Book Tour + Giveaway: PAST PRESENCE, A Novel From NICOLE BROSS! @brossypants @RABTBookTours

Mystery
Date Published: April 1, 2019
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust
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Only by looking into the past can Audrey save her future.
Audrey Eames is happy living the wanderer’s life. After a near-death experience in her teens, Audrey can see people’s past lives whenever her skin touches theirs, and afraid of being labeled delusional, she’s never stayed in one place too long or made any deep connections.
So when Audrey’s estranged aunt dies and leaves her the historic Soberly Inn and Public House on the scenic Oregon coast, Audrey wants nothing to do with it. She’s determined to sell the inn and leave town before someone discovers the power she’s been hiding from the world, but clauses in her aunt’s will seem to block her at every turn.
Yet once ensconced in Soberly’s small town life, the people—particularly the inn’s bartender, Kellen Greene—start to grow on her, and she begins to feel that maybe she’s finally found a place of her own. As accepting as the townspeople seem, Audrey fears their reactions—and Kellen’s rejection—and decides to keep her visions a secret. But all is not well in Soberly. Soon after Audrey arrives, people in town start dying in the same manner as in their past lives—but in this lifetime it’s murder. When suspicion starts to fall on Audrey and Kellen, Audrey vows to use her gift to find the murderer and protect the people she loves—before it’s too late.
 

EXCERPT:

“It’s been nice chatting with you, Miss Eames.” The night coach driver offers me his hand, palm up, as I prepare to step down and off the bus. With a smile, I accept—careful not to put any weight onto his fingers, which look swollen and red with age and the decades he’s been gripping the wheel.
He handed a woman, all swirling skirts, and ruffles, off the carriage-and-four. She was laughing at something her mother had said, but before she stepped up the gravel path leading to the doors of the grand estate, flung open to welcome guests to the ball within, she turned to give him a nod and a half-smile.
“Enjoy your evening, Miss.” He returned her nod as the heat crept up under his stiff white collar, but she had already caught up with her mother, and he didn’t think she had heard him.
The way his hand clasps mine is the same. Some habits carry over from one lifetime to the next, as I’ve learned. The vision lingers in my mind even after I pull away and shoulder my duffel. The manor home looked English, and the woman’s dress was definitely late Victorian.
The sun is cracking the horizon, bathing the village of Soberly, Oregon, all twelve streets of it, in a glow that changes from sepia to marigold. The bus pulls away behind me in a cloud of exhaust and fine yellow sand, off to the next tiny hamlet along the coastal highway, leaving me standing in the empty street.
My destination is clearly visible—there is only one hotel here, the sensible, if unoriginally named, Soberly Inn and Public House. Standing one block away, it faces the sea and even from here I can see how the salt spray has faded the once-cobalt blue paint to a dull cornflower over the years. For reasons I don’t yet understand, the Soberly Inn now belongs to me, and I am here to claim it.
I had no idea my Aunt Roz had even owned the inn. The last time I saw her I was an awkward pre- teen, and she was less than twice my age. I sometimes remembered to email her on her birthday, but not, I’m ashamed to say, every year, although she never forgot mine. Yet despite our distant, superficial relationship, she had left this place to me, rather than the wife she left behind when she died of a rapidly progressing cancer ten days ago. Maybe she was an ex-wife now. I had no idea. We weren’t even Facebook friends. The notification of her death had come via her lawyer, not my father, along with the news that, for the first time in my life, I was a property owner. The news had affected me deeply, more so than I expected. Now, looking at Roz’s prize for the first time, the quiet ache in my chest ramps up to a throbbing spasm before fading again.
This was what my carefree aunt gave up her vagabond life for, and now she wanted me to do the same? I stare up at the building, taking note of the aged wooden siding where the paint has curled away in places, the cracked cedar shingles, and the plain-lettered sign swinging from two chains beside the entrance. ‘Shabby’ was the word that came to mind, and not ‘shabby chic,’ either. I could only imagine the interior was just as dusty and unremarkable as the exterior.
“What were you thinking, Roz?” I say under my breath. My feet are still planted in the same place because I don’t know where to go. There isn’t a soul in sight at this time of day, nor are any of the assortment of shops and businesses that line the main street open. I know there will almost certainly be someone at the front desk of the inn, but although I’ve come all this way, I’m not ready to make an appearance there yet, not without knowing what I want to say, something I’d neglected to plan on the long bus ride. I scuff one toe of my battered Chucks in the sand that’s accumulated along the curb, stalling. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the beach, I decide, as I step into the street with the rising sun at my back. The inn is a problem I delegate to Future Audrey. Right-now Audrey is going for a walk along the coast.
***
As it turns out, the only thing four hours of roaming the beach does is add hunger and the intense need to find a bathroom to my problems. Possibly a sunburn as well, judging from the pinkish hue my skin is taking on. I’ve always felt the injustice of not inheriting the platinum blonde or fiery red hair color that usually accompanies my level of fair skin. There’s nothing even remotely exotic or attention-getting about the flat, medium- brown I ended up with. At least I can be thankful it doesn’t frizz in the humidity, otherwise, I’d look like a positive nightmare right now.
The sun is almost directly overhead when I make my way over the last dune to the boardwalk. Although the village’s one cafe is now open and will serve my requirements, I trudge past it to the inn, standing a bit apart from the businesses surrounding it by virtue of its height, the only three-story building in a two-story town.
Faced with two doors, one into the inn itself and one into the pub, I choose the latter. It takes my eyes a moment to adjust to the dimness, but my stomach reacts to the environment immediately, growling audibly as the scent of fresh-fried fish greets me.
The pub is classic seaside kitsch, decorated with fishing nets and glass buoys, old traps, and a well-worn rowboat suspended upside-down from the ceiling. Maps of the coastline and faded photographs decorate the walls, as well as other assorted nautical ephemera, and together it paints a portrait of the rich coastal history of the town.
I’m still blinking away the daylight, taking this all in, when someone steps into my field of vision.
“Grab a seat wherever you want,” a guy holding a large plastic tub says. He’s clearing empty glasses and plates as he says it. I nod my acknowledgment because the pair of red Beats headphones he’s wearing will certainly drown out any verbal reply. His head is bobbing in time to music only he can hear as he disappears through a door leading to what I assume is the kitchen.
I duck into the washroom first, eliminating one of my problems. The maritime theme continues, with signs for pirates and wenches on the doors, and mirrors framed to look like portholes. Girls can be pirates too, and I don’t see why boys can’t be wenches. Geez, Roz. Sexist much? She’d been an ardent feminist in her early twenties. Had she stopped caring, or was I reading too much into a couple of bathroom signs?
The only table free seats six, so I choose a high stool at the near-vacant bar instead. I’ve arrived right in the middle of the lunch rush, from the looks of it. I still don’t know what to say to anyone here. “Hi, I’m the new owner,” seems arrogant, especially since I have no intention of keeping the place.
A menu appears in front of me, startling me out of my ruminations. Across the polished walnut bar stands a man whose skin is a shade lighter than the wood he’s resting his hands on. His smile widens as he stares at me expectantly.
“Sorry—what?” I shake my head, flustered. Who has teeth that straight, that white? Self-conscious, I half-cover my mouth with the back of my hand. Mine show clear evidence of my two-pot-a-day coffee habit. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe someone of the same vintage as the decor, but it definitely wasn’t someone younger than me, although maybe only by a couple years.

“Drink?” he repeats, jerking his head at the long row of taps, each with a branded handle. Most of them I’ve never heard of, and I’m not a daytime drinker anyway. “This is a pub,” he adds and winks. The bartender who’s well aware of his good looks. I’m familiar with the type. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it my type, but I’d gone home with enough of them over the years.
“Sweet tea,” I say. “Extra ice.”
“Sure you don’t want a pint? Maybe a cold glass of white?”
I shake my head. “Tea’s fine.”
“G&T? I’ll put lots of ice in it.” He’s polishing up a tumbler, reaching for the bottle of Bombay on the shelf behind him. I roll my eyes, but I can’t keep the side of my mouth from twitching.
“Put that back. I just want the sweet tea. Are you on commission or something?”
“Nah, I just want to card you so I know your name,” he says. Unrepentant, he points to the sign nailed to a pillar that states We ID Anyone Under 25.
“You’re off the mark by a few years, my friend,” I tell him. He’s finally pouring my sweet tea from the soda tap into a massive glass full of ice.
“Bullshit.” As soon as he sets it down in front of me, I’m chugging it back, not breathing until the glass is half-empty. He snags it back and refills it while I wipe my mouth with a cocktail napkin. What I want to do is scoop the ice out and rub it all over my arms and face, which are starting to feel alarmingly hot. From all the sun, I tell myself. Not from the attention of this cocky bartender.
“We ID for all food orders too, you know.”
I lean in close and pause before speaking, making it clear I’m appraising him. “Maybe I’m not hungry.”
“You are. I saw you drinking in the smell of the fryer when you walked in. You got this dreamy smile that said you knew exactly what you wanted. So, let’s see it.” He holds out his hand with a crooked, teasing smile, but I push it away with the menu I haven’t even glanced at. He’s right. I don’t need to look at it at all, but I don’t want to admit that he can read me so well.
“You don’t have to show ID to order food here. You made that up.”
“So what? I can make up the rules if I want.”
“Oh, you must own the place?” I mirror his teasing tone, but I’m watching him closely, seeing how he’ll respond. I expect a smart ass reply in the same vein as our banter, but a shadow crosses his face and the smile slips. Shit. The owner just died, you idiot. As usual, the words spilled out of my mouth before I had a chance to think them through.
“I’m not, actually,” he says.
“I know. I’m sorry, that was stupid of me to say.” I bite my lip and plunge forward. “I’m Audrey. Audrey Eames. Roz’s niece. Umm, I’m the owner, I guess. So, they tell me. For now.” The silence stretches out between us as he takes all this in, frozen in place while I sit there, feeling like an utter moron with my hand outstretched, waiting for him to shake it. I’m just about to withdraw it into my lap when a wide grin cracks his face. He grips my hand so our forearms touch and our elbows rest on the bar, like we’re about to arm-wrestle. I’m drawn forward in the process so we’re almost nose-to-nose.
A gaggle of children ran through the field ahead of her and scrambled over the stile. They were jostling each other and shouting raucously, overjoyed to be free of the classroom for the afternoon. All but one, a small boy whose hand was clasped snugly into hers.
“Look, Miss Dean, a nest. The others missed it.” The boy spoke with a thick country accent as he pointed up at the treetops.
“Good eye, Wil. What sort of bird do you think made it?”
“Something big. A kite, maybe.” She nodded in agreement, and they continued on in companionable silence, following the sounds of laughter ahead.
“You totally played me, Audrey. I thought you were just another tumbleweed. I’m glad you’re not. Kellen Greene. It’s very nice to meet you.” The vision of his past- self fades from my mind, and I wonder what qualities he and the teacher have in common.
“A tumbleweed?” He squeezes my hand before releasing it, the pad of his thumb tracing a line up the side of my index finger like he’s trying to maintain contact up to the last possible second.
“Tourists that roll on through town with the wind, here and gone before you know it. They don’t bring anything with them, and they don’t take anything away either.”
“My bag should have clued you in that I wasn’t just passing through,” I point out, kicking it where it rests at my feet.
“Ahh, but there’s only one place to stay in Soberly,” he nods toward the ceiling and the rooms above, “and it’s full up, at least until Sunday.” Kellen walks over to the door leading into the back and swings it open. “Hey, Ma,” he shouts, drawing the attention of everyone in the pub. “Come meet your new boss.”

