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Excerpt reveal: Maximilian’s Treasure, by James D. Bell

maxstreasure-forprint
Genre: Romance/Adventure 
Author: James D. Bell
Find out more on Amazon       
About the Book:
Rumors of a legendary treasure fuel a battle over possession of a Choctaw family farm.  Two young lawyers, John Brooks and Jackson Bradley, agree to help the family keep their farm.  Early legal success prompts the drive-by murder of the patriarch of the family.  The grandson chases the suspects whose bodies are found on the farm, scalped.  At the same time clues to a vast treasure are found on the farm.  Jackson, pursued by fortune seekers, adventurers, an exotic beauty and a homicidal maniac, follows the clues from a Caribbean reef to the Chiapas jungle.  John stays behind to defend the grandson and continue the fight for the farm.  His efforts are complicated by arson, murder, race riots, and the realization that he lost his one true love.  Though there is great distance between them, their adventures are intertwined as they rush toward a triple climax that could shake the world.  Join the adventure and discover your Maximilian’s Treasure.
JamesD.Bell-Photo
About the Author:
James D. Bell is an award-winning author and retired Judge who received the highest bar association approval ratings ever given to a Mississippi Circuit or County Judge. He is listed in Preeminent Lawyers, Outstanding Lawyers of America and Top 100 Attorneys of North America.  He is the author of two novels, Vampire Defense and Maximilian’s Treasure.  His short story, The Adventures of Sherlock Hound, was published in Mardi Allen’s collection, Dog Stories for the Soul, alongside stories from Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Willie Morris and others.  The son of a Choctaw mother and a Mississippi businessman, Judge Bell is devoted to his wife, Joanne.  They live near Jackson, Mississippi and have four children.  Judge Bell returned to law practice but is frequently called back to the bench by the Mississippi Supreme Court for short term assignments.
 
Find out more: 

 

EXCERPT

“Why did this have to happen?” cried Erma as she sat on the couch, her head in her hands.  Karen sat next to her with her hand on Erma’s shoulders, trying to comfort her.  The deputies were interviewing witnesses one at a time.  Most family members waited on the porch for their turn to be questioned.  Jackson, Peter and Karen sat with Frank and Erma in the den.

“It’s the treasure,” said Frank in disgust.

“How do you know it’s the treasure?” asked Jackson.

Peter sat on the edge of his chair and listened.

“He’s right.  It seems that everything bad that happens to this family has something to do with that old treasure.  I hate that treasure,” said Erma.  “It has brought nothing but sadness and tragedy to us.  It doesn’t even exist.  It never existed.”

“Yes, it does.  But I would give it up in a minute if I could undo all that’s happened,” said Frank.

“It doesn’t even have to exist to kill us.  People believe in it, and we get killed.  Nothing good has ever come from that old rumor.  I hate that treasure,” repeated Erma.

“I don’t blame you, after what I saw today,” said Karen.  “What else has happened?”

“The list is too long.  So many things have happened over the years.  There was the cave in at Hummingbird Well, where Frank found that coin.”  Tears filled Erma’s eyes. She excused herself and retreated to the bedroom.

Frank shook his head.

“I found the coin in Hummingbird Well, over near Pinishook Creek.  It was an old fashioned well.  We lowered a bucket on a rope.  One day, when I pulled the bucket up, I found the coin.  The one I showed Mr. Brooks.  I always believed the gold was in Hummingbird Well.  To me, it confirmed the rumors about the treasure.   We searched around the well and the creek, and then we started digging up the well.  The sides fell in.  Erma’s two boys were trapped.  We could hear them calling for us because the water was rising.  They drowned before we could get to them.”

“Oh, no!” said Karen as she rose and tapped on the bedroom door.  Karen cracked open the door, looked back at Jackson, Peter and Frank, and stepped into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

Peter, Jackson and Frank sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Did you find any gold in the well?” asked Peter.

“No.  We never found the gold.  I believe it’s still there.”

As Frank said that, Erma returned to the room, wiping her eyes, followed by Karen.  “I’m sorry.  I’m alright.  I dealt with this a long time ago.  It’s just that the murder of Uncle German brought up old wounds.”  Karen put her arm around Erma, who gave Karen a hug and said, “Thank you.  Frank still believes that gold is in that old well.  He can have the gold, for what good it’ll do him.”

“Maybe Frank James lost one coin or dropped just one coin down the well,” guessed Jackson.

“No.  We were told that Sankky’s last words were something like, ‘You will draw the gold from the hummingbird.’ They say it was hard to understand her exact words when she died, but she said something like that.  We knew that she named the old well, Hummingbird Well, so I knew we would find the gold there,” said Frank.

“That’s why Frank was drawing water from the well,” said Erma.  “He always thought he would get lucky one day and draw gold up from the well.  One day he finally did.  We thought that was a great day.  But, then tragedy struck.  That gold is cursed,” said Erma, almost spitting out the word cursed.
A thought struck Karen, and she sucked in a little air. Her eyes darted around the room and came to rest on the hummingbird painting.  “She said ‘draw’ and ‘hummingbird.’  Erma, may I look behind Sankky’s painting?”

Erma starred at Karen for a moment, then she turned and looked at Frank, eyes wide open.

Frank said, “Well, I’ll be.”

“Yes, darlin’, you can look,” said Erma.

Everyone’s eyes were glued on Karen as she walked to the hummingbird painting.  She lifted the frame from the wall and laid it face down on the checker table.

“Can someone help me get the back off of this frame?”

Frank used a pocketknife to pry off the back of the picture.  Everyone leaned in to get a better look.

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On the Spotlight: ‘False Flag in Autumn,’ by Michael Bowen

Title: False Flag
Genre: Political Thriller
Author: Michael Bowen
Websitewww.michaelbowenmysteries.com              
Publisher: Farragut Square Publications
Find out more on Amazon
About the Book:  
 
Josie Kendall is an ambitious political apparatchik whose memoirs will not be titled Nancy Drew Goes to Washington.  Josie has no objection to the truth—but she doesn’t let it push her around.  When a rogue White House aide tries to use her as an unwitting pawn in a plot for a spectacular October surprise before the 2018 mid-term elections, Josie calls on her D.C.-insider husband, her edgy uncle, and colorful denizens of the Louisiana demi-monde to help her out-hustle the hustlers.  But then Josie finds herself facing an even more daunting question:  is there a false-flag attack planned in order to influence the 2020 presidential election?  Josie will be forced to decide whether to venture out of the Beltway cocoon—where the weapons are leaks, winks, nudges, and spin—into a darker world where the weapons are actual weapons.  Josie will end up on the side of the angels even if, Josie begin Josie, the angels play a little dirty.
About the Author
 
