The Inconvenient Unborn — guest post by author

Title: The Inconvenient Unbornv1

Author: David Carter

Genre: Family Drama / Political Thriller

England in the near future –

Though you may not like what you see.

 

The Cazenoves and the Wilsons don’t get along, leastways the parents don’t – the teenage kids adore each other, but when the oldest Wilson girl falls pregnant, sparks fly.

Donald Cazenove just happens to be Fred Wilson’s boss, but Fred isn’t without influence himself, being the senior shop steward, and the business is struggling anyway, and a strike could play havoc with Donald’s figures.

“The Inconvenient Unborn” is set in England in the near future where after years of austerity, a left wing Labour Party has been returned to power with a huge majority, and they now intend to change Britain forever. They have a mandate. They have conviction. They have momentum.

And then there’s a state visit to Britain by the most powerful man on the planet, Yuri Premakov, the Russian President, and his precocious and very beautiful film star wife, Tamara, bringing gifts of gas and oil and energy, at a price, and he’s scheduled to visit Lymington on the south coast, where most of this book is set.

So who wins out? The Cazenoves or the Wilsons, and what exactly are Yuri Premakov and his vast entourage up to in Britain?

“The Inconvenient Unborn” will take you on a journey you can barely imagine.




Book Excerpt

To put this into context, Oliver Cazenove, the guy, is eighteen going on nineteen, and still at school, while the girl, Sue, is thirty, with a penchant for younger men. She works behind the bar at Olly’s local pub, which is where he met her. 

Oliver was the first to leave the house at twenty to eight. His big hair had dried, but it still had that just washed and fluffy look, but no matter how roughly he treated it, it always seemed to fall back into perfect place, and he was grateful for that.

He was standing self-consciously outside Bestdas Supermarket by five to eight and though he knew his father was not inside, many of the people who worked there were aware he was the boss’s son. The sooner Sue arrived and whisked him away the better, and it was five past when the cream and maroon Cayton Cerisa whizzed up and abruptly stopped before him.

The passenger window was open and she leant across and smiled through it and said, ‘Don’t I know you? Would you like a lift?’

‘Damn right I would,’ grinned Olly, as he jumped inside, as Sue hit the accelerator before he’d even had time to plug in his belt.

‘Where do you fancy going?’ she said, taking her eyes off the road, and glancing at the big kid with the newly washed hair beside her. He smelt good too, looked good and smelt good, what more could a young woman want, and she was still young too at just thirty, though nowhere near as young as him. There was no law against it, was there? He was old enough and perfectly legal and fit and able, and that was all that mattered

‘Don’t mind,’ he said, ‘you choose, but somewhere away from Lymington, eh?’

‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘somewhere well away from here,’ and she headed across town and zipped onto the Brockenhurst road.

The radio was on, one of the local music stations, and The 27 Club came on.

‘Turn it up!’ he said.

‘Do you like these?’ she said, smiling and shaking her head.

‘They are brill, simply the best!’

‘Don’t see it myself, don’t see what all the fuss is about.’

‘It’s probably an age thing,’ he said, in all seriousness.

‘Oh, thanks, Olly!’

‘Sorry, Sue, I didn’t mean you’re old or anything, ’cos obviously you are not, but I think they appeal more to the teens and twenties.’

‘I’m not that long away from being a twenty,’ she pouted, and accelerated hard through the New Forest, slowing to avoid falling foul of the obligatory radar trap.

‘I know that,’ he said, ‘and you certainly don’t look old either, you look…’ and he left the sentence hanging in the air.

‘Yeah? I look what?’

He stole another peek at her.

‘You look absolutely fab actually, really beautiful,’ and she did too, in a low cut skimpy summer dress that showed off her breasts wonderfully.

Sue’s mouth fell open. Like most women she adored compliments, but one from a young kid like Olly, so sincerely said, well that was something else. She’d always known she’d liked him, but the way he spoke, and his appearance, and the way he looked at her, had an effect that was indeed special.

There followed a few moments of silence before Olly asked, ‘So, where are we going?’

‘There’s a couple of nice pubs on the Totton road from Lyndhurst,’ she said, ‘backing onto the forest. We could have a little walk too, if you want.’

A walk too, if you want, he pondered on her words, in the forest on a warm summer’s evening. What was there not like about that?

‘Great,’ he said. ‘Suits me.’

‘Have you eaten?’

‘Nope. You?’

‘I have not, thought we could get a bite to eat too.’

‘Sounds good, I’ve a huge appetite.’

‘I’ll bet you have,’ she said, grinning across at him, and they both laughed aloud.

******

For many scribblers the most enjoyable part is the actual writing, while the least enjoyable is the time spent marketing and selling one’s work, and even the most famous writers have to spend time doing that.

   Self published and small press authors have to devote a large chunk of their time to the marketing operation, for if they didn’t they wouldn’t sell any books.

   All marketing operations can be roughly divided into two sections: old technology and new technology. Old tech includes newspapers, magazines, posters, cards, and radio and TV, while new tech refers to Internet publicity and social media.

   Far and away the most successful for me, (so far!) has been through articles in old-fashioned newspapers. One large paper devoted almost half a page to me and my writing, and imagine how much coverage like that would have cost via paid for advertising. I sold several hundred books from that article alone, and I achieved all that by simply dropping them a line and telling them about my books.

   Similarly, a lady friend of mine, who runs a poetry club and had recently completed a book of poetry, rang up the local radio station and mentioned her club and her new book, and they immediately asked her round to talk about her book and club members on air, and that she did the very next morning. Again, imagine how much that kind of coverage would have cost in paid for advertising.

   It can often be a case of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” – so if you have a book to publicise don’t forget to include old style media in your publicity campaign. Yes, you will be ignored and turned down many many times. Get used to it, develop a thick skin and keep at it, and on the occasions when you are featured, (maybe it just happened to be a slow news day that day, but you won’t care about that), then it will all be worthwhile.

   Of course the Internet and social media are very important too, and in many ways for the more timid amongst us they are the easiest to do, as anyone can sit anonymously behind a computer and send out tweets, or pay someone else to do so, and advertise on Facebook, but if you imagine that will simply being in hundreds of sales then you are destined to be disappointed. The easiest option is often the least successful.

   To achieve success you have to be more imaginative, you have to stand out from the very large crowd, by bringing something new and fresh to your publicity efforts, so be creative.

   Bookblog tours are certainly worth considering too, for the tour operators will save you oodles of time, for you only have send the information to the tour organiser once, and they will do all the rest for you.

   And don’t forget to make a list of all your local bookstores and visit them too. If you are a true bookhound you will probably know them already, and you may well be known in there too, and most bookstore owners will be only too pleased to stop and talk about your book, and space permitting, will be happy to put some copies on their shelves, especially if you are offering them on a sale or return basis. I find independent bookshops are much better for this than the big chains.

   Never lose sight of the end goal of making your work known and available to your potential readers. Yes, it will cost some money and a great deal of time, but without investing that effort and money you will be destined to keep hold of those precious books of yours for a very long time indeed.