About the Author
Nicole Bross is an author from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two children and one very large orange cat. When she’s not writing or working as the editor of a magazine, she can be found curled up with a book, messing around with her ever-expanding collection of manual typewriters or in the departures lounge of the airport at the beginning of another adventure. Past Presence is her debut novel.
Contact Links
Twitter: @brossypants
 
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Book Tour + Excerpt: MAN OF MATRIMONY ( The gentleman Inc Series ) by THEA DAWSON!@thea_dawson

Title: Man of Matrimony

Series: The Gentlemen, Inc. Series

Author: Thea Dawson

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: April 2, 2019

 
Liam McGuire.
Annoyingly laid back. Hopelessly unambitious.
Cocky, irreverent, impossible.
My polar opposite.

 

My husband.

 
All my life, I’ve been the golden girl. Ivy League, MBA, the youngest executive at my company. The world lay at my feet.
 
Then the company I put my heart and soul into collapsed in scandal.
My so-called friends have deserted me.
I’m left with mounting debts and a shattered reputation, in danger of losing everything.
 
When a handsome stranger proposes a helping hand, I jump at the chance. I know it’s crazy, but all I have to do is stay married to him until he gets his green card, and he’ll support me until I’m back on my feet.
 
It’s the perfect marriage of convenience … except for the inconvenient way I’m starting to fall for him.
 
Brianna Winter.
Aggravatingly organized. Perpetually prim.
Stuck-up. Straitlaced.
Sex on a stick with a candy coating of complete indifference.
 

My wife.

I thought it would be easy. One year of marriage, and I’d be able to stay in sunny California for the rest of my life.
But one kiss changed everything.
Now, living at close quarters with the beautiful Miss B—with that toned body, that perfect skin, and that brilliant mind—I’m slowly going insane.
The memory of that kiss plays out over and over again in my mind in a kind of carnal loop of lust, but she shows no sign that she feels even the slightest bit of heat between us.
 
I may not survive my marriage long enough to get divorced.
 
MAN OF MATRIMONY is a steamy, standalone romance with heat, humor, and a sexy Irish hero! Happy reading!

Brianna

I’m sorry,” I whisper.

“For what?” he says, not moving.

“I should let you get to bed,” I reply, also not moving.

“I suppose you should.”

Neither of us moves away. Instead, I feel his arms tighten gently around me and one hand comes slowly up to stroke my hair.

Slowly, I tilt my face up to his to see those grey eyes, more serious than I’ve ever seen them, staring into mine.

A foreign emotion … I think it’s shyness … makes me look down again, but then Liam’s hand is on my cheek, tilting my face up toward his, and his lips are on mine, and I’m melting into him.

Our proposal kiss was surprising. Our wedding kiss was awkward. Our grope-on-the-couch kiss was hot.

This kiss … This isn’t like any of those.

His lips are so warm, so soft, so gentle and yet so confident that for a while, the sensation of kissing him is the only thing that exists. The ache in my back and the soreness in my feet disappear. Thoughts of that hot bath melt away—because why would I need it when I can sink into these arms, these lips, the deliciously clean smell of him instead?

Slowly, the sweet, serious kisses start to amp up, getting bolder, braver … hotter. The hand that was stroking my hair is now fisting it, the arm around my waist pulls me against the solid wall of his body and I can feel his arousal pressing into me. My brain cedes control to my loudly purring girl parts, which in turn license my hands to roam those broad shoulders, that hard chest. I run my hands all over him, unable to get enough of the soft cotton of his dress shirt and the firm muscles beneath it.

“I thought you were tired,” I murmur into his mouth. I’d thought I was tired, too, but that’s gone, replaced with a sparking, electric energy that makes my heart beat faster and my breath come quicker.

“I think I’ve found my second wind,” he mumbles, nuzzling my neck. I tilt my head back and he trails the length of my throat with his lips. I shiver, that sparking energy starting to coalesce deep within me.

“Liam …” It’s a question, a statement, a declaration.

A commitment.

“Take me to bed.”
Thea Dawson is a world traveler, vegetarian, salsa dancer, film fanatic, and lover of happy endings. In an alternate steampunk universe, she travels by dirigible and gets in sword fights with dashing villains.
 
In this one, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband/salsa partner, three antic children, and an agenda-driven cat. She writes at the intersection of smart, sweet and steamy; her goal with every book is to melt your heart and brighten your day.

 

Book Tour + Giveaway: HIT ME by PETER J. THOMPSON!@pthompsonbooks @RABTBookTours

Thriller
Date Published: 03/01/2019
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Hitman. Husband. Daddy. Dead man?
Charley Fieldner has everything a man could want: a loving wife, a well-paying job, two great kids, and a beautiful home.
He also has a big secret.
Charley is a hitman with a huge complication—he is his own next target.
The background file contains the sort of details only someone very close to him could know. The suspect list is short but devastating, his wife, father, sister, and best friend. He always thought he could have it all, but the secrets, lies, and betrayals are piling up.
Charley needs time to unravel the mystery behind who wants him dead and why, but time is in short supply. Another killer took the contract. He now has a choice: roll over and die or fight for his life.

EXCERPT:

I step up on the platform as the train pulls into sight. The sun is just starting to rise and it’s still dark. Commuters stand beside the tracks, some strewn out, others in tight clusters. It doesn’t take me long to find my quarry, Alan Silverman. The guy’s exactly where I expected him to be, in a group of commuters at the far end of the platform. He’s easy to spot because first, he is a creature of habit and second, he has a distinctive look.

I’m about average height, five foot nine, but he’s at least a head shorter than I am. In his slick, black Italian suit he looks like an oversized bowling ball with a shiny human head and stubby legs.

The train barrels in and screeches to a halt at the last moment, its brakes squealing and hissing loudly. The commuters bunch up and as the train shudders to a stop they surge toward the doors. I stroll to the far end of the platform and wait in line, well back from Silverman. The doors of the 6:10 inbound to Chicago slide open with a pneumatic whoosh. I move with the crowd as we surge up the few steps and into the train. Silverman turns to the car on the right, as I knew he would.

I follow discreetly behind. He walks halfway up the car and takes an empty seat by the window. The car is already half full and most of the double seats have at least one occupant. The seat next to Silverman is empty and for a moment I consider sitting next to him. What better way to keep track of him and appear innocuous than by planting myself right beside him? But that would be too bold. I work best unnoticed, and, although he probably wouldn’t give me more than a passing glance as I sat down before returning to his paper, it’s not worth taking the chance. I move past him and slide into the seat across the aisle a few rows ahead, making sure I can still see him in my peripheral vision. I don’t even bother looking. The guy’s not going anywhere.

The last few people scurry to find seats as the train starts moving and picks up speed. I slip in my earbuds and settle in for the trip. I have my music on shuffle. The randomness, not knowing what music to expect helps me stay focused on the moment. I close my eyes, lean back in my seat and relax. No need to even think for the next forty-three minutes.

The train starts and stops every few minutes, gathering passengers at stations in Evanston, Davis Avenue, Ravenswood, and Clybourne. Our car soon fills up and the later arrivals have to stand. I mostly keep my eyes shut and focus on the mix. First Wilco, then the Shins, then some electronica. As we pull into Union Station, it’s some bad Gangsta rap I don’t even remember uploading. The train pulls to a stop and everyone rushes out of their seats and herds toward the door. I’d like to hang back, but my seatmate is impatient. He stands and shuffles his belongings around. I take the hint and step into the aisle, even though the doors haven’t opened, and no one is going anywhere yet.

I steal a look back and Silverman is in the aisle, too. We all stand together in a tight scrum. The heady mix of cologne, deodorant soap, sweat, and coffee breath makes me want to gag. We’re much closer together than strangers should ever be. We stand this way for a long minute before the outer doors open and the scrum pushes outward.