Michael Bowen recently retired from a 39-year career as a trial lawyer. The author of nineteen published novels, as well as scholarly and political commentary, Bowen is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served on the Harvard Law Review. Bowen and his wife Sara, a noted lecturer on Jane Austen and Harvard Law graduate, live in Fox Point, Wisconsin.
Connect with the author on the web:

 

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‘Fortunate Son – The Story of Baby Boy Francis,’ by Brooks Eason

Fortunate Son front cover (3)GenreMemoir 

AuthorBrooks Eason

Website: www.brookseason.com             

Publisher: WordCrafts Press, Nashville, TN

Find out more: https://www.wordcrafts.net/books/fortunate-son/

ABOUT THE BOOK 

On the eve of the birth of his first grandchild, Mississippi lawyer Brooks Eason learned the truth about a mystery he’d lived with for nearly fifty years: the story of his birth and his birth mother’s identity.  Perhaps even more surprising was how the story was finally revealed:  It turned out that Eason was a potential heir to an enormous fortune from his birth mother’s family.  His original identity finally saw the light of day only as result of litigation in four courts in two states, initiated in an effort to identify and find the heir.  Eason, who was raised in Tupelo by loving parents, found out on the day his granddaughter was born that he began his life as Scott Francis, which remained his legal name for the first year of his life.  Fortunate Son – The Story of Baby Boy Francis is the story of how he learned the story. 

And what a story it is.

A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction memoir that unfolds in the Deep South, Fortunate Son is a deeply personal and deeply moving story about families, secrets, and choices.  Resplendent with intrigue, drama, and mystery—all the hallmarks of a blockbuster novel—Fortunate Son is a true story, unembellished, unpretentious, and at times almost unbelievable.  Eason, a gifted storyteller with an incredible story to tell, delivers a gripping, satisfying, meaningful memoir.  Told with candor, wit, and honesty, Fortunate Son is a thoughtful and thought-provoking first person narrative that will have readers turning pages. 

Though Eason was ultimately not the beneficiary of the fortune, he is quick to point out that he received a different kind of wealth:  knowing the truth and finally being able to dive headfirst into the story of his origin, uncovering fascinating blood relatives and stories along the way. 

Much more than a memoir about birth and adoption, Fortunate Son is a long love letter from the author to the parents who raised him, a heartfelt thank you to the birth mother who gave him the whole world when she gave him away, and a moving tribute to his beloved daughter who faced circumstances similar to those his birth mother faced and bravely chose to keep her baby.  A tale of two stories that unfolded in different times, Fortunate Son is an extraordinary story extraordinarily well-told. 

Brooks Eason - photo
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooks Eason loves stories, reading and writing them, hearing and telling them. He also loves music, dogs, and campfires as well as his family and friends. His latest book is Fortunate Son – the Story of Baby Boy Francis, an amazing memoir about his adoption, discovery of the identity of his birth mother, and much more.
Eason has practiced law in Jackson for more than 35 years but has resolved to trade in writing briefs for writing books.  He lives with his wife Carrie and their two elderly rescue dogs, Buster and Maddie, and an adopted stray cat named Count Rostov for the central character in A Gentleman in Moscow, the novel by Amor Towles.  In their spare time, the Easons host house concerts, grow tomatoes, and dance in the kitchen.  Eason, who has three children and four grandchildren, is also the author of Travels with Bobby – Hiking in the Mountains of the American West about hiking trips with his best friendVisit Brooks online at www.brookseason.com.  WordCrafts Press is an independent publishing company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit WordCrafts online at www.wordcrafts.net.
EXCERPT
CHAPTER 1
It was a Tuesday morning in June 2004. The day had started like any other. I walked the dogs, ate breakfast while reading the paper, then drove downtown to work. I was in my office on the 14th floor of the Trustmark Bank Building when my phone rang. It was my father, Paul Eason. He rarely called me at work but had just listened to an intriguing voicemail. He was calling to tell me about it.
Daddy was 82 and lived by himself in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the home where I grew up. It was the only home he and my mother Margaret ever owned. She had died five years earlier in the bedroom they shared for more than forty years. I lived three hours south of Tupelo in Jackson, where I had practiced law for two decades. 
The message was from a woman in New Orleans, also a lawyer. She said her firm was conducting a nationwide, court-ordered search for Paul Eason, age 46. I go by my middle name, but my first name is Paul and I was about to turn 47. I told Daddy I would return the call. 
Why a court in New Orleans would order someone to search the entire country for me was a mystery. A theory occurred to me, but after all these years it didn’t seem possible. Because I didn’t know the reason for the call, I decided not to identify myself as the Paul Eason the lawyer was trying to find. I would just say I was Brooks Eason and was returning the call she had placed to my father. But when she came to the phone, she already knew who I was.
“I can’t believe we found you.” 
“What is this about?”
“An inheritance.”
“Tell me more.”
*        *        *
That was the day I began to learn the story that had been a mystery to me all my life, the story of my birth and second family. In the days that followed, I found out that my name was Scott Francis – or rather that it had been – for the first year of my life. I was nearly fifty years old, but until then I didn’t know I had started life with a different name, much less what it was. My name, as well as the rest of the story, had been a secret. This is the story of how I learned the secret. But this story is about more than that. It is also about the wonderful life my parents gave me, about my exceptional daughter and granddaughter, who was born just days after Daddy received the voicemail. and about how times and attitudes changed from when I was born until she was born.
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Excerpt reveal: ‘The Fog Ladies,’ by Susan McCormick

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The Fog Ladies is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. The Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in a cool San Francisco evening.

Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.

Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

Author Photo

About the Author

Susan McCormick writes cozy murder mysteries. She is also the author of Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She is a doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, DC and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. She served nine years in the military before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog.

Website:

https://susanmccormickbooks.com

Goodreads / Bookbub

Find out more about THE FOG LADIES:

Amazon / B&N

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/susanmccormickauthor/

https://twitter.com/smccormickbooks

https://www.instagram.com/susanmccormickbooks/

The Fog Ladies

Prologue

Mrs. Bridge did not like bugs. Perched high up on the stool, she peered distastefully into the kitchen light. Living in an apartment building in San Francisco, she usually had no problem with bugs. But the light collected the creatures, motionless black blobs above her head.

If Tommy were anything like old Mr. Lemon, the handyman he replaced, there would be no bugs. Mr. Lemon had come by every few weeks to see if she needed something fixed. He did it with all the tenants, right from the time she moved in forty years ago when she was twenty-five. Old Mr. Lemon wasn’t above cleaning out bugs. Old Mr. Lemon wasn’t above anything. Not like Tommy.