   Books rarely sell themselves; you have to do that, so stick at it, and get in the habit of doing something to promote your work every day. Do that and you will be successful, just so long as you have written a good book in the first place!

*****

Author Bio

I have been writing for longer than I care to remember. Even as a ten year old child I would design my own newspaper and fill it with family news, much to my mother’s amusement when she once found a copy containing a story that she didn’t fully approve of!

My writing started seriously when I was in business and I was approached to write a column, and that developed into writing columns for newspapers and magazines in many fields, including computing, commodities, farming, property, sport, philately, business and small business, many of which I have actually been paid good money for, and that always brings a nice feeling that never goes away.

My syndicated online articles have now been read by over 300,000 people across the globe and show no sign of slowing down.

It was a fairly small step after that to writing books and I have now written more than a dozen, both fiction and non fiction, and I try to write and complete at least one full length book every year.

Like most writers and aspiring writers I have many more in the pipeline, both part finished, abandoned, or in an unedited state, and finding the time to complete them is always the big enemy there.

Ideally, I would like to find a literary agent who could assist me in taking my writing to the next level, so if you are out there and you like what you see and read then do please get in touch.

Besides writing I sell books for a living and currently have more than 10,000 titles in the house and please don’t ask me where they all are because the simple answer is that they are pretty much everywhere!

I am currently working on a new Inspector Walter Darriteau novel and after that I may go back to writing a sequel to Gringo Greene, though ordinarily I prefer to write something completely fresh, rather than revisiting old ground.

It always amazes me that someone like Lee Child can write book after book featuring the same character and similar adventures, though all best wishes to him for he has been incredibly successful.

 

Website: http://www.davidcarterbooks.co.uk/

A Separate Heaven by Alex Disanti — author interview

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Publisher: Still Waters LTD
Published: January 25, 2010
Genre: Mystery | Romantic Suspense
Buy: AmazonA DARK, SEXY THRILLER
The enigmatic Dominic Gianelli is a man whose immense wealth and power have earned him respect and admiration from the social elite of both Europe and America. But his legitimate wealth has long been rumored to mask the secrets and dark corners in his world. Nearing fifty, he lives by a strict code and allows few people to know him.Beyond his carefully crafted image of sophistication, Dominic is a man with a tight grip on those around him. But a chance meeting with twenty-year-old Paige Hamilton forever changes his life.Paige Hamilton is just beginning to find her own place in the world, away from her affluent, Long Island family. A striking beauty, she is a financial prodigy and a trusted market analyst climbing the ladder at a prestigious, New York investment firm where Dominic is a client. Their connection upon meeting is instant and profound.

Their first dinner date takes an unexpected turn and becomes a night neither will forget. But Dominic has doubts about a long-term love. His world can be dangerous and he fears for Paige s safety should she commit herself to him. Despite any qualms, he finds he cannot give her up. Her family objects, unsure of Dominic s secretive lifestyle.

Their relationship takes a surreal turn when Paige becomes engulfed in Dominic s world of tight security, clandestine meetings and increasingly erratic behavior.

Enter A Separate Heaven. Meet the characters and get to know them. From Long Island to the shores of the Mediterranean, this engrossing drama will hold you spellbound.


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Published: July 16, 2012
Buy: AmazonThe intriguing saga of the Hamilton and Gianelli families continues as book two takes them back to Salerno and Paige proves herself to be the asset the Gianellis have hoped she would be. Dominic’s aunt, Sophia, sees the couple as her last and only tie to a glorious but tragic past in Italy. With the nephew’s marriage to Paige, Sophia’s unspoken dream is rekindled, for in her mind, she now sees a chance for Dominic to rebuild what once was.A mysterious incident abroad has far reaching implications stateside and creates havoc for members of both families. Information revealed in court has an impact on Paige because closely held secrets of the Hamilton family are revealed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Published: September 17, 2012
Buy: AmazonThe drama builds as Paul Hamilton’s betrayal of Dominic Gianelli fuels the D.A. to action. A fiasco of events causes Paige to fall ill and nearly costs her life. Dominic learns of the betrayal and the vile and duplicitous acts by his father-in-law and the D.A. Sacred boundaries have been crossed and forgiveness is not an option.
 Favorite Books –

 Out of _______________________

 

 _____________Lover

 

Davita’s_________________

 

The____________________(so famous! Leave the gun, take the cannoli)

 

 The ______________of Florence

 

_____________in the Stream

 

Lonesome_____________________

 

The Prince of __________________

 


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Author Bio: Alex Disanti lives in the Texas Hill Country.  While writing has been a lifelong love for her, A Separate Heaven is her first novel.  Early works were mainly poetry and short stories.  As A Separate Heaven progressed from thought to paper, friends and family began reading the manuscript.  Then, in an effort to test the marketability of the material, she enlisted the aid of what she calls her “test readers.� � These readers vary in age, occupation and background.  It simply grew from there.  Alex’s rich detail brought the characters to life, and the ensuing chapters could not come quickly enough for her readers.



March 6 – Introduction at VBT Café Blog
March 7 – Guest Blogging at Mythical Books
March 9 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
March 11 – Reviewed at Bellevue Book Reviews
March 11 – Guest Blogging at My Book Tour
March 14 – Guest Blogging at Jody’s Book Reviews
March 16 – Review & Guest Blogging at Read That Also
March 21 – Guest Blogging at Wise Words Book Blogger
March 25 – Review & Guest Blogging at Between Books
March 25 – Author Interviewed at Avenue Books
March 28 – Reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt

The Watermelon King by Daniel Royse — book excerpt

The-Watermelon-King-Book-Cover.jpgTitle: The Watermelon King

Author: Daniel Royse

Genre: Literary Fiction

After being laid off from his job at a prestigious consulting firm, Dean decides to embark on a journey across east Africa with his younger brother. Unknowingly, the two travel into bandit territory through Northern Kenya where a medical emergency forces them to choose between their safety and their health.

Inspired by true events, The Watermelon King follows the journey of two brothers as they backpack across one of East Africa’s most inhospitable regions. As they endure endless days of difficult travel, a series of short stories written by their father begins to uncover some of their deepest motivations and brings to light their connection to the past. Along the way they begin to understand the beauty and frustration of life in Africa.

The Watermelon King

Excerpt

It wasn’t long before we reached the edge of the Mercado. At the end of the road we could see it in front of us, a dense mass of humanity seething with commerce. Like an open plain leading up to a dense forest, there was no uncertainty as to where it began.

“Come. We can see the shops,” said Staven.

The four of us successfully managed to “Frogger” ourselves across the heavy traffic without a single man down. Once on the other side we cautiously stepped into the madness of the Mercado. Staven and Abdi walked in front leading us through the tiny winding alleyways while pointing out the various aspects of the market that made it unique.

On every side of us were shopkeepers selling all types of products. Some new some recycled. Some local, some shipped from across the world. Some of the goods were familiar like lawn chairs and pots and pans. Others were strange to see like old boom boxes and wicker baskets over flowing with exotic spices. The walkways became smaller as we hiked deeper into the heart of the commerce and with every step we took; more eyes began to focus on us. It appeared that we had entered a part of the Mercado that few foreigners visit, thanks to our new “friends”.

