Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Available Now: Warwick's Mermaid by Ellie Gray

Ellie Gray


(99c through15 October)
Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?

• • •

Chloe stared at the bright blue front door, not quite sure if she was willing it to open or remain shut. Cerulean Bliss. She had been drawn to the name, conjuring up images of crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, sandy beaches, and cloudless skies. Chris had appeared amused by her decision to choose the paint based on the name rather than the colour.

‘‘Babe, if you want Cerulean Bliss for the front door, Cerulean Bliss is what we’ll go for.’’

But when he’d returned from a boys’ weekend away to find Chloe had painted the door, it had been a different story. He had flown into a rage, claiming she hadn’t consulted with him on the colour and had gone behind his back, waiting until he was away to make changes to his house. That was the first time she had been on the receiving end of his anger; the first time she had been frightened and confused by his apparent about-turn on something he had previously agreed to. It hadn’t been the last time.

Chloe glanced at her watch, frowning when it showed only a minute had passed since she had last looked. The frown deepened when she lifted a hand to rub her eyebrow and saw how much her fingers were trembling. A gentle hand touched her forearm and she looked up to meet her friend’s calm gaze.
‘Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine.’

Chloe shook her head, unable to prevent her gaze from returning to the front door only twenty or so metres from where they were sitting in her car. What if he glanced around and saw her? What if he didn’t?

‘What am I doing, Bekah?’ She dropped her head in her hands, squeezing her eyes shut and immediately wincing as that small movement resulted in more pain than it should.

‘The right thing, that’s what.’ Rebekah rubbed her friend’s forearm. ‘Come on, Chloe. We talked about this.’

‘I know, I know we did.’ Chloe lifted her chin, but didn’t remove her gaze from the door. ‘I just…I keep thinking about it, over and over. He’s not always that bad, not really, and I think…I think maybe it was my fault.’

Chloe didn’t have to see her friend’s face to know she was angry; she could feel it radiating from her in waves. Rebekah remained silent and reached across to pull down the sun visor in front of Chloe, lifting up the small flap covering the vanity mirror.

‘There is nothing you could have done that would ever justify what he did to you. Nothing.’

Chloe stared at her reflection, taking in the dark purple bruise circling her left eye—now bloodshot and half-closed—the ugly graze reaching across her cheekbone and further down to the swollen and split bottom lip. Without thinking, she licked her lip. The tip of her tongue slipped over the injury, and she drew in a sharp breath at the sting it produced.

She met her gaze in the mirror once more, noting the confusion and uncertainty dulling their green hue. ‘I know. But it’s not usually this bad. He pushes me around a bit sometimes, nothing major, and he says things…you know, usually when he’s had a drink.’

‘That doesn’t make it right. You know that.’ Rebekah blew out a long breath. ‘I can’t believe you never told me.’

Chloe avoided her friend’s accusing gaze. What could she have told her? That Chris was proving her mother right? That she wasn’t woman enough for any man?

‘It doesn’t matter now anyway. I—’ She drew in a strangled breath as the front door opened and, shrinking down a little in her seat, Chloe prayed he wouldn’t glance down the street and recognise her car among all the others parked along the kerb.

As she watched, Chris locked the door before turning and sauntering along the path, tossing his keys in the air and catching them, his lips pursed as he whistled. Chloe couldn’t hear from this distance, but she knew he would be whistling the tune to whichever song had been on the radio before he left the house. She glanced at her watch once more; 8.15am on the dot. Chris was a creature of habit.

‘Bastard.’ Rebekah thumped the dashboard in obvious frustration as he got into his car without glancing left or right before driving off. ‘Look at him, acting as if he hasn’t a care in the world. You should have let Sean come round last night and hammer ten bells out of him, see how he liked it.’

Chloe gave a weak smile. ‘I don’t suppose that would have solved anything.’

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Rebekah finally opened her door.

‘So, come on then. Let’s do it.’

Chloe bit her lip and immediately winced in pain, wishing she hadn’t. Gingerly exploring her lip with her fingers, she saw they were stained with blood, and stifling a sigh, searched in her bag for a tissue.

‘What if he comes back? What if he’s forgotten something?’

‘He’s not coming back. He’s gone to work,’ said Rebekah, nodding her encouragement. ‘Come on, the sooner we get in, the sooner we get out. We’ll only be a few minutes.’

• • •

Ellie loves to write sweet romance and YA fiction, and is very proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelist Association. She lives in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire with her partner, David, two children, two cats and a chinchilla.

Currently working full-time in public services and studying for an MSc in Public Management, Ellie one day hopes to achieve her ambition of writing full time.

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Available Now: A Love Restrained by Becky Flade

Becky Flade


(99c through 8 October)
Old secrets, new threats...What are they willing to sacrifice?

Philadelphia police officer Kylee Parker is dedicated to protecting and serving. She sees the work in absolutes: right and wrong, black and white, good guys and bad guys. That is, until she chases a drug dealer into a dead-end alley and finds the bad boy she had a painful crush on throughout her teen years has turned into a more dangerous and more attractive man.

Jayson Donovan knows he doesn’t deserve someone as good as Kylee Parker. As the right hand man to a local drug-pushing mobster, he’s solidly on the wrong side of Kylee’s moral compass. But he can’t help reaching for her time and again when he knows he shouldn’t.

Even when his secrets threaten them both.

• • •

Spring in the city brought people out of winter hibernation like a siren song, but as the temperature rose, so in turn, did the crime rate. Cops had to be sharp as they walked the streets of Philadelphia. In her ten years on the force, on these streets, she’d seen a lot of crazy and often stupid criminals do a lot of crazy and often stupid things. But to be so brazen, or so plain dumb, as to do a hand-to-hand drug buy right in front of two uniformed officers rode high on her list of top ten.

“Tell me you saw that?”

“Saw what?” Hunks of half chewed soft pretzel fell from Sherman’s mouth.

Pete Sherman’s not a bad cop, just not an observant one whose paunch portrayed his love of all things fried and his reupholstered recliner. He hadn’t seen a thing in the last six months. But he took direction well, despite the fact he had seniority.

“There, across the street.” She pointed. “The junkie walking east just scored off the guy in the leather bomber heading west. I swear the dealer looked right at us before the exchange. Call it in, Pete, and grab the junkie. I’m going after the dealer.”

Sherman didn’t argue. She took off into a quick lope, kept her footsteps light so as to not alert the man she pursued. The spring day had drawn people out and the complaints of the pedestrians she weaved through grew loud. The guy glanced over his shoulder, and the edge of his mouth tipped into a grin before he sprinted around the corner.

