Leroy the lizard is very lazy. He spends most of his time in his tree. He never wants to play with the other lizards and never go and search for food to eat. This book is also for English as a Second Language learners to help with the pronunciation of the letter "L".
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Half the village of Breccan lies dead – slaughtered. All that stands between Antony Cardover and his freedom is his wife, Isabella, or so he believes.
In his wrath at his wife’s adultery, Antony trades his soul for the chance of vengeance. His price? An eternity as a monster – a man bearing a vampire curse. To stop him, the curse must be broken. To break the curse, Isabella and all her descendants must be destroyed. The catch? Only Antony can break the curse.
With Breccan in mourning and Antony on the rampage, only one person can help. Anna Martindale, a witch shunned by the villagers, entombs Antony within a stone sarcophagus, bound by spells and buried in hallowed ground for the rest of time.
Breccan breathes again. Time heals.
That was four hundred years ago.
Seventeenth century spells, however, are no match for twenty first century living. As Ramply Homes moves in, the secret of St Martin’s churchyard prepares to move out.
As the church is desecrated, the spells that hold Antony break. Soon, Becca Martin, a descendant of Isabella, is plagued by dreams of a time and of a man she cannot possibly have known.
As her nightmares become real, Becca has no choice but to contact the one person who will be able to help; someone she hasn’t spoken to in a decade – her mother.
Here, Becca discovers the truth about her ancestry and is forced to face up to whom and what she is. Only a wooden box and her gift hold the key to her survival.
Four hundred years ago Antony failed. He will not fail again.
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Extract From the Prologue of Bonds
Isabella’s whimpering carried on the still night air. Anna stared at her daughter; the ice that had surrounded her heart for so long was starting to melt. As despicable a person as Isabella was, she didn’t deserve this. No one deserved this.
Anna’s gaze shifted to the man who held her daughter. How on earth could she save Isabella from this monster? The reality was that she couldn’t.
‘Why, Antony? Why did you do this to yourself ?’ she asked.
‘You know why, Anna. No one makes a fool of me and gets away with it.’ He grappled with the young woman in his arms, his hand clenched over her mouth.
‘But this?’ she said, gesturing towards him with her gnarled hands. ‘Why did you have to go this far?’ Anna stared up at him. Gone were the soft brown eyes and gentle smile; the kindness and generosity. In their place lay only evil. His eyes were like coal against his chalky white skin and his mouth was a grim line. A rare smile seemed odd on his cold face and revealed the sharpness of his teeth.
‘You didn’t think I’d do it, did you, old woman?’ Antony’s sharp fingernails caressed his captive’s exposed neck as he spoke.
‘Let Isabella go, Antony. I think you’ve made your point.’
‘Made my point!’ he said, shaking Isabella as if she was a rag doll. ‘If it wasn’t for this harlot, none of this would have to have happened.’
‘Only you chose to do what you…’
‘Because of her! She betrayed me. She humiliated me and, worst of all, she made me a laughing stock. In…my…own…village! Do you have any idea what that is like?’
‘Let her go.’
‘Or else you’ll do what, old woman?’ he clenched his jaw, his teeth bared. ‘Do you honestly think you can stop me?’
‘I didn’t want it to come to this, Antony. I wanted to help you.’
‘Don’t patronise me, old woman. You’ll never defeat me. You don’t have the power.’ With a flick of his wrist he snapped Isabella’s neck and let her body slump to the ground.
‘No!’ Anna staggered over to the slain girl. Huddled over her daughter, tears running down her face, she stared up at him.
‘How could you? She was your wife.’
‘Pity she didn’t act like it then.’ He turned and started to walk away.
Anna remained hunched over Isabella, rocking the young woman back and forth, and cried. The moonlight illuminated the scene and amongst the jagged headstones she watched her son-in-law walking away. A carnal rage surged through her body and she stood up. She turned her face to the heavens and closed her eyes.
‘I call upon the power of the four elements. Of earth,’ she said, thrusting her hands towards the ground. The earth rumbled. Antony stopped.
‘Of air’ Anna whipped her hands around in a circular motion. Thunder crashed, the wind started to howl and bruised clouds scudded across the sky.
‘Of fire’ she said, pointing her power fingers towards the sky. A bolt of lightning shot down, connecting with her power. Anna shuddered as electricity coursed through her frail body, infusing her with the strength she was going to need.
