Date Published: July 26, 2019 (preorder available now at 99 cents)
Marco Lumachi is a professional hitman. His name is not Donovan North, and he’s not a detective transferring from New York City to Landstaff Junction, Vermont. But the whole town thinks he is, and if he wants to stay alive, he needs them to keep believing that.
Because the real Donovan North — who happens to look a lot like Marco — was gunned down on the way to his new job, by a rival mob family who thinks they killed the hitman.
Forced to work on the right side of the law, Marco finds himself hunting down a serial killer who’s brutally murdered two women already. Worse, his new “partner” is beautiful, dedicated, and not buying a word of his cover story.
But the man he’s impersonating kept secrets of his own, and what Detective North was hiding could prove deadly … for Marco, and for the innocent women that the killer is still targeting.
New Heights Juvenile Detention Center — Bronx, NY
Seventeen years ago
I was out in the yard after another pathetic excuse for dinner, checking around to see if anyone had gotten a care package from home so I could muscle in on them and get something decent to eat, when I spotted the new guy over by the outside fence. And I couldn’t look away.
There must’ve been a hell of an expression on my face, because Jake Paladino came over and elbowed me, even though I’d punched him for less in the past. “Did you see a ghost, or what?” he wheedled, and then flinched away, clearly remembering too late that I didn’t appreciate being jabbed.
I let it go this time, though. I was too fascinated to be angry.
“Over there,” I told him with a bare nod toward the fence.
Jake followed my gesture, and the perfect bug-eyed jaw-drop that formed on his face almost made me laugh. He looked like a real-life cartoon. Wile E. Coyote, watching the rocket he’d just fired at the Road Runner bounce off a cliff and head back at him full speed.
“You got a brother I don’t know about?” Jake finally blurted.
I shook my head, my gaze not leaving the newcomer. Apparently it was true what they said: everybody has a lookalike somewhere in the world. And here was mine. The new guy was a mirror, a twin, a clone of me.
Jake shook off the shock first and started bouncing on the balls of his feet, a lunatic grin on his unfortunate face. The scrawny, twitchy kid who’d followed me around like a stray dog since the day I got locked up in this crap place claimed to be the son of a mobster, and swore he was going to introduce me to his father and bring me into the “family business” when we got out of here. But I only had a week left on my sentence, and Jake had six months on his. Plus, he was probably lying about his mob connections.
I was considering it, though. If nothing better came along before Jake got out of here, maybe I’d give the little weasel a chance to make good on his claims. Considering my talents, the mob might be a decent fit for my future.
Not that any of us in New Heights could have a real future. They called it a youth center, but it was really just a prison with brighter colors — and everybody knew that ex-cons were screwed. Even if they were just kids when they went in.
Nobody who came out of this place would ever be considered a child again.
“Jesus, look at him. Holy shit.” Jake giggled and almost nudged me again, but then he thought better of it at the last minute. “I bet he’s about to piss his pants over there. Hey, let’s fuck with him.” The jagged grin spread. “You know what? You could do anything, even in front of the security cameras, and just blame it on that guy. We should burn this place down or something. Oh, wait, how about we kill a guard?”
“No,” I said sharply. Sometimes Jake had to be corrected like a dog, and it was all I could do not to rub his nose in his own shit. “Leave him alone, for now.”
The new guy — my doppelganger — did look unsettled. But unlike Jake, I didn’t believe he was scared. Reserved, maybe. Hanging back, getting the lay of the land. His posture was guarded and self-protective, as if he was expecting some kind of abuse, and that could’ve been interpreted as fear. But I sensed something dark in him.
Or maybe I was only projecting my own darkness onto the spitting image of myself.
Jake lost interest in the other kid fast once I rebuked him. His face only fell for a few seconds, and then his smile bounced back. “Vince and them are trying to crowd the hoop again,” he said, pointing over at the rundown basketball half-court in the far corner of the yard, where four or five of the younger boys had begun a half-hearted game of Horse. “Want to scare them off?”
“Nah. I’m hungry,” I told him. “Go find somebody with a care package. I want good shit, nothing generic or homemade.”
Always happy to serve, Jake nodded vigorously and scuttled off. I watched him absently for a few seconds before I returned my attention to the new guy.
This time, my doppelganger was looking back. And there was no fear in him at all.
There was nothing in him.
It really was like looking in a mirror.
About the Author
S.W. Vaughn lives in “scenic” Central New York, with its two glorious seasons — winter and road construction — along with her husband and son. An award-winning author, copywriter, and blogger, she’s been writing professionally for over 15 years.