Staven explained to us that within the madness there was an order that lay beneath the surface. Despite the chaotic appearance, the market was arranged into sections, each one focusing on a specific product or category. Food stuffs, electronics, aluminum, spices, plastics…all organized into their own sections.

After about 15 minutes into the Mercado we had reached an obstacle in our path. Before us flowed a slow moving river of sewage at the bottom of a six-foot deep ravine surrounded by trash on all sides. With only a pair of two by eight inch boards laid across each bank for a makeshift walking bridge, people crossed effortlessly from side to side. One wrong step and it suddenly became a horrible afternoon. Staven and Abdi crossed along with everyone else without a second thought, while Ethan and I needed a minute to assess the situation.

“Holy shit!” Ethan’s eyes grew large. “What the hell is this?”

“This, my friend, is a river of shit.”

“You’re not kidding.”

We both paused for a moment staring at our only option across. It was either cross the wobbly 16-inch bridge or turn around and admit right then and there that we were no match for even the simplest Ethiopian obstacle. With dozens of eyes staring at us, our pride was now on the line. There was no other choice. With a sudden acceptance, Ethan simply shrugged his shoulders and walked across the bridge. In many ways he was more daring than I was, and this time it showed.

“Come on man, it’s easy. Get over here!” he shouted from the safe side.

Being the last man standing, I had no other alternative but to cross the bridge. As I cautiously made my way forward, the two wooden planks wobbled uncomfortably beneath my feet. The six feet of distance across felt like twice that. With hands stretched out like a gymnast, I slowly started on my way to the other side. With each foot carefully placed in front of the other, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there were now people on both sides waiting for me to get off the bridge. The pressure didn’t help the situation. For a second as I focused on the bystanders instead of the wobbly planks, I began to feel myself leaning too much to my right. It was too late. I couldn’t catch my balance. In one swift move I jumped from the plank with my left foot and landed on the other side. With a deep exhale; I stood there relieved that I didn’t fall into the river of shit below.

Despite my inner turmoil no one else seemed to notice; after all, it was only a six-foot crossing. Within seconds a woman with a basket on her head nudged me aside and crossed the bridge without the slightest inconvenience.

As if he had no idea why I was taking so long, Staven simply said, “Come, this way!”

The dynamic between our two new friends was slowly becoming clear. Staven was the talkative one, and the obvious leader. He had an aura of urgency about him, something that made his movements seem slightly aggressive. Abdi, on the other hand, rarely said a word and was perfectly content being led. He seemed to be an observer of life, satisfied with simply keeping to himself the things that transpired in his mind. If they weren’t so different they would have never gotten along so well.

We turned a corner to reach the end of an alleyway. Before us, it opened up to a large expanse where hundreds of people worked diligently in chaotic harmony. This was the “recycling center” of the Mercado.

“My friends, this is where we make old things new,” said Staven.

“Old things new?’ Ethan replied.

“Yes, unlike in your country we recycle everything we can. What you call trash, to us can still have good use.”

There, in the open expanse of the Mercado was the most unique aspect of any market I had seen anywhere. It was where trash came to be reborn. There were sections where people sat diligently pounding bent rebar straight again. Women sat on crates in the dirt in long rows viciously scrubbing old pots and pans to a like-new shimmer. Old electronics like 1980’s style Boom Boxes were carefully being repaired and old plastic bottles were rounded up for re-use. For people who have so little everything that can be reused, is reused. Our wasteful culture back home would be wise to take notes.

Despite the uniqueness of the area, we made our way through it fairly quickly. There was so much chaos occurring all around us that it felt odd to be standing in the way of it all. When we reached the edge of the Mercado it was obvious that the commerce jungle had ended abruptly. From where we stood, the rest of Addis began again.

“My friends, that was the Mercado. As you can see it is quite large!” said Staven.

“Pretty cool, should we grab a drink?” Ethan said as he surveyed the streets in front of him.

 “Okay, now we drink!” exclaimed Staven, like a man on a mission.

He led and we followed. And as we followed, we made our way down the main thoroughfares of Addis slowly approaching the neighborhoods in the outer areas. The roads changed from wide lanes with partial sidewalks to narrow lanes made of dirt and gravel. On the sides of the road, the partial sidewalks slowly morphed into ditches that collected rainwater and trash. The further away we progressed from the city center, the more people began to stare as we passed by. We were approaching areas that saw few foreigners. As the dirt roads began to change into alleyways, I began struggling to keep my sense of direction. Winding and turning, dodging kids on bikes and potholes…we kept moving until all of a sudden, we stopped.

There, to the left of us was a small gap about four feet wide between two cement houses, both of which appeared to be abandoned. It was nearly pitch black now as we were well beyond the parts of town that had streetlights. As we walked single file into the space between the two houses, we could hear the noise increase as we approached. We followed Staven and Abdi through an opening and down a set of cement stairs that led into a small dimly lit room. At its entrance, an overweight woman was sitting in a chair guarding the door. It appeared as if she knew Staven and immediately granted us passage by simply exchanging a few words and nodding in his direction.

Through the smoke and haze we could barely make out the faces looking back at us but it seemed as if many of them were under 18 years old. Before we had arrived they were all drinking and speaking loudly in Amharic, but nearly instantaneously the conversation stopped and all eyes focused on us.

Staven began to speak to a few of them in Amharic and smiles slowly began to creep across their faces. Within moments, the drinking continued and the gathering was back to its original intensity. While he spoke the women at the door had turned around and began to fill up four small glasses with a clear vodka-like drink. She passed them to Staven.

“Here!” he said. “This is arak.”

“Arak?” I said confused. “What is it?”

“Alcohol,” he said as if he was speaking to a child. “It will be 20 Birr.”

We paid, of course. It was simply unspoken that we would pay for every cost incurred that evening. After all, we made more in a day than they made in a month and things were cheap…. really cheap.

Without hesitation Staven and Abdi began to drink, then Ethan, then me. Forcing a look of disgust into one of acceptance, I slowly choked down my beverage. It burned like any liquor but with a distinct flavor of rubbing alcohol. It turned out that it was a standard homemade rice wine concoction. Here they call it “arak”, in other regions “roxy”, but in most places it’s just referred to as “rice wine”. I’ve even seen it come in little plastic bags while in some countries. But let me tell you, when you start drinking liquor out of a little plastic bag, you know that you’ve reached a new stage in life.

With any homemade rice wine I knew there were inherent risks involved, but sometimes you just end up putting trust in people, smart or not. A few years back I had been traveling in Cambodia when a batch of bad rice wine had killed off an entire village of men. The problem is that there’s no regulation on this stuff, so it’s up to the guy brewing it in his bathtub to not add anything deadly to the mix. Luckily for us, this was a good batch.

As we drank we made small talk with those who were able to work up the nerve to mingle with us. And the more we drank the more the overweight lady in the corner would refill our cups. As I looked around the cramped and dingy room, I realized that even on the other side of the world in a place so far removed, kids are all the same. Whether they live here in Ethiopia, North Dakota or California, kids everywhere are just trying to party.

