Blog Tour & Giveaway: H.A.L.F. Series by Natalie Wright

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Origins
H.A.L.F. Series Book 3
by Natalie Wright
Genre: YA SciFi Fantasy
Alien predators attack Europe. A deadly virus spawns an epidemic. And a
clandestine organization conspires to profit from chaos and forge a
New World Order.
In this heart-pounding finale of the
award-winning H.A.L.F. series, Tex, Erika and the rest are in a race
against time. For months they‘ve fought for their lives. Now they
battle to save us all.
Tex and Erika are fugitives again, running for their lives. But when Tex
falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is his only hope for survival. Tex
emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind but with vital
information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from destroying
those he has come to love.
Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s
not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down
the galactic highway used by the predatory M’Uktah, she grows closer
to her troubled half-human companion. But what about her on-again,
off-again boyfriend, Jack?
Jack Wilson, with his new friend Anna Sturgis, is determined to put an end
to the Makers’ schemes for world domination. Complicating matters,
an anti-viral that could save millions from an alien virus has been
stolen.
As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all
mankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is
running out.
What Others are Saying about H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS:
The latest satisfying addition to the H.A.L.F. series has something for
everyone: exciting action scenes; great, complex love stories;
fascinating new aliens; and relatable teen characters fighting to
save the world and find their places in it.” ~Alyssa H., Content
Editor, Red Adept Editing
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The Makers
H.A.L.F. Series Book 2
“Conflicts with alien races are given enormous depth in this engrossingly
written science fiction novel.” ~
Forewords Clarion Reviews


Roswell. Area 51. The X-Files.
You’ve seen the aliens known as “the
Greys” in movies and on T.V. But what if everything you think
you know about them is wrong?
And what if the Greys are only the beginning?
On a nondescript planet on the far side of the galaxy, the M’Uktah have
evolved from a wolf-like predatory creature into a highly advanced
species that has mastered intergalactic travel. They are cultured.
Refined.
And hungry…
Wright’s epic and much anticipated follow up to her multiple award-winning
debut Sci Fi novel
H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath:
The Deep Beneath,
Runner Up in the Beach Book Festival
Finalist, Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Semi-Finalist, Kindle Review Book Awards and Library
Journal pick for curated Shelf-e library collection
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The Deep Beneath
H.A.L.F. Series Book 1

Can a Human-Alien Hybrid, Created to be a Weapon, Save us from a Secret
War we Don’t Know is Coming?

Library Journal eBook Selection

H.A.L.F. (Human Alien Life Form) #9 is the product of genetic engineering, the
union of human and alien DNA. Created to be a weapon in a secret war
we don’t know is coming, he proved too powerful to control. He has
lived for seventeen years in an underground lab, sedated and trained
to be a cold-blooded killing machine.
But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the lab and the sedation has worn off. He has
never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.
While H.A.L.F. 9 revels in his newfound freedom, Erika Holt relaxes in the
desert with friends. But a typical Saturday night soon erupts into
chaos when fate brings her together with H.A.L.F. 9. Erika is forced
to make a choice that will irretrievably change her life. If she
chooses to help H.A.L.F. 9 escape, her fate will become intertwined
with his in what will become an intergalactic adventure. Little do
any of them know that their actions trigger a vast New World Order
conspiracy which began after the UFO crash in Roswell in 1947. Will
H.A.L.F. 9 be reeled back in, once again forced to do the bidding of
the Makers? And will any of them survive the dangers of The Deep
Beneath them?

Award-Winning Sci Fi Appropriate for the Entire Family

  • Silver Medalist, Wishing Shelf Book Awards
  • Semi-Finalist, Kindle Review Book Awards
  • Runner-Up, Beach Book Festival Awards
  • Library Journal choice for the curated Self-E Library Collection

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What Readers Say About The Deep Beneath:

“The action is great, and the scene with the alien spaceship was crazy
good. I found the ending to be quite surprising. It definitely made
me want to read the next one to see what happens both above ground
and below. I recommend this to all fans of sci-fi adventures.”
~C.J. Anaya, Best Selling Author of The Healer Series
“Once I began, I couldn’t put it down. It’s well-written, fast-paced, and
the characters are believable. I highly recommend this book and
anxiously await book 2!” ~M. Williams
“Extremely exciting and fast-paced story that sucked me in its sci-fi vortex and
wouldn’t let me go. H. A. L. F. 9 is probably my favorite alien
hybrid of all time. Can’t wait for the next book!” ~Ms. I Read
to Escape
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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Mjolnir by Brian James

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Mjolnir
by Brian James
Genre: Urban Fantasy
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The Viking gods have been banished from Asgard by Odin. Today they make
the best of life on Earth. Thor is a professional athlete, Freya a
prostitute, and Loki sells cheap products on QVC. Lurking in the
background of their lives is a prophecy; one that declares that their
time is at an end. Ragnarok is about to throw the gods into a state
of civil war and the one who controls the hammer of Thor may be able
to change the arc of destiny.
 
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FREYA

Freya tore up the letter and threw it away. She had moved from Michigan to New York to get away from Odin’s harassment. Apparently she hadn’t moved far enough away as this was the third letter he had sent to her in a week. Well, not exactly Odin. His pet sycophant, Simmons, was the one pestering her through the mail. Apparently the bastard wouldn’t take no for an answer. That or he was afraid of what Odin would do to him if he did. Either way it wasn’t her problem and she just wished he would go away. She had enough trouble with creditors constantly chasing her. She didn’t need Odin on her back again. The envelope that the letter came in was sitting on her makeup stand. She tore it to pieces with the same enthusiasm that she destroyed the letter. With that done Freya turned back toward the mirror as the pieces settled in the garbage can amongst the candy bar wrappers and discarded pasties.

She checked her makeup one last time, and teased her amber hair into something that would look appropriate on Sunset Strip or Spring Break in Daytona.

“Just a little more blush…” she said as reached for the brush.

Her high, Nordic cheekbones were one of her most striking features—she wanted to make sure they got the notice they deserved. She then adjusted the bra that held her other “most striking features” in place, checked her stockings for runs, and snapped the elastic around her thigh. She was satisfied with the fit. Sexy could quickly descend to comical if the wardrobe fell apart before its time. Janet Jackson had proven that.

With her pre-flight done the goddess stood up and checked her outfit in the mirror one last time to make sure that Victoria was truly keeping her secrets (at least until someone paid to see them). Once satisfied that she looked perfect, Freya walked out of the dressing room and toward the stage.

