Write Stuff Author Spotlight — Until Ray by Cheryl Robinson & EXCERPT

Write Now Literary is pleased to announce Until Ray Virtual Book Tour, with author Cheryl Robinson. June 19- July 14, 2017. 

Releasing “free” June 27 at select ebook retailers. 


Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary

About The Author

Cheryl currently resides in the Sunshine State with plans to return to her hometown Detroit shortly. For the past fifteen years, she has been busy writing contemporary women’s fiction. While writing is her first love, making delicious green smoothies is easily her second. She also enjoys spoiling her miniature Schnauzer and whipping up healthy meals from recipes she finds online.

About The Book

Two people in the same city but worlds apart.

Until Ray is an unconventional love story of how two young people transitioning into adulthood find each other and develop a bond that will be tested through three decades.

RAY IS LOST …
He lives in northwest Detroit with his mother. When he’s not at home, he’s either at the mall selling women’s shoes or in the club. In both places, he’s focused on one thing—picking up women. Only now he’s ready to make a change but isn’t sure how to do it.

THEN SARITA ARRIVES …
At twenty-four, she has an MBA, is a CPA, and works in upper-level management at GM. But all that success comes at a cost: she’s lonely and craves the one thing she’s never had—attention from men.
Dive into a love story filled with soul-searching drama told from two very different perspectives. Until Ray, the first book of a trilogy, is set in the mid-eighties in Detroit, where the author was born and raised.



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Blog Contest # 2

Link to blog contest Meet the Characters Giveaway 
Tour hosted by Write Now Literary Book Tours www.wnlbooktours.com

June 1986

 

RAY

 “If it isn’t Raymond Saint. What’s up, man?” I hear a familiar voice coming from behind me as I pose in front of a floor-length mirror in the women’s shoe department at Hudson’s admiring the suit I just got out of the layaway at Man-oh-Man. I have two more to get out next payday.

Joseph Morris steps into my view, and I turn to face him. “Joe, man, what’s up? I haven’t seen you since we graduated.” We share a brotherly handshake. “How’ve you been?”

“Couldn’t be better, honestly. Life is real good. I’ve been in town for about a week, visiting family. I’m actually flying back tomorrow. I was just picking up a few things before I go.”

“You moved out of state?”

“Yeah, after I graduated from U of M. I’m starting my second year of law school at Stanford.”

I’m pretty sure Joe’s father is an attorney or a doctor, one of the two.

“Man, good to hear that.” Joe was part of the crowd I hung with at Cass Tech. I’ve been out of high school since 1980. Six years now. Damn, that’s a long time to still be doing nothing.

“I see you’re still staying sharp.” Joe brushes my lapel.

“Trying to.”

“So, man, what are you doing these days?”

“You know, the usual. Right now I’m just waiting for my girl.”

He nods. “Where did you end up going to school? It’s hard to keep up with everybody. Cass is so big, and we knew everybody, didn’t we?”

I place one finger up to signal for Joe to wait, and then I unclip my pager. “This is my girl paging me right now actually. I need to find her.” I’ve got to get rid of him before he finds out the truth and every Cass Tech alumni knows that the guy voted most likely to succeed is now selling shoes. Why am I in denial? I’m sure most of them already know.

“Really, that’s cool. I was on my way out. I got what I came for.” Joe raises a Hudson’s shopping bag.

“Ray,” I hear the forceful voice of a female. I turn to see Cynthia Meyers. This has the potential to get real ugly, real fast.

“What are you doing here?” My eyes lock on Cynthia, and Joe disappears— even though he’s still standing here.

“It’s a mall, not your house. I don’t need an invite.”

“You need one if you’re coming to talk to me. What do you want?”

“Why did you stop calling me and stop taking my calls?”

“Well, man, ah, it was good seeing you,” Joe says. “I’ll let you handle your little situation.”

“Little situation?” Cynthia eyeballs Joe. “I’m a lot more than that.”

Joe nods at me and quickly leaves.

“Well, why haven’t you called me?” Cynthia asks again.

“I’ve been busy.” I work my way between two of the tall clearance racks, seeking some privacy. Luckily, my manager won’t be in today. But there are three female customers browsing.

“Busy doing what? Selling shoes?” Cynthia flips one of the size-seven pumps off the rack. “Hudson’s doesn’t stay open twenty-four hours, seven days a week.”

“Please tell me why you’re here.”

“Why I’m here?” Cynthia snaps. “Because I want you to tell me why you stopped calling me.”

“Do we have to talk about this here? I’m working.”

“You won’t talk to me any other time, so yeah—we do have to talk about it here. Unless you’re ready for me to act a complete fool at your job. If I’d known you were going to act this way after we had sex, I never would’ve slept with you.”

I shake my head as I stare at her. S.omeone so pretty acting so ugly“I don’t believe that, ” I say.

“I don’t know why not!” she shouts.

“Please lower your voice,” I whisper and watch two customers walk out of the department, leaving only one woman trying on shoes. “Because you had sex with me and didn’t even know me. That’s why.”

“So?” Cynthia has a hand on her hips.

“So? All you had was my first name and telephone number scribbled on the back of an Olga’s receipt.”

SARITA

 The walls in my bedroom are still pink even though I’ve outgrown the color. They were beige when my parents first moved here in 1962. Back then, Palmer Woods only had a few black families. It’s comprised of 295 colonial and Tudor revival homes in a now-historic district. The year they moved to Palmer Woods was the same year  I was born. As a kid, I always wanted this room. After all, it has a a sun balcony, chandelier, two walk-in closets, a built-in vanity, and a private bathroom with separate bathtub and shower. But being younger, I had to settle for the smaller yellow bedroom on the opposite end of this floor until Sunniva left for Harvard in 1976, which was also my freshman year at Our Lady of Mercy High School. But now it’s no longer about this room. I’ve been back from DC for two years, and it’s time for me to reclaim my independence. I felt like more of an adult in college. I lived in an off-campus apartment with my best friend, Sharon, for all but my freshman year when I lived in the dorm, which is where I met Sharon. She was assigned as my roommate. Sharon was married back then and still is today. She got married the summer before we started at Georgetown. She’s a grown woman and living as one, while I’m in a pink room. It’s time for me to move.

