Tag Archives: Suspense

GAIA AND THE GOLIATHS – BLITZ

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Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Date Published:  February 5, 2017
Publisher: Carrick Publishing
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An environmental activist is murdered on a street in Manhattan after a protest. NYPD homicide Detectives Chen and Castilblanco get the case. While pursuing the clues to find those responsible, they discover the activist’s boyfriend is in danger because he has key information that will expose an international conspiracy involving Europe, Russia, and the U.S. As the tangled web unravels, an old nemesis of the detectives makes his appearance.
Other Books in the Detectives Chen & Castilblanco Mystery Series
Published: October 2015
NYPD detectives Chen and Castilblanco continue their adventures in this sixth novel in the series. Castilblanco’s relative Teresa and Nasir are an item, but Nasir kills Teresa’s taunting and jealous ex-boyfriend in a fight. When they look to Nasir’s friends for help, those friends kidnap the two fugitives who become involved in a terrorist plot.
While the two detectives try to find Teresa and prove her innocence, a case in a different precinct involving a different Castilblanco relative surfaces. The cop’s uncle, other detectives, and the Coast Guard help sort things out, including the connection to an old mafia family.
Published: 2010
The murders of a Wall Street broker and a Navy SEAL in Manhattan only miles and minutes apart seem unrelated, but two homicide detectives discover a connection. As the strange cases merge and they chase down the killers, even with federal stonewalling, they uncover a terrorist plan to destroy two American icons and generate a financial crisis bigger than the Wall Street implosion of 2008. Hiding in the background are webs of international intrigue taken from today’s post-9/11 world.
Published: March 2012
Steve Moore gives a new meaning to “narco-terrorism” in this new thriller that has your favorite NYPD homicide detectives Rolando Castilblanco and Dao-Ming Chen thwarting another terrorist plot, as they did in The Midas Bomb. Castilblanco uses his old Navy SEAL skills to good effect and Chen takes on a new sexy and independent role against the combined forces of al Qaeda, a Mexican cartel, and neo-Nazi militia members.
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Published: May 2013
With Teeter-Totter between Lust and Murder, Steve Moore continues the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series.” The sleuths of The Midas Bomb and Angels Need Not Apply will embroil you in action and suspense yet again.
As a mystery novel, it is a dark probing into the nexus the crime underworld sometimes enjoys with the rich and powerful. Chen is arrested for the murder of a senator in circumstances that seem to leave no doubt of her guilt, but Castilblanco helps prove her innocence.
With this new crime novel, Steve continues the saga of your two favorite detectives as they and their companions fight the corrupting influence of the illegal weapons trade.
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Published: March 2014
Aristocrats and Assassins continues the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series.”
NYPD detectives Chen and Castilblanco leave their comfort zones once again. Chen goes to China where she helps the DEA track down a money laundering scheme. Castilblanco is in Europe on vacation with his wife. They meet up to thwart a terrorist who’s kidnapping members of the European royal family. What relation does he have to the money laundering scheme? Why does he have a vendetta for Castilblanco? What’s his real agenda? Join Chen and Castilblanco on a tour of Europe you won’t find in Frommer’s.
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Published: November 2014
Chen and Castilblanco are back in the Big Apple.  They begin to investigate the murder of a SOHO art dealer, delve into the shadowy world of art thieves, and discover that stolen artworks can be used as collateral to finance some dark entrepreneurship.  The Collector is book five in the Detectives Chen and Castilblanco series.
Excerpt

 

