THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Blood Brothers, Jody Zimmerman {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Blood Brothers:

Thirty-three year old Philip Hampton is an award winning freelance writer and investigative journalist. His younger brother, Billy, an A-list New Yorker, is on the brink of stardom in the international art market.

Orphaned as children, the two brothers are the only family either has until Billy is murdered. Shattered by his brother’s death, Philip vows revenge.

During a visit to Billy’s studio, Philip discovers Billy’s final painting. Certain that the painting somehow holds clues to Billy’s murder, Philip begins to unlock the painting’s secrets.

He finds himself drawn into a frantic search for the treasures from the largest art theft in history—the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist of 1990. Discovery of the treasure is Philip’s only hope of solving the murder, attaining retribution, and healing from emotional and sexual trauma from his childhood.

 

Accolades:

Blood Brothers is filled with fantastic writing, an utterly enthralling plot line and some of the best written characters I have read. D.P. Whitehead

Brilliantly dark and edgy….Dii

Breathtaking Lauren R. Alumbaugh

Reviews:

Blood Brothers  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.9 stars from 23 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Blood Brothers:

Billy is so much like Mother—the smile; the green eyes; the long, thick, auburn-brown hair; the flawless, warm-olive skin; the chaotic, anxious, angry moods; but most of all, the gift with canvas.

I pick up his limp, warm, right hand to kiss it tenderly. My tears fall on his fingers, rolling off onto the harsh, crisp-white linens. I study his hand—the slender, long fingers; pink nails topped with white crescents, speckled with bits of dried red and yellow oil paint underneath them; the faintly green veins on the back of his hand; the downy covering of brown hair on the tops of his fingers and hand, becoming thicker and slightly curled on his wrist and forearm; and the thumb he sucked until he was four years old. There is no expression on his face. Stubble sticks out in sharp contrast to the etiolated complexion.

“Please God, please God, let this hand paint again,” I beg.

“Oh please, let my brother wake, pick up his brushes and paint again,” I plead.

“Mother, I’m so sorry, forgive me,” I rub Billy’s hand all over my wet face.

“I’ve tried my best to look after him. You know I have. Dammit, Goddammit, don’t you Mother? I miss you so much. I miss you so, so much.” Futile queries spark through my mind. How would she react if she were to see her baby boy lying here in a coma? How would age have affected her beautiful face? Would I have turned out the same? Would she and Dad have stayed together? Would Billy be lying here now?

“Please don’t leave me, Billy,” I whimper, hands trembling, nose dripping. I rub my nose on my right shoulder. Fear hammers through my soul with each beat of my heart. My connection with Billy began the day Dad brought Mother home from the hospital with a tiny, pink creature, eyes shut tight with a head full of dark brown hair, squirming, reeking of sweet, silky Johnson’s Baby Powder, his tiny little fingers grabbing tightly around mine, leaving me breathless—the first vivid memory I recall, though I was only two years old.

I’ve been sitting for hours willing that my touch and voice might get through to him, that his fingers might once again grab mine. I visualize my love for him to be a life-giving force emerging from my body through my hands, permeating his body, repairing all the damaged cells, nerves, and tissue in his brain. I focus all my consciousness into him, communicating to him that I am here with him, that together we will make him well. I imagine that he opens his eyes—imploring God to make it happen. I remember my lucky rabbit’s foot. I fish it out of my left pants pocket, put it in his hand and fold my hands over his.

“How could this be?” I ask myself over and over. “How could you have overdosed, Billy? You’ve gotten your life so together the past few years. What were you doing taking GHB? You never mentioned that drug to me before.”

My brother is attached to life through an array of plastic tubes. Electrodes monitor all the electrochemical pulses emanating from his heart and brain. Machines surround him. The metronomic sound of a ventilator pumping oxygen through a white, plastic tube inserted into his trachea through his mouth sends stinging waves of adrenaline-laced fear through my body. This high tech cubicle in the neurological intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital is one of several fanned out in a circle around a central operations post manned by technicians and nurses overseeing dozens of panels, monitors, and computers. The area looks like mission control, and I think about how Billy loved to play space travel when we were kids.

Armed with a walkie-talkie and a laser firing cap gun, he would set out from my bedroom—mission control—to explore outer space—our back yard. I would direct him on his journey and he would report back his findings. We were careful to steer clear of Planet X—Mother’s cottage studio, whenever she had shut herself in to paint.

“Mr. Hampton, Mr. Hampton,” a soft, high pitched female voice interrupts my thoughts. I look up to see a short, obese, middle-aged woman in a large blue and green flowery smock looking down at me, her brown eyes full of compassion.

She bends over, gently takes Billy’s hand from mine, gently placing his hand on the bed. She smiles when she sees the rabbit’s foot as it rolls from Billy’s hand onto the bed. Her bosom is huge, so I am unable to read her nametag that faces upward. She takes both my hands in her right hand and puts her left arm around my shoulders pulling me into her large body. I collapse into the warmth, sobbing like a lost, frightened child. The scent of fabric softener crawls through my swollen nasal passages, my eyes fix on her perfectly manicured red nails, dwarfed by the circumference of her fingers. Her breathing is labored. After a while, she slowly releases me.

“Mr. Hampton, they tell me you’ve been sitting here since noon yesterday,” she informs me as she hands me a wad of tissue.

“You should go get some rest. We’ll notify you the second there is any change in your brother’s condition. I promise you,” she says. I stare into her eyes that tenderly acknowledge the desperation in mine, yet reflect no solid hope for me to grab.

I try to speak; nothing comes out. I blow my nose into the tissue and try to clear my throat but it clenches shut emitting a raspy dry cough.

“Water?”

“No.”

“We have a nice lounge where you could rest. We can also offer you something to eat if you are hungry,” she says. “If you prefer, you can go home and get some rest there. Do you live here in town?”

I shake my head back and forth.

“I see,” she says. “Well, we have a family coordinator who can help you make arrangements,” she adds in muffed, gentle soprano tones. Her face is full and round, framed by cropped brown hair, with penciled in crescent eye brows, and red lips stretched into a slight smile over large jowls, resting under ample earlobes, hanging like beagle ears over her neck. She exudes compassion, and I wonder if she is a hand picked harbinger carefully groomed and trained in the skill of gently relaying devastating news.

“Where’s the restroom?” I ask.

“This way.” She pulls me up, and I look down to read her nametag—Janet Ostro, RN.

My knees lock, my lower back hurts, and my bladder aches. I bend over to gently kiss Billy’s face.

“I love you,” I whisper into his right ear.

She picks up the rabbit’s foot and hands it to me. “It’s beautiful. I’ve never seen one with a gold cap and chain. Are these your initials, Mr. Hampton?”

“Yes. My grandmother gave us each one for Christmas when we were kids,” I struggle to get the words out as I stuff the rabbit’s foot in my pocket, desperate for its magic to work.

Slowly, we walk out of the intensive care unit and down a corridor. She leads me by my right elbow. We come to a men’s room, and I go in. It is dark. She reaches her right hand in and turns on the light. I go to the urinal and begin to pee. My concentrated urine splashes my hands, overpowering the pink urinal cake, its odor illuminating the memories of Billy and me engaging in pee contests in grade school to see who could back away farthest from the urinals without hitting the floor. I feel tears running down my face again. If his brain is damaged beyond repair, how can I let him live that way? How could I ever let him not live? Dear God, how could I make such a decision? I finish peeing, move to the sink, turn on the cold water, soap my hands, rinse them, then bend over splashing water on my face several times. I stand up, water dripping down my face and neck onto my green Polo shirt, and look at myself in the mirror—swollen face thick with stubble and stinging r ed tear trails, dark semicircles under blue-grey eyes, my curly, dark blonde hair in disarray. I gaze at my face distinguishing Mother’s features, Dad’s features—the genetic commingling producing indisputably recognizable brothers. I grab my neck with my left hand, apply pressure on my carotid arteries until I feel the thump of my heart in my throat, startled by a feeling of déjà vu that sends rings of shivers over my skin like the iridescent rings of color accelerating from a drop of gasoline on a sunlit mud puddle.

