Dirty Blood

Title: The Crane Diaries: Dirty Blood
Author: Apryl Baker
Genre: NA Horror/Paranormal
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Design
Publication Date: December 18th, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Deep in the swamps of the Louisiana bayou, a horrifying secret lies waiting to be discovered.
A legend haunts the bayou, a chilling tale of a beast that is born from a curse…the Rougarou.
When Emma Rose Crane lets hunter Cass Willow convince her to help him on a ghost hunt, she never imagined she’d be trudging through the swamps, let alone stumbling upon a mess of mangled bodies—or running into the creature responsible for the rotting remains.
With no backup available to them, she’s forced to show Cass her demonic side to help them escape, but that’s not the only problem. When the creature attacked them, it infected them with the same curse that drove it mad. There’s only one hope—kill the beast to cure the infection.
Time is not on their side as they race to save themselves and discover the truth behind the legend. But first they have to survive the effects of the curse long enough to find the creature and put it down…
Before they succumb to the hunger eating them alive.
So who am I?
Well, I’m the crazy girl with an imagination that never shuts up. I LOVE scary movies. My friends laugh at me when I scare myself watching them and tell me to stop watching them, but who doesn’t love to get scared? I grew up in a small town nestled in the southern mountains of West Virginia where I spent days roaming around in the woods, climbing trees, and causing general mayhem. Nights I would stay up reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the covers until my parents yelled at me to go to sleep.
Now, I live in a small town in West Virginia where I entertain my niece and nephew and watch the cats get teased by the birds and laugh myself silly when they swoop down and then dive back up just out of reach. The cats start yelling something fierce…lol.
I love books, I love writing books, and I love entertaining people with my silly stories.
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Kate Benson

The Promise (FREE):

The Callie Leveaux Series Box Set (99 cents):

Frigid (99 cents):
Ignite (99 cents):
Beyond the Pine (99 cents):

Redemption Part One (99 cents):
Pieces of You (2.99):

Kate Benson was raised in Texas and currently resides in central Florida with her husband and their growing army of fur minions.She learned to read at the age of four and has been hooked ever since. She credits her passion for literature to her mother, her love of story-telling to her father and her unwavering faith in happily-ever-after’s to her husband, Sean.Some of her favorite things include rainy days, loud music, superhero movies, hot tea and of course, lazy afternoons with a great book.To find out more about Kate, her work or to just say hello, she loves hearing from her readers and can be found on social media.

Author Links:
Benson’s Book Babes (Fan Club/Readers Group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/PromiseSeriesSupportGroup/
Buy Links:
The Promise (FREE): https://amzn.to/2rmkebc
The Callie Leveaux Series Box Set (99 cents): https://amzn.to/2rnkMxC
Frigid (99 cents): https://amzn.to/2QfVIHD
Ignite (99 cents): https://amzn.to/2Usr24G
Beyond the Pine (99 cents): https://amzn.to/2Sv34DT
Redemption Part One (99 cents): https://amzn.to/2QAp4jE
Pieces of You (2.99): https://amzn.to/2Up51U2

Queen of His Heart

Title: Queen of His Heart
Author: Suzanna Lynn
Genre: Psychological Romance/Criminal Romance
Cover Designer: Funky Book Designs
Editor: Holly the Editor
Publication Date: December 27th, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
When you play your cards, always have a Queen in your hand!
Officer Samantha Daniels has been given a dangerous mission; go undercover to get close to criminal mastermind, Dominic Murphy. However, becoming one of the king pin’s family isn’t as simple as introducing yourself with a basket of muffins.
Samantha must keep it together as she dives into her dark side, all while undergoing a terrible ignition that could take her life. However, torture can turn anyone’s mind to mush, and she discovers a whole new side of herself as she slowly gives into Dominic and his murderous tendencies.
Add a dash of insanity and a touch of Stockholm Syndrome, and you have a romance made of inner demons and blood.
It’s a sexy blood covered romance gone wrong; or maybe right.