“Cocky jerk.” She turned the corner, and shouted, “Stop! Police.”

She ran clean and fast, closing the distance between them with little effort. The dealer ducked into an alley she knew to be a dead end. She slowed and put one hand on the butt of her service pistol as she approached. He had his back to her, his hands on his hips as he stared at the brick wall in front of him.

“Philly PD, you’re under arrest. Slowly put your hands above your head and against the wall to your left.” She closed the few feet between them, using her free hand to release the handcuffs from her belt, the other remaining on her weapon. She cuffed him, with practiced efficiency, and then read him his rights before leading him out of the alley, preferring to do the pat down with her partner present.

“Kylee Parker, I’ll admit I daydreamed a time or two about you cuffing me, but it was never in this context.”

• • •

Becky has been writing stories since kindergarten. But it wasn’t until she found her very own knight in slightly tarnished armor that she took the leap in to publishing. And hasn’t looked back once. In addition to being a wife, mother and grandmother, she works as a legal professional when she’s not writing, reading or dancing. And Becky’s proud to tell people she’s making her own dreams come true one happily ever after at a time.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Available Now: One Night in Venice by Eden Walker

City Nights series, #32
Eden Walker


(99c through 1 October)
“Il sono molto pericoloso,” he said softly, “I am very dangerous—for you, caro—don’t you think?”

Kate Pollock is an average art student from London who, by sheer fluke, ends up in Venice on a scholarship. On her first day, she spots sex-on-legs in the corridor, the illustrious Martinez Di Ser Piero, and is shocked to learn he’s her Practicals tutor. The last thing she expects is for him to be attracted to her, but after one kiss, she’s lost to this mysterious man.

Following a dry spell in his career, Kate inspires Martinez to paint again. When his latest work goes missing, she has to solve the crime, as well as the enigma that is him. Kate thinks she’s falling in love with Martinez—could he be ‘the one’, or will his secret past break her heart?

• • •

Ten minutes later the gorillas in uniform ordered me out of there and on request pointed me in the direction of the cloakrooms. There was an annoying amount of paint on me by this stage. I’d stuck two pieces of hastily filched newspaper to the soles of my feet and had so much paint on my fingers that I needed to open the swing-door of the bathroom with my bum.
I held my hands up like the virulent evidence from a crime-scene. The place was empty, but steamy. It was some kind of locker room. Antique, with black and white floor tiles and exposed copper pipes. Lime yellow walls peeled at the cornices. I padded on over to the gargantuan sinks when someone opened a cubicle door to my right and a figure stepped out. I jumped.

Jesus. It was him, in just a pair of black trousers. He stopped, regarded me, and pulled his fly up slowly. The sound echoed in the room.

“Shit, you scared me,” I croaked.

He cocked his head at me. That thick hair was wet.

“This is the staff locker room,” Martinez said mildly. “For gents.”

“Oh, crap,” I said. Somehow I couldn’t stop swearing.

“But you’re welcome,” he added, leaning back against the tiled wall of the cubicle and crossing his arms. His pecs flexed against the smooth, almost hairless quality of that broad chest. His olive-coloured skin took on a slight sheen in this light. “It would be a pity to get paint on that sweater.”

Did he mean Peter’s dreadful cardie? How embarrassing.

“That colour looks familiar,” he added, glancing at my red feet. And my oversized men’s jeans, which, on consideration, were probably Peter’s too.

“I didn’t touch it…” I mumbled, heat rushing into my face. I felt faint.

“No, it looks like you fell on it.” He shifted his weight onto one leg and crossed the other over it, becoming even more casual. I tried not to look at his perfect body, but I couldn’t look at his face either, so I just stared at the floor like a naughty schoolgirl.

Which is so not a good role for me. I hated school. I even struggle with university, because I’ve been a rebel all my life. Something inside me snapped and I jerked my chin up, looking him in the eye. “I helped with the clean-up?” I suggested, sounding bolder than I really felt.

He laughed. “Okay, we can go with that.”

“I wanted to touch you?” I don’t know why I said that. It just slipped out. Seriously, I had no control.

Martinez smiled knowingly. Steam still emanated from the changing room behind him, which I assumed also contained a shower. He looked like a real live pin-up. May: Mr Italy. He bowed his head. It was an oddly defeated gesture. His breathing became slightly accelerated.

“There’s a sink over there,” he said. “Do you need help getting your foot into it?”

I laughed, though my heart crashed to the ground. “No thanks, I’ve already put my foot in it plenty.” I stalked past him stiff-legged, as the newspapers beneath my feet turned to papier-mâché on the damp floor. I was probably leaving a trail of red paint that the officials could follow…straight to the staff showers.

What on earth possessed me to mention touching him?

“A Painting Major?” he asked, still leaning calmly against the outside wall of the shower. I could see from his reflection in the mirror that he was watching my bum.

“Nope, feet of clay,” I said, shrugging. Jeez. First I’d been completely inappropriate, and now I was making appalling puns.

“I know it’s…unfashionable.”

He chuckled. “Art? Unfashionable?”

The pompous prick. I turned the water on loudly and ran my hands under it. A large red smear stayed behind on the brass tap.

“Is this oil?” I asked, rubbing.

“Your powers of observation, Ms…?”

“Pollock,” I muttered.

“You’re joking.”


“Not oil,” he continued. “A fast-drying polymer resin.”

“God.” I heaved my right foot up into the sink and nearly fell over. Then I scratched at the newspaper, which was firmly encrusted to my sole. I whipped it out again, christening the floor with pink water.

This is just fantastic.

“I won’t be long,” I shot over my shoulder.

“Do you do this often?”

“What?” I asked, quietly alarmed.

“Roll in paint and then head for the men’s showers to get it off?”

I had to laugh again, turning to him. He looked straight into me, just as he had in the Master-class. “No, do you?” The atmosphere between us, which had been kind of flirty but awkward from the first, suddenly got several degrees hotter. I turned back to the sink in a hurry and stuck my other foot in. I wobbled. Before I knew what he was doing or could stop it, Martinez Di Ser Piero stepped forward and steadied me with a hand to my hip.

A jolt shot right through me. His touch was like molten lead running under my skin, a hotline to my pussy. I jerked involuntarily as I was squeezed by a spasm of desire, and caught my breath.

“Oh yes,” he said, near my ear. “All the time.” Up close, right behind me, tension in his voice. “How old are you, anyway?”

It was a weird question. For some reason it turned me on beyond sanity.

A pause. “How old do you want me to be?”