“My God, I’ve got to get out of here,” I mumble. I release the grip on my throat, grab some paper towels, wipe my face and hands and emerge to find Janet waiting.

“I’ll, I’ll stay at my brother’s, at Billy’s,” I hear myself say.

“He lives in Tribeca. Could you find out where they put my duffle bag and please call me a cab? I have to get out of here now.”

Puzzled, she says “Why certainly.”

I follow her to a closet. She takes out a set of keys from a pocket in her smock, unlocks the door, reaches in and pulls out my black duffle. I grab it.

“Wait a second Mr. Hampton. I also need to give you your brother’s personal items. They are locked up in an office. Please wait here, I’ll be right back.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Oh, I almost forgot. The man who accompanied your brother in the ambulance left this note for you,” she says, almost in a whisper and pulls a small, white envelop from her smock pocket and hands it to me.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” I say looking down into her eyes. She hesitates a moment and looks at the note. I look at the note and look back at her.

“Yes, well, I’ll be back in a minute,” she turns, breathing heavily. Stride induced echoes of rubbing fabric resound and slowly fade.

I tear open the sealed envelope to find extraordinary penmanship: consistent, uniform letters and numbers printed by a steady hand with a black felt tipped pen.

7 April 2006, 8:00 am

Philip:

I am the friend of Billy’s who called you this morning. As you may know, we’ve been dating for the past couple of months. I am so sorry this happened. I really don’t understand it and cannot explain how this happened. He went looking for some coke and that was the last time I saw him. I think someone must have slipped him something. I’m sorry I can’t meet you here, but I have to fly to Bermuda in a couple of hours for an important shoot. I feel like a bastard for leaving him, but I know you’re on the way. This is the biggest shoot of my career. Billy would want me to go, I believe. He is getting the best medical care in the city and they tell me there’s nothing we can do now but wait. I’m afraid his situation is not good at all. My cell phone number is 212-555-1432. Please call me if there is any change at all in his condition. I’ll be back in town on Wednesday.

Elliott Fields

Blood Brothers is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Jody Zimmerman:

Website: http://www.jodyzimmerman.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodyzimmermanstoryteller?ref=hl

Twitter: @jodyzimmerman

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Children of the Fog, Cheryl Kaye Tardif {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Cheryl Kaye Tardif ’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Children of the Fog:

• International & National Bestseller
• A Top 100 Paid Best Seller on Amazon
• #4 in Amazon Top 100 Paid Best Sellers overall (March 2012)
• Top 100 Bestseller in Thrillers, Suspense, Horror, Occult
• #1 Horror & #1 Occult

YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS TO MAKE A DECISION: Let A Kidnapper Take Your Child, Or Watch Your Son Die. Choose!

Sadie O’Connell is a bestselling author and a proud mother. But her life is about to spiral out of control. After her six-year-old son Sam is kidnapped by a serial abductor, she nearly goes insane. But it isn’t just the fear and grief that is ripping her apart. It’s the guilt. Sadie is the only person who knows what the kidnapper looks like. And she can’t tell a soul. For if she does, her son will be sent back to her in “little bloody pieces”.

When Sadie’s unfaithful husband stumbles across her drawing of the kidnapper, he sets into play a series of horrific events that sends her hurtling over the edge. Sadie’s descent into alcoholism leads to strange apparitions and a face-to-face encounter with the monster who abducted her son–a man known only as…The Fog.

*CHILDREN OF THE FOG has a unique tie-in to Tardif`s newest thriller, SUBMERGED.

 

Accolades:

“A chilling and tense journey into every parent’s deepest fear.” ―Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church

“A nightmarish thriller with a ghostly twist, CHILDREN OF THE FOG will keep you awake…and turning pages!” ―Amanda Stevens, author of The Restorer

“Reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, Cheryl Kaye Tardif weaves a tale of terror that will have you rushing to check on your children as they sleep. With exquisite prose, Children of the Fog captures you the moment you begin and doesn’t let go until the very end.” ―bestselling author Danielle Q. Lee, author of Inhuman

“Cheryl Kaye Tardif knows the mind of a parent and makes us all want to believe the impossible…” —Eileen Schuh, author of Schrodinger’s Cat

“Cheryl Kaye Tardif has written the novel to launch herself into the company of best-selling authors. With Children of the Fog, she has taken her writing and her readers to another level…Ripe with engaging twists and turns reminiscent of the work of James Patterson, Tardif once again tugs at the most inflexible of heartstrings. True to form, she has created believable characters so tangible that you expect to see them at the local store. Complete with Canadian flavour, Children of the Fog possesses you from the touching beginning through to the riveting climax. Kudos to Ms. Tardif for bringing the world a read truly worth staying up all night to finish.” —Kelly Komm, author of the award-winning YA fantasy novel, Sacrifice.

“There are so many great things about this story…you won’t guess what happens. This wasn’t predictable and I ate it up.” —NovelOpinion

Reviews:

Children of the Fog currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.4 stars from 626 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from Children of the Fog:

prologue

May 14th, 2007

She was ready to die.
She sat at the kitchen table, a half empty bottle of Philip’s precious red wine in one hand, a loaded gun in the other. Staring at the foreign chunk of metal, she willed it to vanish. But it didn’t.
Sadie checked the gun and noted the single bullet.
“One’s all you need.”
If she did it right.
She placed the gun on the table and glanced at a pewter-framed photograph that hung off-kilter above the mantle of the fireplace. It was illuminated by a vanilla-scented candle, one of many that threw flickering shadows over the rough wood walls of the log cabin.
Sam’s sweet face stared back at her, smiling.
Alive.
From where she sat, she could see the small chip in his right front tooth, the result of an impatient father raising the training wheels too early. But there was no point in blaming Philip―not when they’d both lost so much.
Not when it’s all my fault.
Her gaze swept over the mantle. There were three objects on it besides the candle. Two envelopes, one addressed to Leah and one to Philip, and the portfolio case that contained the illustrations and manuscript on disc for Sam’s book.
She had finished it, just like she had promised.
“And promises can’t be broken. Right, Sam?”
A single tear burned a path down her cheek.
Sam was gone.
What reason do I have for living now?
She gulped back the last pungent mouthful of Cabernet and dropped the empty bottle. It rolled under the chair, unbroken, rocking on the hardwood floor. Then all was silent, except the antique grandfather clock in the far corner. Its ticking reminded her of the clown’s shoe. The one with the tack in it.
Tick, tick, tick…
The clock belched out an ominous gong.
It was almost midnight.
Almost time.
She drew an infinity symbol in the dust on the table.
“Sadie and Sam. For all eternity.”
Gong…
She swallowed hard as tears flooded her eyes. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, baby. I tried to. God, I tried. Forgive me, Sam.” Her words ended in a gut-wrenching moan.
Something scraped the window beside her.
She pressed her face to the frosted glass, then jerked back with a gasp. “Go away!”
They stood motionless―six children that drifted from the swirling miasma of night air, haunting her nights and every waking moment. Surrounded by the moonlit fog, they began to chant. “One fine day, in the middle of the night…”
“You’re not real,” she whispered.
“Two dead boys got up to fight.”
A small, pale hand splayed against the exterior of the window. Below it, droplets of condensation slid like tears down the glass.
She reached out, matching her hand to the child’s. Shivering, she pulled away. “You don’t exist.”
The clock continued its morbid countdown.
As the alcohol and drug potpourri kicked in, the room began to spin and her stomach heaved. She inhaled deeply. She couldn’t afford to get sick. Sam was waiting for her.
Tears spilled down her cheeks. “I’m ready.”
Gong…
Without hesitation, she raised the gun to her temple.
“Don’t!” the children shrieked.
She pressed the gun against her flesh. The tip of the barrel was cold. Like her hands, her feet…her heart.
A sob erupted from the back of her throat.
The clock let out a final gong. Then it was deathly silent.
It was midnight.
Her eyes found Sam’s face again.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Sadie.”
She took a steadying breath, pushed the gun hard against her skin and clamped her eyes shut.
“Mommy’s coming, Sam.”
She squeezed the trigger.