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Author Suzanna Lynn is a full-time mom of three beautiful, energetic children and spends her days with them and her husband in a small town nestled in the deep rolling hills of Missouri.
Growing up in the Ozarks, as a child Suzanna spent her days wandering the fields and woods surrounding her home. While most children avoided the dark corners of the woods, she sought it out, imagining them to be filled with fairies, dragons and all number of creatures.
Having not lost her childhood imagination, Suzanna has written numerous poems, songs and short stories that won various awards in high school and college.
However, in 2014 she decided to stop wishing she could publish a book and made the dream a reality when she released The Bed Wife.
That first novella gave birth to two more books, completing the series, and stirred the embers of a new five-book series called The Untold Stories, which is currently in the works.
When she’s not busy writing or spending time with her family, Suzanna loves to draw and paint, as well as scrapbook. She also has been known to volunteer with her children’s school, the local Ladies Auxiliary veterans group and even the local zoo!
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Wrapped With Risk

❄🎄 Wrapped With Risk by Missy Ann 🎄❄

Buy here: https://amzn.to/2ANf0K6


“This story was sweet, tender and an absolute heart melter.” ~Alicia, Amazon Reviewer

“Missy Ann has created a perfect little winter romance with enough dynamic and sass to whisk you away to this magical place.” ~Jennifer, Amazon Reviewer



Mills Ratliff is my best friend. We share practically everything, including custody of our four-year-old daughter. If you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have said there was no way in hell I’d let him move in with me so we could spend Christmas as a family. He’s already packing and I’m wondering if I’ve lost my mind.

Pitching my plan to Shae went a lot smoother than I expected. I made promises and I intend to break each and every one of them. I don’t want to spend only this Christmas as a family. I want every Christmas, and all the days in between. I love my girls and want to wrap them in my arms forever. This Christmas, I’m risking it all.


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Facebook: http://bit.ly/2FVligE

Facebook Group: http://bit.ly/2E0iA6F

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2DZrJfV

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2E056Ib

Beyond Spells

Title: Beyond Spells
Author: Harmony Lawson
Genre: NA Fantasy
Editor: Rogena Mitchell Jones
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Mercedes Weaver inherits an ancient book of spells. She is told it was written by angels and given a warning, as well. She fails to heed this warning about the consequences of using the spells in the book. After Mercedes invokes an angel named William, the unimaginable happens—she falls in love with him. The closer Mercedes and William become, the deeper the situation escalates, and everyone she’s ever loved will be put in danger.
It all comes down to an inconceivable choice. If she hadn’t risked everything, she wouldn’t have met William and their love wouldn’t have gone Beyond Spells.

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Harmony Lawson and her family live in Northern California in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She is mostly self-taught in drawing, painting, and writing. She is fascinated by angels, and incorporates her research in angels, the Nephilim, and fallen angels into her fictional stories.
While she has endured many hardships in life, she believes she has learned something new from her experiences. Life has its ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and Heaven and Hell. She believes the bad times are a test to prove a person’s worth. Her books reflect on that concept. Writing also helps her heal from past traumas. In the meantime, she cares for her family, loves her pugs, and remains silly through all that life throws at her. Her goal is to be an introverted hobbit.

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Saving Infiniti

Title: Saving Infiniti
Author: Rose Garcia
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: December 14th, 2018
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Welcome to Havenwood Falls, a small town in the majestic mountains of Colorado. A town where legacies began centuries ago, bloodlines run deep, and dark secrets abound. A town where nobody is what you think, where truths pose as lies, and where myths blend with reality. A place where everyone has a story. Including the high schoolers. This is only but one…
Infiniti Clausman is making the most of senior year. Throwing parties, pulling pranks, and breaking all the rules, she’s determined to graduate with a bang! But there’s one thing on her senior year bucket list she hasn’t been able to cross off yet—falling in love. In fact, she’s never even been kissed.
Infiniti hopes to change this when she travels from Houston to Colorado for the holiday break. Instead, she finds her world turned upside down when she discovers all things supernatural exist, time travel is real, and her very life is at stake. Suddenly, that kiss is the least of her worries.
Joe Greg will never forget the injured girl he and Kase Kasun found on the side of the mountain. It was 2012, and he was only twelve, but the image of the wreckage and his interaction with the girl has never left him. When he sees the girl again in 2018, she looks exactly the same. He figures out that she’s time-traveled to his present, with a reaper on her heels and a mystery to unravel. Drawn to protect her, he’s hell-bent on standing by her side. Even if it means his death.
Immerse yourself in the world of Havenwood Falls and stay up to date on news and announcements at www.HavenwoodFalls.com. Join our reader group, Havenwood Falls Book Club, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/HavenwoodFallsBookClub/. For more on Rose, visit her website at www.RoseGarciaBooks.com

