Manifestation Blitz


Manifestation cover


Black Spiral, Book 2


Paranormal Thriller, Urban Fantasy

Published: March 2021

Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing Group

Tell-Tale Publishing releases Rob Tucker’s second book in a trilogy of horrific, supernatural murders.

In Manifestation, Simonetta’s personal mission of sabotage and destruction catches the attention of the FBI and brings Leon Saffulo, a profiler, to the case. When technology cannot explain the phenomenon, he reluctantly works with a retired magician, Maximilian Schultz, who takes him into the simulated individual module (SIM) world, the creation of virtual life from dark energy.

Bernadette Garcetti is a Wall Street banker’s executive secretary whose life is mired in distortions of subjective social reality. Through Bernadette’s perceptions and psychological issues, she uses Simonetta as a facet of her imagination and strategically selects her targets according to their social and illegal crimes.

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Other books in the Black Spiral Series


A Season of Sons


A Season of Sons


Black Spiral Series, Book 1

Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing Group

Release Date: January 15, 2020

A Season of Sons is a paranormal thriller of deception, illusion… and murder.

The year is 2012. While investigating the heinous death of a prominent evangelist, FBI agent, Leon Safullo is unable to identify the killer through traditional methods of forensic analysis. Simultaneously, Leon learns of the sudden disappearance of Paul Evans, CEO of a major corporation.

Leon is a pragmatic realist whose career is based on interpreting symptoms of aberrant human behavior. The killer contacts Leon with the purpose of challenging the validity of his investigation. Leon perceives the threatening direct communication as a masquerade using digital technology, but fears for the safety of his family.

With the help of an illusionary alter ego named Pearl, Antonio Guzman claims to be a macabre combination of man and spirit, who has infiltrated society as a normal human being. He uses advanced technology combined with microbiology, drugs, and hypnosis to invade his victims’ minds and manipulate their unconscious desires. Guzman is in search of “candidates” to possess and convert those who embody “the perfect light.”

Paul Evans is a preferred target for Guzman/Pearl. Once a considerate and responsible husband and father, he has fashioned his life according to how he believes others perceive him, which exposes him to the influence of corporate greed, destroys the life of his business partner, and damages his own family.

Guzman invades and breaks down Paul’s resistance to acknowledging that dark powers have created his success, and now they want Paul’s only son, Matt, in a Faustian exchange. Matt and his sister, Jenny, possess the resistant strain of “Perfect Light.” Struggling to reclaim shreds of his identity incrementally taken and possessed by Guzman, Paul and his son flee into a mountain wilderness.

In the midst of a violent winter storm in the remote Rocky Mountains, father and son fight for survival against the forces of darkness whose sole objective is to possess them and extinguish the light wherever and in whomever it may exist.

The unfolding evidence and trail of mayhem and murder force Leon to confront his disbelief in paranormal activity as something more than the imagination and projections of a psychopathic killer.


About the Author

Robert Tucker

Robert Tucker, the author of The Revolutionist, A Season of Sons, and Pulitzer-Nominated Burton Blake, is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his graduate degree in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles. Rob worked as a business and management consultant to advertising, corporate communications, and media production companies as well as many others. Now retired, he resides with his wife in Southern California where he devotes much of his time to writing. He is a recipient of the Samuel Goldwyn and Donald Davis Literary Awards. An affinity for family and the astute observation of generational interaction pervade his novels. His works are literary and genre upmarket fiction that address the nature and importance of personal integrity.

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Stress-Free Prosperity Tour

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Stress-Free Prosperity cover


Date Published: February 12 2021


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Stress and Prosperity are two sides of the same coin. When you see one face
up, you do not see the other. When you reduce stress in your life, you start
increasing prosperity. Your outlook towards life changes. When the pressures
in your life increase, your feeling of control goes down. Most of us play
this coin flip all our lives.

In this book, Sneha teaches you how to feel more prosperous, more joyous
and more happy in your life, while making sure that you unburden all that is
not needed. Sneha has been through a fair share of stress through accidents,
surgery, heart breaks, career setbacks, entrepreneurial setbacks and more.
And on that journey of life navigating stress, she has always found a way to
bring herself back on the road to prosperity.