When she’d first suggested to Tommy that he should clean out the bugs, he actually laughed. What impudence! The few times he had come, he’d shown up a week later, long after she’d done the task herself. What did she pay her rent for?

The whole building had gone downhill since Mr. Lemon died. It was a beautiful building in Pacific Heights, built in 1925, elegant and solid, with a slate floor in the lobby and etched glass windows. Mr. Lemon had washed those windows every week, just like he polished the brass and oiled the mahogany hall table. Tommy thought his job entailed keeping the elevator running and changing the light bulbs in the back staircase. He didn’t understand about a fine building. And he certainly showed no interest in helping with her bugs.

So Mrs. Bridge climbed up there herself. It wasn’t easy. The ceilings were high. She used a stool she found in the garage by the dumpster. It was meant to be a barstool, but its height was perfect for reaching the light fixture. She wore yellow rubber gloves and used wads of paper towels. Even though they were expensive. The whole process left her winded and she only did it every few months.

Stepping from her kitchen chair onto the barstool was the trickiest part. She had done it many times before and could balance pretty well once she touched the ceiling.

She always felt nervous at this point, hand over head, feet tight together on the small stool. Today, though, she felt an inexplicable dread.

If anything happened, she would blame Tommy. She found it ridiculous and humiliating that a sixty-five-year-old woman should have to clean bugs out of a light.

She had seen Tommy that very day up on a sturdy new ladder probably purchased with her rent proceeds. Why couldn’t he do this for her? Or at least offer her the ladder. No respect for his elders, that’s why.

“Insolent youth.” Mrs. Bridge said. “Damn that Tommy.”

The stool jerked from under her. Mrs. Bridge felt herself fall. It seemed like slow motion, like she was falling from the roof deck and not from a stool in the kitchen. Falling, falling, long enough for her to see the figure standing nearby. Long enough for her to see his detached expression.

She landed hard. She heard the crack. She knew she was going to die. She studied the bugs in the light far over her head. The figure started to turn away.

She managed to speak and was surprised at how strong her voice sounded. “Sarah,” she blurted. He whirled around.

Mrs. Bridge was satisfied to see the shock on his face as she stared up and said, “Sarah saw you.”

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‘Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i,’ by Rosemary & Larry Mild

Cover ARtAbout the Book:

In Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i, homicide detective Sam Nahoe takes a bullet in his spine in the line of duty. Disabled, his career with the Honolulu Police Department shattered—what now? Jobless, lonely, and unwillingly divorced, Sam becomes a Checker Cab driver. Seeking a partner, he adopts a rescue golden retriever—with a dollop of Doberman, and trains her to perform neat tricks like growling at a fare who doesn’t tip. He and Goldie cruise Oahu for fares, encountering thieves, kidnappers, vengeful wives, and even killers, compelling Sam to get his private investigator license. His Sunday visitations with his daughter, Peggy, can turn a magical park day into a hair-raising crime scene, but his shrewd little kid becomes a miniature sleuth in her own right. Sam’s Hawaiian heritage provides him with spunk and street smarts. With the bullet still in his spine, he hobbles around on two canes he’s dubbed Cane and Able as he orders Goldie to chase down the bad guys. His favorite snitch, card-sharp Sophie, asks him: “You still walkin’ with them giant chopsticks?” The book includes thirteen individual detective mysteries with pictures.
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About the Authors:

ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus: Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i.

ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She  published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

Links to Site  and Social Media:

https://www.magicile.com

https://www.facebook.com/rosemary.mild.1

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosemary-mild-930

///////////////////////////////

First Chapter: Episode One
Locked In: The Beginning

Today Sam Nahoe caught his third major case since making detective sergeant in the Homicide unit of the Honolulu Police Department. He now wore a gold badge instead of a silver one.
Sam and his partner, Corporal Mose Kauahi, hurried over to a mid-rise apartment house at 2330 Lanahi Place. The call came in at 9:30 a.m. The caller said she’d been trying to phone her neighbor for several days without a response. As a last resort, she went outside and peeked in his first-floor window. She saw him collapsed over his desk.
The detectives met the woman inside the apartment lobby. Sam’s keen eyes assessed her. Waist-length kinky blonde hair, dark at the roots. Fortyish trying to look thirty, and less businesslike than he expected in a lacy pink tank top and short shorts.
She flashed Sam a heavily lipsticked smile. “I’m Doris Haliburton. You can call me Doris.”
Jeez, the broad is actually flirting with me, thought Sam without missing a step.
They followed her down the hall to apartment 1A. Sam tried the door and found it locked. “It’s another one of those steel security doors with anti-pick locks,” he announced. “We’ll have to find another way in. Is there a resident manager here?”
Doris shrugged. “Only part-time. But I s’pose you could try the windows out back.” Without waiting for consent, she started down the hall. Sam couldn’t help but notice the smooth legs, looking decades younger than her sun-creased face. At the rear of the building she held the door open for both men, an exit to a fenced-in backyard. “It’s those two double windows—there and there—the ones on the left.”  Her voice quavered. “He’s in the living room.”
Sam frowned. “Those windows are pretty high. You look to be about five-two. How could you see in?”
“I used my kitchen stool,” Doris answered smugly.
Mose stepped closer. “It would be helpful if we could use it too,” he said. “That is, if you wouldn’t mind, ma’am.”
She flinched at the word “ma’am.” Sam knew why. It made women feel old.
“Yeah, sure, I’ll get it. I’m in apartment 1C. Back in two shakes.”
Mose had no intention of letting Doris out of his sight. He followed her inside, and the two returned with him carrying the stepstool. He placed it below the first set of double windows. The short, stocky detective climbed up only to find that he couldn’t see much past the window sill. He yielded to Sam. Nearly a head taller at six-four, Sam climbed up until he had a clear view into what was obviously the living room. It was furnished with two leather couches, a glass-topped coffee table, and an elaborate entertainment center on the left wall. A rather affluent bachelor pad, he guessed. But in the far right corner against the wall, sure enough, a man’s body lay slumped over a large modern desk.
Sam examined both double windows leading to the living room for signs of forced entry, but found none. He tried to at least jiggle each section, but each one was immovable, locked in place, with self-locking dowels to the right and left. He climbed down and moved the stepstool to the second set of double windows, hoping for better luck. Climbing back up, he peered into a bedroom and tested that set of windows with the same result. He decided entry there would cause less damage than in the more elegant living room.
“We’ll have to get a locksmith for the front door,” said Mose.
“Can’t wait for that. The man may need medical attention,” replied Sam. He removed a pair of sunglasses from his forest-green sport shirt and handed them down to Mose while he mulled over the best way to enter. The Venetian blinds were raised to their full height, so he wouldn’t have to deal with them. Removing his Glock 9mm from its holster, he turned his head away, and ducked to his left as he drove the weapon, handle first, against the lower glass panel, cracking it sharply away from him so that the shards fell inside the room and dropped to the floor. He swept the barrel of his gun back and forth to remove the remaining shards from the frame. Reaching through the cleared opening, he released the pair of locks from their side stops, and slid the tall window all the way up.
“Hey, Mose, would you get me the floor mats from the front of the cruiser?”
When his partner returned with the mats, Sam dropped them over the concentration of glass shards inside the window.
He cautiously planted his size-thirteen shoes on the top step of the stool, then wiggled his backside onto the window ledge. Lifting one leg at a time over the sill, he slid inside. He landed for a split-second on his feet, but his muscular bulk gave way, sending him flopping on his knees. He heard, and felt, the crunching of the shards beneath the floor mats as he landed. Hoisting himself to his feet, he surveyed his surroundings. He had landed next to a queen-size bed with a quilted headboard and plaid comforter. He saw nothing out of order in the room; only an uncluttered bureau and nightstand.
The moment Sam entered the living room, the stench of decay hit him. He whipped out a handkerchief from his back pocket and covered his nose and mouth.
The motionless body slumped over the desk was a male of medium build, narrow-shouldered, wearing a muted-print aloha shirt. He appeared to have been working on his laptop. His head of thinning sand-colored hair lay face-down on the keyboard. The monitor reflected the impact with a string of unintelligible letters and numbers. On the desk he saw documents and spreadsheets in neat piles; nothing else but a tape dispenser and vinyl cup holding ballpoint pens. The printer on the left corner of the desk contained no printouts. Sam leaned over, and with his free hand placed two fingers on the victim’s carotid artery, feeling for signs of life. There was no pulse. But he knew there wouldn’t be. In the middle of the man’s back he found two bullet holes, close together, with accompanying patches of dried blood, obscuring the shirt’s flowered pattern. He hastily backed up when he realized he had almost stepped in blood that had dried on the plush beige carpet. They had themselves a crime scene.