*Saving Infiniti is a Havenwoods Falls High Novella featuring characters from the critically acclaimed Final Life Series
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Rose Garcia is a lawyer turned writer who’s always been fascinated by science fiction and fantasy. From a very young age, she often had her nose buried in books about other-worlds, fantastical creatures, and life and death situations. More recently she’s been intrigued by a blend of science fiction and reality, and the idea that some supernatural events are, indeed, very real. Fueled by her imagination, she created The Final Life Series—a Young Adult science fiction/fantasy series about people who have the ability to control the energy in and around them. Rose is known for bringing richly diverse characters to life as she draws from her own cultural experiences. Rose lives in Houston, Texas with her awesome husband and two amazing kids. You can visit Rose at www.rosegarciabooks.com.
Author Links:Facebook Author Page:  http://bit.ly/2eN6Mpw
Author Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/2DsMnVQ
Goodreads:  http://bit.ly/2DPcWlK
Pinterest:  http://bit.ly/2rkz2tT
Instagram:  http://bit.ly/2rllGxF
YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/2DOX035
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2hfmUCC
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Universal Link: https://books2read.com/SavingInfiniti

Her mind reeled at the pieces of her ordeal filtering back into her memory. Throbbing pain. Splattered blood. Shards of glass. The guy looking younger and transforming into a wolf. What the hell was happening?

“Who are you?” the guy whispered.

“I’m Infiniti. I’m from Houston. Who are you?”

“I’m Joe, and I’m from here. Havenwood Falls.”

“Havenwood Falls?”

“Yeah.” He leaned over the table. “The town close to where you crashed. You were transported to the medical center.” He moved in even closer. “You disappeared.”

She stared at him in disbelief. She pressed her back against the booth. It took her a minute to find her voice. “I what?”

“You vanished. We searched for you for days. Months even. With no leads, we had to give up.”

Her hands folded and unfolded on her lap. Her mind raced. “I crashed. I woke up, and I walked over here.”

“You woke up? As in, just now?”

Now now?”

“Yes. Like ten minutes ago now.”

His brows stitched together. He rubbed his chin. “So what happened to the last six years?”
Six years?

She examined his face. He most definitely looked six years older, but her car crash had happened that day. So that would be impossible. But then she thought of all the sci-fi movies she’d seen, and all her supernatural paraphernalia at home—her Ouija board, the spiritual cards her neighbor Jan had given her. She was a believer in all things unexplained, but had something otherworldly really happened to her? As in, for real?

Her hands trembled. She shivered. “It’s 2018?”

“Yeah, it’s 2018.”

Mountain Rescue Romance Series

Title: Mountain Rescue Romance
Author: Melissa McClone
Genre: Sweet Romance
Publisher: Cardinal Press, LLC

His Christmas Wish
Carly Bishop loved Christmas…until tragedy struck. Distraught and grief-stricken over the deaths of her fiancé and brother, she left Hood Hamlet and her Christmas spirit behind, to start over somewhere new. But now, six years later, her family needs her. Carly returns home to face her past and give her niece and nephew the best Christmas ever.
Burdened with guilt, Jake Porter believes he could have saved his two friends on that fateful day and kept Carly from experiencing such a heart-wrenching loss. When she arrives in town, Jake wants to make amends so they can both finally move forward with their lives.
As Jake helps Carly experience the magic of Christmas so she’ll embrace the holiday again, will he also be able to open her heart to something else she’d given up on…love?
Her Christmas Secret
Sean Hughes likes being single—much to his family’s dismay. They want him to settle down…now. When he gives fun-loving snowboarder Zoe Flynn a ride to the slopes, Sean hatches a plan to throw off his matchmaking relatives. He asks Zoe to pose as his girlfriend at Thanksgiving dinner, which will take the pressure off him and make the evening more enjoyable all around.
Zoe agrees to be Sean’s fake girlfriend. Who wouldn’t want a free meal or a chance to hang out with the handsome mountain rescuer and his adorable husky? When an injury occurs, the two are forced to continue their one-night ruse. As Christmas approaches, make-believe turns into reality. But Zoe has a secret…a big one.
Is their new relationship strong enough to withstand the truth, or will she find herself with no one to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve?
Her Christmas Kiss
Paramedic Leanne Thomas works hard to be “one of the boys” at the fire station and on the mountain. What the guys don’t know is she keeps her inner girly-girl hidden from them. When gorgeous, rookie firefighter Christian Welton turns on the charm, Leanne shuts him down fast. She won’t risk her heart or her reputation by dating a younger man who is also a coworker.
Leanne intrigues Christian. After she rescues him off the mountain, he glimpses a softer, more vulnerable side to her tough-as-nails personality. Christian’s not looking for a relationship, yet he can’t deny his attraction. A surprise kiss under the mistletoe sparks a three-alarm fire, but something is holding her back.
Will Christian’s kisses break through Leanne’s tough exterior and melt her heart? Or will a dash of Christmas magic be required?
His Second Chance
Nothing interests Sarah Purcell more than the volcanoes she studies until she meets Dr. Cullen Gray. Maybe that’s why she marries him two days later. Illogical, yes, but nothing has ever felt so right. As the honeymoon period ends and real life sets in, everything falls apart. A year after their separation, when Sarah is injured, she’s shocked when Cullen shows up to help.
Even though Cullen’s still hurting from their breakup, Sarah has no one else. He brings her to his home in Hood Hamlet to heal. Once she recovers, she can return to her beloved work and he can move on with his life—without her. But soon, sparks fly anew, long-buried emotions resurface, and much-needed conversations happen.
Is Sarah and Cullen’s marriage truly over? Or will they get a second chance at romance and a happily ever after?
His Christmas Family
Two and a half years after Grace Wilcox’s husband died a war hero, the hole in her heart and life remains. She wants to start over with their young son, but a snowstorm thwarts her plans, stranding them in Hood Hamlet. When Grace knocks on a stranger’s door in search of help, a handsome firefighter comes to the rescue.
Bill Paulson invites the two wayward travelers into his home. A relationship and family aren’t on his radar, but something about the widow and her son touches Bill’s heart. While Grace’s truck is being repaired, she wants to give her son a special Christmas. An overgrown kid who loves the holidays, Bill decides to do the same for Grace.
Attraction soon flares between Grace and Bill, but she won’t gamble her heart on another hero and he doesn’t consider himself husband material. Can a little Christmas magic show them love and a family are worth the risks?

USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!

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Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2E9EIwi
Buy Links:
Book 1 – His Christmas Wish:
Book 2 – Her Christmas Secret:
Book 3 – Her Christmas Kiss: 
Book 4 – His Second Chance:
Book 5 – His Christmas Family:
“It’s my mother. She thinks we’re serious. You and me. That I invited you to dinner because we’re in a relationship.”
Lines creased Zoe’s forehead. “Why would she think that?”
Because his mother was a hopeless romantic who wanted her son to get married so she could have grandchildren. “Because I’m bringing you to Thanksgiving dinner.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“My family never makes much sense.”
“Haven’t you ever brought anyone to Thanksgiving dinner before?” Zoe asked.
“Not in a long time.” Sean tried to keep his personal life as private as he could. Not easy living in a small town full of close friends and a large, demanding family who defined the meaning of nosy. “That must be why my mom got the wrong idea.”
“You have to admit it’s kind of sweet.”
“Imagine if it were your mother.”
Zoe winced. “Okay, not sweet at all.”
“My mom’s probably calling my aunts, who will call my cousins…”
“It’s not a problem. Just a little misunderstanding.” Zoe didn’t sound upset. “We can tell everyone the truth when we arrive. Have a good laugh about it.”
He stared at the snow on the side of the road. “Right.”
“You’re not laughing,” she said gently.
“I don’t have to go.”
“You’re not spending Thanksgiving alone.” Sean wasn’t going to let her get away that easily. He blew out a puff of air. “My mom’s expecting you now. If you didn’t show up, she’d be disappointed. She looks forward to the holidays all year. I don’t want to ruin her day.”
“She’s going to be disappointed anyway when we tell her the truth.”
“Yeah. Unless…” His voice trailed off.
We couldn’t, could we? The idea had merit.
“What?” Zoe asked.
“We could pretend to be dating,” he suggested. “Just for today.”
“That could be fun.”
“Yeah.” And solve his problem. Problems, actually. His mom’s Thanksgiving would be salvaged, his opinionated family couldn’t say anything about him settling down, and he would get to spend time with Zoe. A win-win situation for everyone. “You in?”
She shrugged. “Sure.”

Going Down in Flames

Title: Going Down in Flames
Author: Chris Cannon
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Narrator: Julie Niblet
Audio Producer: The Audio Flow, LLC
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.
Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.
Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.
Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.
At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.

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Going Down in Flames: http://amzn.to/2C6jGhy
Bridges Burned: http://amzn.to/2BNRvQu
Trial by Fire: http://amzn.to/2Cij0Te
Fanning the Flames: http://amzn.to/2BMyDRL

Audio Buy Link:

Going Down in Flames: https://tinyurl.com/yb35sd7o
Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.
She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com.