When she started writing this book, one thing was clear. The idea of this
book was not to send you down the road of positive thinking your way to
prosperity or denying your feelings and forcing yourself to feel positive.
The idea of this book is to give actionable strategies to help you lower
your stress and increase your prosperity.


Stress-Free Prosperity tablet 





Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would write a book on stress and prosperity. However, looking N at my journey in life to date, I feel that I was meant to be the guide to help you understand how stress and prosperity are linked, making stress free prosperity the perfect subject to handle in my first book. 

The impact of stress plays a major role in people’s lives. The estimated cost to the global economy due to depression and anxiety is US $1 trillion per year in loss of productivity, according to the World Health Organization. Eastern Kentucky University estimated that American employers spend $300 billion every year on health care and lost work days linked to work-related stress. 

Stress has played a major role in my life too. I have been through my fair share of stress due to accidents, surgery, heart breaks career setbacks, entrepreneurial setbacks and more. And on that journey of navigating stress, every time I found a way to bring myself back on the road to prosperity. 

The idea of this book is not to send you down the road of positive thinking your way to prosperity or denying your feelings and forcing yourself to feel positive. The idea of this book is to give actionable strategies to help you manage the pressure you feel and empower yourself on your path to creating wealth and lasting joy. 

Who am I and why am I writing about stress and prosperity? 

Hi, I am Sneha. I am a certified life coach, a certified mindfulness teacher and in the process of achieving my 200 hour yoga teacher certification. I wear many hats under the umbrella of StressLessWithSnehaJ.Com, a website I created to help busy professionals find the balance between joy and prosperity. 

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated in understanding why adults are so stressed, about prosperity and personal growth, and the different ways to help them. To that end, I have found many mentors who have shown me the path to discover the way to being comfortable in my personal growth, every time I feel lost. 

What does Prosperity Really Mean? 

The dictionary definition of “to prosper” is to be financial y successful. The word is also used to describe “to grow strong and healthy, to flourish physically.” 

Prosperity is your ability to feel that you are thriving, to know that you are doing well and everything that is happening is in your best interest and that you are growing. Therefore, prosperity is a state of mind, rather than your bank balance, or job title. 

Stress and Prosperity : What Is The Connection? 

Stress and Prosperity are two sides of the same coin. When you see one face up, you do not see the other. 

When you reduce stress in your life, you start increasing prosperity. 

Your outlook towards life changes. When the stress in your life increases, your feeling of control goes down. 

Most of us play this coin flip al our lives. Something good happens and you get excited. Then something bad happens, and you feel that the world is just not supportive enough, and that you are not good enough. You start blaming everyone else including your stars and alignment, your parents, and partners and sometimes even your children. 

You blame your work, your colleagues, your timetable, your health routine, and your bosses. Also, many times you blame yourself and you make a subconscious choice to continue to dwell on this blame game and you sit there whining. This causes you to feel less prosperous, since you are focusing on what you do not have. 

But on the flip side, when you feel well in your mind and soul, you feel joyful. You do not feel the burden of stress on your shoulders anymore. You feel as light as air. 

The difference between people who experience less stress and more prosperity in their life from those who don’t is that these people are the ones who do something about it and learn when to adapt to situations or how to return to the balance. 

I am not saying there are days where you will not groan from the pressures. I am not saying being upset is bad. I am saying knowing when to quit whining and take action changes your game in life. 

And this is the hack that I want to teach you.  

I will teach you how to feel more prosperous, more joyous and more happy in your life, while making sure that you unburden all that is not needed. 

Is this magic? No. 

Am I going to teach you some random “woo woo” principles about the law of attraction where you keep praying that you get more money to be prosperous? NO! I am going to give you a practical step by step process of how you can achieve more prosperity in your life and how to reduce stress in your life. 

When most people think of prosperity, they start and stop at money, assets and wealth. But do you think that if you had tons of money and a lot of stress, you would be able to savor your progress 100%? 

It is not possible, because with financial prosperity comes added responsibility and THAT reduces our ability to be calm. 

Now, money is one of the factors that can help achieve prosperity but it is not the only factor. We have several factors in our life that affect how stressful or how prosperous we feel. In this book, I refer to these factors as the “Houses of Prosperity.” 