• • •

Eden Walker (nicknamed Aziza, or Beloved) worked as an actress and a psychologist before committing to writing full-time. She began writing love stories on a little blackboard as a young teen, the advantage being that she could rub the risqué bits out before anyone saw them! But now she is having fun going public. She has two books, The Seeing Place and its sequel, This Crazy Paradise, with another house. She is a keen blogger and would love to hear from readers.

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Available Now: Unleashing the Pack by David J O'Brien

Silver Nights Trilogy, #3
David J. O'Brien


(99c throuhg 24 September)
One man's monster is another man's role model—Patrick has been leading his werewolf pack for five years. He's perfected his abilities at leash, and all seems easy for the pack to slip through the full moons of the city, unseen into the future. Once he's navigated some issues concerning the most recent additions, he's ready to hand the leash to Conor, next in line, and settle down with his mate, Cora.

However, a new challenge confronts him and the pack when an Eastern European organised crime gang recognise them as the survivors of some ancient foes from the Carpathians. Paul recognises, in his turn, that this gang are monsters much more fearsome than mere Mafiosos. 

For Paul and Patrick and the rest of the Wilkez, the time has come to unleash their violence, to use their power to shield the clan. But can they do it without drawing the attention of the police and bringing even greater destruction upon them?

10% of the author's royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund.

• • •

Patrick McHew strolled along a quiet street at sunset. A spring shower had cleared the air and left small puddles on the uneven pavement. Strings of horse chestnut petals lay along the gutters. The old trees standing up out of the concrete and asphalt shed no perfume into the coming night, but Patrick yet smelled the fallen flowers among the other scents emanating from the street.

He passed a kid of ten or twelve cycling around in circles on a BMX. A block away a young man in his twenties lingered on a corner. He watched Patrick approach, then turned away. An unspoken agreement had been reached. Patrick strolled past as if the man was as much a part of the street furniture as a lamppost or traffic sign.

Further on, a small group of teenagers leaned against the railings of a small park. Two of them pushed themselves from the railings and stood in the middle of the sidewalk. The other three stayed where they were, but stared fixedly at Patrick as he neared. Patrick instantly saw they were different. They dressed in the same kind of clothes—pants hanging down just as far—but these teens were from the suburbs. While the drug dealers and local street kids let Patrick and his friends pass through their territory the same way they let the trains and buses pass, these kids wanted to interact negatively.

Released to the city on the pretence of going to the cinema or some such legitimate pursuit, he surmised, their parents never discovered they found violence more diverting than the movies. These thugs always picked on weaker people and those in smaller groups, so they never went home with bruises.

Tonight they would.

The farthest one shifted his stance and took out his cell phone. Still leaning against the railings, he started to film the proceedings. Another annoying trend among the youth; posting their exploits on the Internet, even when those exploits were beating up other kids or stealing hats from strangers.

"What's goin' on?" one of the two blocking his way asked.

Patrick kept walking. He was now ten feet away and quickened his pace.

"You walkin' on my street?"

"You got to pay the toll," the other added.

Patrick shook his head, wondering where they'd got that line. It sounded like a bad eighties movie. The nearest two thugs let him pass without speaking; they wanted to surround him.

"You talkin' to me?" Patrick asked the nearest teen, imitating DeNiro. Before waiting for a reply, he lashed out. The heel of his palm slammed sideways against the teen's nose, shattering it in a spray of blood. The thug doubled over, holding his gushing face and cursing.

Patrick kept walking, lengthening his stride.

The others stared at their injured companion for a second, too shocked to react. The thug with the phone spun on his heel to follow Patrick as he passed by, his mouth agape.

When Patrick was already five yards away, they began to run after him.

"You'll fuckin' pay for that," one shouted.

Patrick began to jog, then broke into a run.

As he skirted around the block, he yipped loudly. The pursuing teens took this as a cry of fear. They started yelling, breaking into sprints after him.

Patrick looked behind and laughed. He ran fifty yards down the next street and then cut into an alleyway, the gang of youths at his heels.

As he passed by a dumpster, Patrick saw two men standing behind it. He pulled up short. Above him, on a fire escape, another five men stood.

One of these dropped to the ground behind Patrick.

Patrick turned around. The figures at the dumpster stepped out of the shadows. They smiled at Patrick.

He grinned back. "Say hello to my new friends."

The teens thundered into the alley and came to a halt when they saw Patrick had stopped.

When they saw the men step out from behind the dumpster they spread out, ready for a fight.

Then the other four figures dropped from the fire escape, landed light as cats on the asphalt.

It was five against eight, now.

The youths looked at one another and in unspoken agreement began to back out of the alley. Behind them, however, two more shadows materialised into the shapes of men, and slowly approached.

Patrick glanced right and left at the men now standing beside him; his own gang, his pack.

• • •

David J O'Brien was born and raised in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. He studied environmental biology and later studied deer biology for his PhD, at University College Dublin. Instead of pursuing his life-long interest in wolves and predator-prey interactions, after completing his doctorate, he taught English in Madrid, Spain, for four years while his girlfriend finished her doctorate in molecular biology. They married and moved to Boston, USA, so his wife could pursue her career and David decided that teaching was a vocation he was happy to continue. After seven great years teaching Biology at Boston's Cathedral High School and Zoology at Bridgewater State College, he returned to Spain three years ago so his wife could set up her new research group in her hometown of Pamplona shortly before their daughter was born. He currently teaches English and science in Pamplona in addition to writing and looking after his children.

David has loved writing since his teens. He began with poetry and had one of his first poems published in Cadenza, a small Dublin poetry magazine at the age of fourteen. Since then several more have been published in journals and anthologies such as Albatross, The Tennessee State Poetry League, Poems of Nature and various anthologies of Forward Press imprint in Britain. He began writing fiction soon after and wrote the novella that would later become Leaving The Pack at the age of seventeen. Though his academic writing took precedence for a number of years, and he is still involved in deer biology and management, he kept writing other things in his spare time and has always dreamt of one day being able to do it full time. While living in Madrid, he wrote some non-fiction articles for the magazine Hot English and while in Boston for the newspaper Dig.

An avid wildlife enthusiast and ecologist, much of David's non-academic writing, especially poetry, is inspired by wildlife and science, and he sometimes seeks to describe the science behind the supernatural.

His Young Adult paranormal novel The Soul of Adam Short and children's novel, Peter and the Little People. He has also published three novellas under the pseudonym JD Martins.