It didn’t take long before our group got anxious and it was time for us to make our way to our next destination. We said our goodbyes, paid our bill and thanked them for their hospitality. At this point the sun was beginning to go down and we were starting to feel good. We made our way back to the alley outside of the two abandoned-looking houses and began our walk back towards town.

“So now what?” said Ethan, clearly ready for the evening to get into full swing.

Ethan was an instigator. He was that guy who always kept the party going or was pushing for the next one to start. Every crew needed an “Ethan”.

Staven chimed in, “We can do anything! We have bars, whore houses, chat houses. There are many things in Addis. What do you like?”

It was becoming clear that Ethan and Staven were feeding off each other’s energy. And to top it off, their motivations complimented each other. Ethan was looking for a good time, which Staven could provide and Staven was looking for a free night out, which Ethan was more than willing to cover. They were unstoppable.

“Chat house? What’s that?” Ethan said.

“It is a place where people go to chew chat together…like a bar or a restaurant but for chat,” Staven explained.

“And what the hell is chat? He said as he looked at me to see if I knew what this stuff was.

“Oh sorry,” I said. “It’s local plant that people chew to get high. It’s a stimulant but it takes a while to kick in. It doesn’t mess you up but it does wake you up!”

“So it’s like coke?”

“Eh, not really. I’d say it falls somewhere in between cocaine and coffee…but it’s legal here.”

“Oh, we’ve got to try this!” he said with excitement. “Have you tried it before?”

“Yeah, a few times. It’s alright,” I said, as if I was a veteran chat chewer.

“Well, how to we find it?” Ethan exclaimed.

“You want chat? We can get that. Come! My friend will sell to us,” said Staven.

Staven had a friend for everything.

As we walked in the direction of Staven’s “chat guy” we made our way out of the small alleys and dirt roads and onto an area closer to the city center. We were still on the peripheral but now much closer. From where we stood in the darkness, I could see the glow of Addis in the distance. So at least I had a general direction of how to get back if needed.

The streets were still dark without public lighting and the only light that filled the air came from small fires or individual light bulbs hanging from private residences. People walked through the darkness chatting as stray dogs scrounged for food in the stillness. It was hard to picture a chat house in a place like this but what did I really know. This was a local area.

“You will like chat,” Staven assured Ethan. “It is very nice for staying awake and fucking a long time!…hahaha!”

Awkwardly, Ethan just looked at him and smiled, “Haha, okay.”

Within a few moments we had reached our destination. It was a rickety looking house with the front door closed. Beams of light broke through the cracks in the door, illuminating the street in front of us. With a knock and a push, Staven opened the door and a bright neon light shined down on us from the open entrance of the chat house. We walked in single file.

The room was painted bright pink with eight chairs positioned in a semi-circle and a small blue table set in the middle. As we entered the room I could see we were in the right place. There were already three guys sitting there sharing a bushel of chat. They glared at us with beady eyes and eerie smiles as they continued to chew chat and smoke cigarettes. The smoke in the air was thick and ventilation was non-existent.

“Please sit. I will speak with the manager,” Staven instructed as he walked off.

We pulled up three chairs in a row across from the first three chat-chewers in the semicircle. Abdi sat closest to them. For a moment we sat in silence as we waited for Staven to return. The guys across from us smiled with ever more welcoming gestures as Abdi began to make small talk in Amharic. Perhaps he was vouching for us.

I could tell that Abdi was a quiet yet friendly guy. He had a slightly nerdy or analytical vibe about him. If he had been born in the states I could see him being a software developer in Silicon Valley. He reminded me a lot of the people I used to work with in that area.

It wasn’t long before Staven returned with two bushels of chat, each in a black plastic bag and two glass bottles of Coca-Cola. He shut the door behind him and sat down in one of the vacant chairs.

“Okay my friends!” he said in excitement as he placed the bushels on the blue table and pulled the first one out of the black plastic bag.

He and Abdi began to dig into the first bushel as if they couldn’t wait. Ethan and I sat watching cautiously. Staven carefully pulled the tips off each of the leaves and proceeded to roll them into a tiny ball. He handed the first ball to Ethan.

“Here, try this,” he said.

“So how do I do this exactly?” Ethan replied in amusement.

“Just take these leaves and chew them. You can swallow the juice. If the taste is too bad for you, you can take some Coke,” he said as he handed Ethan the first bottle of Coke anticipating a negative reaction from the chat.

“Some people like to eat the whole leaf and the stem, but they are savages! We only eat the tips of the leaves because they are the best!

Staven then glanced at me, “You have had chat before, yes?”

“Sure. I’ve tried it a few times since I’ve been here,” I said.

“Excellent! Please, help yourself,” he said with a smile.

As we sat there chewing our chat our heart rates began to speed up, our pupils dilated and the room slowly began to get more and more friendly and vibrant. I could feel my mouth getting dry but I was slowly getting used to the taste of the bitter chat leaves. Still, my Coca-Cola consumption remained constant. The room was filling with cigarette smoke as the chat-induced adrenaline surged through us. Our group had merged with the one next to us, although Abdi sat in the corner not saying much as usual.

Whenever we didn’t chew the chat fast enough, Staven would roll us a little ball of leaves and give it to Ethan or me. It was hard to keep up and my cheeks began to become full of green leaves. The bottles of Coke made their way around the room but Ethan and I drank the majority, as we were new to the harsh taste of the leaves.

As the minutes passed and the first bushel made way for the second, we kept chewing and kept on talking. But the second bushel went faster than the first and soon, through the smoke and conversation, it was evident that our stash was nearly depleted. Energized and ready to hit the town, we all agreed that it was time to head to the bar. Before we could leave, however, we had to pay our bill. Again, this fell on us. And I knew from experience that when you don’t get the price up front, you end up paying for it in the end. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened.

After a few moments of sitting there chat-less, a small boy approached us with a yellow post-it note sized piece of paper and handed it to Staven. He looked at it and immediately came over to explain it to me.

“The price is 700 Birr, 300 for each bushel of chat and 100 for the Cokes,” he said cautiously as if he was expecting some push back from me.

“Ohh okay. That should be no problem,” I said.

He was in luck. I was feeling generous from the chat and actually I was expecting it to be higher. The total cost came to around $30 USD, much more expensive than it should have been but nothing that would break the bank.

Once paid up, we were free to leave and from the comfort of our cozy little chat den we made our way into the dark desolate side streets of Addis Ababa toward the more lively area of the Piazza. This, the historical Italian area, was now known mostly for pickpockets, hookers, drinking and all types of general debauchery.



Daniel-Royse-Headshot.jpgDaniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics. The Watermelon King is his first full-length novel.

Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. To the disbelief of many, he still enjoys long, hot bus rides through chaotic places.

 

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Silent Partner by Jennifer Chase — book excerpt

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Suspense / Police Procedural / K9
Date Published: December 2015 2nd Edition
 
 
 
 
 
One Cop, One Serial Killer, One Witness 
Who Will Survive? 
 
Northern California’s elite Police K9 Units arrive at an abandoned warehouse after a high-speed chase and apprehend two killers after they have fled a grisly murder scene. This barely scratches the surface of a bloody trail from a prolific serial killer that leads to unlocking the insidious secrets of one family’s history, while tearing a police department apart. 
 