‘And of water.’ She finished and clapped her hands three times. The thunder crashed overhead and the dark swirling clouds released their load.
Antony turned and stared at her, a mocking smile on his face.
‘You think that will stop me, you fool?’
‘By my Goddess and by my God, I call upon the power of the four elements. Of earth, of air, of fire, of water. I call upon you to aid me and to protect me.’ Anna spun round on the spot, her arms heavenwards, her eyes closed; the mantra repeating on her lips.
The wind roared; the thunder boomed. A bolt of lightning struck the earth in front of Antony, throwing him to the ground. The electricity sparked and fizzed in the rapidly forming puddles. He tried to get up, but his hands and feet couldn’t get traction in the mud.
Anna turned to face him and staring straight into the eyes of the man she had once loved, she pointed her arms towards him, lowered her head and started to chant the Spell O’ Binding.
She struggled to hold her position, her body convulsing as the power surged through her. Her eyes never leaving his, Anna thrust her palms to the earth and the ground began to shudder. She stumbled, but held firm. A crack appeared at her feet and zigzagged its way towards Antony, growing wider as it did so.
Anna heard his laughter through the storm, but she blocked it out, the image of her slain Isabella foremost in her mind. The crack stopped at Antony’s feet. She closed her eyes again and slowly raised her hands skywards.
Vines shot out of the gap and lashed themselves around his ankles. He used the traction to his advantage and hauled himself up, grabbing the sinewy stems with both hands, snapping them as though they were dried twigs. He strode towards Anna, her head still bowed as she chanted. She didn’t respond as he stood in front of her and hooked his finger under her chin, tilting her head upwards. She didn’t flinch as he spat in her face. She didn’t shudder as he lowered his head, his cheek brushing her hair, until his mouth was next to her ear.
‘You’ll never stop me, Anna, remember that.’ He turned to walk away and picked up the broken vines as he went. He paused for a moment and then turned back.
‘Never!’ he said and hurled the vines at Anna’s face. She staggered backwards at the force of the impact, but she didn’t break her concentration. Antony snorted in derision and turned away from her once again.
Anna regained her foothold in the mud and, drawing on all the power she had left, she thrust her palms towards him, sending a ball of light hurtling in his direction. It struck him in the lower back. Antony staggered, Anna didn’t falter. She raised her hands skywards and the crevasse soon crawled with vines, which snaked across the earth and wrapped around Antony’s ankles once again.
Anna yanked her hands down to her sides and the vines snapped backwards, dragging Antony off his feet. He crashed to the ground. More vines slithered from the earth. Antony rolled over, kicking his legs to try to free himself, but this time they held firm. He dug his fingers deep into the earth and tried to drag himself away, but it was futile, the mud was too thin.
He rolled over onto his back and sat up, yanking against his bindings with his hands, but they didn’t budge. The vines snaked up his legs, holding him firm as more and more emerged from the ground, binding his wrists to the earth and winding around his torso. He bucked and kicked, expanding his muscles as much as he could to try to burst through, but it was impossible.
Anna opened her eyes and saw the rage on his face; the veins pulsing in his neck as he strained against his fate. He looked up and caught her gaze; the vines creeping around his neck.
‘These won’t hold me forever,’ he shouted, the sound muted by the vines which now engulfed his head. Finally, he was still.
Anna nodded towards eight men who’d been hiding in the shadows. She had asked them to stay out of the way, for their own safety, and they hadn’t objected. They moved tentatively forward now and she watched as they hauled Antony’s inert form into a stone sarcophagus. The men struggled, but managed to slide the lid into place and Anna staggered forward, placing her palms flat on the lid.
‘Please make sure Isabella is put with the others,’ she said. The men nodded and retreated to the shadows. She turned her face to the heavens once again, closed her eyes and began to chant the Spell O’ Internment.
She shuddered as a lightning bolt shot through her body. Her hands glowed and the light spread around the gaps in the sarcophagus and sealed it tight. Anna raised her arms to the heavens once more and in barely a whisper she said, ‘By my Goddess and by my God, my humble thanks for supporting me. I bid you take the intention behind my actions and see it executed for all time. As I do will, so mote it be.’
She pushed her weary body away from the casket and the men crept out of hiding once again to lower it into the ground.
No one spoke to her as she left. Her walking stick was clasped in one hand, her shawl clutched around her shoulders with the other.
This might be my toughest mission yet.