Now we are a river, flowing out of the train car, down the steps and into the noisy bustle of the main terminal. The river keeps flowing toward the escalator, which carries us up to street level. I try and slow to let Silverman pass me, but short of dropping down to tie my shoe and risk getting trampled. I’m caught in the flow. Fast food joints and convenience store kiosks line the path. I step off the escalator and duck into one and pretend to scan the headlines of a newspaper. A moment later, Silverman marches past me without a glance. I give him a little space before stepping into the river behind him as we flow toward the street.

The stream of commuters still flows outside as we move along the sidewalk and cross over the Chicago River. The sounds of traffic and the smell of diesel fumes add to the ambience. Now the sun is moving higher and reflecting off the glass of the skyscrapers that line both sides of the street. If I were a tourist, I’d hang back and take in the beauty and energy of the city. But I’m no tourist. I have a job to do. I keep walking.

My job. I consider myself a problem solver. Sometimes the problems are small and require a small
solution, and other times the problems are so big the only solution is drastic. Such is the case with Silverman. Although I don’t know the specifics, Silverman is an attorney, a prominent one. He’s had problems with various groups in the past and isn’t the type who’d win a popularity contest. These aren’t my concerns. I don’t want to know too much about him, good or bad, or it may affect the way I think of my quarry and introduce emotion into what should be a pure business transaction. My employer is an agency that does all the due diligence beforehand. If Silverman’s on the list, he deserves his fate. I have scruples. I trust the Agency to do the research, but I do have my standards.

It’s hard to keep track of Silverman because he is short enough to blend in with the crowd and I’m not tall enough to see over it. No matter. I know where he’s going and how he will get there. I’ve made this same trip four times now—I know what to expect. He works on LaSalle Street, but, by habit, he takes a short-cut through an alley that cuts on a loose diagonal between the two streets, past the trash bins and various service entrances, before connecting back to the main drag. It might save a minute or two, maybe, but it’s part of his daily routine. It’s also the one spot along the way where he is out of the crowd and the most exposed.
Sure, I know where he is going, but I needed to make sure he wouldn’t get sidetracked along the way. Now I know he is on the right path, I want to reach the spot before he does. I adjust my gait and walk a little faster. I weave between the pedestrians and pass Silverman, who is huffing and puffing and doesn’t pay me the slightest attention. I hurry on and, by the time I arrive at the alley, I figure I’m at least half a block ahead of him.

The alley is busier than I hoped. A truck is backed up to a loading dock, delivering supplies, and two young guys are manning their hand trucks while the driver supervises them. A little further on, three Hispanic men stand near a dumpster, smoking cigarettes. One is telling a story, using his hands to sketch out the details, and his buddies laugh. Compared to the street scene this is quiet, but for my purposes, it’s Grand Central Station. I pass the men and turn the curve which leads to LaSalle Street. It’s quieter here. Up on the sidewalk, maybe twenty yards away, the street traffic is a blur of motion. But right here it’s isolated, and this is the place I need to be.

I position myself on the side of the alley and make myself ready. I don’t think he’ll see me until after he turns the corner, and I doubt he’d think twice if he does, but a man standing by himself doing nothing is naturally suspicious. I pull out my cell phone and start an imaginary conversation with myself. Now, I’m perfectly normal and fit in completely.

I’m well into my conversation when Silverman rounds the corner and bobbles into view. He probably hears me talking before he sees me. When he notices me, he swings his head in my direction for maybe a microsecond, long enough to categorize what type of alley life I belong to, and to decide I’m not a threat. Then he is back to his mission. I don’t know why he’s walking but he has plenty of money to take a cab, and the way he is huffing along, he doesn’t seem like he is walking for enjoyment. He must be walking for his health. This strikes me as ironic.

He passes me when I call out his name and take a step toward him.

“Silverman? Alan. Is that you?”

He turns in my direction, a baffled expression creases his face. He stops and gives me the full once over. “Do I know you?”

I take another step forward.

I don’t have the kind of face you’d remember. In fact, there is nothing about me you would find memorable. I’ve been described as doughy, nondescript, a normal kind of guy. I’ve been told I look like an accountant or maybe a truck driver. I’m of average height and average weight. My hair is starting to thin, and I carry a little more around my waistline than I used to, but that’s not unusual for someone in their late thirties. It’s considered ordinary, which I appear to be. And it’s not surprising that he wouldn’t be able to place me, if he ever knew me.

“Alan, remember me? Dick Olson.” I take another step toward him, holding out my hand.

He’s stuck to his spot, but he’s not really buying it. Doesn’t matter. All I need is another few seconds and a few more feet. I keep moving.

“At Gibson’s. You were with Jerry, Jerry Calhoun.”

I’m basically babbling, throwing out names and places I picked up from my research on him. From his expression, I can tell I oversold it. Again, doesn’t matter. This is routine and it will all be over in short order. I am not a big fan of weapons. Guns make too much noise, knives are way too messy. But if you know what you are doing, and I do, hands are all you need. I’m almost within reach.

His hand dips into his pocket and he’s pulling something out. It might be a cell phone, or maybe he wants to give me his wallet. But I don’t think so. The time for subterfuge is over. I lunge toward him.

His hand jerks from the pocket, holding a small can. Mace or pepper spray? I grab for his neck and pull him toward me while I reach for his hand. He gasps. His chest heaves. The guy might have a heart attack before I can kill him.

The spray hits me. Sudden pain. Intense, shattering pain. My eyes tear, my lungs burn, and I can’t breathe. Pain is everywhere. My grip loosens and Silverman twists free. I drop to one knee, but I grab for him again, or at least where I think he is, because I can’t see a thing. I grab at the air and his heavy footsteps pound the pavement, running now. His locomotive breath is so loud it seems to echo off the walls.

I lurch to my feet and head after him. He’s heading toward the street. I have to stop him before he
reaches the safety of the sidewalk. This is a disaster, a royal fuck up and I don’t even want to think about what will happen if I botch this job. He’s running, but even in full panic he’s no runner. I stagger after him. My vision’s blurred, and the pain is just as intense as before, but I force myself to run though I can hardly maintain my balance.

I hear him in front of me as much as I can see him. I’m gaining on him, but even as I bridge the gap between the two of us, the street sounds grow louder still. We are nearly out of the alley and close to the sidewalk. The busy street means safety for Silverman. Surrounded by people, I can’t do a thing, and all he has to do is yell and a crowd will form, police will come, and it’ll all be over. If he makes the street— and he’s almost there—the only thing I can do is slink away.

The truth is, I can’t make it. My lungs are stuffed with hot coals and my vision is shot. He’s too far
ahead. If I had a gun I might shoot, but I’d surely miss and only make matters worse. I keep moving but I already know it’s too late. I blink back the tears and I get a cloudy look at what’s ahead. He’s out of the alley and on the sidewalk now. I’ve lost.

Silverman jerks his head back for a look at me. I can’t see his expression, but I’m guessing it’s one of joy, or relief, or maybe even anger. Or is it still panic, and fear? But he turns again and keeps running, bumping into people but still running, past the sidewalk and right into the street.

A screech of brakes.

A loud thud.

A chorus of yells, screams and gasps break through the background hubbub. I slow to a walk, cross the sidewalk and join the crowd forming around the scene.

A lady lets out a wail of lament. The taxi driver leaps from his cab, his hands aflutter. In his thick
Pakistani accent and high voice, he tells the crowd it’s not his fault. The crowd isn’t listening, their eyes are all on the broken body nearly underneath the wheels.

“Call an ambulance!” a woman yells.

“Too late for that,” someone else says.

I push through the gapers for a good look. The last voice was right. Blood is everywhere, and Silverman is not my problem anymore. The lady lets out a wail again, and I try not to smile with relief. I can’t believe my good luck.

Meet The Author:

peterthompsonfull2
Peter Thompson grew up on the east side of Chicago, in the shadow of the steel mills where the air was sooty and smelled of sulfur. His life wasn’t always so gritty, but the grit and realism finds its way into his thrillers. He has always loved stories of every kind, and one of his joys is finding a way to get inside character’s heads, seeing the world as they see it and feeling their triumphs, pain, and fear. He visualizes his characters when he writes, and they are larger than life in the big screen of his imagination.
Before pursuing his passion and becoming a full-time author, he tried his hand at everything from factory work, breaking cement in a construction crew, running his own pizza shop, and he was a well-regarded presence in the mortgage industry for nearly thirty years. When he isn’t writing, Peter loves, spicy food, live music, and exciting and thought-provoking books and movies. He is a fitness buff who loves to spend time with his grown sons and is looking forward to traveling the world and seeking adventures with his lovely partner.
To get in touch, find out more about future projects, please stop by authorpeterthompson.com. Sign up for his reading list to find out about new releases and receive free perks.
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Book Blitz + Excerpt: TICK COOPER by JOHN VANCE!@victorianvance @RABTBookTours

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YA & Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Black Opal Books
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“I swear by everything I ever owned that my adventure will be the honest truth—even if I had to tell a few lies along the way to get to the meaning of that truth.” So promises Tick Cooper, a twelve year old Ohio boy who’s about to accompany his Uncle Ned down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. It’s the autumn of 1860, right before the election that will send Abraham Lincoln to the White House. With his mother deceased and his father having deserted him for the chance of gold in California, Tick has been most fortunate to receive the care and love of his father’s older brother and his wife—Aunt Clara. Although she has recently passed away, she and Uncle Ned have educated the boy about living a good and proper life. But Tick hasn’t had much of a chance to put what he’s learned into practice—nor to face the moral challenges every young person will face as he or she grows up. But the river journey will provide plenty of those experiences and tests of character. Yet, reaching New Orleans does not conclude the lessons and challenges, for there Tick witnesses a slave auction, and on the block is a thirteen-year-old freed black girl named Clarissa, whom Tick had briefly met in Ohio. Now Tick faces his most significant challenge. Can he help get Clarissa back to Ohio all the way from New Orleans?
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EXCERPT