Excerpt from Steven M. Moore’s Gaia and the Goliaths, #7 in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series”, Carrick Publishing, 2017:
Chapter One
Dr. Guillermo Sanchez ran with EMTs as they guided the gurney through the halls on the way to one of Bellevue’s ORs.  His job was to stabilize the shooting victim for the surgeon, but stabilize wasn’t the right word in this case.  The young woman flat-lined twice before the surgeon arrived.
“Wash up, Guillermo,” said Dr. Wilson. “I’m going to need your steady hands.”
Guillermo Pedro Sanchez was ending his first year as ER intern.  He had already informed Wilson where the gunshot wounds were.  The most serious ones were around her left breast.  Had they done damage to the heart?  The flat-lining indicated that they had.
He was in the seventh hour of his first shift.  Unruly black hair and a need for a shave combined with a blood-stained smock made him look like an old-fashioned Italian butcher from an old ethnic neighborhood of New York City, but he had grown up in a rich family in Marblehead, Massachusetts.  A brother and sister had attended Harvard all the way through to MBAs and now worked in the corporate world.  He was the youngest and had attended Tufts; he’d always wanted to work in an ER.  Now he was an intern in one of the busiest.
They were soon embroiled in the operation.  The abdominal cavity was filled with blood—a massive leak somewhere threatened this woman’s life.
“Let’s do a transfusion,” said Wilson, “and patch tears if we can.”
“Is it her heart?” said Sanchez.
“I can’t see a damn thing.  Suction!”
They worked feverishly.  Desperate minutes became intense hours.
***
Gaia Papadakis’s last memories were about a dark street near NYU.  She had been a bit tipsy.  After the protest march, they went to a bar to celebrate.  No one was arrested during the protest, but all the same they made the news on all local TV channels.
People were now interested in global warming despite naysayers in big corporations and the nation’s capital.  Many were also asking questions about oil spills, fracking, and pollution from power plants.  Her group Clean World tried to guide and coordinate the dialog.
Many conservatives supported companies Clean World was protesting against, while progressives were more on the side of protesters when not beholden to corporate donors.  Many energy companies were owned by one huge energy conglomerate, Wilson-Myers Energy Corporation.  Emotions ran high during the protest, but she gave the cops more credit than some co-marchers—the former kept the march peaceful and seemed impartial about whom they hauled away when tempers flared and violence ensued.
She had recognized some opposition leaders and activists trying to appeal to spectators; they played on people’s fears, focusing on loss of livelihood if the conglomerate’s companies went under.  She knew their argument was specious—she had written white papers that proved the conglomerate could, in a period of ten years or so, improve their environmental record without losing revenue.  Other white papers showed what would happen to the Earth if conglomerates like Wilson-Myers didn’t change their polluting ways.
Most in the crowd, though, ignored the opposition and were friendly to protesters.  She knew Wilson-Myers hated that and the progress environmentalists were making.  The conglomerate was spending money right and left to stop them and writing most of it off to advertising.  That same money, probably even less, could be used to change its bad environmental record.  It was a question of priorities.  Companies spent tons of money trying to “educate the population”—translation: attack science and deny global warming.  And they had sycophants in Washington to push that agenda.
At the bar, they had toasted their better-than-average success with the protest.  She left around 2 a.m.  Her small apartment wasn’t far away, so she walked.  She was city and street smart, but her shooter was more efficient than your average gang member or mugger.  An SUV sped by and a shooter sprayed her body with an automatic weapon, leaving her sprawled on the sidewalk and her mind fading into darkness as she still wondered why.
***
“We’re in trouble,” said Wilson, glancing at monitors.  “We need to give her an artificial heart, but there’s no time!”
            “No repair’s possible?” said Sanchez.
            “Let’s try to pull her through,” said Wilson.  “We’re heading for a train wreck here!  Full replacement, ladies and gentlemen!”