None of my SEAL training or my time in the CIA has prepared me for this; a prickly five foot nothing hellcat, Jasmin Smith.
She was MINE. She can fight it all she wanted, but in the end I would have her, every way a man can have his woman. She was a sassy little thing, making me work to bend her to my demands. But I will! I will bend her and tie her to me so tight she would never be able to get free. Only problem is I had to break her first. I had secrets that she needed to know. I have fought to get back here, two years breathing in filth and scum. All for her- my warrior princess. Now all I had to do is make her remember.
I was blissfully living my life as a tier one security contractor, shooting guns and killing bad guys. My life was perfect. Almost. I was missing something; a missing piece of time to be exact. For the last two years I have tried to remember the details of my capture and torture. Two years willing my brain to remember. Nothing. I could remember nothing.
Then he walked into my life, actually he pushed his way in. It was hard not to notice him, tall, bossy, and sexy as hell. He had no respect of personal space, he used every opportunity to get close and breathe me in. He demanded my attention, whispering the filthiest words in my ear and that was all it took. A few words on his part had me yielding to his every demand.
As one secret after another was revealed, lies are exposed and the missing pieces of the puzzle are finally put together. A nervous breakdown was surely in my future. My entire life was a lie.
Just when I thought I could take no more; I am faced with the most important mission of my life. If I failed it might cost the one man I have ever loved his life- Lincoln Parker.
Nightstalker is book one in the Red Team series. Each book is standalone with a HEA. High paced action adventure series. Ex-military badboys use dirty language! Be Advised.
Warning* 18+ explicit and graphic sexual content and language.
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Fuck! I let out an exaggerated sigh when I saw the caller information on my phone. I glanced at the old-fashioned grandfather clock that sat in the corner of my office noting it was well past stopping time. Closing the lid to my laptop I walked over to the floor to ceiling windows in my office admiring the Naval Academy at night. The Yard was lit up and looked like a city unto itself, the Chapel Dome standing tall and proud above the rest of the buildings. The still ringing phone in my hand pulled me from my reverie.
Entering my ten-digit security code I swiped the screen to take the call. Before my phone was even to my ear I could hear the caller’s impatient voice.
“It’s time,” the voice over the phone sounded tired and far away.
“Fuck me. Now?” I closed my eyes praying for patience.
“Zane, man, I have waited long enough. I am done.”
“I know you have, I am afraid I will lose her once she knows the truth.”
“It’s time,” he repeated.
“Brace brother, she is not the same woman she was.” I have tried to warn him hundreds of times.
“Fuck you. You don’t think I know who she is?” He shot back, his temper rising.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you are one nut short of a pair.” I smiled at the thought.
“Copy that, see you soon.”
The line went dead, and I pocketed my phone as I continued to stare out the window. I was going to enjoy what was left of my peace. A shit storm was about to invade my perfectly ordered world. Now I had one more call to make before I could call it a night. Checking the clock again, I entered my ten digit security code and dialed the secured number I knew from memory. The clicking sound before the call connected alerted me that the call was indeed encrypted.
“Password of the day?” a gruff sounding man asked.
“Zulu, Charlie, Foxtrot, Niner,” I replied.
“Certified. Hold for connection,” the monotone voice put my call through.
“Zane, how are you this evening? Working late I see.” I could hear the chuckle in his voice.
“Yes, Sir. I have an update for you Mr. President; he is on his way stateside,” I advised the President.
“Took that son of a bitch long enough! I am surprised he waited this long. Thanks for the update. And Zane, one more thing - how many times do I have to tell you to call me Tom when we are having a conversation amongst friends?” The President sounded almost giddy. I, for one, did not understand what there was to be happy about.
“Yes, Tom. Sorry to have bothered you so late. I will keep you apprised of the situation.” Even saying the name “Tom” while talking to the, President of the United States had me looking over my shoulder waiting for a court martial.
“We’ll be in touch.” I could hear his peal of laughter as the line went dead.
Whizzz, snap! That was the last sound the poor asshole lying on the nasty assed, stained carpet in front of me heard, as my 147-grain subsonic bullet lodged in his brain. Before his blood even had a chance to pool around his head I had already unscrewed the suppressor off my Sig Sauer P226, affectionately known as Penelope, and carefully holstered her. Yes, I named my weapons, and she was beautiful. Right down to her custom grip, designed to fit my small hands, and her dark earth finish. Penelope was the love of my life.