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Available Now: Turlough's Tale by Christy Nicholas

Druid's Brooch Series, short story extra
Christy Nicholas


After his wife dies in childbirth, Turlough decides his children will be better off with their aunt. He leaves in the middle of the night, with only his son, Ruari. Turlough and Ruari travel west to find music, the other true love in Turlough’s life. Unwittingly sleeping under an ancient Faerie stone, they wake up in Faerie. Amidst enchanting music, they almost lose their souls before they escape with their lives. When they returns, Turlough finds two years have passed, though he’s only been gone two weeks. His mother is waiting for him with the gift of a magical brooch.

• • •

Glasán, Ireland, 1735

Time. He needed more time. And that was the one thing he couldn’t control.

Turlough held his wife’s hand. She was so incredibly thin. He didn’t want to squeeze for fear of breaking her bones. This would be their fifth child. He prayed that Maeve would live long enough to hold the child in her arms.

She moaned again, and he glanced at the midwife. The woman shook her head and closed her eyes. The tears pummeled at his eyes as he closed his own.

Maeve was the joy in his life. His whole reason for being. She’d never been strong, but this pregnancy had wasted her to a frail husk.

She strained against the pain and screamed. The tears in his eyes burst forth, and his throat closed. The coppery smell of hot blood infused the small, dark room.

A thin scream cut the air, and a small bundle squirmed in the midwife’s arms. Maeve’s hand went limp in his own.

“No! No, Maeve, no! You can’t die on me now, my love, you can’t! Wake up, Maeve! Maeve, please, please, no please, no…”

His throat choked off any more words, and he cried. His beloved wife’s hand was flaccid in his own, but he refused to relinquish it. It was still warm. She must still be here. She mustn’t leave him.

The child’s wail turned to a whimper as the midwife bundled it in cloth and cooed over it. Turlough didn’t even want to know if it was a boy or a girl. He had no wish to see the child who killed his wife.

The midwife left, and he was alone with his wife’s body, but he couldn’t see her any more through the tears. His sobs wracked through him, and he fell over her. He lay there for hours, begging her to return.

• • •

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Available Now: When Time Is A River by Susan Clayton-Goldner

A Winston Radhauser Mystery, #2
Susan Clayton-Goldner


($2.99 through 11 September)
On a bench at the edge of the Lithia Park playground, someone is stalking two-year-old Emily Michaelson as she plays with her eighteen-year old half sister, Brandy. The child’s laughter curves through the sunlight, as if on wings. The stalker is more enamored than ever, but aware of Brandy’s vigilance with Emily, knows a kidnapping won’t be easy. Planning to gain Emily’s trust, the stalker gives her a necklace—little girls love pretty things. A few days later, Brandy and Emily arrive at the park for the Children's Health Fair. When the stalker sees them enter the public restroom, the opportunity is seized.

Not long after Emily's disappearance, Detective Radhauser finds her rainbow-colored sneakers in Ashland Creek, their laces tied together in double knots. Brandy’s father and stepmother blame her for Emily’s disappearance. Radhauser feels sorry for Brandy, but insists she stay out of the investigation. Brandy can’t do that. She is obsessed with finding out who took her little sister, and why. Will Emily be found in time?

• • •

In the Ashland Outpatient Surgery Center, eighteen-year-old Brandy Michaelson picked at the taped gauze on her cheek. She fidgeted on the edge of the exam table, awaiting the results of her latest surgery. Her palms were sweaty. A successful surgery meant everything to Brandy. No matter how many career opportunities life brought to her, being an actress would always rise to the top. She glanced around the room. Its walls had been recently painted. Yellow. The color of hope.

Sighing, she watched her dad, a professor of English Literature at Southern Oregon University, read a student essay. She’d been disappointed so many times before. But this time would be different. “I had a dream last night,” she said. “And my face was perfect.”

He readjusted the crease on his trousers, that neatness he wore like a uniform. “Don’t get your hopes up too high, honey. Life seldom succumbs to our timetable. This type of surgery can take years.” He returned his attention to the same page of the essay he’d been staring at for fifteen minutes. How did he do it—year after year, the same freshman essays on Faulkner’s symbolism in Light In August?

She studied her dad’s jaw, chiseled with such precise angles that it must have obeyed some law of geometry. A jaw that was as stoic and rigid as his personality. If only her mother were still alive. She wouldn’t have her nose stuck in a frickin’ essay. She’d know how fast Brandy’s heart thumped—how excited and frightened she felt at the same time. Her mother would stand beside Brandy and hold her hand.

Careful to hide it from her dad, she slipped a small, silver-framed photo from the pocket of her carpenter pants and held it in her palm. In the photograph, a tall slender woman stood forever frozen at the edge of the Pacific, waves cresting behind her back. She wore a sleeveless, yellow sundress and her hair hung to her shoulders in dark, spiral curls. Brandy wondered if as she grew older she’d look more like her mother. Wondered if she should have her hair permed into corkscrew curls.

In the photo, her mother’s head was flung back and her whole body seemed to be laughing. It wasn’t the kind of smile someone pasted on for a photograph. It was something deeper—something as pure as joy.

She’d died from ovarian cancer when Brandy was almost four—far too young for memories. At least that’s what her dad claimed. But she often remembered small things. Romping in a backyard garden. Lilac soap. And bath oil that smelled like cinnamon and eucalyptus. The songs her mother tossed into the morning air like ribbons. Yet, despite Brandy’s frequent efforts to see her again, the fuzzy videotape of movement, scents, and sounds never added up to a whole woman. She needed to know more. Especially now that she’d gotten the role of a mother in the senior class play.

When Doctor Sorenson—a tall, square-jawed man in his early forties—entered the examining room, Brandy tucked the photo back into her pocket. Sorenson wore a bright blue lab coat and his matching blue eyes had mastered the sincere look—like every other plastic surgeon who’d ever examined her face.

• • •

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Available Now: One Night in Kuala Lumpur by Abbey MacMunn

City Nights series #31
Abbey MacMunn


(99c through 3 September)
In search of inspiration and excitement, successful artist, Ziva Clarke, takes a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her exhibitions in the UK have left her exhausted; she’s had no fun in ages and her creativity is at below zero—the exotic Far East could be just what she needs.

Charmer Sam Tempest is visiting Kuala Lumpur on business with his father, but behind the impeccable suit and the wicked smile, he’s not a happy man. Duty bound to join his family’s international business, Sam longs to follow his true passion—to carve wood sculptures.

The two lonely souls meet by chance on a crowded street, and it turns out they might not be the strangers they first thought. So begins a night of confessions, shared dreams, and hot sex.

Can one steamy night in Kuala Lumpur be the answer to both their dreams?

• • •

Squinting, Ziva tried to see who’d spoken in a deep, smooth-as-silk British accent.