Houses Of Prosperity 

To understand these houses, you need to be on the outside looking in at the various factors that affect your well-being. Each of these factors can be grouped into the following Houses of Prosperity: 1. Self/You 

  1. Relationships 
  2. Money 
  3. Space and Environment 
  4. Career/Purpose 
  5. Spirit 
  6. Network 
  7. Body 
  8. Time 

The way you relate to each of these houses of prosperity can 

determine your prosperity at any given point of time. These houses can either make you feel good about yourself and your life or they may make your stress level rise. 

Once we explore you learn about these factors; in the following section, I will take you down a simple path that will teach you a time tested, strategic process to achieve prosperity and lower stress in each of these houses. 

My methods are a mix of practicality, science and wow! You have to understand how stress works, and how it affects your life. You have to get more clarity on what factors create a barrier to your prosperity. Once you have this clarity, you will be well on your way to stress-free prosperity! 


About the Author

Sneha Jhanb

Sneha Jhanb is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher, Reiki, and Sound Bath
Practitioner. She is passionate to help busy professionals connect with
their emotional and financial well-being and relax deeply.

Sneha transitioned from her career as an Industrial Engineer and now
identifies herself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur and wears many hats
under the umbrella of, a website she created to
help busy professionals find the balance between joy and prosperity.
Throughout her life, she has been fascinated in understanding personal
growth and prosperity.

Other than writing and coaching, she loves serving her clients through
meditation and relaxation sessions using mindfulness, crystal bowl sound
meditation and yoga nidra.

Sneha is an author of Indian origin, now settled in the United States of
America where she lives with her husband, two children and a furry

Sneha’s written work has appeared in online publications like Raising
World Children, Power of Moms, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Thrive
Global and Deseret News.


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Agustina de Aragón Release Blitz


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Historical Romance, Historical Spanish Biographical Fiction


Release Date: April 16, 2021

Barcelona, Spain, 1803. Agustina Saragossa, the youngest daughter of a bladesmith, sneaks around the military barracks, yet not to snag a husband as everyone thinks. She loathes the privileged officers and untrained peasants who call themselves soldiers. Her only purpose is to remain abreast of all military secrets as Napoleon Bonaparte swiftly rises through the French ranks.

The chance meeting between Agustina and Spanish Sergeant Juan Roca enrages her while he is instantly struck by the dark-haired beauty with fire in her blood. Relentlessly, he pursues her, despite her fury, and the sparring begins between them.

As the war between the British and French progresses, Spain becomes trapped in the middle until Napoleon deviously orders the invasion of their country. Yet, the French Emperor soon discovers the task is not so easy when Agustina and Juan heroically join the fight for freedom.

Agustina de Aragón paperback




El Primero

Zaragoza, Spain

May 1, 1856

Lucia hurried to the front window of her parents’ meat market and peered outside. “There she is again, Mamá! Every morning the old woman strolls barefooted around the

Portillo and so proudly with her head held high and a contented smile on her face. You would think she carried the world in her pocket.”

Isabel smiled as she continued working behind the counter. “Oh, but she does, my daughter. Yet, not in her pocket. It is draped about her neck and pinned to her blouse.”

Lucia squinted, trying to see what she spoke of. “I only see those gaudy necklaces and brooches.”

They are anything but gaudy. Those are precious medals of heroism gifted to her by the highest courts of Spain.”

Lucia looked over at her mother and laughed. “You are poking fun, Mamá. She is an old woman and so penniless, she cannot even afford a pair of shoes! I know she

lives in that tiny cottage on the outskirts of town. Eugenio and I followed her once. She walks and walks, then just sits upon her porch all day. She is no one special.”

Isabel shook her head, untied her apron, and joined her daughter. When she glanced out the window and saw the woman, it took her a moment to speak. “I have

told you so often, Lucia, do not judge by your eyes alone. There is so much you cannot see. That dear woman deserves our utmost respect and devotion.”

Lucia frowned. “For what?”

For her remarkable heroism during the most devastating war in our history. If not for her, we Spaniards could not hold our heads up so high with pride.”