I know. You don’t have to say it. For a twenty-eight-year, old woman, that is pretty fucking sad.
I looked around the room at my team, noting the half empty bottles of beer and endless bags of takeout strewn about. The unfortunate bastard’s body had barely hit the floor, and they were already at work gathering the electronic devices that blanketed every available surface of his makeshift work station. I watched as they meticulously placed each laptop, external hard drives, and computer towers into shock resistant transport cases. Any piece of electronic equipment that could store information would be coming with us today. This included the 1990’s era CD player.
Christ, this asshole was a slob. His apartment smelled like he hadn’t cleaned a toilet in a year. The strong odor of urine permeated the small living room. There was a month’s worth of energy drinks and coffee to-go cups littering every dirty surface. The trash can was overflowing with God knows what.
“Jesus, anyone else need a biohazard mask?” Jaxon noted the vile smell of the room as he pushed aside a to-go cup full of cigarette butts. You wouldn’t think a little piss and cigarette smoke smell would bother a former USAF Special Forces Pararescueman.
“For someone who sold information for ten grand a pop, he sure lived in a hellhole,” Eric added, looking at the stained, 1960’s era plaid couch.
“Fuck, man, he must have invested all of his money into machines. Garrett is going to go ape shit over this equipment. I hope Z has found another specialist to help him analyze all of this. He is already three cases deep,” Drew replied as he gently placed a tower into a case, the two-inch foam giving way under the weight of the heavy machine.
“Yeah, this guy hasn’t been laid in years. He has two air conditioner units on full blast in his bedroom and a dirty mattress just lying on the floor. It looks like a server room met hoarders in there. I need another case for all the drives in that room alone.” Leo waved a hand in front of his face as he walked back into the main room, presumably to get the piss smell to dissipate.
I stood over the dead guy and watched the blood ooze out of the bullet wound, down the bridge of his nose, and over his cheek. Finally, it joined a growing puddle of thick red liquid on the filthy, stained carpet next to his ear.
It was a damn clean shot. One and done.
“Yo, Jasmin you thinkin’ about helping here, or you gonna just keep staring at the stiff?” Colin spoke from across the room where he was gathering up flash drives.
“Just admiring my shot placement, Cap. I swear I get better every time.” I flashed my best, “I’m the shit” smile and looked over Louis Clark, better known as Deepweb336 one last time, “Perfectly placed, right between the eyes. The bastard ought to thank me.” I made over to help the guys finish up.
Louis, or Deepweb336 to the slimy underbelly of the deep web, lay dead in the middle of his living room. He barely had the chance to react before I made my way into his apartment, and took my shot. The two deadbolts on his door were a joke; it took me all of five seconds to pick each lock. For a world class hacker he was pretty lax on his personal security. Single cylinder deadbolts were child’s play.
“Ya’ll are a bunch of pansy asses complaining about the smell. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear you were all trained by the girl scouts.” I loved to tease the guys when I could. It was a rare occasion they acted like a bunch of sissies complaining about smell and filth.
“Fuck me, Jas thinks she has jokes. Who do you think contracted the douche to hack into the spooks database?” Eric asked with a look of disdain on his face. The CIA had burned him on his last assignment. They fucked him over so badly that even years later he still refused to even be in the same room with an agent. “My guess is the Russians.”
“Eric your guess is always the Russians,” Colin threw in as he latched another container and placed it on a dolly.
Deepweb336 had been on radar for years. He was a low-level hacker when we first caught up with him. He slowly made a name for himself stealing corporate secrets and selling them to any competitor that was willing to add a bunch of zeros to whatever number he threw out.
Z Corps, and the government agencies that ran contracts through us, never gave two shits what Deepweb336 did, only that he was quickly making a name for himself as one of the most sought after hackers in the world. That is, until he tried to hack into the CIA database that held information on where undercover agents were on assignment. Stealing that would have led to an outrageous number of casualties, pissed off most foreign governments, and made the people in power have to answer some very uncomfortable questions.
Deepweb336 needed to be eliminated before those questions were asked. Z Corps took the contract to do just that. That and to recover any information he might have already stolen. Red Team was the best recovery team the company had ever trained; the team that got sent out on the highest priority ops. And this op was high priority. It was top secret shit that was so far above my paygrade I didn’t know all the players involved and never would unless Zane, my boss, felt that information was required for me to do my job. Z Corps recruited and contracted some of the world’s best hackers and deep web information brokers; it would be their job to sift through all the machines we brought back. It would also be their job to find out who had hired Deepweb336. It’s a shame he turned out to be such a douche and played for the wrong team his skills could have been an asset to Z Corps.