A tall man stood before her and greeted her with an alluring, lopsided smile that exuded confidence. Kind eyes crinkled at the corners.

His broad shoulders were clad in a navy, tailored business suit. With his thick hair, a rich, burnt umber colour, slicked back off his forehead, and an angular, clean-shaven jaw, the guy could have stepped off the set of a TV advert for men’s cologne. And his lips… oh boy, his lips. Full, well-defined, and made for sinning.

Her mouth dried. Kuala Lumpur grew more interesting by the second.

Elise filled in for her temporary inability to speak. “No, we haven’t. My sister failed to mention Pavilion or Lot 10. I’m afraid she doesn’t share my love for shopping.”

Surprise flashed across his face before his smile widened then hitched higher in one corner. Yep, male model material. Just my luck if he’s gay.

Elise shifted from one foot to the other and adjusted her hold on her dozen or so shopping bags. “Are the malls far?”
“No, not far. They’re near the Golden Triangle part of the city.”

Ziva stifled another groan. More malls, right near where they were staying.

The guy tipped his head. “I’m Sam, by the way.” Sophisticated charm oozed from every pore. “It’s lovely to meet two beautiful English roses so far from home.” Although he spoke to both of them, he directed an intense gaze at Ziva. Mischievous cobalt eyes sparkled in the bright sunlight then he winked at her. Hmm, not gay then.

“Hi, I’m Elise,” her sister said, sticking out her chest. “Nice to meet you, too.” She shuffled her feet again. “My feet are roasting standing here.”

Ziva glanced at Elise’s unsuitable choice of footwear as she stood on a drain cover. “I’m not surprised your feet are hot. It’s ninety-five degrees and you’re wearing high-heeled boots. I told you to wear your flat sandals.”

Elise rolled her eyes. “Flat sandals do not go with this outfit,” she said resignedly. “Kuala Lumpur is home to some of the best shopping malls in South East Asia—who cares about a little discomfort?”

“So, you were listening when I read out the tourist brochure and the amazing places I’d like to visit.”

“No, not really.” Elise gave an apologetic shrug. “I heard ‘shopping malls’ mostly.”

Sam laughed. His attention never left Ziva. “And your name is…?”

The crowd surged forward to cross the road. Someone jostled past Ziva, accidentally knocking her elbow. Her tatty canvas handbag and her one and only shopping bag dropped to the ground. She gasped as her new lingerie tumbled onto the dusty pavement. “Oh, crap!”

Stooping to her haunches, she then hastily stuffed lacy bras and matching thongs back into the paper bag. Her blonde curls tumbled over her face, helping to hide cheeks that burned hotter than the pavement. A serious contender for Miss Tiny Tits UK, she’d been spoiled for choice when she’d seen that the malls in KL catered for smaller women, so she’d treated herself to a few items of sexy underwear. Not that she had an occasion to wear it, but still, the last thing she needed was to have it displayed for all to see.

Sam kneeled in front of her, picked up a black bra, and swung it on his finger. “Here, I think you missed one.”

Head still down, she reached for the bra, but he hooked his finger around the strap and held it firm. She tugged. “Let go.”

“Not until you tell me your name.” He tugged back, stretching the lace and elastic across the distance between them. “And not until you look at me.”

• • •

Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal and fantasy romances. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband and their four children.

When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Available Now: My San Francisco Highlander by Aleigha Siron

My San Francisco Highlander series, #2
Aleigha Siron


($2.99 through 27 August)
A love three hundred years in the making — After being knocked out in battle, Angus Cameron wakes in a terrifying new world with flying beasts, horseless carriages, crazy music, and strangely dressed people. Has he gone mad? When Angel Adair discovers a man in 1975's San Francisco Lands End park dressed in little more than a Scottish kilt, is he just a confused drifter or her dream-lover come to life?

• • •

Angel stepped carefully down the slope toward her deerhound. “Simon, come to me,” she commanded more forcefully. As she reached to brace herself against a tree, the form of what appeared to be another dirty, ragged homeless man turned in her direction. His heavily muscled frame, imposing even while leaning against a boulder and sitting in the dirt, halted her. Dried blood crusted along his arms and legs, tangles of debris clotted through his chestnut shoulder-length hair. He wore a dark plaid kilt streaked with mud and more blood. Her breath stopped, could he be Daniel? Of course, only the man’s rugged mien and broad shoulders resembled her brother.

“Oh, Jesus, you’re wearing a kilt, and you’re injured.”

Well, that was about the stupidest response she could have made. She gave Simon another sharp command. With a whine, the dog returned to her side.

She snapped on a restraining leash. "He's not dangerous, really. I think the smell of blood has disconcerted him." She waved her hand in a vague pass toward the man’s battered body and took a step back.

"Are you in need of assistance?" The man's fierce, disturbing appearance should have caused her to run in the opposite direction as fast as possible, but she felt an unexplainable urge to help him.

"My name is Gillian Adair. My father is a doctor. You look as though you might need his help."

The man watched her; an expression of total confusion twisted his face. “Are ye my angel, then? Have ye come to take me from this hell?”

He spoke with a deep, heavy brogue. At first, she could only make out a few words. She thought he’d called her Angel. Only her family and best friends shortened her middle name, Angelina to Angel, and used it as her nickname. However, they referred to her as Angel enough times around members of the St. Andrews Benevolent Society. Could this man be a newly arrived Scotsman who recalled one of them addressing her as such? She didn’t recognize him, but covered in dirt, brush, and blood…rather a lot of dried blood, and wounds still oozing, it was unlikely she’d be able to identify him from any previous brief encounter.

Weary, haunted eyes registered a flash of fear in their deep, green depths. The sudden loud rumble of a helicopter overhead spurred the man to his feet while at the same time ducking his head. He moved with such obvious distress that he lost his already awkward perch and slid further down the steep embankment futilely snatching at passing brush until he caught hold of a sturdy bush.

If he slipped any further, he would tip over the edge and plummet several hundred-feet onto a pile of jagged rocks at the base of the embankment. Angel removed Simon’s leash, issued a harsh command to stay, and scrambled down the slope clinging to rocks and trees as she went.

She’d intended to extend the leash to help the man up, but her good intentions went awry when she slipped, fell on her back, and slid feet first in his direction.

A strong hand latched onto her arm as she tumbled past his precarious position. He pulled her up with amazing strength and anchored a muscled arm under her breasts in a vise-like grip.

• • •

Following an accident several years ago, Aleigha's road to recovery was paved with the adventures and excitement of romance novels, inspiring the creation of her own tales. Recently learning about distant Scottish ancestors, she traveled to the land of craggy peaks, mists, bogs, and the ubiquitous heather, where she fell in love with the setting for her first full-length time-travel romance novel.

