Sunscorched – book blitz

Sunscorched
Jen Crane
(Subterranean Series, #1)
Publication date: October 23rd 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult

Death at daylight. Danger at dark.

Life can’t possibly get more treacherous than a violent sun allergy in a solar-blighted world. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Nori Chisholm thought before news of an impending sunscorch delivered her death sentence.

Desperate to survive the scorch, she’s forced to shelter underground and discovers a secret subterranean world where life is hard, and so are the people. Betrayed and left for dead by the man who pledged to help her, Nori is sold to a gritty pit fighting ring. There she makes a friend—and plenty of enemies.

Speeding by motorcycle through the underground world, Nori makes a shocking discovery that shatters everything she thought she knew. Can she use the knowledge to save what’s left of the world?

Winner of the Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction, Sunscorched is a tale of survival and self-discovery at breakneck speed. Fans of Bella Forrest and Marie Lu, who crave dangerous heroes and dark secrets, will love the Sunscorched world.

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EXCERPT:

A trail of blood disappeared beyond the door of the small foyer. The man Nori rescued lay face-up, the knot near his temple swelling fast. His leg oozed blood, the scarlet pool closing in on the tiny corner of space Nori occupied. When she found the wound—and the gaping tear in his leather riding pants—dread settled in her gut. The bleeding would have to be stopped if he was going to survive, which meant she had to do it.

Nori groaned and scrubbed her eyes, then set to work. She sifted through her backpack for something to tie around his wound, finding both a pocketknife and the thick, sun-blocking canvas she always kept nearby. She ripped a long strip of the fabric and wrapped it several times around the man’s injured thigh.

“Probably a good thing you can’t feel this,” she said to his unconscious form and, catching another look at the knot on his head, grimaced. “You’re gonna have a pretty bad headache, too.”

After tying the two ends together, Nori sat back to admire her work. Blood had soaked through most of the bandage, but it wasn’t seeping onto the floor anymore, at least.

Mom and Dad are probably freaking out by now, Nori thought. Curled in the corner of the foyer farthest from the man, she sat with arms wrapped around bent knees. The man outside hadn’t made a sound. Maybe he hadn’t seen her. Maybe he’d left. Or maybe he was waiting just outside the door.

Nori rocked back and forth, forehead pressed to her knees. Finally, she let out a long breath and stretched her legs. She was leaving. She’d saved the stranger. Twice. He was hidden in the foyer, and when he came to, he could find his own way back to safety.

Bracing herself on the wall to stand, she kept as far as possible from the unconscious body between her and the door. Stretching over him to reach the door, she extended one leg, straddling him only a moment until she lifted the other to join it. But as she raised her back foot, the front one was knocked from under her, sending her roughly down onto her butt. She yelped and looked wildly around, scurrying back to the foyer wall. Hands in front of her face, she prepared to defend herself as best she could.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. His voice was deep, but not threatening. “Where are we?”

Nori flattened her palms to the wall, pushing herself against it to stand again. She didn’t answer.

The steely eyes from the alley focused on her face. He surveyed her hair, her shoes, and her clothes before finding her eyes.

“What did you throw?” he asked.

The question caught her off guard. “Wh-what?”

“What did you throw? To distract him?”

“A book.”

“A book?”

Nori nodded as she edged toward the door—and the street.

“What were you doing with a book?” he asked.

“Reading,” she said, pinning him with a look that seriously doubted his intelligence.

Dark eyebrows lowered over narrowed eyes. “In the dark?”

Nori bit the inside of her cheek. “Of course not,” she said. She’d been running in the dark, not reading, though she often did. But he didn’t have to know that. “It was in my backpack from earlier today.”

He squinted, as if he didn’t quite believe her. “What happened to your face?”

She reflexively touched the pink patches, a fresh new layer where sun-damaged skin had peeled away. The pink was fading, but not entirely healed.

“Sunburn,” she said. “Stayed out too long.”

“That happen a lot?”

“What business is it of yours?” she snapped. “And you can say ‘thanks for saving me’ anytime.”

His eyes shot down for a moment before he lifted them to meet her gaze. “Thank you.” His voice was quieter, sincere. “I know you put your own life at risk. Thank you for saving me.”

“Twice,” she said. “I saved you twice. Once with the book, and the other by hauling you in here when you were unconscious to bandage your leg. Technically, I guess that’s three times.”

“All right.” His lips twitched. “I owe you one. Or three.” As if he hadn’t noticed it before, he looked down at his thigh and then back to Nori. “First time to make a tourniquet?”

She lifted her head. “You were bleeding all over the floor. I did the best I could with what I had. What happened to you, anyway? You must’ve lost a lot of blood to pass out like that.”

“I tried to clear a chain-link fence, but my leg caught.”

Nori looked at the bandage again, but quickly averted her eyes from the exposed skin of his thigh. She cleared her throat. “Why was he chasing you?”

He shrugged.

“You’re not going to tell me?” she asked.

He shook his head, all nonchalance.

“Fine.” Nori huffed a breath. “What’s your name?”

“Cooper.”

“That your first name?” She asked and extended her arm toward the door handle, making sure she could escape if necessary.

“It’s what people call me,” he said. “What’s yours?”

She didn’t answer as manners battled with self-preservation in her brain.

“Oh, come on,” he goaded. “You can’t ask to see mine and not show me yours.”

“Nori,” she said quick and low. The concession pained her.

“That your first name?” he shot back.

She scowled, and he threw up his hands in defense. “Okay, okay. I’m just messing with you. Anyway, thanks again for the help, Dory.”

“It’s Nori.”

Cooper nodded, an amused smirk tightening his lips. “Thanks, Nori.” He rose slowly, hopping on one foot at first, and reached for his backpack in the corner. As he slipped it over a shoulder, he stopped and caught her gaze again. “Why’d you help me—three times? You didn’t have to.”

“I did have to,” she said. The answer came easily. “You were in trouble, and I could help. No brainer.”

“Kindness is not so common as you think,” he said lifting his chin and narrowing his eyes as if trying to get a better read on her. “How long have you been like this?”

“Like what?”

“You burn easy. And you can see well in the dark, right?”

“I’ve been this way my whole life.” The answer was smooth, and without thought. Nori gasped and balled her fists when she realized what she’d revealed. Her condition wasn’t a secret, though it was a mystery. But she didn’t like a stranger knowing so much about her. And she hated that he’d gotten her to talk so easily. Her teeth creaked under the pressure of her jaws.

“Anyone else up here like you?” Cooper closed the distance between them and searched her eyes for an answer. “You know anyone else who burns like you do? Who can see better in the dark?”

She shook her head, blinking in incomprehension. “How do you… What do you mean? What do you know about it?”

“You should go,” he said and pushed open the door.

“No.” Nori pulled the door shut, her heart thundering in her chest. “Tell me how you knew to ask those questions. Do you know someone else like me?”

Cooper let out a long breath, his wary gaze never leaving hers. “It’ll be light soon,” he finally said. “If you want to make it home in time, you’ll already have to run like hell.”

