excerpt

Cover Reveal: Malevolent Mind

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Malevolent Mind

A Horror Novel by Misty Harvey

 

A story so dark, twisted and unfinished has a way of driving the sanest to the brink of insanity.

Between the constant state of bullying from Heath and his friends, and the unrest of not knowing what happened to her twin, Raven seeks revenge. Years later, she becomes the nanny for Heath’s young son, Kade. She helps him start a horror story with the plan to bring the horrible creature Kade created into the real world to torment Heath and his friends. It was perfect, until everything began unraveling. When Kade’s creation no longer wishes to do Raven’s bidding, it becomes a fight for life or death. The only way to survive is to figure out how to finish off the creature before she finds her freedom. Will Kade find a way to stop the creation of his malevolent mind? Or will Raven’s revenge consume them all?

Excerpt from Malevolent Mind: 

Kade sat there in the middle of the room. He pulled his legs up against his chest, wrapping his arms around them. There was nothing to see now that his head cowered there in the darkness of his own lap. If tonight was the night that he’d die, he wasn’t so sure he’d want to see either of the girls coming for him.

His ears perked up. Behind him came the sound of wet clothes slapping together. He lifted his head, unable to keep it down. It was just his imagination. That was all.

The feel of icy breath slid over the back of his neck. Each tiny hair stood at attention as the stench of decay washed over him. Was it the girl from the river or was it Zilla? Kade flipped onto his knees, the beam of the flashlight straight forward.

There, inches from his face, was Zilla. She stared at him. Her mouth was open at an angle as her tongue flicked out against the air. It was too late to run anywhere.

Death stared him right in the face. Part of him felt relief that it was only her. Of course, that was if the other one wasn’t waiting for him as well. He didn’t dare move the flashlight beam to find out. Zilla had appeared out of nowhere so who knew what would happen once the light wasn’t on her?

Kade watched as her blue-tinged hand reached up for him. She held her hand for him to take. Something told him that doing so would be the end of him. Panic gripped his insides and he knew he had moments to make the first move. If he didn’t react soon, she’d overpower him.

He swung out with the flashlight, catching her on the side of the head. Her body rolled across the floor with a sickening thud. Kade was sure that the magnum flashlight had cracked her skull. It had nearly broken his foot when he’d dropped it one time. He jumped across his bed, darting into the hallway. His gaze moved around the hall as he tried to make out anything.

The sound of her rapidly skittering toward him had him running down the hallway. He stopped at Raven’s door, trying her handle, but the door wouldn’t budge. Instead, the old wood rattled in the frame.

In a flash of lightning, he watched Zilla skitter into the hall on her hands and feet, her body parallel to the floor as she let out a sickening hiss. Half of her head remained dented in from where he’d clocked her with the flashlight. It was a terrifying image to behold. The fact that she continued to chase him regardless turned his stomach.

Kade looked back only briefly before he ran. She was close on his heels. In the distance, he could just make out his father’s door. His bare feet padded against the wood flooring.

Goosebumps raced up his spine as her icy fingers wrapped around his ankle. The weight of his body hit the floor with a loud thud. His head bounced against the hard surface blurring his vision. Tears filled his eyes making it even harder to see. At least now, he wouldn’t have to worry about seeing his death coming.

The cold sensation crept up his leg, over his knee and toward his waist. He could feel the weight of her above him as she crawled up his body. Time slowed so that each second felt like eons. The stench of her undead body burned at his nostrils. Kade gagged on the smell that was so strong he could almost taste it.

He didn’t want to die. Life was too short for him. There was still so much that he wanted to do. Besides, he wasn’t sure who would take care of his father if he wasn’t there any longer. That thought rolled inside of him. He wasn’t going to go out like this, a cowering lump of fear on the floor. If she wanted to kill him, she’d have to fight a lot harder for it.

Kade grabbed her arms, rolling them over as he kicked out with both his legs. Her body smashed into the wall across from them, freeing him to run. He scrambled onto his feet, darting for his father’s room.

The bright light blinded him as he ran for it. That was it. He’d found his end and now he was headed into the light. Just as he’d read in another book. It was his time to cross over.

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Misty Harvey loves writing spine-tingling horror novels sure to thrill readers. The psychology behind such tales has always been a fascination for her since she was younger. Even to the point that she once contemplated taking up psychology as a profession. Still, her love resides in the art of storytelling. An art she wishes to continue to share with readers for the rest of her days.

After climbing out of her writing cave and searching the house for the sound of the latest creak or pop, Misty can be found doing one of many things. Often times she spends the remained of her day with her amazingly supportive husband and youngest daughter. While she has two older children that are out there spreading their wings around the world, including giving her a few grandchildren.

Her favorite things to do when not writing are crafts, wrestling with her dog, avoiding her cat’s bite or generally making her husband and daughter crazy. Often times she can be found creating vivid tales with her daughter about whatever mundane thing happened in their day and turning it into a crazy story. She is also an avid gamer, crochet goddess (we shall pretend there), domestic queen, and animal tamer (it’s a work in progress).