Dr. Emerson is here. It’s just after ten in the morning, but he’s come to my parents’ home to pick me up for a date—my first one. Not just with him, but my first one, period. I suppose I shouldn’t be nervous since I’ve known Dr. Emerson my entire life. I also know how most doctors are—I’ll call him Dr. Emerson unless he tells me otherwise.

I hear him downstairs talking with my parents about the membership-only Detroit Golf Club that’s across Seven Mile Road, minutes from our home. They’ve finally integrated, but my daddy isn’t interested in joining. He’ll stick to golfing his way through the various courses in southeastern Michigan. I’m not surprised Dr. Emerson golfs. He probably skies too. It matches his upbringing.

I’m not ready, which is why I’m still sitting on my canopy bed with the sheer white curtains drawn meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:2–6, which are my favorite verses to reflect on. I’m so ready for love, but not any old something—true love. I scan the highlighted verses:

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 

When I finish meditating, I set my Bible on my nightstand and rest my rosary on top of it.

My gray Norma Kamali cotton shirt dress—a different one than the one I wore when the landscaper was over yesterday—is laid across the upholstered bench at the foot of the bed. The heels of my sling-back pumps kiss on the hardwood floor in front of the entrance to my bathroom.

Would it be rude if I never made my way downstairs? My mother wouldn’t allow that. This is her dream for me. I climb through the curtains, slip on my dress, and then step inside the closet and stare at my three favorite Coach purses: the Dinky, the Slim Satchel, and the Stewardess. I can’t decide which one to take. I love each for different reasons. And I can’t narrow it down by color because all three are black. Coach doesn’t have a bunch of colors to choose from to begin with, and if I’m spending that much on a purse, I want to make sure I use it often. I’m not like my mother. Coach isn’t high-end enough for her. She prefers Gucci and Louis Vuitton. But I’ll take black, glove-tanned cowhide leather over some initials on canvas any day. Besides, black goes with everything.

“Sarita, Dr. Emerson is waiting for you downstairs,” my mother says as she enters my room.

“I know, Mother.” My hand inches in the direction of my Dinky, which is inside its own little white square of the built-in purse display.

“Well, if you know, what’s taking you so long? Not that we don’t enjoy talking to him because, of course, we do. He’s such an intelligent young man, and his parents are dear friends of ours, as you know. He likes you, Sarita, and he’s not the play type. He’s serious. He’s looking for a wife.”

“I understand, Mother.”

“What do you understand? Do you understand I’d like for you to smile at Dr. Emerson, show those great teeth, stay engaged in his conversation? He’s a very rational man.”

“Mother, I’m not stupid. I went to college. I have two degrees.” I start transferring the contents of my Stewardess into the Dinky. It can’t fit nearly as much, but all I really need are some bobby pins and a small comb in case my updo comes undone; my Fashion Fair Lip Moisturizer, my slim wallet, and my keys.

“I never implied you were stupid, Sarita. I know you’re very intelligent. I just understand how you are, and I know that you feel that once you leave work, it’s over, but everyone doesn’t feel that way. Dr. Emerson is passionate about his work, so please act as if you’re interested. Do you remember everything that I taught you about dealing with men of his stature?”

I nod. “Yes, Mother.” I’ve been around men of his stature my entire life. My daddy is a man of his stature.

“Good, because if you do exactly what I’ve taught you over the years, you will be married to Dr. Emerson by next spring.”

I sigh but not loud enough for my mother to hear. Married by next spring? What is my mother talking about? She told me that Mrs. Emerson asked if I was in a relationship and asked if it were okay if her son called me. How did we get from that to marriage? Because he’s a doctor and my mother is desperate for me to land one? But at least I’m no longer nervous. I’m ready for this date to start. Anything to get me away from my mother.

“Remember, this is not a date. This is an introduction over brunch, that’s it, so don’t make more out of it than it is.”

“I know, Mother.”

“You look beautiful, Sarita.”

“Thank you, Mother.”

“You look like the type of woman a man marries. Enjoy yourself. I know that you will.” She smiles proudly, as if her dream for me will soon be realized.

*SNEAK PEEK* at Parker J. Cole’s Newest Book Vengeful Vows — EXCERPT

keep-calm-the-countdown-has-begunIt won’t be long now until Vengeful Vows releases. The third in my Sins of the Flesh series, I find that I am just as nervous as I was with my first book. After all, these books are my children I’ve birth from infancy to bookhood. From thoughts in my head to words on a paper, they’ve grown. Check out the trailer here.

But not only have they grown, I’ve grown as well. I think with each book, as you look at constructive criticism and start to learn more and more about the craft, your writing changes. I remember something the Queen of Mystery, Mary Higgins Clark, said in an interview once. She mentioned that a writer’s life changes over time because of life experiences and that is infused with your writing.

vv may 2016

Vengeful Vows is a book I recognize that helped me to grow. During the time period of writing this book, I was deliberately disobedient to God in several areas of my life. My personal life had gotten into a mess, I’d had a serious car accident, lost several close relationships, and had doubts of faith. For the first time in my life, writing was more than just storytelling — it was the gift God gave me to keep my sanity. I NEEDED to write in order to mentally survive.  I escaped to this book, pouring out all my negativity, my pain, my anger, and frustration.

Right now, the book is still with the editors at the publisher’s house.  If you want to catch up, make sure you check out Many Strange Women and The Other Man.

Enjoy this sneak peek of Vengeful Vows


BLACKMAILED GROOM

            Daffodil’s eyes roamed over the colonial-style house. The afternoon sun cascaded its light upon it as if presenting a gift. The roof shed the cloying layers of melted snow. The slush dribbled down the gutters, swallowed by softened earth. Melting icicles lined the overhang like an upside-down tiara, dripping water on the wet pathway that led to the door.  The winter thaw unwrapped the home slowly. It teased her with glimpses of an almond-brown finish trimmed by swathes of creamy white.

