In this novel, DeShawn Biggs is as formidable as his name suggests. At 6-feet-5-inches and 300 pounds, DeShawn seems headed for the NFL. Indeed, a football career is regarded as an inevitability for the young man in his native Albany. While most NFL–bound seniors head off to play college ball after they leave high school, DeShawn’s abysmal math grades—and the fact that his parents can literally no longer afford to feed him—result in the giant lineman attending an elite Connecticut prep school for “grade thirteen.” After an emotional farewell to his parents, who are purposefully removing themselves from his life for good—“You’ve got to use your God-given talents to make a life for yourself,” says his father, “and you cannot do that with your mother and me in the way of that life”—DeShawn is left alone among the white, wealthy student body. Sticking out like a large sore thumb, DeShawn attempts to walk the fine line between what is expected of him and what will not be tolerated. A cheating scandal gets him expelled but not before he secures a place at Montgomery Southern A&M, a football power that will set him up to advance to the NFL. DeShawn eventually gets his shot at the big leagues, but his trusting nature and penchant for making bad decisions dog him throughout his career. Each time, the stakes get higher. DeShawn has always been a pawn in a game controlled by other people, but how much of his own integrity can he compromise in order to get ahead?
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Publication Date: January 3, 2018
About Gregory Erich Phillips
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Helen wasn’t just born the devious vixen of New Day Temple of Faith. There has to be something rooted deep within her to make her feed off of the pain she inflicts on other people. Perhaps it is her own pain that she has suppressed for so many years. Its an unimaginable pain that creates an internal prison in which her mind is the only captive. Whatever the cause, once the demons within her break free, those around her better beware. Helen feels no shame about the fact that she hasn’t been saved all her life. Will the divas of New Day Temple of Faith think Helen is worth saving? More importantly, can God save Helen from not only her evil past, but from herself?
Man, I hate the cleaning guy! Why does he have to do his job so well? Can’t he ever leave just one spot, smear, or smudge on this dang stripper pole? Something so that I don’t have to see myself so painfully visible like this? What makes him think I want to be able to see myself twirling around this pole like some skilled monkey—caught up in the powerful grip of the almighty dollar; a grip known to have choked the life out of many while leaving others gasping for their last breath?
“That’s for you,” Damon spoke out over R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Calling.” With his chestnut brown, bald head and facial hair that was edged up nice and clean, Damon licked his thumb and used it to flick a twenty-dollar bill off the stack of money he was palming.
I swiveled my body down to the ground, the same way the vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream at the DQ makes its way from the machine to the cone. “Baby, you know it takes gas to keep a Cadillac like myself going,” I said to Damon. “As long as you keep filling up the tank, I’ma go-go all night.” I swiveled my body back up to a standing position while adding, “In any direction you want me to go.”
Damon’s lips parted into that sexy signature smile of his.
“Whatever you want,” Damon said. “It’s your Caddy. I’ll drive, ride, heck, I’ll even be a backseat passenger. Just know that I got you, Ma.” Damon began to flick off bills like he was the dealer in a game of spades.
I was very much content with the hand I was being dealt. So much so that I wanted to drop to my knees and begin scooping like a kid standing under a piñata that had just been busted open. But I didn’t want to appear too desperate. Resolving to strip in the first place was out of desperation. At the time of making the decision I had felt trapped, like Jonah in the belly of the big fish. I was always trying to make ends meet, but neither of my ends were the least bit interested in getting to know one another. Bills were due. I weighed some options on my immoral scale of desperation, and stripping was a less load to travel with in my mental carry-on. I mean, at least I wasn’t selling my whole self—just bartering off a piece of me.
“Go on, Go-Go Girl. You know you wanna bend that thang over and pick up that loot.”
Once again, Damon licked his thumb and lightened his pile of money as he flicked a couple more bills onto the stage at my feet. “Come on, just show me a li’l sumpin’-sumpin’,” Damon urged. His eyes perused my body from head to toe, wetting his thumb in preparation to keep making it rain.
And this was rain, might I add. Ones being flicked off; that’s a chance of rain. Fives being flicked off; that’s a little drizzle. Tens being flicked off; that’s a scattered shower. Twenties; that’s rain. Benjamins; an all-out thunderstorm!
“Come on, Damon, you know the rules. You don’t want me to break the rules and get put on punishment do you?” I asked, making a puppy dog face.
“Forget the rules,” Damon barked like the big dawg he was. “And if all that is worthy of just a peek,” he said, referring to all the money he’d laid at my feet, “I can only imagine what this will get me.”
I froze on the stage, which meant the bill Damon was now displaying must have triggered some type of ice storm. Until that very moment, I had never even known that such a bill existed.
“What’s the matter, Go-Go Girl? You ain’t never seen a five-hundred-dollar bill before?” He chuckled. “So what do you say you make tonight a first for a lot of things?”
All of a sudden, I was starting to think about church, kicking myself for not having paid my respects (or tithes) to the house of the Lord in a couple of months. At the same time, I was trying my hardest to recall one of those messages that had to do with temptation—a scripture or something— because to tell the truth and shame the devil, I was beyond tempted to take Damon up on his offer.
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches . . .” That wasn’t exactly the scripture I was grappling for, but it still seemed fitting.
My name; Helen Lannden. How much is it worth today? Twenty-five year old Helen Lannden. How much will my name be worth tomorrow, especially if I trick for this money today?
About The Author
BLESSED selling Author E. N. Joy is the author behind the “New Day Divas,” “Still Divas,” “Always Divas” and “Forever Divas” series, all which have been coined “Soap Operas in Print.” She is an Essence Magazine Bestselling Author who wrote secular books under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY. Her title, If I Ruled the World, earned her a book blurb from Grammy Award Winning Artist, Erykah Badu. An All Night Man, an anthology she penned with New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Jackson, earned the Borders bestselling African American romance award. Her Urban Fiction title, Dollar Bill (Triple Crown Publications), appeared in Newsweek and has been translated to Japanese.
After thirteen years of being a paralegal in the insurance industry, E. N. Joy divorced her career and married her mistress and her passion; writing. In 2000, she formed her own publishing company where she published her books until landing a book deal with St. Martin’s Press. This award-winning author has been sharing her literary expertise on conference panels in her home town of Columbus, Ohio as well as cities across the country. Now residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, she also conducts publishing/writing workshops for aspiring writers.
Her children’s book titled The Secret Olivia Told Me, written under the name N. Joy, received a Coretta Scott King Honor from the American Library Association. The book was also acquired by Scholastic Books and has sold almost 100,000 copies. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops E. N. Joy instructs in schools nationwide.
In addition, she is the artistic developer for a young girl group named DJHK Gurls. She pens original songs, drama skits and monologues for the group that deal with messages that affect today’s youth, such as bullying.
After being the first content development editor for Triple Crown Publications and ten years as the acquisitions editor for Carl Weber’s Urban Christian imprint, E. N. Joy now does freelance editing, ghostwriting, write-behinds and literary consulting. Her clients have included New York Times Bestselling authors, entertainers, aspiring authors, as well as first-time authors. Some notable literary consulting clients include actor Christian Keyes, singer Olivia Longott and Reality Television star Shereé M. Whitfield.
Get To Know The Author:
What advice would you give to those going through similar situations in your book, I Ain’t Me No More?
The entire theme of the domestic abuse the main character, Helen, who is based on my own life, endures is the fact that it started off when she was just a teenager in high school. So I really want my readers to make note of that. I want parents to look at their child’s homecoming or prom picture and ask themselves “Is that person standing next to my daughter smiling with his arm around her abusing her?” or “Is my smiling son abusing that girl he has his arm around?” And vice versa, because although underreported, males suffer domestic abuse as well. And young ladies, your choice to keep company with a guy who will put his hands on you is a matter of life and death. I survived, but not every abused woman does. Choose life . . . choose to leave!
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of your family.
Hands down-THE READERS. #Readersarethebossofme. What I need people to understand is, yes, as an author, a part of me wants to write stories that I myself want to read. But the moment an author begins to make it all about them and not the reader is when the author needs to rethink their purpose for doing what they do. Ultimately, when a product is created, it is created to please and satisfy the consumer. Well, if you are a writer, your product is your written word and the reader is your consumer. Readers are my literary heartbeat. Every time they turn the page of one of my books, they are flying with me.
My readers inspire me to challenge myself. I don’t write for myself and I’m absolutely not one of those authors who you will hear say, “If I could just sell one book and reach one person, then I’m happy; I’ve done my job.” No ma’am and no sir. I’m grateful to reach one person, but that is not my goal. I do not put all that I put into my work—sacrifice all that I do—to sell one book or reach one person. Did Jesus set out to reach one person? Did Jesus die, go through all that He did and die on that cross just to save one person? I think you get my point.
Introduce us to your book and the main characters.
I Ain’t Me No More is book one of my three book “Always Divas” series. The main character, Helen, is not only the newest member of the New Day Temple of Faith Singles Ministry, but she quickly becomes the vixen with all her evil ways and antics. Helen is not one of those church folks the members love to hate. They just outright hate her! But is there something more to Helen than the hard, nasty exterior she puts up? Lord knows she wasn’t saved all her life, but was she born evil? Why else would someone set out to intentionally inject turmoil into the lives around her? Well, the women at New Day don’t know, and most don’t care. But when Helen decides to let them in on her past skeletons, it may change a few minds (or not). The women just might find that Helen is worth saving. Question is, though; Does Helen want to be saved?