In her lengthy business career, Aleigha wrote and derived an array of management and other technical training programs until she turned her writing efforts to her true loves: fiction, and poetry. Her poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and university presses. Most recently, her poetry was included in an Escondido Municipal Art Gallery collection, merging art and poetry, a form known as ekphrastic poetry. The San Diego Poetry Society also selected a poem for publication in their 2015-16 Annual Anthology.

Currently, Aleigha is busy working on two new novels and plans to revisit a Children's Book written years ago for her many nieces and nephews. When not writing, reading, or attending poetry workshops, she often walks along the shore at sunset with her husband and her trusty Labrador helper, Strider, breathing in the ion charged air while seeking inspiration.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Available Now: Lullaby for My Sister by Nancy Barone

Nancy Barone


(99c/99p through 20 August)
When Valentina and Lucy Mancino’s mother died, and their father turned to alcohol to cope, Valentina quickly understood it was up to her to run the household and take care of her little sister. But Valentina was only nine years old. And when their new step-mother moved in, along with her two sons, Val also knew things were about to change for the worse.

Fifteen years later, while Lucy is flailing in life, Val is running a successful career, but she’s also hiding a terrible secret. She soon discovers that her former home is suppressing secrets of its own—many unspeakable truths are dying to be told.

• • •

Little Italy, Toronto, 1993

I knew something bad had happened the minute I saw Uncle Tony’s black limousine pull up outside the school gates.

Ma never wanted any fussing over us and always said that even if we were Tony Mancino’s nieces, we were still Luigi Mancino’s daughters who could walk to school like everyone else.

“Hop in, Valentina,” Calogero the driver said, his face mostly hidden behind a pair of huge reflective shades like the ones the police wore on TV. But even if he wasn’t a policeman, I knew he had a gun because I saw it under his jacket once. “Your uncle Tony wants you at his house.”

Now, it’s not that I didn’t trust Calogero, who’s known me since I was a baby and has even taken us to the park, but Ma’s words rang through my mind. “Only trust your family, Valentina…”

So, when I hesitated, he picked up the car phone and punched in a number, passing it to me through the lowered window. “Here, talk to him,” he said.

I’d never spoken into a car phone before. It was very heavy. “Hello?” I said.

“Valentina.” The sound of Uncle Tony’s voice made me feel better instantly, but it was weird, like he’d been running – or crying. I swallowed hard.

“Listen, I need you to be a good girl and let Calogero bring you and Lucy back to my house, okay?”

“What happened?” I asked, and suddenly had to go to the bathroom. “Where’s Ma and Dad?”

Silence. “Sweetheart, your mom’s…in the hospital. She fell. And skinned her knee. Daddy and I are with her.”

“Is she okay?” I squeaked as Calogero got out of the car and took my school bag and lunchbox from me, my heart skipping a beat.

“She’s fine, sweetie. Just go and pick up your sister. Maria will make you a snack when you get home.”

“Okay, Uncle Tony,” I said obediently, and crawled into the huge back seat of the dark car, my chest hurting as if someone had sat on it.

Lucy was the last one out, waiting by the door next to Mrs. Njong, her favorite doll tucked under her arm. Calogero showed the teacher a note as he spoke to her, but I couldn’t hear a word. Why did grownups always talk to each other like that?

Mrs. Njong covered her mouth with her hand and nodded, tears filling her eyes. I swallowed, my face feeling awfully tight, like someone pulling on it from all sides.

“Val, what’s he doing here?” Lucy whispered in her baby lisp as I bent down to hug her. Calogero’s reflective shades always scared her, but then he’d take them off and twirl them around to show her he had eyes just like everybody else, and she’d laugh. Every time. Lucy liked to play around a lot.

“Mummy fell and hurt her knee,” I said. “Daddy took her to the hospital.”

Lucy searched my face and I forced a convincing smile, stroking her cheek like I always did when I needed her to do what I said. When she was satisfied I wasn’t keeping anything from her, she smiled back, assured everything was okay, that it was only a tiny scratch.

I swallowed back my fears that it might be something really bad and tried to act normal, while Calogero saw us into the back seat again and drove off, Lucy waving to Mrs. Njong.

Last year, I fell and skinned my elbow, but I don’t remember any ambulance coming for me. So, it couldn’t be good. And then I started imagining the worst – both my parents lying dead in the hospital and no one at home to greet us, no one to help me with my homework or tuck Lucy in at night. Uncle Tony and his staff would take care of us, I knew, but, as loving and generous as he was, he wasn’t Ma or Dad.

• • •

Nancy Barone is an Italian-Canadian English teacher and writer of rom-com and romance. When not on her laptop, she enjoys long walks on the beach with her loved ones, travelling and visiting the local ice-cream parlour.

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Available Now: Resolutions by Carol Warham

Carol Warham


(99c/99p through 13 August)
A few days before the New Year, Carly Mitchell returns home to the small town on the Yorkshire moors. Her intention for the short visit is to make her apologies and offer an explanation for her action. A year earlier, she fled, leaving her bridegroom and friends bewildered. She’s met with mixed reactions, ranging from curiosity to open hostility. However, when an emergency arises, Carly agrees to change her plans and stay a little longer. Falling in love with the new local doctor, Ben Thornton, was not part of her original plan either. Especially when it appears his past is shrouded in mystery. Complications and tensions increase during the town’s New Year celebrations and she begins to doubt whether she has done the right thing by coming home.

Can she find the resolution she needs to overcome the challenges facing her, or will she run away again?

• • •

The large, dimly lit sign appeared momentarily through the driving rain.

Carly Mitchell pulled her car over to the grass verge at the side of the road. Indecision gripped her as her heart hammered against her ribs. Did she drive on into the town, back to the place where she believed she was hated, or should she drive straight through and not stop?

Darkness shrouded the long road across the bleak moors. A thick swirling mist was broken only by the beam of her car’s headlamps. The windscreen wipers were the only thing which moved, as if bored, by the effort of clearing the rain. She stared at the sign until the glare of oncoming headlights made her blink and bite her lip. This was her decision, her choice. Could she do this? She nodded to herself. She knew she could now. Twelve months ago, she’d have been in pieces at the thought of what she intended to do, but not now. She had changed, grown up, learned to stand on her own two feet. The old Carly Mitchell wouldn’t have dared make any decision like this, for fear of upsetting someone. But her life had changed for the better, and so had she.

Taking a deep breath, she slowed down her heartbeat and controlled her shaking hands. A few minutes to recover her equilibrium were all she needed. She would do what she had come to do, and then leave. After that people could say and think what they wanted. She wouldn’t care.