“We need to be out in six minutes. Cargo will be out front.” Colin, the team leader, yelled, reminding us of our deadline.
“Aye aye Cap.” The team echoed in unison.
We were six minutes until, out the door, all electronics needed to be packed up and ready for transport. The last of the hacker’s equipment was dismantled and placed into plastic containers. The rest of the team speedily donned mover’s coveralls created for today’s transport. Today they were “Movers on the Go”. MoGo. A cargo van would be waiting for them at the entrance with a MoGo logo on the side.
Colin and I stayed in the everyday clothes we wore in, nothing too flashy that would make us stand out. This was a shit neighborhood after all; we needed to blend in like we belonged in this rat infested apartment complex. We would not be going out with the “movers” today we would act as their back up.
“We’re out. See ya back at HQ,” Drew said as he pulled his hat lower on his head in an effort to shield his face, a habit we all had. The team had already done a sweep of the apartment complex checking for any video surveillance inside of the building. It was no surprise that the old, shithole complex had no such devices. That only left the traffic cameras to be disabled en route. The guys back at HQ would handle that. Eric, Jaxon, and Leo followed Drew out the door. Each had a dolly stacked high with black plastic hard cases.
Colin grabbed my hand once we were in the hallway, and walked us hand in hand out of the building. Once we were on the street we could watch the team as they loaded the cargo van. With a quick sweep of the street Colin kissed my forehead and walked us across the intersection like an everyday couple.
Pulling my secure, encrypted cellphone out of my pocket, careful not to advertise the pistol strapped underneath my jacket, I punched in my ten-digit security code.
“Cleanup is a go.” I ended the call and slid my phone back into my pocket. I looked up at Colin and smiled brightly. Another successful mission. The cleaners would be there soon and it would look like Louis Clark never lived there at all.
Not all arrangements are truly by design. Some happen by chance, by fate, by… accident.
Jules Tyler is in desperate need of a roommate. Levi Graham is in desperate need of a room. And while it may seem like the perfect match from the outside, it doesn’t take long for egos, expectations, and experiences to say otherwise.
But what happens when the proximity builds a chemistry between them that neither is prepared to handle? Will living as roommates become too much to bear? Or will it be the perfect jumpstart to a happily ever after?
(Note: While it can be read as a standalone, this book does contain major spoilers for the Spite Series.)
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Tobias Walcott, the Earl of Blade, has learned it is best to exercise rigid control over his passions and emotions in all that he does. Uncaring that it makes him seem cool and aloof to most in the ton, he is content with his desire to only woo agreeable and demur females. Then unforeseen circumstances see him trapped in a closet at a house party with the last woman he would ever make his countess.
Lady Olivia Sherwood is everything he should not desire in a female—unconventional, too decisive, and utterly without decorum. But passion ignites between them and they are discovered. Honor demands they wed, and while Tobias finds himself unwillingly drawn to the bewitching beauty, he must do everything not to tempt the passion that burns in him for her, lest it leads to disastrous consequences.
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The soft growl that slipped from her throat surprised her with its ferocity. “You, my lord, have no gentlemanly qualities.”
“Are you scolding me for bad behavior?” he clipped quite icily.
It seemed as if the tentative peace they’d formed in the ballroom had dissolved. “Yes!”
“You wouldn’t know refined sensibilities if they bit you in the posterior.”
“Christ, will you lower your voice?”
She gritted her teeth until her jaw ached.
“What are you doing here?”
She ignored him.
“I will not ask again,” he said in a dangerously soft tone.
Livvie swallowed, heat burning her cheeks. “I saw you, and I only meant to enquire whether you were well. Very silly of me and now I am exceedingly embarrassed I acted on the thought.”
“Ah…once again you were acting recklessly.”
“Of course not. I had no notion you would drag me in here.” She took a calming breath. “Why are you here?”
“That is none of your business,” he said cuttingly.
“I take it back,” she whispered. “I do not want to be forgiven, you are an—”
“Good God, have we reverted to the insufferable buffoon? And here I thought I had detected some growth.”