What are some other titles you have written?
I’ve written 14 books in my Divas series. What I love about my series is that you can read them in any order. Each book highlights a different main character. What makes it a series is that each character that I write about is a member of the same church. But if you are a stickler for having to read my Divas series in the order of which I wrote them, then here goes: She Who Finds a Husband, Been There Prayed That, Love Honor or Stray, Trying to Stay Saved, I Can Do Better All By Myself, And You Call Yourself a Christian, The Perfect Christian, The Sunday Only Christian, I Ain’t Me No More, More Than I Can Bear, You Get What You Pray For, When All is Said and Prayed, One Sunday at a Time, Lady of the House.
My stand-alone books are Me, Myself & Him, She’s No Angel, and A Woman’s Revenge. Ebook only books are Ordained by the Streets, Let’s Do Summer, Behind Every Good Woman, The Miserable Wives Club, and Flower in my Hair.
You can also check out my children’s books written under the name N. Joy: The Secret Olivia Told me, Sabella and the Castle Belonging to the Troll, and Operation Get Rid of Mom’s New Boyfriend.
What events or projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing or attending?
I believe everyone has a story to tell, that they should tell it, that they should tell it right, then publish it right. So, I’m putting on the first annual Path To Publishing “Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business” Three-Day Self-Publishing Conference, kicking off September 2018 in Las Vegas, NV. On day one we will focus on building your book (the entire self-publishing process). On day two we will focus on building your book business (incorporating, doing business as, taxes, etc.) On day three we will focus on creating multiple streams of income as an author outside of book sales and royalties. To stay updated, visit http://www.pathtopublishing.com and sign-up for the free newsletter.
Former president, Bill Clinton, years back, right after he had his first memoir published, said, “Anybody over fifty owes it to his family to write down everything that’s happened during his life and pass it on.” I’m in total agreement. But tomorrow isn’t promised, so don’t wait until you’re fifty to begin penning your message . . . your story. This is the reason why I became a literary consultant, a course instructor with Path To Publishing, and the host of the YouTube series, “Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business.” Not only do I have a strong desire to help people tell their story and put it in a book, but I also want to teach them how to turn their book into a business. Our stories should be a family legacy . . . in more ways than one. Visit me at http://www.squareup.com/market/writings-by-joy if you are interested in any of my literary services.
What was the pivotal moment or book that inspired you to write?
One day I got my hands on one of my auntie’s grownup books, which was Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines. It was the first book I’d ever read with main characters that looked like me. With characters that walked, talked, and thought like me. I remember sneaking the book out at night time and reading it while lying in bed. I was so deeply enthralled that I felt like I became that black girl who was lost. I remember closing that book upon the final chapter and saying to myself, “One day I’m going to write a book that does that to people. I’m going to write a book that black girls like me can relate to, take something from.” I think I’ve accomplished that in my books.
I hear authors say it all the time: “I write my book for everybody, not just one particular audience.” That’s all fine and well, but the book business is just that; a business. In dealing with business you have to have a target audience that you start off promoting and marketing to. Once you have saturated your target audience, then you have the bull’s eye affect, where you begin to expand outward into other areas. There is absolutely no shame in my game; I write my books for women, namely Black women. If anyone outside of my target audience wants to pick up my books, that is an awesome blessing. But I want to make sure that my sisters—my target audience—can walk right into the book store and know exactly where to find me.
Where do you expect to be in your career as an author five (5) years from now?
Had I been asked this question five years ago (which I’m sure I was) my answer would have been (and I’m sure it was) “I want to be a New York Times Bestselling Author. I want to have “A Million Copies Sold!” stamped on my book covers. I want to be selling out of books after every book signing. In short, five years from now I want to be a famous author.” I know that was a mouthful, but when I first started writing, achieving all of the above is what motivated me. But now, after having my greatest Ah-Ha moment ever, those answers have changed.
A couple years ago I was in a room with some authors who had pretty much achieved what I’d wanted to achieve by that point in my writing career. Their reputations preceded them. All the readers in the room knew who they were. In that moment, I felt so inferior that I felt myself shrinking in my seat. I remember saying a silent prayer: “God, one day I want to walk into the room and everyone knows who I am.” God’s response to me was, “Me too!”
I always say the greatest Ah-Ha moment a person can ever have is when their life begins to make sense. In that moment, my life began to make sense. So, this is how I now answer the question of where do I expect to be in my career as an author five years from now: “I want to be a BLESSED selling author. I want to have “A Million Souls Saved!” stamped on my book covers. I want readers to be sold out on Christ after reading my books. In short, five years from now I want to still be writing, not to become a famous author, but to make God famous.”
Find Author +Book
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/E.-N.-Joy/e/B001QUZTKO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Facebook Like Page https://www.facebook.com/New-Day-Divas-Fan-Page-135990139770880/
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Genre: Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Suspense, Romance
Publisher: Melange Books
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Through the love and loss of the ages, immortality brings only one certainty: vengeance.
Disinherited and poverty stricken, bastard Danial clutches at the slim chance to earn a living as a guard, until a night attack leaves both him and his half-brother Devlin vampires. After finding true love with the aristocrat Lacey, Danial comes to the attention of James, the devious Vampire Lord of France. Enslaved by James, his love murdered, Danial plots to escape, his complex plan of years finally succeeding only to result in all of Europe’s demonic forces on the hunt for him.
After a reunion and subsequent falling out with Devlin, Danial travels to the new world of America in pursuit of a new life. Settling in the west, Danial forms alliances with native vampire Valerian and the witch Cheyenne to survive a game of cat and mouse with Devlin and protect his new love Kathryn amid his rapidly changing world. Triumphant yet nursing a broken heart, an undeterred Danial protects his friends and thwarts his enemies, determined to find a life of peace…until unexpected news comes of James’s presence, the one man on whom Danial has waited centuries to get revenge.
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About Tara Fox Hall
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Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
It’s physical despair, and if you want to try it, be prepared to bang other people up as well as yourself. No worries, though, because this stuff is legal. Maybe they change the rules every now and then. Maybe people hit too hard and send someone away in a stretcher. Perhaps you go for it all, a carpe diem kind of thing, a Hail Mary kind of thing, and the tragedy of sickness or injury emerges like a mad, socially mobile demon penetrating the acre you’re playing on.
Again, all of it is legit. In fact, people support you, because you are the star and the legend on the field, but no one ever really talks about physical despair while you lift the weights, run the suicide sprints, take laps every few minutes so the coaches can decide what to do until the end of practice. Maybe you make a sack from behind the line of scrimmage. Maybe you protect your quarterback who finds his receivers in the dangerous territories of zone coverage. The receiver then heads into daylight and catches a precisely thrown ball. Maybe you win.
As a lineman you are getting bigger, leaner, meaner, and yet you get no credit whatsoever. The only time the TV shows aim their cameras in your direction is when you are castigated by unruly fans who see the flying yellow flag pulled from the waist of an old referee, pointing at you for holding, roughing the passer, off-sides, mistaking the play for a pass instead of a run, or missing a critical block. You dream the opposite of these things, because you want to be one of these elites. You will be the one who actually does some of the work on the team. You’re willing to work on a muddy field that has seen its share of torrential downpours and winter ice storms. And yet, there is no credit. Just a paycheck, more gym time, more time with the trainer, more time with the dummy sleds…
Yes, you should have been the one they clapped for, the one getting the media’s attention, the guy who gets the prom queen before the handsome quarterback. Even a drone with laser sighting can’t throw the ball that well. The ball falls into the receiver’s belly like a newborn pot-bellied pig. Their hides will go towards making more footballs for the other professional games.
If your team wins that week, you go with them to the bars and drink with your fellow players. No matter how late or how drunk you are, your significant other allows you to sleep with your mistress who magically stands naked in front of you. If you lose the game, you return to a gaggle of disappointed housewives who tell you to work harder on the field or else she’ll leave you for the better player she’s sleeping with now. We’re talking reality television that nets them even more money for very little reason. The housewives of the NFL. But you are too blind to see these things, especially when the season is on the cusp of a new beginning. You have the ability to arrive at game day after a string of practice sessions, so that you can continue being the gladiator in a country that resembles the strength, the excesses, and the eventual implosion of Rome.
Yes, these are the contemporary gladiators on the playing field. All we need are chariots, hungry tigers, and a young Ben Hur. This is God’s game, a gift to mankind with a few knowing female reporters on the field and even in the locker rooms. It’s all available, anything you want, just to keep you playing, just to avoid the physical despair from ruining your entire career. Yes, the game of football is that physical.
Even suiting up for a game is physical – miles of nylon athletic tape – the type that begs its players to have well-shaven ankles and legs. Padding on the thighs and the knees, shoulder pads made of hardened plastic, the all-seeing-always-talking helmet with a remote link for the coach to talk to his quarterback while on the field, the cleats that can’t stick properly to artificial turf, and the new mouth-guard that the trainer boiled and fit into your teeth a couple of nights ago – you have been waiting and wanting this.
But the gladiator wasn’t home for dinner. The two parents ate in silence. They ate whatever leftovers their son didn’t eat. They had pork chops with apple sauce, boiled red-skin potatoes, and buttered string beans. The father looked at his wife across the table, and with his smile and eyes staring straight into hers, he didn’t have to say thank you for the wonderful dinner. He simply had to look at her in this special way – the vibes of thanks passing between their eye contact. The mother, however, didn’t smile with him. While it was his favorite dinner, she still could not talk to him as they did when their son was there.