Jack Davis, a top K9 cop with an unprecedented integrity, finds himself falling for a beautiful murder suspect and struggling with departmental codes. 
 
Megan O’Connell, suffering from agoraphobia, is the prime murder suspect in her sister’s brutal murder. 
 
Darrell Brooks, a psychopath who loves to kill, is on a quest to drive Megan insane for profit. 
 
Everyone is a suspect. Everyone has a secret. Someone else must die to keep the truth buried forever. Silent Partner is a suspense ride along that will keep you guessing until the bitter end.


Excerpt–SILENT PARTNER

A California Police K9 Story

The city streets were quiet. It was approaching 1 a.m. and most residents were fast asleep waiting for the next day to begin. The sleeping neighborhoods were completely unaware of who and what roamed the streets in the middle of the night.

Everyone had a story to tell and those people out in the middle of the night were no different. What made it unlike any other night was that there was a serial killer on the loose and it didn’t seem like the police were close to catching him anytime soon. The erratic murders didn’t seem to have any type of connection except for the victims it left behind.

The sidewalks, along with a few parked cars, were wet from a mild rain from a couple of hours ago. Large droplets of water on the road reflected the approaching headlights of a police cruiser.

The car idled as it slowed near quick flashes of light. In the shadows, transients were lighting up their scrounged cigarette butts in between quick swigs of cheap booze disguised in brown paper bags.

The cruiser paused for just a moment, then slowly moved on.

Deputy Jack Davis surveyed the streets with intense, dark blue eyes, casually running his fingers through his dark military haircut, looking for anything suspicious or out of place. His well-seasoned cop instincts from the past ten years rarely failed him.

Jack had many things weighing heavy on his mind. One of those things he was going to have out right now.

He vented to his partner, “You’re such an adrenaline junkie. The end doesn’t justify the means.” He sighed and continued, “I can’t even look at you right now. You have to start following procedures otherwise Sarge is going to have both our asses on suspension.”

It remained quiet inside the cruiser.

Jack finally spoke again. “Just because you sleep with me doesn’t make this any easier. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

A muscular one-hundred-pound black Labrador Retriever stared at his partner from the back seat. His large square head tilted slightly to one side, his black eyes fixed at attention as he watched his handler with building curiosity.

Jack demanded. “Say something. Anything.”

The dog barked twice and stood up, pushing his wet canine nose toward Jack and giving him a sloppy kiss on the side of his face, not forgetting the inside of his ear.

Jack smiled. For a brief moment, his tension melted away. “Like I can stay mad at you.”

Jack roughly scratched the big dog’s ears. He was rewarded with snorts and happy low-pitched whines.

The police cruiser took a turn down an alley between two closed businesses, their interiors lit only by low emergency lighting illuminating a shadowy glow from the display shelves.

Jack cut the engine but kept the car lights shining so he could see down the long alley. There were several dumpsters behind the electronics store and deli. The light bounced peculiar shadows and distorted views from the sides of the buildings and off barred security windows.

Jack’s military boots hit the pavement as he got out of the car with purpose. He walked around the cruiser to the trunk, popped it open, and pulled out three gray blankets. He slammed the trunk closed, tucked the blankets under his right arm, and walked around the car.

With eyes focused and ears perked up, his four-legged partner never missed a single step or movement that Jack made. The dog’s black eyes gave the canine an almost demonic appearance.

A sign posted on the side of the back window of the police car read boldly: CAUTION POLICE DOG—KENO. Monterey County Sheriff was printed down the side of the front doors.

Jack’s squeaky gun belt echoed in unison with his footsteps while he walked down the alley as a few suspicious eyes peered out at him from the deep shadows.

Trash and flattened cardboard boxes littered the ground next to broken bottles that had been neatly swept against the side of the building. Some care had been taken to keep the glass from causing any injury to those who had to sleep there.

Upon closer inspection, Jack could see several homeless people hidden beneath the city’s refuse cloaked in several layers of clothing with a few precious personal belongings clutched at their sides.

A young woman barely in her twenties with short blonde hair and a five-year-old child huddled together in their filthy clothing, shivering slightly from the damp evening. The local homeless shelter had only a few beds even for women and children. When they were already occupied, there was nothing else that they could do but find the safest place to hide out for the night. For them, this was the next safest place to be―away from the usual areas of downtown and under the bridge. It was cold, but they would be safe for another night.

Jack slowed his pace and with careful discretion he unfolded the blankets and gently wrapped them around the woman and little girl. They didn’t say a word to him, but their eyes conveyed gratitude. It was difficult for Jack to just leave the homeless behind to shiver in the night, but he turned and kept his focus on the cruiser as he walked back.

Jack didn’t raise his eyes to look through the windshield until he was seated back inside his warm cruiser. Several sets of eyes reflected from the harsh headlights, but they seemed to be more curious than wary of his presence. Some nameless faces had seen him before, especially on extreme cold nights and holidays. He resembled a dark knight coming to the aid of his homeless kingdom.

The cruiser slowly backed up and then disappeared into the night. The lights flashed like ghostly shadows for two seconds and then vanished as quickly as they had appeared. Once again, the alley was dark, quiet, and cold.



Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist.  She has authored five crime fiction novels, including the award-winning Headshot_JChase-partnerEmily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

For more info: http://www.authorjenniferchase.com

Contact Information

Website: http://authorjenniferchase.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Jennifer-Chase-208188122534165/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JChaseNovelist

Blog: http://authorjenniferchase.com/

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Partner-One-Serial-Killer-ebook/dp/B0049H939O/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/silent-partner-jennifer-chase/1028511362?ean=2940032893776

 

* A portion of the sales from Silent Partner will be donated to purchase a new ballastic/stab proof police K9 vest*

 