She alighted from the car and gingerly stepped onto the spongy ground. The dirt swallowed the heels of her boots. Last spring’s grasses lay matted like the nap of cheap carpet. With a determined lift of her chin, she tugged her boots from the squishy grip of the earth and made her way across the lawn and onto the pavement.

Once there, Daffodil inhaled the cleansing, chilly air of the first blush of spring. Her lips curled upward and she rubbed her gloved hands together in anticipation. She patted her left pocket, reassured by the bulk there. With her shoulders thrust back, she marched up to the door.

The doorbell chimed, and she clasped her hands to wait. In varying degrees, the houses shed their winter coats. They reminded her of partially wrapped gifts. The quiet neighborhood echoed the distinct sing-song sound of melting snow and water. It didn’t matter how cold it had been the past several months. Gentle spring uncurled winter’s harsh grasp with lady-like dexterity. She intended to do the same with the owner of the house.

The wind picked up and flowed around her. It lifted goose bumps along her arms. How receptive would he be of her? Her brow creased as the concern made itself visible, but then she dismissed it with a flick at a loose dark blond curl on her forehead.   No matter. The owner would do whatever she told him to do, and gladly.

A subtle movement along the corner of her eye drew her attention to the overhang. The wind brushed the threads of an intricately woven spider web. Delicate strands glistened under the waning light of the afternoon sun. A dark, grayish spider tiptoed along its silk trellis.

“We’re alike, you and I,” Daffodil whispered to the little one. “We both have webs to weave.”

The door creaked open and she returned her attention back to the matter at hand. A dark face showed itself through the thin slot.

A deep voice asked, “May I help you?”

More than you know.  “Hi. Vincent Miller?”

The eye twitched and then narrowed. “Oh, don’t tell me you’re a reporter ‘cause you can—”

“I assure you I’m not a reporter. I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes.”

A long drawn-out sigh. “What can I do for you?”

“I’d rather discuss this inside. Out of the cold.” She made a point to shiver.

“Oh yeah, sorry.”

The door swung open and introduced her to Vincent Miller in the flesh.

Before her stood a towering frame of a man with coal-black skin.  He had an aura of power about him.  He was dressed casually in a forest green buttoned shirt with the sleeves rolled up, long arms roped with prominent veins and compact muscles stretching the smooth skin. Blunt, tapered fingers rested against the white surface of the door in stark contrast. Stonewashed blue jeans hugged his lower body, and accentuated the hard, sinewy thighs.

“Would you stop staring and get on with whatever you have to say?”
Daffodil beamed, far from embarrassed. She appreciated his directness. A sure sign she’d chosen well.

Now we spin the web.

“May I come in? I assure you I won’t keep you long.”

Dark brown eyes studied her face. Daffodil stood still under his scrutiny, unabashed by the wariness. She could tell he was a man who made decisions based on his instincts, not in a rash way.

“Fine.” He stepped back and let her enter the house.

So this is where it all happened.

When Daffodil imagined Leah Westwood, Vincent’s ex-lover, locked in his arms, she expected to see statues of nude women on abstract inspired tables and posters of sexy celebrities on the wall. The austerity made a mockery of her expectations. Neat and well organized, nothing took up space that didn’t have a function. The walls were bare of art and the room absent of mindless knickknacks that usually loitered atop various surfaces.

Daffodil fought to keep the smile from showing on her face. She could not have selected better if she had sent out a casting call.

This was going to work.

She pointed to an armchair hugging the far corner. “May I?”

Her host gave a curt nod.  She wiggled her bottom into the plush seat and glanced around the room again. Possessively, she rubbed her hands along the fabric that sheathed the arm of the chair. Soon this house would be hers.

Vincent sat on the couch and folded his arms.  “And you are?”

“Daffodil Simmons. I am the half-sister of Leah Westwood.”

Vincent jerked at the mention of her sister’s name, eyes startled from their focused inspection. Those beautifully-shaped hands fumbled with the edge of his shirt and then smoothed the fabric of his jeans with restless fingers. So it was like that, was it? The mention of Leah’s name disturbed his mental equilibrium. Such a response denoted emotional entanglement to an extreme degree. An Achilles’ heel she would love to exploit.

After a long sigh, he regained his composure. The steady regard of those flashing dark eyes and rigid posture showed he was on the defensive.

“Why are you here?” he snapped.

Daffodil leaned forward hands clasped together, jittery in her excitement. She could hardly keep still. Ooo wee!

“I guess I should start off by saying I’d like to ask for your hand in marriage.”

Vincent’s head jolted as if some invisible hand had yanked it back to reveal the whites of his eyes. With avid interest, she noted his discomfiture. He blinked a few times, shook his head, and then slapped his hands on his thighs.

“Okay.” Vincent stood. “You can go now.”

Daffodil gave into the urge to giggle. “Oh no, Mr. Miller. You’re going to say ‘yes’ to my proposal. You just don’t know it yet.”

Vincent headed to the door. “I don’t have time for this kind of bull. Get out.”

He ripped open the front door and a stream of warm afternoon sunlight cascaded over him. Fingers of light rippled over his masculine features. The pictures online and in the newspapers didn’t do the man justice. Daffodil recognized good genes when she saw them. Vincent Miller was crafted with making the most of his heritage. The strong cheekbones seemed to be a testament to a Native American ancestry. Full sensuous lips gave tribute to a line of African royalty. A high forehead lined with short-cropped hair and long silky eyebrows made him look almost too dramatic. Beneath the virile good looks, a latent quality of restrained dominance emanated from him, so potent a dead woman would be affected by it.

Daffodil was immune to the man’s charisma. She noted the existence of it, but was more fascinated in how she would wield this element of his personality. A susceptible woman under the age of eighty didn’t stand a chance if he really cranked up the heat. Had it been like that for Leah? Overpowered by the sex appeal oozing from the man in waves so tangible the air pulsed with it? Did men truly have that kind of ability or was it just the weakness of the feminine psyche?

Well, she was hardly a feeble female.