He turned to open the door again, but Nori stopped him. “Wait.” She fumbled for something to say. “Do you live around here?” She threw on her own backpack, wishing to know something about the man who knew so much about her.

“Right under your nose,” he said, and with one last nod, ran from the foyer, into the dark alley, and out of sight with no noticeable limp.

As Nori watched him go the shadows changed, and her heart seized. The sun was on the rise. “Stupid,” she told herself, racing home on shaky legs. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

Author Bio:

Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, it’s fantasy and sci-fi that shine Jen Crane’s saddle. Her latest novel, Sunscorched, received a Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction.

Jen has a master’s degree and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. But just in the nick of time she pronounced life *too real* for nonfiction. She lives in The South and creates endearing characters and alternate realms filled with adventure, magic, and love.

Book 2 in Jen’s fantasy romance series, Descended of Dragons, was selected by iTunes/iBooks as “Our Pick” in fantasy/sci-fi.

**Sign up for Jen’s newsletter to get release updates and freebies: bit.ly/Jen_Crane_Newsletter**

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Review of high heels and haywires by Shama Farheen and Suraj Dey

BLURB:

Cover of high heels and haywires
Cover of high heels and haywires

When the roller-coaster of mixed emotions hit Sameera. She finally decides it’s high time and she needs a break from the life she has been living all these years in the small town of Himachal. That when she decides to run away one night, in search of a perfect life she had always longed for, only to find herself getting deeper into the clutches of what she has been running from. In the new city she befriends Shikha and Akanksha who are haywired in their own war of destiny much like her but with very much opposite characters.High Heels and Haywires is all about them, their friendship, love and heartaches. Something most of you could relate to in one way or the other.

MY REVIEW:

The story revolves around three female characters as mentioned in blurb- Sameera, Shikha and Akanksha. Sameera is new to city and bumps into Shikha like in a Bollywood movie. AN instant connect between them and she immediately moves in with Shikha. Shikha on the other hand is carefree.

Sameera meets Akanksha in office and comes to know she’s on the lookout for accommodation. She decides to bring her into the picture with Shikha.

The three girls have loads of fun staying together. There are few other characters such as Vineet and Abir- Sameera’s colleagues, Kartik & Sonia who are Sameera’s childhood friend, Pooja Abir’s ex-girlfriend.

The romantic portions are very well portrayed with not an iota of over exaggeration.

The plot moves in a pace that seems to be engaging and unputdownable.

The narration was simple and crisp. There was no drag or over exaggeration anywhere.

The female emotions were portrayed absolutely well. Sameera’s thoughts were so clear and she was just characterized as a girl we meet up every day. Abir seems very reserved but the portions of him and Sameera brought out a smile every time.

I finished the book in a day, since it’s a light read.

BOOK DETAILS:

  • Format:Kindle Edition
  • File Size:1020 KB
  • Print Length:167 pages
  • Publisher:INDEPENDENT (5 September 2018)
  • Sold by:Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
  • Language:English
  • ASIN:B07H4ZG6NC

The book is available on amazon. https://amzn.to/2CWFxYV

MY RATINGS:

Cover: 4/5

Title: 4/5

plot: 3.5/5

Writing and Presentation: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

If she were blind- book blitz



If She Were Blind
Laney Wylde
(The After Twelve, #1)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: October 22nd 2018
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Thriller

Not everyone can get justice the traditional way—that’s where Estlyn Collins comes in. A young lawyer in Santa Monica, her “legal” service, After Twelve, works outside the courtroom to tip the scales when the justice system has failed.

For a price.

Thanks to her powerful underground network, Estlyn’s success rate is stellar, and her inbox stays filled with inquires from the desperate and vengeful. But when one of those names is a ghost from her past seeking vengeance against her, she’s shaken to her core. Off balance and scared to be alone, she makes an impulsive move for a guy. He’s a complication she doesn’t have time for, but it turns out he may also be an unlikely—if unwitting—asset.

Treading the rapidly thinning line between personal and professional, Estlyn pursues her target while outrunning the one on her own back—only to find she may be running into a lot more than she bargained for.

IF SHE WERE BLIND is the first book in the engaging New Adult series AFTER TWELVE by author Laney Wylde. Perfect for fans of the television shows REVENGE, SCANDAL, and VERONICA MARS, the AFTER TWELVE Series is a gritty social-issue drama that delivers steamy romance, intrigue, and the most bittersweet revenge plots. Estlyn’s determination to right every wrong is sure to quench your thirst for justice, yet leave you wanting more.

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EXCERPT:

I glance past Dean’s shoulder as a man close to my dad’s age takes nervous steps closer and closer to Dean. Once he’s in his space, he taps his back. Dean whips around to face him. “Excuse me, are you Dean Martinez?”

His eyes are full of suspicion as he studies the stranger. “Um, why?”

“It’s Dwayne. We’ve been chatting on Match.com and are supposed to meet up here at seven.”

Dean’s shoulders slouch and his expression turns sympathetic. “Sweetie, you’ve been catfished.”

“Been what?”

“I’m Dean, but I’m not on any dating site.”

“Really? Because,” the older gentleman displays Dean’s dating profile on his phone for him, “you’re right here.”

Dean grabs the phone and starts scrolling through the profile. “‘Male seeking male, any race or religion, age fifty-five and older.’ Seriously? ‘I love me a sweaty old gay with that curly salt-and-pepper chest hair. The longer and curlier the better. I want it poking above those top shirt buttons. Oh, yeah, let it blow in the wind while we drive down PCH in your Lincoln sedan with the windows cracked. In search of someone I can raise a family of hypoallergenic, small breed dogs with, someone who doesn’t have all their original joints. I’m so over all these sexy twinks who just want me for my hot bod. Looking for a real man to settle down with, preferably in a gay-friendly, fifty-five and older community.’”

I can’t help but give Dean’s blind date a once over. The poor guy is buttoning the second to top button over his ungroomed, grey chest hair as Dean reads. His upper lip looks like the outside of a cold drink on a summer day. Dean gives him back the phone and drops his forehead into his hand. “Cal, did you let Estlyn go to the library?”

“Um…”

He glares at me then chastises, “Cal?”

“Yes?” How was I supposed to know she’d use a computer to catfish unsuspecting old gays?

He turns to the humiliated older gentleman with confident compassion. “Sorry, hon. My friend set you up. Best of luck to finding a man half your age to raise that family of dogs with.”


Author Bio:

Laney Wylde is enamored with all things southern California–the traffic, smog, surprise earthquakes, and nonindigenous palm trees. Consequently, it’s the landscape her strong and sometimes lovable female leads paint their stories on. Her New Adult novels Never Touched and the After Twelve series are bright with provocative themes, steamy romance, and inappropriately timed humor.

When Laney isn’t writing, she’s singing Taylor Swift with her little boy or asking her husband not to tell her about his work as a surgical resident while she’s eating. She daydreams about using her math degree to get into law school, then realizes that would be too much work and that she should just play pretend court on paper instead. While she loves a good book, nothing beats 30 Rock with a bag of popcorn and M&Ms.