Stalker Links:

Website: Mistyharvey.com

Facebook: Author Misty Harvey

Twitter: AuthorMDHarvey

Goodreads: Author Misty Harvey

 

 

 

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When a Man Loves a Woman: A Love Divine

When a Man Loves a Woman 2: A Love Divine

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By Tumika Patrice Cain

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When a Man Loves a Woman 2: A Love Divine, is a story of hope, accepting love, embracing one’s personal truths, and making no apologies for it.

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man loves a woman

 

Jacquie remembered a time when she was once a tender, caring, hopeless romantic. But happily-ever-after’s and once-upon-a-time fairytales, proved over time to be just that – fairytales. After what she feels has been “a lifetime” of true love eluding her, she loses all hope, resigning to live a single (and loveless) existence. As time passes, she shifts her focus, choosing to concentrate on her career and makes the best of it…alone.

Gorgeous, artsy and charismatic was the man who Jacquie’s eyes fell upon, causing her heart to beat in a rhythm she’d forgotten existed. Michael was more than enough man to make her lose herself inside dreams of a future interwoven with the very fabric of all that defined the beauty of being in love.

But just like in fairytales, there’s always something out of place. For alas, this knight in chocolate armor, was twelve years her junior – an age gap that defined a cultural difference and a major problem for Jacquie’s overbearing mother. Will pressure from family and other obligations turn their love into a nightmare? Or can Michael and Jacquie tune out the rest of the world, embrace the sweetness that they share, and build a foundation that lasts?

In book two of the series, When a Man Loves a Woman: A Love Divine, is a story of hope, accepting love, embracing one’s personal truths, and making no apologies for it.

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Meet The Characters

Meet Jacquie: She’s a beautiful, single, almost 40 year old BBW who has never been married, has no children and has given up hope that it will ever happen for her. A real salt of the earth type of woman, she’s gentle, loyal, loving…and unfortunately, unfulfilled in her carefully controlled existence. Will she ever be able to see her dreams fulfilled?

Meet Michael: He is young, gorgeous, artsy and free. A real solid individual, he’s all about his business and not playing any games. Having a relationship is also the farthest thing from his mind! And then he meets Jacquie…

For Jacquie, Michael is everything she’s been told she should stay away from. For Michael, Jacquie is the dream he didn’t even realize he was waiting to come true.

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Excerpt

Jacquie didn’t know exactly when it happened. She just knew that it did. She found herself in love. And what was funniest of all was how different he was than what she’d always thought she wanted or been told she should want. He was twelve years her junior, but more man than anyone who had ever come before him. Dealing with him was like a welcomed cool lakeside breeze on a scorching summer day.

Michael was everything she’d ever dreamed of, but didn’t know that she needed or wanted. Tender. Sweet. Attentive. Strong, but not overbearing. All things cool. So opposite of her in many ways, yet so like her in many ways that mattered. It was a perfect fit.

There was a vibrancy about him that instantly caused everything in her to perk up and take notice. He made her want to wear bright colored clothing and flowers in her hair. Big hoop earrings and sexy sandals to show off blood red toenails and fresh pedicures. This was such a huge shift for her. Always prone to muted colors and conservative clothing, she had been raised to subdue everything about herself, almost to the point of extinction of her authentic self. At times she didn’t quite know what to make of the changes taking place in her life. When it became scary, she urged herself to press on pass the fear. This was such a great time to be alive, and for the first time in her life, she actually found that she was happy to be in the land of the living.

It’s funny, but she hadn’t realized how much of a drag her life was until being in his presence made her feel so alive. Made her wonder how long had she been walking around half dead just waiting on someone to breathe life into her. Well, whatever he had, made her spirit soar high above the clouds. In his presence, she became a bird; free to roam, to fly unhindered, to just be. He was the key that unlocked the cage she’d lived in her entire life. Suddenly, she felt years younger. Almost how the teenage years should have been if she hadn’t been so bogged down with responsibilities and pressures. Finally, she felt like other girls looked: youthful, carefree, lovely. She was loving every minute of it!

Old behaviors didn’t just disappear overnight. The practicalities making up her personality were still very much alive and at work. What was different was a newness to get out from under the mundane and do something…anything!…new. This new found state put her in a place where she could dream again. Come to think of it, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d dreamed about doing anything. Clueless as to how to change her life, the dreams slowly faded away like the last refrain of a song. Repeat, repeat, then fade, fade, fade until finally it was gone. Over. Finito. That’s what happened to Jacquie. Her dreams had died into the empty pause that lives between songs. He was her new song.

This season would start with a fresh hairdo. The signature wrap, although lovely and perfectly coiffed, would have to go. Surely she could find some sort of sweeping updo that could be versatile enough for both day and night, work and play. Until the right look came along, Jacquie found herself really studying the looks of other women who had some of what she felt being birthed in her spirit. That’s what made her decide to finally let the soft coral nail color go in search of something vibrant and popping. Yep….fire engine red. How about that?! She found a similar color for her lips, as well as a plum, bronze and a translucent shade to switch up her looks.