She could hear the music from the other side of the door. The voice of Celine Dion came crashing through the wall that separated the rooms from the stage. Freya shook her head and wondered how people could listen to that sentimental garbage. The song was dripping with so much cavity-inducing sap that it should only be played after a disclaimer from the American Dental Association.

Just as Freya was grabbing her throat in a mock, retching motion, the song ended. She composed herself during a moment of silence as the DJ cued up her music. The quiet was shattered by the deep resonant sounds of a very large bell as Freya burst through the door, hips swaying to the ringing and the wild guitar notes. Hot stage lights reflected off her snow-white skin as she wove a hypnotic spell with her dance. She seduced the crowd with graceful athleticism, unbridled sensuality, and a transcendent beauty that most couldn’t describe without having to wipe away a tear of joy. She was the Goddess of Love, turning the crude, bludgeoning sounds of Metallica’s, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” into a celebration of the erotic.

By comparison to her, the other girls were Clydesdales. They would gracelessly clomp around the stage, taking off their underwear for the scraps from the audience’s wallets. Freya didn’t play the “lingerie for loot” game with the bachelor party crowd—she didn’t have to. She was probably the only stripper in the free world who could leave her audience feeling emotionally spent with only the poetry of her movement. No actual stripping was necessary for her to be the club’s top draw.

Her dance ended in the usual shower of dollar bills. She bent over in the most provocative ways possible to pick up the tens and twenties, arching her back while lowering herself towards the money. Once she had collected a couple thousand dollars’ worth of other people’s hard earned cash she blew a kiss back over her shoulder and headed backstage. Continue reading

Spotlight & Giveaway: Journey’s End by Victoria Brewster & Julie Saeger Nierenberg

Book Title: Journey’s End: Death, Dying and the End of Life
Authors: Victoria Brewster & Julie Saeger Nierenberg
Category: Adult Non-Fiction; 558 pages
Genre: Resource/Educational
Publisher: Xlibris
Release date: July 20, 2017
Tour dates: Sept 4 to 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M

 

Book Description

In Journey’s End, we write about death, dying, and end of life issues. We attempt to define and describe these real-life circumstances, and we discuss ways to proactively deal with them. Multiple personal and professional perspectives provide valuable insights.

What is dying like for dying persons, for loved ones, and for those who lend support in the process? Each experience will have unique qualities. Everyone dies in his own way, on his own schedule. While we explore the dying process, we make no assumptions about how any particular death will unfold.

Grief and bereavement support, training tools, and educational resources are included.

 

 
Meet the Authors

Victoria has a master of social work degree. She has worked as a case manager with older adults for the past seventeen years and as a group facilitator. Her past work experience was as a therapist with children and families, and as a case manager for adults with mental health issues. She just launched a consulting business, NorthernMSW to focus on end of life issues, planning, training, and advocacy, along with memoir writing and life legacy writing.

Julie was inspired equally by her professional backgrounds as a biomedical researcher and long time educator. Julie values open and lively discussions based on interview and research findings, trends in health and wellness, and exciting new modalities of treatment and professional education. She believes it will be through such discussions that we will create new and more satisfying cultural paradigms within which we may live all the days of our lives with dignity and quality of care.

Connect with the authors: Website ~ Facebook

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Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Sept 30

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Ydron Saga by Raymond Bolton

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Awakening
The Ydron Saga Book 1
by Raymond Bolton
Genre: Paranormal Epic Fantasy
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How does a world equipped with bows, arrows and catapults, where steam
power is just beginning to replace horses and sailing ships, avert a
conquest from beyond the stars? Prince Regilius has been engineered
to combat the Dalthin, a predatory alien species that enslaves worlds
telepathically, and to do so he must unite his people. But when his
mother murders his father, the land descends into chaos and his task
may prove impossible. Faced with slaying the one who gave him life in
order to protect his world, he seeks a better way. Set in a vast and
varied land where telepaths and those with unusual mental abilities
tip the course of events, Awakening goes to the heart of family,
friendship and betrayal.
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In this scene, Prince Regilius, or Reg as he’s called by his frinds, is fleeing the city of danYdron. At this point in the story, he has become inexplicibly telepathic and clairvoyant and is overwhelmed by the thoughts of its citizenry:

Reg was awash with faces. Their stories came upon him like a flood. Wave followed wave and inundated him to the point of drowning. These were not simply imaginings. They were beyond any concepts he had ever known and many were contrary to his way of thinking. As he fought to retain stable footing in what was rapidly becoming a maelstrom of misery and despair, he grew uncomfortably aware of the vividness and intensely personal feeling each experience brought. These were not other lives. Each seemed to be his own. It was he, Regilius Tonopath, who had been beaten, who drank, who failed and despaired. It was he, the heir to the throne of Ydron, who was the robber, the washerwoman, the child. On one hand, he knew this could not be, and contrarily he recalled each life with the clarity and certitude with which he knew each step and turning of the palace corridors.

Beneath this misery, simmering steadily to the surface, arose ever new and alien thoughts. Immersed as he was in these lives, his perceptions of things familiar were changing. Soldiers, his lifelong protectors, were not to be trusted, but rather, feared. No longer guardians and enforcers of the law, they were the source of brutality and kidnappers of husbands and children. Women hid themselves from the helmet and shield of the throne.

It did not pay to be successful outside the palace walls. Any surpluses or gains were sure to be confiscated. One could never quite pay one’s tax. The collector made sure of it. When one had managed to acquire a little more than one’s customary lot, a visit from the taxman was inevitable. Since none ever knew how the news got out, each suspected his neighbor. It probably was true spies were everywhere. A word in the right ear would likely put food in an empty belly, so distrust abounded.

Reg’s head hurt and he trembled as he drove through the horror. He could not believe any of this could be true in the land his family ruled, but the images were relentless. This flight from danger had become a plunge into reality. He was unprepared for and unable to come to terms with what each moment drove home. Had he been so sheltered he could not see his world as it was?

Somehow—he knew not by what providence—the roadster hurtled on without incident. Even when he tried, he could barely focus on his surroundings. Carts, streets, banners, men, women and children all blurred into a stream, while the dreams or revelations—he could not say which—bombarded him until he was lost in the confusion. He no longer knew where he was, yet the car careened onward.

Eventually he passed through the city’s outermost wall. He did not remember the gate or the guards, but the density of outer danYdron thinned into scattered farms and villages and his head began to clear. He breathed deeply, with only dim recollection of his purpose as the cacophony of sights and sounds receded. Like a badly beaten fighter trying to see through senses numbed by countless blows, staggering toward his corner and his seconds for relief, Reg drove westward. Familiarity kept him on his path, though his mind was still dazed, unaware of the road spinning under the wheels and away behind him.