 

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Review: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth, by Jean Paulynice

From-idea-to-reality-FRONT-CoverTitle: From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA

Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC

Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM

Website: https://www.jeanpaulpaulynice.com/

Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: June 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-1-0   (Hardback)    $19.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-2-7   (Paperback)  $14.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-7-2   (eBook)         $7.99

Find out more on Amazon.

Jean Paulynice draws from personal experience, revealing the secrets he shares with clients and provides you with essential information as if he were your own personal coach guiding you along the way.

By using this workbook, which has ample space for notes, you’ll be able to brainstorm, self reflect, and develop a plan/strategy, as well as become aware of not only your strengths but also your weaknesses and obstacles. In addition, you’ll be able to join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Written in an engaging, conversational style, “From Idea to Reality” will help push you forward and gather momentum, improving your chances of discovering and fulfilling your true potential and increasing your chance of success. No matter your type of entrepreneurship, this book will be helpful if you’re starting out or would like to take your business to the next level.

 

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Review: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery, by Jean Paul Paulynice

START-LIVING

Title: It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! My Journey to Self Discovery

Author: Jean Paul Paulynice, MBA

Publisher: PAULYNICE CONSULTING GROUP, LLC

Publisher’s contact info: INFO@PAULYNICECONSULTING.COM

Website: https://www.jeanpaulpaulynice.com/

Non-Fiction

Genre: Self-help/Inspirational

Publication Date: May 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-9-6 (Hardback)      $16.99

ISBN: 978-1-7335601-9-1 (Paperback)    $9.99

ISBN: 978-1-7330427-0-3 (eBook)           $3.99

ISBN: 978-1-7335601-2-2 (Audiobook)   $3.95

 

Do you feel as though you’re on autopilot, going through the motions every day—wake up, go to work, come back home, have dinner, sleep, repeat—without real meaning, depth, and purpose in your life?

 

Even if you have a fulfilling job and earn a good salary, that doesn’t mean you’ve found your passion in life. The problem is, finding your passion can be elusive, especially in our present society where we are constantly seeking external validation from others and are being judged in public platforms more than ever (i.e. social media). Perhaps the wisest statement in this book is that “the moment you start to listen to yourself, you can start shutting out all the noise.” This little book is all about soul-searching, self-analysis, and reflection. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and seek out your passions. Sometimes you have to change your mindset and shift your perspective about things in order for transformation and growth to take place. Likewise, it’s also about the choices you make, not so much the major ones but the little ones you make on a daily basis.

 

In his light, honest, and engaging prose, Jean Paul Paulynice encourages you to do some introspection so you can begin your path toward finding your passion and bliss in life. For those who journal, the reflection questions he asks make very good journaling prompts. A very quick read, under fifty pages, It’s Time to Start Living with Passion! is a little morsel of goodness and wisdom that will help on your journey to self-discovery.

 

 

 

 

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Chapter reveal: Blood on the Chesapeake, by Randy Overbeck

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Title: Blood on the Chesapeake

Author:  Randy Overbeck

Website:  www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Purchase link:  https://www.authorrandyoverbeck.com/books

Genre:  ghost story/mystery

About the Book:

Blood on the Chesapeake—Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.

About the Author:  

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a writer, educator, researcher and speaker in much demand. During his three plus decades of educational experience, he has performed many of the roles depicted in his writing with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. His new ghost story/mystery, Blood on the Chesapeake, will be released on April 10, 2019 by The Wild Rose Press. As the title suggests, the novel is set on the famous Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, home to endless shorelines, incredible sunsets and some of the best sailing in the world. Blood is first in a new series of paranormal mysteries, The Haunted Shores Mysteries. Dr. Overbeck’s first novel, Leave No Child Behind, a thriller about the terrorist takeover of a Midwest high school and one teacher’s stand against the intruders, won the 2011 Silver Award for Thrillers from ReadersFavorite.com. Dr. Overbeck is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and an active member of the literary community. You can follow him on Twitter @OverbeckRandy, friend him on Facebook at Author Randy Overbeck or check out his webpage, www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

Connect with Randy Overbeck on the Web:

www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

@OverbeckRandy

Facebook: Author Randy Overbeck

 

Blood on the Chesapeake

August, 1998

The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay

1

         “You see that widow’s walk up there, with the white railing and the cupola in the center? That’s where they say he died.”