Clothing was next. Flirty skirts, fitted tops, and big belts replaced stiff suits and pleated pants. And for leisure, she went all out. Wide-legged pants, fitted jeans, long tops, high heeled boots, funky jewelry. She was absolutely loving this transformation. Her new colors were extreme. Orange, fuchsia, lime green, hot pink, reds, plums, emeralds, bronze, cobalt – even in the winter. A host of jewel tones to help celebrate her new found Queendom. Yes, it was high time a daughter of royalty looked like one. She had been a King’s kid living beneath her privilege for far too long.

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Meet Tumika

Tumika Patrice Cain is an award-winning author and media personality whose works center around the complexities of the human experience. Through her writing she takes a global look at issues that affect women and crafts authentic, well-rounded characters and plots so rich that are so relatable they feel like personal friends to the readers. She is also the founder of Say What?? Book club, book reviewer, contributing writer for The Belief Magazine, and former columnist/book reviewer for PEN’Ashe Magazine. Her works center around the complexities of the human experience and in uplifting the spirit. An assignment for a second grade class sparked her interest in writing that would quickly become her raison d’etre. As an educator, she wholeheartedly believes that each one should reach one; each one should teach one. Tumika is also a respected editor and publisher. When she is not writing, she may be found teaching writer’s workshops, blogging, volunteering, and otherwise beautifying the world around her. She is the author of the award winning novel, When a Man Loves a Woman: A Season of Change; After the Rain…a Poetry Collective; and The Heart of a Woman: Poetry, Short Stories & Tekaisms. Book 2 of the When a Man Loves a Woman series will be released in April 2016. Her works have been published in a number of anthologies, magazines and periodicals. You may follow her on Facebook: Tumika Patrice Cain and on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Goodreads: @TumikaPatrice. http://www.TumikaPatrice.com

Tumika Patrice Cain is changing lives one word at a time…

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Purchase Links

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Categories: authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, book of the day, books, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, excerpt, romance, women's fiction | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Meet Author Tumika Patrice Cain

Tumika Patrice Cain

Tumika Patrice Cain is an award-winning author, media personality and publisher whose works centers around uplifting, encouraging and empowering others to live the abundant life.  She is also an accomplished poet; founder of the Say What?? Book Club; and host of the internet radio shows Living Abundantly with Tumika Patrice Cain, In The Spotlight, and Say What?? Author Spotlights.  In addition, she is a respected book reviewer and columnist for PEN’Ashe Magazine, a contributing writer for BLOG and Believe Magazines, and editor for two smaller publishing companies. A champion for indie authors, she works tirelessly to level the playing field to bring exposure to those authors who excel at their craft, but whose marketing budgets are limited.  Inkscriptions, her publishing company, offers a myriad of book publishing services. Living by the motto of each one reach one, each one teach one, Tumika shares her passion for purpose and for life with all who cross her path.  She is the 2013 recipient of a Spoken Word Billboard award for her debut novel, Season of Change (December 2012), a novel that has since been picked up by Shan Presents and will be re-released as When a Man Loves a Woman – A Season of Change in December 2015.  To her publishing credit, she is also the author of After the Rain…a Poetry Collective (March 2014) and The Heart of a Woman (August 2015).  Tumika’s works have been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, newsletters and periodicals.

 Facts about Tumkia

Finish this sentence: I am addicted to…

chocolate, good books and gorgeous shoes!

What advice would you give another author who is struggling with procrastination?

There is always a fear element present with procrastination. I’d tell the author to look deep within and ask him/herself the question “what am I really afraid of?” If answered honestly, the answer will bring the author face to face with one layer of truth in their lives. Sometimes just admitting where we are and what we struggle with is enough to get the ball rolling. Other times, it may require more questions, to which I’d encourage them to ask if they are more afraid of whatever it is (from the first question) or getting to the end of their lives and having not accomplished what they set out to do. Typically, the weight of one will overshadow the other and help the person reach a decision. Thirdly, I’d tell them to look in the mirror and remind themselves how capable and worthy they are. Know that you are more than your setbacks, more than the mistakes you’ve made, and success is a divine right…so embrace it!

What flowers would be in your ideal bouquet?

I enjoy roses (pink and red ones especially), Calla Lilies, Tulips. I also enjoy the simplicity of daisies, and the childhood nostalgia of Cattails.

How do you celebrate a book release?

I like to do a reading and have a book signing, with good food, great company and a creative environment where others can meet, connect and get inspired.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I’m a part-time writer, however, I am working on one aspect of the literary arena all the time; be it reading & reviewing other’s works; writing articles for my column, blogs or my motivational moments meant to uplift woman, or editing for independent authors or for the publishing company I contract with. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I find time to write my books also.

Describe your dream date.

I’m a simple pleasures type of woman. A picnic by a body of water (sans the bugs and bird droppings – LOL), under a tree on a scenic grassy patch of land, in the midst of good company would be perfect.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy reading, hosting small dinner parties, taking my daughter and her friend on play dates, dancing, interior design, exploring the cultural scene and listening to music.

How do you relax at an end of a long day?

I take a long soak in the tub with mile high bubbles or a steamy shower and slip on something comfortable that feels good against my skin, open the windows (even in the winter I open them just a smidgen), burn incense, light candles, cut on some of my favorite music, and eventually crawl into bed with a good book.