“There’s some of the bad boy in you, isn’t there?” Daffodil queried in a nonchalant manner.

“Are you hard of hearing? I said get out.” He pointed his finger.

Daffodil laughed again, throwing her head back in abandonment. Oooo weee! She loved this. Being in control.  He would do exactly as she told him to do. Having the upper hand helped.

“Close the door, Mr. Miller, and sit down.”

Vincent slammed the door.   He walked toward her, eyes flinty and lips flattened into a line. Each step bristled with hostility.

Daffodil swallowed. Oh no, he was going to touch her. She didn’t want to have him touch her.

“Okay, okay.” She stood, her arms outstretched in a placating manner, moving away before he could grab her. “I’m getting up, but don’t touch me, okay?”

“If you get out, I won’t have to.”

“You need to listen to what I’m about to tell you. After that, if you still refuse my offer of marriage, I’ll leave.”

Vincent barked out a laugh. “You can say whatever you want. I’m not marrying you.”

“You will,” she affirmed with a nod. “You will.”

 

Write Stuff Author Spotlight — Liberation Song by Raelee May Carpenter — EXCERPT

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When we first meet Aili MacIntyre, she’s doing what she’s been doing all her life: running in fear. She flees through a foreign jungle with two young girls and tries to save them from the forced prostitution ring that has been holding them in a virtual hell-on-earth. But tragedy meets them under the trees, and only one child escapes.

Three years later, Alexandra Adelaide has acquired a new identity in a radically different scene: the metropolitan jungle of Greater Los Angeles. She, though saved by Grace, has invented what she believes is the appropriate way to suffer for her own sins. Alex is raising the child who was orphaned by her insecurities. And she never, for a second, lets herself forget the pain caused by her mistakes.

Then the real tragedy strikes . . .

. . . she falls in love.

Matthew Gold is everything she needs and a lot more than she could’ve imagined. Bright, attractive, generous, and with his own vested interest in Grace, Matt works hard to earn Alex’s trust and a place in her life. He even loves and seeks to protect her daughter, who is the key to breaking open the biggest human trafficking case in recent history.

But Alex has lived in fear since she took her first breath. So how does she let Love start a new day? How does she choose courage even as very real dangers draw closer to her barred doors?

EXCERPT

Prologue

They tripped their way through the jungle as fast as they could. Aili ran half backwards, trying to shield the bundle in her arms from the branches and underbrush. It was the middle of the night, but the stagnant air suffocated them in an ever-thickening coat of sweat so oppressive Aili would rather have fled for their lives through a blinding downpour of rain. Katya staggered, and Aili’s ears pounded with panic and guilt. Why hadn’t she shielded this teenage girl? Why hadn’t she protected her in the first place? This was all Aili’s fault; she’d been the one to blow the plan.

Katya had taken a hit somewhere in the abdomen. That was all Aili knew; it was dark. She wanted to try to do something for this poor child, but she wasn’t sure they could afford to stop. The men who hunted them could be right behind them, and it would be much safer if they kept moving. That couldn’t be helped. The only helpful thing Aili could do was reach out a single hand to steady Katya when she started to fall. So they pressed on.

Then, suddenly, it didn’t matter whether or not they could afford to stop because Katya collapsed facedown in the rotten underbrush. Aili choked back a shout and carefully laid her still burden underneath a tree near the injured fifteen-year-old.

What could Aili do? She glanced from the young girl to the little, ragwrapped parcel. She couldn’t carry them both. She knelt down at Katya’s shoulder.

“Katya,” she whispered to the girl, “it’s not much farther. Really. You can make it.”

Katya didn’t even lift her head. “Go, Alice,” she said in her heavily

accented English. She still didn’t know Aili’s real name. “You must.”

Aili shook her head as two tears she couldn’t hold back mingled with

the sweat on her face. “I won’t leave you, Katya. We need you, remember?”

“Anya will be enough.”

“No, no, no,” Aili muttered. “I’ll help you, and we’ll move on together.”

Aili turned Katya onto her back. Even though the poor girl hadn’t the energy left to scream, Aili could tell by her grimace that her pain was torturous. Aili fished her penlight from one of the pockets of her designer khaki safari shorts and risked flipping the switch, hoping the brightness wouldn’t hand them to their pursuers.

Under the small beam, she could see that the belly of Katya’s shirt and the front of her shorts were soaked with blood. Aili lifted the shirt and fought the urge to scream out an overwhelming mix of guilt, anger, and sorrow.

That is a bad case of lead poisoning.

Aili knew a critical gunshot wound when she saw one. If she hadn’t believed in miracles before, she believed now. Because it was a miracle Katya had made it this far. It was a miracle she was still alive at all.

“Oh, sweetie,” Aili murmured. “Oh, poor baby.” She glanced at the bundle and thought she saw it stir, which alarmed her even more. They couldn’t have the noise giving away their location; they didn’t have much time. When she looked back at Katya, there was a small smile on the young girl’s face. She was at peace. She was dying. “I thank you, Alice.”

Aili leaned her face down to the young girl’s ear. “Katya, no,” she whispered. “Stay with me.”

Katya shook her head slightly. The smile didn’t leave her face. “Take what you need from me. I am safe now. Take care of Anya.” Her voice rode like a feather on her last breath.

“I will,” Aili promised. “I swear to you I will keep her safe, no matter what.”

The young girl was already gone.

Aili wanted to scream again but knew she couldn’t, so she put her own right hand in her mouth and bit down as hard as she could. Then she took a breath. She closed Katya’s lovely blue eyes, covered the gaping wound as best she could with the bloody shirt, and smoothed the thick, tangled, auburn curls.

She took Koli’s prized hunting knife out of her back pocket. He had thrown the knife to her just before she ran (and minutes before he died). She gritted her teeth, looked away, and used it to cut off Katya’s right thumb. She wrapped the severed digit in the designer scarf that kept back her hair.