They didn’t discuss their plans when their son ate with them. Instead, they made small talk and told him nothing. On a night like tonight, their son, DeShawn Biggs, was out with his school friends. He was old enough to be graduating from high school, but where he would end up, only his parents knew, and they wouldn’t tell their son anything yet. They would wait until they were both comfortable with the idea first. They would then break the news to him upon his return. They believed he was headed to the mall with his friends after football practice. DeShawn loved his friends, or at least this was what his parents surmised. DeShawn and his friends vowed that they would never lose touch no matter where they went after graduation.
DeShawn headed to college, but his Math grades needed immediate help if he were to be accepted at one of the Southern universities that would position him well enough to join the NFL after a couple of years of eligibility. Already, his mother, especially, hated the NFL and all that it stood for. Nothing was ever good enough for her DeShawn, and even though his father steered his son’s future like a captain guiding a ship, he too realized that his son’s gifts in size and athletic ability were also a curse and not just a blessing to get all excited about. He didn’t want to lose him either, and he reminded his wife of this every night before they went to bed.
But somehow, he was the bad guy in all of this. He was the one who supported having their talented son leave the family. He reasoned that they could no longer afford him. They couldn’t even feed him properly. Just like children who had to be abandoned by their parents to ensure better lives for them, such was DeShawn’s situation. Only his mother was reluctant, as his father already made up his mind that his son would leave and never contact them again while heading to the next level of his professional career. They had to sacrifice their son in order to ensure a better life for him rather than the one they had in the ghettos of Albany, New York.
He put down his fork after polishing off the string beans and said, “okay, Didi, what’s wrong?”
“Why should I even have to say it? It’s not like you don’t know.”
He brought his fork and knife together and pushed it to the rim of the plate. One of the reasons why Didi loved him so much was because of his manners. Her husband’s mother had been very strict with him on dinner etiquette when a child.
“Do we have to go over this again?” asked the father, Crosby Biggs his name.
“Every night,” she said, “because what we’re doing is something that’s going to affect him and us.”
Didi took her dissatisfaction with the plan into the kitchen. She returned with a warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
“It’s a better life for him, Didi. You know that.”
“I’m not letting my boy stay with anyone else. I don’t care if he makes it to the NFL or not, but we can’t just drop him off at college and leave him there. It’s wrong, and he’s my baby, and no one will take that away from me.”
Crosby Biggs cut a large slice of apple pie and scooped up a spoonful of ice cream and plopped it on top.
“There must be another way,” she said.
“Like what?” said Crosby, sectioning off the large piece of pie with his fork.
“You’ll find one.”
“Yes, you. This is your idea, isn’t it?”
“It must be done. We can’t afford to feed him anymore. I make about forty grand a year at the agency, and our big and tall son commands at least half of it with his eating. The two of us can hardly live here, Didi. You have to consider that. I can hardly feed the both of us. And the college recruiters said that this type of thing has been done many times before.”
“So we’re leaving DeShawn on the footsteps of a football college? No one does that, Crosby.”
“Honey, it’s done all the time. We can’t just keep him here. We both don’t make enough.”
“I’ll get a second job.”
“Doing what? Cleaning another welfare motel? We can’t live like that anymore. And you have to get it out of your head that you’ll work until age eighty. You don’t need to do that. I’m sure you can do that, but you don’t need to do that. We don’t have any money as it is. We can’t afford his clothing either. Luckily the recruiters are stepping up to the plate.
“Don’t ruin his chance to shine, Didi. We’ll always regret it if we keep him with us. He’s not made for these streets like we once were. And that’s exactly where he’d be headed – right to the streets with all of them crack-heads and heroin addicts who graduate from that so-called high school of his.”
“We also went there, y’know,” she said.
“And where did it get us? I’m cleaning toilets, and you’re cleaning out motel rooms full of used condoms, crack pipes, and beer bottles. That’s where this neighborhood has gotten us. It’s terrible, Didi. I’d rather see DeShawn on television with a lot of money to his name, sacking quarterbacks and all, than having him spend one more year in this place. Think about it.”
“Oh, I’ve thought about it,” she said, clearing the dishes and silverware away from the table.
“There’s no other alternative.”
“There must be. How am I supposed to live without my son? Tell me that, Crosby?”
“We both have to live without him. And it’s not like I want my son to go away either. I hope you don’t think that.”
When she returned from the kitchen, she hovered above the table in thought. She finally said, “of course not, Crosby. I know you’ll miss him just as much as I’ll miss him.”
“But it’s for the best,” he said. “It’s the best for our son. I mean, we’ll then move into a smaller place. We won’t need to be renting such a big house anymore. A one bedroom apartment will do. We can also get out of this crime-infested neighborhood. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? And at the same time, we’ll see that our son is well-taken care of.”
“Are you sure about this? You’re boss says we’re headed in the right direction?”
“Our son will be a college graduate one day. And he’ll be in the pros with his new degree. What can be better than that?”
After dinner, Crosby Biggs waited up for DeShawn. Didi adjourned upstairs for some much needed sleep. She had to work the next morning. Crosby also had to work, but he was on the night shift for the coming weekend. Both parents had one day off a week. They worked hard, but at the same time, they both didn’t want to end up regretting their decision.
Crosby fell asleep on the living room couch waiting for his son to return. Crosby awoke with a start in the early hours of the morning and made sure that DeShawn had arrived safe and sound. His boy slumbered on his king-sized bed in a room filled with trophies, pictures, and posters of famous NFL stars.
When Crosby went to work the next day, he approached the head of his janitorial company before he set about cleaning the next office building further uptown. He sat in front of him at his big desk. The head of the company and Crosby always got along. The company head was a big supporter of the high school team. A booster, he liked to call himself. Crosby, in his uniform with the company’s name embroidered on his chest, sat there as the company head took a phone call. Once his boss hung up, Crosby was free and clear to speak his mind on the issue. Even though it was his boss, he didn’t mind expressing how he truly felt in front of him.
“Didi hates the idea,” said Crosby, “but she also knows that it’s the best for him.”
The head of his company twirled a cigar in his hand and lit it up after cutting off the back tip. The smoke was rich, thick, and sweet-smelling.
“You’re son is gifted,” he said. “With a gift like his to play ball, you and Didi should both know that we’re doing the right thing. Of course, I want him to play for Rutgers, but I would say let the South East Conference have him. Down there, they don’t care about anything but football. They’ll ram him into shape, much like the Army.”
“She’s the son’s mother, Crosby. Of course she’s worried.”
“What was that alternative we were talking about?”
“Maybe you can have him be a post-graduate for a year at an elite school before he heads south.”
“What’s a post-graduate?”
“Basically, your son gets an athletic scholarship for one year at one of these elite boarding schools. They keep him for an extra year past high school. They make sure his grades are good so that he can get into the college of his choice. I mean, Crosby, his grades are not great, right? He still failing Math?”
Crosby hated to admit it, but there was something about his boss’ pressed suit and silk tie that made the man superior to him and hinted at an income way beyond the paychecks he had been receiving from his entire life cleaning offices. Crosby relied on his advice, ever since his boss spotted DeShawn for a Division One school. Rutgers, though, was out of the question. The South would have him learn and compete like nothing both parents had seen before. Crosby almost loved the man for his help. He loved all white people. They were always so eager to help even though their bank accounts loomed miles above his. It wasn’t that Crosby envied whites. He just always listened to their advice, as though wealth and success were a part of their genetic makeup.
“He’s failing Math, alright,” said Crosby dourly.
“Maybe a ‘grade thirteen’ at a boarding school is the answer. It would surely help Didi get used to the fact that her son has moved on. In case she gets too sad about it, you guys could always take him back.”
“But that’s the whole point. If DeShawn were to come home after the boarding school, it would be a huge emotional setback for him. We’d have to be out of the picture totally. We’d have to move on so that he couldn’t find us if he ever wants to know where we went. We’re putting him totally on his own. He’ll grow up and become a self-reliant man.”
“You’re a brave man, Crosby. Letting your son succeed like that. Let me put you in touch with my prep school in Connecticut. Maybe I could arrange a post-graduate year for him? What do you think about that?”
“If you say so.”
“You can trust me, Crosby. An amazing life for your son awaits. He’ll learn from the best, and after his football career is over, he’ll be ready for the working world with any job he damn-well wants. I know you want that for him, especially considering your present circumstances. Your son will command triple that amount at any entry-level position they throw him. Imagine that? And this after playing for the NFL?”
“If you could make that happen,” said Crosby, “I’d forever be in debt to you.”
“Actually, I’d be in debt to you too. If he goes to my Alma Mater, I’ll definitely be in debt to you. You’re son is headed for the NFL for Chrissakes. Whatever he does, he’s definitely headed there. All he has to do is pass Math. He’s amazing on the football field. His attitude is so good that he’s the coach’s favorite player, and that asshole is tough to please.”
“I’d be grateful, sir. A grade thirteen would help us a great deal.”
“I’ll work on it. Give me a week, and we’ll arrange it. Now get back to work!”
“Yessir,” said Crosby.
The head of the company smiled graciously as he fielded another phone call. Crosby left his office ready for work. They would do it all for DeShawn. Crosby was well-certain of their decision as never before. His son at the elite school would make contacts – a group of better, wealthy, white friends. His son would eat better than ever before. DeShawn loved his mother’s cooking, but an elite school like the one the head of the company described that morning would double his amount of quality food, so that his son could go to bed every night well-rested and ready for practice the next day. Crosby felt that DeShawn was always starving for more food for his large body. What a relief an elite school would be in this regard. Didi would like it much better as well, because if they ever regretted the decision, they could always have him back.