How long have you been writing?

I began creative writing at the age of seven when poetry was introduced as a second grade class assignment. I loved the way I felt after stringing together a series of words, and the power writing gave me to express myself when I was otherwise shy and felt voiceless.

What are your pet peeves?

Narcissism/selfishness and Lying!

Connect with Tumika Patrice Cain:

http://www.tumikapatrice.com/

https://twitter.com/tumikapatrice

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/TPCain

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tumikapatrice

https://www.facebook.com/Tumika-Patrice-Cain-254769847981922

WAMLAW COVER

When A Man Loves A Woman

By Tumika Cain

The stars seemed to have been aligned for Avery and Alicia. From the outside looking in, Lady Luck passed their way and left a fortune! They had a whirlwind, fairytale romance filled with all the little things that make dreams come true, a wedding of grace and beauty, and perfectly magical careers that produced almost enough money to burn.  They were the picture-perfect couple.

Unfortunately, time has a way of revealing fissures in what appears to the naked eye as impenetrable. The results send this fairytale romance spiraling out of control.

Avery, as perfect and so right as he seemed, struggles to free himself from his demons. He clings to this delicate relationship that he desperately needs as if his last breath depends on it.  Alicia, on the other hand, struggles to make the necessary corrections that will release her from a prison of unexpected, agonizing turmoil.

A novel of enduring strength, undeniable empowerment, and the compelling ability to overcome incredible odds, Book one in the When a Man Loves a Woman series is a powerhouse that will impact readers long after the last words have been read.

Excerpt From When A Man Loves a Woman

Alicia:

“Tell me what happened last night.”

Somehow through sniffles I managed to relay the events of the day.

“When no one answered the front desk, I began to worry. I’d already tried your direct line six times.”

“Our receptionist leaves at 5:00, that’s why we all have direct lines. During deadline times, we are too busy to answer the phones. That’s the truth.”

“Oh, baby. I’m so sorry I became upset.” I felt myself stiffen at his words. He was more than just upset. He was out of control.

I found it unbelievable that my gentle Avery had the ability to lay hard hands on me with the intent to bring nothing but pain. Lying there with him, I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. His touch repulsed me, but I couldn’t find the strength to loosen the hold he had on me.

Looking back, I suppose I was grateful that the long night was a Thursday. The managers were very lax about giving us time off when we’d pulled overnighters like that. A three- day weekend was just what I needed. Emotionally, as well as, spiritually.

Avery wouldn’t let me loose. Just kept me nestled against him, stroking my back. Eventually, I fell asleep within the folds of his familiar embrace. Upon waking, I made my usual beeline to the bathroom. I really had to go! I’d forgotten that Avery wouldn’t let me go before I went to bed.

Standing at the sink washing my hands I chanced a glance in the mirror and gasped. I was a wreck. Hair all over my head. Eyes bloodshot and nearly swollen shut from all the crying. Cheeks very red from all the blows I’d received. At first I looked in disbelief, then I just hung my head and cried. I lightly touched a tender bruise that had started to form on my cheek. My whole body ached. The pounding in my temples seemed to increase with every movement made. Guess I never realized how much exertion went into fighting.

I gathered my belongings for a bath. There were a million thoughts running around my head, but I couldn’t distinguish one from another. A hot bath is just what I needed. Maybe the steam would permeate my pores and unleash all the bitter feelings I had growing inside. Pear-scented air filled my nose as I lay back in the tub, resting my head on the cold, hard marble. Confusion ran rampant in my mind. I didn’t know what to do. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did know what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave him and never look back.

By the time I exited the tub, my mind was all made up. I was leaving. That is until I glanced in the mirror again. I felt the walls begin to close in on me. I couldn’t leave. Not looking the way I did. I looked like someone had just beaten me up. Of all the feelings I had at the time, embarrassment had to be the most prevalent. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Too embarrassed to go into the streets with that bruise forming on my face. Mocking me. Too embarrassed that I had allowed this to happen.

Melancholy settled on me like acceptance does to a prisoner on death row. I was stuck. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anywhere to go. Kate’s doors were always open to me. So were Aunt Gilly’s. But like I said, embarrassment immobilized me.

Avery awoke and his eyes sought mine as I descended from the bathroom. I wouldn’t, couldn’t meet his gaze. I kept my eyes on the floor.

“Good morning, Alicia.” His voice was a soft caress that was almost my undoing.

“Afternoon, Avery.” I was on my way out of the room when I heard him call my name.

“Alicia, come here for a minute. I want to talk to you.”

“I don’t feel much like talking now.”

“Please…”

“Aren’t you listening? I am upset and I don’t feel like talking. Don’t pressure me, Avery!” By this time, I’d spun around on my heels and stood in the doorway glaring at him. I didn’t feel like being hounded. He was the one that opened up this can of worms. Now that they were out of the can, he’d just have to deal with whatever I felt like dishing out until I could make up my own mind. I was not going to be bullied or coerced into seeing this through his eyes. After all, no one told him to put his hands on me.