            More hours of painstaking, mind numbing surgery.  Another cardiac surgeon joined Wilson, and another intern arrived to help Sanchez clamp, suck out fluids, sew stitches, and keep an eye on instruments, although OR nurses also helped in that too.  The team grew; it was a team effort.  Wilson was the quarterback marching his offense down the field with time running out.
After nine hours of surgery, they had the victim on an artificial heart.  That would only be the start of her odyssey.  She would now go on a list of patients who needed a heart transplant.  That was another race against time.
            “Good work,” Wilson told Sanchez as they were cleaning up.  “You have a fast and sure suture technique.  Maybe you should change to surgery.  By the way, I’m sorry I ignored your questions in there.  I’m afraid I become less professorial when I’m saving someone’s life.”
            “No need to apologize,” said Sanchez.  “They were stupid questions.  Her heart was beyond repair.  What chance does she have now?”
            Wilson glanced at him, raising a bushy eyebrow.  “Don’t become emotionally involved, Guillermo.  You need to maintain a professional detachment.  There’s only a ten percent chance she’ll make it.  She’s likely to throw a clot, for example, considering circumstances.  And we might not find a donor in time.”
            “It seems so unfair.  What is she, mid-twenties?”
            “If she’s more than thirty, I’d be surprised.  She pissed someone off enough she might as well have been a grunt in the Middle East invading a terrorist camp without a gun or body armor.  Yeah, it’s unfair.  You can be a recluse most of your life but still have a truck mow you down crossing a street in Manhattan.  What about a surgery internship, if I can change the subject?”
            “I can help more in the ER.”  Sanchez smiled.  “I’ll have lots of practice in Manhattan.”
            “Are you just afraid of overspecialization?  You’d be an ER surgeon soon enough.  You can help sicker people as a cardiac surgeon on ER call.”
            “I’ll think about it.  But you can’t determine my skills just from one session.  I didn’t do very much.”
            “Often enough you provided a skilled third pair of hands when I needed them.”  Wilson looked around and lowered his voice.  “That other intern was all thumbs.  Between you and me, he’s not going to last long in this intense environment.”  He raised his hands and flexed his fingers, watching water drip off.  “I’ll take these any day over a robot’s.”
            Sanchez thought that was a bit egotistical but said nothing.
***
“You’re too young to be a doctor,” Gaia Papadakis said, her voice a raspy whisper.  Sanchez had just removed the tube from her throat.
“You’re awake.  You’ve been through a lot.”  He took her pulse again the old-fashioned way.  “A bit weak.”  His thick eyebrows arched.  “How do you feel?”
“I feel like I was run over by a subway train.”
“Something comparable on the street and right here in the ER.  You’re lucky to be alive.  You were in good shape, though, and that helped.”
“I work out when I can.  Gym and jogging.  Do you work out?”
“When I can.  Don’t talk too much.”  He showed her the call button.  “If you have a problem, use that.  Someone will come running.  Don’t be timid with the morphine pump either.  Control your pain.”  He waved toward the door.  “I have some other patients to see.  It was a busy night in the ER apparently.”
“What happened?”
“Other than your being shot, I don’t know.  About that: when you’re up to it, NYPD will want to interview you.  Don’t worry about it, though.  They have to go through me first.”
Nice smile, she thought.  God, he’s young and handsome.  Where’s he been all my life?  He had beautiful curly locks like her Zorba.  She wanted Alessandro by her side holding her hand now that the doctor had reminded her of him.
“Did you participate in my surgery?”  He nodded.  “Say, can you hand me my purse?  I’d like to check my smart phone.”  He handed her the purse, watched her rummage around, but turned to the PA system’s speaker over the door when his name was called.
“I have to go.”  She nodded, flashing a tired smile.
She watched him leave, deciding it might be worth being shot in order to meet him.  Sorry, Alessandro, you’re thousands of miles away.
            Hours later in midafternoon, she woke from a deep sleep feeling panic.  She knew something was wrong.  She took her last gasp as she fought her descent into sweet oblivion.
About the Author