Crosby had to clean an office floor at an uptown location. He took his 1988 Cadillac Coup Deville to work that afternoon. He had huge respect for the Cadillac brand. He kept his car vacuumed, fresh-smelling, and always in tip-top shape. Granted that it was a very old model, but he kept it running as new with frequent trips to his brother-in-law’s garage in Arbor Hill. And then he thought that maybe he’d leave his prized automobile for DeShawn. It would be a token for him to remember his father by.
He suddenly choked up a bit. The Cadillac was the only prized possession he had. The car meant so much that it was the only item of real value that he could give to his son. Other than his prized car, Crosby had nothing else to give. With this realization, a few tears leaked from his eyes. He would have given his son the world if it were at his disposal. Instead he drove in the old-school luxury of his Cadillac – leather seats, automatic lights, power windows, power steering, climate control, and a bus for a body – as he drove up from the downtown state government work zone, passed the bipolar points of the wealthy Pine Hills neighborhood and a crumbling Arbor Hill, the social segregation so apparent that it called out for some kind of protest against the government, and into the parking lot of a faceless corporate complex across from a crowdless shopping mall whose stores were going out of business.
He had already been used to driving a luxury car while wearing his janitor’s uniform. He used to think it an embarrassment, especially when other drivers peered in, curious to know how a janitor could afford such a car, despite how old it was.
He returned home after ten hours of waxing, polishing, vacuuming, and mopping. He was dead tired. Luckily, Didi had stayed awake to make him another dinner, but this time it wasn’t as special. Meatloaf, crinkle-cut French fries, and salted peas. He always admired her cooking, though. And as far as Didi was concerned, she knew that if you took care of a man’s stomach and his dick, a man would never leave her. After so many years of being a wife to an exhausted janitor, she was still right on point. And once again, DeShawn had a team meeting that night, so he was out with his friends late all over again.
He was never home. Always football and his friends, and rarely did he do any homework. His primary subject was football. Math was a priority, but a close second. The subject became a stubborn problem that his coaches wanted to quell. But it was useless. Crosby Biggs would send him to grade thirteen, and when he mentioned it to Didi, who by this time had been riding the peaks and valleys of her own maternal emotions, she liked the idea better than sending her son to a Southern football factory right after graduation. They also realized that DeShawn would never pass Math otherwise. And what if he did pass Math at an elite prep school? The college and university football establishment would fall begging at his feet. He was that good on the gridiron and that poor with his Math skills. As far as his other courses were concerned, both faculty and staff exempted him from further responsibility.
“I like the idea,” said Didi. “At least if something happens to him, he’ll be much closer to us.”
“What might happen?” asked Crosby.
“He could get sick. He could get injured – ”
“Why do I think you’d like it that way,” he asked with a smirk.
“Y’know, Crosby, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Let’s say to hell with it and keep him here.”
“Why don’t you go turn on some music.”
“It’s late. Won’t we disturb the neighbors?”
“Nah. Turn it on.”
Didi went to their obsolete stereo system and had it drop an old forty-five onto its turntable. She played Same Cooke and turned the volume up slightly. Crosby abandoned the dinner she made and joined her in the living room. Together they embraced in a slow dance. Didi hung onto his collar and wept. There was no mistake that they were both getting older and more fragile.
The stereo struck a groove of their favorite song in high school, and together they clung to each other, still having doubts about letting their son go. Crosby was determined to see it happen. He wanted to see him on television on Super Bowl Sunday one day. Didi, however, still felt vacant, as though her womb had never held such a talented young boy. That’s what it must have felt like for a mother to give up her baby – an intense emptiness that sucked the life out of them both, even though Crosby kept a stiff upper lip about it. He held his wife in the glow of the stereo. The track had finished, and for a few minutes more he held her close as she wept into his collar. They made love that night as best they could.
In the morning, Didi made a stack of warm, fluffy pancakes along with five eggs, ten strips of bacon, and a half-pound of hashbrowns. The two men in her life, both Crosby and DeShawn, barreled down the stairs at roughly the same time. Most of the food went to DeShawn. His large frame and size had him eating plates of food that Didi kept cooking for him. Crosby ate very little, and Didi had a cup of coffee, as she had eaten earlier that morning. They waited for DeShawn to finish his gigantic meal before they talked to him seriously about his future.
“When’d you get home last night?” asked Crosby.
“Late, Dad,” said DeShawn. “We saw a late movie.”
“You haven’t been hanging around those losers, have you?”
“Those crack addicts, those pot smokers, that Malt liquor crowd?”
“No, Dad. I went out with Marshall and a couple of girls from the High School.”
“You wear a condom?”
“Hush, now, Crosby,” said Didi, stirring her cup of coffee.
“Just checking,” said Crosby. “Because those guys are going nowhere. They’ve been raised by the streets, and we don’t want anything to do with them. Isn’t that right, DeShawn?”
“Yes, sir. I don’t smoke no crack, and I don’t drink no liquor.”
“And why is that so important?”
“Because I don’t want to wreck my future.”
“That’s what I like to hear, son. You keep that attitude around here, and you’ll finally get out and live a great life. You understand?”
“DeShawn,” said his mother, “we have some things we want to go over with you, now that the school is almost over. Now I know you’ve been having a good time with your school friends, and I know you want to go to college right away, and become your full potential and all, but son, there have been a few things we want to talk to you about.”
“What did I do now?”
“Nothing, son,” said Crosby. “You’re doing just fine.”
“That’s a relief,” said DeShawn. “I know I’ve been coming home late and all, but me and Marshall, we want to make sure we’re tight even after college.”
“He’s off to Morehouse, right?”
“And Johnny off’s to Fisk.”
“Well, that’s a relief,” said Crosby. “At least they’re not in jail.”
“DeShawn,” began Didi, “we’ve heard that your recruiter is coming today from the college. You need to improve your Math scores much more than where they are now.”
“I’m trying, Mom. I’m even being tutored in it.”
“Who’s tutoring you? Hopefully it’s not that Melissa?”
“Yeah. She’s really good at Math.”
“Don’t forget that condom, son.”
“Crosby! Not at the table.”
“Sorry, hon. Please go on.”
“Well, DeShawn, They want you to do what is called a ‘post-graduate’ year of schooling.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I’m all set to go for football practice this summer.”
“Basically, son,” said Crosby, “they want you to go through another year of high school, so that you can pass Math an get recruited by even better college programs.”
“Who me? Another year of high school? But, Dad, I – ”
“Now just hold on, son. Not here at our school. Let your Mom explain.”
“We want you to go to a Connecticut boarding school, so that you can pass Math. You’re options will be many more, and you’ll have a stronger hand to bargain with to get into Montgomery Southern as a student.”
“But, Mom, I don’t need another year. I asked Coach, and he said that I can go straight to many colleges if I want.”
“We want you to do another year. The school we want you to go to is in Connecticut.”
“You’re going,” said Crosby, “and that’s their final decision, both theirs and ours. This is the last group of decisions we’re ever gonna make for you.”
“That’s a relief.”
“The recruiter from Montgomery-Southern A&M is coming tomorrow. She intends to announce their decision that you must go to a post-graduate school. Your Math has to improve, and I’m thinking that the recruiter will agree that a post-graduate year is necessary at this time. An educated man is a good man, DeShawn. Most of the time in life, you’ll live with a degree and not a football in your hand. Get my meaning?”
“But, son, my baby, there’s another decision we’re making that you should be aware of.”
“Son,” said Crosby, “you need to be on your own from now on. We are no longer going to interfere with your life from here on in. That’s the way it has to be.”
“That’s a step in the right direction?” said DeShawn.
“I don’t think you know what we mean,” said Crosby.
“In other words, son,” said Didi, almost in tears, “we can’t afford to take care of you anymore. Once we take you to Connecticut, you are on your own. You will not see us again.”
DeShawn looked up from his lap, as he had been in deep thought listening to what his parents said. And after a brief silence where words could no longer be expressed due to the difficult decision they made, Deshawn said, “what do you mean by that?”
“I think you know,” said Didi. “You’re also a smart kid, if you study more.”
“Son, we have to leave you off into the hands of those who can give you a better future.”
“So what are you trying to say?” asked DeShawn.
“We can’t afford to be a part of your life anymore,” said Didi, her eyes moist. “Once you go to the Connecticut school, we are not going to contact you anymore. And I’m so very sorry, my baby boy. So sorry that we cannot take care of you anymore, but those who will soon guide you into the NFL will do all of your care-taking from now on. We’ll be out of the picture.”
“You guys make it sound like I’ll never see you again.”
The table fell silent, and Didi wiped away her tears with a napkin.
“Son,” said Crosby. “This is your life. It is not ours. It is all about you from here on in.”
“But don’t you love me? I’m your only son. Are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong?”
At this point Didi began to sob at the table. She ran upstairs in tears, leaving both Crosby and DeShawn at their seats.
“Mom, I’m sorry! For whatever I’ve done, I’m sorry!”
Crosby put his hand upon his, and said, “stop right there, son. You have done nothing wrong, and we love you more than life itself, but you have to listen to us. You’ve got to be a man out there. You’ve got to use your God-given talents to make a life for yourself, and you cannot do that with your mother and me in the way of that life. This is going to be your life, and it will be your career, and it will be your money at the end of the day. Your mother and I have already decided on this. Once you go on to that nice prep school, you are on your own. We will be totally out of the picture.”