I heard him say, “I’m sorry…” But that was the last thing I heard because I went to sit on the patio. The condo felt small that day.

 Purchase Links

http://www.amazon.com/Tumika-Patrice-Cain/e/B00B78JP9G

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Tumika%20Patrice%20Cain%22?Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ntx=mode%20matchall

 

 

 

Categories: author feature, author interview, author of the week, authors to watch, book excerpt, book feature, books, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, excerpt, romance | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Lowcountry Boneyard Blog Tour

lowcountry boneyard button

Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

lowcountry boneyar

EXCERPT FROM LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD

ONE

The dead are not generally fretful of mortal affairs. My friend Colleen passed from this world to the next seventeen years ago last June. She can’t be bothered with global warming, the national debt, or those Duck Dynasty folks from Louisiana. She’s careful to stay focused on her mission, namely, protecting Stella Maris, our South Carolina island home, from the evils of high-rise resorts, timeshares, and all such as that. But occasionally, she fixates on what appear to be random concerns, mostly cases I’m working. Colleen minds my business, is what I’m saying.

To be fair, I make my living minding other people’s business. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the state. Roughly half of my casework is pre-trial investigation for criminal defense attorneys. Another quarter involves domestic misunderstandings. The remainder is a mixed bag of human comedy and suffering—everything from conspiracy to kidnap a prize hound for stud services to conspiracy to commit murder. Sometimes it’s difficult to know which I’m dealing with at first, but I pray for the wildly farcical.

That Tuesday in mid-October, I was sitting in an Adirondack chair on my deck savoring my second cup of coffee and the music of waves breaking and racing to shore. The sun was warm on my skin. I’d just finished a read-through of my final report on a case when a ringtone named pinball announced a caller not in my contacts list. I glanced at my iPhone. It was precisely nine o’clock. The number was local. I set my coffee down and picked up the phone.

“Talbot and Andrews Investigations.”

“Miss Talbot?” The man’s tone brought to mind a professor who’d caught me daydreaming in class.

I pulled the phone away from my face and scrutinized the number again. What the hell? “This is Liz Talbot. How can I help you?”

“Colton Heyward here. I’d like to arrange a meeting at your earliest convenience.”

Something heavy and dark settled in my chest. The Heyward family and their missing early-twenties daughter had been all over the news. Kent Heyward had vanished from the streets of Charleston one late summer evening.

I closed my eyes and forced air into my lungs. “Of course. I’ll come whenever you like.”

He gave me his home address on lower Legare Street in Charleston and asked me to be there at ten o’clock the next morning. Had I not been familiar with the family, the address—which was south of Broad Street near where the Ashley River converges with the Cooper to sculpt the end of the Charleston peninsula—would’ve told me I was likely dealing with old money and a family tree including names from history books.

Wednesday morning Colleen woke me at 4:45. She pestered the fire out of me to get an early start, proceeding to inform me of the time every five minutes during my run, shower, and the berry-yogurt-granola parfait that failed to summon my appetite. Kent Heyward’s disappearance weighed heavy on my heart. It haunted the entire lowcountry. I was both eager to help and apprehensive. What could I do that hadn’t been done?

“Are you about ready?” Colleen was working my last nerve.

“What is with you?”

“We can’t be late. I’ll be in the car.”

She rode shotgun on the trip to Charleston. As her sole human Point of Contact, I was the only one who could see her. Across Stella Maris, during the ferry ride to Isle of Palms, and through Mount Pleasant she barely spoke. I knew she was tense. Most days I would’ve quizzed her about it, but I was preoccupied myself. Colleen relaxed considerably once we crossed the Cooper River Bridge and I drove my green hybrid Escape into the Holy City.

Charleston was christened the Holy City forever ago, owing to the number of churches generously scattered across her cityscape and her history of religious tolerance. Her streets buzzed in the soft October air. Deliverymen unloaded their wares with a brisker step now that the oppressive summer heat and humidity had relented. The Carolina blue sky forecasted a pleasant day for all. October is my favorite month in the Lowcountry. The quality of light renders Charleston and her realm through a filtered lens, obscuring flaws and highlighting our best features. That particular morning, my joy in simply driving through the city was muted.

At nine-fifty—ten minutes early—we rolled through the lacy wrought iron gate and down the tree-sheltered brick drive to the Heyward home. Shades of green surrounded us—magnolias, tea olives, gardenias, camellias, ferns, palms—all manner of tree and shrub. We’d been swallowed whole by the Garden of Eden. I turned off the engine. Everything was still except the gurgling fountain in a bed of massive hostas. We stared at the three-story, clay-colored masonry mansion with triple-tiered piazzas.

“It’s magnificent,” I said.

“It was built in eighteen thirty-eight. Can you imagine everything that house has seen?” Colleen’s voice was reverent, her green eyes round, their color intensified by the similarly hued cardigan she wore over today’s dress.

“Do you think there are other ghosts in there?”

She cut me with a look. “You know I’m not a ghost.”

“Mmm-kay. Do you think there are other guardian spirits in the house?”