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Cover reveal- Piper prince



Piper Prince
Amber Argyle
(Forbidden Forest #2)
Publication date: April 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

All magic is light. If that light be darkened, shadow and punishment come.

Long ago, a curse fell upon the land—a curse of forgetting and wraiths, a curse that ensured no daughters were born to the pied pipers in over three centuries. The pipers were all that stood between the humanity and utter destruction, so they did the only thing they could: they stole the daughters of the nearby kingdom with their hypnotizing melodies. With the sons born from those unions, they continued to defend against the wraiths and fight the curse, even though they were slowly losing.

Larkin was one of those daughters. Stolen by Denan and married against her will, she found herself falling in love with the very man who had taken everything from her, the man who had made her a princess. Together, they discovered that she was the first woman in three centuries to possess the magic of the pipers, and therefore, the only person capable of breaking the ancient curse.

But breaking the curse means unraveling the very past the curse is intent on keeping secret. The answer lies buried in the crypts of the Black Druids, men who consider Larkin a traitor they’ll kill on sight. Embedded in the intrigues of their court, she unearths a dark conspiracy destined to hasten the destructive power of the curse—a conspiracy aimed at destroying her piper prince.  

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Sequel to:


Author Bio:

Bestselling author Amber Argyle writes young-adult fantasies where the main characters save the world (with varying degrees of success) and fall in love (with the enemy). Her award-winning books have been translated into numerous languages and praised by such authors as NYT bestsellers David Farland and Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Amber grew up on a cattle ranch and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year-old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people. She’s fluent in all forms of sarcasm, loves hiking and traveling, and believes spiders should be relegated to horror novels where they belong.

To receive her starter library of four free books, simply tell her where to send it: http://amberargyle.com/freebooks/

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Book blitz- The fighter of Aldea



The Fighter of Aldea
Kira Weston
Publication date: October 15th 2018
Genres: YA , fantasy

It’s the year 2216, and ever since Lydia Humsworth was little, she’s heard stories about electricity that used to light up skylines and planes that soared through the sky like birds. There were also stories about The Shift, which plunged the world into darkness nearly two hundred years ago and gave some people magical abilities. These people came to call themselves sorcerers.

Now, in the small village of Aldea, sixteen-year-old Lydia is training to be a Fighter in hopes of one day protecting her village. Her best friend, Daniel, spends his days working long hard hours on the farm. Humans and sorcerers have always seemed to coincide peacefully, but when Leonardo Kinch–a deranged sorcerer who blames humans for the death of his family–starts a war against humans, nothing is as they believed.

When war rages across the country, Lydia and Daniel must do everything they can to stop the war and stay alive, or risk the human race falling into extinction.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

LYDIA

I jump up and before I’m even back on the ground, I swing out at his face. I nearly get a tap, but Joshua manages to duck away. He groans angrily and jabs at my stomach. I suck it in and jump backward, but I’m closer to the edge than I’d thought and my back slams into the rope.

Joshua smirks. He knows he’s got the upper-hand.

He goes for my stomach again, but I slip out of the way, dive into a roll that takes me behind him, and spin around to face him.

He whirls around and slices his stick down toward the top of my head. I grab my stick with both hands and hold it above me. Block.

I realize he’s holding his vertically like a sword, as opposed to holding it horizontally above his head. Bad form. I push my stick against his, forcing it toward his body. A look of confusion crosses Joshua’s face. Then I give his stick a good shove with my own, thrusting him backward enough that he loses his balance and falls down onto the mat, flat on his back.

While he’s down, I jab my stick toward his neck and tap his throat. The fight is over.

Joshua looks up at me with wide eyes, probably realizing what the result of a full force hit like that would be, and I suddenly become very aware of the fact that I’m glaring down at him. Had I wanted to fight again for revenge? What if I had lost my cool? Then I wouldn’t have been any better than he was.

Except, I didn’t hit him, whether a part of me wanted to or not. And I certainly didn’t cheat. That’s not who I am, or ever want to be.

Finally, the blood from my scratches runs all the way down my face, and just as a single drop of blood falls onto the mat, I hear the whistle.

“Winner! Lydia Humsworth!”

The crowd cheers. I’m brought back to reality. During the fight, it was as if everything and everyone had melted away and become silent. Nothing existed but me, my opponent, and the ring. I look up at the crowd who’s roaring for me. Daniel, Lucas, and my mom are cheering louder than anyone else. It hits me: I won.

I put my stick down and look up at the audience, letting my victory sink in before turning back to help Joshua up. I hold out my hand, but he shoves it away and gets up on his own.

We bow. He looks mad again. So many remarks run through my head. I told you so. Sorry to burst your bubble. Apologies for deflating your ego… But I leave it alone. He’s probably punishing himself enough.

Instead, I bow my head and say, “Good fight, Joshua.”

He seems a little surprised at my humility, but he doesn’t return it. All he does is sneer and bow his head in return. Then we separate to have quick words with our instructors before the final winners are announced.

“Well done, Lydia,” Mr. Neil tells me, handing me a towel to wipe my face with. “You had the upper hand for most of the fight and you did some quick thinking with that final move. It was different, unexpected, and intelligent.”

“Thank you, sir,” I say politely. I’m surprised by his kind words, but I can also tell that he’s holding something back. I sigh. “What is it?”

He shifts his eyes to the side, then looks back at me. “You’re still too slow.” I purse my lips. Of course…


Author Bio:

Kira Weston writes Young Adult fiction, often day-dreaming the what-ifs of magic and science fiction, and how they might affect the world. Her debut novel, The Fighter of Aldea, comes out October 15th, 2018. Kira grew up in Las Vegas, NV under the hot sun and the distant lights of the famous Las Vegas Strip, and now resides in Colorado, which is much cooler—most of the time.

Kira currently works in retail, but hopes to put her main focus on storytelling in the near future, whether it be through books, movies, or something in between. When she’s not writing, she spends her time befriending cats, hoping for rain, drinking mochas, and listening to music.

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Book blitz – Rheia



Rheia
Cassandra Page
Publication date: October 13th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

“Beauty and the Beast” meets Ancient Greece, with a steampunk twist

Every year, Rheia’s father brought home four prisoners of war, sacrifices to keep the demon Typhein bound. Rheia never gave them much thought … until her father’s enemy made her one of them. Now she has two weeks to find a way to escape death at the hands of the Beast and either save her people or condemn them to destruction.

The last thing Rheia expected was to fall in love with the Beast oath-bound to kill her.

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EXCERPT:

Rheia waited, fidgeting, until the herbalist finished tying off the bundle of fennel and counting out her change. Then she tucked the herbs into her basket and followed her brother, head down so as not to attract attention: an unwed, unaccompanied woman. She would kill Aias if his running off resulted in any slight against her name. She swallowed and adjusted her veil, making sure her hair was completely covered.

She found Aias standing in the deep shadows beneath the statue. He couldn’t see into the temple from there, wedged as he was between one huge sandalled foot and an outer pillar, adjacent to the shadowed porch, but his head was cocked as he listened, eyes wide as wine cups. “You just wait until I tell Mammidon about this,” she hissed.