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Thought Gazer
The Ydron Saga Book 2
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Everyone who touches you transforms you, if only a little. But if you enter
their minds, think what they have thought, in effect do what they
have done, how complete will that transformation be?


If he had been born an ordinary man, his family would be safe–safe as
anyone can be in a land torn apart by war. It is his singular gift,
however, that causes his wife and children to be imprisoned and held
hostage and him to be used as a tool. Caught up in a struggle between
opposing warlords and refusing to play the game, Peniff elects to
take the moral high road. This is the story of a man, in all other
ways ordinary, rising above his fears to do what he must. Can he free
his family before his betrayal comes to light? Moreover, what will he
become before his journey is over?

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Luna Rising by Selene Castrovilla

 

Luna Rising

By Selene Castrovilla

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Amazon

 

About the Book

Life begins at thirty-eight for Long Island mom and writer Luna Lampanelli, when she kicks her secretly gay husband to the curb. She’s got her freedom, but what she wants is love. Luna knows she doesn’t need a man to exist, but try telling that to her heart. Against the advice of Sunny, her snarky best friend, and Jiminy, the cautioning voice in Luna’s head who just won’t shut up, Luna sets course to find a mate. Luna speed and on-line dates her way into several short-lived, surreal relationships. There’s Ari, the humorless Israeli who refuses to assimilate – to America, and to humanity. There’s Alex, the young and handsome ex-crackhead who informs Luna he doesn’t want to be monogamous—while they’re in bed. There’s Memphis, the wild-eyed sadomasochist. There’s Red, angry and crippled, who becomes the catalyst for Luna to join Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. But before Luna can proceed to recovery, she meets the elusive but oh so appealing Trip. He’s emotionally unavailable and has the Madonna-Whore Complex, but how can Luna (aka “whore”) let him go when she enjoys his dry wit so much, and his body even more? Humorously haunting and packed with unspeakable truths, Luna Rising follows a woman’s funny and heart-breaking struggle to relate with un-relatable men and an un-relatable world, and to figure out something even more un-relatable: herself.

 

About the Author

Selene Castrovilla debuts in women’s fiction with Luna Rising, but she’s no stranger to publishing. An award-winning teen and children’s author, Selene believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. Her novel Melt, Book One of the Rough Romance Trilogy, received six honors including the IndieReader Discovery Award Grand Prize for Fiction. Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, her third nonfiction picture book about the American Revolution, was the recipient of four awards including Booklist Top Ten Biography for Youth, International School Librarians’ Honor Book and Eureka! California Reading Association Honor Book. A companion book, Revolutionary Rogues: John André and Benedict Arnold, is hot off the presses. Selene holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School and a B.A. in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons and too many cats, where she sits on her deck in the summer, fall and spring (and at her picture window in the winter) and writes. She loves the color purple and coffee. Selene plays well with others, but with words even better. She is so grateful to do what she loves. National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson calls Selene “a writer worth watching.” Visit www.SeleneCastrovilla.com.

 

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SCastrovilla/

On Twitter: @SCastrovilla

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Luna-Rising-Selene-Castrovilla/dp/0991626192

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32963894-luna-rising

On B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/luna-rising-selene-castrovilla/1125286165

 

AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY

$50 Amazon card plus signed copies of Luna Rising and Melt by Selene Castrovilla!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour: The Slant Six by Christopher F. Cobb

 

Sci-fi / space opera thriller

Date Published: March 31, 2017

Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.

 The year is 2252 and Loman Phin is in trouble. A washed-up channelship racer turned freelancer, he hits pay dirt with his latest mission: a fortune is on the line if he can transport forty-three kilograms of human skin to a remote villa on Pluto’s moon, Nix. Little does he know his very life is at stake when he gets caught up in an ancient feud, chased by a space vampire, and forced into a death-race by the king of Ceres. Meanwhile, danger is always hot on his heels in the form of a massive space freighter out for Loman’s blood. With just his wits, his friends, and his beat-up cruiser, the Slant Six, Loman sets out on the most dangerous adventure of his life.

Purchase Links

Amazon   *   Barnes & Noble   *   Kobo

 

About the Author

Born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, Christopher Cobb ventured off to the wilds of New York City for several years to experience the world of acting. Finding it a cruel and inhospitable world, he hid high in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia for a time. Having grown weary of snow and perilous black ice, his life path took him back home to south Florida where he earned college degrees at Florida Atlantic University. He now lives in Jupiter—the city, not the planet—with his true love and talented artist, Alicia, their two weird cats, Simon and Weezy, and his amazingly wonderful daughter, Emma. He is a member of the Bloody Pens Writers Group, as well as the Florida Writer’s Association and intends on writing more exciting books for publication. All this makes Christopher a very happy man indeed. Visit him at www.chrisfcobb.com.

 

Contact Information

Website: www.chrisfcobb.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrisfcobb

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrisfcobb

 

The Amazon purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 2 Escape.

Blog Tour: Water Proof by Lee DuCote

 

Action and Adventure / Romance

Date Published: 9/3/2015

Publisher: Grave Distractions Publication 

What happens when a Voodoo woman named Labriox Papillon spills her secrets to a young boy who is trying to capture treasure and his childhood crush?  Adventure, South Louisiana legends, and love! 

 In Waterproof, Spencer LeJeune, a nerdy kid that grew up to a young attractive man, puts it all on the line to find the Spanish Treasure Barge and win over Toni Benoit’s heart.  What starts off to be a reunited friendship turns into a suspenseful hunt for treasure and to outwit a fifth generation pirate from Spain. 

 Will Spencer win the heart of Toni and find the treasure before it costs him the lives of others and millions in silver and other treasures?  Can Toni tame the treasure loving man and keep his focus?

Purchase Links

Amazon   *   Barnes & Noble   *   Kobo   *   Smashbooks

 

About the Author

Lee DuCote has traveled the world researching cultures, people, and historical accounts to help create his stories.  A native to Louisiana, he writes to give hope and encouragement to others, as well as to entertain and spark the imagination.  Lee lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas with his wife and family and is the author of seven novels including Camp 80 that earned him an international book award.