There I was jumping from the top of one tree to another. It wasn’t exactly as if I was flying, because I had to land on the top branch of each tree, but it sure felt like flying. Geese were following me and honking away like they were trying to warn me about something. But when I decided to forget about the tree tops and just fly, I fell hard to the ground thirty feet below and started rolling down the side of a hill while I was hiding my face in a pillow. I kept feeling the feathers from the goose down pillow sticking out and poking my cheeks and the side of my neck. Try as I might, I couldn’t pull that pillow off my face and it got to be stained with the blood coming out of me. But I kept rolling and rolling until I was stopped by something firm but soft. But by the time I finally pulled the pillow away from my face to see what or who had stopped me, I woke up and I never found out. That happens to me in dreams a lot. Wish it didn’t, though. What woke me up was my Uncle Ned telling me it was time to leave our house and get on the train to Cincinnati where we would get aboard the steamboat the St. Paul and head down to New Orleans. I was about to leave on the greatest adventure of my life. I swear by everything I ever owned that it will be the honest truth—even if I had to tell a few lies along the way to get to the meaning of that truth. Uncle Ned shouted from the front porch of our house in Oxford, Ohio, “Time to catch the train, Tick.” That’s my name—Tick—Tick Cooper. Or what they’ve always called me anyways. Uncle Ned said I’d always remember this day as long as I lived, but I still wrote it down when we got on the train in Hamilton so I’d be sure never to forget— “November the 1st, 1860.” We would ride some thirty-five miles to Cincinnati, the 2 largest city in the whole state. I’d a been on the train only once before—when the railway first opened, when I was six. But what gets a boy excited when he’s six and what gets him excited at twelve are quite different things—so this time I acted all grown up like I’d ridden the railroad every week. I didn’t jump around and bother Uncle Ned the way I did the first time. Even so, it was still pretty special chugging along in such high style. Nothing much happened on the train for the first twenty miles or so, but two more passengers got on and right afterward I heard some commotion going on in front of where we were sitting. “I say that’s my seat you’re sitting in. Get out of it now.” The man who said that was an elderly gent who looked like he had gotten into many tough scrapes in his life. He had long white hair and side whiskers, but what I grabbed my attention most was his scarred-up face. It looked like someone had dug trenches on his cheeks and above his right eye. And he seemed much bigger and stronger than men as old as he was. He was talking to a boy who looked younger than me—maybe nine or ten. The boy was in the seat by himself and was just too scared to say anything back. “You had better come up with a good reason why you took my seat or I’ll rip your nose right off your face, boy.” Because Uncle Ned had fallen asleep, it was up to me to do something. I just had to be sure that boy kept his nose on where it was, so I ran up to the man. “Excuse me, mister. My brother here is in the wrong seat. Come on, Ben. Your seat is back with us.” That boy almost flew out of the seat and headed to the back of the train car. “Excuse my brother, mister. He doesn’t hear well and sometimes I have to tell him things twice.” I turned and walked back to my seat, expecting that that white-haired old devil would 3 grab me and try to take my nose off. But he didn’t say or do anything. He just grunted and sat in the seat I guess he always sat in when he rode on that train. I found out that Ben’s real name was Peter Butler and that he was put on the train by his grandpap so he could take a steamboat from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh, where his mother, father, and baby sister had just settled in a house. I told him I’d look out for him until we reached Cincinnati, where his grandpap’s brother lived and would take him in for the night. We talked about the man with the scars on his face—I mean we talked softly so we wouldn’t wake Uncle Ned or let that old buzzard hear us. I told Peter that some folks believe they really own whatever they use often—cups, chairs, and such–and that it’s easy for someone big to get what they want from someone smaller, who can’t do anything about it. And if that big someone is also real ugly, it’s all the easier. When I told Peter my name, he wanted to know if I was born with it. I told him that when I was born my father named me John Polk Cooper, but those first two names never really suited me much. It was Aunt Clara who first called me “Tick” because when I was a baby I used to burrow into the blanket like a tick into a dog’s back. But the name really stuck when I started running around and hiding in bushes, old dead trees, and holes in the ground. I also like the sound of Tick Cooper better than John Cooper or John Polk Cooper any day of the week. One of my teachers said that Tick Cooper wasn’t as easy to pronounce as John or John Polk Cooper, because the first name ended with a “k” sound and the second name began with the same sound. But she was educated and I guess those things matter to those kinds of folks. Ben said that Polk was a funny name to be stuck with—and it was, but from what Uncle Ned told me I got my middle name because of the then president of the United States, James Polk, who they say kicked the Mexicans out of Texas and took it for the 4 United States. Uncle Ned said that my father thought Polk did the right thing, but from what Uncle Ned also told me, my father once shot a man in the leg who claimed that the twelve feet at the very back of my father’s land rightfully belonged to him. They say the man showed my father the papers, but my father shot him anyways, saying that it was the law that those who live on the land and cultivate it have all right to it. I guess old President Polk never heard of that law when he took Texas. So since I was born on March 3, 1848, I got stuck with a Polk between my first and last names. If I was born three years ago my name would have been John Buchanan Cooper, which was wore then the name I had. As Aunt Clara used to say, “Thank heaven for small favors.” When the train stopped in Cincinnati, we waited until the foul-looking man left the train car before we did. Uncle Ned woke up and finally met Peter, who thanked me for helping him and waited until he saw his grandpap’s brother before getting off the train. I wished he was going to New Orleans instead of Pittsburgh, because I knew I’d never see him again, but my Aunt Clara used to say that the older you get the more often folks would come in and then out of your life—sometimes on the very same day. Aunt Clara. I guess I forgot to say that she was Uncle Ned’s wife and was always like a mother to me, since my own mother died when I wasn’t yet two years old. I’m still very sad that Aunt Clara got real sick and died a few months back. The day before we left Oxford, we went to see her grave at the Old Yard Cemetery. Uncle Ned had been going there every week since she died, but he never made me go with him. I just did it on my own every few weeks or so, but it was more to be with Uncle Ned because I really wanted to go. Not that I’m afraid to visit the graves of all those dead people. I’ve been there after the sun went down with three of my friends and was the very last to run out of there, which won me the wool cap we found snagged on a tree limb the day before. 5 Anyway–at her grave, Uncle Ned told Aunt Clara that he’d be going away for a spell and he’d be thinking of her all the time. He also told her that he’d be taking me with him. She was so good to me—she really was. As soon as we got off the train, we heard a noise on the wooden platform—a kind of “ker-thump” every several second or so, so we looked around and saw a man who looked like he hadn’t shaved his whiskers in a hundred years limping along with a wooden crutch under his arm, which he dragged as he took a step with his good leg. Good leg? I should have said only leg! Uncle Ned reached in his pocket for a coin or two, which he liked to do whenever he saw someone who couldn’t walk or see too well. So I reached in mine and pulled out one of my two new Indian head pennies. My other one was back in my room at home, but I always carried one of them with me for good luck. But when I looked at the coin, I wanted to think that Uncle Ned’s contribution would be enough that the one-legged old soul wouldn’t hold it against me if I jammed my lucky coin back in my pocket. I sure didn’t want to be without luck on my grand adventure to New Orleans. But I didn’t think or act fast enough because the next thing I knew I had put my Indian head penny in the man’s hand. He closed his old fist around it, and I felt like I dropped my hunting rifle down a well. My stomach became as heavy as a cannon ball, and my throat felt as dry as if I had swallowed a campfire. Being charitable isn’t always “its own reward,” as Aunt Clara used to say. The poor man had only limped about ten feet away when two men in fancy clothes, with new top hats and walking sticks came up behind him and started laughing and pointing at his crutch. I guess these were men because they were dressed in all high fancy, but they acted like boys not much older than me. The one in the striped pants took his walking stick and swung it like he was chopping at a low limb and knocked the 6 crutch out from under the old man, who fell to the platform before I could take get close enough to break his fall. Those two dandified gents both burst out laughing as the old man let out one of them painful old man’s screeches, with a whistling sound—probably because he lacked some front teeth. The coins he had gotten from me, Uncle Ned, and some other kindly folks were scattered all over the platform. And then you know what those two popinjays did? They threw down several coins themselves! I couldn’t believe it. I guess they paid for the right to hurt the old man. Or maybe they did it to make sure their consciences wouldn’t bother them none. Uncle Ned told me once that some folks believe they can make up for their being cruel and thoughtless by giving money. And these two gents were nothing compared to what I’d see later on my adventure. But I’m running ahead of myself. When I went over to help up the old man, I saw my Indian head penny about six feet away, picking up the bright sunshine, which made it sparkle. When I got the crutch situated under the old man’s arm, I walked over and picked up the coin. I was afraid someone else would take it and use it to buy something useless. No. Now wait. That’s not all of it. I better come clean or this tale isn’t going to be worth you’re taking the time to read it if I don’t. To tell the honest truth, I picked up the coin mostly because I wanted to think more about his need for it, since four other folks gave the old man more money. I picked up my coin as the lame old man was walking away with the rest of the money that someone had picked up from the platform, along with the new coins just placed in his hand. I knew he wouldn’t miss my Indian head penny—not one bit–and seeing that it and the other penny back home were gifts from my Uncle Ned, I decided to put the penny back in my pocket. For about a second. I caught up with the old man and gave him my good-luck penny for a second time. Maybe I was wrong, but I just felt he needed the good luck 7 much more than I did. Then I heard Uncle Ned calling me, and that was the last I saw of my penny and the old man. But not the last I’d see of those two high-hatted, dandypants scoundrels who knocked the old man down.