“Shh,” Aias whispered, raking her with a contemptuous gaze. “I’m listening.”

“And if the priests see you out here, lurking like a thief, what will they say?” She grabbed his arm and tried to pull him away, but he eeled from her grip and stepped closer to the entrance. If she tried to grab him again, he might stumble backward, out into the bright sunshine where he would be much more obvious. Grinding her jaw with frustration, she glared at him.

He glared back, head tilted upward to meet her gaze. “Rheia, something is going on. They are stirred up like an ants’ nest. Don’t you want to know why?”

“No,” she whispered, shaking her head emphatically. And she didn’t. She wanted to browse the trinkets at Phidias’s stall, see if he knew her name, see whether Galen was lurking out the back somewhere and might come over to see her.

But she couldn’t do so without Aias. “All right,” she said with a sigh, crossing her arms and looking away towards the harbour as though she was merely taking a moment to shade herself from the hot sun. “One minute.”

Resolved not to listen to the voices inside the great building, Rheia studied the mason’s mark hidden at the statue’s heel as though it were the most interesting thing in the world. She had heard of Myron, even though he’d died when her grandmother was a baby; the huge statue had been his last great work. But a babble of raised voices as they passed close by the inside doorway caught her ear: the words thysia and offering louder than the rest, as the speaker emphasised a point. They fell away, and she wondered what had happened to cause such consternation. Had the helot girl tried to escape again? Had she been successful this time? There would be a city-wide manhunt to find her if it were true. A surge of sympathy for the girl made her purse her lips. How awful it would be, to know you would be dead when next the moon was full.

Aias’s fingers digging into Rheia’s arm brought her back to herself. “Rheia,” he whispered, the sound sharp with fear. “Let’s go.”

“Finally,” she muttered, glancing up and down the street for watching eyes before hurrying him away from the temple, her hand at the small of his back so he couldn’t dart off again. But when she tried to stop at the goatherder’s stall to buy a pottery jar of milk, he dragged her on, out of the agora. “Aias, stop! Wait!”

“You heard what they said.” He shook his head, curls bouncing emphatically as he hauled her along the street, almost at a run. “We have to get home. Father will know more.”

Rheia’s heart felt strange in her chest, anxiety making it flutter. “More about what? I was trying not to listen. As you should have been.”

Her little brother stopped, staring up at her with his mouth ajar. Then he pulled her by the hand into a quiet alley, away from the bustling traffic of the main street. “One of the helots is dead,” he whispered, eyes glittering with excitement. “One of the girls. Suicide, they say.”

Rheia’s eyes widened as she stared at her brother. The flutter in her chest expanded to swallow her belly. “But what will happen now? It’s only two weeks until the festival. The offering!”

“That’s what they were arguing about. One of the priests thought the triremes would be sent back out, while the other said it was too late. Father will know; if the ships are to be sent, he will captain the fleet. Come on. Before he leaves!”

Rheia let Aias drag her up the hill towards their villa, her mind whirling with the implications. The Broken Ones were meant to have the thysies for a full ten days before the ritual. Something about cleansing rituals. But that would only give the triremes three days to get to the helot lands and back again. Would it be enough?

And if not, what was the alternative?


Author Bio:

Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat – despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres, all of them speculative fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

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Book blitz – The bomb makers daughter

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The Jeff Bradley Thriller Series, Book 4

Thriller

Date Published: July 2018

Publisher: Far and Wide Publishing


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Saddam Hussein’s missing weapons of mass destruction have been found and are in the hands of an international terrorist group. But which group and where have they stored the gases and toxic waste? And what are their plans for the deadly cargo? An eleven-year-old Filipino girl, Arina Marcos knows the secret. She narrowly escapes assassins sent to kill her and family. And now she is on the run.  Hit squads sent to track her down chase her across Asia.

Ex Special-Forces soldier Jeff Bradley and CIA agent Kennedy Patton must protect Arina as she leads them in search of Saddam’s weapons. The trail leads to underground laboratories and a mass grave in the Philippines. Tensions heighten when the US Air craft Carrier Independence II is brought into the conflict.

Then Bradley discovers the deadly truth and the race is on. He and Kennedy Patton must find the terrorists and the ship carrying the lethal cargo. If they fail the cities of Europe will burn and thousands will die.

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Other Books in The Jeff Bradley Thriller Series

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The Field of Blackbirds

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Published: May 2015

Thriller

Former SAS soldier Jeff Bradley thought he had left warzones behind when he inherited a vineyard in rural New Zealand. But now his vineyard manager, Arben Shala, has gone missing in his native Kosovo. An enigmatic message tells Jeff that his friend is in grave danger.

Determined to find Arben and bring him home, Jeff travels to Kosovo and finds a lawless state in the grip of criminal gangs. Corrupt officials obscure every lead. With the help of USAID director Morgan Delaney, Jeff delves into the province’s seedy underworld and uncovers a conspiracy of terrifying scale. A web of dark connections links the captors with a terrorist bombing campaign across Europe, and now it is no longer just Arben whose survival is at stake.

Double-crossed by allies, watched at every turn, can Jeff get to the heart of the conflict before the warlords get to him?

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The Mark of Halam

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Published: August 2015

Thriller

USS Ulysses: State-of-the-art nuclear submarine. Deterrent. Target.

When an Olympic medalist is the subject of an attempted assassination, former SAS trooper Jeff Bradley knows his past is once again casting a shadow over his new life. A note left by the assassin confirms his suspicions: Bradley made an enemy back in Kosovo, and the man is out for revenge. But Jeff knows the killer is not working alone: higher up the ranks sits Avni Leka, a terrorist warlord who will stop at nothing to achieve his bloody goal.

And it’s not just Bradley who is under threat. A hijacking leads him to sense something bigger is being planned—a plot that, if successful, will end thousands of innocent lives, and could light the touchpaper of global conflict.

He can’t allow it to happen. But events are spiralling out of control. Bradley knows he must reach the eye of the storm before it tears his world apart.

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The Ottoman Conspiracy

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Published: January 2017

Thriller

Former Special Forces soldier Jeff Bradley is meeting with the mafia in Bari, Italy, to discover the whereabouts of his nemesis—criminal overlord Avni Leka—when he receives a message from an old friend. Barry is on board a tourist bus that has been hijacked by terrorists near Istanbul. Strapped with explosives, it is racing across Turkey to the northern borders of Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The Turkish president will not negotiate. The Turkish military will not allow the bus to cross the border. The hijackers will kill themselves and their hostages if they cannot escape.

Jeff knows it’s down to him to rescue his friend. Joining forces with US special agent Reason Johanson, he faces his toughest test yet: a race against time to track down the bus before it reaches the border.

Along the way, Jeff uncovers a conspiracy that could not only lead him to those responsible for the hijacking but also threaten global security itself. Will he be able to stop the bus in time? Or will they run out of road?

Excerpt

The helicopter swung its light back towards the trio and lit them up like actors on a theatre stage. A voice yelled for them to stop. Arina’s eyes widened as men with rifles ran toward her family.

 “Hurry, hurry,” she screamed at them.