“No. I know all the locals.” She shrugged. “The place is crawling with ghosts. We may or may not see them this morning.”

The distinction, according to Colleen, was that guardian spirits had passed to the next world and been sent back with work to do. Ghosts were the lingering spirits of the dead who had yet to cross over to the next life. “This should be interesting,” I said. “If you run across any specters, find out where the family skeletons are hidden. That information could come in handy.”

 Copyright © 2015 by Susan M. Boyer — This excerpt is reprinted by permission from Henery Press. All rights reserved.

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susan boyerAuthor Bio:

Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and garnered several other award nominations. Lowcountry Boneyard, the third Liz Talbot mystery, was released April 21, 2015. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels.

Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.

Connect with Susan!  

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http://www.clpblogtours.com/2015/03/lowcountry-boneyard-by-susan-m-boyer.html

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Private Air Blog Tour

I’m excited to be part of the Blog Tour for Private Air by Billie Bates. To find out more about the tour, please visit the tour page at CLP Blog Tours: http://www.clpblogtours.com/2014/01/private-air-by-billie-bates.html

When Sienna Harris joined the Australian Air Force as a flight attendant for the Prime Minister, she thought she’d hit the glam-job jackpot. But three years of weapons training, outback destinations, and a cheating fighter pilot fiancé, and she’s realized it’s not so fabulous after all. Time to embark on a new adventure, this time to the prestigious world of international VIP aviation.

Sienna and her best friend leave behind their small-town lives for a glitzy career flight attending on a Saudi prince’s private jet. Money, parties, designer clothes, and exotic locations fill the job description, while the sexy pilot, Ted, makes it hard for Sienna to obey the “no fraternizing” rule.

 
But even the most opulent of journeys can hit turbulence. Sienna’s boss, the appearance-obsessed chief stewardess, issues diuretics and Botox with the uniforms and catering orders, and the prince is a man who’s never told no. Underneath its lush appearance, could this desert oasis be more of a muddy puddle? 

The Devil Wears Prada meets Pan Am in this fun frolic to the glamorous side of air travel, inspired by the author’s own experience as a VIP flight attendant in Saudi Arabia and Europe.

PRIVATE AIR EXCERPT

A glow of excitement washed over me as I jumped in a cab. Mike still didn’t know I was in town, so my arrival would be a sweet surprise. We’d been doing the long distant thing for three years, which wasn’t terrible, since I only had to worry about shaving my legs once every two weeks. But now that we were engaged and my contract was up with the RAAF, the plan was for me to discharge and move here to be with him.

I’d always imagined taking time out to travel the world after my military contract ended, but life didn’t always turn out as planned. And even if giving up flying and living in Williamtown wasn’t quite the jet-set life I’d envisioned, being the wife of a fighter pilot wouldn’t be terrible, either. What girl didn’t want to find a fun swoon-worthy man to love and settle down with? I pushed aside the niggling thought that I was giving up on pursuing my dreams, and focused on nicer thoughts, like bubble baths… and reenacting love scenes from Top Gun.

Fifteen minutes later, the taxi pulled up next to Mike’s black Nissan 350Z. Beyonce blared from the living room. Beyonce? Other than the Top Gun soundtrack, I usually couldn’t get him to listen to anything but AC/DC.

I stepped through the front door to his townhouse and called out over the music, “Mike? It’s me, babe, where are you?”

I needn’t have asked.

Mike sat in the living room in his boxers, his hands behind his back in fluffy pink handcuffs, while a flame-haired Glamazonian, complete with leopard print thong, gyrated on his lap to Crazy in Love.

I froze, halfway through the door, with my hand still on the doorknob and my jaw on the floor. My initial thought was I’d just seen my first pair of bare, silicone boobs. Not a common sight in the circles we hung with.

Mike, although stunned, didn’t look nearly as worried as I thought he should. “Sienna, what are you doing here?” he asked.

My stomach lurched into my throat.

Big Red got off his lap, apparently bored, but didn’t attempt to clothe herself or to un-cuff him. She switched off the music with the remote, looked me up and down (or just down, considering she stood six feet tall), and swaggered to the bedroom. “Let me know when you’re done,” she called over her shoulder.

“Sienna, it’s not what it looks like,” Mike said.

“That’s original.” What I really wanted to say was, So you’re not getting a lap dance? You’re just having your crotch polished and her panties are the Shamwow? But the saliva build-up in my throat only let me swallow.

He sighed. “Why don’t you un-cuff me, then we can talk. The keys are over there on the coffee table.” He nodded in the direction of the table. The table I’d given him as a housewarming gift. In a daze, I inched over.

He took my silence as a cue to continue. “Arizona is a stripper, okay, but it’s not as sleazy as it looks. We’re old friends.”

I thought over a list of activities I participated in with old friends. Lap dancing didn’t come to mind.

“There’s no easy way to say this, sweet-thing…” He tilted his head in pity. “Arizona and I have fallen in love.”

My heart stopped.

I didn’t know which was more insulting; that he’d paid another woman to gyrate on his groin, or that he was in love with another woman who’d been gyrating on his groin.