Lucia fell silent for a moment, puzzling over her words. “You never mentioned her to me before.” “I have been waiting for the right time to tell you. You are barely fourteen. Yet

perhaps the time has come. She was only a few years older than you when her story begins.”

Please, Mamá, tell me now.”

Isabel watched the precious woman walk over to the riverside and toss a few seeds to the ducks and gulls. She remembered when her mother first told her the story and

how captivated she was by it. Finally, she wrapped her arm around her daughter and looked into her beautiful brown eyes.

Her story is so much more than a tale of war, tremendous courage and loss. It is one of the greatest love stories you will ever hear. And it cannot be told without

including the latter which is why I waited. But you, especially, will find it fascinating, Lucia. Already, I see similar fire and passion in you.”

Her mother’s words captured her attention, and she was bursting with curiosity.

What is her name?”

Agustina Raimunda Saragossa. While she is no one, she is everyone. Come. Your father and brother will be fishing for a few more hours. Let us sit at one of the

tables and I will fill your ears with such a beautiful story you will never again look upon that old woman as you did today.”

About the Author

Gail Meath

Gail Meath is an award-winning author. She writes historical romance fiction with characters who come to life and stay with you long after you’re finished reading. Her subgenres include westerns, murder mysteries and biographies. And her meticulously researched historical facts are sifted throughout each book, educating readers along the way without them even knowing it.

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Dogs of DevTown Blitz


Dogs of DevTown cover


Cyberpunk Science Fiction


Date Published: April 16, 2021

Welcome to DevTown.

In this city, holo ads lumber like neon giants seeking advertising targets. Men and women pop Oracle tabs in search of relief or enlightenment or both. Creatures of unknown origin stalk the darkest alleys. In the center of it all, NexDev Tower looms over the city, home to hundreds of floors of top-secret research.

And in its shadow, Shan Hayes kills people for money.

Rejecting the mechanical enhancements so popular in DevTown, Shan needs only two things: The resynth serum that can reshape her body’s entire cellular structure, and her hand-cannon containing a sentient parasite capable of converting her blood into weaponized wasps.

As a hired gun for various crime syndicates, there’s little of the city’s underbelly Shan hasn’t encountered. But when a longtime business associate hires her to track down an underling who’s vanished into the neon night, Shan finds DevTown still holds secrets more deadly and terrifying than anything she could imagine.


The target pauses, turns to look at Shan. Here in the alley, shadow swallows his face. Emerald neon reflects off his mirrorshades, but it’s not the only surface catching the soft glow. As he turns, light flashes around his knees and continues to his feet.

Mech legs.

As he stares her down through green-glinting shades, a hissing whine fills the alley. He turns just as the sound reaches a crescendo, and as it releases in a blast, he bounds away. The single leap carries him thirty feet, and the instant he lands, there’s another blast, carrying him another thirty feet.

The mech legs must have some sort of repulsor technology. Shan has heard of newer models which concentrate electromagnetic fields and use them to propel users at high velocities, but it doesn’t matter how his models work. Shan won’t catch him without enhancements of her own. There isn’t a single mech installed on her body, but she doesn’t need mechs. Not when she has resynth.

All these thoughts pass through her head in an instant. Before the target lands, Shan swallows a handful of CalPills. The large yellow capsules land in her stomach like a ton of bricks, but she needs the calories for what comes next. She slides a syringe from the clip on her belt and plunges the needle into her thigh.

She runs.

Resynth serum, that cocktail of proteins and viruses, floods her bloodstream, issuing commands to each cell it touches. The cells comply, transforming to accommodate the design coded into the serum. Heat ignites in her belly as the CalPills fuel the change. Shan’s joints rearrange, her muscles grow, her tendons expand and contract, reforming her body until she isn’t running, but galloping, using the force of four limbs to chase her target. She is more than human now. She is a predator, and her target is prey, no matter how much organic tissue he’s traded for metal.

Thanks to those mech legs, her target is fast, but she’s faster still. The pavement is cool and rough on her palms. The scents of DevTown sharpen as air rushes past her face. Her lips twist in a bitter smile. No hunt is complete without a chase.