“Arina, run away. We are right behind you,” Sarah called.

 Arina stayed where she was. Her hands pushed against the fence, her fingers poking through the wire mesh. “Hurry, hurry!”

 Sarah and her mother were struggling with her father. The soldiers were getting closer. To her right Arina saw a military jeep racing along the fence line. Arina screamed a warning, but her voice was lost in the din. A soldier standing in the passenger side swung a swivel gun toward them and fired. Erupting dirt followed the flashes of light. Her Papa held his hands in the air and shouted at the soldiers not to shoot. Her Mama held onto her Papa’s arm and Sarah’s hand. Soldiers yelled more orders and her mother, father and sister dropped to their knees. The helicopter turned away as the soldiers surrounded them.

 Arina’s fingers slipped from the wire. She knew what she must do. Find Uncle Felipe. She slung the strap of Sarah’s bag around her neck and ran into the jungle. Spikey plant tendrils tugged at her clothes and scratched her arms. She did not slow until the sounds of violence had faded.

About the Author

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Award-winning novelist Thomas Ryan is the author of the Jeff Bradley series of novels; The Field of Blackbirds, The Mark of Halam, The Ottoman Conspiracy and The Bomb Maker’s Daughter.

Thomas Ryan has been a soldier in a theatre of war, trampled the jungles of Asia, and lived through the breakdown and civil unrest of Eastern Europe. Armed with these life experiences Ryan turned to writing thriller novels and short stories.

He considers himself a story teller, a creator who has enthusiastically plunged his psyche into the world of creativity and fantasy. With the reader in mind, he weaves colorful characters into the threads of his riveting storylines.

Taking readers on a thrilling journey is what motivates Ryan as a writer.

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Book blitz – Born yesterday

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A Pine Lake Adventure, Book 1

Romantic Mystery, Romantic Suspense

Date Published: March 2017

Publisher: El Cid Publishing


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It’s 1964. People in the resort town of Pine Lake, Wisconsin are unnerved when a stranger is found unconscious in the park. He’s taken to the hospital with severe head injuries and subsequently slips into a coma. All efforts to identify him fail. A young nurse is enamored with the sleeping stranger. Waking only complicates matter when the man has no memory of who he is or what happened to him. Together, he and the nurse journey across the state in search of his past.

Other Books in the Pine Lake Adventure Series:

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Battle Born

A Pine Lake Adventure, Book 2

Publisher: El Cid Publishing

Published: January 2018

The War is over. Nora Jensen must now work past the horrors of human carnage she experienced as an army nurse. Angry and bitter, she’s turned her back on God and is at war with the army for the physical attacks and abuse she’s had to endure. All she wants is a life free of military rules and regulations, and to no longer be a triage nurse, having to choose among the wounded who is the first to treated, often determining who lives and who dies. A chance meeting with a fifteen-year-old girl could once again put Nora in a life and death situation

From a small town in Wisconsin to the high desert of Nevada, journey with her as she tries to stay one step ahead of the law and those that want to tear her world apart. A lover from the past may be her only ally.

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About the Author

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Joe Van Rhyn grew up in a small resort town in Wisconsin. In school, he divided his time between sports and the theater. His first love was being on stage. Among his credits, he was Pish Tosh in the Mikado, the Prince in Cinderella, and the villain Cassius Carstairs, in an old-fashioned melodrama. Joe uses his theatrical experience in his writing to create memorable characters, compelling dialogue, and an intriguing story. “Born Yesterday” is the first in a series of novels centered around the small resort town of Pine Lake. “Battle Born” is the second, with a third due out in early 2019

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Book blitz – Live on TV 3

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Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: Koehler Books

Release Date: October 10, 2018

Twenty years before Murder at Broadcast Park, Stewart Simon own the ABC TV station in Palm Springs. His future general manager, Lisa, was just starting her broadcast career at the ABC affiliate. There was no better place to be in local television in the 80s and early 90s then Palm Springs, California. Home of Bob Hope, President Gerald Ford, and yes, Sonny Bono, just when he began thinking about politics. The TV station in this small resort town and golf capital of the world was at the center of it all.

Read about Lisa’s rise up through the newsroom to sales and eventually how she ended up marrying the second best love of her life….instead of the man that owned her heart. And during all of this Sonny Bono runs for Mayor of Palm Springs (and then cancels Spring Break!).

Enjoy this entertaining read and once again peek behind the curtain of a local TV station through the creative, witty, writing of Bill Evans, a former TV General Manager himself.

Other Books By Bill Evans

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Murder at Broadcast Park

Publisher: Koehler Books

Release Date: October 15, 2017

Before this current age of broadcasting acquisitions and mergers, local TV stations were owned by the broadcasters, not investment firms. They lived to tell the stories of their communities. In Murder at Broadcast Park, the CBS station located in the rich resort town of Santa Barbara becomes it’s own story. “We never want to be our own news,” was the mandate from Barry Burke, the station’s news director. Except in this case, people are dying. With three murders, more affairs, but no suspects, investigators peer behind the scenes of the local news. Pull the veil off to find twists, turns, and secrets behind the scenes of this resort TV station and its cast of TV professionals. Nothing is off limits.

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About the Author

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Bill Evans is a 45 year broadcast veteran turned author. His first novel, Murder at Broadcast Park, released October, 2017. With his experience and insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the broadcast world, Bill’s novels paint a vivid picture of what really happens when the cameras are off.

Bill resides on California’s beautiful Central Coast. He continues to have a passion in the broadcast world and working in local media.

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Book blitz- The misadventures of a reluctant traveller

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Fiction/Adventure

Date Published: September 30th

Publisher: Up and Up Media


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“Imagine not being able to sleep without worrying about which country you will wake up in…”

Tagden Fitts has a problem, besides his name. His sleepwalking self is a traveler; a past-time he would rather avoid and his travels are beginning to take over his life. Destroying any chance of a real relationship or career, he spends his time chasing after his own body, dreading the night when he will finally wake up in a situation too deep to handle.

From the Author:

“I wrote this story trying to imagine a character completely different from myself. Someone who hates travel, but is thrust into it without choice.”

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Excerpt

CHAPTER THREE

In a dark and dusty house in Vancouver, McKay is on his third beer even though it’s only around 7:00 a.m. What does time matter though when you have insomnia from pain and you’re on a disability pension?  To McKay, it doesn’t. Days blur into each other and what the sun and moon do is their own business. What does he care?

The disability pension keeps him alive at least, gives him enough to eat and pay bills, plus buy a few beers, but it doesn’t give him enough to really live. He has a decent amount of cash in the bank, but he’s willed that to a charity for orang-utans and feels guilty dipping into that too much. He’d also bought this house before “The Day,” so he has a good spot to rot while the world forgets about him.

McKay looks at the door. The only thing out there for him is a pity. He wishes he had a speech impediment or a more subtle disability than his disfigurement, but he wasn’t given the option at the time of selecting. Maybe if he’d gotten married before “The Day” he would have someone to keep him company, but the truth is, he doubts she would have stayed, and even if she had… what kind of life would this have been for her?