The blood that had drained from my face returned with full force. “You’re in love? You still call her by her stage name and you think you’re in love? You have a fifteen thousand dollar ring on another girl’s finger, and you think you’re in love?” My voice didn’t come close to matching my internal meltdown.

“Sienna, I’m so sorry, babe, this is hard for me too, you know. I was waiting for the right time to tell you. I guess the heart just wants what the heart wants…”

I stared at his bound and pathetic self and felt an overwhelming urge to kick the chair from beneath him. “No Michael, in your case I think the dick just wants what the dick wants.” I picked up a lipstick from the table and examined the base. Final Seduction.How appropriate. Mike sat jaw clenched as I wrote the word DICK across his forehead in hooker-red lipstick, then turned and walked out the door.

“I’m keeping the ring,” I called over my shoulder as I left.

*********

Two days later, I was back in Canberra freezing my butt-cheeks off on the rifle range. Weapons handling only came around twice a year, but I couldn’t stand it. Raw blisters in the webbing of my thumbs and bruises on my hipbones from shooting in the prone position, weren’t my idea of a fun day out.

“Harris!” The Sergeant’s voice bellowed out over the range. “Unload your rifle and get to the shelter! Your Commanding Officer’s on the phone!”

Thank God. They probably needed me for a flight, which meant I’d get out of spending the rest of the day firing (or misfiring). Although, picturing Mike’s face on the target had me shooting with much higher accuracy than usual.

I unloaded my rifle, handed the sergeant my magazine, and pulled my camouflage-pant’s pockets inside out. “No live rounds or ammunition in my possession, Sarge!” I barked.

He nodded abruptly and kept the line-up waiting while he addressed me. “You flight stewardesses think you’re above military requirements just because you jet around the country with the Prime Minister,” he said. “Harris, I want you back on this rifle range before the month is out or I’ll write you up as un-current and therefore grounded. You won’t be flying anywhere!”

“Yes Sergeant, I’ll report back as soon as I land.”

“Dismissed.” He scowled at me, then turned back to the line-up. “Ready! Instant! Fire!”

I skipped inside and took the receiver from the admin clerk. “Wing Commander Worthington? This is Corporal Harris.” I rolled up my camo-shirt sleeves, so relieved to be out of the cold.

“Sie, it’s me, Kendi. I had one of the boys pretend to be Worthington. Look, I’m heading over to Betsey’s Pizza Kitchen, youhave to come and meet me ASAP. I have some news you’re gonna freak over!”

“Of course, sir, right away.” I shrugged to the admin clerk as I hung up the phone. “Duty calls,” I said, which wasn’t entirely untrue.

*********

I cranked the heater in my old silver MX5 and waved to the security officer as I drove off the RAAF base. Don Henley’s Boys of Summercame on the radio. I turned it up to sing along at full volume, trying to push away memories of a road trip to Sydney I’d taken with Mike. The same song had blared from my stereo, and he’d covered his ears in pretend protest against my off-key singing.

I just couldn’t get my head around Mike’s snap-one-eight (fighter pilot jargon for one hundred and eighty degree turn). One minute we’re talking marriage, kids and me giving up my career to support him in his (something that had taken a lot of convincing for me to be onboard with, might I add). The next minute he’s in love with Tacky Jacky. I mean, seriously, leopard print thong? And Kendi thought I was stuck in the Eighties!

I’d really underestimated Mike’s immaturity, or else my wanker-radar had been turned off for three years. I felt like a peanut shell crushed into a dirty bar floor. Mike was the foot. I guess that made Arizona the dirty bar floor.

I slid into an empty parking space outback of Betsy’s, then switched my camouflage shirt for a black, Roxy zip-front sweater.

Inside, Kendi sat in a corner booth with her laptop, a maxi mug of mochaccino, and what I hoped was a latte for me. She wore a pink cashmere sweater and black skinny jeans, her golden mane pulled back in a ponytail. Kendi always looked put together, even when casual. Unlike me, who always looked casual, even when put together.

“Sienna, you’ve got to get a load of this,” she said, throwing her tiny size-two frame around me for a hug, then dragging me down in front of her laptop.

I took my latte and scrolled through the article she’d pulled up.

Life in the Fast Plane, the title read. Beside it, a picture of a handsome, clean-shaven Arab man. He waved from the stairs of a gleaming white Boeing 737 private jet. Two stunning flight attendants stood at the bottom of the stairs wearing black ‘60s-style baby doll dresses, knee-high boots, and sailor caps.

Gone are the days of wealth being rated by the number of Ferraris parked in one’s driveway or the size of one’s home in St Tropez. The new Jet Set make their status known by racking up air miles in their private ‘homes with wings’.

Leading the pack with his ostentatious display of wealth is Arab billionaire playboy, Prince Mohamed Al Saif, whom is often snapped at celebrity events with a different glamazon under his arm each time. Prince Mohammed Al Saif, 46, is a distant relative to the King of Saudi Arabia and has reportedly been pulled over the coals more than once by the Royal family for his overtly ‘Americanized’ lifestyle of excess.