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Going Down in Flames: http://amzn.to/2C6jGhy

Bridges Burned: http://amzn.to/2BNRvQu
Trial by Fire: http://amzn.to/2Cij0Te
Fanning the Flames: http://amzn.to/2BMyDRL

Audio Buy Link:
Going Down in Flames: https://tinyurl.com/yb35sd7o

Where I End

Title: Where I End
Author: Michelle Dare
Genre: NA Romance Standalone
Editor: Karen Hrdlicka
Proofreader: Tiffany Landers
Cover Designer: Amy Queau
Pretentious. Arrogant. Condescending. Cruel.
All words I’d used to label him. Exactly what I’d always believed he was. All that changed one spring morning when I realized I didn’t know the man behind the facade at all.
Angry. Desperate. Broken. Mine.
All words I’d use to define him after I interfered. Once our eyes locked, I was all in. There was no turning back. He tried to push me away, but I refused to let him go. I was determined to save him. What I didn’t expect was that he would save me, too.
I was so close to ending my misery. Mere seconds away. Then she stumbled upon our argument, and I changed my plans. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She knew too much. Even with my entire world burning down around me, she wouldn’t walk away.
I’ve always been on my own. No one had ever fought for me before. Why should anyone start now? But she did, no matter how much I tried to stop her. I knew I was nothing, unworthy of her, but she was persistent. Once she got under my skin, I couldn’t let her go, because where I end, she begins.

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Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.
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Newsletter Sign-Up: http://eepurl.com/bt14zX
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The Prophet