“I don’t get it.”
“You don’t get it yet, my son. Not yet. But once you are in the pros, you will understand that decision we’ve made, because we love you, my son. And you don’t have to apologize for anything. This is a tough world, and you will have stand like a man through it. You’ll have to feel the joys and pains of it just like most folk have to. But from now on, you’ll be doing that without us.”
They sat in silence for some time. Didi didn’t return to the table that morning. Both father and son sat together for a little while longer, until the father adjourned upstairs to check on his wife. DeShawn, shocked by their decision, went out with his friend Marshall to the shopping mall along a busy Western Avenue. They bought a few tee-shirts and even a New York Giants sports jersey. And yet, through it all, DeShawn could not hide his tears for very long. He too wept on Marshall’s shoulder by the time they left the mall and waited patiently for their bus.
Losing his friends was one thing, but he never before thought that he’d lose his family over talents such as his. In a way, he regretted being a football player for the first time. A talent so grand held no other option than to travel up to the New England prep school and at the same time, abandon the failed family that he loved so fully. Yes, he regretted it, but he figured that his father and mother would never guide him wrongly. And while they said that they loved him more than life itself, rarely do parents ever hear their own children whispering to themselves, ‘Mom and Dad, you’re wrong. It is I who love you more than life itself. It is I who love you more than life itself…’
The college recruiter soon knocked on their door. She was a woman of refined tastes, high fashion, and perfect style. She was also shrewd and yet tried to be honest with the Biggs family at the same time. She reeked of success at an early age, but this never defined her as incompetent. On the other hand, she may have been too competent to be corrupted by old ideas of what college recruitment was once like. She sold the school to the Biggs family in a professional fashion, and she sold it well, not by surrendering to the desires of young recruits, but by giving them a picture of the life on campus for a Montgomery-Southern A&M college student. Yes, college had beautiful girls, but this female was everything about being a woman and not a girl. Maybe she had grown up too quickly? Probably not. Her young age concealed an experienced mind and a wizened intellect. Her defenses were even stronger.
They all sat at the Biggs’ kitchen table, and Didi gave her some apple pie. She figured DeShawn’s stomach was her stomach as well. Of course, DeShawn already committed to Montgomery-Southern, but this recruiter made sure that DeShawn headed in the right direction and not just to another southern football program.
“We want him to go post-graduate,” said the recruiter, “That’s what my boss at work says too. Do you think it’s that necessary? He doesn’t have to be a perfect student. We already know his Math scores and as well as his test scores are low, but do you think another year in school is a good idea?”
“We want an education for your son as well,” said the recruiter, “and we need that for him. Academics is very important at our school. It has to be important for DeShawn too. We have a strong Math department. We can have tutors in place to boost his Math scores, and while it’s true that most students need a very strong background in Math to enter the college, DeShawn is in different boat. He is a very talented young man, and all colleges and universities would love to have him, but we need better Math scores for him to be accepted into the university. How high, though, is a matter of interpretation. Also, we have very strong connections to the NFL, probably the strongest connections out of any other college or university. We train our football players to succeed. There is nothing more important to us.”
“I see,” said Crosby. “And also maybe it’d be better to have him close by for one year, just in case his Math doesn’t work out, and if our separation from him doesn’t work out.”
“Yes. But we need to de-commit here as well. What if he goes on the post-graduate school and still doesn’t do well in Math. What then?”
“Then we take him back.”
“Okay, then. If that’s what’s best for him, it’s best for us too.”
Didi poured them both some more coffee.
“We still need to de-commit, though, Crosby,” said the recruiter. “You have seen what we have to offer, and we can’t continue to delay his entry into college sports or the NFL. We want a letter of intent, even though he’s moving on to a private school for post-grad. As long as you agree that he can do a post-graduate year, then of course, we’ll have DeShawn playing for the NFL in no time. If not, we can’t take him. His scores have to improve. Those are the requirements. He has to be accepted first.”
“Okay,” said Crosby. “I guess that’s it. Let’s put it together. A post-graduate year it is, but you will carry him next. Do we have an understanding?”
“Yes,” said the recruiter. “Consider it done.”
“Okay. Where are the papers?”
Brought to You By:
A Year in the Life of Dr. Fox
Frederick L Malphurs
Genre: Fiction Thriller/Action/Adventure
Publisher: PageTurner Press and Media
Date of Publication: November 2017
Number of pages: 338
Word Count: 101,400 words
Cover Artist: PageTurner Press
and Media Illustrations Department
Tagline: A legendary family is forced to fight against the most dangerous Pacific Drug Cartel. Will the de la Vega family succeed or will they die trying?
During the years of Mexican President Calderone, drug cartels fought pitched battles against other cartels, the police, the army, and the good citizens of Mexico. Kidnappings, murder, threats, and intimidation by drug cartels impinged on every facet of Mexican life.
This story of the de la Vega family in Culiacan, the state capital of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, tells of their struggles with the death of their beloved sister and the courageous brothers who become a force exacting revenge on the Pacific cartel.
The family ancestors moved away from Southern California during the 1840’s as the influx of white settlers changed the culture and created certain discriminations against Mexican-Americans. The family legend is the de la Vegas sold out and relocated to Culiacan, Mexico where they quickly established prominence socially and financially. In Culiacan, the whispers are frequently heard of their great wealth and of being descendents of the great Zorro. Eduardo de la Vega, known for his dedication to his community and his patients as a noted benefactor and surgeon, and Teodoro de la Vega, a Jesuit priest, beloved by all who know him, vow to protect their city from the cartel. The de la Vegas act with extraordinary stealth, boldly striking at the cartel. Eduardo de la Vega leads a secret life of retribution abetted by his adopted brother, the business wizard, ‘Flaco’ Salas.
This is a tale of adventure, action love, honor, and strength of family despite constant danger and threat.
An Untimely Arrest, January 5
Father Teodoro de la Vega was sitting in an ancient wooden swivel chair, working on revisions to his doctoral thesis Methodism in America, when he heard the soft buzzing of his cell phone. He picked up the phone, swiveling his chair around before he spoke to look out the high tiny window in his cramped office at the far end of the Culiacan Cathedral. “This is Father De La Vega.”
“This is Lieutenant Flores of the federal police. We are trying to notify the family of Diego Sanchez. He has you listed as the family contact.”
Father Teodoro’s eyes stayed fixed on the fronds of the tall palm tree growing in the cathedral’s backyard. “Yes, I am Diego’s brother-in-law. How can I help?”
“I am sorry to inform you that your sister’s husband, Diego Sanchez, was arrested this morning and is currently being held in custody in Culiacan prison.” The lieutenant sounded subdued, deferential to the Catholic priest, sympathetic.
Father Teo was silent for several moments. “Oh my God, this is a shock. My sister was kidnapped three days ago, on January 2. She and Diego have three young children, and now this.” Father Teo sighed deeply and made the sign of the cross.
“I know about the kidnapping. I am so sorry. It seems your family is suddenly confronting great adversity. I can assure you that all the police agencies are working diligently to find your sister.”
Father Teo took several deep breaths before responding. “Would it be possible for me to go see Diego now?”
Lieutenant Flores was silent a moment. “Yes, under the circumstances, I’m sure there must be many arrangements to be made for the children. I will contact the prison and get your visit authorized.”
Father Teo stood up, suddenly feeling dazed; his jaw clenched as his eyes riveted on the small statue of Jesus he kept on his desk. “I am on my way to the prison now.” He next forced himself to call his brother, Eduardo, and their father, Alfonso. He quickly concluded each call with “I’ll call you back as soon as I learn anything.”
Father Teo quickly jogged down the hall and across the cathedral campus to his car. Outside, he stood beside his car and gazed upward for several moments, praying for his sister, Diego, and their children. Then he got into his battered Toyota and headed to the prison.
Father Teo sat in the visitors’ waiting room for thirty minutes before the guards escorting Diego burst through the door on the prisoners’ side.
They pushed Diego ahead of them and roughly shoved him into a chair. One of them said, “Sit down and shut up!” to Diego and waved a finger under Diego’s nose. Father Teo moved quickly to the cubicle opposite Diego and sat on the hard plastic chair in the narrow enclosure.
“Teo, tell me about my family.” Diego was somber and seemed to have physically shrunk since the last time Teo had seen him only three days before.
Diego’s usual state of casual good humor had been replaced with a pallid and tense facial expression. His eyes were tearing and moved only indirectly in the direction of Father Teo; he could not maintain eye contact for more than a moment. His eyes, now dark and sunken, slowly roamed the brightly lit room: floor, walls, ceiling, Father Teo.
“We have had no contact with Tina’s kidnappers. We are doing everything we can to find her. Eduardo and I are moving heaven and earth to find her.
The kids miss her and are understandably upset. How are you?”
“I am depressed as hell. I’m scared out of my mind. I am so grateful to you and Eduardo.” Diego dipped his head and nervously checked the position of the guards. “Please do everything you can to get these charges dropped and get me out of here somehow.”
“Of course you are depressed. Anyone would be in these circumstances.
My father is talking to lawyers right now. Your arrest has come as a complete shock to all of us.”
“I am embarrassed and stunned by my arrest too, Teo. Please tell my mother and the children that I love them, but I do not want them to come here. Seeing me in this place will only make things worse for them. Have you learned anything about the charges against me?”