When she finally stood, her knees were jello. She wasn’t used to losing her objectivity like this. This whole thing, this one girl, had affected her more than anything else she’d ever seen. Maybe she wasn’t even cut out for the field. Part of her wanted to sit and wait for certain death. Before he sent her and the girls out with Koli, Ivanovich had taken the expensive watch Aili had been wearing. She had only the vaguest idea how much time had passed while they stumbled through the jungle; she might have missed her last extraction point already. It was close even before he stole her watch.

She shook her head to clear it. She had to move. She had to keep her promise to Katya. Or at least try. She picked up her burden again and took off once more through the jungle.

It seemed to take forever to get to the man-made clearing, but when she broke through the trees, she heard Benedict Beck’s voice holler into the silence, “Start ’er up.”

“MacIntire! Here!” he shouted then. His footsteps rushed toward her in the dark but were almost immediately drowned out by the whoosh and chop of the heavy rotor blades. Aili was so tired.  Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Suddenly blind and deaf, she had nothing left.

With one arm, Beck took the bundle she carried, and wrapped the other around her shoulders as they ran toward the chopper.

A man with body armor, infrared goggles, and an assault rifle gave her a hand into the vehicle, and Benedict clambered in after her. She collapsed into a seat and fumbled with the buckle while the man with the rifle started to take shots at the edge of the clearing. Muzzle flash sparked from the jungle’s edge too, but Aili could hear almost nothing over the sound of the chopper and her own heart’s pulse pounding in her ears.

Strange hands shoved clunky military headphones down on her ears while Beck bounced her parcel a few times then shoved it, without ceremony or preamble, back into her arms. She traded it for her scarf with Katya’s severed thumb and told him through the headset that he needed to get it on ice ASAP.

Ivanovich had drugged Anya, hoping that would make it easier for Koli to execute her. Still Koli hadn’t been able to follow Ivanovich’s heartless orders and had paid for that “weakness” with his life. The drugs, with the gift of Anya’s silence they offered, probably kept Aili and the girls safe on their frenzied flight through the jungle, and just as it was over, they wore off.

Aili couldn’t hear the baby’s screams but her lovely face was twisted in terror and rage, and her perfect pink mouth was open wide, showing off her five tiny teeth.

As the helicopter demonstrated its vertical takeoff abilities for Ivanovich’s men on the ground, Aili held Anya close and covered her head, but still the toddler cried. There wasn’t much Aili could do about that; it couldn’t be helped. Eventually, Anya would wear herself out and sleep

again. Then, later, she would wake, and when her mother didn’t come, it would probably start all over. Aili couldn’t do anything about that either. It couldn’t be helped. Katya was as dead as Koli, who had tried to spare her life.

Heck, Alice Carroll had died, as well, the second the chopper had lifted out of the Shangku jungle. And soon Aili MacIntire and baby Anya would be “dead” too, one way or the other.

So Aili did the only logical thing she could do: took one breath and, along with the baby, she wept.

Write Stuff Author Spotlight — Blood for Blood by Ben Wolf –EXCERPT — TODAY FOR 99 CENTS

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What if a vampire got saved?

Calandra, an evangelist’s daughter, is amazed to watch as Raven, a century-old vampire, develops faith. As Raven ceases to drink blood and becomes more human with each passing day, Calandra cannot deny her growing attraction to him even though she is being courted by another man.

Raven’s newfound salvation is both a relief and a burden, as he encounters multiple vampire taboos and must overcome them. Just when Raven begins to get the hang of his new lifestyle, Calandra is attacked by bandits.

Will Raven revert to his old vampiric ways to save Calandra from certain death? Or will he rely on his faith in God to help him ransom Calandra from a new brand of evil more horrifying than he ever was as a vampire?

EXCERPT

June of 1850

“I don’t care what you think you saw, Duke. I’m doin’ this, and you’re not gonna stop me.” Uncle Murray unsheathed his military-issue officer’s saber and raised it over his balding head.

“Move and I’ll shoot you dead.” Duke pulled the hammer back on his revolver and pointed it at his uncle’s chest. Tears streamed down his face.

Uncle Murray froze, then glared at Duke. “As dead as she was just last night? Earlier today?”

“We obviously made a mistake.” Duke’s voice quavered, but he couldn’t help it.

He glanced down at Eleanor, still alive, now at his feet next to their overturned dinner table. Her white burial dress was covered in blood. Her blood.

A wooden leg from that very table, broken in half, protruded from her chest, and her long blonde hair, now stained red, lay in a mass by her face. “She was fine before you stormed in here and stabbed her!”

Eleanor moaned.

“See? She’s still alive. We can save her if we get her to a doctor before—”

No, Duke. You can’t save her. That’s what I’m tryin’ to explain to you.” Uncle Murray lowered his saber, but didn’t sheathe it. “She’s not human anymore, son. She’s somethin’ else. Somethin’ dark. Evil.”

Duke tightened his grip on the revolver. “She’s my wife!

“Not anymore, she ain’t,” Uncle Murray yelled back. “She tried to kill me not two minutes before you walked in. Don’t you see my left arm, boy? She mangled it with her bare hands.”

Duke gawked at his uncle’s arm. In the heat of the moment he hadn’t noticed how it bent in several places where it shouldn’t have, and red splotches tainted his otherwise cream-colored shirt all up and down his left sleeve.

“How else do you think this happened?” Uncle Murray pointed the saber’s tip down at Eleanor. “She did this to me, and she would’ve done far worse had I not put that table leg through her chest. I’ve seen this before, once, in Romania. You have to stake them with wood and cut off their heads or they won’t die.”

“She barely weighs a hundred pounds. You expect me to believe she did that to you?” Sweat snaked down Duke’s forehead and onto his nose and cheeks.

“She’s not human, anymore, Duke. How many times do I have to say it?”

“Put the sword down.” The revolver trembled in Duke’s hand. “Now.”

“Not a chance.” Uncle Murray raised it over his head again.

“Uncle Murray!” Duke yelled. “Put it down!”

“I’m sorry, son. You’ll understand someday.” Uncle Murray lunged toward Eleanor.

Duke pulled the trigger. The revolver flashed.

A geyser of red erupted from Uncle Murray’s bulging gut and he staggered back, wide-eyed. “Duke, don’t—”

Duke fired again.