Before she could whisper a furious rebuttal, warm lips pressed on her, silencing her and alarming her, sending a shock of desire to her system, and stripping her of her defenses. She went absolutely still, her heart a pounding roar in her ears. Tobias was kissing her! Livvie dimly realized he was just as frozen, and she could feel the thud of his heart. She raised her hand and pressed it against his chest.
He shuddered. Then he parted his lips and rimmed his tongue against the seam of her mouth. Her knees buckled and his arms came around her and hauled her even closer to him. His hand moved in a slow soothing stroke over her back. A soft moan slipped from her, and she parted her lips to him, curious as to what would happen. Pleasure. What happened was a shock of undiluted delight, pulsing through her veins as he thrust his tongue into her mouth and conquered.
He squeezed her body tightly to his, moving his lips over hers with sensual force.
She pulled from him, breathless. “Tobias.”
“Good God, you taste even better than I imagined,” he said gruffly.
Livvie was speechless, never in her wildest fancy could she have imagined such pleasure or the soft sensual tones he used. He disliked her, didn’t he? “You’ve…thought of kissing me?”
“Every night since I’ve met you, utter madness.”
A black colt is born into an exciting and dangerous world. Will his parents be able to protect him from becoming a victim?
The wild mustangs encourage and protect each other, but what will happen when the man and his tame horse show up? Can the mustangs save themselves or will they be forced to abandon all they've ever known?
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... That night, Snake became anxious and began to fuss in his stall. He was very uneasy and felt the need to get out immediately. Confused, he began to kick violently at the enclosure. The other animals in the barn reacted to the noise and there was a flurry of activity among them as well.
The walls of the stalls were solidly built and did not give in to the force of his thrusting legs. He didn't know why, but he knew he had to get out. Stepping back for a moment, he eyed the door through which he had entered the stall. Somehow, he knew that it was his only chance of escape. Moving forward with great force, he slammed his broad chest into the door. The force of the hit stung and he heard a small snap! The door did not move. Backing up, he charged at the door again and hit it squarely with his chest, ignoring the pain. There was a sharp cracking sound from the sturdy wood and the other animals in the barn expressed their objections to the commotion, becoming increasingly upset. The chickens, which had been calmly dozing in the aisle, scurried outside to avoid the noise. Many of the other horses craned their necks over their own doors to try to determine exactly what was happening.
Snake again lunged at the door and made solid contact with his shoulder, producing more damage to the hardware holding it in place. Turning around quickly, he gave a mighty kick with his rear legs and one of the hinges actually popped off, flew across the aisle, and hit the stone wall on the other side with a shrill ping before falling to the earthen floor.
He stopped, breathing heavily. After a moment, he rammed the door again and there was an enormous crunch as the door broke away from its frame and landed with a thud on the floor. Still not even knowing why he felt the need to escape, he just stood there, looking at his handiwork. Once his breathing had returned to a normal rate, he quietly stepped past the battered door and into the aisle. Looking to his right, he saw the darkness outside and trotted to the main doorway. The rest of the horses watched in curious wonder as he exited the barn and disappeared into the night.
Wilder’s wonderful grandfather is dead, and so is her mother, but Grandpa Willy gives her one final gift in his will – the knowledge that her father is only her step-father.
Once she meets Hawker, the scary man who turns out to be her real dad, her life takes an unexpected turn. She finds out about a heritage she never knew she had, and secrets from the past are uncovered as she fights to save her part of the world from destruction.
And then there’s Mac, with his green eyes and a soft voice that flows through her like sweet honey. He’s there to help Wilder when she needs it the most, and as she struggles with how to fit into the group of people around her dad - having Mac in her life becomes more important with every bad thing that happens.
“Wilder” is the first in the Birds of a Feather series and a spin-off from the Dreughan trilogy. It’s set in modern time and can be read stand-alone.
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The first recruit to the new Sightseers Agency is a remote viewer who actively seeks the resolution of events threatening world security.
Both his fledgling agency and that of The Deaduction Agency are members of The Dreadnought Collective.
The term ‘Dreadnought’ is based on a type of battleship introduced in the early 20th century, larger and faster than ever before and equipped entirely with large-caliber guns.
It applies in this instance because the cerebrally talented agents who enter its portals are expected to fear nobody and be scared by nothing in the performance of their duties.
They pursue those who indulge in criminal and seditious activities in the modern meritocracy using unorthodox techniques.
The Collective will embrace several types of Black Arts as it grows and faces unusual challenges. These once belonged to the realms of Science Fiction but are fast becoming a reality in the emerging new world.