1

March 30th, 2007

Sadie O’Connell let out a snicker as she stared at the price tag on the toy in her hand. “What did they stuff this with, laundered money?” She tossed the bunny back into the bin and turned to the tall, leggy woman beside her. “What are you getting Sam for his birthday?”
Her best friend gave her a cocky grin. “What should I get him? Your kid’s got everything already.”
“Don’t even go there, my friend.”
But Leah was right. Sadie and Philip spoiled Sam silly. Why shouldn’t they? They had waited a long time for a baby. Or at least, she had. After two miscarriages, Sam’s birth had been nothing short of a miracle. A miracle that deserved to be spoiled.
Leah groaned loudly. “Christ, it’s a goddamn zoo in here.”
Toyz & Twirlz in West Edmonton Mall was crawling with overzealous customers. The first major sale of the spring season always brought people out in droves. Frazzled parents swarmed the toy store, swatting their wayward brood occasionally―the way you’d swat a pesky yellowjacket at a barbecue. One distressed father hunted the aisles for his son, who had apparently taken off on him as soon as his back was turned. In every aisle, parents shouted at their kids, threatening, cajoling, pleading and then predictably giving in.
“So who let the animals out?” Sadie said, surveying the store.
The screeching wheels of shopping carts and the constant whining of overtired toddlers were giving her a headache. She wished to God she’d stayed home.
“Excuse me.”
A plump woman with frizzy, over-bleached hair gave Sadie an apologetic look. She navigated past them, pushing a stroller occupied by a miniature screaming alien. A few feet away, she stopped, bent down and wiped something that looked like curdled rice pudding from the corner of the child’s mouth.
Sadie turned to Leah. “Thank God Sam’s past that stage.”
At five years old―soon to be six―her son was the apple of her eye. In fact, he was the whole darned tree. A lanky imp of a boy with tousled black hair, sapphire-blue eyes and perfect bow lips, Sam was the spitting image of his mother and the exact opposite of his father in temperament. While Sam was sweet natured, gentle and loving, Philip was impatient and distant. So distant that he rarely said I love you anymore.
She stared at her wedding ring. What happened to us?
But she knew what had happened. Philip’s status as a trial lawyer had grown, more money had poured in and fame had gone to his head. He had changed. The man she had fallen in love with, the dreamer, had gone. In his place was someone she barely knew, a stranger who had decided too late that he didn’t want kids.
Or a wife.
“How about this?” Leah said, nudging her.
Sadie stared at the yellow dump truck. “Fill it with a stuffed bat and Sam will think it’s awesome.”
Her son’s fascination with bats was almost comical. The television was always tuned in to the Discovery Channel while her son searched endlessly for any show on the furry animals.
“What did Phil the Pill get him?” Leah asked dryly.
“A new Leap Frog module.”
“I still can’t believe the things that kid can do.”
Sadie grinned. “Me neither.”
Sam’s mind was a sponge. He absorbed information so fast that he only had to be shown once. His powers of observation were so keen that he had learned how to unlock the door just by watching Sadie do it, so Philip had to add an extra deadbolt at the top. By the time Sam was three, he had figured out the remote control and the DVD player. Sadie still had problems turning on the TV.
Sam…my sweet, wonderful, little genius.
“Maybe I’ll get him a movie,” Leah said. “How about Batman Begins?”
“He’s turning six, not sixteen.”
“Well, what do I know? I don’t have kids.”
At thirty-four, Leah Winters was an attractive, willowy brunette with wild multi-colored streaks, thick-lashed hazel eyes, a flirty smile and a penchant for younger men. While Sadie’s pale face had a scattering of tiny freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheekbones, Leah’s complexion was tanned and clear.
She’d been Sadie’s best friend for eight years―soul sistahs. Ever since the day she had emailed Sadie out of the blue to ask questions about writing and publishing. They’d met at Book Ends, a popular Edmonton bookstore, for what Leah had expected would be a quick coffee. Their connection was so strong and so immediate that they talked for almost five hours. They still joked about it, about how Leah had thought Sadie was some hotshot writer who wouldn’t give her the time of day. Yet Sadie had given her more. She’d given Leah a piece of her heart.
A rugged, handsome Colin Farrell look-alike passed them in the aisle, and Leah stared after him, eyes glittering.
“I’ll take one of those,” she said with a soft growl. “To go.”
“You won’t find Mr. Right in a toy store,” Sadie said dryly. “They’re usually all taken. And somehow I don’t think you’re gonna find him at Karma either.”
Klub Karma was a popular nightclub on Whyte Avenue. It boasted the best ladies’ night in Edmonton, complete with steroid-muscled male strippers. Leah was a regular.
“And why not?”
Sadie rolled her eyes. “Because Karma is packed with sweaty, young puppies who are only interested in one thing.”
Leah gave her a blank look.
“Getting laid,” Sadie added. “Honestly, I don’t know what you see in that place.”
“What, are you daft?” Leah arched her brow and grinned devilishly. “I’m chalking it up to my civil duty. Someone’s gotta show these young guys how it’s done.”
“Someone should show Philip,” Sadie muttered.
“Why―can’t he get it up?”
“Jesus, Leah!”
“Well? Fess up.”
“Later maybe. When we stop for coffee.”
Leah glanced at her watch. “We going to our usual place?”
“Of course. Do you think Victor would forgive us if we went to any other coffee shop?”
Leah chuckled. “No. He’d start skimping on the whipped cream if we turned traitor. So what are you getting Sam?”
“I’ll know it when I see it. I’m waiting for a sign.”
“You’re always such a sucker for this fate thing.”
Sadie shrugged. “Sometimes you have to have faith that things will work out.”
They continued down the aisle, both searching for something for the sweetest boy they knew. When Sadie spotted the one thing she was sure Sam would love, she let out a hoot and gave Leah an I-told-you-so look.
“This bike is perfect. Since his birthday is actually on Monday, I’ll give it to him then. He’ll get enough things from his friends at his party on Sunday anyway.”
Little did she know that Sam wouldn’t see his bike.
He wouldn’t be around to get it.

 

Children of the Fog is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Cheryl Kaye Tardif:

Website: http://www.cherylktardif.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cherylktardif

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheryl-Kaye-Tardif-novels/29769736630

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Paris Secret, Angela Henry {$2.51}

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Angela Henry‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Paris Secret:

Less than twenty-four hours after fleeing to Paris, Maya Sinclair is the prime suspect in a brutal murder—and targeted by the real killer. When she’s viciously attacked in the gardens of Versailles, Maya barely escapes with her life thanks to sexy French journalist Simon Girard.