Uncle Murray dropped the sword, clutched his chest, and gasped.

Duke shot him two more times, once more in the leg, and once in his neck. His shakiness had thrown off his aim, but it was enough to finish the job. Uncle Murray hit the floor next to Eleanor with a thud, and a pool of blood collected under his body.

Duke didn’t lower his gun until Uncle Murray stopped moving altogether. Eleanor wasn’t moving either. She lay on her side facing Uncle Murray’s body, motionless.

The gun dropped from Duke’s grip, and he dove down next to Eleanor and grabbed her shoulders—she was still breathing, but on her side, facing away from him. “Elly?”

A gurgle caught his attention, followed by a faint sucking, slurping noise. Tears rolled down Duke’s cheeks.

Eleanor’s eyes cracked open. Her skin was frigid, as if she’d been standing out in the cold for an hour, despite the heat wave they’d had all June.

“Eleanor? Eleanor?

She moaned at first, then said in a weak voice, “Pull it out.”

“Pull—what? That table leg?”

She nodded.

Duke reached for the table leg and got ahold of it, but stopped. “It’ll…it’ll kill you. We need to get you to a doctor.”

“Please.”

Duke marshaled all his fortitude and yanked the table leg from her chest.

Eleanor convulsed and howled, then exhaled a raspy breath. “Thank you.”

Duke dropped the table leg and touched her shoulder. “Elly, darling, I’m going to pick you up. I’m taking you to a doctor.”

She shook her head and turned away from him, toward the floor. “I don’t need a doctor.”

“I’m not giving up on you.” Duke scooped her into his arms, but she writhed out of his grasp and back onto the floor.

Stop.” Eleanor’s voice hardened. “I’m already dead, Duke.”

Yes, she had died. He’d been certain of it. He’d seen it happen.

A man, a phantom of a man with black hair, dark, sunken brown eyes, elongated canine teeth, and pale skin—skin the color of Eleanor’s now—had attacked her in the night. Duke found the two of them in the parlor of their small house and he’d chased the man away.

At first he’d thought Eleanor had been unfaithful, but when he noticed she wasn’t moving and found the two bloody holes on her neck, that thought dissipated.

She’d died in his arms, and they buried her the next day.

But now she lay before him, next to his dead uncle, whom he’d killed because of her.

And she was alive.

And…slurping.

“Elly, what are you—”

Her head spun toward him and for the first time since he’d found her atop of Uncle Murray not ten minutes earlier, Duke saw her face.

Blood coated the left side of her chin, her cheek, and caked in the hair on the side of her head by her ear. More of it tainted her full lips, and her blue eyes had a cloudy quality about them that Duke had never seen before. More disturbing still, her canine teeth now extended well beyond their original length.

Elongated teeth. Just like the man who had attacked her.

She shoved him back and stood to her feet, towering over him.

He sat and stared up at her.

She tilted her head and grinned at him, but those teeth protruded from behind her lips nonetheless. As Eleanor stalked toward him, the hole in her chest sealed up.

Duke’s eyes widened. “Elly, what in God’s name is going on?”

Her fingernails bared like claws, she flung herself down at him. Duke rolled away and her nails embedded in the floor.

He scrambled to his feet and backed away from her.

She hurtled toward him again, but he sidestepped her and she clung to the wall, her fangs bared, her eyes wild with murder. This was not the Elly he’d married, not the woman with whom he’d lived for the last three years.

She lunged toward him again and he tried to get away, but he tripped over Uncle Murray’s body and landed on his back.

Eleanor, also on the floor, smiled and crawled toward him. She purred, “Where are you going, Duke? You have me back. You made a vow at the altar. Man and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Duke Flax. Remember? Don’t you want me anymore?”

ON SALE TODAY FOR .99! GET IT NOW!

Write Stuff Author Spotlight and Excerpt — What You Won’t Do For Love by Keleigh Crigler Hadley

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Author: Keleigh Crigler Hadley

Title: What You Won’t Do For Love

Genre: Christian Fiction

Book releases nationwide August 18, 2015

Publisher: Brown Girls Publishing

ASIN: B013CIK60K

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Keleigh Crigler Hadley is an author, speaker, and teacher who is thankful God can use her messes for His glory.

She has always loved stories, and she believes the story of the Bible contains the biggest, the most redemptive dose of grace humankind has ever, and will ever, experience. She is the Christian Fiction author of the Preacher’s Kids series, Revenge Inc., and What You Won’t Do for Love with Brown Girls Faith.

If she were to define herself in one sentence, she would say, “I’m a girl who loves to see God working.”  Keleigh writes soul-stirring fiction, with real characters that stay with readers long after they have closed the book, (or turned the e-reader off.)  The only thing she loves more than writing is reading, so contact her on social media and let her know what you’re reading!

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Eden Price, an unlucky-in-love nurse finds herself in the midst of a heated love triangle. Globe-trotting missionary, Gabe Clark ignites her soul. Who doesn’t want a man with a connection to God?  Hard-working, Nemo Gates speaks to her heart. His past has caused a rift between him and God and Eden wants to help him heal.

She ultimately chooses the man that makes her passions come alive, butdid she make the right choice? Her husband stuns her with a desperate plea; to prove her love for him in the most unthinkable way – to help him die with dignity.

 

Excerpt

“There goes that Price girl again.” Verdeen Washington exclaimed to her hard-of-hearing sister, Pearleen. They rocked in unison, in the twilight air on their front porch.

Eden Price noted the puzzlement in Verdeen’s booming voice as she steadily passed them by. Heck, the whole neighborhood could hear it.

“She’s a strange bird, if I ever saw one.” Pearleen looked over her thick glasses and pursed her wrinkled lips.

“Good evening, Washington sisters.”

Eden smiled, nodded and kept her legs pumping. She knew they shook their gray wigs as she passed them, but her jogging pace didn’t diminish and she kept on singing.

She knew she was a sight to see and hear.

“Wishing, and hoping and thinking and praying…

planning and dreaming each night of his charms…”

That’s it, Dionne.