He was glad that Monica had left when she did. It cleared any guilt he would have had to feel for her if she hadn’t.

McKay places the beer down on the table beside the laptop and continues with the game he is playing. At least this keeps him occupied and preoccupied. A few weeks earlier he’d had to get rid of his television because the infomercials were making him suicidal and there was less and less stopping him from making that life-choice every day. Probably the only thing that he’d put on his list of likes is chatting on­-line with his friends around the globe.

He has a lot of chat rooms he likes to frequent, but his favorite ones are “I Can’t Sleep,” “Vancouver Cougars,” and “The Hunting Ground,” the latter a way to keep up with his old hunting buddies without them having to keep looking at the ground uncomfortably when they see him in person.

McKay finishes his beer and peels off the label, placing it in a pile beside his easy-chair on top of the bar-fridge, which he opens to crack open another beer.  He notices there’s only one case left. He’ll have to do some online shopping later on, but for now, he’s content to play his games and talk to people he’s never met before, imagining what it must be like to live in their lives.

He sighs and leans back, surveying the room that will most likely be his crypt. He wonders how long it will take before they find his corpse when he finally gives up and exits this game, one that he no longer sees as fun. He’s heard of cases where it’s been months before people were found dead in their homes—in some cases their pets had eaten parts of their remains, leaving a nasty surprise for the first person to stumble on the scene. This is the main reason McKay doesn’t want a dog. He doesn’t want to be The guy who was eaten by his dog after he died, but rather The heroic ex-firefighter who had saved many lives but finally took his own.

Actually, he’s kind of looking forward to his death. At least people will remember him for what he was, not for what he has become. Like most people, he’ll have many more friends after he dies than he’s had while living. He just has to choose a date to do it, and pray to God that nothing important happens on the same day, so he stands a chance of making the front page of at least one of the newspapers.

A few years ago he had moved all the furniture into the living room so that the two couches were on each of his sides, boxing him into a cozy nook.  He could put everything within easy reach.

He only showers when he has to go out; too rarely.  There’s enough space between him and the couch on his right for him to run off to the bathroom. He’d recline his chair to nap on the occasions when the meds kicked in and he could get in an hour or two before the pain from his old burns would wake him up.

The doctors tell him most of his pain is psychosomatic, as most of his nerves have ceased functioning, but this piece of academia doesn’t help him much. Even if they are feeding him placebos occasionally, which they could be, he needs that medication if only as something to do when the pain becomes too much.

With difficulty, McKay gets up, his legs asleep, to put some more wood on the fire.  He does this religiously, no matter what the climate. To him, wood chopping is like a hobby. He’s good with an ax.  In the Fire Department, you had to be, and he’d been known as a great firefighter even before “The Day.”  The day that house had collapsed with him inside it.

Stretching, he looks up at the awards he’s gotten over the years and stares at the last one, the one he got after “The Day.” Is it ironic that the award is printed on the flammable material? He doesn’t know. But he’d gladly surrender reams of awards to be able to have a girl look at him again without flinching.

The room suddenly feels like a shrine and he smiles (something he finds difficult in more ways than one), as he realizes that he’s made it into one. The deer heads, photos of hunting trips, awards for work, trophies for previous sporting achievements—these are not for him, but for the people that will find him. His last pat on his own back. Even the scrapbook with all the articles about himself, lying open at its last page on the couch, is waiting for someone to put in the final news clipping about his death.  That way, it’ll be an easy and complete document, to sum up his life for anyone who cares, be they researchers, book writers, or the stranger that will have to give his eulogy.

He doubts that anyone will contact any of his online friends and inform them when he does die, which saddens him a little. The closest people in the world to him are those he’s met in these chat rooms, including Foxy67, Night-Terrors Terry, and Somnambulist Tag. He’d even met a couple of them face to face a few times before. Obviously not Foxy67 though.  He preferred not to shatter her illusion of him. Hell, a five-minute meeting with him and she’d spend the rest of her forties in therapy, and he’s sure she’d rather use them being out there, targeting younger men.

Sitting back down in his chair, McKay opens the little fridge to his left and takes out a large stick of salami and a steak knife and starts cutting off a few bites to eat. His eyes flick for the fifth time today to the rifle that’s lying on the couch to his right. Long, polished and loaded, it sits there reminding him of what he needs to do, like a wife nagging about the bins that need to be taken out.

“Yes, yes, I see you,” he says aloud. “I haven’t forgotten you for a second. Just be patient, it will be soon. I just haven’t said goodbye to my friends yet.”

He sighs again and decides that maybe he should stop putting it off.  Just say goodbye to his friends as they come online. It’s been a slow news week. Now would be a good time.

Chewing on a piece of salami, knife in hand while staring at his rifle, McKay jumps as the green box behind his laptop starts to vibrate.

Terry Mien is in the jungle.  But he is not Terry Mien.  He is eleven years old and has a different name.  His parents died recently and didn’t die well. He is on his hands and knees, digging frantically with his hands. His fingers are bleeding.  He has really picked a bad spot.  This ground is hard and he doesn’t have much time. The tears in his eyes are partly because he’s thinking of his parents, partly because he is thinking of his stomach, and mostly because he’s just plain terrified.

In the background, he hears screams and gunfire, which tells him that everything is normal in his world.

Terry’s breathing is hard and the day is hot, but it always is in this country. Not that he has ever seen another land to compare it to. This is the only life he has known but the horror is fresh daily, like the milk he once used to drink. He remembers all the foods and drinks he had grown up with and this only makes him sadder. Now his life only contains rice, water, and pain.

His hole is nearly deep enough, maybe two inches.  He hears the men coming. They aren’t very subtle, these men (and they aren’t always men), as they come through the foliage, hacking at anything in their way. Their machetes are blunt and stained, well used and threatening.

The boy quickly reaches into his pocket and takes out the item he needs to bury; his reading glasses. Despite the immediate threat to his life, he hesitates for a second, remembering how much his parents had gone through to buy these. Luckily for him they had fit well on his nose and hadn’t pinched, otherwise, he would have the tell-tale grooves on the bridge of his nose. His hands are still sore from rubbing them hard on trees, to make them look like the hands of a boy familiar with hard work.

He drops his glasses into the hole as he catches sight of the first of a large group of people hacking their way towards him and pushes the dirt down hard. He has no time to push some leaves over the dirt, for the first person in the lead spots him and yells to the rest of his group. The rest of the group rush over behind the first, a few, like the leader, holding rifles with bayonets, the rest running up with their machetes raised.

The boy has no way to escape and even less chance of defending himself as they approach, weapons raised, towards the bush he’s hiding behind. Terry is dizzy with terror, but he knows what he must do. He pulls his shorts down and pushes out a pitiful turd on the spot he has just dug.

Pushing aside the bush with his bayonet the leader is disgusted at what he sees and yells to the others to come over and look. They gather around, lowering their weapons and they all break into laughter. They point at his small penis and make fun of him. The boy just sits there with his head down, hoping that his secretion would keep them from looking around the area and discovering his fatal secret.