It was past midnight when she drove into the quiet town. The wet road glistened under the street lights. Driving down the empty streets of the old Yorkshire mill town, her stomach churned. How well she knew all of these buildings.

A large Victorian mill loomed up before her. The grey stone walls and rows of neat windows were highlighted by the street lamps. It almost resembled a barricade, another warning. Slowing down to look at the building, she smiled at her own foolishness. You’d never know that inside were some charming tourist and gift shops and a little tea shop. She drove over a stone bridge where the road crossed a small river. In the dark, she could hear the water as it babbled and gurgled over the boulders that lined its path.

Would she ever be able to walk through this town and receive a warm welcome? What sort of greeting would anyone give her now? What sort of greeting did she deserve? Yeardon had been a wonderful place to grow up. It was one of those towns where you knew everyone, and they knew you.

Her mind a maelstrom of anxiety, she tightened her grip on the steering wheel. Who would have believed anyone’s hands could shake so much?

Reaching the far side of the town, she turned into a drive, which led down a short, narrow lane to a hotel, a converted mill owner’s house. After finding a space in the car park, she switched off the engine, but remained in the car for a few minutes. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes.

The drumming of the rain on the roof was not reassuring. The weather seemed to be giving a further warning to leave now, while she could. She peered through the rain- splattered screen at the sign above the front door. In copper plate script, it read Resolution Hotel. The building looked well-kept and fresh. Business must be going well for Jim and Abi.

“Well, here goes.”

• • •

Writing has been Carol’s love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up she settled down to writing short stories, poems and holiday articles. Some of which are published.

In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.

Earlier this year, she represented her book group on BBC Radio Leeds, talking about books and the work on her novel.

Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam.

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Available Now: Call of the Morrigu by Christy Nicholas

Christy Nicholas


(99c/99p through 23 July)
Life isn't easy in 1798 Ireland. Rebellions are rising across the countryside, and the English can be cruel overlords. However, this brutality hasn’t reached the country estate of Strokestown.

Theodosia Latimer and her grandfather Reginald are on a mission to discover the past. They're determined to excavate some ancient mounds on the Strokestown estate. But when they discover an imprisoned goddess straight out of Ireland’s rich mythological history, they're both amazed and frightened.

Tasked with integrating this primeval warrior woman into polite society, they develop both respect and fear for the powerful goddess. Will they be able to tame her lust for violence in the upcoming rebellion? Or will they fall victim to it?

• • •

October 31, 1796
Rathcrogan, County Roscommon, Ireland

Finn the Tinker walked along the path on the black night while thick clouds obscured the sickle moon. He stumbled as the velvet blanket of gloom hid rocks and branches upon the ground along the unfamiliar path. Wind howled through the crags and cliffs and he hurried his steps, wiping blown leaves from his face. He shouldn’t be caught outside this night.

For All Hallow’s Eve, or Samhain, was a time of magic and Fae, a night of hauntings and fear. But he had no choice now.

No glow from starlight helped him. Finn had just finished a fruitless mission to the Big House to peddle his wares that evening and he wanted to return to his wife and children in Tulsk.

The wailing wind increased as he approached Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. He avoided the place this time of the year, but he was in a hurry to make it to high ground before the storm struck. Legends told of strange creatures coming from the mouth of the cave, magical creatures of the Otherworld. Finn’s own grandmother had told him the tales. Cats, ravens, sometimes bats swarmed from the cave and chased a hapless traveler. Stories told of people, found mad or wounded.

A traveler such as himself.

The wind halted. He looked around, suspicious of the silence.

Red eyes blinked at him from the darkness.

Finn backed away from the glowing crimson points near the cave. The wind howled again, and the creatures fluttered and screeched.

They were getting closer.

An amorphous shape formed in the darkness and he froze. The wings touched his face and arms. With a soundless cry, he dropped his packs and ran back the way he had come.

Over rock walls and burns he ran in fear. With no light to aid his headlong flight over the treacherous path, he fell. He ripped his pants and skinned his knee, but he paid these minor annoyances little heed before he stumbled to his feet again. The terrified tinker didn’t dare glance back at the daemons that chased him, but made the sign of the cross as he pelted across the fields.

Several lights twinkled in the distance. That must be the Big House, Strokestown. If he could just reach that haven…

As he splashed through the muddy river, his worn boots slid into the muck at the bottom and became mired. Finn jerked his feet out and tried to scramble up the far bank, but got stuck again. The wind died once more.

A terrified glance over his shoulder confirmed that the red glowing eyes were hovering, waiting for...what?

A scream ripped through the night, shattering the silence. The wind picked up again as the cry died in a strangled gurgle.

The next morning, they found Finn’s body by the river. His kin barely recognized his face. Thousands of tiny cuts had bled out into the sticky earth.

• • •

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Available Now: The Body at Ballytierney by Noreen Wainwright

Ballytierney Mysteries, #1
Noreen Wainwright


(99c/99p through 9 July)
When Simon Crowe’s body is discovered at Ballytierney, old secrets threaten to destroy the lives of the townspeople. Inspector Ben Cronin is coasting towards retirement, so the last thing he needs is a case that threatens to expose the town's dark underbelly.

Maggie Cahill, a priest’s housekeeper, is at a crossroads in her personal life when she receives a letter out of the blue from someone in her distant past. Her peace of mind and her livelihood are at risk as she seeks the truth of what happened to Simon Crowe, and why someone knows secrets she thought she'd buried long ago.

By the end of the investigation, will both Maggie’s and Cronin’s lives will be changed forever? And will Ballytierney ever be the same?

• • •

In the kitchen, she smoked a Gold Flake and drank a cup of tea. About a half-a-hour they’d be finished the main course, what with the chatter and the sipping of the wine—the best claret from the wine merchant in Cork.

Sometimes, living in a small town made you really happy. There was such a feeling of security in it. It wasn’t big-headed, but she knew she was well-respected and generally well-liked, and the two didn’t always go together. But, there were times when Ballytierney would make you want to run away. Want to go as far as you could get, from the nosiness and the narrowness and the hardened ignorance you saw sometimes the kind where the person was so ignorant they didn’t even have the least inkling of it, and they were accepted or at least tolerated too, in the town.

Maggie would think then of London or Dublin or any of those big anonymous places, where there could even be a solace in the loneliness. If you put one of the ignoramuses of Ballytierney, or any other small rural town in there, well you had to wonder if they would even survive a week.