Simon has been investigating the mysterious death of his brother, an art forger with ties to the woman Maya is suspected of killing. Still healing from heartbreak of his own, Simon reluctantly joins forces with Maya, who has awakened feelings within him he thought long dead.

Their search for answers uncovers the existence of a secret society, and puts them on a quest to find a missing crucifix rumored to hold the key to everlasting life. Together, Maya and Simon race through Paris one step ahead of a killer who will do anything to ensure some secrets remain buried forever…

86,600 words

 

Accolades:

“This book has it all—a phenomenal setting, long-buried secrets, a present-day murder mystery and a dash of paranormal intrigue, not to mention a cast of characters that leap off the page. And while it is so much more than a romance book, the two main characters are absolutely unforgettable.”
—The Romance Reviews Top Pick (Nominated for Best Action Adventure Romance of 2011!)

“The Paris Secret by Angela Henry grabbed me from the first paragraph and kept me turning pages long into the night. The novel offers the perfect blend of adventure, mystery, and romance. The pace is swift, the characters likable, and the mystery rich and interesting, without being too complex or detailed. The blend of history and intrigue in Paris was irresistible.”
—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Reviews:

The Paris Secret currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.9 stars from 15 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from The Paris Secret:

I looked around for a place to put in the extra batteries I had packed. The few stone benches in the garden were taken. I went past the statues lining the walkway to the Apollo fountain and noticed an entrance to the garden hedge maze. Hoping there might be someplace to sit in the maze, I ducked inside. It was cooler and quieter there. Nobody else was in sight. I didn’t have to walk far before coming upon an open gate, through which I could see a pond.

In the very center of the pond was a large golden statue of a man struggling to free himself from the pile of black rocks. One golden, muscled arm reached out toward me. He was holding something in his hand that I couldn’t make out. A quick peek at the brochure I picked up inside the palace identified it as the Encelade Fountain depicting the fall of the Titans.

Something sailed over my head and landed with a loud splash in the pond. I jumped and bumped into someone.
“I’m so sorry—” I began before I saw it was the cop from the train. My blood started to boil. He dropped the large pebbles he’d been holding.

“Look, you can follow me around all you want but you’re wasting your time. I didn’t kill Juliet Rice and I don’t know what happened to the damned corkscrew. So you can tell Bernier and Bellange to kiss my ass.”

“Where’s the crucifix, Ms. Sinclair?” he asked, shocking me more by the fact that he was American than the fact that he knew my name.

“You’re American? I thought you were with the French police.”

“I’m not going to ask you again.” There was an edge to his voice that made me uneasy. I hadn’t realized just how isolated the spot we were in was until that moment.
I decided to play it cool and just walk away. But he grabbed the strap of my bag and yanked if off my shoulder, knocking me off balance. He shook the bag upside down, emptying the contents on the ground.

“Hey! What the hell is your problem? Give me my bag back!”

He dropped the bag and stood His brown eyes were cold and hard in the bright sunlight. After shoving up the sleeves of his polo shirt, his hands curled into fists. That’s when the small red mark on his arm jumped out at me. It wasn’t a birthmark. It was a tattoo of coiled snake, a cobra. I suddenly realized there could be another reason why he would smell like he’d spent time at the police station, and it wasn’t a good one.

“Who are you?” Every hair on my body stood up in alarm.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he punched me hard in the stomach. The pain was immediate and intense. I doubled over, clutching my stomach. He grabbed my throat and slammed me up against the side of the lattice walkway. Leaves, vines of ivy and the hard latticework pressed into my back.

“Where’s the crucifix?” Tattoo Man hissed at me, bathing my nostrils with his funky breath.

“Wha…what?” was all I could get out. Between the pain in my stomach and the tight grip of his hand around my throat, I could barely breathe, let alone talk. I struggled to free my hands, which were trapped between our bodies.

“Don’t play games with me! I know Juliet gave it to you. It wasn’t in the hotel room! Where is it?” He shook me by my throat like a rag doll.

“I barely knew her,” I gasped. “She never gave me anything. I swear. Please…don’t hurt me anymore!”
I managed to press myself back just enough to free my right knee and drove it toward his groin.

But he anticipated the move and deflected it by turning sideways, then spun me around pressing my face against the latticework as he tugged my arms up painfully behind me.

“You barely knew her, yet you shared a hotel room! You barely knew her, yet you showed such concern for her when you saw her being harassed by that Frenchman on the bridge.”

“Please! We didn’t know each other! We didn’t!” How did he know about what happened on the boat?

“Don’t lie to me!” he screamed in my ear and pulled my arms up higher. It felt like they were about to break.

“I’m not lying. Please! Please, stop!” Tears streamed down my face and snot ran from my nose.

“I followed you yesterday. I know you didn’t have the crucifix then. She must have given it to you after she got back to the hotel.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! I swear!”
“What I did to Juliet Rice is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you if you don’t give me what I want! Where is the crucifix?”

The world started to spin. This was the man who took my bag. This was the man who took my key card and used my corkscrew to kill Juliet. My legs gave out and I slid down his body to the ground. He jerked me back to my feet, turned me around to face him and punched me again, this time in my right side. The explosion of searing pain caused me to fall to the ground and curl into a ball. He grabbed a handful of my hair and jerked my head back.

“Tell me!” he screamed.

My vision began to blur. My attacker let out a grunt. The last thing I heard before passing out was the sound of fists on flesh.

When I came to, I was lying on my back. The most intense pair of green eyes I’d ever seen stared down at me. I’d seen those eyes before.

“Are you okay? Can you stand?” asked the man with the green eyes.

His English was tinged with a French accent. Sunglasses poked out of the front pocket of his faded jean jacket. His white shirt was ripped and his pants were smudged with dirt. This looked like the guy I’d bumped into when I’d arrived earlier. But those eyes made me realize that hadn’t been the first time I’d seen him. This was also the man who’d seen Juliet arguing with on the Pont de la Concorde. What was he doing here? I struggled to my feet and felt a wave of nausea wash over me.

“Easy.” He reached out to steady me. I pushed his hand away and took long, deep breaths to keep from throwing up.

“We need to get out of here before he comes to.” He gestured toward my unconscious attacker lying inside the latticed walkway who had started to groan.

“Come on! Let’s go!” he commanded impatiently, grabbing my hand. I pulled away.

“No! We need to call the police! What’s the number?” I fumbled around on the ground for my cell as I tossed as much of my stuff as I could back into my bag.
Tattoo Man groaned again, louder this time.

“Are you crazy? He’s coming to! We’ve got to get out of here!”

“It’ll only take a minute!” I tried to turn my cell phone on. But my hands were shaking so badly I could barely push the buttons.

“We don’t have time. Come on!” He grabbed my hand again.

He took off running, pulling me behind him. I tried my best to keep up but the pain in my side slowed me down. A bullet whizzed past my head and another hit the fencepost near me. Tattoo Man was firing a gun as he staggered behind us.

“He’s got a gun!” I screamed at my rescuer.

“No shit! Shut up and keep running!”
We emerged from the maze to see an old, beat-up maintenance truck parked about ten feet away. A workman stood on a scaffold cleaning a nearby statue.

“Get in!” Green Eyes shouted, shoving me into the truck on the driver’s side. I scooted over and he jumped behind the wheel. There was no key in the ignition and he slapped the steering wheel in frustration.