Steve Moore is an ex-scientist who has lived abroad and seen a lot of the world. His fiction reflects his interest in the human condition and how good people everywhere react and fight evil. He is now a full-time author who lives with his wife in New Jersey, but he has resided in Colombia and Massachusetts and other states in the U.S. He’s a native Californian. He loves to hear from readers and authors.
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BREATH OF MALICE – BLITZ

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Breath of Malice

by Karen Fenech
Publication Date: June 14, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

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99¢ until 2/28: Amazon US | Amazon UK

FBI Special Agent Paige Carson hoped she’d be able to start a new life in small-town South Carolina. But when a senator’s sister is murdered and a blank postcard is left next to the body, Paige realizes that a killer from her past has found her–and is sending her a very personal message.

From the moment he hired her, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sam McKade knew Paige was hiding something. Prompted by this recent threat, she finally opens up: one year ago, she caught the eye of suspected serial killer Todd Thames. Now he’s come back to pull her into his game, whether she wants to play or not.

As the danger increases, Paige and Sam give in to their growing attraction, and he vows to protect her no matter the cost. But the murderer will stop at nothing to get to his intended prey, and the strong arm of the law–and the shelter of her new love–may not be enough to save her.

About Karen Fenech

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR KAREN FENECH writes romantic suspense novels, short works of suspense, and erotic romance. She is the author of the bestselling romantic suspense series, The Protectors and the author of the newly launched erotic romance series, the Surrender series. Karen’s novels and short suspense fiction have received critical acclaim. Her novels have been translated into several languages and have been released in audio format. When Karen’s not writing or spending time with her family, she loves to shop, watch movies, and just kick back in a comfortable chair and read.

You can keep in touch with Karen here:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KarenFenechsFriends
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Website: http://www.karenfenech.com

If you’d like to know when Karen Fenech’s next novel is released, sign up for her notification-only news at: www.karenfenech.com/books.html

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BREAKING EVIL PROMO BLITZ

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Suspense/Paranormal
Date Published: December 15, 2016

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BECOMING EVIL
One year ago, Sera Murano chose evil. She left her human world behind to transform into an Ensoul, a rare and powerful demon, all to fight the evil she was about to become. Working for her father Lorenzo, the leader of all demons, she secretly vowed to overturn his plot to destroy humankind.
BATTLING EVIL
That is, until demon hunters attack Sera and her beloved, Damon, and the truth about the human-demon war is revealed. Torn between the human life of her past and the supernatural one she lives now, Sera must decide who is the worse enemy: evil or humanity.
BREAKING EVIL
To win the battle of her life, Sera is forced to do the unthinkable, taking drastic measures and risking the lives of those she loves most. She must fight to the death against the only supernatural leader she’s ever known, all for a chance to break the cycle of evil.

 
EXCERPT
Time was of the essence. Sera burst out of her room and into the hallway and raced down the long corridor. As she reached the winding stairs, she opened her mouth to scream that she was coming for Damon. But before she could say anything, a booming crack silenced her. It bellowed loudly.
The noise stopped her in her tracks. She had no idea where the sound had come from. Dazed, she froze in her steps and looked around, trying to identify its source. What was that? Her blood pumped fast through her system. When she took her next step, an excruciating and undeniable agony came over her. She had been attacked.
Stars swirled and danced in her vision. Everything dimmed.  The back of her head throbbed. The pain pounded in her skull, making a ba-boom sound over and over again. Without further warning, her body gave way, and she dropped fast to the hard floor. As she fell and desperately tried to right herself, she spun on the perfect angle to see the reason for her unfortunate circumstance. He loomed over her, poised for a further assault.
Her attacker was a dark, blurry figure. He watched her collapse with his small beady eyes glaring at her from the holes in his black mask. While the hunter’s face was obscured, his smile gleamed brightly in the dimly lit house. Sera could have sworn she heard laughter. It was a note higher than she anticipated. She noticed the hunter’s right arm; he was positioned ready to strike. He wielded a giant baseball bat, which had just connected with her head.
“What the…?” Sera’s rage metamorphosed into energy, thrusting through her like a roaring and violent storm. It readied her body to respond to her attacker.
The hunter pulled his arm back slowly until it was raised high above his head. He paused, a cocky move, meant to intimidate her.
Unwilling to fall victim to the masked assailant, Sera summoned her supernatural strength once again and pushed herself off the floor to face him. In a flash, he twisted his body and swung the bat toward her. Sera hesitated a beat too long, just enough for the demon hunter to get his wish.
She had been mere inches away from an upright stance, when the bat, in full swing, connected with her cheekbone. The impact sent Sera careening backward until she slammed up against a wall.
For seconds she teetered on the edge of the top stair.  Finally, she lost her battle with her balance and slid off the wall. To save herself, she took a leap, high into the air. But nonetheless, her body tumbled and crashed down the steps of the grand staircase.
The fall felt as if it lasted for minutes, but only seconds had passed. Conscious as she experienced her soar through the air, her body twisted and turned as it made its way to the bottom of the stairs. Without warning, her head smashed violently onto the marble foyer entrance. Everything faded to black.
 