Father Teo chewed on his lip. He hesitated while a myriad of happy family memories flooded his thinking: Diego and Tina’s wedding, the births of their three children, and many family gatherings. “You are accused and charged with consorting with narco-criminals by laundering their illegal earnings, aiding the cartel’s hit men by providing them with shelter, engaging in a criminal conspiracy, and accepting financial assistance from the Pacific cartel. I’m still in shock, Diego. I don’t understand this. Is any of it true?”
Diego squirmed in his seat and dropped his head to the Formica countertop of the little booth. “Oh my god,” he said this loudly, and the nearest prisoners on Diego’s side of the barrier turned in his direction. When he sat back up straight, his hands clutched his heart. Tears rolled down his cheeks.
About the Author:
Fred Malphurs spent over thirty-seven years working for the Department of veterans Affairs, almost all of which was spent in the Veterans Healthcare Administration. He is the retired CEO or Director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Healthcare System based in Gainesville, Florida, and is a retired Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Married to Robin, a nurse executive, between them they have six children. Having transferred thirteen times, been on three long term details, and service in the VA Central Office in Washington on three different occasions, Fred has been exposed to the inner workings of health care delivery, the political administration in the executive branch, and has testified before various House and Senate Congressional committees. His career spans from the impact of returning veterans from the Viet Nam War, Iraq to the current war in Afghanistan. In the course of serving in the VA, Fred received numerous awards during his career, including the two highest: Presidential Rank, at both the meritorious and distinguished levels. Medical Centers under his direction have twice received the VA’s highest award for quality, the prestigious Carey Award. As a network director, the networks under Fred’s leadership twice received the VA’s highest award for quality, the Kizer award, in addition to being recognized many times for having the best practices in a wide variety of administrative and clinical areas. He has published in health care periodicals, given media interviews, and appeared on television in the course of his career.
In retirement, Fred turned to writing, lifelong goal. He has published his memoirs: My Life in the VA: Lessons in Leadership, and three novels: Meanie Mouse versus the Orlando Operators: The Adventure Begins, Mexia: A Novel: The Memoirs of J.C. Mulkey, and Spies and Lies: The Paradox. He is currently working on a play, The Patio Club, and is revising his next novel, A Year in the Life of Doctor Fox. Fred lives in Gainesville, Florida.
5 print books
Brought To You By:
The Nightmare Room
The Messy Man Series
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Publisher: Harmful Monkey Press
Date of Publication: 1/25/2018
Number of pages: 273
Word Count: 45,000
Tagline: The past is always present in the Nightmare Room.
A boy in a basement, a man in a booth and a darkness that threatens to swallow them both…
New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter’s ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.
They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter’s father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.
But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur—mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.
The man threw open the basement door. A rush of mildewed air rose up from the darkness, like the hideous breath of some subterranean thing. He flicked on the light, and the cascade of descending stairs came into view. Among their number was the treacherous one midway down, the one that bent like a bow at the slightest weight.
“Are you going down on your own or do I have to make you?”
The boy looked up at his father. The anger that had fueled him thus far was fading, seemingly sapped by the trip from the boy’s bedroom. Instead, his father looked pained. If he didn’t know better, he might think the Old Man was about to cry. But his father had said he was tired. Dead tired. And perhaps it was as simple as that.
“I’ll go,” the boy whispered, and he took the first tentative step down.
The change in temperature was immediate; it was like diving into a cold pool. He took another step down, and another.
He paused on the third step and looked back at his father. The bare bulb above paled the man’s countenance. The grey circles under his eyes made him look like he’d been bludgeoned.
“Git!” the Old Man snarled. The boy went. When he reached the sagging step, he stopped, took a breath and leaped over it. His heel hit the lip of the next step, but the wood was damp, and the boy came down hard on his butt.
“Get some sleep. And no more dreams.”
As if he could help it.
His father closed the door, and the lock clicked. It would not open again until morning.
The boy descended the final few stairs and stepped onto the floor. Ice-cold cement sucked heat from his soles. He squinted, trying to adjust to the dark.
The usefulness of the light bulb ended a few feet into the basement. And there was no more source of light until he reached the…
The gears in his head ground to a halt, stopping short of allowing the dreaded name to be uttered.
He started picking out objects around him. The solemn metal face of the furnace, a stack of water softener salt bags, the frame of an old bicycle.
Straight ahead lay a distance of twenty or so feet before he’d come to a door. Three-quarters of that stretch was in pitch black. To get to the door, to get to the room, he had to dash through the darkness until his hand found the doorknob. Then, he would throw the door open, reach to his right, flip the wall switch and presto. An island of light in an ocean of black.
He girded himself for the sprint.
He hesitated…but why? He’d already made this run two times this week. Both Monday and Thursday, he’d awakened screaming, bringing down the Old Man’s wrath, and sending him here. To the penalty box. To time out. To the Night—
The boy startled at the sound of his own voice, and he lurched into motion. He hurtled into the darkness, his feet slapping the floor, echoing off the walls in hollow applause.
He bumped into something and spun, temporarily throwing himself and his inner compass off balance. He skidded across the floor and came to a stop.
Heart pounding in his chest, he quickly located the lit stairs off to his left. He made a rapid calculation and turned to face the invisible pathway to the room. He bolted, coming to a halt only when he slammed head-on into the door.
His hand floundered before finding the knob. He launched into his practiced routine. Open door, flip switch, step inside.
In seconds, the boy slipped into the room and slammed the door shut. A pink light overhead bathed him in imaginary warmth—he had made it.
He stepped back and sank into the waiting beanbag chair, facing the door. The small room with its mint green walls and rollaway bed felt almost welcoming, an odd feeling for a place that was meant as a punishment.
The boy pulled a quilt from the bed and wrapped it around him tight. For the first time in his life, he felt safe here in this room—in the Nightmare Room.
Because he hadn’t bumped into something out there in the dark. He had bumped into someone.
He was almost certain of it.
He kept one eye on the door as the minutes hummed past on the illuminated clock on the nightstand. He busied himself with crayon and paper, doodling to keep his mind quiet. Soon, his vision began to flutter; the room began to strobe. And, in the space between two breaths, the boy sank into his beanbag chair and fell into a fitful sleep.
The doorknob twitched.
The boy bolted upright. He pressed back into the chair. His whole body started shivering, and he feared he would wet himself for the second time that night.
A thought…no, a voice crept into his head.
The door quivered as if someone was leaning against it, trying to stifle a laugh. Nails scratched against the wood.
“Dad?” the boy whispered.
The door shuddered.
“Is that you?” Knowing it was not.
About the Author:
Chris Sorensen spends many days and nights locked away inside his own nightmare room. He is the narrator of over 200 audiobooks (including the award-winning The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix) and the recipient of three AudioFile Earphone Awards. Over the past fifteen years, the Butte Theater and Thin Air Theatre Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado have produced dozens of his plays including Dr. Jekyll’s Medicine Show, Werewolves of Poverty Gulch and The Vampire of Cripple Creek. He is the author of the middle grade book The Mad Scientists of New Jersey and has written numerous screenplay including Suckerville, Bee Tornado and The Roswell Project.
Mailing List Sign Up: http://www.casorensen.com/
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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Deborah is giving away a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
What doesn’t kill you…seriously messes with your love life.
Nava is happily settling into her new relationship and life is all giddy joy and stolen kisses.
Except when it’s assassins. Talk about a mood killer.
She and Rohan are tracking the unlikely partnership between the Brotherhood and a witch who can bind demons, but every new piece of the puzzle is leaving them with more questions than answers.
And someone doesn’t appreciate them getting close to the truth.
On top of that, a demon known only as Candyman has unleashed a drug that’s harming users in extremely disturbing ways.
After a friend of Nava’s is hurt, she vows to take this demon down. But will life as she knows it survive this mission, or will this be the one time she should have looked before she leapt?
Happily-ever-after: barring death, she’s got a real shot at it.
“I love home delivery.” Malik lounged in his doorway, eyeing me the way the wolf must have with the three little pigs. His British accent was pure sin.
“I love your arrogance that you didn’t bother moving after I almost killed you.”
He laughed, flashing straight white teeth against his bronze skin. He was still the only being I’d ever met who could pull off a Caesar cut, and was still the stuff of billionaire romance cover fantasies in his soft gray trousers that were artfully tailored to the hard lines of his body and navy shirt, carelessly folded back at the cuffs. “Oh, petal. I’d say I missed you, but I didn’t. Now, unless you brought the more interesting twin?” He peered into the hallway. “No?”
He shut the door, but I stuffed my foot in to block it. Not like he politely stopped trying to close it. “Ow.” I pushed my shoulder into the door to keep my poor bones from breaking. “If you weren’t wondering why I was here, you wouldn’t have let security buzz me up or let my toes cross the wards I’m sure you’ve got strung across this door.”
“Demons are being bound.” I rushed my words as he made a buzzing noise.
Malik yanked me inside by my collar and slammed the door.
I wrenched free.
His penthouse apartment hadn’t changed. Still to-die-for sweeping views of the city, a massive glass wine storage unit in the open concept space, and a loft bedroom. He pointed at one of the leather sofas, custom made to hug the curved walls. “Sit and talk.”
About the Author:
A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. This award-winning author is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”
NOTE: This title is discounted for up to 60% until midnight February 26 and the entire series is on sale until then as well.
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Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Publication Date: June 30, 2017
A broken man, a dying woman, a friendship that knows no bounds.
