lay on his bunk and contemplated this. The rings of Neptune loomed across the horizon. 

     He focused on his mom. She refused to call him by his nickname, or even his transliterated name, John. If she did, then she would have to admit something was wrong with him. Well . . . at least different from everyone else. He almost didn’t make it into the Academy because of this difference. Thank goodness, the physician in charge at the time persisted to find the cause of his not being able to have an adequate body scan. The doctor found, and used, antiquated medical equipment to pronounce him healthy. 

     Nuke ran his right hand over his left arm. His skin felt normal but apparently wasn’t. Somehow, his skin emitted a low electric voltage that interfered with body scans and other medical equipment that relied on visual readings. Because his skin made the doctor’s equipment go haywire, his buddy, Michael, who entered the Academy with him, dubbed him “nuclear” and shortened that to the nickname Nuke. His friend told everyone in their unit and the name stuck. After a time he put this difference out of his mind . . . until he came here to Triton, one of the moons around Neptune. He then had to go through the same tests and explanations all over again. The medic here took him off duty until Nuke’s “antiquated test results,” as he put it, arrived from Earth. Now Nuke waited, confined to quarters.

     “Yohanan, is it really that important to you to be there?” His mother’s eyes watered. “We miss you.” 

     Nuke shook his head; he wasn’t sure his father missed him. They were always at odds. His father—his whole family, for that matter—was old school, still looking for Mashiach, the Messiah, to come. When he would pressure his father about  this issue, his father’s reply was always the same: It took four thousand years for Mashiach to come the first time. Why would we think he’s late if it takes another four thousand to return? Since the year was 3887, he could never argue that point with his father. 

     “And don’t think your father doesn’t miss you,” his mother said. “He will never say so, but I see him every day. He definitely misses you.” 

     “Mom, I miss you guys too. But I feel this is where I belong. I’m doing important work—work I love.” 

     It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in HaShem, one of the many Hebrew names for God literally meaning The Name, or in his return. But to keep these old customs irritated him to no end. Jerusalem had undergone a lot of changes over the centuries. For the most part, Jerusalem was as modern as any other city. Yet there were sections, like sections where his family lived, where people maintained that their “history” was important to keep. Nuke felt he could no longer be part of that. He had to experience life in this century—not cling to the past. Surely HaShem was God of the future as well as God of the past. Surely. 

     Nuke jumped when he heard a sudden knock on his portal opening. 

     Michael laughed. “Jumpy, are we? Cap needs to see you.” He waved for Nuke to join him. 

     Nuke turned back to his 2-D video feed. “Mom, sorry. I have to go. I’ll talk to you soon.” He disconnected from the feed knowing that, with the time delay, it was useless to wait for a response. 

     He swung his legs over the side of his bunk, slipped his feet into his self-tightening shoes, and followed Michael into the hallway. Michael had been his buddy pretty much his entire life. Both looked similar: about the same height, same semimuscular stature, and dark eyes. The main difference was Michael had dyed his hair a brilliant yellow. Also, Michael was always the more outgoing of the two. Nuke laughed to himself. Michael was the one who usually got them into trouble, and he was the one who figured out how to get them out of it. 

     Nuke looked at his yellow-haired friend. “Where are we heading?” 

     Michael grinned. “Doc feels your nickname suits you.” 

     Nuke stopped in his tracks. “Really? He’s cleared me already?” He squinted. “How do you know this?” 

     Michael shrugged. “Has to be. Cap said he wants us out to assemble the gate, which arrived about oh-five-hundred.” 

     Nuke looked at his chronometer. “That was three hours ago. Why are they waiting for us?” 

     “Beats me.” Michael produced a wide grin. “Must mean Cap knows we’re the best.” 

     Nuke laughed. “Yeah, that must be it.” 

     They walked down the narrow corridor, turned left, and then right to a larger opening which housed the station’s control center. Various people were at stations manning all the functions of the center as well as surrounding space traffic. Captain Bradley was signing something as they approached. He turned. “I just signed off on your medical clearance,” he said to Nuke. 

     The captain motioned with his head for them to follow him to the conference room. 

     As they entered, two officers were already present and seated. Lieutenant Kinsey was a lithe and beautiful woman. Her hair, almost jet black, cascaded onto her shoulders, reflecting the light. She was likely one of the prettiest women Nuke had ever seen. Yet she knew of her natural beauty and used it as a weapon of intimidation. Sergeant Naftum also was seated. He was a little pudgy and ordinary looking yet Nuke always found him a decent fellow. They both stood as Captain Bradley entered and nodded slightly. 