About the Author
Kristina Rienzi is an American author who has been writing in some fashion for several decades. In 2014, she achieved traditional publication for her debut novel, Choosing Evil (Ensouled Trilogy, Book One), and has since independently published, Luring Shadows, Twisted, and Winter Road. Her latest novel, Breaking Evil (Ensouled Trilogy, Book Two) will be releasing soon.
Professionally, Kristina has been active in the writing community as a member of several organizations such as Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. She has also served as the New Jersey Romance Writers Literary Book Fair Chair and, most recently, the President of Sisters in Crime-New Jersey. Kristina holds a Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling and a Senior Professional Human Resources Certificate, working in both fields throughout her business career.
Personally, Kristina is married and doggie mommy to Pekingese and Shih-Tzu pups. Although a New Jersey resident, she dreams of one day moving to Hawaii and living the ‘Aloha’ way. When she is not writing, she spends her time reading, watching paranormal investigations, rooting for her West Virginia Mountaineers and relaxing with her loved ones, wine in hand.
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Email: KristinaRienziAuthor@gmail.com
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BURIED SECRETS – REVEAL

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Buried Secrets

by J.C. Valentine
Publication Date: November 29, 2016
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Mystery, Thriller, YA, Suspense

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Synopsis: How do you live with yourself when you don’t even know who you are?

On a chill October night, a girl goes missing setting the small town of Oakridge on edge. James has spent the last five years running from a past that still haunts him to this day. Now he finds himself thrust back into a life he thought he left behind. Finding out his new home may be haunted and reconnecting with an old friend while being thrust into a murder mystery, James finds himself trying to figure out which end is up while questioning his own sanity.

AUTHOR’S NOTE Buried Secrets is a New Adult, mystery thriller with very little romance but heavy on the suspense.

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EXCERPT – PROLOGUE

Fall crept in like a burglar while the town slept. It brought with it a chill that felt refreshing after one of the hottest summers on Oakridge record. A slight, sticky fog hung in the air and evidence of Halloween was on nearly every doorstep in the form of carved jack-o-lanterns. Skeletons hung on doors, and festive orange lights draped roofs. Leaves coated the ground, wet and matted to the sidewalks and streets.

James breathed in the cool air that stung his nose just a bit. He loved when school let out at the end of the day. He never could wait to get out of the confines of the small, overcrowded classrooms. Even now he couldn’t fully escape it. Classmates of his walked and ran the same mile stretch he was, laughing and talking about anything and everything. Right now, he knew the junior high girl and her friend from his science class walking a few feet behind him were debating the hotness of Tommy Henderson, the varsity basketball player for Oakridge High. Everyone knew him, and everyone loved him. He was going to take the team to the championships. Probably would graduate and take some college to their championship, too. Something the whole town could be proud of.