“50 Hours is a moving story about love, loss, friendship, and last chances. It’s a reminder that our lives are precious stories, no matter how long or short. This is a must-read for all of us who have been touched by cancer – victims, caregivers, family, and friends. This poignant and touching tale will inspire hope in the midst of even the darkest hours.” – Cerella Sechrist, author of the popular Findlay Roads series from Harlequin
“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… 50 Hours is an unforgettable tale of healing, redemption, and the cost of true love.” – Rachel Muller, author of bestselling World War II series, Love & War and Phillip’s War
Loree Lough’s books are always an absolute pleasure to read, and 50 Hours is one of her best yet! Its messages of love and compassion will linger with you long after you’ve turned the last page. – Kate James, award-winning author of Sanctuary Cove, Silver Linings, and The Truth About Hope
About Loree Lough
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About The Author
November 19, 2015
Some of what Albert said, I can relate to. For me, it isn’t about cheating with a younger woman. It’s hard for me to regret the years that I’ve spent with my wife or my five beautiful daughters—four of whom are my biological children—but I do feel guilt over the way I left Sarita. How I paced the living room in our apartment the day before, rehearsing what I was going to tell her, replaying in my mind what she would probably ask in response: “Why?” She’d want to know why, just as anyone who thought they were happily married and was told every day by their spouse that they were, too, would. I did love Sarita, but, at the time, I didn’t love her enough to stay married to her. I didn’t know how to tell her, so I just left without explaining myself.
There’s a loud knock on my car window. “Ray, you’re blocking the garage. Pull around.” Eve is standing there with her iPhone in her hand, in a charcoal pantsuit with a belted peplum jacket that I’m sure came from Saks, as most of her clothes do. Her face is fully made up with lashes and perfectly arched brows, and her hair that has changed colors dozens of times is golden brown now and in a layered pixie cut. She’s coming from her job as a pharmaceutical sales manager that she’ll retire from at the end of the year.
I start the engine and pull around our circular drive, remove the mail from our mailbox, wait for Eve to park, and then park between my wife’s company car and her Mercedes G-Wagen. I check my cell phone to see if she replied to my I-love-you text the way she used to. She didn’t, and she doesn’t stop to greet me, either. She marches her red-soled heels into the house, cursing about her laptop.
“I had to take time out of my hectic schedule to drop off my laptop at Computer World. I’ll still have to pay a hundred and twenty dollars just for labor whether they fix the damn thing or not. What a fuckin’ scam?”
“What’s wrong with it?” I ask as I look through the mail. It’s all junk, including a letter from my mom asking for money.
Eve shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe a virus or malware. The screen froze, and everything went black. I hope I didn’t lose my files. I need those for work.” Eve snatches my mom’s letter out of my hand. “Who does that woman think she is? She’s always asking for money. We’re not an ATM. If she needs a loan, she owns a four-family flat. She can take out a second mortgage on it.”
“Eve, babe, that’s my mom.”
“And? Didn’t you tell me you’ve never been able to call her Mom? What kind of mother is that? I’m glad I never met that woman. She has some serious issues.”
I change the subject back to Eve’s laptop. “You’ve had that thing for at least fifteen years.”
“I hold on to the things I love. It’ll be ready tomorrow, but I’ll be in Savannah and won’t be back until after they close.”
“I can pick it up for you. I don’t want you to stress. What else do I have to do? I’m retired.”
“I thought you wanted to teach. Wasn’t that the whole reason for getting a master’s?” She drags her words as she says, “I don’t need you to pick it up. I’ll get it.”
Eve stands in front of the open refrigerator. “There’s no food here. I thought you were going shopping. Next week is Thanksgiving, and the stores will be busy and out of my favorite things if you wait until the last minute. Did you order a HoneyBaked Ham yet?”
“I’m trying to give up pork.”
“That’s you. I need my HoneyBaked Ham for Thanksgiving and so do the girls and whoever they bring with them.” I don’t want to argue, and I can tell if I say another word that’s what it’ll lead to. Eve slams the refrigerator door and wanders into the walk-in pantry. “What are we going to eat?”
I walk into the pantry and slide my arms around her small waist. “I know what I have a taste for.” I start to kiss her neck. Eve’s petite. Even in her three-inch heels, my head is above hers. I always wanted to be taller, around six-two, and being with her makes me feel taller.
“Does it honestly seem like I’m in the mood for that?” Eve pushes me off of her and walks back into the kitchen. For better or worse. My wife needs to know she’s wanted. She longs for that. So I snuggle up behind her and place my arms on her waist.
“You’re never in the mood anymore. What happened, huh?” I kiss her neck. “You used to want it all the time.”
“Used to. I’m sixty-three now. There’s more to life than sex.” She places a firm grip on my wrists and pushes down to break free. I know couples go through things. And we’re definitely going through our thing right now. “Look at me,” she says. I stare into her baby-blue eyes. “Look at me the way you used to when we first met.” I try again, but she huffs. “Forget it.”
“What? I’m trying.”
“You used to stare at my face as if you were in a trance. You would tell me how beautiful I was. How beautiful my eyes are. You don’t do any of that anymore because I look old, much older than you. My face and neck are wrinkled, but you still look the same, only you’re bald now, and I’m glad because you had an obsession with your wave cap.”
“I had the best three-hundred-and-sixty-degree waves, though. I miss those.”
“I prefer your bald head.”
“I’ve gained weight,” I say. I feel as if it’s necessary to point out my flaws. The major one had been my teeth. Through the years, they had become slightly discolored from drinking coffee, and I had a chipped tooth in the front from the time my mom threw me down the stairs. As soon as I started making money, I got a natural-looking set of veneers. But I have other flaws that aren’t physical, and only I can fix them.
“There’s nothing wrong with your weight, Ray. You have a little pooch. So what. For years, you had ten percent body fat.”
“It was actually nine percent.”
She shakes her head and frowns. “My whole point is that your stomach is only noticeable to you.”
“I wear glasses now.”
“Those tortoise-shell frames make you look younger, and you only wear them for reading.”
“They’re progressive lenses. I should wear them all the time, but I can’t get used to them.”
“That’s the thing about glasses, you can take them off. I can’t take these wrinkles off unless I get a face-lift, which I’m not about to do. Stop trying to make yourself look bad so I can feel better. You know you look good because there’s never a shortage of women around who aren’t willing to tell you.”
I laugh. Eve has quite an imagination. “Women don’t tell me that.”
“My girlfriends tell me all the time how handsome you are.”
“They may tell you, but they don’t tell me.”
“I’m sure some of them do, and you’re probably too afraid to tell me. I’m sure they’ve probably come on to you, too.”
“Never, and you know I don’t play that. One of your friends? That’s a line I’d never cross.”
“I hate when a woman, a wannabe cougar, asks me how much older I am than you. When we were at Murphy’s for dinner the other night, and you went to the restroom, a woman sitting at the table next to us got out of her seat, came over to me, and asked me that. She then had the nerve to look surprised when I said, ‘Ten years.’” Eve places her mug on top of the drip tray of our Keurig and waits for her coffee to brew, which won’t take long. “‘Oh, is that all,’ she said. She thought I was even older.”
“She probably assumed I was a lot younger. I don’t think her statement was any reflection on you. It couldn’t be, because you’re still sexy.”
“Sexy?” Eve watches as the coffee fills her cup. “That’s the word men use when they can’t say beautiful.”
My wife is vain. She’s lost her sense of security, which was tied to the compliments strangers dished out to her over the years. It took me a while to realize how much stock Eve put into her face. She doesn’t care about long hair, not after women started wearing weaves, and all of a sudden if you had enough money, you could have enough hair. She wasn’t standing out, so she chopped hers off a few years after we got married. When she told me that she was getting her hair cut short, I tried to talk her out of it because I’ve always loved seeing women with long hair. But when I saw her hair short, she was even more beautiful. The haircut brought out all of her facial features: her high cheekbones and straight nose, those blue eyes, her dimples, and best of all her smooth skin. There’s only one other woman who had skin softer than hers, and I married her, too.
The heads didn’t stop turning for Eve after she cut her hair. In fact, more heads turned. Now, though, they don’t, unless they’re checking out her clothes, because if there’s one thing my wife knows how to do, it’s put an outfit together. I know she can’t handle that loss of attention, and it’s my job to build her back up.
“I don’t see wrinkles. I see Eve. The same beautiful woman I married twenty-six years ago.”
“How sweet,” Eve says sarcastically as she places her hand against my cheek and pats it twice. “How sweet.” She walks out of the kitchen with her cup of coffee and up the stairs and slams the bedroom door.
I don’t know how to please my wife anymore. Maybe that’s why I’ve been having chest pains. My heart aches.
About The Book
Genre: Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Suspense, Romance
Publisher: Melange Books
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Through the love and loss of the ages, immortality brings only one certainty: vengeance.
About Tara Fox Hall
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From Sophie’s Playlist:
“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” — Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) ~“Begin the Begin” R.E.M. (1986)
Gramble Thyssen was looking at the clock wondering when it would strike 5 p.m. so that he could leave. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was, as always, devoid of any “customers” and the silence preoccupied him: the hum of the air-conditioning, the occasional cough several aisles away, the shuffling of papers, or the creak of a chair. He was alone today in his cubicle – again – as Edith was out pregnant and George started showing premature signs of Alzheimer’s and was rummaging in the tomb of his memories.