 

Contact Information

Website: www.leeducote.com           

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorleeducote

Twitter: @leeducote

Goodreads: Lee DuCote

 

 

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Choices Trilogy by Sandy Lender

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Choices Meant For Gods
The Choices Trilogy Book 1
by Sandy Lender
Genre: Fantasy
Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The
Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad
sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but
watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an
impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the
responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the
trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her
latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his
estate or to help her in her duty?
Choices Meant for Gods is without a doubt the freshest most engaging high
fantasy novel to come out in years and breathes new life into a tired
genre. The characters leap off the page and the plot is lightning
quick and deftly written with many layers that tease the mind and
imagination. Choices Meant for Gods is not a mere novel; it is a
gorgeous piece of written art. I can hardly wait for the second
book!”
Jamieson Wolf, Linear Reflections
Author of Hope Falls, Electric Pink, Electric
Blue, and Garden City
In Choices Meant for Gods, Sandy Lender takes her readers of fantasy
fiction by the hand and leads them through an exciting world filled
with sorcerers, gods, goddesses, dragons, and other mythical
creatures. Through the use of interesting characters and clever
dialogue (“Try not to think, Nicolas. You look so much more
handsome when you’re bewildered.”), she weaves a spell of magic
and fantasy. The only problem for the reader may occur at the end of
the book when they find themselves wanting more and discover they
will have to wait for book two!”
Gary R. Hoffman, Author for Short Story
Anthologies including Seven By Seven and Never Safe
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Choices Meant For Kings
The Choices Trilogy Book 2
There’s no doubt: Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects
of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something
from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and
her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord
Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their
monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must
choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of
the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness
creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an
orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will
she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?
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Choices Meant For All
The Choices Trilogy Book 3
From the foothills of the Freotho Mountains to the marble halls of
Mahriket, factions of deities rise to threaten not just Master
Rothahn’s crown, but all of Onweald’s people. The battles fan the
gates of the dark spirit world releasing demons of every species to
aid the enemy, but Emperor Nigel Taiman brings Malachi’s power to the
Arcanan Army’s camp in hopes of tipping the balance in his bride’s
favor. Dangerous times call for strange allies from all quarters. To
restore the geasa that will save the god she’s sworn to protect,
Amanda Chariss must escape the very Betrayer’s grasp and make choices
for the good of all. Does she have the will to sacrifice all that she
holds dear in the process? Dive into the action-packed conclusion of
the Choices trilogy to discover how prophecy works with and against
those who would heed it.
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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Jaded: Luke by Hildie McQueen

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Jaded: Luke
Laurel Creek Series #1
by Hildie McQueen
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
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Haunted by PTSD and a failed marriage, Luke Hamilton returns home to Laurel,
Montana. Going home isn’t an easy fix, but it beats ending up in
prison or dead. At first the familiar surroundings and open land seem
to set things right, but soon his old demons rear their ugly heads
and he realizes it’s the wrong time to enter any relationship.

Leah Morgan’s experience in the corporate world has prepared her to
prosper her father’s ranch in Montana. She knows everyone expects
her to fail, but nothing will stop her from turning the ranch around
and selling it to the highest bidder – especially not a rancher.
The quicker she closes the deal, the sooner she can get out of Laurel
and move on with her career.
But when Luke and Leah cross paths, they both discover that starting
over can be a complicated business.
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Needing fresh air, Leah went to the front door and stepped out to the wide porch that ran across the entire front of the house.  Although some of the white paint on the walls and columns was chipped, it remained steadfastly beautiful. The wide porch with rockers had always made a perfect first impression to the graceful home she’d grown up in.

A truck rambled toward the house and she glanced at her watch.  Whoever it was came early.  The meeting was not for half an hour.

“Damn it,” she looked down at her worn jeans and bare feet.  She’d hurriedly pulled on a t-shirt and jeans to cook and planned to change before the meeting.  Too late now.

The truck stopped and a man surfaced.  Over six foot of muscles, tattoos with the blank expression of someone who would snap your neck and spit down your throat sauntered toward her.

Eyes wide, she took a step back.  This was not one of the Hamilton’s at least not someone she remembered.  Of course she’d seen Tobias and Taylor in the last couple weeks.  Luke, Tobias’ twin was gone, lived in Texas, or somewhere south last she heard.

“Who are you?” She said having made it just inside the doorway with one hand on the doorknob so she could close it before he reached the porch.

“He stopped in his tracks giving her a chance to study him.

This was not your typical Montana rancher.  Instead of a Stetson, he wore a baseball cap.  No plaid shirt for this man, instead his form fitting black t-shirt, left no illusions of the muscular body underneath.  If it weren’t for the flatness in his eyes and the stoic expression, she’d find him utterly gorgeous.

At the moment, however, she’d describe him as more of a serial killer than a hunk.

A hunky serial killer.  She moved back and closed the door a bit.  “Who are you?”

“Luke. I’m Luke Hamilton.  And you’re Pesky Morgan.”

No one had called her that since…well since middle school.  Then it was Luke Hamilton who’d started everyone at school calling her that.”

“I hate that nickname.  Don’t ever call me that again.” She relaxed and opened the door wider.  “What are you doing here?  Where’s Tobias, or Taylor.  We have a meeting.”

His wide shoulders lifted and lowered and his upper lip lifted in what she could only describe as an Elvis snarl.  “Neither want to deal with you.  So they sent me.”

“From where?”

“From Hell. I’m the devil.” His right eyebrow rose, the only hint he was kidding.

Leah blew out an annoyed breath.  “Well come in Lucifer.  I have to get brownies out of the oven.”

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Bestselling author Hildie McQueen loves unusual situations and getting into
interesting adventures, which is what her characters do as well. She
writes romance because she is in love with love! Author of Romance in
Highland historical, Western Historical and contemporary, she writes
something every reader can enjoy.

 
Most days she can be found in her pajamas hiding from deliverymen while
drinking tea from her David Gandy coffee mug. In the afternoons she
browses the Internet for semi-nude men to post on Facebook.
 
Hildie’s favorite past-times are romance conventions, traveling, shopping
and reading.
 
She resides in beautiful small town Georgia with her super-hero husband
Kurt, an unruly boy Chihuahua Pepito and a spoiled rotten girl
Chiweenie named Lola.
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Blog Tour & Giveaway: In It For The Money by David Burnsworth

On Tour September 11 – October 11, 2017

In It For The Money by David Burnsworth

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: September 12th 2017
Number of Pages: 278
ISBN: 9781635112436
Series:A Blu Carraway Mystery, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

 

Lowcountry Private Investigator Blu Carraway needs a new client. He’s broke and the tax man is coming for his little slice of paradise. But not everyone appreciates his skills. Some call him a loose cannon. Others say he’s a liability. All the ex-Desert Storm Ranger knows is his phone hasn’t rung in quite a while. Of course, that could be because it was cut off due to delinquent payments.

Lucky for him, a client does show up at his doorstep—a distraught mother with a wayward son. She’s rich and her boy’s in danger. Sounds like just the case for Blu. Except nothing about the case is as it seems. The jigsaw pieces—a ransom note, a beat-up minivan, dead strippers, and a missing briefcase filled with money and cocaine—do not make a complete puzzle. The first real case for Blu Carraway Investigations in three years goes off the rails.