Under Sonya Bateman, she is the author of the DeathSpeaker Codex series (urban fantasy) and the Gavyn Donatti series (urban fantasy / Simon & Schuster).
Pru has a secret, which she has no plans to reveal – ever. But after a woman is murdered and all clues point to her, she has no choice but to disclose her true identity. When her revelations help thwart the killer’s plan to frame Pru for the murder, the killer begins stalking her. With each note he sends, he gets closer. The police are stumped. Pru wants to run away. She really, really wants to run, but Ajax has found the woman of his dreams and he’s not letting her go anywhere. He can be patient. In the meantime, he’ll protect her with his life. Pru isn’t feeling very patient, and her friends, Mel and Terri, are definitely not willing to wait until the police discover who the stalker is. The three friends take matters into their own hands and jump headfirst into the investigation.
Will Pru and her friends uncover her stalker before he turns his violence on Pru?
“What the heck are you wearing?”
In response to Pru’s question, Mel stuck her hip out and struck a pose. “You like?” She strutted off a few paces and then twirled around before swaggering back as if she were at a fashion show. Only women at a fashion show normally didn’t wear dark blue men’s pants suits. And they certainly never showed off bulky, black oxford shoes.
“Um…” Pru could think of nothing nice to say.
Terri, who was giggling next to her, didn’t have the same problem. “Did you raid Owen’s closet?”
Mel ignored her and reached into her pocket and pulled out a pair of glasses.
“When did you start wearing glasses?”
Terri leaned over and whispered to Pru, “she doesn’t.”
“This is my detective look,” Mel explained.
“Because all detectives wear glasses?” Terri turned to Pru. “I have no idea where she gets these ideas.”
Pru shrugged. “Not from books. Detectives in novels never wear glasses.” There may be some modern-day detectives who wore glasses, but Sherlock certainly didn’t although Hercule Poirot did use a pince-nez for reading. “I thought you said they would talk to us because we aren’t detectives. And now you’re dressed up as an extra on Law & Order.”
Terri bumped her shoulder. “Mel will do almost anything to buy a new outfit.”
Mel ignored them and picked a briefcase up for the ground. Another item she’d acquired for her detective ‘look’. “Let’s go.” She didn’t wait for a reply before marching off to the entrance of the Daily Grind, the coffee shop where Kathy Greene had been killed. Pru and Terri stood in the parking lot staring after her.
“Aren’t we going to come up with some kind of plan before parading in there?” Pru asked Terri.
“I’d say Mel is going to wing it, but I’ve learned there’s a method to her madness.” With a shrug, Terri followed Mel.
“Please tell me this method won’t end up with us at the police station again.”
Terri shook her head. “Sorry, can’t do that.”
About the Author
I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic before returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where, in between tennis matches and failing to save the world, I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
The Provinces are falling. From the south, the immortal Knights of Galessern raid. From the north, the trees of the Kalen Woods have awoken, and are hungry for their second city. And from the east, Haydren Loren flees a childhood bully whose hate is now fully grown, and capable of murdering his way to becoming the Earl.
Haydren might find safety in the west. Or, he may find himself suddenly forced on a suicidal mission: face and defeat Lasserain, the strongest mage history has ever seen.
His quest is joined by a medley of friends foolish enough to think they might succeed: Geoffrey, a former knight of Rinc Na who betrayed his country and friends, and now seeks forgiveness through this final, desperate act; Sarah, a sorceress who will do anything to prove she is worthy; and Pladt, the famed archer whose only wish is to travel as far and wide as his name.
The God of All only knows the ways they must go – He, and a voice in Haydren’s head that is constantly growing louder.
Insanity. Capture. Death. All roads seem doomed for failure. But they must quickly choose a path, for Lasserain’s full fury is descending, and no one else has been able to stop it.
Haydren sighed; he needed to play. The two greatest gifts he had received since enrolling in the School were a small harp and the lessons to be able to play. Often, when frustration overwhelmed him, the music would calm him. He sat up, reaching under the bed to retrieve the instrument. After pulling it out, he leaned back and rested his fingers on the strings. He closed his eyes, and began with a familiar slow tune as he allowed his thoughts to drift.
The song took him back to a broad plain, with the wind sweeping through the grasses. He was sitting on a newly bundled sheaf, the smell of fresh-cut hay in his nostrils. A few broken bits of straw drifted on the breeze. In his mind, beside him, a man of nearly thirty worked with a scythe; a man with bright chestnut hair, and dark black eyebrows.