A news report on the old flatscreen details another attack in another alley. In a dry voice with a matter-of-fact tone, the anchor narrates grainy footage of bone-thin men and women overwhelming a victim, mentions the growing trend of corpses covered in bite wounds. She relays the authorities’ promise to investigate the violence and provides a phone number for anyone with information to share.

Literal zombies is what they are,” says the bartender, wiping a pint glass with a rag. “People comin’ back from the dead and bitin’ chunks outta folks.”

Shan grunts, but offers no comment. She doesn’t care what he thinks. Theories won’t improve the streets of DevTown, but that’s never stopped conversation at Infusion.

Aw, not this again,” shouts a voice behind Shan. “We got no proof the shamblers ever died to begin with.”

Shamblers. It’s the term used by anyone unbound by journalistic integrity, referencing the clumsy way the attackers move.

Every single one of ’em looks like a walkin’ corpse. Add the bite marks, and how they don’t seem to feel nothin’ when folks fight back, it makes perfect sense.” The bartender sets down the pint glass and leans into the bar. Slender mech fingers drum a staccato on old wood. “I bet it’s Oracle tabs makin’ people do it. Ever notice how many of those victims turn up in Tabber Alley?”

Shut up,” says another voice. “Oracle can’t raise the dead.”

You sure?” says the bartender. “Oracle’s the newest drug on the street. No one’s studyin’ it. Tabbers know what happens after they swallow, but what about after they die?”

The door to Infusion slams open. Shan glances over her shoulder, half-expecting to find a bone-white, withered corpse of a person. It would shamble in, fall upon one of Infusion’s patrons and bite into his neck, sucking everything out until the patron is twitching on the stained floor and the newcomer’s body bloats with fluid.

But that’s not what she sees. Instead, it’s three men. They’re pale, but not bleached white, and they certainly aren’t wasting away. Their arms are thick, their chests wide. As one, they stride up to the bar. There’s no sizing up the patrons, no scanning for dangerous characters. Each man’s gate is purposeful, fearless. One settles into a stool next to Shan, and the others wait behind him, snapping at the bartender for attention. After they order a round of drinks, an uneasy silence falls over Infusion. Nobody offers another opinion on Oracle tabs, nobody theorizes on the shamblers’ origin. Everyone stares at their glasses, but the bar’s collective focus centers on the newcomers.

You Shan Hayes?” says one man. His voice is a dagger, piercing the silence and leaving a gaping wound in its wake.

Who’s asking?”

The man’s lips quirk in a smile. “Heard we might find her here.”

Shan holds his stare, tracking his companions in the corner of her eye. One has shifted a hand inside his black trench coat; the other drifts sideways, flanking her. She doesn’t know who sent them, but they aren’t here for a friendly chat.

So Shan acts before they do. She throws an elbow back, sinking it into the gut of the man shifting behind her. As he grunts, more from surprise than pain, she keeps turning, spinning off her seat and using her other hand to snatch his glass of whiskey and hurl it at his companion in the stool beside her. He dodges the projectile, and it shatters in a spray of gold and glitter. That split second of hesitation is all she needs. She shuffles away until they’re in front of her, the bar at their backs. At least she’s not surrounded anymore.

The guy reaching into his jacket withdraws his hand to reveal a weapon. It’s not a gun or even a knife, though. This is a long black baton with ice blue spirals running up and down its length. He lunges at her, lifting the weapon over his head. Reckless.

With ease, she sidesteps the attack and throws herself into a counterstrike. Her knuckles crash into his jaw, but a jarring vibration runs from her wrist to her shoulder. He barely reacts to the perfectly placed blow, now whirling toward her. He even has the audacity to smile.

Of course. He’d used mechs to reinforce his bones. Not a terrible investment for someone on his career path.

The guy with the baton lurches toward her, and Shan reacts instantly. She grabs a syringe from her belt, plunges it into her thigh, and throws the empty canister at her attacker. He dodges, and she backs away, waiting for the serum to do its work.

The cells in her arms split, change, and die, burning calories at a rapid rate. Her stomach feels empty, and the emptiness spreads to her entire body as the serum demands more fuel.

Kim would not approve of this.