@JChaseNovelist

Accidental Droning by Pete Liebengood – PROMO Blitz

Contemporary Adventure Thriller
Date Published: February 2015

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Accidental Drowning has been optioned for a possible movie adaption by a Hollywood producer.
Bo Granger loses his job as the manager of a country club golf shop and turns to flying his private drone as a pastime.
Accidentally he captures video with his drone of a woman being murdered by drowning. Bo is torn over whether or not to turn his video over to authorities. He is afraid of reprisal by the person who owns the mansion where the drowning took place, and he worries that his invasion of privacy will derail his wife’s campaign to become governor of California as she is defined as a state legislator by her privacy platform.
Bo endures a series of misadventures as he wrestles with doing the right thing. He is nearly shot to death by a goon hired by the dead woman’s husband, he’s falsely charged with sexual assault by his wife’s housekeeper in a dirty politics scheme, and he gets involved in a torrid romance with a female newspaper reporter who is determined to get the story of a lifetime
Excerpt
The line of club members was out the door. Sequoia Country Club’s pro shop was under siege from filthy-rich golfers—club initiation fees had recently topped three hundred thousand dollars—wanting the newly arrived, multicolored umbrellas. Part of the reason for the unusual customer demand was a steady rain that had swept across the peninsula in the early morning hours. Another was the genius of shop manager Bo Granger, who’d paid a meteorologist out of his own pocket for a long-range forecast the week before. Even though April was still considered the rainy season in the Bay Area, he’d gambled on a big storm hitting precisely on the morning of the club invitational, which boasted a field of 150 golfers. He’d ordered three-dozen of the splashy Leroy Neiman–like designer umbrellas that featured a well in the shaft suitable for housing airplane-sized bottles of booze. He’d been smart, too, in sending e-mail notices to all members announcing his upcoming rainy-day special. Bo figured the huge run on club merchandise was going to be a hit with his new general manager.
Bo had been with the club a little over four years. He’d felt secure enough in his position to warrant this bravado with the umbrellas. Even at a discounted seventy-five dollars a pop, he stood to rake in sales of $2,700 if he could unload three dozen. It was not yet nine thirty in the morning, and he’d sold twenty-four.
Bo was well regarded by the majority of the club’s 550 members, most of them Silicon Valley millionaires. In addition to being a shrewd buyer and mover of golf merchandise, he was very likeable. He had a way of making every club member who came into his shop feel special—especially the good-looking women. He’d almost married one of the better-looking ones, Sally Anne Perkins. She was the daughter of a venture capitalist and had graduated a few years back from the prestigious Stevenson College in New Hampshire with a degree in “green anything.” During the time Bo dated her, she didn’t work; in fact she’d never had a job—didn’t need one with Daddy’s money. She mostly stayed at home and watched game shows. Despite her abundant free time, she didn’t volunteer much—the annual beach cleanup along the San Martin County coastline being the exception. After dating for a year and a half, they broke up. Sally Anne had caught Bo tossing recyclable materials into the garbage yet again. She took a picture of him in the act and posted it on Instagram with the tag, “Should I marry a man who’s this insensitive to our carbon footprint?” She received 547 responses saying no.
Bo got his name from his younger sister. She couldn’t say Robert—it came out Bobo—so his parents went with the abbreviation. Bo’s personality was pleasing. He’d been brought up to be liked by Elaine, a housewife, and Steven Granger, a Walgreen’s pharmacist. “Pleasing people will get you further in life than any degree,” his father had preached. Life with Elaine and Steven was vanilla. Steven made him join the Boy Scouts; Elaine made him play the piano. The most childhood excitement Bo could remember was a road trip to LA where he and his sister, Bobbie, were treated to entire days at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.
Bo attended Lowell High School in San Francisco, where he failed to distinguish himself as either an exceptional student or athlete—although he did play number three on the golf team—but as a senior was voted Best Personality over a guy who went on to be a nationally recognized comedian.
Bo attended San Francisco State and got his BA in business in four years. It wasn’t until his junior year that he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. He played for State’s golf team and set his mind to becoming a PGA instructor after he graduated. He figured he could make a good living at it and be exposed to beautiful women who were eager for him to teach them the game. Part of that reasoning was fostered by his good looks. His dark, wavy hair, movie-star-like strong jawline, and penetrating hazel eyes had served him well with college co-eds. He’d left a trail of brokenhearted young girls behind him at State. One of his rejections was good-looking enough to land spots in two different national TV commercials. “I dated the Chick-fil-A girl,” he was proud of saying.
Unfortunately, Bo never reached his goal of being a PGA-sanctioned teaching pro—three times he’d failed at putting together the requisite successive rounds of eighty-two or better. That was the golf world’s equivalent of “three strikes and you’re out.” His last opportunity to qualify was at the California Club in South San Francisco. Bo had carded an eighty and an eighty-two on his first two rounds. He was confident that he could post one more round under eighty-two—too confident. His premature celebration the night before his final round did him in. He wasn’t normally a cocktail drinker—he mostly stuck with beer—but the vodka gimlets he was offered by a fellow competitor’s caddy in the club’s bar went down way too easily and too often. By eight o’clock that evening, he had to be carried into the men’s locker room, where club members constructed a bed out of bench pads and left him there to sleep it off. It didn’t help that Bo had an eight o’clock tee time in the morning. It was the par-three, two-hundred-yard twelfth hole that killed him. Sitting at seven over par through eleven holes, he was just three strokes under the dreaded eighty-two-stroke maximum.
About the Author

Pete Liebengood is a retired TV sportscaster (KRON-TV San Francisco and a past play-by-play contributor to ESPN. He’s authored two other novels, “Class of ’62” and “Honeyball.”
Contact Links
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Plip Plap Plot by Ibk Akin- Book Blitz

 

 

 

Children’s Fantasy Adventure / Early Reader

Date Published: February 6, 2016

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Uncle Fazo is not your typical Uncle… in that he was the crazy scientist that invented lots of funny and random things for the fun of it. Zach, his nephew and Miranda loved to test them out. Since Zach’s Uncle ‘passed away’, Zach inherited all of his junk.

Join the brave best of friends, Zach and Miranda as they discover some insane inventions like the mute wand, ice cube ray gun, a talking robot and oh’ did I mention a teleporting device that takes them anywhere in the world in seconds, where they can discover secrets of old times, solve mysteries and outsmart goons of all sorts?

And then there is the evil overlord Tain who has a mission to destroy the very things Zach and Miranda try to save – ‘WORDS’. How do you save words, you ask? Find out as the Beginning Series, starts the tale of their adventures, but as the best friends quickly discover, maybe some things are better left alone”

In this children’s book and a bit of superhero comedy, find out as the Beginning Series, starts the tale of their adventures, but as the best friends quickly discover, maybe some things are better left alone. This beginning reader’s chapter book is filled with action and adventure.

The Prequel is currently FREE on Amazon

 