“Merde!”

The man on the scaffold, yelling at us in French, began to climb down. Tattoo Man lumbered out of the maze and ran smack into the scaffold, sending it and the statue cleaner crashing down. While the two cursing men tried to extricate themselves from each other and the wreck of the scaffold, Green Eyes frantically looked for the keys in the glove box and under the floor mat.

“Don’t just sit there! Help me!” he yelled, jolting me into action.

I checked the ashtray and under the seat, then reached over and pulled down the driver’s sun visor. A set of keys fell into his lap. He started the truck just as the back window exploded. I screamed. Tattoo Man was back on his feet and about to fire again.

“Get down!” Green Eyes shouted, pushing my head down as another bullet whizzed through the truck and shattered the front windshield.

He threw the truck into reverse. Thud! I sat up and turned to Tattoo Man on the ground. His gun had been knocked out of his hand. We sped off at top speed and minutes later were on the highway.

“You okay?” he asked, squeezing my shoulder. I wasn’t but I nodded yes anyway.

“You were on the bridge with Dr. Rice yesterday, weren’t you?”

He looked at me and gave me a disarming half smile, but didn’t answer. I had the feeling he used that smile to his advantage quite often. And I bet it worked most of the time.

“Aren’t you even going to tell me who you are and what the hell is going on?”

“Aren’t you even going to thank me for saving your life?” He smiled at me in an infuriatingly smug way.

“You first.” I glared at him. He laughed.

“All in due time, Maya. But first things first.” How the hell did he know my name?

“What do you mean? Where are we going?” I demanded while carefully picking shattered glass out of my hair and shaking it out of my clothing.

“Back to Paris. You’re not the only one needing answers,” he replied cryptically.

 

The Paris Secret is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.51

 

Connect with Angela Henry:

Author Website: http://www.angelahenry.com/paris-secret.php

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MystNoir

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paris-Secret-Novel/117737431624494?ref=hl

Dangerous Desires, C J Lyons, Debra Webb, Vicki Hinze, V.R. Marks, Peggy Webb, Regan Black, Kathy Carmichael {$0.99}

Seven bestselling authors…five full length edge-of-your-seat novels…two killer novellas…one thrilling ride!

Don’t miss the summer’s best collection of romantic suspense, mysteries and thrillers from masters of the genres!

Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons
Dirty by Debra Webb
Mind Reader by Vicki Hinze
The Informant by VR Marks
Witch Dance by Peggy Webb

With BONUS novellas!

In the Interest of Security by Regan Black
My Favorite Corpse by Kathy Carmichael

What readers are saying:

CJ Lyons – “Everything a great thriller should be–action packed, authentic, and intense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

Debra Webb – “A master storyteller.” Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestseller

Vicki Hinze – “A tense, action-filled story of suspense that will keep you turning the pages.”- Affaire de Coeur

VR Marks – “The best new romantic suspense voice of 2012!” ~Debra Webb, USA Today bestselling author of the Faces of Evil series

Peggy Webb – “Peggy Webb has outdone herself with Witch Dance. The fast-paced suspense kept me thoroughly entertained.” -Royt

Regan Black – The Shadows of Justice series is “A perfect blend of mystery, paranormal, and suspense to create a pleasure of a reading experience.” 5/5 stars from Johnna, Fallen Angel Reviews

Kathy Carmichael – “If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll enjoy this summer read.” -T. Spicer

Click here to read more about and purchase Dangerous Desires for $0.99 at Amazon

Dangerous Desires, C J Lyons, Debra Webb, Vicki Hinze, V.R. Marks, Peggy Webb, Regan Black, Kathy Carmichael {$0.99}

Seven bestselling authors…five full length edge-of-your-seat novels…two killer novellas…one thrilling ride!

Don’t miss the summer’s best collection of romantic suspense, mysteries and thrillers from masters of the genres!

Chasing Shadows by CJ Lyons
Dirty by Debra Webb
Mind Reader by Vicki Hinze
The Informant by VR Marks
Witch Dance by Peggy Webb

With BONUS novellas!

In the Interest of Security by Regan Black
My Favorite Corpse by Kathy Carmichael

What readers are saying:

CJ Lyons – “Everything a great thriller should be–action packed, authentic, and intense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

Debra Webb – “A master storyteller.” Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestseller

Vicki Hinze – “A tense, action-filled story of suspense that will keep you turning the pages.”- Affaire de Coeur

VR Marks – “The best new romantic suspense voice of 2012!” ~Debra Webb, USA Today bestselling author of the Faces of Evil series

Peggy Webb – “Peggy Webb has outdone herself with Witch Dance. The fast-paced suspense kept me thoroughly entertained.” -Royt

Regan Black – The Shadows of Justice series is “A perfect blend of mystery, paranormal, and suspense to create a pleasure of a reading experience.” 5/5 stars from Johnna, Fallen Angel Reviews

Kathy Carmichael – “If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll enjoy this summer read.” -T. Spicer

Click here to read more about and purchase Dangerous Desires for $0.99 at Amazon

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Dangerous Past, A. Ebbers {$0.99}

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A. Ebbers Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Dangerous Past:

Airline Captain Frank Braden is being stalked by unknown assassins who have a deadline to make his death look like an accident or a suicide. Braden and his wife, Nicole, don’t know why he is being targeted. They don’t realize that they stand in the way of a deadly conspiracy. After several attempts on his life, Braden receives a message warning him not to attend a Senate hearing in Washington. If he agrees he will will receive a million dollars and his wife’s life.

Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive.

 

Accolades:

Kirkus Reviews: “The author writes with breezy energy and is at his best when describing scenes of suspenseful intrigue. Frank and his wife, Nicole, emerge as a heroic pair. These two steal the show. Spirited, readable debut with extra points for plot and pacing.”

“A gripping page-turner to the very end.”–Midwest Book Review.

“Dangerous Past is a mystery-thriller in the spirit of both Scott Turow and Ernest K. Gann.” Military Writers of America Review.

Amazon Reviewer: “A fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing at every turn! My interest never waned once as I was reading, and I struggled to put it down” — Ruth Hill.

 

Review Ratings:

Dangerous Past currently has a review rating of 3.9 stars from 55 reviews. Read the reviews here.


Dangerous Past is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

An excerpt from Dangerous Past:

It was nine at night, when the FBI agent watching Frank’s house decided to drive down the road to get a cup of coffee. He figured it would take no longer than twenty minutes. Inside the house Nicole made some coffee and gave a cup to Frank to take outside to give to the agent.

Frank went out the front door and looked for the agent’s car. He peered into the darkness and started to cross the street when he heard a voice from the side of the yard.

“I’m back here.”

Frank turned around and walked into the dark beside his house.

“Over here.”

Frank thought the voice now came from the back yard and he continued toward the rear of the house. When he got to the rear yard, Frank still couldn’t see the agent. “Hey, where in the devil are you? I got some hot coffee.”

“I think I saw someone run into the foliage near the lake. You better go back inside where it’s safe while I have a look around.”

“No, I’ll help you search. Wait a minute.” Frank jogged towards the voice that seemed to be closer to the lake now.

Standing in the shadows, John smiled. For whatever reason, whether his victim was a macho know-it-all type or just naive of the danger, many of the men he had killed had swallowed that bait. He also figured from the fax sheet he had received, that the Austin police had taken Frank’s .38-calber revolver. Under the new waiting law, John knew it was impossible for Frank to get another weapon so soon unless his intended victim wasn’t a law-biding citizen. And John was counting on Frank to be a law-abiding sort.