And that’s the way he prefers it to be.

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Lowcountry, South Carolina, early June, Thursday morning

The old rotary phone sitting on the desk refused to ring. No matter how much Blu Carraway wanted it to. He looked out the window of his makeshift office at the surrounding marsh and sighed. Crumpled up in his right hand was the latest tax assessment, in his left was an electronic cigarette. Without thinking, he took a hit off the vaporizer, which replaced Camels as his only vice. Well, that and pirated satellite TV.

And still the receiver remained silent.

One more good job.

It was all he needed.

Then Charleston County would be happy for another year, and he’d get to keep his little island home. Just. One. Good. Job.

The hula girl on his desk a Desert Storm buddy had given him when he first hung out his PI shingle bobbled at him as if to say, “How long did you think you could keep this up, tough guy?”

He swatted her off the desk with the tax bill. “At least another year, Dollie.”

As the plastic figure skittered across the old plank flooring, Blu heard the sound of tires on his crushed shell drive. With the sole air-conditioning being a ceiling fan and open windows, he heard everything happening on his little slice of paradise. But he suspected his tenure there was on borrowed time. The house and land, which had been in the family for next to forever, were his free and clear. Except nothing was free and clear. He still had his yearly rent payment to the county, which seemed to think nine acres of mostly sand and marsh with a small herd of free-roaming scraggly horses was worth one helluva lot. Even though they neglected to consider it relevant enough to route the mosquito sprayers anywhere near the place.

A black Mercedes, the new big one, sliced between two live oaks and rolled to a stop beside his ancient Land Cruiser. Blu watched as the driver’s door opened and a man in a suit and tie exited the car. Just as Blu was about to run outside to greet him, he noticed the man walk around the expensive German machine, open the rear door, and extend a hand to assist whomever was in the backseat.

A pale white hand grasped the driver’s. After a moment, a woman with shoulder-length gray hair and sunglasses stood beside the car as the driver shut her door. She was not unattractive—in a wealthy, snobby kind of way. Her pose accentuated thin, but not frail, limbs and a torso hinting at personal trainer visits. Her crème-colored sleeveless blouse, tailored slacks, and shoes his daughter had once told him were called wedges exuded confidence. The woman held what looked like an expensive pocketbook.

Blu walked outside and approached the pair. “Can I help you?”

The woman, who was more attractive up close with high cheekbones, a small nose Blu guessed was natural, and a perfectly- proportioned neck adorned with modest pearls, said, “I’m looking for a Mr. Carraway.”

“You found him.”

“Good.” She turned to the driver, who upon closer inspection had an athletic build with a slightly visible shoulder rig beneath his suit coat. “Told you this was the place.”

He said, “Yes, ma’am.”

It didn’t sound like the man was convinced.

Two of Blu’s horses, at least he called them his because they wouldn’t leave his property even though there was no fencing, clomped around the house and approached. These were the curious ones from the herd, and not the brightest. He’d named them Dink and Doofus.

The woman’s mouth opened in surprise.

Her driver, apparently startled, reached inside his jacket where the shoulder rig was.

Blu said, “Don’t mind these two. They’re harmless. But if you see a black stud, best keep your distance.”

The woman watched the horses approach. Dink, the brown male with a tangled mane, lowered his head and sniffed. Doofus, his coat best described as dirty snow, lumbered up to the woman. In a past life, these two must have been canines.

Blu said, “Come on, guys.”

As if the horses just noticed he was there, they both raised their heads and snorted. Doofus gave his mane a quick shake.

The woman reached out and touched Dink on his nose.

The horse granted her hand a big lick before she could retract it.

Dink and Doofus didn’t approach just anybody. Blu had recognized this trait in them a long time ago. They liked this woman. Or else they just thought she had a treat for them.

Blu said, “What can I do for you fine folks?”

“Mr. Carraway,” the woman said, maneuvering around Dink and offering a business card. “I’m Cynthia Rhodes.”

Blu held the card. “That’s exactly what this says.” It also gave a Charleston, South Carolina address. South Battery, no less. Big money.

Real big money.

She said, “Yes, well, I’d like to talk to you about employing your services.”

Tapping the card on his open palm, he said, “I appreciate your effort to get here, Ms. Rhodes. I would have gladly met you somewhere closer to Charleston. Saved you the forty-minute trip.”

The driver stepped forward and the horses retreated to the other side of the vehicles. “There must be something wrong with your phone.”

An image of a stack of unpaid bills came to mind, specifically the one marked “third and final notice.” Blu didn’t reply.

Cynthia Rhodes said, “Is there someplace we can sit and talk?”

Coming to his senses, Blu said, “Of course. I’m sorry. I don’t normally receive clients out here. Please come this way.” He ran through a mental checklist: the office was one chair short for this group, the desk was a mess, the hula girl was on the floor, and the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned in, well, he couldn’t remember when.

Ms. Rhodes and her driver followed him, all of them crunching on the shell drive, up the porch stairs, and into the office he’d created out of the living room of the one-story bungalow his great- great-grandfather had built.

His guests didn’t comment on the disheveled appearance.

The driver pulled out the single client chair in front of Blu’s desk and Cynthia Rhodes sat.

Blu made an assumption the man would prefer to remain standing seeing as how his role could best be described as armed chauffer. Walking around his desk, being sure to step over the hula girl on the floor, and noticing the crumpled tax bill flittering in the wind of the ceiling fan, Blu sat on the ripped cushion of his ancient captain’s chair. It gave a long, un-oiled squeak. “Okay, Ms. Rhodes, tell me why you think you need my services.”

Cynthia Rhodes removed her sunglasses and held them in her lap.

She looked at him with deep blue eyes. “Mr. Carraway, I have a situation I’m not sure how to handle.”

The horses’ intuition and this woman’s bold and transparent acknowledgement of uncertainty regarding her situation had him trusting her almost immediately. Well, those reasons and the big tax bill he had to pay.

“Can I get either of you something to drink?” he asked. “I’ve got tap water or cold—I mean iced—coffee.” Cold was a more accurate statement, but he didn’t think it sounded sophisticated enough.

Cynthia Rhodes said, “No, thank you.”

Meeting her deep blue gaze, he guessed she was mid-fifties, about ten years his senior. He asked, “How can I help?”

“I was told you could be trusted.”

“By whom?” he asked.

“Adam Kincaid.”

With the name, Blu immediately understood the depth of her need, if not the specifics.

She continued. “He said you got his daughter back for him when those awful men took her.”