Shan forces herself to focus through the sudden hunger, the lightheadedness, the feverish disorientation. Her right arm has grown razor-sharp spines along the edge of the forearm, and her left has changed into a massive claw as hard as a diamond.

This time, when the guy swings at her, Shan plants her feet and blocks with her spiny forearm. His elbow catches on the fresh blades, and when she jerks her arm aside, it shreds his mech. The club rattles to the floor, but he stays upright. Synthetic skin hangs in ribbons around the ruined chrome. He sneers.

Shan sways where she stands, her body burning through calories at an unsustainable rate. She has to finish this. Without CalPills, she can’t hold this form long.

She launches herself at the man with the shredded arm, bringing the full weight of her claw into the crook of his neck. Now he falls, legs buckling under the force of her blow. The claw sinks into his shoulder. It isn’t heavy enough to sever an entire mech, but its serrations still cut partway through. Shan rips the claw free, and he collapses, twitching in the chaos of shorted and severed connections.

The clock is ticking. Shan’s growing weaker by the second.

She kicks a loose barstool at one attacker and lunges at the other. It’s a reckless move, but she doesn’t have the time to maneuver so there’s nobody behind her. She must rely on her own speed, hoping to finish one guy before the other recovers.

In the blink of an eye, she’s on top of her target. The spines on her forearm pierce flesh and tendons on his chest with ease, and when she tears the arm free, he gives a low, gurgling moan. Blood sprays a nearby table. Her stomach roars with hunger, and her head vibrates, but she can’t stop yet.

She whirls to face the last of them, but he’s ready for her. The barstool she kicked is his weapon now. He’s already mid-swing, and the seat catches her under the ear.

Darkness swallows her.

About the Author

Taylor Hohulin

Taylor Hohulin is a radio personality by morning, a science fiction author by afternoon, and asleep by 9:30. He is the author of The Marian Trilogy, Tar, Your Best Apocalypse Now, and other genre-bending stories. He lives in West Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, where they are owned by two cats and a dog.

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Rewrite the Stars Tour

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Women’s Fiction


Date Published: March 18, 2021

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Disillusioned about her broken marriage and her husband’s PTSD, mom-of-three Sadie Rollins-Lancaster heads to the grocery store for Father’s Day fixings. But after a charged interaction with the man behind her in line, she brings home more than just vegetables and milk: the man’s voice and smile linger in her mind for weeks. When Sadie formally meets him months later, she’s challenged by emotions and feelings she never expected to feel again. But life is complicated. Sadie’s husband, Theo, the one to instigate the divorce, now refuses to sign the papers. And Sadie has to ask herself: What do I want? REWRITE THE STARS is an authentic and heart-touching novel about being brave enough to acknowledge the difficulties we face and having the strength to actively shape our own futures.

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Chapter 1: Sadie


On the morning my life began to unravel like the hem of my worn-out sweater, I found an old love letter from my almost ex-husband in the bottom drawer of my home office desk. The paper, at least fifteen years old, felt thin to my fingertips, like the lace on the bodice of my wedding dress. Inside the folds of the sheet, Theo had printed a few lines of text in his block scrawl—some words he’d written on his own, some he’d borrowed from our favorite poet, Rumi. You have disturbed my sleep, the text read. You have wrecked my image. You have set me apart. 

Times had changed.

Without you, I can’t cope.

And yet, they hadn’t.

The letter’s edges scraped my fingertips one last time before I placed the paper into a file folder near my computer. The summer humidity made the drawer stick, and I pushed it closed, upsetting the small pile of bills balanced on the desk. Water sloshed from the tall glass near the computer—Theo had probably left it out all night—reminding me dishes still needed to be washed and put away. Moving toward the door, I kicked a toy car with a missing wheel. The vehicle crashed against the wall and came to rest near a singing-alphabet snail that had been waiting for new batteries for two weeks. From sweet love letters to dirty glasses and broken toys.