The high school secretary, one Mrs. Harriet Sinclair, stood beside Darrell Henshaw on the cracked asphalt parking lot, her small, blue-veined hand pointing up to the third floor.

Darrell’s gaze crawled up the two floors of traditional red brick and landed on the white fencing of the widow’s walk. He’d noticed the unusual feature of the building when he arrived for the job interview two hours earlier.

Harriett’s high voice continued, “Years ago, a student, some poor young black kid took his life up there. Some history, huh?”

Surprised, Darrell looked at the secretary, who kept her gaze focused on the top floor. She was serious.

Darrell returned his glance to the widow’s walk. The brass-topped cupola shone green in the morning sun and below it, a bare-chested, young black man leaned against the fence, his hands dark smudges on the white railing. The youth stared down and met Darrell’s gaze. Even though Darrell couldn’t read the features on the face three floors up, he was mesmerized. Somehow, an overwhelming sense of sorrow and regret seemed to emanate from the young man and, for an instant, Darrell felt it pierce him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on edge. He shivered and stared, unable to look away. As he peered up, the figure at the fence shimmered and then disappeared.

Oh, God, no, he thought, shaking his head, and turned to ask Harriet, but she changed the subject, rattling on about some of the less morbid history of the school. “That walk is famous, all right. There was the great piglet race up there and the famous protest streamers on the walk…”

But Darrell stopped listening. He shook his head. He hadn’t felt that…that sensation for years. Ten years. A decade earlier, he’d had a confrontation with another ghost and it had not gone well. It still haunted him and he was not anxious for another visit from the spirit world.

Then, something Harriet was saying registered. “That window up there to the right, that’ll be your office.”

He struggled to find his voice. “My office?”

“At least, if Mr. Douglass likes what he hears when he calls your references.” She winked at him, one gray eyebrow curling like an albino caterpillar. “Our athletic office isn’t much, just a tiny space and away from the gym and locker rooms, but it’s got the best view in the building. I thought you might appreciate the vantage point better from down here.”

He got the job? He couldn’t believe it. After thirty-seven resumes, eighteen phone calls, four failed interviews, he’d done it. And just in time, too.

He stared open-mouthed at the building, trying to keep his exhilaration under wraps, and then remembered the young black man and realized the job may come with some extras. He definitely didn’t want to deal with any extras, but he really needed the job. Before he had time to think about it, Harriet was off.

For the next forty minutes, she took Darrell on a non-stop, guided tour of the empty high school, leading him past dueling trophy cases—one for sports, one for band—through run down classrooms and into a dilapidated gym with collapsing bleachers. Twice he paused, seeing an award or painting hanging crooked, and reached out to straighten it. He stopped himself and then had to hurry to catch up.

Oblivious, Harriet charged ahead, short legs pumping like pistons, all the while regaling him with more stories about the old high school. Darrell was hardly able to catch his breath. At her pace, he felt like he’d done a 5K, zigzagging through hallways and up and down creaking stairs. They finished by climbing two flights of stairs to arrive at the Athletic Office.

Just as they reached the top step, a door in the hall slammed shut. Darrell jerked. He glanced over to his escort, who hadn’t even flinched. Instead, the school secretary asked, as if reminded of something, “Mr. Henshaw, uh, do you believe in…uh, ghosts?”

Darrell’s mouth went dry. She didn’t just ask that.

“What?” he managed.

Harriet shrugged, the collar of her gray dress almost touching the lowest locks of silver hair. “I just asked if you were superstitious. You know, if you believe in ghosts?” She strolled over, turned the handle and pulled open the door.

Darrell fought not to go pale. Could she possibly know about the ghost back home or maybe she picked up on his reaction to the widow’s walk? He fumbled for an answer. “Uh, no more than most, I think. Why?”

Standing at the door, she lowered her glance, as if studying her black flats. “Well, uh, some folks say the school is haunted. Ghost of that student who committed suicide I was telling you about. They say his spirit likes to prowl the hallways at night, ‘specially up here on the third floor.”

Darrell remembered the figure staring down at him from the railing and the prickling hairs on his neck. He studied Harriet. She was serious.

But, when her gaze lifted, the secretary smile was back in place. “What do you expect? It’s an old school. Bound to hold a few skeletons, right?”

Harriet stepped inside the office, burying the subject as abruptly as she raised it. She led him in and Darrell watched as dust mites rose and danced on a wave. The cramped space was small, eight by twelve maybe, with a worn, blue couch under the broad window and a standard gray metal desk and file cabinet on the wall opposite. A lone, wooden bookcase stood facing the door, barren and sad-looking, its shelves sagging.

She moved to the window, pointing, “Great view of the widow’s walk from here, too.”

Several questions pummeled his brain—about what happened on the walk, about the kid who died—but he needed this job, so he didn’t ask.

She plowed on. “I got to leave you here and get back. Give Mr. Douglass a few more minutes and see what he has to say.” Two brisk steps took her to the door.

Darrell thought of one question he figured it’d be safe to ask. “Harriet, you mentioned I was the last name on Principal Douglass’ list of candidates. How come?”

She turned and grinned. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that. The answer’s simple, though. None of the rest of the candidates were Yankees.” She waved a hand. “Anyway, you must’ve made quite an impression, ‘specially for a Yankee. Not many get the fifty-cent tour. Enjoyed showing ya around. I’m a good judge of character and I think you’ll do fine.”

“Thanks, Harriet, for the tour and all the background. And the vote of confidence.”

“I’ll see you downstairs in a bit.” Her leg pistons chugged and she disappeared through the open doorway.

Darrell listened to her footsteps echo in the stairwell and, when the sound died away, he said aloud to the empty room, “O-kay, then.” Exactly what he needed. Move half way across the country and run into another damn ghost. His gaze swept the small office and took in the widow’s walk, remembering the figure at the railing and the tingle on his neck. He inspected the entire office for paranormal evidence. He saw nothing, of course.

Ambling over to the picture window, he took in the expansive scene, white posts and railing of the widow’s walk up close—with no young black man standing there—and the water of the Chesapeake shining emerald beyond. He could get used to this view.

He’d take the job and…deal with the rest, if it came.

He strolled over to the door. Something drew his attention and twisting around, he glanced back into the office. A draft of cold air struck him. He shivered again.

         He turned to go, but couldn’t. Standing in the doorway, it felt like his shoes had been glued to the floor. No, it felt like two huge hands were holding his ankles and wouldn’t let him leave. He pulled on both legs. Staring down at his legs, he saw only the smooth cuffs of his dress pants and his black Oxfords.