“More or less.” Kincaid’s daughter was returned to her father intact, physically if not emotionally, without paying any ransom. And the world had lost a half-dozen kidnappers. “Has your daughter been kidnapped?”

With a tight-lipped smile and a slight headshake, she said, “I have a son.”

He said, “What is it you think I can do for you?”

“He’s missing.”

“How do you know?”

She looked down. “My son and I have a strained relationship, to say the least. The only way I know he’s okay is because he makes withdrawals from his trust fund.”

Blu said, “He hasn’t made any in a while?”

“Two weeks.” She looked at him. “I was told you handle unique situations. That they were your specialty.”

Her driver smirked.

Blu said, “You don’t want the police involved?”

“No,” she said. “I mean, not yet.”

He sat back. “What would you like me to do?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” she asked, her voice breaking for the first time.

“You’d like me to find him?”

“Yes.”

It sounded more like a question.

He said, “I can do that.”

“My son is a sweet boy. He likes art—painting. If something’s happened to him, I’m not sure what I’d do.”

Blu had a hunch the real reason she was here was about to surface.

She said, “Mr. Kincaid told me you made the men who took his daughter pay for their sins.”

“You think someone did something to your son?”

Folding her arms across her chest, she said, “I hope not.”

Blu shook his head. “Anything that may or may not have happened in Mexico was a by-product of the goal of the job, which was to get his daughter back.” It was a true statement, but not really the truth.

Cynthia Rhodes reached into her pocketbook, removed a check, and handed it to Blu.

Chapter Two

The amount written in neat, precise cursive would do a lot more than just pay his property tax for the year. He handed the check back, trying hard not to show any reluctance to do so. “I don’t take on blood jobs.” Another true statement which wasn’t the truth.

Sometimes they ended up that way—bloody.

Her eyes were wide. “But you’re my last hope.”

Blu laced his fingers together and placed his hands on the desk. “That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.” With a slight head jerk, he motioned to her driver. “Why not send trigger-happy Rick, here?”

Blu already knew the answer. The man was mostly show. He appeared to be in shape. But he did not have a killer’s gaze.

She looked at her driver who shifted his weight between his feet as if he were nervous.

Holding a hand up, Blu said, “You don’t want to have things too close to home. I understand. Better to hire some schmuck and make him do the heavy lifting.”

“You’re mistaken,” she said. “I heard you were the best.”

“I am the best,” he said. “Can’t you tell by the crowds of folks lining up for my services?”

With a smile breaking the tension in the lines of her face, she said, “Adam also said you had an odd sense of humor.”

Blu didn’t know what to say, so he kept quiet. Filling voids in conversation only gave away too much.

Cynthia Rhodes filled in the void for him. “If it isn’t enough money, I’ll double it.”

The Kincaid job had netted enough to keep Carraway Investigations solvent for three years, with only a modest contribution from an insurance or surveillance job here and there. And lately, some day laboring. The offer in front of him was eerily similar. Of course, Blu and his partner, a biker and fellow Ranger named Mick Crome, had barely made it out of Mexico alive with Jennifer Kincaid. Blu was three years wiser now, and he enjoyed the cliché “getting older by the minute” more than the one about “being worm food.”

He ignored one of his golden rules: Decisions made under duress were usually tainted. “Okay. I’ll look into it. But if all you want is a trigger puller, I’m out.”

And then he lied to himself about it not being because he needed the money.

 

After Cynthia Rhodes signed a standard, boiler-plate contract, which had jammed Blu’s ancient printer twice in the process, and gave him a picture of her son, she and her driver left. Happy to be working again, Blu headed into town, taking the decade-old photo of Jeremy Rhodes with him, the most recent one his mother had. It showed a good-looking, normal kid with clear eyes and a boyish smile and dimples.

The drive into Charleston gave Blu time to think. A few things about this new job already bothered him. First: Cynthia Rhodes, the kid’s supposed mother, didn’t have a current picture of her son. Second: For all he knew, Jeremy could be trying to run away from dear old mom.

Cynthia Rhodes had no idea where her son was and couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen or spoken with him. When Blu asked about drug use, she seemed flippant. All she knew was Jeremy had gone to the College of Charleston and majored in Liberal Arts, graduating two years ago.

Frankly, if it weren’t for the money and his lack of it, Blu wouldn’t have been so eager to take the job. The fact she’d doubled the offer erased any hesitation he might have had.

When he turned onto King Street, he found a parking spot at a meter in front of Willie’s Music Shop. He put some change in the meter and walked inside. His friend Willie Day had owned and run the place since the eighties, weathering Hurricane Hugo and urban blight. Willie always seemed to know what was going on no matter what Blu asked about. After Willie had passed on to the other side not too long after 9/11, his daughter took over, running the store during the city’s current rejuvenation. And, like her father, she had connections all over town.

Billie Day stood beside a wall display of Fender guitars, talking to a very early twenty-something white male. A black tank top and a short crop of hair exposed Billie’s light brown arms and neck. Her jeans accentuated curves that always put Blu in a good mood. She gave him a slight nod but kept her main focus on the customer.

Blu rotated his sunglasses to the top of his head and pretended to browse while he waited for Billie to make the sale. Desert Storm had done a number on his hearing, but he distinctly heard the sum “thousand even” and silently congratulated Billie.

After the kid had paid and walked out with his purchase protected in a nice case she’d talked him into buying, Billie walked over to Blu.

With hands on nice hips, she said, “What can I help you with?”

What she said was a little more formal than Blu had been looking for in a greeting. Apparently, Billie was more than a little pissed at him for not calling. It had been six months, right about the time his tax situation derailed him.

He said, “Hi, Billie.”

“Hi, Billie? Is that what you’re going with?”

“Um—”

She put a finger to his lips. “Don’t even try to dig yourself out of this one, Blu.”

He looked into powerful, deep brown eyes and almost winced.

Her gaze lightened. “Why didn’t you just tell me your tax troubles?”

Blu looked down. He should have assumed she knew.

She lifted his chin. “Friends help each other. They don’t shut each other out.”

“It’s my problem to fix,” he said.

“But it doesn’t have to be, baby. You made it so.”

A lot of thoughts ran through his stubborn head. Like how someone five years his junior had it so much more together than he did. And how someone could care about him so much after all these years.

He said, “I’ve got another job now. A good one. Hell, the retainer alone is enough to pay off Charleston County and then some.”

“You’ve got a job now, huh? Is that why you’re here?”

“Not the only reason.”

She patted his chest. “Before we get to that, you’ve got to make this up to me.”