Insane giggles from the next room interrupted my progress, and the scene unfolded before me: Theo on hands and knees, three rambunctious children scattered across his back. Make that hand and knees—he possessed enough strength to balance on one hand. His arm muscles rippled against his favorite blue T-shirt as he tickled the children’s bellies. One tumbled off Theo and onto the carpet, while the second attempted to pull his shirt. The youngest, a pile of curls and drool, peered up at her father, joy radiating from her eyes as her pudgy fingers gripped his waistband. She clenched her teeth and yanked with a linebacker’s strength such that in one fell swoop, a portion of Theo’s shorts sprang away from his body. The kids rocked onto their heels, clapping their hands and howling, pointing at their father’s underwear. In return, Theo growled, his voice echoing across the great room rafters. The guttural noise sent the children to scatter from one toy-filled corner to the other and then back to him again.

I pinched my lips, stifling the laughter, before my gaze met Theo’s. It had been a long time since I’d witnessed such life in his eyes and in his actions. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time he’d played with the kids so effortlessly. On many days, an ordinary day’s struggles wore him out long before he had a chance to interact with the children. Wiping away a tear from my cheek, I smiled—breathing in the happy moment, reveling in the charming family image, hoping to hold onto the contentment enveloping me as I went about the rest of my full day.

“I’ve got this.” Theo craned his neck to look at me as the children began another round of assaults on his back. “You’re overworked and underpaid. Go do what you need to do.” 

“But it’s Father’s Day. I can’t do that to you.”

“Do what? Leave me with my children? I’m right where I want to be.” Theo—in one swift move—flipped his body over, grabbed the children, and clutched them to his chest. The move surprised me and gave me hope that Theo still existed. He did have this.

A mental check of my to-do list: most of the day consisted of tasks to be accomplished at home—laundry, decluttering the mud room, sorting old toys for the Vietnam Vets pickup scheduled for the next week—except for grocery shopping. “Okay, but at least let me take Lexie to the store. She loves to see her grocery store friends. Plus, Charlie and Delia have been complaining about their lack of Daddy time.” 

A year ago, when Lexie turned six months old and Theo had been struggling with PTSD for eleven months, we called it quits. Somewhat. Theo and I as a unit didn’t work, mainly due to his diagnosis. He’d turned inward, and nothing I had tried brought him back. At that time, we stopped sharing our day, stopped touching one another, and eventually, stopped sleeping together. Theo refused to see a therapist with me on a routine basis, claiming we’d be “better off with different expectations of our future together.”

After much thought and debate, and because we still both respected one another, we decided to be frank and tell the kids of our separation. The PTSD made sure Theo needed our help, so he still lived in an addition at the back of the house. But with the older kids at all-day summer camps and school the rest of the year, Charlie’s and Delia’s time spent with Dad was at a premium.

He didn’t hesitate. “All right. Take Lexie and go get the grub. It’s Father’s Day, and I’m not doing the cooking!” He convulsed with laughter as the kids’ fingers found their way into his armpits.

“Ha! Like you ever do.” I winked at him.

Not wanting to waste a moment, I pried Lexie from Theo’s legs and nuzzled her belly with my nose, drunk on the scent of my eighteen-month-old daughter. She giggled and squirmed and, like an inch worm, wriggled to the floor, then caught my hand in hers. With a quick swipe of the car keys and diaper bag and a check that a snack was accessible in the refrigerator, we wound our way through the back hallway to the garage. 

“Do we know what we’re getting?” I asked Lexie, who held the paper between her thumb and forefinger. She lifted the list in the air and waved it like a flag before crumpling it in her tight, gooey grip. When I pried the list from her hands, her grin stretched as wide as her face.

Once I’d buckled Lexie into her car seat, I grabbed my favorite cotton sweater from the seat beside her. “Okay, sweetie, to the store we go!” I tugged my sweater onto my arms and adjusted the buttons across my chest. It wasn’t until later, as I hung the sweater on the drying rack in the laundry room, I noticed the loose thread at the bottom hem.

About The Author

Christina Consolino

Christina Consolino is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in multiple online and print outlets. Her debut novel, Rewrite the Stars, was named one of ten finalists for the Ohio Writers’ Association Great Novel Contest 2020. She serves as senior editor at the online journal Literary Mama, freelance edits both fiction and nonfiction, and teaches writing classes at Word’s Worth Writing Center. Christina lives in Kettering, Ohio, with her family and pets.

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