Funny how these partitions created a fake sense of isolation and looked so desolate with their laminated surfaces, the identical carbon-copy-like telephones on every desk and old greasy-screen monitors and dusty power strips. The Wi-Fi was relatively unstable (despite being spitting distance between the Lincoln Memorial and the White House in central Washington, DC) and the network cables were all missing that little plastic tab designed to hold the cable in the laptop port. If all four occupants of the cubicle pushed back on their chairs, they would collide without even stretching out their legs. And should two of them need to make a phone call at the same time, well, it was hard to hear oneself think sometimes.
Michael Finocchiaro was born in Rhode Island, but grew up in Miami in the 70s before going to University of Florida to get a BS in Mechanical Engineering and enter a career in IT working for some of the world’s largest IT companies (IBM, HP, PTC and Dassault Systèmes). He has lived in Paris, France for over two decades. He had dreams of becoming a writer for years, having always been an avid reader (he is very active on goodreads.com) of fiction and non-fiction. He realized his writing dream by self-publishing, in January 2017, his first book Sophie’s Playlist (The Gramble Chronicles I) via Kindle Direct Publishing. It was subsequently picked up by Solstice Publishing, re-edited and re-published on January 7, 2018. He is currently working on the sequel.
Brought to You By:
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction
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About the Author
The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.
My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.
As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It’s On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.
Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors’ Dawn.
WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE
Kindle copy of SURVIVORS’ DREAM!
Terms & Conditions:
- By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
- One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
- This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
- Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
- Winner has 48 hours to reply.
ENTER TO WIN!
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A story about life, though perhaps not the one you would choose to live. Inspired by the characters from the Harry Chapin song of the same name, ‘A Better Place To Be’ is a story of love, loss, and the ability to overcome the worst that life can throw at someone and come out the other side.
Wow. That word just comes to mind over and over, in regards to this book, along with the phrase, heart-wrenching. It’s good though – incredibly, in a makes-you-feel-things-and-think-things brilliantly good. Upon first meeting John, he’s likable enough. He soon turns out to be sweet and the reader would have to be dead to not feel his love for Claire – and it is mutual. So the two of them have this great, comfortable thing…until tragedy strikes. Then the reader is treated to a gut-wrenching, realistic, accurate view of what happens all too often to too many people. I doubt there’s a person alive who cannot relate to this… Still, Wind puts it all so simply and so realistically, it’s like nothing I’ve ever read or am likely to read again.
Not only does he repeatedly rip out my heart and stomp all over it – and I like it somehow, so apparently I’m some kind of sadist – but he perfectly portrays a good – better than average actually- man turning into completely something different, as a result of the bulls— that life has thrown at him….
….Point is, if you want a book that’s real and will make you think, this is the one.
If you don’t want to think but like a book that’ll give you all the feels, this is also the one. It’s well detailed with perfect continuity.
And did I mention it’s based on a song? ‘A Better Place to Be’ by Harry Chapin, a song that’ll never be the same for me. It seems completely natural as if the book IS the song and the song IS the book. Brilliantly perfect. ——– J.L. Redding, Reviewer
David Wind has written a 5 Star story about a wonderful couple – so happy and in love – and then surprises us with one of life’s heaviest blows. The reader indeed becomes “John Edghes” as John endures one of the cruelest fates that life can impose – tremendous loss, resulting in utter despair, loneliness, and addiction. He descends into an addiction as a means to cover up the horror of it all. John goes down that black hole (amazing how deep that hole can get) and he must make a decision to climb out in order to survive or go further down into that bottomless pit. After all, life goes on, with or without you.
John faces seemingly endless challenges as he makes his way back into life.
John eventually learns he is not the only lonely person in the world. People need people and life does indeed go on.
This is a story about life. A message for us all. The cold reality that life does end and the living must go on living.
- Amazon Reviewer
David Wind has published thirty-nine novels, including science fiction & Fantasy, mystery, thriller, noir, and suspense novels. He lives and writes in Boynton Beach, Florida, and shares his home with his wife, Bonnie, and dog Alfie, a sub-standard poodle (email David for an explanation).
His newest novel is A Better Place To Be based on the Harry Chapin song of the same name. Not his usual genre, this is a story of love, loss and facing to the worst life can throw at you and still be standing.
Born To Magic, the first book of his sci-fi fantasy series, Tales Of Nevaeh, was released in 2015. All three books have reached into the Amazon Top 100 best seller rankings in several categories including Young Adult. Both the second book of the series, The Dark Masters , and the third Book, TRINITY: The Battle For Nevaeh, have all received high praise.
David’s fantasy, Queen Of Knights, was a #2 best seller on the Amazon bestseller lists for historical fantasy and medieval fantasy, and his sci-fi paranormal, Infinity’s Doorway, has received wide acclaim.
When David formally left traditional publishing to become an independently published writer, he published Angels In Mourning, his ‘homage’ to the old time private detective books of the 50’s and the 60’s. Angels is a modern day take on the old style hard-boiled detective. In April of that year, Angels In Mourning, won the Amazon.com Book of the Month Reader’s Choice Award.
His previous suspense thrillers are The Hyte Maneuverv, (a Literary guild alternate selection); The Sokova Convention ,, and The Morrissey Manifest ,. David’s Mystery suspense novels include: And Down Will Come Baby, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and Out of The Shadows.
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Brought to You By:
How far would you go for your best friend….Abigail and Kessia shared a childhood bond that couldn’t be broken. Challenged, yes—but never broken.
Born into Hollywood lineage, Kessia understood the risks and pressures of celebrity life and willingly dedicated hers to serving and protecting her best friend’s rise to stardom. But when Abigail learns of Kessia’s own behind-the-scenes battles with a predator, her sense of friendship drives her down a path that blurs the lines between loyalty and revenge at all costs.
Erin Lockwood grew up in Castro Valley, California and attended the University of Oregon, where she graduated in 2003 with a degree in journalism. From there she moved to Denver and spent the next seven years searching for the love of her life and building the family of her dreams.
It wasn’t long until, with children starting preschool and more time on her hands, Erin refocused on her career, beginning with a successful entry into the world of residential real estate as a Realtor. Free time was spent reading book after book (and binge-watching the subsequent films) in the New Adult genre. Feeling hopelessly in love with her husband, she wrote him a short story leading up to their fifth wedding anniversary. That’s when she discovered her tireless passion to share her experience of falling in love through fictional characters. That story evolved into the first novel in the Angles trilogy.
Erin still lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Phil, and their three children.
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audiences or sensitive readers!**
It is December 1878, and war looms on the horizon in South Africa. British High Commissioner Sir Henry Bartle-Frere seeks to dismantle the powerful neighbouring kingdom of the Zulus and uses an incursion along the disputed border as his justification for war. He issues an impossible ultimatum to the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, demanding he disband his armies and pay massive reparations. With a heavy heart, the king prepares his nation for war against their former allies.
Leading the invasion is Lieutenant General Sir Frederic Thesiger, Baron Chelmsford, a highly experienced officer fresh off a decisive triumph over the neighbouring Xhosa tribes. He and Frere are convinced that a quick victory over the Zulus will negate any repercussions from the home government for launching what is, in essence, an illegal war.
Recently arrived to South Africa are newly-recruited Privates Arthur Wilkinson and Richard Lowe; members of C Company, 1/24th Regiment of Foot under the venerable Captain Reginald Younghusband. Eager for adventure, they are prepared to do their duty both for the Empire and for their friends. As Frere’s ultimatum expires, the army of British redcoats and allied African auxiliaries crosses the uMzinyathi River at Rorke’s Drift into Zululand. Ten days later, the British and Zulus will meet their destiny at the base of a mountain called Isandlwana.
It is January of 1879. While three columns of British soldiers and their African allies cross the uMzinyathi River to commence the invasion of the Zulu Kingdom, a handful of redcoats from B Company, 2/24th Regiment are left to guard the centre column’s supply depot at Rorke’s Drift.
On the morning of 22 January, the main camp at Isandlwana, just ten miles to the east, comes under attack from the entire Zulu army and is utterly destroyed. Four thousand warriors from King Cetshwayo’s elite Undi Corps remained in reserve and were denied any chance to take part in the fighting. Led by Prince Dabulamanzi, they disobey the king’s orders and cross into British Natal, seeking their share in triumph and spoils. They soon converge on Rorke’s Drift; an easy prize, with its paltry force of 150 redcoats to be readily swept aside.
Upon hearing of the disaster at Isandlwana, and with retreat impossible, the tiny British garrison readies to receive the coming onslaught. Leading them is Lieutenant John Chard, a newly-arrived engineer officer with no actual combat experience. Aiding him is B Company’s previously undistinguished officer commanding, Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, along with 24-year old Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne, and a retired soldier-turned civilian volunteer named James Dalton.
Unbeknownst to either the British or the Zulus, half of the centre column, under Lord Chelmsford’s direct command, was not even at Isandlwana, but fifteen miles further east, at Mangeni Falls. However, with a huge Zulu force of over twenty-thousand warriors between them and the drift, their ammunition and ration stores taken or destroyed, and an
impossible distance to cover, Chelmsford’s battered column cannot possibly come to the depot’s aid, and must look to their own survival. The defenders of Rorke’s Drift stand alone.
James Mace is a life-long historian and the author of twenty books, including seven Ancient History best-sellers, and two South African History best-sellers. He penned the initial draft of his first novel, “Soldier of Rome: The Legionary”, as a cathartic means of escapism while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. His works span numerous eras, from Ancient Rome to the British Empire.
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