They met a few years ago when James was playing in the woods. AJ found him digging for worms—he’d been on a mission, wanting to teach himself how to fish, to live off the land like the people from ancient times—and he’d offered to help. AJ had run off, leaving James to sit and wonder where he had come from—he hadn’t heard him approach in the first place. He returned cupping a handful of water in his palms. He’d dumped the liquid in the hole James had dug, and moments later, worms began squirming to the surface.

They became fast friends. James kept their friendship a secret. He wasn’t sure why exactly, except that AJ was his only friend, and he wanted to keep him all for himself. If he told someone, they might want to meet him, then the magic might go away. So they spent all that summer collecting worms and pretending to be hunters in the deep woods behind Oakridge Park. When summer break was over and school was back in session, James was disappointed to find that AJ wasn’t in any of his classes. In fact, he wasn’t in any classes in the school. No one heard of him.

He finally broke and told his mom and dad about him one evening over dinner, because he was worried about AJ and needed to share him with someone, so he could feel close to him again. Like if he kept him a secret, and didn’t see him, then he wouldn’t be real anymore. It was an odd way to look at it, he knew, but he hadn’t ever had a friend quite like AJ. He was fun and daring and super inventive, and he liked James, flaws and all.

So when he told his parents about AJ, they were happy for him. His mom said he probably just missed him in the halls. The schools weren’t huge, but they were big enough to lose someone in. His dad said that AJ probably just went to a different school. Maybe in the next town over, since no one knew him here. That settled it for a bit, and the next time James saw AJ, which was at the park just after sunset one evening when James was on his way home from skipping rocks in the small stream in the woods, he asked him about it. AJ had told him that both theories were wrong. He lived a few miles west through the woods and his mom homeschooled him. He said his dad did some sort of factory work in the next town, which was just enough to pay the bills and put food on the table, according to him. It was only then that James realized AJ didn’t wear the best of clothes, and he wasn’t as kempt as James was. But that didn’t make any difference to him. In fact, he felt closer to AJ than ever before. Finally, he had found someone who would never judge him. Someone who could truly understand him.

So when Mercy Worthington fell into step with him, James’s heart beat a rapid tempo and his stomach turned to knots.

“Hi,” she said in a very delicate, but cheerful voice.

James stared at the ground and muttered a hello, but he couldn’t get up the nerve to really look at her.

“I’m Mercy. You’re James, right? James Clearwater. I think my dad works with yours at old man Jenson’s. He does the proofs, doesn’t he?”

James nodded. His dad worked at Jenson Design Studio where he developed photographs in one of the two darkrooms. His dad had big dreams of one day owning his own studio and becoming a famous photographer. Mercy’s dad was a set designer. James knew everything there was to know about Mercy and her family, and not just because the whole town knew who her family was, but because he paid attention and took notes. James was in love with Mercy Worthington, and had been since the third grade when she’d taken a job behind the lunch counter for a day and handed him a carton of 2% with that big, white smile of hers trained squarely on him. She was a senior at the high school, which made her five years older than James, who was thirteen now and in the seventh grade.

Today, like every day, she was radiant. Her dull blond hair waved gently behind her as the breeze caught it and when he found the nerve to look up at her, he found her green eyes smiling on him.

He was going to marry her one day.

“I thought so,” she said, grinning. She took in their surroundings. “Do you take this route every day?” He nodded. “I’ve never seen you, and I walk this way every day. How come I’ve never seen you?”

He shrugged. “I dunno.” He felt awkward and short on words. He stuffed his hands in his pockets.

“You don’t talk much, do you?”

He glanced at her and caught her teasing smile. He smiled back, feeling a little of the tension leave his shoulders. Why was she being so nice to him? A part of him felt like this must be a trick, but when he looked around, he only saw other kids from school walking silently or in small groups or pairs, chatting quietly. Could she really be interested in him? The only kids besides AJ that talked to him were the ones who poked fun of his clothes or his haircut, his slight lisp or the way he tripped over his own feet. She probably just felt sorry for him. He had heard of that before, girls who felt sorry for the underdog and took pity on them. Normally, he would get mad at being a charity case, but right now he couldn’t care less. Someone other than his family knew he existed. Mercy Worthington knew he existed. Suddenly, he didn’t feel like a shadow slinking around in the world unnoticed anymore.