Eden sang the tune to Dionne Warwick’s 1950’s classic song. The lyrics had been stuck on repeat in her head all day and the only way to get a song out, is to sing it. So in between breaths, she belted out the infectious tune.

So Dionne, is this the formula for catching a man?

The cushion in her Nike trainers flattened and rebounded as she reduced her pace from a slow jog to a brisk walk. She was two blocks from home and needed to start her cool down.

“…do the things he likes to do… wear your hair just for him… ’cause you won’t get him,

thinking,

and praying,

and wishing,

and hoping…”

 

Her worn out sports bra allowed too much jiggle and wiggle room for her girls. She could never hope to get a good run in anymore wearing three year-old running shoes and a five year-old bra, but budget constraints did not allow for such luxuries.

Eden adjusted ‘Ben and Jerry’ again to the safe confines of her bra, before she was arrested for exposing herself. Eden hunched over for a moment to catch her breath. Just a few more feet to go. She righted herself, hit her corner, and turned at the intersection of Third ave and 33rd place.

Three threes. The number meant something to her father, God rest his soul. It was his favorite number and one of the reasons he purchased a house on this block. But today, the number three held relevance to Eden too.

This was her thirty-third year of life, she was suffering from her third night of insomnia, and on March third, in three days her life would change – “for better or worse.

 

 

Connect With The Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/khadley11

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkeleigh

Amazon author profile: http://www.amazon.com/Keleigh-Crigler-Hadley/e/B002C1JDPI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1438718461&sr=1-2

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B013CIK60K

 

Tour hosted by WNL www.wnlbooktours.com

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Follow the tour: http://wnlbooktours.com/?p=5669

Many Strange Women — Excerpt

I guess if I’m going to share Book 2 of the Sins of the Flesh series with you, I oughta share an excerpt from the first book, Many Strange Women. Due to your support, Many Strange Women, was on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers for African American Women’s Fiction for several months.   I’ll be back live on January 6th. Yippee!

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1534925_511858148930398_1154611047_oRopes of candy cane bound Solomon to the chair while a giant marshmallow gagged him. A single light bulb hung from a thin wire in the ceiling, and the rest of the room was bathed in darkness. Tears stung his eyes as he fought against his candy cane restraints around his chest, arms, wrists, and feet—but they had the strength of marble. The marshmallow refused to dissolve in his mouth and remained even as he tried to bite down.

The doorway suddenly darkened by the curvaceous figure of a woman.

“Eric Blake,” the woman’s voice spoke, and it smoothed over him like frigid water flowing over rocks.

Solomon’s eyes widened as she advanced, vibrant like an Irish rose. The light revealed her in phases, bottom to top. Long, dainty feet with strawberry colored toenails were hemmed by matching silk pajama pants edged with lace. Slim legs seductively clung to by the silk stretched the fabric. The hourglass waistline was accentuated by a V-neck halter top, and curly copper hair surrounded a long, elegant neck. Jade eyes edged by long curly lashes, an upturned nose and childishly pouty lips. Her arms were slender and sinewy and in her hands she clinched a coiled whip of candy cane.

A scythe of glacial, nipping fear sliced into Solomon’s body, opened his chest and exposed his thudding heart. Over and over as each step brought the woman closer, fear flayed him. With renewed vigor, he fought against the candy cane rope. He twisted and tugged at his wrists in an effort to set him free. The marshmallow bulged and expanded until it overlapped the corners of his mouth.

“Eric Blake,” the woman’s mouth moved as her tongue darted out and over her lips.

The marshmallow gag muffled his scream.

“Oh yes! That sound!” The woman laughed as she rolled her eyes and neck in a movement of pleasure.

Solomon struggled violently. He wrenched at the candy cane ropes, twisted his wrists and grappled with his toes to move the chair. His face flushed with blood from his exertions. The chair rocked back and forth but never fell. The ropes tightened their hold; the candy cane glowed in the light. He had to escape. He had to try!

The woman purred. Her eyes darkened to the color of mold and the mirth vanished from her face as an expression of intent drew her eyebrows together and her mouth fell slightly open in anticipation.

The whip uncoiled; the red and white bands twisted together and met at a point. She backed away until she was once again shaded by darkness and then silhouetted by light pouring in from the doorway. He saw the dark figure of her arm rise.

The tip of the whip cracked against his chest, and he flinched instinctively but there wasn’t any pain. It fell again, this time on his stomach, and he jolted. The sound echoed in the air like a firecracker. Over and over, it touched various parts of his body. He didn’t know how long he sat there as he shivered from response, felt no pain but was utterly trapped by his candied bonds and tormented by a beautiful woman.

Then it was over, and the woman walked back to him, hips swaying. She reached out and pulled the marshmallow gag from his mouth and threw it to the ground. It shattered like glass on the floor.

“No, no, no,” he moaned, and once more struggled against his bonds.

“It’s time to eat, Eric Blake.” She panted harshly, the red lips wide open as she gulped.

“No, please, no! Get away from me!” Solomon screeched, rocking the chair again.

“I will never go away,” she whispered as she leaned over him. Her hair cascaded over him in a coppery waterfall. Her mouth opened over his shoulder, and her teeth sank into his flesh and left a gaping hole in his shoulder.

In horror, he gazed at his shoulder. It was marshmallow with a candy cane center.

Solomon jerked awake from his dream. He scraped at his shoulder fervently, expecting to see a marshmallow wound. A few seconds passed before he stopped and longer for his heart to stop its attempt to escape the confines of his ribcage. He pushed the covers away from his sweat-drenched body. The cool air rushed against his skin and he welcomed it. Darkness shrouded everything except for a pinprick of red light from his digital clock: 4:30.

“Dear God,” he breathed into the quiet room.

He exhaled a long breath. Would he ever escape his past?

The Other Man — Excerpt

While I’m on holiday from hosting my shows, I wanted to share an excerpt from my newest book, The Other Man. I return live on January 6th. Enjoy!