He most recently made headlines for winning the Celebrity Car Race for Cancer last fall (a wild card entry since he funds 60% of the event), and rumors abound that his personal trainer, chef, and aircrew, all have salaries that equal that of a Chief Executive Officer…

My heart palpitated. Aircrew on salaries equaling a Chief Executive Officer? Okay, so it referred to Aussie CEOs, not quite Enron, but I didn’t need to read any more. I felt punch-drunk as I imagined a world of glamorous uniforms, exotic locations, and tax-free dollars. My very own Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Kendi always joked that I needed an upgrade to Cribs, since Lifestyles was so last decade, but I thought it a poor imitation. And even though I’d never tried caviar or champagne (the real stuff, at least), there was something in the way ‘champagne wishes and caviar dreams’ rolled off Robin Leach’s tongue, that made me think I should want those things more than anything in the world.

Kendi grinned at my salivating and clicked open a new window. The title read Van Hutton VIP Crew Agency. Below it was a photo of an immaculately groomed woman in her fifties. She had a silver bob and sat with her diamond-encrusted hands laced in front of her.

Crewing privately owned aircraft in Europe and the Middle East since 1988.

I scanned the contact information. The phone and fax numbers were British.

I didn’t know which was more shocking, that enough private flying existed to justify a crewing agency, or that we didn’t know about it.

“I FedExed my résumé while you were away last week,” Kendi said. “Moira Van Hutton called me herself, Sie! She’s the one who told me to look the Prince up on line, to see if it’s someone I’d care to work for,” she said, imitating posh English. “And that’s not all, she was so impressed with my work history she asked if I could recommend any other girls for her books, ‘only slim and attractive ones’ though. Sienna, we’ve got to get your résumé to her.”

This caught me off guard. “She really said ‘only slim and attractive’? Isn’t that breaking the discrimination act?” I didn’t know if I’d tick the ‘slim’ box. ‘Strong’ maybe. And next to Kendi I probably looked stocky. And how attractive did she mean? The girls in the photo looked like models.

Kendi’s blue eyes narrowed, possibly mistaking my deep thought for hesitation. “Sienna, this is your dream job. Hell, throw in the ridiculous salary and it’s better than your dream job. You’d have a first-hand glimpse at the life you fantasize about every bloody time you watch re-runs of Lifestyles. You’d be like Robin Leach in a dress. A cute, sixties style, baby-doll dress.”

I exhaled, blowing my chocolate bangs off my forehead. “No, I know. Trust me, I’m actually so excited about this I feel sick.” I looked down at my trembling hands. Goose bumps and my hands are shaking, I thought, which meant I wanted this bad. “I’m just in shock. Mostly by my first reaction, which was, thank God I’m not tied down with Mike.” Maybe I was more like my mum than I thought. That could’ve been why I felt sick. She’d run off when I was twelve for a chance at her own champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

“Oh shit, hon, I’m sorry. We’ve barely talked about how you’re doing with the whole Mike screwing you over thing.”

I circled the base of my cup on the table. “I’m doing okay. I just can’t decide what’s more insulting; Mike leaving me for a dirty bar-floor, or Aunty Pearl suggesting it was because I’d let myself go.”

Kendi raised an eyebrow. “Peanut-shell analogy?”

“Yeah…” I looked at her inquisitively.

“You used it once about your mum, except she was the foot.”

“Actually, she was the foot, and the dirty bar floor.”

My Dad had died in a fighter-jet crash when I was twelve. Aspartame induced flicker vertigo, the coroner’s report read. Go figure, diet cola killed my dad. Six months later, Mum met an LA movie producer on a SYD-LAX flight and famously got fired for joining the mile high club with him. She dumped her Qantas uniform in a trashcan and never came back. Hank, the movie producer, married her but didn’t like kids, which is how I ended up living with Aunty Pearl and Uncle Stan.

“And Pearl really asked if you’d let yourself go? That’s gotta be the shittiest thing she could have said! Short of asking if you’d been giving him enough blow-jobs, that is.”

I stifled a laugh and shrugged it off. “You know what she’s like. A sweetheart, but old fashioned as hell.” I mindlessly folded my paper napkin into an airplane. “Private flight attendant for a Saudi Arabian prince.” Just saying it out loud sounded beyond exotic. I took a deliberate breath then swigged down the last of my latte. If there was a flying position out there even more prestigious than the one we already had and paid ten times as much, I wanted to be doing it. No, I had to be doing it. Just knowing about it made my little military gig now seem mediocre.

I returned to the previous window and traced my finger along the wing of the BBJ 737. Pure, giddy excitement overrode any lingering sadness about Mike.

I squeezed my hands into fists to stop them shaking. “I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do to get this job.” A smile curled the corners of my mouth. “Let’s do this.”

Author Bio:

Billie Bates grew up in Australia with unquenchable thirst for travel. After exploring the world as a VIP flight
attendant for seven years, she finally settled in the quiet Midwest of the USA, where she now lives with her husband and two children.

Connect with Billie!
Website: www.billiebates.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/billiebates
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BillieBates1

Buy the Book!
http://www.amazon.com/Private-Air-Billie-Bates-ebook/dp/B00HBJD3GG

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