As Frank neared Town Lake, he wished he had brought a flashlight. He couldn’t see the agent at all. So he went toward the shrubbery where he last heard the voice. “Hey, fellow, where are you?” Frank said. He felt foolish that he didn’t know the agent’s name.

“Here, right behind you.”

The voice startled Frank and he whirled around to face a well-built man wearing all black as though he was on a Special Forces recon night team. I’m in trouble, Frank thought, as he looked down the silencer barrel of a 9mm pistol. God, this guy is really good. “Did you kill the agent that was watching me?”

“I wasn’t paid to do that. Now, Frankie boy, let’s me and you take a walk to the shoreline.”

 

Dangerous Past is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99


Connect with A. Ebbers:

www.afebbers.com

On Facebook: A. F. Ebbers, Author

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Covert Dreams, Michael Meyer {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Michael Meyer‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Covert Dreams:

THIS INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED SUSPENSE THRILLER by Michael Meyer has been compared to Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, and the writing style has been compared to that of Dean Koontz. #2 on Recommended Thriller/Suspense list at Goodreads

Imagine waking up remembering intimate details about a country in which you have never traveled and fluently speaking a language that you have never spoken. B.J. is living the ideal life. He has a great wife, a wonderful job. And yet he is experiencing life-like vivid dreams of Munich, a city he has never visited.Stan Halsey is a professor in Saudi Arabia, who sends for his wife to join him. She arrives, and, in the blink of an eye, she vanishes, leaving no trace of ever being alive in either the United States or in Saudi Arabia.COVERT DREAMS is a fast-paced international suspense thriller that moves from Munich to the burning sands of Saudi Arabia. What is real, and who is responsible for the terrifying nightmare?

 

Accolades:

“I highly recommend this book to all readers who like to be totally captivated and swept away.” – Marilou George, THE KINDLE BOOK REVIEW

“Don’t start reading this book on an evening when you have to get up early the next morning, because you’re going to find it hard to put down!” – Nick Russell, author of BIG LAKE

“This story will not disappoint as it sucks you right into these lives from page one and doesn’t let go until the last page is turned.” – D. Everetti, author of PUNISHING

“Covert Dreams is “I got captured”-reading, as opposed to “escape”-reading.” – George Wier, mystery and crime writer

“Covert Dreams had me from the gripping opening scene to the satisfying conclusion.” – Dale Roberts, author of IRREFUTABLE

“I felt I was in the hands of a master. Terrific book. I would recommend it to anyone.” Christine Swinson

“Written with a gripping suspense, this story is sure to keep you up at night, as it left me desperately needing to know what happens next.” BTS eMag

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Covert Dreams currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars, with 49 reviews! Read the reviewshere!


Excerpt from Covert Dreams:

The Munich all around her was bustling with activity. She could hear it from all directions. Munich was a wonderful city, a fun-loving place, the live and let live ebullience of the city emanating from its every nook and cranny. She had had a lovely stay here. All of it had been so adventurous, so new, so unlike life back home in Arizona. She could vividly recall the first time she had ventured into a Munich beer garden, where the liter mugs had been so huge that she had had to lift hers with both hands, and the giggles, from him, until he too had had to use both hands.

The fumbling noises he had been making came to an abrupt halt. He began stroking her cheek again. Gus looked so happy, so young, so full of life. It was so hard to imagine that he could be so heavily involved in all this horror.

Gus smiled at her once more. His eyes were soft, so gentle, so caring, so loving.

Maybe this was some kind of huge mistake. Maybe he wasn’t going to kill her after all. Maybe everything would turn out happily ever after. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

But then suddenly she saw it clearly. It was no fairy tale. There would be no maybe. This was real, as real as the mixture of sadness and fear that now flooded her brain.

And then she died, with her eyes wide open, challenging, piercing his to the end.

 

Covert Dreams is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/ Prime!


Connect with Michael Meyer:

Website: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005E7M8CW

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelMeyersWritingLife

LOVE IS PATIENT, D.P. Memory {$0.99 or borrow FREE w/ Prime!}

Fran Kadylak is recovering from surgery that has stripped her of any hope she had of ever bearing the children she and her husband Ken have been praying for. She is going to leave her darling husband because she loves him too much to deprive him of the children he longs for.

Fran’s mother and Ken’s aunt are scheming together to get the young couple back together again. Aunt Alicia came up with the perfect solution to their broken hearts. She volunteers to be a surrogate mother for Fran and Ken. Alicia’s family is dumbfounded that she would be willing to go through a risky pregnancy when her own two sons are already teens. Her husband, Jonathan, is demanding guarantees that his own wife’s health won’t be sacrificed in the bargain.

Fran and Ken can’t believe their good fortune when Aunt Alicia’s invitro fertilization goes so well she is pregnant with not one, but twin infants. Now Fran and Ken have gotten their lives back on track. Aunt Alicia’s pregnancy is well underway at home in Mars, PA. Fran and Ken are taking off to New York City for a job interview that could mean a big promotion for Ken. They will be meeting with a financial advisor at the famous World Trade Center to discuss how to invest some money Fran inherited from her grandmother. Fran and Ken are rejoicing; life is perfect.

The date is September 10, 2001.

What readers are saying:

More stories like this please.

This story leaves you with a good feeling.

Once I started reading Love is Patient I could not put it down.

EXCELLENT BOOK

Loved the characters

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 4.5 stars, with 13 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase LOVE IS PATIENT for $0.99 or borrow FREE w/ Prime!

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Lydecker Mysteries, William Cheevers {$0.99}

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William Cheevers‘ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Frugal Find of the Day

Get it now, here

Description of The Lydecker Mysteries:

Frank Lydecker is an ex-cop with a penchant for diners, old buildings and streetcars. Volume 1 of “The Lydecker Mysteries” includes five stories from Lydecker’s case book as a private investigator in the changing world of Chicago in the 1950s. Who is recruiting young men to die in a string of bank robberies? Who hoarded phonograph records purported to be voice recordings of Mark Twain and why? The motive for stealing an antique wardrobe is insurance fraud or extortion. Or is it? Why has a rare 1849 gold coin not been seen in decades? Did Rhonda Shaw kill her father because she thought he had killed her mother for another woman or was there another more complex reason?


Accolades:

Frank Lydecker – a detective of cunning and determination
Humphrey Bogart with a scientific bent
A credible private eye, well-written stories
Good stuff

 

Reviews:

The Lydecker Mysteries currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.7 stars from 3 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

The Lydecker Mysteries is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99


An excerpt from The Lydecker Mysteries:

THE OPENING SCENE FROM “THE TOWNSEND CHIFFEROBE”

In the morning when the streets are quiet I walk to Jack’s Diner, open the door and take in the smell of frying bacon with a great sigh of anticipation. I sit at my table in the corner with the morning paper, consume the artwork of the best fry cook on the north side, top it off with a second cup of coffee and the first of my five cigarettes for the day and walk to my office on the third floor of a vintage building. The building is graced by ornate masonry, high ceilings and oak woodwork. It is my symbol of something lost. I had just climbed the stairs and unlocked the office door when the phone rang. I knocked the snow off my shoes, walked to the window and turned the valve on the radiator all the way open, threw my overcoat and hat across a chair and picked up the receiver in the middle of the fourth ring.

“Lydecker Investigations.”

“I expected a receptionist,” said a male voice.

“I don’t have a receptionist,” I said.

“I take it you’re Lydecker.”

“All my life,” I said.

“I need to talk to you,” said the voice. “When’s a good time?”

“What about?” I said.