The man in the lead puts his bayonet under the boy’s chin and forces him to raise his head and look at him. Staring at his face, Mien realizes that this man is just a boy—maybe only a few years older than himself. He is sweating hard and the red rag tied around his head is saturated. His eyes are dead, a sure sign that, like everyone in this country, his mind has seen too much that it shouldn’t have.

“This is a fortunate day for you kid,” the boy-soldier says. “You might even wake up tomorrow. They gave me a chance—they let me live.  All I had to do was kill my parents and now I am a soldier, a leader. Do you have any family?”

“No, they all died of hunger,” the boy replies, his only lie being the way in which his family had died.

By pure coincidence the boy-soldiers stomach starts to rumble, making his face soften a little. “We’re all hungry man, but we’re still alive. Join us and live.”

The soldier reaches into his pocket and pulls out a red scrap of cloth, which he offers to the boy, hand outstretched. Mien stares at the hand with the cloth in it.  His eyes move upwards to the gash in the boy’s arm. It must have happened recently, maybe even this week, and it doesn’t seem to be healing. Most wounds don’t in this weather. He wonders if this boy is going to end up losing his arm, but then realizes the only way that’s going to happen is if there are any doctors left in the area to make an amputation. This, he doubts. This boy has no chance.

Then, something strange happens. The breeze stops.  The soldiers stop moving. Everything just sort of, stops. Terry looks around.  Nothing in the jungle is moving and none of the soldiers even seem to be breathing. A snap of a branch behind the soldiers tells him someone’s approaching and Terry is relieved to see it is his dead mother.

She walks up behind the soldier who still holds out the red rag and she puts her hand on his shoulder while staring at Terry. She stands still for a while, unblinking and a fly lands on her eyeball, which she pays no attention to. The jungle continues to hold its breath.

“He does die and soon, but he dies with his arm still attached,” she says quietly. “He and some of these boys get too brave and go to the border, looking for a fight with the Vietnamese. These boys are untrained and starving and they get cut down without much of a fight. None of us really had much of a chance, but some of us survive, like you. I hope you live to deserve it.”

“I miss you, Mother,” he says, wiping the tears from his eyes.  As he does, he now sees that she has a plastic bag over her head, which has been tied on with some electrical wire around her neck. Her breath takes the air out of the bag, the condensation making her face disappear from view.

“I miss you too, child,” comes the voice from within the bag, and his mother’s tears start to fill the bag, making it hard to tell whether she’ll suffocate, or drown from her own sadness.

Terry can watch no more and he puts his head in his hands, sobbing.

The acoustics around him suddenly change and he hears children laughing. He raises his head and sees a bunch of children running around and playing on the other side of a barbed wire fence. It seems like it’s a schoolyard, and Terry, whose name is once again Terry, isn’t crying anymore. He shouldn’t cry in public anymore.  He’s a forty-year-old man and he should act his age. He’s a lot taller now, nearly five-foot-ten, and the kids seem so small and innocent. He can’t believe happiness has returned to these parts. He’d believed the extremeness of what happened here would burn the earth and scar every generation to come, but it seems like things are moving on, maybe even progressing.

A smile comes to his face as he watches a girl chasing a boy around on the other side of the fence and he turns around to get back to what he was doing. Staring at the six-story-high pile of skulls, he goes back to analyzing each one of them.

The girl beside him is young, with a big smile, and she looks pretty in her flight-attendant outfit.

“Welcome back Mr Mien,” she says with her professional smile. “Is this business or pleasure?”

“I don’t know,” Terry answers.

“You have to answer sir, or we can’t let you in.”

“One of these skulls belongs to my mother.”

“So then, we’ll list your visit under pleasure,” she says, still beaming.

“Really? You sure that you don’t have any other options on your sheet?” Terry says, surprised.  “I mean this is so far from the pleasure that it’s almost business.”

“But you don’t have a business visa.”

“Fine!” he shouts. “Write whatever you like, I don’t care!”

Her smile falters and her words are firm. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to lower your voice.”

“Sorry, this isn’t your fault,” Terry says, trying to calm down.  He takes a step back. As he does, he feels something under his heel snap and he looks down to see a piece of broken bone sticking out of the ground, with clothing still attached.  He looks back up at the skull-tower and curses. Now he’ll have to start again.

“I can help if you like,” the girl says, stepping forward and studying the polished, nameless pieces of the people who used to live here. “Hmm.” Her smile comes back. “If I was your mum’s dead, empty cranium, where would I be? Do you remember what her skull looked like?”

“No,” Terry replies.  “I never saw it.”

“Wait a minute, I think I found it. That one there,” she says, pointing upwards.

“Which one?” Terry covers his eyes with his hand, trying to block the sun.

The girl groans in annoyance and reaches into her pocket. She pulls out a small, red balloon and throws it at the tower. It hits a skull about a couple of meters above her head and the balloon explodes, covering a skull in dripping, thick, dark red liquid.

“That one!” she says, obviously proud of herself.

“Ah,” he says and stares at it, trying to recognize if it seemed familiar.

The skull, dripping red, slowly starts turning to face him, its teeth scraping on the skull below it, making a horrible grinding sound.  Its sockets are empty, but they are staring back at him.

Terry wakes up screaming, wrapped in his sheets. He grabs his chest and his head spins with adrenalin. He tries breathing but feels winded and it takes what feels like a decade for him to slow his heart, take deep breaths, and realize where he is.

His sheets are soaked with sweat, his pillow with tears. He sits on the end of the bed and breathes quietly, fighting to get control of his mind and body.

Turning his head, Terry looks at the alarm clock.  It’s nearly 7:00 a.m.                

At least it isn’t midnight, he thinks. He never gets back to sleep after one of these dreams. If dreams are what you call them. His doctors always referred to them as night-terrors, but unfortunately, besides having a name for it, the doctors didn’t seem very useful.

He’s run out of sleeping drugs again and it’s killing him. Unfortunately, most doctors are reluctant to hand out prescriptions for the drugs he needs unless he has physical pain. Even the dodgy doctors seem to give him a look, before telling him they’ll only help him out once.

He gets up, walks to his lounge-room in his boxer shorts, and crashes onto his leather couch, wishing it wasn’t leather as he sticks to it. This room he’s in is massive. The whole apartment is roughly the size of a large house and the views are incredible. The front windows all stare out at the Persian Gulf, while the back rooms look out over Dubai. He’s been here a while with wealth rolling in.  Real money.  Oil money. Long way from being the poor, useless boy he’d grown up as.

People in this area knew him.  Anyone looking at him, his place, his job and the way he dresses, would think that he is successful. He doesn’t know, though, what that word is supposed to mean. To most people, he’s met successful seems to mean someone who makes a lot of cash. To him, however, the word means succeeding in all areas of life, and this is not the case with him.

Terry looks over to the pictures near the window. His daughter is smiling so happily that it can only be the smile of a child. His wife in the picture next to it is holding their daughter and she, too, has a smile on her face. He wonders how tall his daughter is now. He wonders how his wife’s jaw reconstruction went. He also wonders about which sex his other child is. The one he’s never met.