     Bradley motioned for the four of them to sit. He pressed a button on the table and an entire wall came to life with a view of the gate pieces in space above Triton. He nodded to Lieutenant Kinsey. 

     She stood and walked to the wall and pointed. “Each gate is composed of three pieces—” 

     “Each?” Nuke squinted and looked over at Kinsey. “I only see three pieces. Where’s the other gate?” 

     “Each gate,” Kinsey continued, a little louder, seemingly annoyed by the interruption, “is composed of three pieces that must be fused together to form a large triangle. Currently each piece of each gate is bound to each other. Once the pieces are fused, the two gates will be separated to function independently but be linked so one will enter through one and exit the other. These gates will be three times larger than the intra-solar gate near Saturn and the other one here around Neptune.” She looked directly into Nuke’s eyes. “It’s a very dangerous mission.” 

     Nuke glanced at Michael, who swallowed hard. Michael scratched the back of his head. “What’s . . . so hard about such a mission?” Michael asked. 

     Naftum spoke up. “You have to thread the needle.” 

     Nuke looked his way. “We have to what?” 

     Naftum grinned. “Just like you did on Saturn station.” 

     Nuke looked at Captain Bradley warily. Does he know about that?  

     The Captain delivered a slight smile. “The notoriety of your antics precedes you even though some things may not be in your official records.” 

     Naftum gave a slight chuckle. “This time you’re given permission.” 

     Nuke looked at Michael and raised his eyebrows. 

     Michael cleared his throat. “Uh, so . . . what exactly are we given permission to do?” 

     Kinsey pointed to a location on the wall map. “These cables must be threaded through each piece to bind them together. The building crew can then properly mesh these individual pieces together to form and power the interstellar gate.” 

     Nuke squinted. He could barely see where Kinsley was pointing. “What’s the diameter of the cables?” 

     “One meter.” 

     “And of the eyelets?” 

     “Six meters.” 

     Michael coughed. “That’s only about a meter on either side of each wing for clearance.” 

     Kinsey nodded. “Hence the danger.” 

     Nuke ran his hand across his mouth. This was going to be an even more audacious feat than his and Michael’s stunt on Saturn. There they dodged rock fragments in Saturn’s rings. Here there would be much less leeway for error.

    The Captain pressed another button on the conference table. A small door slid open and he pulled out two discs. He handed one to Nuke and the other to Michael. “Study these tonight and report back here at oh-seven-hundred ready to start.” 

     Each man took the disc and nodded. Michael gave Nuke a wide-eyed look but made no other gesture. Still, that spoke volumes. Who else but the two of them would be stupid enough, and reckless enough, to accept such a mission? 

     Nuke grinned to himself. He loved challenges like this.

About the Author

Dr. Randy C. Dockens has a fascination with science and with the Bible, holds Ph.D. degrees in both areas, and is a man not only of faith and science, but also of creativity. He believes that faith and science go hand in hand without being enemies of each other.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Auburn University he went on to graduate school at Auburn and completed his first doctorate degree in Pharmaceutics. He began his scientific career as a pharmacokinetic reviewer for the Food and Drug Administration and later joined a leading pharmaceutical company as a pharmacokineticist, which is a scientist who analyzes how the human body affects drugs after they have been administered (i.e, absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted).

Through the years, he has worked on potential medicines within several disease areas, including cardiovascular, fibrosis, and immunoscience to seek and develop new and novel medicines in these therapy areas.

He has also had his attention on the academic study of the Bible. He earned a second doctorate in Biblical Prophecy from Louisiana Baptist University after receiving a master’s degree in Jewish Studies from the Internet Bible Institute under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Congdon.

Randy has recently retired from his pharmaceutical career and is spending even more time on his writing efforts. He has written several books that span dystopian, end-time prophecy, science fiction, and uniquely told Bible stories. All of his books, while fun to read, are futuristic, filled with science to give them an authentic feel, have a science fiction feel to them, and allow one to learn some aspect of Biblical truth one may not have thought about before. This is all done in a fast-paced action format that is both entertaining and provides a fun read to his readers.

Randy’s latest books are in the Christian science fiction series, ERABON PROPHECY TRILOGY.

You can visit his website at www.RandyDockens.com or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook andGoodreads.

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