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1622588_376837429146100_3911479762819831790_oVincent Miller stared at the beaming bride, who stood at the altar as she married Jacob Westwood. He had never seen Leah Martin look so beautiful. She had always been a looker, but now at her wedding, she had a bridal glow about her. Her caramel skin radiated with a golden sheen, the thick riot of russet curls shimmered, and her ivory gown was the perfect complement to her curves.

She laughed as she gave her flowers to her maid of honor. A little boy came down the aisle with a broom decorated with pink ribbons and frills. When the little boy placed the broom at the bride and groom’s feet, she and Jacob jumped over it. The bridegroom tripped and his arms flailed to keep from falling. The church rang with laughter as he smiled and stole another kiss from his new bride.

Third in line, Vincent watched with hooded eyes as Leah hugged more guests while the photographer took pictures of the bride and groom with everyone in the receiving line. As his turn came up, he braced himself and allowed his face to show only happiness for her.

“Vincent!” she screamed in his ear as she hugged him. The world receded. The flash of the photographer’s camera faded as an onslaught of sensations cascaded over his mind and heated his surging blood. His nostrils flared as he greedily inhaled the cocoa butter–scented skin. The assault of that delicious aroma nearly made his eyes roll into the back of his head. All her round, soft curves melted into his solid frame like warmed syrup over pancakes. The gentle clasp of her arms around his middle effectively imprisoned him, but he was a willing captive. He gritted his teeth in an attempt to still his senses from saturating themselves in the presence of this woman. Yet, when she pulled back from him an instant later, his body ached to hold her again.

“Hey, Vincent.”

The sound of the husband’s voice was an ice cold bucket of distraction that disintegrated the hold Leah’s presence had on him. Vincent gave himself a mental shake as he tugged on the ends of his suit and smoothed his hair in a nonchalant way. He hoped as he reached out to shake the groom’s hand that the slight tremble of his own hand wasn’t visible.

“Congrats, you guys.” How words erupted from his mouth was a mystery. Before he could say more, the photographer gestured and Leah jumped between them with her arms around their necks. Vincent’s lips stretched and curved upward as a sardonic voice whispered in his mind. Smile for the camera.

 ***

Do you see what you missed out on, Vincent? The flash from the camera blinded Leah Westwood as she stood in the middle of her husband and her ex-flame.

The instant she articulated the thought, she felt the Spirit chastise her. Okay, okay. So maybe he hadn’t missed out on everything. They’d been intimate on more than one occasion. Yet, she did feel a pure sense of feminine pleasure at seeing this man, whom she at one time wanted to give her life to, watch her marry another man worth twelve of him. Jacob glanced down at her, his eyes gentle but lit with anticipation. A

bubble of sweet, ginger ale–like joy burst from inside her. Heady and intoxicating happiness made her want to fly. She loved her husband with To think God had crafted them for each other still amazed her. Jacob Westwood, the one man to subdue Mercury, the rage monster inside her.

“You look so beautiful, Leahgirl,” Jacob whispered as he kissed her cheek.

Although she recognized her own beauty, she wished she didn’t have so many men try to hit on her, grab at her, or flirt with her. It became tedious. Maybe there was a curse to being pretty. God knew how often she longed for the face of a tarantula.

“You don’t look so bad yourself,” she returned the compliment. She reached up and tugged the short, thick blond hair. He laughed, his periwinkle eyes filling with teasing light. The formal wedding suit rested

on his broad frame, accentuating it. Jacob wasn’t tall, but he stood almost a head above her. Her hairline came to his square chin, nicely trimmed with a goatee.

Vincent walked away and she greeted more people. Her lips curved into a wide smile but at the same time little needles of nervousness pricked her skin. Her throat started to constrict and she took a deep breath to calm the nerves. Sweat broke out on her forehead as she remembered the night. It was the night she met the two men who changed her life forever: her husband and her attacker. If she hadn’t been so pretty, maybe that scumbag would have left her alone. No. She refused to go into a full-fledged panic attack at her wedding. She was safe here beside Jacob.

“Leahgirl, what’s wrong?”

Jacob’s voice broke through the memory that had almost unveiled itself and she shook her head. This was her wedding day. The past would not interfere with it. She sent a quick prayer to the Almighty to help her with wayward thoughts, and then pushed the trepidation back and focused on all the people who had come to wish them joy.

***

The muscles in Jacob’s neck were tense and he rolled his head to relax them. He closed the door to the hotel room. His fingers tugged at the tie around his throat and loosened it as he rubbed his neck for a few moments. As his muscles stretched, fatigue seeped into them. Who knew weddings could be so time-consuming? From the moment the preacher declared, “You may now kiss the bride,” he’d wanted to race to the hotel suite.

He glanced out the window. The stars glistened against the backdrop of the city. The soft white blanket of snow gave the scenery a fanciful snow globe allure. Cars scuttled back and forth. Street lights changed. The night bustle added its magic to this special day.

For several hours he’d smiled, shook hands, laughed, and enjoyed oh so brief kisses with his new wife for the benefit of the guests. His eyes were dry from the numerous flashes of the camera. The photographer had cajoled, begged, and finally demanded they pose for pictures at each moment. He could have strangled the man.

Leah had been in her element. She sizzled and crackled with the vibrant energy of her happiness. She’d fluttered from one table to the next, her face bright with joy as she connected with the guests. The air about her buzzed and zinged. Hot like a tongue of fire, she singed people. More than once, he saw drooping backs straighten and unconscious frowns transform into smiles. Leah was a bolt of lightning, unable to be harnessed yet magnificent because of the unfettered freedom. He’d watched her all day, longing building up to a pressure inside him begging for release. When they did exchange kisses, he knew she was as eager for their time alone as he.

At last, they had each other to themselves.

Leah twirled around. The knee-length gold dress she had changed into for the reception shimmered in the light. His lips tilted to one side as he remembered how she refused to lug around her bridal dress on her big body for hours.

Big body. He watched her as she stepped out of her shoes and jumped on the bed. Her childish antics were in direct contradiction to the woman he desired with increasing intensity by the moment. This was their wedding night. And he was about to enjoy it.