“I bought an antique chifferobe at an auction,” said the voice. “It was stolen. I want it back.”

“Call the police, burglary division,” I said. “Stolen property, among other things, is why we have a police department. Have you reported it?”

“Of course, but it won’t do any good,” said the voice. “Do you know how many reports of stolen property they get in a day?”

“I have a vague idea,” I said. “There are a lot of people who can handle your problem. I can recommend someone.”

“I don’t want someone,” said the voice. “I hear you’re Adrian Tiller’s hatchet man and you get results.”

“You’re starting to bore me,” I said.

“Look, let’s start over,” said the voice. “The chifferobe is important. It’s not just any chifferobe. Do you know anything about antique furniture?”

“Not a thing,” I said.

“Well, this chifferobe is very rare, possibly one of a kind, as these pieces go,” said the voice. “I’ll pay you a thousand dollars to find it and put up another thousand as a reward.”

“That’s a great deal of money,” I said.

“Peanuts,” said the voice. “I paid twenty-five thousand for it and I was lucky to get it for that.”

“This may sound obvious, but is it insured?” I said.

“For thirty thousand,” said the voice. “But I don’t want the money, I want the chifferobe.”

“Just for the sake of argument, who is the insurer?” I said.

“The United Group,” said the voice. “The head office is in the Loop on Jackson.”

So, Harvey Logan, head of the claims division at United, was on the hook for thirty grand. He would handle this personally. I could cooperate with Harvey if I had to.

“How did you get my name?” I said.

“Adrian Tiller takes care of legal problems for my cousin,” said the voice.

“What kind of legal problems and who is your cousin?” I said.

“Nothing shady,” said the voice. “His name is Charles Anderson. He owns Anderson Construction up in Skokie and he does a lot of contracted work. Tiller’s office draws up the papers.”

“And your name is?”

“Townsend, Richard Townsend,” said the voice. “I deal in quality acquisitions for a select clientele. Occasionally I acquire something I wish to keep as an investment.”

At this point I decided to apply the insurance investigation test. “One thing, Mr. Townsend,” I said. “United has a very good investigative staff and I’m sure you know they are going to have a lot of questions.”

There was a pause. I listened to the static over the open line.

“What are you suggesting?” said Townsend.

“That they will ask questions and try to recover your property,” I said. “And if they do, it will cost you nothing.”

“Well, it won’t hurt for you to look around as well, will it?” said Townsend.

It was one of the right answers. “No, I don’t suppose it will,” I said. “First, what is a chifferobe?”

“It’s a wardrobe, half closet and half chest of drawers,” said Townsend. “Southerners call them chifferobes…the name has a ring to it.”

“Is that a standard usage?”

“Oh, sure, anyone in the antique business…”

“All right, how long ago was the auction?”

“Yesterday morning,” said Townsend. “They delivered the chifferobe to my house and it wasn’t there when I got home last night.”

“And you called the police right away?”

“Yes, as soon as I saw it was gone.”

“All right, Mr. Townsend, I’ll see what I can do,” I said. “I have a standard contract, thirty-five a day, a week in advance.”

“What about the thousand?” said Townsend.

“”Well, it goes like this,” I said. “I would certainly like to collect it, but there is a chance, maybe a good chance, that I won’t find your wardrobe. In that event you could take the insurance settlement or you could hire someone else who might have better luck or you could do both. Any of that will be fine with me, as long as I am paid for my time.”

“You don’t sound very sure of yourself.”

“I make the decisions, Mr. Townsend.”

“You’ll find it,” said Townsend.

“I certainly hope so,” I said. “Can you come around to my office about one or so?”

“About one?” said Townsend. “I’ll be there.”

“Fine. I’m on the northeast corner of Dearborn and Randolph, third floor. Just come in the main entrance off Dearborn and up the stairs.”


The Lydecker Mysteries is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Therapy for Ghosts, Eric Praschan {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Eric Praschan‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Therapy for Ghosts:

Some memories will find you no matter where you hide…

Cindy James is a cognitive behavioral therapist in a quiet Missouri town, but her precisely patterned life spins into chaos when she is besieged by panic attacks. Forced to undergo counseling with a new, peculiar therapist in town, Tony Prost, Cindy defiantly resists both his unnerving charm and the truth behind the haunting images that are unleashing her anxiety.

As Cindy’s memory flashes increase in frequency, she is jolted by the terrible deed her beloved mother committed to gain their freedom from her father. That memory is one clue to the mystery behind her compulsive behaviors: carrying a headless Raggedy Ann doll throughout the five-story mansion in which she lives alone, spot cleaning the mansion’s thirty-one rooms, and crying herself to sleep in an empty red room. Cindy slowly recalls her grandmother’s dominating, divisive presence and a violent history shrouded by years of silence, binding three generations. She soon realizes that the key to her future is buried in her past, but finding the truth means embarking on a harrowing journey back into the heart of her darkest fears.

 

Accolades:

“Eric Praschan’s book comes with an amusing premise, charting the meltdown of Cindy James, a cognitive behavioral therapist, who is in critical need of…cognitive behavioral therapy. The story quickly turns serious, as Praschan explores her tortured psyche, leading us to the unimaginable trauma that keeps her imprisoned, like a ghost, in a house already haunted by her childhood tormentors. Judging from the crackling dialogue between Cindy and Tony, the therapist who loves and helps her, Praschan is well versed in the challenges of the doctor-patient duet. This is a fine and well-written psychological thriller. And I am partial to any male author who seeks – and succeeds – to create a full-dimensioned woman narrator.”
-By Sarah Kernochan, 2-time Academy Award winning screenwriter of “What Lies Beneath” and author of paranormal suspense novel, Jane Was Here

“Rich with imagery and wonderfully paced, Therapy for Ghosts is a deft tale of pain and redemption, smartly told via a struggling protagonist and an old house that, like all of us, has more history than we care to admit! Eric’s debut novel marks the launch of a brave new talent. Highly recommended!”
-By Ray Blackston, award-winning author of Flabbergasted

“Cindy James has some dark secrets. Her problem is she doesn’t remember them without great effort and sometimes trauma. Eric Praschan’s first venture into the novel format is a fast-paced psychological thriller. One in which the reader is immediately sucked into the underworld of a troubled psyche. Cindy’s efforts to recall and learn more about her past will keep you turning pages and wanting more from this writer.”
-Amazon review

“Deep family secrets. Classic Suspense. The quality of writing is original, engaging and seamlessly flawless. This is a hidden gem, that when discovered will gain many reviews and accolades. I was folded into the complex web of the story till the end. Bravo Eric, your talents run deep and it will be exciting to read your next book!”
-Amazon review

 

Reviews:

Therapy for Ghosts currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.2 stars from 27 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Therapy for Ghosts is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

An excerpt from Therapy for Ghosts:

Chapter One

Mama, I’ve been remembering you, and that scares me to death. These static days and sleepless nights have brought her back to me, the young girl covering her ears and cowering beneath her bed in terror. Our unspoken pact to forget is at risk. I wish you were here to guide me through the darkness, to remind me how to rid ourselves of what she has seen and what she knows, yet I am glad you are gone, because you will not have to face her again. She is coming for me, and I have run out of places to hide.

I stir awake, feeling sweat burning my body. My foggy eyes stare at the ceiling, waiting for the shadows amid the candlelight to shift. All stays still in the room, reminding me that there is no one else with whom to share the nightmares. I peel back the freshly ironed bed sheets and slide my feet into cushioning slippers. After slipping on my robe, I tiptoe to the bedroom door, undo the two deadbolt locks, and step into the drafty hallway, all the while seeking to purge the vivid mental image of the little girl hiding beneath her bed and covering her ears in dread.