Ugly memories resurfaced, as if it were yesterday. His uncle’s ghost using him as a conduit. The death of two friends. The crippling of his brother. Oh, hell, not again.

         Sweat dripped down the side of Darrell’s face and he blurted out the only thing he could think of. “I haven’t even been hired yet,” he said in a harsh whisper. “And won’t be, unless I get back down there to see the principal.”

The grip on his ankles released. He opened the door, stepped through and slammed it. In seconds, he hit the stairs, taking them two at a time.

 

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Chapter Reveal: ‘Jordan,’ by Victoria Landis

Genre: Thriller

Author: Victoria Landis

Website:http://www.VictoriaLandis.com

Publisher: BookPainter Press, LLC

Purchase link:https://amzn.to/2HWMs5R

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About the book:

When Petra Simmons and her brother, Andy, help a seemingly homeless young woman, their intended good deed immediately changes their lives forever. Within days, it’s clear that the woman, Jordan Crissman, is so much more than meets the eye. Jordan possesses an amazing ability – perhaps the most miraculous ability of all. Petra and Andy realize that, in the current world of viral social media, they must proceed with extreme caution. But how can they best employ the miracle without causing havoc? They plot a careful strategy. Despite their plans, word gets out too fast, and the world comes running – invading and overwhelming South Florida and bringing danger.

Television talking heads pontificate. Pundits opine. Some claim Jordan’s a messiah. Others insist she’s the devil. Massive crowds gather, demanding to see Jordan. Everyone wants her.

But there’s nowhere left to hide. Damaging and horrible rumors swirl. Protest groups march and riot. Mass hysteria reigns.

And people are dying.

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About the Author:

Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.