Meet John Vance

JOHN VANCE

 

During his career as Professor of English at the University of Georgia, John Vance was the author of six books and numerous articles devoted to literary biography and criticism. He also began indulging his love of theater as actor, director, and playwright, with thirty-five of his plays staged. Now he has turned exclusively to fiction, and is the author of fourteen novels, including the humorous memoir Setting Sail for Golden Harbor and the recently BookBub featured In Mind of the Vampire. He lives in Athens, Georgia with his wife Susan.
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TICK COOPER

Book Blitz + Giveaway: CAUGHT IN THE STORM,A Romantic Suspense Novel from RACHAEL BROWNELL is Now LIVE!@AuthorRachaelB @XpressoTours

Caught in the Storm
Rachael Brownell
Publication date: April 9th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Love can be blinding and by the time the truth shines through, it’s too late to escape.
Fame.

Fortune.

Success.Is that too much to ask?All I need is to catch a break. To snag the attention of someone important. Someone who can help make my career everything I want it to be.

Joseph was that man. Until the night the lights went out and I left with someone else. Someone who stole my breath and made me want for things I’d never considered before.

I should have known better than to trust a stranger. Especially one of his stature and class. Money means power and power means control.

Over my heart.

My career.

My entire life.

My dreams died the moment I agreed to his terms and a new chapter in my life began. I was blinded by my love for him and thought nothing would ever change the way I felt.

Then I uncovered the truth about him. About the kind of man he really was and the secrets he paid good money to keep hidden from everyone.

Now I’m trapped, with no way out.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my book. If you have questions or would like further information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

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EXCERPT:

“I don’t get you, Johnathan. You’re still a mystery to me, but I must admit, I like it. I like not knowing what will happen next. It’s exciting.”

Leaning across the table and taking her hands in mine, I kiss each of them and then whisper so only she can hear.

“And I like that the sound of your voice just turned me on. We’re going to need another bottle of wine before I can stand up from the table thanks to your dirty remarks, my love.”

A fierce blush spreads across Amelia’s cheeks, and a giggle escapes her. She covers her mouth, but it’s loud, and a few tables close to us turn in our direction.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I was just thinking about your little predicament, and I couldn’t help but laugh.”

“Yeah, well,” I start, releasing one hand and reaching under the table. When my hand meets silk, her laugh comes to an abrupt halt. “Two can play at that game.”

The challenge has been laid on the table, and she’s not backing down, uncrossing her legs for me and scooting closer.

“If that’s how you want to play—”

Amelia’s words are interrupted by a camera flash. I knew things were too good to be true. There are three reporters in the lobby taking pictures as Charles attempts to hold them back.

They’ve killed my hard-on, but that also means we can leave now.

 

Author Bio:

An award-winning romance author, Rachael is a midwest girl (yes, they say she has an accent but no, she doesn’t hear it) who loves to create amazing stories that tug at your heart strings. Keep your tissues handy.

When she’s not writing, you can find her on the golf course in the summer or cuddled up with a cup of coffee and her Kindle in the winter.

To keep up with what Rachael is doing at the moment, follow her on social media (IG is her fav) or sign up for her newsletter. bit.ly/2KDE5dG

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Book Blitz + Giveaway: SEER, A Paranormal Romance From HETTIE IVERS is Now LIVE! @hettie_ivers @XpressoTours

Seer
Hettie Ivers
Publication date: April 7th 2019
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Ten years ago, seers across the globe were wiped out, thrusting the supernatural world into figurative darkness.

When word spreads that the first new seer in a decade has been found, powerful forces will hunt her.

The dead will unite to defend her.

And a repressed sadist werelock will abandon his century-long vow of celibacy to claim her as his own.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

LAUREN

He cleared his throat. “I want to ask a favor of you.”

Here we go. He suddenly looked nervous, which made me nervous. I fiddled with the strap of my bag, readjusting it on my shoulder. “So ask it.”

“I want you to stay away from the man you walked home with this afternoon.”

Of all the everloving—“You mean Michael?”

He nodded slowly. “He isn’t who he seems.”

“I only just met him today. We share a class.” Why was I on the defensive explaining myself? “With all due respect, it’s none of your business who I spend my time with.”

“I know,” he acceded after a pause, his jaw tightening. His hand clenched into a fist at his side.

He wanted it to be his business. The confirmation sent an unwanted thrill through me. I squashed it. He was moving away. He thought he was too old for me.

I should’ve just said goodbye to him and entered my suite then, but I didn’t want my time with Kai to be over—forever. Plus, I wanted to see how far I could push his jealousy buttons.

“There a particular reason you want me to stay away from Michael? Something you know about him you’d care to share?”

He hesitated before saying, “Michael works for someone I know. Someone I don’t trust.”

This was getting weird. Go inside, Lauren. “I don’t see what that has to do with me.”

“Nothing on the surface. But I believe you understand more than most that life is greater than what we often see on the surface.”

What did that mean? A nervous, scornful chuckle escaped me. “Next you’re gonna tell me that you and Michael are rival international spies, I’ll bet. Wait, let me guess: you’re here on a high-stakes espionage mission that somehow involves taking turns playing mind games with an unsuspecting college student.”

The mocking smirk slipped from my lips when the light above us began flickering like crazy again—as if Casper was trying to tell me something.

Kai spared an exasperated glare at the ceiling before returning his gaze to me and lecturing, “Lauren, there are limits to what spirits can know. Much like the living, spirits see what they want to see, fear what they want to fear. Always trust your own instincts and your own analysis. Otherwise, your abilities will prove worthless to you in life.”

My cheeks flooded with heat at his sharp—and most unexpected—words. My throat felt irrationally tight.

Kai wasn’t the first to call me out on my fledgling supernormal awareness. My grandmother, of course, along with her close group of seer friends, had known. A few random strangers had picked up on something different about me and had made comments over the years. Heck, a wacky gypsy woman had even approached my mom in the grocery store once when I was six and had tried to buy me off her for the future potential the woman had glimpsed in me. But somehow Kai knowing about my abilities and thinking me ill-equipped to navigate them felt humiliating.

I’d never asked for this. Never wanted it. It wasn’t my fault I’d inherited it—and that there were no great seers left alive to teach me how to use it.

But beyond the initial, knee-jerk embarrassment I felt at Kai possibly knowing my secret, there was also fear. Every muscle in my body had tightened with it. Because more than anything else, the one rule Granny Nina and my mother had always instilled in me was that it was dangerous for the wrong people to find out about my abilities.

Who constituted “the wrong people” was something Granny Nina had never been clear about, though. Which made it near impossible to gauge whether Kai was among them. Based on the frantic flickering and increased humming of the light bulb above, Casper sure seemed to have determined Kai was a danger to me.

“I’m losing studying time,” I made myself say. “I—I gotta go.”

I heard Kai sigh my name and then curse as I spun toward the door to make my escape. I didn’t even get the key up to the lock this time before he was on me, grabbing me from behind and turning me in his arms. Divested of my bag and keys so fast it was as if they’d vanished, I felt my feet come off the ground and my back hit the door. In a flash, it registered that he was actually finally going to kiss me!

No one had ever swept me off my feet to kiss me before. I was so overcome by the sensation of his strong hands digging into my ass and sliding down the backs of my thighs as he maneuvered my legs around his waist that I didn’t have time to get nervous as his mouth descended.

His irises were neither blue nor brown but a dynamic, coalescing mix of the two as they captured my gaze. His lips brushed once. Then he paused for half a breath and pulled back until the tip of his nose was barely touching mine.

No way were we stopping this time.

My fingers slipped into the thick, soft hair at the back of his head, my nails raking against his scalp, pulling him closer as I leveraged my upper back against the door and pressed myself into him.

He reacted by growling and squeezing my ass hard enough to leave bruises before grinding his erection so forcefully into my center I thought I might fly apart on the spot.

At my gasp, his tongue filled my mouth, stroking deeply, claiming it completely.

And I was lost.

My arms wound about his neck and my thighs seized around his waist, my pelvis arching and rocking into him, seeking as much delicious friction as I could get as his tongue plundered my mouth and his hands punished my ass, squeezing and rolling the fleshy cheeks in his powerful grip like he was angry with them—with me.

I couldn’t bring myself to care what he might be so angry about. I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything for that matter—except for how good he felt devouring me.

I sucked hard on his tongue as it stroked inside my mouth, letting him know exactly what I wanted. Needed.

Boy, did I need it. Suddenly, I needed to feel the full breadth of him pushing inside me where I was so wet and desperately empty, the full weight of his body bearing down on me, every ounce of his strength crushing me, every inch of him filling me. And I needed it now like I needed air—like I’d never needed anything before.

The current of energy flowing between us was crazy. It felt just like … well, magic.

It was like the buzz of energy I often felt in my hands when I awoke in the middle of the night. Like the sudden push of otherworldly clarity I felt whenever I was about to get a strong vision or message.

And then it happened. Foreign images—disjointed at first, then more coherent—began flashing through my mind’s eye. Images that made my blood run cold and my state of arousal screech to a halt.

They were visions of a little white puppy being attacked by a pack of full-grown dogs. No, not dogs—wolves. Vicious adult wolves were tearing a little baby wolf apart.