This is a series of Whodunits set in the future.
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Meeting him was a fluke. Dating him was a mistake. Watching him become a drug addict put me through hell. Running was my only option.
I'm running from my demons and when I find out she's trying to escape her past, I know what I have to do.
One broken cop. One woman fighting for her life. A fragile love.
Sinister secrets that threaten to tear them apart.
They've been to hell. The hard part will be finding their way back together.
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I pull up in my driveway looking over at the house. What I see pisses me off.
Here she is in a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, hat and glasses pushing a brand new lawn mower.
I make sure I check my temper before I walk over. Right before I cross the street the little girl on the front porch stops me mid step.
She looks like just like her mother, just a smaller version. She is sitting on a plastic little table, that they probably just bought, coloring.
I make my way over to her right when the lawn mower goes off
“I told you I would cut the grass.” I try to sound casual, but the blood in me is boiling, it must be ninety-five degrees outside, and she’s wearing enough clothes for a trek across the frozen tundra.
She looks up “I also said I got it, and I would be doing it myself.” The little girl from the porch makes it to her mother and hides behind her, yanking on her pant leg.
The fearful look that she gives me is just like her mother’s. I crouch down, getting eye-to-eye with her and say “Hey there, beautiful. What’s your name?” She doesn’t reply, and instead she lowers her gaze so she is looking at her feet. “I’m Jackson,” I reach out my hand, but drop it when I know she won’t take it. I gesture behind me, as I say “I live in that house right over there. I used to know your great grandma.” I’m trying to draw her into a conversation with me, but nothing I say engages her.
“It’s ok baby, you can tell him your name. Nan used to make him cookies, so you know what that means, she must have really liked him.” She rubs her daughters shoulder.
“I’m Lilah,” she says in barely a whisper.
“That is the most beautiful name in the whole wide world. You’re lucky to have such a beautiful name.” She smiles at me, right as a car back fires. She yells and puts her hands to her ears.
Two things happen at the same time, her mother grabs her and runs toward the house, and I vow to protect them.
“Wait,” I rush after them and make it right to the door before it’s closed in my face. I stand there inside the house and watch them rushing to the corner and hide.
Two broken girls protecting each other against some monster of the outside world. I walk up to them “It’s ok, it’s just a car, it was nothing but a car.”
“Lilah, baby it’s ok, it’s ok. I’m here. It’s ok baby girl, were safe.” She is trying to comfort the little girl who is sobbing quietly in her mother arms. “No one is here baby.”
She looks over at me, our eyes meeting for one minute before she lowers them again.
“Look it’s ok, it’s just Jackson. There is no one here, baby.” She rocks Lilah back and forth. Her back against the wall while she soothes her baby girl whose sobs are slowly stopping, her eyes closing.
“What can I do?” I’m now sitting in front of her not sure how to even start to dissect this.
“Nothing, you can’t do anything for us,” she kisses Lilah’s head. “No one can.”
I ignore that last part not sure how to talk about this now.
“I’m going to go outside and finish cutting the grass, then I’m going to go pick up some food for us. Does she like pizza?”
“Jackson, I don’t know what relationship you had with my grandmother, but I don’t need your help. We will be fine. Please, it’s ok, you can leave.” She rests her head on the the wall closing her eyes, the defeat of the day leaving her body.
“I’m going to go outside and finish mowing the lawn so Lilah doesn’t have to go outside anymore today. Then I’m going to pick up pizza for myself. You won’t have time to cook, so I’m going to pick one up for you. I want to eat with you guys, but I’m not pushing myself on you either after today. Now I don’t want to fight with you or even discuss this, so just nod that you understand?”
She looks into my eyes, but nods yes.
“I can pay you for the pizza? I have money. I don’t need a hand out,” she says while trying to push herself up to go get fucking money.
If she weren’t so scared of things I would punch the fuck out of something right now. “I don’t want your money, now or ever. I have no doubt you can take care of yourself. Consider this a housewarming present.” I get up going to the door not even giving her a chance to say anything else.
“She’s never had pizza before, so can you just get us plain cheese.”
I don’t say anything afraid of what will come out of my mouth. I nod and walk out the door, closing it quietly so as not to wake Lilah.
I close my eyes exhaling the breath that I didn’t even realize I was holding.