She’s taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/VLandisAuthorFB

Twitter: @VictoriaLandis1

Instagram: VLandisArtist

Website: http://www.VictoriaLandis.com

First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

Sunday 6PM

 
Petra Simmons plucked the last truffle from the day’s sample tray and added it to the other chocolates in the white paper bag.  She handed it to Lettie Hillier, an old friend of Petra’s deceased parents.
     Lettie accepted it with a grin.  “Are you sure you kids are doing okay?”
     “I miss them.”  Andy, Petra’s younger brother, stepped toward them.
     “Losing them still hurts,” Petra said.  “But, yes.  We’re fine.”  She gestured to the bag.  “Open it.”
     It crinkled when Lettie unfolded the top and looked inside.  Laugh lines scrunched outward from her mouth when she smiled.  She winked at Petra.  “Chili-pepper-shaped?  That’s new.  Thanks, Punkin.”
     “You’re most welcome,” Petra said.  “They’re infused with cayenne.  Hope your husband enjoys them.”
     “If they escape being eaten on the drive home.  You kids take care, okay?”
     “Will do.”  Andy held the shop’s glass door open for Lettie, grinned at her as she exited, then locked it.
     Pushing her palms against her temples, Petra sighed.
     The building shuddered slightly for a half-second.
     Petra grabbed the counter.  “Did you feel that?”
     “Yeah.”  He pointed skyward.  “Weird.  Military jet going by?  A sonic boom, maybe?”
     “I didn’t hear any boom.”
     “Me, either.  Maybe it was too far away.  Wasn’t very strong.”  He ambled toward her.  “We don’t get earthquakes.”  With a dramatic flourish, he took a wide stance and stretched his arms outward, as if waiting for the building to shake.  After a few seconds, he went back to a normal stand.  “I think we’re good here.  Why do you give Mrs. Hillier free chocolates?”
     “Because she’s been so kind to us since Mom and Dad died, and she sends all her friends to me for their special occasions.  At first, she argued with me about the freebies.  I’m far more stubborn than she knew, and I won.  So now she calls herself my taste tester.”    She wiped her brow and surveyed the mess around the seating area of three small round tables by the front windows.  “Wow.  That was one hell of a last minute rush, huh?”  Grabbing the cleaning spray and sponge, she realized he hadn’t responded and turned.  “Andy?”
     He’d returned to the door, his back to her.  “There’s a strange chick on the plaza freaking everybody out.  See?  They’re all moving away.”
     Petra came from behind the counter and stood beside him.
     A disheveled woman, her brown hair a rodent’s nest, sat staring at the sky, on the bench ledge of the hexagonal fountain twenty feet from Petra’s Kingdom of Chocolate shop.  She wore a red T-shirt and blue jeans−both ripped and stained.  Her entire body shook for several seconds, then she lowered her head.
     The people nearest her shuffled further down the bench.  A man with two toddlers in tow hustled them off the plaza.
     “Really, I can’t work up much interest,” Petra said.  “Another homeless person.  It’s sad, but too bad.”
     “No,” Andy said.  “There’s something different about her.”
     Andy often misjudged situations and people.  Petra sighed.  “I don’t think so.  She’s only another hard luck story.”
     “She’s pretty.”
     “No.  She’s not,” Petra said.
     “Look beyond the mess.  Come on, let’s see if we can help her.”
     “Please don’t.  I’m so tired.  I want to finish and go upstairs to relax.”
     Ignoring her, Andy unlocked the door and headed outside toward the woman.  He gestured for Petra to join him.
She shot a glance heavenward.  “God grant me patience.”  She ventured out.
     Reaching the homeless lady, Andy knelt to peer under the cascading hair.  “Are you okay?”
     The woman shook her head.
     Nearing her, Petra found her younger than she’d assumed.  Maybe thirty.  And she did have attractive features under the unkempt locks.
     “Do you need help?” Andy said.
     His angelic expression of compassion tugged at Petra’s heart.
     “Apparently.”  The woman chuckled and swept the hair from her face.
     Her voice also took Petra by surprise.  The one-word reply was enunciated in a clear, sophisticated tone.
     “What happened?” Andy asked.  “You look like you fell out of a tree.”
     She hesitated, then leveled her gaze at Petra.  “I really don’t know.  I can’t remember anything.  It’s all blank.”
     Her eyes were a golden brown, almost amber.  Unusual and striking.
     In her peripheral vision, Petra saw the three remaining people on the plaza, now sitting on an iron bench eating ice cream cones.
One of them pointed behind Andy and Petra, and the others’ eyes widened.
     Petra twisted to see a small red fox sniffing and making its way, inch by inch, toward them.  “Andy, very slowly, look behind us.  It’s an actual fox.  Where did that come from?”
     He turned.  “That’s strange.  Don’t make any sudden moves.  Maybe it’s rabid.”
     “No,” the disheveled woman said.  “He’s not.  He’s being friendly.”
     Petra glared at her.  But, in fact, the fox was sniffing its way closer to them as a curious dog would.  She didn’t like the oddity of it.  “I think we ought to go back inside.”
     “All right,” Andy said.  “Come with us, um . . . What’s your name?”
     “Wait a minute.”  Petra grabbed Andy’s arm and pulled him about ten feet away.
     The fox froze, then retreated a few yards.
     Its posture reminded Petra of a spooked cat with its fur standing on end.  Whispering, she said to Andy, “Are you nuts?  We’re not bringing this woman into my store.  It’s closing time.  I’m tired, and who the hell knows what kind of drug addict she could be?”
     “We can’t leave her out here.”
     “Sure we can.  We’ll call security, and they’ll take care of getting her to someone who will help.”
     “No.”  Andy gestured toward the woman.  “We should help.”  He went back.
     “You can be so infuriating sometimes, you know that?”  Unwilling to leave him alone with a possible lunatic, Petra joined him.
     The woman was touching a purplish mark on her left palm.  “I don’t blame you.  Look at me.”  She grinned and displayed her bruised arms.  “I’m a mess.”  Her eyes locked onto Petra’s.
     A strange comforting feeling about this woman enveloped Petra—as though she were with a long-lost friend.
     “Help me up?”  She kept her right arm in the air.
     Petra offered her a hand before Andy could.  “Come on.  Can you stand?”
     “We’ll find out.”  The woman gripped Petra’s hand and pulled herself up.  She twisted her torso.  “Okay.  Much better.  I was so dizzy when I woke up.”
     “Woke up?  Where?”  Petra’s fingers spasmed and felt suddenly warm.  The recurring fear that she’d inherited her father’s arthritis raced through her.
     “Right here.  On the edge of the fountain.  All I know is waking while sitting on it.”
     “Were you tired when you sat down?” Andy asked.  “Tired enough to fall asleep sitting upright on a concrete bench?”
     She gave him a blank stare, while seeming to ponder his question.
     “This is beyond strange,” Petra said.
     “I agree,” the woman said.  “I don’t like feeling this disoriented.”  She blinked.  “I’m sorry, I don’t know how I got here.”
     Petra’s resistance to her lessened.  To her amazement, she felt a growing urge to do as Andy suggested—help her.  “My name is Petra Simmons, and this is my brother, Andy.”
     “Hello.”  She pushed on and patted her legs, then her ribs.  “No broken bones, it seems.  I’m relatively unscathed.”
     “What’s your name?” Andy said.
     The woman’s mouth screwed up to one side.  “I haven’t a clue.”
     The feeling the stranger wasn’t a threat, and was, in fact, someone innocent, grew stronger.  “Tell you what.  I live on the second floor over the shops.”  Petra pointed behind her.  “See?  That bay window is in my living room.  Let us take you there.  You can get cleaned up, and I’ll lend you some clothes.”
     Andy gave her a shocked expression, then smiled.  “That’s a great idea.”  To the woman he said, “Don’t worry.  We’re good people.”
     She nodded.  “I know.”
     “And . . . how do you know?” Petra said.
     She shrugged.  “I don’t know.”
     It seemed the woman was thinking the same way as Petra.  Producing a key from the back pocket of her jeans, Petra handed it to Andy.  “Will you lock up, then come upstairs?  We can do the tally and cleaning later.  And bring my phone and purse, too?”
     Grinning, he took the key, pivoted, and strode to the shop.
     That startled the fox, but didn’t stop him from edging closer.
     A huge black blur swooped in, nipped the fox on the head, then settled on a nearby tree branch.
     The fox yelped and scrambled into the thicket of cocoa-plum shrubs at the edge of the plaza’s parking lot, now backlit by the transitioning oranges, reds, pinks, and lavenders of sunset.
     “Did you see that?” Petra glanced around.
     The three people finishing their ice cream cones nodded, looking dumbstruck.
     “I have never seen a fox out in the open like that.  Or a buzzard attacking a live animal.”  Petra spoke to the ice cream folks.  “That was a turkey vulture, wasn’t it?”
     One of them responded with a weak shrug.
     “Wow.  Freaky animal day.”  Petra gestured toward the alley between the two three-story buildings of the retail complex.  “The apartment entry is in that causeway.”
     They walked in silence to the entrance.  Petra used a passkey to unlock the residence lobby door, held it open for her, then pressed the elevator button.
     Petra studied her as they rode up one flight.  Long hair, in tangled waves, fell to her waist.  Her T-shirt had grass stains along with mud, as did her jeans.  She wore a ripped and frayed pair of canvas sneakers that Petra assumed were once white.
     The doors opened, and the women turned right, going to the end of the hall.
     “I was lucky enough to get an end unit,” Petra said while inserting her key.  “Lots of windows.”  They went inside.
     “It’s beautiful.”  The woman wandered around the combined living and dining space, stopping at the wide bay window facing the plaza and its fountain.  She gestured to the open kitchen and the granite island that separated it from the living area.  “There are four barstools.  Do other people live here with you?”
     “No.  I live alone.  My boyfriend is here a lot, though, and my brother stays fairly often.”  Petra walked to the short hall off the kitchen leading to the two bedrooms and a guest bathroom.  “I imagine you’re anxious to get that dirt off you.  You look like you’re around my size.  A six?”  She opened her bedroom door and went in.
     Another shrug.  “Guess we’ll find out.”  The woman leaned against the doorframe while Petra gathered some clothing for her.
     A stab of doubt hit Petra.  What was she doing inviting this complete stranger into her home?
     “You’re being so kind.  Thank you.”  The woman touched Petra’s hand before taking the neat pile, then entered the bathroom.
     In an instant, the negative thoughts disappeared—replaced by that comforting feeling again.  Petra shook her head to clear it.  “You’ll find everything you need either in the tall cabinet or in the drawers next to the sink.”
 
                                                                           ***
 
Petra was in the kitchen perusing the freezer when Andy came in.
     “How is the mystery girl?”  He tossed the shop key into the raku pottery bowl on the entry table and placed Petra’s purse on the counter.  “We left the store a mess, and I should have stayed to clean it, but I’m too curious about her.”
     “Still can’t remember her name.  She’s in the shower.”  Petra shut the freezer.  “I’ll order pizza.”  She grabbed her cell from her purse.  “But first, I’m calling Ben.”
     “Is he on duty tonight?”
     “Yes.”  When Ben picked up, she filled him in on the woman in her bathroom.
     “What’d he say?” Andy asked after she put the phone down.
     “It’s a slow Sunday night, so he’ll come over himself.”
     The bathroom door opened.  Her guest emerged, smelling of fresh flowers.  Clean, her skin was flawless.
     Andy let out a small gasp, and Petra knew he was smitten.  That was probably not good.
     The woman smiled and pulled at the black tank top.  “A little tight, but thank you so much.”  She held up a hairbrush.  “I couldn’t get all the knots out.  Would you mind trying?  It might be easier because you can see them.”  She came to stand in front of Petra, handed her the brush, and turned around.
     With an inward shrug, Petra accepted the brush and worked through the first of the tangles.  “My boyfriend is a Sheriff’s Deputy.  I’ve asked him to come over.  Maybe he’ll be able to help you.”