Literally, tearing him apart. His bones were being crushed between their much larger jaws. His fur ripped open, his limbs torn asunder, his blood and innards splattered onto the otherwise pristine snow-covered ground as his shrill caterwauls of pain met the merciless growls of his attackers.

I could hear the horrific sounds as clearly as if I was there, witnessing it.

For a moment, it felt like I was. Instinctively, I knew this wasn’t a vision of the future I was seeing. It was the past.

The torturous attack seemed to go on forever. And yet it was all over so fast—the pack of wolves leaving the broken white wolf pup to die alone on the frozen ground.

Only he didn’t—because he couldn’t die for some reason.

He couldn’t die.

It made no sense, yet somehow I knew that gruesome scene wasn’t the first or last time a pack of wolves had tried to end that poor little white wolf.

I was jolted back to present reality when Kai growled against my mouth and abruptly dropped me. Unable to regain my footing quickly enough, my back slid down the door and my ass collided with the hard floor—just as the light bulb flickering and humming above burst, sending shards of glass raining down.

Pale blue eyes were glaring down at me in disbelief. No, it was worse than that. Kai’s eyes were accusing, regarding me like I was some kind of a monster—like I’d just committed the most unspeakable sin.

Crap. What had I done? Sometimes I got so caught up in visions I lost track of what was happening in the present. I’d clearly done something to offend him. Then I noticed a tinge of blood staining his lip.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to … bite … you?” My statement of apology ended as a question when I tasted blood in my own mouth and felt the sting from a fresh gash as I ran my tongue over my lower lip.

I was the one bleeding. He’d bitten me.

“Have to go.” His tone was emotionless, his piercing eyes dazed. “You won’t see me again.”

KAI

A few months ago, I could’ve easily dismissed Lauren’s vision in the hallway as false retrocognition. Memories of my formative years in wolf form had always been hazy at best, consisting of nothing but a blur of endless incomprehensible pain, deep-seated shame, pervasive loneliness, and sorrow.

They were my wolf’s memories—not mine.

Since finding my human form at sixteen, I’d largely blocked out all years prior—for over four centuries. But ever since first encountering the little seer nine weeks ago, strange memories—each one more disturbing than the last—had begun to surface.

Yet nothing I’d remembered on my own in recent weeks had prepared me for the graphic vision of my past that I’d just unwittingly glimpsed through Lauren’s mind.

It couldn’t be real. I never would’ve survived.

Werewolves were born in human form, and most shifted into wolves for the first time upon reaching puberty. But I was the great anomaly of my species—even within my werelock subspecies. A freak among freaks. As far as I knew, I had been born in wolf form—not human form as all others of my species were.

I had no recollection of my parents. My earliest memories were of being alone in a frozen world, craving contact and connection—and of enduring agony far worse than the isolation and rejection I’d sought to vanquish each time I’d encountered other beings and attempted to connect with them.

I remembered being ostracized as a pup. I remembered being repeatedly mauled within an inch of my life by the very packs I’d sought acceptance from. But Lauren’s vision had presented a bird’s-eye view into one of those brutal attacks that was simply unfathomable. It couldn’t possibly have happened that way. Despite the shocking clarity of her vision, it must’ve been distorted somehow—exaggerated by her emotional response to what she was witnessing.

I’m in charge.

I’m in control.

With each step I took, I fought my inner wolf. With every step that took me deeper into the woods behind Lauren’s dormitory—closer to the scent of Mike Salvatella—it became harder to subvert my inner animal and maintain that control.

His scent was all over her, the arctic beast within me raged. He touched what’s ours!

I sensed my eyes shifting, my claws extending. I was losing control already. Lately, it had been happening too quickly, and far too frequently. With each passing day, my human self remained in the driver’s seat less and less. I could no longer deny the reality I was facing: I was devolving—regressing to my original, primal self. After four centuries of suppression, my true monster nature was reemerging, and he was swiftly regaining control.

It had started nine weeks ago—the moment I’d first scented Lauren. For the past one hundred and eight years since my mate Maribel’s passing, I’d been celibate. After one whiff of the human seer, my wolf had demanded we mount her on the spot. That we devour her utterly.

I’d denied him. Since then, my thoughts had been overrun by the beast’s need to taste the seer’s blood, to tear into her throat and unleash our venom into her bloodstream as our seed flooded her womb. Day and night, he howled for her blood and sex, clawing at me to claim her. It was as if I were sixteen again, fighting the seemingly insurmountable battle to subjugate my dominant wolf nature and accept my new and awkward human form.

Mike came into view. He was waiting for me in the clearing up ahead, leaning against a tree, a lazy grin on his face.

Kill him! Eliminate the threat.

I pushed my wolf down, forcing his claws to retract as I reminded him—and myself—that no one could claim a seer. She wasn’t ours. We couldn’t protect her by attempting to lay claim to her. Staying calm and acting smart about this was the only way to safeguard Lauren.

Mike greeted me with a smug raised brow. “That was quite an intense first kiss for a guy long renowned for the nickname ‘pack priest.’ ”

I snapped in an instant, my eyes shifting, my claws coming back out. “Stay out of her head.”

“Easy.” He held his palms up. “Wasn’t in it. If you don’t know by now that I can keep tabs on people without listening to their thoughts, then your boy Kaleb wasn’t doing his job very well.”

His dig at Kaleb, my Reinoso pack’s deceased head of security detail, did nothing to cool my beast’s ire. Mike served Kaleb’s role within his own pack—the Salvatella pack. While it was a critical role within any pack, it was a tedious task that should’ve been beneath Mike, given his birthright. Many of us had assumed for years that it was a role Mike’s former Alpha and late second cousin, Gabriel Salvatella, had forced upon him. Yet now, with Gabe gone, I wondered if it wasn’t more of a choice Mike had made for himself—in an attempt to retain behind-the-scenes control over everything involving his own pack as well as their rivals. Mike had always been far more powerful and cunning than he preferred to let on.

Still, he was also young and foolish—much like his new Alpha, Raul. Because his next jab went too far.

“Maybe it was a good thing Maribel took Kaleb out before she left the ether, huh?”

Mike’s bloody, cleanly severed left arm was in my grasp before either of us had processed what my wolf had done.


Author Bio:

Hettie Ivers is an accidental romance author who likes to escape the stress of her workweek with a good dirty book—preferably one that’s also funny. Her current career does not allow much time for creative smut writing, but she loves to write after hours and on weekends and strives to publish one to two books per year, as life permits.

To learn more about Hettie and the books she has written, please feel free to visit her website at http://www.hettieivers.com, sign up for her Newsletter, friend her on Facebook, or join her Facebook Group to keep in touch.

Please feel free to follow/connect with Hettie via any of these platforms as well:

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Book Blitz: EIGHTY-ONE NIGHTS ( Beautiful Illusion Duet #1 ) by New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author GEORGIA CATES is Now LIVE!@GeogiaCates

Eighty-One Nights
Georgia Cates
(Beautiful Illusions Duet, #1)
Publication date: April 9th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Beautiful, penniless American girl meets handsome, wealthy Scotsman.
Sounds like the beginning of a fairy-tale romance?
It’s not.
This story begins with a contract.
And an exchange of money.
A lot of money.
An angel perches nervously on one shoulder.
A devil lounges smugly on my other.
And even that dark little bastard is leery of what I’m doing.
Maxwell Hutcheson wants the girlfriend experience.
All of it.
And I’m going to give it to him.
I’m not supposed to enjoy being his whore.
I’m also not supposed to fall in love with him.
But I do. Both.
When our contract expires, I will walk away.
Because I have to.
But he’ll always have a piece of me.
I’ll mask my sorrow with a smile.
I’ll hide my love with indifference
… all while it’s killing me softly.
A fairy-tale romance.
It isn’t mine to have.
And this man I’ve come to love so dearly isn’t my happily ever after.
About Eighty-One Nights:
While the characters from Eighty-One Nights are entirely new, their storyline is a combination of fresh material and carefully selected themes, scenes, and settings from The Beauty Series, The Sin Trilogy, Dear Agony, and Indulge. This is intentional. I chose some of my favorite elements from previous releases and interjected them into Hutch and Lou’s story. Let’s call it a “story fusion” between our old favorites and new material. This work was briefly released under a pen name and was titled The Girlfriend Experience.

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EXCERPT:

I’m standing on a platform, the wall in front of me covered with a floor-to-ceiling mirror. I feel like I should be trying on wedding dresses in a bridal boutique, waiting to say yes to the dress so that I can be jacked up with a veil and jewelry.

Cora taps the center of my back directly between my shoulder blades. “Stop slouching.”

She walks down the steps of the platform and looks up at me. “What is your European shoe size?”

“Thirty-six.”

“Valerie, bring the seventy-five-millimeter black peep toes in her size.”

Good Lord. This woman has an assistant for everything, even shoe fetching.

“We’ll begin your stride training with lower heels and work our way up to the higher ones.”

Cora is short like me, but you don’t notice until you look at her tall heels and see that four inches of her height can be attributed to her shoes.

Valerie returns and places the black pumps on the floor in front of me.

“Louboutins.” I didn’t intend for that to come out. And I definitely didn’t mean for it to sound so covetous.

“I understand. You’ve never had shoes like these, but your closet is about to be filled with countless pairs like them along with designer clothing and handbags. You represent Inamorata. You represent me. It’s crucial that you always look your best, but your job right now is to be my student. Listen to me and you’ll learn how to entertain some of the wealthiest and most influential men in Scotland.”

That’s a frightening thought.

“You aren’t at all concerned that your clients won’t like me?”

“You’re going to be a polished gem when I finish with you. No part of you will be unlikable.”

I’m pretty sure that she’s wrong about that.