“So how long have you lived in Oakridge, James?” Mercy asked, as they crossed the street.

“My whole life,” he replied.

She nodded. “Do you have any friends? I never see you with anyone.”

He shrugged. “Some.” He didn’t want to look like too much of a loser.

“What about a girlfriend, do you have one of those?”

He felt himself blush. “No.”

“I know what your dad does for a living. So what does your mom do?”

“She likes to garden, but no one pays her for it,” he said. His dad was old-fashioned and believed that the wife should be home with the kids while the husband went out and provided for the family.

“That’s cool,” she said. “My mom is a painter. Sometimes she sells her art to the museum or to some person with lots of money. She’s pretty successful. I was thinking of painting when I get out of college. What about you? Do you know what you want to do after college?”

Honestly, James wasn’t sure he even wanted to go to college. His dad never pushed the notion, insisting that he wouldn’t amount to much more than a gas-station attendant anyway. He wanted to be an astronaut when he was little, like most boys that age did, then he switched to a fireman after a class field trip to the fire station in fifth grade. Now, he just wasn’t sure what he wanted.

“I’m not sure,” he said honestly. “Maybe I’ll just travel across the world for a while and live off the land until I figure it out.” That had been a dream of his and AJ’s, to hitch rides all over the country with nothing but a backpack and a few dollars in their wallet.

Her face lit up with excitement. “That is so cool that you said that. I always dreamed of seeing the world, but my dad said that education comes first. I will have all the time in the world to do what I want after I get my ducks in a row.”

James wasn’t sure he believed that, but he kept his mouth shut.

Heavy footsteps approached from behind and moments later a big, strong arm wrapped around Mercy’s shoulder. Tommy Henderson had arrived.

“Hey, babe.” Tightening his grip on her neck, he pulled her in for a sloppy kiss.

“Hey,” she said when she came up for air. “Tommy, this is James. His dad works with my dad. He’s going to travel across the world one day.” She said this with a grin that made James’ stomach flutter a little.

Tommy sized James up, and James knew he was trying to figure out where he knew him from. James knew him from the many times he “accidentally” knocked his books from his hands, and “inadvertently” tore up his homework. James was afraid if he recognized him, he might have to endure another embarrassing moment involving colorful adjectives and descriptive threats, and he just didn’t want to be made a fool of in front of a girl like Mercy Worthington.

He hung his head, allowing a few scraggly scraps of hair to shield his eyes.

“Travel the world, huh? Like a hobo or something?” He laughed, his deep, belly rolling chortle that made all the girls weak in the knees. James thought it made him look and sound stupid. “What are you hanging out with this joker for? He’s like two feet tall. I could smash him with my pinkie.”

James felt his finger press down on the crown of his head in demonstration.

“Hey,” Tommy said, putting himself between James and Mercy. “You trying to steal my girlfriend?”

“Stop picking on him, Tommy,” Mercy snapped.

Tommy sneered at James, then his features smoothed, and he turned on a smile for Mercy. “Whatever you say, babe. Just making sure the boy understands there’s no competition. You’re my girl, aren’t you, babe?”

Mercy rolled her eyes. “Of course, Tommy.”

They had come to a fork in the road where James’ house was to the left and Mercy’s to the right. “I’ll see you around, James,” Mercy told him, smiling apologetically.

“Yeah, see ya,” Tommy said, then ruffled James’ hair like he was some little kid.

James watched after them as they turned and walked off. After a few feet, Tommy turned to face James. “And, James.” James raised a questioning brow. “Stay away from my girl.”

