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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