“She’s barely holding on while fighting for her life. She has demons, they both do. Whatever happened to them, it’s in there deep. The both of them are so scared, you can practically see the fear coming off of them.” I look over at Brenda who is on her porch watering her plants. “Tread lightly, Jackson, or better yet walk away if you aren’t going to do anything about it.”
I don’t have a chance to respond she walks into her house closing her front door softly, leaving me fighting my own demons.
A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis
Yvonne deSousa’s diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis came with an insightful declaration from a new doctor (“MS Sucks”) and a brother’s helpful advice (“You could totally get one of those handicapped parking plates now”).
What followed was a year of MS-adventures: “accidentally” kicking an officious male doctor in the crotch, becoming an undercover agent to pay for medication made from Chinese hamster ovary cells, discovering the amazing effects of legal speed, and battling her arch-nemesis, the dreaded food group-vegetables.
Throughout her MS journey, Yvonne learned how to use humor to find acceptance in her diagnosis and how to smile in the face of chronic illness. Life with multiple sclerosis can be daunting, but Yvonne shares her giggles at the bizarre world she has unwittingly entered and the new perspectives it has given her on life. MS Madness! helps us realize that with a sense of humor, we can survive anything.
“MS Madness! A ‘Giggle More, Cry Less’ Story of Multiple Sclerosis combines defiance with humor, the secret weapon of the sick. Laughter has carried me a greater distance than conventional medicine ever will. In the end, attitude drives well being.”
-Richard M. Cohen, NY Times best-selling author of Blindsided and Strong at the Broken Places
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Chapter 12 The Little Things
Outside of the air conditioned restaurant and away from the bay breeze, it was hot. My mom said I should go home and rest but I felt I should go home and sort this mess out. My brain and body were tumbling through a bizarre mix of peace and panic. I was thirsty and was craving my favorite thirst quencher, a fountain Diet Coke with a ton of ice. Water alone doesn’t do it for me. Diet Coke in a can or bottle doesn’t do it either. Something about that particular brand of soda in a frost cold plastic cup filled with ice was what worked for me.
I stopped at my local convenience store and then sat in my car panicking again. Fountain drinks here cost .83 cents. I didn’t have a job. I had absolutely no business wasting .83 cents at this point in my life. I needed to save, to be cautious and thrifty. There was nothing wrong with tap water from my kitchen sink, even if it was from a well and turned my bathtub blue. Now that I wasn’t working I would just have to get used to it, even if it turned my insides blue. Maybe blue would make the lesions in my brain and on my spine more colorful, freak the MRI techs out. That would at least be fun. And I probably even had ice somewhere in my freezer. Maybe the same ice that had been there since last summer but I couldn’t be particular now. No, I wasn’t going to foolishly spend money, no diet coke for me.
But I wanted it, dammit. I had had a stressful day. Didn’t I deserve a treat? And wouldn’t Diet Coke help calm me down and sort out my life? I walked in, filled the plastic cup with a ton of ice and the cherished beverage and defiantly pulled out a dollar bill at the counter. I took some comfort in the fact that at least I would get change back. No putting the two pennies in the ‘need a penny take a penny’ tray, I needed to save everything.
The clerk behind the register seemed busy with paperwork and barely looked up as he said “you’re all set”. I laughed, figuring he was joking. But he didn’t move. I slid my dollar across the counter.
“There’s no charge today,” he said.
“What? How can that be?” I guessed he was a wise guy and continued to thrust one of my seemingly last dollars at him.
“It’s free,” he insisted, sliding my dollar back in my direction. “It’s Friday, a no charge fountain beverage Friday.”
“Really???” I was shocked. Was it true? I could quench my thirst AND save my .83 cents?
I began to thank him profusely and tell him how much I loved the store, how I only shopped there and it was because of excellent customer service like his. What a wonderful company to offer a treat like this one. I told him how kind of them it was and how I would remember it always and continue to only shop there from now on.
“You are in my debt and I am so grateful. I will tell all my friends how great your store is and make sure they all shop here too!”
He seemed to be slowly backing away from the counter. I realized that a line had formed and in declaring my appreciation, I was keeping other customers from getting their free Friday fountain beverage and sort of freaking everyone out. I headed to my car happy my dollar was still in my pocket. I no longer had a job with a biweekly paycheck. But I had a free soda. I was going to be ok. I went home, drank my soda, got into bed and pulled a sheet over my head. Then I slept until Sunday