The telephone rang, its urgent sound making her start, stub out her cigarette and stand up, all so quickly, that she felt dizzy for a second, and had to slow herself down.

Duty was duty, though, and it was hers to answer the telephone unless one of the priests picked it up first, in which case, she would be expected to fade back into the scenery. Well, none of them would pick it up now. They were all occupied in the dining room.

Maggie’s heart took uncomfortable leaps around her chest when she heard the gasping and crying tones on the other end of the phone. It wasn’t the first time someone had rang the parish house, in dire straits, not by a long chalk, but maybe it was because her own nerves were all on edge tonight, that Maggie actually sat down on the hall chair.

She needed to take a grip of herself. This wasn’t going to get them anywhere.

“What is it, my dear?” She made her voice calm, concerned, flattened the worry out of it.”

“He’s dead, laid there…dreadful, dreadful…oh, God.”

The voice rose, and you could hear the hysteria just about to take over.

“Can you tell me who you are?” Keep it simple. That was the best.

“Mary, Mary…oh, I’m sorry…I’m in such a state, oh, oh,”

There was silence and tension tugged at Maggie’s throat. She was gripping the telephone receiver so tight that it was making her hand go into a cramp. She made her fingers loosen.

“Mary who?”

There came a loud sigh.

“I’m sorry. I’m better now. It’s Crowe. Mrs. Crowe.”

They lived in that big place, Inishowen House, and the woman was rarely seen out around the town. He was a bit of a mystery, rarely seen and reportedly in bad health. Young Father Tom went out and visited him.

“Father Lally came out earlier didn’t he, anointed your husband, I think?”

It was taking a bit of a chance; overstepping the mark even but she needed to calm the woman and remind her that her husband’s death wasn’t a surprise. Or was that being harsh? It was well known that death, even when expected, came as an awful shock.

“No, you don’t understand Miss Cahill. My husband didn’t die of natural causes. Not at all…” The ragged sobbing started again. What on earth did the woman mean? Not die of natural causes? Wasn’t she just suffering some sort of shock, surely? The best thing might be to get one of the priests. The canon definitely wouldn’t thank her for this, but she was out of her depth. Maybe Father Timothy or even young Father Tom…

“You don’t understand, Miss Cahill. He’s been hit. On the head, blood everywhere. Someone came in here, with an iron bar and beat a dying man to death.

• • •

Noreen is Irish and now lives in the Staffordshire Moorlands with her husband, a dairy farmer. She works part-time as a mentor at Staffordshire University and the rest of her time is spent writing. Many of her articles and short stories have been published and she has co-written a non-fiction book.

She loves crime fiction, particularly that of the “golden age” and that is what she wants to recreate with Edith Horton’s world.

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Available Now: One Night in Washington, D.C. by Jordan Monroe

City Nights series, #30
Jordan Monroe


(99c/99p through 2 July)
Lauren and Adam are two professional musicians living in Washington, D.C. One night after performing together, Adam admits to Lauren that he's been interested in her for a long time. The two share a passionate evening at her apartment in Waterfront SW. However, though they like each other a great deal, their long term desires don’t match up: he believes his next step is to have a family, and she is wedded to her performance career.

After their final performance together, will they be able to, as they say in D.C., reach across the aisle and come to a resolution?

• • •

They sat in silence for a moment, each searching for something to say. Lauren kept sipping her wine while taking stock of her companion.

She and Adam had known each other for about four years, but merely as occasional stand partners; their fingers would sometimes touch as they both reached to turn the pages of music, and Lauren would always momentarily lose her concentration. Gigs would come up in the District on short notice which required professional musicians. They’d met at a senator’s daughter’s luxurious wedding at the Ritz, as members of the small brass ensemble hired to serve the cocktail hour entertainment. Like now, Adam hadn’t been wearing his scarlet Marine Band uniform, opting instead for the standard concert dress of all black. It suited him nicely: he was tall, well-built, with dark hair in the standard crew cut, and had the most piercing blue eyes Lauren had ever seen. It surprised her that even now, at thirty-one years of age, she could succumb to the grips of a crush.

“Can I ask you something, Lauren?”

She blinked, jerking herself from her train of thought, which had steamed into the territory of whether or not Adam would be interested in tonguing parts of her, as opposed to his mouthpiece. “By all means. You know this is a judgment-free zone.”

“Right. Okay then.” He set down his glass and turned to face her. She shifted in her chair; those eyes were unnerving. “You’re single, right?”

She raised her eyebrows. “Wow, just want to get right to it then?” He nodded; she blinked. “Fine. Yes, I’m not seeing anyone. And you?”

“Well, I’m currently seeing you.” His face cracked into a wide grin.

She laughed and gently pushed his shoulder. “How did you know I love silly jokes like that?”

“It was honestly a lucky guess.”

“Well, you got lucky.”

He turned away, reaching for his glass. About a third of his drink was left. “I hope to continue getting lucky, Lauren.”

Lauren nearly spat out her wine. Is he serious? I doubt it; he’s probably talking about gambling or something. She gulped down her mouthful, then attempted to channel her inner coquette. “Lucky at what, Adam?”

He turned back to her. She found it impossible to look away from his eyes. “Essentially, getting to know you better. Spending time with you while not buried in music. Not waiting until the next wedding or gala to see you. Does that make sense?”

Lauren took a deep breath in an attempt to calm her nerves. She hadn’t expected to hear this from Adam. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that she hadn’t been expecting to hear this kind of talk from anyone, not recently at least. Fighting for a chair in the National Symphony Orchestra had eaten up much of her post-Master’s degree life. Now that she had her chair, she’d been trying to settle into a routine. “Frankly, this comes as a surprise.”


“Well, I mean…I’ve kind of been wedded to this whole NSO thing, remember?”

Adam reached over to take her hand. She became stiff, but didn’t move her hand away. “I know you have, Lauren. And it’s completely paid off, right?”

“Sure, but—”

“Wouldn’t you say it’s about time you let loose a little?”

He slowly moved his thumb across the top of her hand; this gesture alone was enough to awaken parts of her that had lain dormant for quite a long time.

Entirely too long. She blushed again, finishing her glass of wine.

“Would you like another?” he asked.

She shook her head, tossing out a twenty-dollar bill onto the counter. Facing Adam straight on, she mustered the courage to be completely honest with him. “All right. You think I need to let loose a little? Perhaps I do. Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but I get the sense that you want to fuck me.”

• • •

Jordan Monroe is delighted to be using her English degrees. She enjoys both listening to and playing music, watching Sherlock while anxiously waiting for new episodes, and buying too many books to fit on her bookshelves. She lives within twenty-five miles of Washington, D.C.

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