This is a prelude factoid book for the Plip Plap Plop Series. This Book introduces some of the characters in BOOK 1 (Fazo’s Junk). Miranda and Zach are best friends and do everything together.
Zach’s crazy inventor uncle left Zach some of his inventions in passing
As they go through his stuff they stumble upon a teleporting ball and unknowingly use it a few times
His uncle also had a robot who could help them on some of their adventures. Tain and his goons is the main enemy who opposes them on their adventures
In this introduction children’s book, Selena, Fred and Mr Lee the wordbot is introduced. These characters make a cameo appearance in Fazo’s junk. To get a sample teaser chapters for FREE of BOOK 1 of the series be sure to check out the contents pages of this factoid book or visit the website http://eyebeekay.com and sign up to get your free chapters and other sweet notifications right away.
The Plip Plap Plop Series is geared towards children ages 6-9. It is a Beginner Readers Book and also a chapter book for children. It has plenty of Action and Adventure to check out. The power and origin of words is one way the series have been described. Be sure to check out this children’s eBook series today. 
EXCERPT
“Where should we start?” Miranda asked, looking at the collection of weird objects.
“Let’s look for the notebook he mentioned then we can start from there.” Zach suggested. Miranda agreed and they began going through some boxes to find it. And find it they did.
After about 15 minutes, Zach yelled, “AHA!” and pulled out a red scientific notebook that said ‘FOR ZACH: INSTRUCTION MANUAL.’
Miranda dropped the things she was going through and hopped over to him as he opened to the first page. “Huh, an ice-cube shooter” he said, flipping to the next page. “A sticky rope swing.” Then he flipped to the next page. “Plip Plap Plop ball” and in fine print under the picture was the note ‘it all began with words’.
“HUH!?” Miranda squealed grabbing the notebook and reading the page. She looked at the drawing, then looked around the garage. “There!” she said pointing to the far back corner. There was an interesting clear ball that reminded Miranda of the plastic ball she had for her hamster to run around in. They both walked over to the ball.
“What does it…what do you think it is?” Miranda asked quietly. She reached out her hand slowly to touch the outside and as soon as she laid her fingers on the cool hard ball, Zach grabbed her shoulders from behind and shook her. Miranda jumped from the surprise then laughed as Zach said, “Gotcha!”
“Zach! That wasn’t funny!” she said although she was laughing. But at that same moment, the ball made a tiny ‘plip’ sound and began to beep.
“What the…?” Zach said as they both stepped backwards.
Miranda bravely leaned forward and covered the beeping light with her finger and the ball again seemed to come to life as they heard the sound “plip! plap! plop!”
Then all of a sudden the ball went from clear to pearly blue. Zach and Miranda felt their stomach rising, like you do when you are at the top of a high rollercoaster. Then after a moment, they were in a bakery. Miranda looked around and saw a funny sort of writing on the jars.
“All the jars have Swedish writing on them. I think that’s Swedish…” she said.
“Swedish? Could we be in Sweden?… How!? ” Zach said, alarmed.
“Or at least we are in a Swedish bakery store somewhere.” Miranda quickly noted.
They heard a noise coming from behind the  bricked wall. “I think someone must be baking something over there.” Miranda could smell cinnamon rolls on her breath.
The two crept silently to see a little, old, blonde woman leaning over the hearth. She was pulling out a roll that smelled of ginger and cinnamon.  They watched as she set it down to cool and stared at it.
A little girl appeared from the stairs on the other side of the kitchen. She was reciting a phrase that she may have just learned.
“See Nana’s bun! See Nana’s bun, the little girl recited over and over again. The blond lady smiled at the young girl and then seemed to freeze in a moment.
She jumped very quickly and started running around searching frantically for something.
“Where is my pen?” She yelled.
“I need to write this down, oh, angel you are a genius!” she said excitedly referring to the little girls’ rant. We shall call it ‘Seenanasbun’. Zach had seen enough. He motioned for Miranda to go back to the ball which was now clear again. Miranda approached and touched the ball, the ball came to life.
The two held onto the ball and plip plap plop, within a minute they were back in the garage again. Miranda and Zach couldn’t believe what had just happened. Had they really just teleported to another place and time?
“What just happened?” Miranda asked, still in shock, “is that ball a…you know?”
“I might be crazy, but I think we may have a teleporting ball,” Zach exclaimed. They both sat in silence for what felt like an eternity, but was actually only a couple minutes when Miranda said, “Want to try it again?”
About the Author

 

IBK lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was originally born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. IBK enjoys traveling and adventure. He has a talent for storytelling and has only just started putting his words to paper. IBK works in children’s programs across the province of Manitoba. IBK’s debut series is the Plip Plap Plop series.
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The Road Leads Back by Marci Boudreaux – PROMO Blitz

 

 

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: April 2015

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Kara Martinson and Harry Canton weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, but they did share one night neither will ever forget. Twenty-seven years later, Harry surprises Kara at an art gallery opening and discovers he left her with more than just memories when he went away to college. Desperate to connect with the family he never knew existed, Harry convinces his son to move to Stonehill—and pleads with Kara to come, too.
Kara hasn’t stepped foot in their hometown since the day she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers. Now Harry’s back in her life and as they put together the pieces of his parents’ betrayal, old heartaches start to feel anew. She wants to be near her family, but returning to Iowa means facing some things…and some people…she isn’t quite ready to.
Can Harry convince her to forgive those who betrayed her so they can embrace the future they were robbed of so long ago? Or will the pain of the past be too much for Kara to overcome?
Other books in the Stonehill Romance Series

 