Mercy punched Tommy in the side playfully, and he laughed, tugging her closer as they resumed walking. James felt his body begin to shake. He was angry. At that moment, he wanted to beat Tommy Henderson until his arms were too weak to continue. For the first time in his miserable existence, James thought he felt angry enough to kill.

As the sun set, the day turned bitter cold, and the rain had moved in. It was sheeting down now, and Mercy’s shoes were soaking wet as her feet beat through every puddle. She was running, the rain pouring down her face in rivers, filling her eyes and blinding her to her path. Someone was chasing her.

She’d decided to walk home after an evening at her boyfriend, Tommy’s, house, and almost as soon as she rounded the first street corner, she felt someone following her. The shadowy figure kept pace for a couple of blocks, then steadily picked up pace, until Mercy broke out running…and so did they.

She was crossing the park playground now, and she could just make out the hill ahead. Her house was just over that hill, and if she could make it, she could get help. As her feet slipped, trying to find purchase on the soft, mud covered ground, Mercy could feel her muscles begin to cramp and burn with exhaustion. Against her will, she was slowing. When her feet hit the loose bark covering the playground, Mercy did slip. She caught herself with her hands and scrambled to her feet, pushing herself harder until she finally reached the bottom of the hill. There she used her hands, her fingers digging into the grass, and pulled herself up until she could look over and beyond to her house. The lights inside were a warm beacon, and she felt a sudden urgency come over her.

As she came to her feet, Mercy heard a muffled thud, and glanced over her shoulder. It was a mistake that she wouldn’t live to regret.

The shadow stood before her, and to her surprise, she recognized the dark figure.

“What do you want from me!”

A visual sweep revealed something big and heavy looking in their hand, and with quick precision, the shadow raised its arm high in the air and brought it down hard. A slow trickle of blood broke through her hairline and ran down her forehead, then her face and dripped off her chin. A second blow caused it to grow thicker and run faster and Mercy fell to her knees, then finally her face, where her eyes focused and glazed over and her breaths faded away to nothing. And still the shadow hit her, until all the fury, all the anger subsided.

Her last vision was that of the warm yellow glow coming from the living room window where her mother and father, sister and brother sat watching the evening news and waiting for her to come walking in the door any moment.

Stooping down, the figure wrapped its cold, wet fingers around Mercy’s ankles and pulled, slipping frequently under the girl’s slight weight as it dragged her lifeless body into the copse of oak trees beyond the playground. Come morning, when the sun broke through the clouds, children would run and play, never knowing the horrors of what happened just a short distance away.

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ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

JC Valentine

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Series. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

J.C. earned her own happily ever after when she married her high school sweetheart. Living in the Northwest, they have three amazing children and far too many pets and spend much of their free time together enjoying movies or the outdoors. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

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ANCHOR – BOOK BLITZ

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Anchor

by Nicole Blanchard
First to Fight Series #1
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense

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I’ll do anything to save her.

A woman I’ve never met, whose name I don’t even know, gambled her own life to protect my child. In return, she was taken by a mad man.

I’ll put my career, my security, and my life on the line to get her back, even if it means facing the truth about my own mistakes.

The only thing she can’t trust me with…is her heart.

This is a FULL LENGTH, STANDALONE with a HEA and NO CLIFFHANGER.

“Anchor is an out of this world, incredible story that combines an adrenaline-laced thriller with a sweet, steamy romance.” The Wonderings of One Person

“It had a perfect combination of action, suspense and romance.” Crystal’s Crazy Book Ramblings

“Heart pumping and thrilling!” Kawehi’s Book Blog

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About Nicole Blanchard

Nicole

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Nicole Blanchard lives in Florida with her family and their menagerie of animals. She chooses each day to chase her own fairy tale even if they contain their fair share of dragons. She is married to her best friend and owns her own business.

Nicole survives on a diet of too many books and substantial amounts of root beer and slim jims. When not reading, she’s lavishing attention on her family or inhaling every episode of The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory.

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