In the darkness of the interior, the house features are not clearly visible, but I have walked these halls enough at night to know them blindly. The middle section of varnished wood down each hall has a faint, grooved indention from my countless footsteps traversing back and forth during post-nightmare purging sessions. A gaping space sits at the center of the house’s five levels, forming an atrium around which the rectangular levels of each hallway are built. At the four corners of each level is a wooden staircase. Every night I walk up and down the levels, glancing through the open doorways of the rooms to see the shadow-pressed presence of candlelight burning with tiny vigor only inches away from closed window curtains.

When I return to my starting point, if the mental image still has not vanished—like tonight—I make my way to the cherry wood door which stands alone on the far wall of the third level. Upon prying open the only door besides my own which remains closed at night, I enter an empty fifteen-foot by fifteen-foot room. Tonight the windowless, candle-less space appears darker than usual, forcing my eyes to squint in an effort to detect the color consuming the room. The walls, ceiling, and floor are a distinct, rich red, a shade which has only seemed to darken since the day I painted it liberally with a brush that was just one inch wide. For the life of me, however, I still cannot remember why I painted the room red.

While moving to the center of the room, I find the only occupant lying in one of her sleeping spots. Kneeling down, I pick up the headless Raggedy Ann doll and hold her reverently. The image of the girl hiding beneath the bed in terror creeps into my mind, but I dismiss it abruptly, choosing instead to clutch the doll tightly to my chest. Then I pry her away from me and gently lower her back onto the floor. I stretch out, lie beside her, and press my face against the cold, spotless hardwood. Tears fall from my eyes to puddle on the comfortless floor. The memory flash bursts like a reckless spark, igniting my kindled thoughts with the urge to remember.
I open my eyes and the foggy features of my office come into focus. I see blonde-haired Samantha Jackson standing stiffly in the doorway with mascara smudges gleaming beneath her eyes. “What if he doesn’t think I’m worth the effort it will take to change his behavior?”

I smile knowingly. “Samantha, if you won’t breach this subject with him, then you’re going to keep pacifying the very thing that damages you. I wouldn’t be a good friend if I were any less honest.”

She gathers herself with a reassuring breath. “Thanks, Cindy. Talking with you helps give me the courage I’ll need to face him.Sometimes it feels like I’m still coming to you for therapy instead of just being a friend catching up. Well, I’ve got to get home and cook dinner. Hope he comes home sober tonight.” She expels a weighty sigh and then smiles grimly. “See you soon, Cindy.”

“See you, Samantha.”

After she disappears down the hallway, I move to the door and close it quietly. Then I slump down in the office chair, hoping the heaviness in my limbs will subside. Three stacks of paper sit in evenly distributed piles on the far right corner of the finely polished cherry wood desk. A “Time” magazine lies just below the paper piles, marked with today’s date, April 1, 1995. An ornate desk lamp rests beside a brass square holder filled with uniform pens. A single picture surrounded by a simple glass frame occupies the space on the far left corner of the desk, a wrinkled three by five photo of Mama and me in my pink walled bedroom when I was thirteen years old. I find myself staring at the picture far longer than I intended, beginning to travel back in memory, dazed in emotional fog.
Brushing off the sensation, I slip on my coat and grab my purse on the way out of the room, seeing Samantha’s jacket—which she always used to leave behind in my house when she was a patient ten years ago—still draped around the coat stand. As I lock the office door, an odd tingling pricks my thigh and calf muscles. My vision becomes blurry, almost double. I stagger to the outer door, open it, and scarcely step outside before my fingers fumble and release the keys. The sound of clinking metal rattles from the concrete below. I attempt to reach down and retrieve the keys, but my arm feels as if it is struggling against a wave of water. A bizarre, unbalanced sensation swarms over my joints. Each muscle feels plunged into molasses, wobbling in painful slow motion, as if weighed down by lead. I attempt to scream for help, but my mouth remains closed and unresponsive. My eyes grow wide with alarm. Both weightless and immensely heavy, my body teeters, m y knees buckle, and I ungracefully careen backward onto the concrete sidewalk. I lie motionless, sensing terror quicken my heartbeat and restrict my breathing.

Breathe, Cindy, keep breathing. You’re having a panic attack, nothing more. Focus on breathing.

A full minute passes and my limbs lay limp without response.

Just breathe, keep breathing.

Another minute passes. Still nothing.

Someone, please come. Keep breathing, Cindy. Someone has to come.

My consciousness ebbs and I surrender to the mental void.

The memory flash continues propelling me forward, pricking my thoughts with the pull of remembrance.

My eyelids quiver, trying to open themselves. The throbbing in my backside informs me I am lying on a bed of some kind. The joints in my arms and legs pulse with dulling pain. A disturbing calm blankets each nerve. The desire to rest and remain unmoving beckons strongly, but I do not want to sleep for fear I may not awaken again.

“While I was driving home, I realized I had forgotten my jacket, so I turned around to go back to her office.” Samantha’s excitable voice echoes throughout the room. “When I got there, she was on the ground, not moving or speaking.”

“I’m just glad you found her,” Jody Simon’s voice replies with an even higher pitch. I picture Jody’s sparkling blue eyes and fiery red hair, her pretty face frazzled with concern.

Authoritative footsteps enter the room, precise in their cadence and deliberate in their direction.

“Ms. James, can you hear me?” A man’s deep, commanding voice bludgeons my ears. “If you can hear me, open your eyes.”

My brain gives the signal, but my eyelids are defiant.

Concentrate, Cindy. The sooner you open your eyes, the sooner you can leave.

I open my eyelids shakily, overwhelmed by the blinding fluorescent light above. My eyes rove in his direction and detect a tall, bearded black man in an angel-white jacket.

“My name is Dr. Shipper. I’m the neurologist on duty in the hospital right now. Can you follow my finger?”

His slender finger appears in front of my face and he waves it from side to side while my eyes try to track it.

“Good, Ms. James. Can you speak to me?”

My eyes stare at him, desperate to communicate something, anything.

He smiles knowingly. “That’s all right. We’ll get there. The MRI, the CT scan, the spinal tap, and the blood work came back negative. The only logical conclusion we can reach is that you experienced some type of stress disorder reaction. It appears that either the unprocessed accumulation of stress or some unresolved trauma in your mind has caused your body to mimic symptoms of health conditions you do not have. The body is reacting in a physical manner to something psychological. I want you to see a cognitive behavioral therapist.”

The ladies stand speechless. My eyes search his helplessly.

Jody smirks. “She is a cognitive behavioral therapist.”

He smiles supremely, eyeing me with a knowing gleam. “Then I suppose it will be quite an interesting experience for you. I want you to see a friend of mine, Tony Prost. He’s new in town. I’ll schedule an appointment for you and write down his address and phone number on your discharge papers. I don’t want you working for at least a week. Your body should regain strength soon. Once you’re able to speak and walk, you are free to go. I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.”

Without another word, he nods and makes his way out of the room, leaving us bewildered.

The mental flash returns me to the red room floor. I close my eyes and continue grappling with images of the young girl hiding beneath her bed and covering her ears to block out the horrid sounds coming from somewhere else in her house. I reach out and pull Raggedy Ann tightly to myself. I don’t have the heart to tell her that the real agony is about to begin. Something is stirring deep within my memory, and I don’t know how to keep it a secret from myself any longer; this time, it will consume me.

 

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