His nightmares have taken everything away from him. Well, nearly everything. He still has his millions. He still has this apartment too, for the time being, but once his cash runs out, and it will, he’ll have to sell this place and leave this country. He doubts that he’ll be able to find many more architectural jobs in this country after this contract ends. All that’s left to do will be the editing and printing out of the As-Builts, which his partner will probably end up doing, and then he’ll be on his own. Construction is slowing down.

He isn’t old enough to retire.

He doesn’t like sea travel, always sick on the yachts of his workmates.

He has no idea what the rest of his life might offer, but he’s sure it isn’t anything to look forward to.

Terry opens up his laptop to see whether McKay is online. He usually is. Terry types out a greeting and tells his friend that he hopes he is in good spirits. He also tells him the parts he can remember from his dream and how much he misses his family. He signs off after letting him know that he is okay, and that a walk on the beach will probably cheer him up. He closes the laptop and leans back. Time to get the day started.

After changing his sheets, showering and having some breakfast, Terry goes for a walk on the beach, as promised, and along the way waves back to all the rich people who recognize him. Young people run into the water as the day starts to heat up and he’s glad that there are those out there still enjoying their lives, if only for the present time.

He has lunch at one of his favorite spots and afterward goes into a cinema to catch any film that happens to be playing. He then wanders through some of the upper-class shopping-centers, content with the fact that he can afford anything here they have—happy that he wants none of it. By the time he gets home, it’s late afternoon and he sits down to a pizza and a glass of a Chilean Syrah.

The house is silent.  He leaves the lights off.  The only light in the room is coming through the curtains. He’s thinking of his future, halfway through a slice of Mexicana, when the green box under the television breaks the peace and starts to vibrate. He walks over to it and picks it up, surprised that it’s doing what it’s doing. It’s been a long time since he was needed by someone. He pushes the red button to stop the vibrating and then walks over to his laptop, pulls out the USB cable from the green box and plugs it in. So which one of the guys needs his help?

The fact that its Tagden doesn’t really surprise him, but what the hell is he doing in China again? Didn’t he say he hates it there?

Despite his confusion, Terry is thankful for the distraction. He goes into his room and gets out his suitcase.

Tina is bored. She wonders if people in the nearby cubicles know she is bored. She groans out loud. Now they know that Tina is bored.

“What’s wrong Tiny?” the annoying redhead Steven in the cubicle behind her asks.

“Worry about yourself Steven, that groan was open for comment to everyone but you.”

Steven opens his mouth, smiling.

“And if you say anything about making me groan, I’ll have you up on harassment charges!” Tina fires at him before he can speak.

Steven’s mouth closes and his head disappears back down into his cubicle.

Just as his head disappears, two more appear on the other sides of her cubicle like a game of Whack the Bunny.

“What’s wrong Tina,” her friend Jana says, pityingly, “The Man got you down?”

“Need a hug?” her effeminate friend Jamal offers.

“Just wanted everyone to know that I’m bored. It’s quicker and more efficient to let you guys know by groaning, rather than electronically. I probably saved some trees and all.”

“We’re all bored babe, we just have to keep ourselves busy, that way the day goes quicker,” Jamal says.

“Why does the homosexual get to call you babe, but when I do—”

“Shut up Steven!” everyone says in unison, even people who weren’t involved in the original conversation.

Steven’s head disappears again.

“So what do you have planned for the weekend, girl?” Jana asks.

“Hmmm… well… Friday night I’ve got a date with a guy I’ve been wanting to go out with for a really long time.”

“Really? Go on, tell us a little more. What’s he like, then?” asks Jana, as both her and Jamal lean further over her walls.

“Well, I met him online ages ago and he called me the other day and wants to meet up. He’s Australian. He’s actually flying here just to meet me. He travels a lot.”

“Got a photo you can show us?”

Tina opens up a folder on her computer and double clicks on an icon. A picture of a handsome guy with a cheeky smile comes up. He looks like he is embarrassed to be in the picture, but the fact that he’d sent it obviously meant that he liked the way it turned out.

“Dreamy,” says one of her friends, but Tina can’t work out which one.

“He’s really funny, smart and has got stacks of interesting travel stories. He posts me some of the weirdest gifts too, I swear. I don’t know how some of them even make it here. Gifts from all the countries he goes to. He’s very sweet.”

“Awww,” her friends say in unison.

“What does he do for work?” Jana asks.

“Well… I guess you could say he’s an entrepreneur. He’s always traveling and he’s always got cash, so I guess he’s good at what he does.”

“Maybe I should get my gear from him,” Jamal jokes.

“He’s not a bloody drug dealer, you knob,” Tina snaps, biting on his bait.

Jamal and Jana both crack up laughing, which makes Tina go red in the face.

“Aw c’mon, we’re just joking,” says Jana, trying to pacify her, and after a second she lightens up a little and smiles.

 Her friends’ eyes quickly dart around the office, looking for any sign of management.

“Anyway, I thought I asked you what you’re doing on the weekend, not just Friday,” Jana added.

“Well………..if Friday night goes well, I’ll probably have plans for the whole weekend,” Tina whispers.

“You slut!” Jamal whispers, and they all burst out laughing, trying unsuccessfully to keep it down.

“What? This guy might end up being a keeper. He’s got a very sexy, deep voice as well.  I think this is the guy I’ve been waiting for. Someone to take me out of this cubicle and see the world. Paris, Tokyo, New York. Anywhere that isn’t here. I know it’s a bit early to say this, but I think I’m in love.”

Steven’s head pops up, but when he sees the look the trio is firing at him his head slowly sinks down again.

“I can’t wait to see him. I hope he calls me sometime soon. Friday is ages away.”

The three friends go quiet for a second, each in their own world. Violently loud, something behind Tina’s monitor begins to vibrate. They all jump. Tina peeks behind her screen and pulls out a green box which is reverberating like a screaming, new-born square alien.

“What the hell is that?” Jana asks, frowning.

“I forgot that I even had this!” Tina answers, staring at it, trying to remember how she’d gotten it and what it was for. Then it dawns on her. She remembers who had given it to her. She remembers the significance of it going off like this. She remembers what she was supposed to do.

“I remember now,” she says, her face no longer excited. “Some loser I used to go out with gave me this. He wants me to drop everything and go help him ‘cause he’s in trouble.”

Tina’s hand extends and she lets the green cube drop into the small metal bin next to her. “As if, Tagden,” she whispers, angrily.

Her metal bin vibrates violently, causing everyone in the area to stop what they’re doing and stare. She sits with her arms crossed, glaring at her monitor. Finally, she can’t take it anymore and she searches quickly through her bin, trying to remember if Tag had ever mentioned anything about how to turn the stupid thing off.

About the Author

 photo The Misadventures of a Reluctant Traveller Author Dean MacAllister_zpsu17lzjjh.jpg

Dean MacAllister runs a writer’s group in Melbourne, Australia. He writes novels and short fiction about the strange and unusual.

He loves to travel, scuba-diving, whiskey and once ate a tarantula. For more of his work visit Deanmacallister.com

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