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Chapter reveal: ‘Shirtless Men Drink Free’ by Dwaine Rieves

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Title: Shirtless Men Drink Free

Genre: Literary Fiction

Author: Dwaine Rieves

Website:  http://dwainerieves.com/

Publisher:  Leapfolio/Tupelo Press

Amazon

 In Shirtless Men Drink Free, Doctor Jane Beekman has seen her dying mother’s soul, a vision above the bed—a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave.  The question that lingers—why?—prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities.  In this election year, Jane must do what her mother, an aspiring social activist, would have done. Soon, Jane is embroiled in the world of Georgia politics, working to make sure her dynamic younger brother-in-law Jackson Beekman is selected the next governor, regardless of what the soul of the candidate’s dead father or that of his living brother—Jane’s husband—might want done.

Indeed, it is a mother’s persistence and a father’s legacy that will ultimately turn one Beekman brother against the other, launching a struggle with moral consequences that may extend far beyond Georgia. Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears—immigrants and job take-overs, terrorists in waiting, homosexuals and outsider agendas—Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why?

Engaging, beautifully written and resplendent with realism, Shirtless Men Drink Free is a standout debut destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  A meticulously crafted tale that showcases an outstanding new voice in Southern fiction, Shirtless Men Drink Free has garnered high advance praise:

“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence.”—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you.  Change you even.” —Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree

“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells.  Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo

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About the Author

 Dwaine Rieves was born and raised in Monroe County, Mississippi.  During a career as a research pharmaceutical scientist and critical care physician, he began writing poetry and creative prose.  His poetry has won the Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Prize.  His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and other publications.

Links:

www.dwainerieves.com

EXCERPT:

A Fact

If pressed, she just might someday describe the experience as a vision, but that word alone would be insufficient, if not false, for what she had seen above the bed was more than apparition, more than a visual thing. There, sitting beside her dying mother, she’d sensed another presence, a new being, energy membrane-bound, translucent and hovering, alive in the air. The sense was volatility, the struggling with a decision, a choice—most definitely a choice—more why than when, more God than science. There, fibrillating above the bed was a soul. It was her mother’s soul, the very soul of her mother deliberating its only options: whether to stay or depart, this world or another. And in the instant before it abandoned its literal form, whatever her mother’s soul accepted or denied had to have been better than the body below, the face still puffy from chemotherapy, that halo of resurrected hair.

Something else must have mattered in this world, some undone task or rethought decision, something noble in the making, for her soul clearly wanted to stay. But it couldn’t. It simply couldn’t.

Perhaps revelation would eventually prove a more credible label. Or insight. Regardless of what she might ultimately call it, she wanted to believe the whole episode was a lesson for the scientist within her, a gift for the daughter who had to make sense of the inexplicable she’d seen. No. No one would ever believe she had witnessed such agony above the bed, the struggle between what the body demands and the soul needs.

Such thoughts she knew she must keep to herself, that vision or revelation or insight from a few months back, the soul of her mother wrestling with the air.

Tonight, Doctor Jane Beekman is alone. She sits on the back porch at home, a rocking chair helping to hold her there. The sky is closing in yellow, the world that was almost gone. She is motherless now, the backyard calm in disbelief. In the wake of her mother’s final breath, in the air that struggle―why? The question will never disappear and the more she stares, the more the world before her eyes darkens any possible answer.

The air is unsteady, too uncertain. It trembles as if still above the bed, as Jane saw it and forever will. That odorless instant when decision turned gunmetal thin, she will smell it always. The distance between struggle and release, its clamor breathed clean. That morning her husband held her mother’s hand, but never did Price waver, never did his eyes leave the body. Her mother’s soul had battled the air and Jane, she alone was the witness.

Her body demands a reason. Her soul needs more gin.

Chapter One

Leap

Never had she given much thought to politics, never had she pictured what a brief speech might come to. But to understand that trajectory as she ultimately came to follow it, you must first step back a few months, take a determined breath and stand with Jane before a plateau of silvery eyes. The titans have gathered, gawkers shoulder to shoulder, a certificate framed on a tripod far stage right. The words have power, authority—2004 Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Lights are low, God and the crowd focused. The podium is all Jane’s, the first slide at her back. On the canvas, a ladder of DNA coils ten-foot-high in Christmas colors. Five-carbon sugars twinkle for emphasis. Base pairs stiffen then jitter like ill-tempered brothers. Finger the laser pointer’s bump and the hot red dot jumps. Control goes with accomplishment. Smile.

Jane is on the stage because she and her husband Price accomplish great things. She is proud of this. Atlanta is proud, no doubt all Georgia. But this award is not about her or Price, she tells the crowd. It’s about their baby, CellSure. It’s about the company’s birth and maturation, teamwork in translational science. She uses that word translational and thinks transcendent. They know what she means. “People, CellSure is a company that can take less than a nanogram of genetic material and in a matter of hours match the specimen to a criminal, a fraud, a father.”

More than once Jane says “genetic material” and each time she sharpens the syllables. “Yes,” she proclaims, “with less than a snippet of tissue CellSure can even diagnose—” She pauses for air, for the air to settle. “Yes, we can even diagnose cancer.” Applause comes. The great polynucleotide pulses. People stand. They point. Jane has become one with her company. She can even diagnose cancer.

“And with more CellSure innovation, I have little doubt that the same tissue indicating a cancer will also identify a treatment. Yes, my friends. The CellSure technology that pairs a precise diagnosis with a precise therapy will make most cancers curable and the few incurable ones truly treatable conditions.” She thrusts a decisive finger into the air. She is transcendent. “Mark my words—as CellSure pairs ingenuity with our city’s fine medical research institutions, Atlanta will become the nation’s go-to hub for hope, a city where the word impossible never crosses a lip.”

People whoop and stomp their feet. They slap shoulders. Strangers hug. The air vibrates, every face catching the glow of the great iridescent molecule, the image secured by the clicker Jane controls with a single finger.

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