Haydren opened his eyes, stilling the strings. Something was tugging at him, something about the notes he had just played. Still without looking at the harp, and as he tried to return in his mind to the images he had just seen, he played tentatively.
The notes that followed were notes he had never been taught, but that rang in him with a familiarity that brought tears to his eyes. He knew there were lyrics attached to the song, lyrics about war and grief – but he could not remember them. He played the song over and over, the notes purging him of all thoughts yet leaving him with a sense of fullness that welled in his eyes. He played until exhaustion tripped his fingers upon the strings; he stopped before the discordant notes shattered the delicate construction within him. The notes continued ringing in his ears long after he stopped playing, and they continued to echo through his dreams that night.
About the Author
Daniel Dydek was born in Raccoon Township, PA, where he dreamed of living out west. So far, he’s made it to Ohio, where he lives with his wife. He began writing at age 8, and never really stopped. After three years with the US Army, he went to get his Bachelor’s degree in English Writing from Geneva College of Beaver Falls PA, and is currently finishing up a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. Besides writing, he also enjoys mountain biking, reading, coffee shops, book stores, and Durango Colorado.
A republic under attack. A reluctant soldier. An all-out fight for the galaxy’s soul.
David Cohen prays he’ll live to see the other side of his first deployment. His people thought they had left war behind when they fled Earth centuries ago. Time, though, has not dulled the hatred and intolerance of their erstwhile oppressors. To defend his homeland’s freedom, David abandons his dream of becoming a rabbi for the battlefield… and discovers a side of himself he is not sure he can live with.
David’s focus is clear when the bullets are flying. In the long hours after, he must reckon with the toll that blood and blame bring upon his mind. Can he square the tenets of his faith against his responsibility to crew and country? Nothing has prepared him to make decisions that could cause ruin or an end to generations of conflict… except for trust in God, himself, and those who serve under him.
If David Cohen survives it all, who will he be?
About the Author
Ever since watching Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back at the age of five, with his father, Daniel has loved science fiction. Reading hundreds of sci-fi novels, during his teenage years, Daniel came up with the EOTP (Echoes of the Past) universe. Twenty years later, its finally becoming a reality!
A Whole New Life is a sweet romance combined with the dangers of the underground crime world. Find out what happens when a beautiful mafia princess goes to a small town in Iowa to start over but quickly becomes intrigued with a hunky deputy.
Can romance ensue when she is always looking over her shoulder and worrying that her past will catch up to her? Check out A Whole New Life to find out if love can really conquer all, or if the past is always doomed to repeat itself.
As two o’clock approached, the officers started throwing cash on the table and getting ready to leave. Of course, it was Deputy Hotstuff who brought everything up to Jenna at the cash register. “It was nice to meet you, Jenna. Welcome to Pella. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around. Anna send you up to the Bakker place?”
Jenna made change and nodded, trying not to look at those pretty blue eyes that were clearly checking her out. “Yes, she and Adam have been so welcoming, giving me a job and helping me find a place to stay.” She handed his change back. “Have a great day, Deputy.” She tried to smile professionally, but felt like she was grinning like a schoolgirl with a crush, heat rushing to her cheeks.
“You have a great day as well. And watch out for those ghosts up at the bed-and-breakfast.” He winked at her.
“What ghosts?” she asked, confused.
“Didn’t anyone tell you? The Bakker place is supposed to be haunted. Stories have been circulating about that for over a hundred years.” Henri smiled at her.
“You don’t really believe such things, do you?” Jenna scoffed. She’d lived through real hell; ghost stories weren’t going to scare her.
Deputy Hotty kept smiling and handed her his card. “My cell number is on there. You never know when you might want a deputy to come save you from the big bad ghosts. Of course, you can feel free to call me for anything else you might need as well.”
Oh my God, he really is flirting with me, Jenna thought to herself. Outwardly she tried to remain cool as she took his card. “Thank you, Deputy, but I stopped believing in ghosts a long time ago.”
“Why is that?” he asked.
“The living people around me turned out to be scarier,” Jenna answered before thinking. Damn her too-honest mouth sometimes, it always had gotten her into trouble.
Henri’s eyes seemed to focus a little more after her response. “I’m sorry. Still, keep my card and give me a call sometime. I’m good at all sorts of things, not just protecting people from ghosts.” With one final smile and wink, he walked out to join his fellow officers.