“Not everyone loves Americans.” I’ve lived in Scotland for six years, but I still consider myself American—my first sixteen years were spent there.

“Inamorata clients are going to love that about you. You’re a different flavor from my other girls.”

I hear what she’s saying, but I look at myself in the mirror and can’t imagine any high-class Scotsman who would be willing to pay big bucks for my company. I’m nobody.

“What’s wrong, Caitriona?”

“I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be. I do background checks on every man before accepting him as a client. I reject anyone with even a hint of a questionable past.”

“That’s not the kind of afraid that I’m talking about.”

“Well, I need you to explain what that means before we go any further.”

It’s embarrassing to admit my fears. “What if they don’t think I’m pretty enough? Or smart enough? Or interesting enough?”

Cora claps her palms together twice, making a high-pitched slapping sound. “Everyone out. Now.”

Her three assistants scramble to get through the door, nearly running each other down. I truly believe that if Cora told them to jump, they would ask how high.

She comes up on the platform, standing behind me. She grasps my upper arms and looks over my shoulder at my reflection in the mirror. “Look at the woman staring back at you. Who is she?”

“Caitriona Louden.”

“You’re stating the obvious and it’s a waste of my time. Look deep inside of the woman in front of you, and find the wee lass beneath her surface.”

Find the wee lass beneath my surface? No way. That’s stupid.

I shake my head. “I don’t want to do that.”

“I don’t care if you want to do it or not. You’re going to if you want to work for me. The choice is yours.”

I contemplate walking out. I want to so badly, but I can’t. I need money.

“What do you want from me?”

“Start by taking a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and think about what you see.”

Long brown hair, thick and often unruly. Hazel eyes, more green than brown after I’ve had a good cry. Fair skin, a few scattered freckles across my nose and cheeks. Short and small-framed.

“Are you pretty?” Cora asks.

“According to others, I am. But I never was in my mother’s eyes.”

“What did your mother say to you about the way you look?”

God, you look just like that Scottish bastard. I heard that from her so many times that it became as much a part of my DNA as the X chromosome that he gave me. “She said that I looked like my father.”

“Did she hate him?”

“She did eventually.” His marriage to Heidi changed everything. My mother couldn’t take his being happy with another woman.

“She saw him when she looked at you?”

“Yes.”

“We grow up and become women, but no matter how old we get, we always have a wee lass living inside of us.”

I’ve never heard anyone say anything like that, but I suppose it’s true at least to some degree.

“Tell me about the wee lass inside of you.”

Little Caity Louden. She’s not someone that I like to think about. Her story isn’t a happily-ever-after fairy tale. “Her father abandoned her before she was born. She was raised by a single mom in the trashiest part of New Orleans. Her mother worked at a bar on Bourbon Street, but she drank more cocktails than she served.”

“Keep going.”

“She learned at a very early age how to fend for herself because no one took care of her.” No one loved her. It’s hard to admit, even to myself only in my head, that the one person in this world who was supposed to love me unconditionally didn’t.

“And?” Cora says.

“Her tears ran dry and her delicate, soft heart hardened. It turned to stone.”

Cora nods. “Stone is strong and resilient.”

My eyes move to hers. “Stone is cold and resistant to penetration without being broken.”

“Also true.”

I look back at myself. “I’m damaged. Something’s missing inside of me. A piece of me is not here.”

Cora walks around and stands in front of me so that we’re face-to-face. “Strong people don’t have easy pasts, and the scars they carry prove that they are stronger than whatever tried to hurt them. You’re a warrior and a beautiful young woman who is deserving of good things and happiness. You’re special, Caitriona, whether you realize it or not. Our pasts aren’t all that different; I understand you far better than you can ever imagine.”

Cora’s words are… empowering and soothing at the same time.

She crouches, unnecessarily repositioning the shoes in front of me, and I see the act for what it truly is. She’s lowering herself and elevating me. “Toes go in first, beautiful warrior.”

I grow three inches when I step into the shoes. She stands upright, and it feels good to look this powerful, independent woman in the eyes. She makes me want to be stronger.

“Diamonds are beautiful. And they’re also flawed. They don’t crack but they do cut.” Cora places a finger beneath my chin, lifting it slightly, and looks directly into my eyes. “Be a diamond, Caitriona.”

 

Author Bio:

Georgia Cates is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author of The Beauty Series. She resides in Mississippi with her husband and two daughters. Please visit georgiacates.com for additional information.

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81 nights

 

Today We Have The Cover Reveal for NO STONE UNTURNED by ARIANA ROSE, Ariana is Also Delighted To Share The Gorgeous Recover of TURNED TO STONE!@InkslingerPR

Today we have the cover reveal for NO STONE UNTURNED by Ariana Rose! Ariana is also delighted to share the gorgeous recover of TURNED TO STONE with us! Check it out and be sure to sign up for Ariana’s newsletter for release alerts!

Title: NO STONE UNTURNED

Author: Ariana Rose

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: May 7th

About No Stone Unturned:

The enemies of my past are everywhere.

My demons are trying to take over me but for the first time in my life, I have something worth fighting for.

I let her go once, but I’ll be damned if it ever happens again.

I begged her to have faith, now she’s finally ready to take a leap with me.

I will be here to catch her with open arms.

This is our time.

This is our life.

This is our love.

I will leave NO STONE UNTURNED to keep her safe from harm.

She is MINE. Now and forever.

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Exclusive Excerpt:

Alexandra slides the balcony door open. The cool night air drifts in and blows the curtains in a ripple. She steps out, grabs the rails, and turns her head skyward. Her green dress and the hair down her back float like the curtains. I follow Alexandra’s footprints in my rug out into the night…and her.

I slide my hands over her shoulders and slowly down her arms. “Would you tell me what you’re thinking? Are you regretting coming up here?”

Her head lowers. “No. Not even a little.”

I know she has more to say, so I let the noise of the city fill the silence between us until she continues. “I had a dream once I never told you about. I had a conversation with Lainey. It was in a place just like this.”

That admission hits my heart in an unexpected way. “You did?”

“Julian, when we were in Savannah, it was not the time to talk about her or ask questions unless you did. I know some of the loss you feel. I watched my dad. I felt things myself. The things that were most important to me then, and still are now, are that you are ready and that you know I would never, and will never, try to take her place. I want you to feel like you can share her with me. Knowing her will only allow me to know you better.

“I’ve thought that for a long time. So, much like I talked to my mother at the Falls, I talked to her in my alone time in Savannah. Being here, now, closes that chapter for me. I knew I would know if it wasn’t right the minute I stepped in here. My anxiety is gone.” She turns her head so her chin touches her right shoulder. “I can breathe.”

God she’s stunning. Inside and out.

About Turned To Stone:

I needed to repair the cracks in the foundation of my soul.
Find the strength to overcome.
I needed a new city. A new job.
Something that would take me away from everything and everyone
that chained me down in my past.
He needed the same things as I did, but his nightmares were bleeding into everything he touched.
He was living his dream by day, and haunted by his past at night.
For the first time in my life, I wanted to leap head first into the unknown.
And when I did, he caught me.
We could be the key to tearing down the walls within ourselves.
Together, our broken parts could finally be made whole.

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About Ariana Rose:

Ariana, a full time working mother of two children and one fur baby from Minnesota, took charge of her dream and published her first novel in 2017. As a figure skater, lover of sports, television, all things 80s, and music, she is an eclectic soul with a zest for travel and history. She is a firm believer in following your heart and in knowing that without a doubt, passion is never a bad thing.

 

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Book Blitz: THE IRRESISTIBLE SPARK by ABBY TYLER is Now LIVE!@abbeytylerauthor @XpressoTours

The Irresistible Spark
Abby Tyler
Publication date: April 7th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

She started the blaze. The firefighter fanned the flame.

Abby Tyler welcomes you to the witty, well-meaning busybodies of Applebottom, Missouri, where the community takes its pies — and its matchmaking — very seriously.

Lorelei Spencer is over that loser who wasted the last few years of her life, and she’s going to prove it.

After she’s had enough mourning and midnight rage-crying, Lorelei dumps all the clothes, stuffed animals, notes, and mementos from the relationship on her front lawn. Then, she sets the pile ablaze.

It feels great.

Until it catches the grass on fire, too.

Volunteer firefighter Micah Livingston arrives on the scene and handily douses the blaze. But the fire he puts out sparks a new one in his heart when he realizes this feisty woman with a zeal for life might be exactly what he’s been looking for.

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EXCERPT:

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.

Lorelei couldn’t take her eyes off the fire. What had seemed like a great idea five minutes ago was now clearly her worst ever.

The pile of wadded-up paper, bedding, clothes, and mementos had gone up in flames more swiftly than she would ever have predicted. But then the singed grass of the yard, hot and dry at midsummer, had started smoldering.

Several heads turned up the street at the same time. Lorelei followed their gazes to see what was more interesting than her front yard blaze.

It was definitely worth a look. A dark-haired firefighter, partially dressed in yellow gear, ran full speed up the street.

She felt imprisoned, unable to move.

“Is that the girl who started it?” he asked her neighbor, not taking his eyes off her.

“That would be the one,” Arnold said.

“She from around here?”

Lorelei puffed with indignation. Pretending not to know a born-and-bred citizen of Applebottom was pretty much the biggest insult you could make in this town.

She stomped right up to him. “Micah Livingston, you know good and well that I’m Lorelei Spencer. You went to high school with my sister Mandy.”

Micah’s eyebrows shot up. “You’re little Lori? The spunky snot-nosed kid who used to steal cupcakes out of Mandy’s lunch?”

Nobody made fun of Lorelei Spencer, not even a hottie firefighter.