Excerpt
Kara squeezed her way toward the crowded bar, nudging between two kids who she couldn’t quite believe were old enough to be legally drinking in public. Shouldn’t they be funneling cheap beer in a college dorm somewhere? Or sneaking shots from Daddy’s liquor cabinet?
Art gallery openings used to be much more sophisticated than this. When she was a young artist, openings were about appreciating the art and the artist, not the free booze.
Shit.
Had she really gone there? Kara shook her head at her bitter thoughts.
The bartender, a walking tattoo with spiked black hair, leaned close so she could hear him. “What’ll it be?”
She realized all she wanted was wine. And quiet. The kids around her were acting more like pre-teens jacked up on sugar than art aficionados. One made a face, squished and reddened, as he held up an empty shot glass as proof of his triumph.
She wondered when she had gotten so damned old. She never used to snub her nose at a good drink. Actually, she completely understood what her problem was, and it had nothing to do with age. She’d conformed. She’d fallen into line. She’d done what she was supposed to do. Agent? Check. Gallery opening? Check. Interviews with all the local fancy-pants magazines? Check.
But this wasn’t her. None of this was her.
Frowning, she leaned in as well, making sure he heard her over the jeering of the kids next to her. “Tequila.” Within seconds he set a glass in front of her and filled it with amber liquid. He started to walk away but she held up one hand and lifted the glass with the other. She downed the drink, slammed the glass down, and gestured for another—one shot wasn’t nearly enough to numb the misery of this evening.
The young man lifted his brows and smirked as he gav­­­e her another shot. He laughed as she motioned for him to fill the glass a third time. “I can’t do this all night, lady.”
“One more.”
“Some of the crap in here costs more than my car. No puking. Got it?”
Kara chuckled. Clearly he didn’t recognize her as the artist who had made the crap. “Honey, I was doing tequila shots before your daddy dropped his pants and made you.”
The barkeep threw his head back and laughed, then filled her glass one more time. “Nice one, babe.”
Babe? Kara snorted as she lifted the glass. It was almost to her lips when a hand squeezed her shoulder.
 “Kara?” asked a deep, smooth voice as if the man wasn’t certain who he was touching.
She turned. Her eyes bulged as she looked into an intense dark gaze she hadn’t seen since the night she’d lost her virginity.
The music had been loud, the beer lukewarm, and everybody who was anybody—and several nobody’s like Kara and Harry—in their senior class of Stonehill High was at the graduation party. The only person she had cared about, though, didn’t care about her. Or so she’d thought. Until she’d somehow ended up on Shannon Blake’s disgustingly pink- and ruffle-covered bed with Harry Canton, book club president and algebra superstar, clumsily removing her clothes, leaving slobbery kisses in their wake.
Kara swallowed hard as the flash of a memory faded, and the man standing before her, looking as shocked as she felt, came back into view.
She downed the liquor, slammed the glass against the bar, and sighed before she announced, “I’ve been looking for you for twenty-seven years.”
He sank onto the vacant stool next to her and lifted his hands as if he were at a loss for words. Something that appeared to be guilt filled his eyes and made his full lips sag into a frown. She’d be damned if temptation didn’t hit her as hard as it had when she was a hormonal teen.
“I wanted to tell you I was leaving,” he said, “but I didn’t know how.”
“You should have tried something like, ‘Kara, I’m leaving.’”
“You’re right. But I was a kid. I didn’t have a lot of common sense. All I could think about was how I finally had my freedom.”
She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at him. “You had your freedom? You selfish prick.”
His eyes widened. “Well, that might be a little harsh. I was just a kid, Kara. Yes, I should have told you I had no intention of staying with you, but I was a little overwhelmed by what had happened. I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry?”
Harry’s shoulders slumped as if he had given up justifying sneaking out on her in the middle of the night. “Look, I saw a flier for your gallery opening, and I wanted to say hello. I thought maybe… I don’t know what I was thinking.” He sounded hurt, dejected even. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
He stood. She put her hand to his chest and shoved him back onto the barstool. The move instantly reminded of her their one night together. All of seventeen and totally inexperienced, she’d fancied herself a seductress and pushed him on the bed before straddling his hips like she had a clue what she was doing.
Touching his chest now, warmth radiated through her entire body.
She glared, pulling her hand away and squeezing her fingers into a fist. “Are you living in Seattle?”
He shook his head. “I had a conference in town. There were fliers at the hotel. As soon as I saw your picture, I knew I had to come.” His smile returned and excitement radiated from his face. “I can’t believe you have a gallery opening. This is amazing, Kare.”
She wasn’t nearly as thrilled by her accomplishment as he seemed to be. She felt like she was selling her soul instead of her art. She’d always preferred to go the indie route, but that crap agent had cornered her at a particularly vulnerable moment and convinced her she needed him…just like he convinced her she needed to be in a gallery. Although, now she was glad she’d conceded on the open bar.
The tequila swirled through her, making her muscles tingle, preventing her from fully engaging the near-three decades of anger she’d been harboring. She had spent an awfully long time wanting to give Harry Canton a piece of her mind.
Even so, hearing him say she’d done something amazing warmed her in a way very little ever had. If he had come looking for another one-night stand, she hated to admit that she would consider reliving that night again—only this time with more sexual experience and less expectation of him sticking around.
He might be almost three decades older, but his face was still handsome and his brown eyes were just as inviting as they had been when he was a high school prodigy and she was a wallflower.
She smirked at a realization: he was in a suit, probably having just left a corporate meeting, while she was wearing a red sari-inspired dress at her gallery opening.
He was still the straight arrow. She was still the eccentric artist.
“Did you hear what I said, Harry? About looking for you for the last twenty-seven years.”
His shoulders sagged. “I never meant to sleep with you that night. I mean”—he quickly lifted his hands—“I was leaving and should have told you before taking you upstairs. I shouldn’t have just left like that, but I didn’t think you wanted to see me again anyway. If it’s any consolation,” he said giving her a smile that softened the rough edges of her anger, “I’d been working up the courage to kiss you since junior year when you squeezed a tube of red paint in Mitch Friedman’s hair after he made jokes about Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows in art class.”
She frowned at him. That hadn’t been her finest hour. Then again, neither was waking up thinking she was starting a new life as a high school graduate and the girlfriend of the cutest boy she’d ever met, only to find the other side of the homecoming queen’s bed empty. “There’s nothing wrong with a woman embracing her natural beauty.”
His smile faded quickly. “I’m sorry,” he said, sounding sincere. “I shouldn’t have left you like I did. I hope you believe that I regret it. Not being with you,” he amended, “but leaving without explaining.”
She laughed softly. He’d had that same nervous habit in high school. He’d say what was on his mind and then instantly try to recover, afraid his words had come out wrong. Usually they had. For as awkward as she’d been, at least she’d always been able to say what she meant and to stand behind it. Of course, that ability got her in trouble more often than not.
She’d told herself a million times that Harry didn’t owe her an explanation. They hadn’t been in any kind of relationship. She’d drooled over him from afar, but other than an occasional smile in the hallway, he’d barely acknowledged her existence in high school. Even if he hadn’t gone off to start his Ivy League college career the day after graduation, he likely never would have looked at her again. Well, at least not until she could no longer hide the truth of their one-night stand from the world.
 “I expected so much more from you, Harry,” she said sadly, the sting of what he’d done back then numbed slightly by the tequila.
His shoulders sagged a bit. “I know.”
“Why didn’t you ever write me back?” Her voice sounded hurt and pathetic. She was surprised that after so many years of being angry, there was still pain hiding beneath her fury. “I must have sent you a hundred letters.”
He creased his brow. “Letters? I didn’t get any letters.”
Kara searched his eyes. He looked genuinely confused.
“I sent them to…” Her words faded. Suddenly the tequila-induced haze wasn’t so welcome. “Your mother said if I wrote to you, she’d make sure you got my letters.”
“My mother? I never got any letters.”
“But you sent money.”
Harry shook his head slightly. “What the hell are you talking about? Why would I send you money?”
She stared at him as realization set in. He hadn’t responded to her letters because he hadn’t received her letters. And if he hadn’t received the letters, he hadn’t sent her money. And if he hadn’t sent her money, he hadn’t known that she needed it. Sighing, she let some of her decades-old anger slip. Her head spun, either from the alcohol or the blurry dots she was trying to mentally connect. Leaning onto the bar, she exhaled slowly. “She never told you, did she?”
“Told me what?”
Kara couldn’t speak. Her words wouldn’t form.
An arm wrapped around Kara’s shoulder, startling her and making her gasp quietly. She turned and blinked several times at the man who had just slid next to her.
“Sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but I need to get home.” Leaning in, he kissed her head. “Congratulations on the opening, Mom. It was great.”
“Um…” She swallowed, desperate to find her voice. “Thank you, sweetheart.” She flicked her gaze at the man sitting next to her. The longer Harry looked at her son, the wider Harry’s eyes became.
Phil cast a disapproving glance at Harry then focused on his mother again. “Don’t forget that Jess is expecting you to make pancakes in the morning. You promised.”
“I haven’t forgotten.” Kara returned her attention to Harry. His jaw was slack and his cheeks had grown pale.
Phil nodded at Harry as if he were satisfied that he’d made the point that his mother didn’t need to be staying out all night and walked away. Harry watched him leave while Kara waved down the bartender and pointed at her glass. The tattooed kid hesitated, likely debating the ethics of giving her another shot. She pointed again, cocking a brow for emphasis, and he finally filled her glass.
“Kara…” Harry’s voice was breathless, like he’d been kicked in the gut. “Was…was that my…son?”
No. His mother definitely hadn’t given him the letters Kara had written. She lifted her shot, toasting him. “Congratulations, Harry. It’s a boy.”
About the Author

 

As a teen, Marci Boudreaux skipped over young adult books and jumped right into the world of romance novels. She’s never left. Marci lives with her husband, two kiddos, and their numerous pets. She is a freelance writer appearing monthly in a variety of local magazines as well as a content editor.
Romance is her preferred reading and writing genre because nothing feels better than falling in love with someone new and her husband doesn’t like when she does that in real life.
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