“I—”

With a nudge from her hip, she said, “I don’t want to hear excuses. I want you to take me out and treat me proper. Everything has a price. My price for being ignored is a date. Take it or leave it.”

He’d always loved this woman. The timing was never right. He’d come back from the war all screwed up and she’d just turned eighteen—bad timing.

By the time he’d gotten his head screwed back on straight, she was twenty. And he married someone else—bad timing.

When he’d been about to get a divorce, his wife turned up pregnant. They stuck it out another five years before ending it just in time for Billie to marry someone—bad timing.

And then Billie divorced, she and Blu were set to be together, and his money problems started—bad timing.

But now he had this new job, his money problems abated, and she was still available. He just hoped he wouldn’t mess it up this time. So, in answer to her request for a date as restitution for him being a complete moron, he said, “Okay. I’ll take it.”

“Good,” she said. “Pick me up at eight.”

He thought about going ahead and asking her if she knew Jeremy Rhodes, but he decided not to push his luck. She wasn’t his only source, just his favorite.

He smiled and gave her a peck on the cheek.

She said, “Are you going to call Crome?”

Chapter Three

Blu stepped out of the music store and onto the broken sidewalk of upper King Street. The nice shops had been encroaching this direction for some time and had almost made it. Willie’s Music had always been a novelty. Now it was a novelty on prime real estate. And Billie had politely turned down several decent offers to sell. Blu couldn’t blame her. The business held its own, and she liked what she did.

Her asking if he was going to call Crome meant she was more than a little concerned about the job.

Mick Crome, his sometime business partner, had vanished with his half of what was left of the fee after expenses from the payout of the Kincaid job. The last Blu heard, Crome had ridden his Harley all the way down to Key West and hadn’t come up for air since. And not a day went by that Blu didn’t think about his friend.

He’d give Crome a day or two. The guy had a knack for showing up at the right time. If he hadn’t returned to Charleston by then and things got out of hand, Blu would make a few calls.

The picture Cynthia Rhodes gave him of her son didn’t help as he would have to assimilate what Jeremy looked like now, most likely factoring in extensive drug use as an age agent.

What he needed was a current picture, at least one more current than ten years. Because he’d let his cell phone plan expire when he ran out of money, he bought a prepaid “burner” phone at a drug store. The teenage girl who rang up his purchase helped him set it up and he gave her a five-dollar tip.

Using the cigarette lighter in the Land Cruiser to power the phone, he dialed a number from memory.

It went to voicemail.

When prompted to leave a message, he said, “Gladys, this is Blu Carraway. I know it’s been a while, but I could use a favor. Call me when you can.” He left the burner’s number and closed the phone.

With that accomplished, some theme music was required. He selected a cassette and loaded it in the Land Cruiser’s tape deck. After a moment, the bass riff from “The Waiting Room” by the punk band Fugazi played through the speakers—what a band.

The phone vibrated on his leg. He turned down the music volume and answered the call.

Gladys said, “Certainly has been a while, Mr. Blu Carraway. What lowlife are you after now?”

Ten years ago, about the same time the picture of Jeremy Rhodes was taken, Blu intervened in a domestic abuse situation. Gladys found him through a friend and tried to hire him. Apparently, none of the other local private investigators would bother to talk with her, much less take her job. At the time, her husband was taking out his frustrations for being a bakery delivery man on Gladys. When Blu found out she worked at the DMV, he handled the job pro bono, figuring the connection was worth it. In the end, a police investigation confirmed her husband had died while trying to beat her again—a clear case of self-defense as far as anyone was concerned. Blu didn’t lose any sleep over it when the police found the knife sticking out of the man’s neck with Gladys’ prints on it. In Blu’s mind, any man who struck a woman in anger deserved no less. Gladys had done the deed, but only after Blu suggested she already had enough evidence to prove self-defense. He’d been a stone’s throw away when it happened, which most likely also encouraged and empowered the woman to take action.

And Gladys, with her connection to every licensed driver and registered vehicle in the state of South Carolina, had indeed proved helpful. The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of ’92 protected a driver’s information from getting outside the appropriate government agencies. But it didn’t apply to licensed PI’s like Blu who had a wide range of access. Through experience, Blu found an inside source usually trumped his own sleuthing skills. With her abusive husband gone, Gladys’ life had changed dramatically for the better. He knew she would happily keep returning the favor.

He said, “I need a photo of someone.”

“Let me get something to write with.” A pause, then, “Okay, shoot.”

He gave the name and approximate age of Jeremy Rhodes.

She said, “I get off work in two hours. Buy me a milkshake at the Chick-fil-A down the street.”

“You got it.” He ended the call.

With time to kill, Blu had two things in mind. One was to research exactly who Cynthia Rhodes was. And the second was to squeeze in a workout at the gym. His first stop was the local library where he signed onto a computer and looked up his new client. Normally he would have done this before accepting the job, but her check was awfully big.

Cynthia Rhodes was indeed a Charleston socialite. She managed a charitable organization named Lowcountry Second Chances and booked fundraisers all year long. A major benefactor for the charity was a shelter in North Charleston.

Once divorced, her ex-husband being one Jack Rhodes who had passed away five years ago from a heart attack, Jeremy was their only child. Jack had been a big deal in lowcountry real estate up until his passing.

Jeremy Rhodes, unlike his mother, had done a good job of flying under the radar. There was quite a bit on both of his parents on the web, but nothing about him except a few notifications of past showings of his artwork at some of the local coffee shops.

Being a private investigator wasn’t in and of itself difficult work. Blu felt he had to keep his mind sharp and be able to think on his feet. And he had sources providing a lot of what kept him ahead of things. But it was also physical—he had to stay in shape. Quitting smoking, or at least switching to vapor, had several benefits, one being he could no longer afford it anymore anyway. And it also helped him breathe better during workouts.

With the preliminary research complete, Blu went to the gym. He kept a bag of gym clothes and gear in his truck, because he never knew when he’d get the opportunity. While his cardio had gotten a lot better since he switched to vapor, he still preferred the weights and got a good hour set in. Even with his money troubles, the gym membership would have been one of the last things to go.

 

Gladys faced a pink-colored milkshake in a booth in the restaurant when Blu sat across from her. A lot of people spent a lot of money to fight against looking their age. Gladys was not one of them. Past fifty, she had thick strawberry-framed glasses, gray hair, and a healthy dose of paunch. She had a few more years before she’d have her time in with the state and she could retire on a full ride. When that happened, Blu would need another source. Gladys made it easier than having to deal with a lot of red tape, even though he also knew a lot of cops.