Title: The Prophet
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Urban Fiction/Apocalyptic Fiction
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach with INDIE Books Gone Wild
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
It’s one year until the apocalypse of 12.21.12 is supposed to take place.
Burning buildings, screaming babies, and death will surround us.
It will be the end of the world.
That can’t be allowed.
When six powerful women come together with one goal—to save humanity—they’ll get much more than they bargained for. They join forces and learn to use the gifts hidden within themselves to battle a monster feeding off something too many of us feel in our souls: Hate. But they must first learn how to forgive—themselves as well as others.
Hate is birthing a creature dwelling under Central Park in New York, and the fiend is eager to burst forth and sink his fangs into the Earth.
The Fury, The Visionary, The Beguiler, The Siren, The Prophet, and The Mystic are our last hope, and even they aren’t sure if they can win.
The end is coming, but with it, there may be a new beginning.
Buy Links:
The Visionary: https://amzn.to/2RXtH4W
The Beguiler: https://amzn.to/2qvmdtj
Jo Michaels is…
Hi, I’m Jo. Let’s forget all the “Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah” stuff and just go with it. I’m a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.
I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I’m married to. Along with my children, he’s my whole world.
I’ve lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I’ve had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I’ve written about in Yassa.
One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I’d love to hear from you.
Author Links:
Buy Links:
The Visionary: https://amzn.to/2RXtH4W
Chapter One ~ Death
Bronya lifted a hand. “Shhhh, I hear something.” Turning her head to the side so she could pay attention to the noises reaching her ears, she noticed Shelia crouching and staring straight ahead. Soft sobbing sounds were coming from inside the car parked across the street. Bronya’s eyes followed the line of Shelia’s gaze and fell on two figures, both male.
“I see you,” whispered Shelia. Before she could be stopped, she took off like a flash and ran straight for the men.
Cursing, Bronya followed; already igniting the power in her hand. Red sparks flew as she knocked the figures aside so Shelia could get to the car. Another red flash and the door flew off the hinges, revealing a third form huddling inside.
At once, the woman scrambled out of the car and fell to the asphalt.
Shelia stopped running and took a defensive posture, creeping slowly toward the mass of hair and limbs tangled on the ground.
Bronya could hear soft words being spoken. “It’s okay. We’re here to help.”
A shrill scream pierced the night air, and both girls put their hands over their ears to shut it out. Then, everything went quiet. It seemed the city hushed to listen to the momentary scream of the woman now lying silent and prone on the road.
“Shit!” Shelia ran forward and put her fingers to the young woman’s neck. “Call an ambulance! No pulse! We’re too damned late!”
“Hello? Operator? I need an ambulance!” Bronya rattled off the names of the cross-streets and approached the girl at the operator’s request. “Yeah, she has no pulse. There’s blood everywhere.”
Footfalls echoing in the distance signaled the retreat of the two men. Everything was quiet except Shelia’s heavy breathing.
She was frantically doing CPR, via instructions yelled out by Bronya, as the whining siren of an ambulance shattered the new quiet. Tires squealing, the vehicle pulled up and two EMTs leapt out, equipment in hand. Bronya clicked her phone off, pulled Shelia back, and stood nearby, watching.
After working furiously over the girl for a number of minutes, the medics lifted her onto a stretcher and everyone climbed into the ambulance. The two girls shrank back against the walls, trying to stay out of the way.
Dark hair, matted with blood, fell around the pillow and framed the girl’s face. She had a nasty bruise below her left eye and red welts here and there on her arms. But there was still no clue as to where the blood was coming from. Bronya scratched her head and chewed the inside of her cheek while her eyes roamed over the mess in front of her. One of the medics was suddenly in her face. “Do you know who did this?” he asked.
Bronya and Shelia both shook their heads.
His voice dropped to a low growl. “Are you the girls that called nine-one-one?”
Taking point, Bronya lifted her hand into the air. “I did that. We found her this way. There were two men, but they ran off when we got here.”
“Two men? Can you describe them?”
“No. It was too dark. I only saw silhouettes and figured they were men because of the way they were standing. You know, leaned to one side, hands in pockets, kinda puffed up like they were big, bad dudes.”
“Do you know this young woman?” He gestured to the girl.
“No.” Bronya shook her head. “We were just walking by and heard crying coming from the car. When we checked it out, we found her and called you guys.” She knew damned good and well who the girl was, but explaining how they knew where she was going to be would take too long and raise too many eyebrows. Playing dumb seemed the best option.
Coralie smiled. She’d been friends with Regina for years. Another search and the name of the understudy for the part of Elphaba made Coralie groan. Fawne Holt! Why did it have to be her? Their long-standing rivalry was just going to get in the way and cause tension on stage.
A split-second decision was made to speak with the director about choosing a new understudy. Coralie headed off to see if he was in his office.
She walked up the stairs, knocked on his door, and waited. Just as she was turning to leave, the door flew open and a young-looking man with hair standing on end, a loose tie, rumpled clothing, and no shoes was suddenly staring at her. All ability to speak was stolen as she looked at him. This guy is the director?
“Well?” He held his hands out to the sides.
“Um, I seem to have caught you at a bad time. I’ll come back later.” Again, she turned to go.
“Bad time?”
She spun back around to find him scratching his head.
“Oh!” His face lit up. “You mean the way I look!”
Coralie nodded and gave a nervous giggle.
“No, no, this is the way I always look. I sleep here most nights when a production is in the works.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Well, come on in! I’m sure you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to talk to me.”
Stepping through the door, she was overwhelmed by the mess in front of her. Clothes were strewn all over the furniture, empty pizza boxes covered the tops of tables, and paper was scattered everywhere.
“Sorry about the mess.”
“No problem,” she lied.
He stuck out a hand. “Trenton Harris, nice to meet you.”
“Coralie Meyers. You, too.” She wiped her hand on her jeans when he released it.
“Ah, one of my leading ladies! Here, have a seat!” He tossed a jacket and pair of shorts off the couch into a pile on the floor.
Carefully, she lowered herself to the edge of the cushion and perched there. He plopped down on the chair across from her and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped. “Now, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?”
“It’s my understudy…” She trailed off, not sure if she should even mention it.
“What about her?”
“Well, it’s just that… See, she and I have had…”
“You don’t like each other; right?”
“Yeah.” It was a lame excuse and she knew it. Trying to recover, she added, “I’m just afraid it’s gonna cause unneeded tension on stage.”
Nodding like he agreed, he asked, “And you’re playing the part of Elphaba, right?”
She nodded.
“I have to tell you, I don’t usually make changes once the cast has been chosen.”
“Mr. Harris, I completely understand where you’re coming from, but—”
He lifted a hand. “Changing a casting after it’s been posted is like cutting off and re-attaching a limb. It’s painful.”
“I understand. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
Shifting in his seat, he narrowed his eyes at her. “If I accommodated your request, I’d have to do things for other people, too. It’s better to not set any kind of expectation. But I thank you for the warning that things may get difficult.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry I bothered you.” She stood up to leave.
Trenton rose with her and opened the door. “You didn’t bother me. I want you to feel comfortable coming to me with anything, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks.” Halfway down the stairs, she heard the door close. “Fat lot of good it did me. Now I just look like a damned diva,” she muttered.