Author Bio:

Abby Tyler loves puppy dogs, pie, and small towns (she grew up in one!) Her Applebottom Matchmaker Society books combine the sweet and wholesome style of romance she loves with the funny, sometimes a-little-too-truthful characters she remembers from growing up in a place where everyone knew everybody’s business.

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TIS

 

Book Blitz: THE LAST HUMANS, A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller From STEVEN M. MOORE!@StevenMMoore4 @RABTBookTours

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Post-Apocalyptic Thriller
Published: March 30, 2019
Publisher: Black Opal Books
 
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The apocalypse kills billions—numbers so large that most survivors’ minds snap shut. Foes of the U.S. have attacked with a bio-engineered contagion that spreads around the world.  One of only a few survivors, Penny Castro, ex-USN diver and L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy, reacts differently. She fights back and creates a life for herself where death is the common denominator. On a forensic dive, she is interrupted. When she surfaces, she finds all her colleagues dead, so she has to battle starvation, thirst, and gangs of feral humans until she ends up in a USAF refugee camp. A post-apocalyptic thriller for our times, Penny’s adventures will entertain and shock you into asking, “Could this really happen?”
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EXCERPT

One week later I learned the truth in the adage that you can be a victim of your own success. Even though I’d insisted that I didn’t want any more violence in my life—the trip to the Valley was more about curiosity almost killing this cat—the USAF now considered Ensign Penny as an asset, although a reluctant one.
“I’ve never been to Vandenberg,” I told Rodriguez.
He stood before me looking a bit forlorn. Couldn’t see him well from my camp chair with the blazing sun at his back. “If it’s any consolation, I tried to dissuade the colonel because I know you don’t want to participate.”
“Why do they think I’d want to participate?”
“One major reason: we airlifted someone from the Santa Maria area who had managed to cobble together a coded message we could recognize and broadcasted it at a radio station.”
Thought of my own broadcast. Wondered if it was still hitting the airwaves. Thought a moment more. “I’m guessing he’s from Vandenberg.”
“She. There’s a top secret satellite there Cheyenne Mountain wants us to recover, and she knows where it is.”
“So La Femme Nikita will be our guide to recover something completely useless?”
“Why useless? Cheyenne Mountain doesn’t think it’s useless. She doesn’t either.”
“How are you going to put it into orbit, flyboy?”
He upended a pail and sat near but still facing me. He looked around. “We—she thinks there’s still a rocket ready to launch there.” His voice was a whisper.
“Gee, why don’t you just use it to pay back the jerks who did this to us? Or bring back the astronauts and cosmonauts for burial?”
“The rocket can’t handle that kind of payload. Besides, the satellite is more important.”
“Describe it.”
“I can’t, but it will help this country get back on its feet again.”
“You mean that no comsats are online?”
He hadn’t changed expression when I made that deduction. “They’re still up there, but the Mountain can’t wake up all of them. There’s some evidence that enemy anti-sat missiles blasted the silent ones with EMP bursts just before the others carrying the plague hit the West Coast. And they weren’t just comsats that were affected. I can’t talk about details. Many of them are missing anyway. Key people who knew a lot died at the Mountain too.”
“I’ll need details.”
“You won’t get them. You’re considered a civilian.”
“But why should I help you then?”
“Because our survivor says your brother is in the group that took over the base. She barely escaped.”
My brother is alive! “Wait! You want me to convince him to surrender? No way. I can’t do that. Is that your second reason?” He nodded. “My brother and I have been estranged for years. I don’t want to even see the SOB again…ever!”
“Would you at least talk to Rebecca?”
“Is that the woman from Santa Maria?” He nodded. “Why would that accomplish anything?”
“You’ll see. Just talk to her. That’s not her name, by the way. We created an alias just for you.”
“Gee, thanks, for all your trust.”
***
“Looks like you could use some of this,” said Ben, sitting a half-filled bottle of Dewar’s on our little camp table that evening. Made our little tent in the refugee camp seem more homey.
“Only if you share some,” I said.
He pulled up the other camping chair. “You need it more than me, although I’ll take a few sips. Want to talk about it?”
I didn’t care about national security. Alejandro had said it: I’m a civilian! I told Ben everything I knew. “What should I do, Ben?”
He took a sip—I’d already downed half a water glass—and thought a moment. “It’s your decision, but I’d consider it an opportunity.” He waved a hand in a circle. “Everything has changed. The reasons for your estrangement with your brother are irrelevant now in these terrible times. It might be worthwhile to mend fences with the gentleman.”
Gentleman? I smiled. My Ben was such a gentle soul. How could he know how Bobby had treated Mom, how he took sides with Dad, and what a controlling jerk he had been in my life?
“You’re focusing on my brother,” I said. “What about that satellite?”
“If they’ll use it to beef up comlinks, it might be justified as a way to stitch the country back together again. Right now Hannibal and his jet pilot friends are about as good as the Pony Express was before telegraph and the railroads. All the com here is pretty local, unless somebody is willing to chance bringing TV and radio stations back online. Don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
“Maybe having the whole country connected wasn’t a good thing,” I said. “People would just get on their soapboxes and proselytize and other people would get angry about it and do the same thing. Smaller groups might get along better.”
“From a sociological and anthropological point of view, you might have something there. Homogeneous tribes got along because members who didn’t were thrown out. That’s easier to do within a small group. But even Native Americans, Egyptians, Macedonians, Greeks, and so forth formed cities, states, and empires, ones often evolving into despotic regimes.”
“Ben, I don’t need a history lesson about why human beings suck,” I said. “Small groups are like big families.”
“And big families can be ripped apart by contrary actions and opinions,” he said. “Yours is a case in point.”
“Which is why I’m very happy to have had the opportunity of choosing my present one,” I said with a smile. I’d long ago decided that Ben and Sammy were my family. Talk of my brother disturbed me.
***
I spent a night of insomnia thinking about my choices, even in the throes of my drunken stupor. I didn’t want to make a decision. I didn’t want to think about the USAF, the Navy, my government, or my brother. And I didn’t give a rat’s ass about Cheyenne Mountain.
The next day, Alejandro took me to see Rebecca. I think he would have done it even if I’d committed right away, but not doing that made it also a meeting for her to try to convince me.
I was left in a small conference room somewhere in some base building in Edwards. Figured it belonged to security because it looked like an interrogation room in my old sheriff’s substation. Waited about five minutes until there was a knock at the door. A woman entered, moved slowly around the table, and took a seat opposite me.
“You can call me Rebecca,” she said, placing hands palms down on the table’s edge. She seemed to be focused on the wall behind me, her gaze about six inches over my head. Huh? I then noticed the hands. They were prosthetics, maybe the best I’d ever seen, but prosthetics nonetheless. “You have heard the general outline of our problem. I’m here to answer your questions.”
“I’ll call you Becky,” I said. “You were picked up in Santa Maria? Were you at Vandenberg?”
“Yes. I’m a scientist. I was working there and living in Lompoc.”
No expression. I stood and went to the window to peer through the blinds and bars at an expanse of tarmac, much of it now sprouting weeds in the cracks of the asphalt and concrete, about the only thing that managed to grow without water, although even the weeds looked dry. Her eyes didn’t follow me.
She continued. “It’s no different than other bases. Andrews and Edwards are in better shape, though.”
“You follow my sound. Are you blind?”
“I’d probably be called just ‘legally blind’ years ago, but that definition was used by the authorities. Now it doesn’t matter.”
“Did that happen on Vandenberg?”
“Yes. A small group wreaked havoc, especially among the scientists. We were blamed, you see. I and a few others escaped.”
“Did you build military satellites?”
“Some of them. The one we want to launch in particular. Do you want me to elaborate on what we’ll use it for?”
“Military communications?”
“For now, the government is the military, and it’s handling most of its communications piggybacking on the military’s. This satellite will aid in that process and help bring the country back together.”
“And you think that’s a good thing?” I watched her body language. I had some interrogation training when I became a deputy. She didn’t realize that I was interrogating her; she probably thought she was there to convince me.
“It will help. It’s not the complete answer.” Her sideways response to my question annoyed me. “There will be no quick solutions.” Roger that! “We’re doing the best we can.”
“We? After all that happened to you, you’re still ready to aid the government? Don’t you think they share some of the responsibility?”
“Perhaps. After careful analysis, though, I think they don’t share much culpability.”
“You’re blind and with prosthetic hands, and you still say that?”
“Our government didn’t do that, Penny. I lost my eyesight and hands in an explosion caused by the group I mentioned. I survived. Many of us didn’t.”
“OK, why me? I have no favorites in this fight. I just want to live whatever life I have left in peace with my family.”
“Your brother was one of the leaders in that group.”
I returned to my chair and buried my head in my folded arms on the table. Oh, Bobby, what have you done?
I felt like crying because I could understand Bobby’s sentiments. I often figured that somehow our government had failed us. Supposed the Vandenberg scientists and technicians were the obvious scapegoats. Maybe all over the world? Maybe in whatever country or countries that launched the missiles carrying the plague? Politicians will pay scientists tons of money to do their dirty work, but that didn’t mean they were responsible. The politicians were like the pimps, the scientists like their whores.
“OK, tell me what you want me to do,” I said to Bec.

 

Meet Steven M. Moore

STEVEN MOORE
Steven M. Moore is a native Californian who lived and traveled abroad before settling on the East Coast. The reader can observe in his fiction the great appreciation he has for diversity in character and culture and our common hopes and desires. His fiction work contains many novels in the mystery, thriller, and sci-fi genres, including four series and young adult novels. In The Last Humans, he returns to his native California to ponder a possible future.
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THE LAST HUMANS