She sipped from the straw and slid a nine-by-twelve-inch envelope to him. Her short, plump body was mostly hidden by the table. “They know me here. I told them you’d be paying. You gotta go to the counter.”

Blu stood, went to the counter, ordered a sweet tea, and paid for their drinks. He got his tea, sat across from Gladys again, picked up the envelope, and slipped out two sheets of paper, one an enlarged driver’s license picture and the other a vehicle registration for a late model Volkswagen Jetta. Listed was the South Battery address on the business card his mother had given Blu.

Gladys remained quiet.

Unlike the clean-cut boy in the photo Cynthia had given him, in this picture Jeremy Rhodes had black hair shaved on one side of his head with the length on top combed over to the other like an upside down mop. It contrasted with pale white skin like his mother’s—obviously not a beach dweller. He also had quite a few piercings: ears, nose, eyebrows, and both cheeks.

Blu pushed the photo back into the envelope. “Thanks.”

“Kid looks like a degenerate, you ask me.”

He hadn’t asked her, but let it go. “How’s your mom?” Last time he spoke with her, she was in the hospital.

“Dead.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

Gladys nodded but didn’t reply. Aside from the results of her lethargic and static lifestyle, she really did look much different from when she first walked into his office. Her usual grumpy demeanor aside, he knew she’d become a new woman, quite content with who she was. With her newfound freedom from the abusive husband came what he’d observed to be inner strength.

She said, “One more thing. I checked around. The car’s in impound. Been there a week.”

“Thanks,” he said, “Anything I can do for you?”

She finished another round of slurping, licked her lips, and swallowed. “Nah. I’m good.”

Blu slid out of the booth and was ready to roll when she said, “They got good sandwiches here.”

His first thought was she didn’t want to eat alone. Even though he wanted to get back to the job, he said, “Why don’t we get something to eat? I’m buying.”

She smiled for the first time. “Okay by me.”

After they ate chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, and he listened to her complain about her sister, Blu left the ray of sunshine that was Gladys and drove back into the city.

He wanted to check out the kid’s car, and he knew someone who would give him access, but it was too late in the day. First thing in the morning, he’d make a call.

The feeling Cynthia Rhodes wasn’t telling him everything weighed heavy on him. Gladys had said Jeremy Rhodes looked like a degenerate. It wasn’t his call to make, but Blu wouldn’t hire the kid to pick shells on the beach, much less do anything requiring responsibility. If he was alive, what was the kid doing for money? It wasn’t as if he’d ever had to work for anything.

 

At suppertime, still an hour before he had to leave to meet Billie, Blu filled the water trough for the horses with a garden hose. His grandfather had made the first mistake a long time ago when he gave one of the animals an apple. Since then, the herd of Carolina Marsh Tackeys, a breed indigenous to the lowcountry, had slowly become family, and caring for them had grown from a novelty to a chore. His father and Cuban mother had continued the practice while they lived there as well. The horses still fed mostly on the vegetation of the property and took care of themselves, the exception being when it froze. During the one week a year it got frigid in the lowcountry, Blu bought a few bales of hay to carry them through. Trying to get them into a barn would be a waste of time. They’d sooner trample him than be corralled.

By the time he finished and put the water hose away, he heard tires on the crushed shell drive.

“Twice in one day,” he said to no one in particular.

He didn’t know how prophetic the statement really was until he watched Cynthia Rhodes’ shiny black Mercedes cut between the trees and pull up next to his old Land Cruiser, as before.

The driver got out of the Mercedes but didn’t open the rear door. Instead, he marched toward Blu. Same dark suit and tie and bright white shirt. He wore sunglasses, just like Blu. It looked like Trigger Rick had come alone this time.

Dink and Doofus kept their distance.

When Trigger Rick got close, Blu said, “Howdy.”

The man didn’t look happy. But then again, he didn’t look happy the first time Blu had met him either. “Howdy yourself, Carraway.” He thumb-pointed to himself. “I could do the job. I’m not sure why Cynthia thought she needed the help of some washed- up dick who hasn’t had a real job in three years.”

Blu didn’t reply. What was there to say?

Trigger Rick continued. “The reason I’m here is because Cynthia wanted a way to be in contact with you.” He reached into his jacket pocket and handed over a smartphone.

“I don’t like those things,” Blu lied. More like he couldn’t afford a smartphone. The service plans required monthly payments, something he hadn’t been in a financial position to commit to in a while.

“Like I care.’”

Blu held it out for the driver to take back. “Still, I can’t accept it.”

“You can and you will.” He retreated to the car. “You think I’m going to go back and tell Cynthia I didn’t give it to you?”

Blu watched the man start the car, turn around, and drive away. Then he looked down at the phone in his hand. It was a nice iPhone.

While he was examining it, the device vibrated in his hands. He almost dropped it.

The name “Cynthia Rhodes” displayed on the screen.

Blu touched the green answer button and held it up to his ear.

“Mr. Carraway?” It was her voice.

“Yes.”

“Good. I hope you don’t think me presumptuous, but I wanted to make sure we had a way of communicating.”

Blu watched as Dink, Doofus, and a mare named Molly Mae drank from the trough. He said, “I appreciate the gesture, but I can’t accept this.”

“I insist.”

“What I mean is I need to get myself one for my business anyway.”

“Consider it a part of our deal and a bonus afterward. It’s unlocked, and I’ve paid forward enough to last the rest of the year.”

He realized he wouldn’t have to worry about getting the landline reconnected. It showed several bars of coverage even on his own slice of paradise located forty minutes away from anywhere else.

She said, “I also managed to get the last four digits to spell out ‘blue.’”

“Oh.”

“That’s okay, isn’t it?” she asked. “I mean, you can use it as a marketing gimmick if you want. You know, like ‘don’t feel blue, call Blue.’”

He wondered how long she’d worked on that one. Hopefully not too long. He decided not to correct her spelling of his name. “I really appreciate the gesture, Ms. Rhodes.”

“Call me Cynthia.”

Her driver had called her Cynthia. How close were they?

He didn’t mention that either. Instead, he said, “Okay. And you can call me Blu.”

“Good.”

“Cynthia?”

“Yes?”

“How long has your driver been working for you?”

“Rick? Around two years. Why?”

If Blu handled this poorly, it could jeopardize being able to continue calling her Cynthia. He said, “Why isn’t he looking for your son? I can tell he believes he’s capable.”

After a pause, she said, “Mr. Carraway. That is precisely why I hired you.”

The call ended.

And Blu wondered if he could still call her Cynthia.

***

Excerpt from In It For The Money by David Burnsworth. Copyright © 2017 by David Burnsworth. Reproduced with permission from David Burnsworth. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

David Burnsworth

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.

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