17 November 2017

The Jupiter Chronicles: The Orb of Terra by Leonardo Ramirez


Steampunk
Date Published: November 17, 2017
Publisher: Leonardoverse Books

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In the tradition of “City of Ember” "Chronicles of Narnia" and "A Wrinkle in Time", this family adventure is a high stakes space race to save our world from an invading force before it is too late.

-Book 3-

Will Ian’s quest to find his destiny away from Jupiter lead to Earth's untimely demise?

As he struggles with his identity, Ian Castillo helps one of Earth’s greatest scientific minds, Dr. Nikola Tesla, make the scientific discovery of a lifetime: a strange mineral that can perhaps power our world for years to come! They discover it is not just an energy source, but something much more! When the device powered by the mineral is activated, it awakens a sleeping giant buried under the Earth by the Martians generations before. The beast known as “Gigantes” leaves behind a trail of destruction and calls out to a deadly enemy headed for Earth.

And the secret inside the mineral will change everything for Earth and the entire Jovian Realm…forever.

FIND YOUR DESTINY.

Cover by Eve Milady and Ben Fosselman with Magnetic Dreams Animation Studios (Iron Man:Extremis, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers, Sesame Street)


About the Author


Leonardo Ramirez is an author, husband, a father, and a Karate instructor with a 4th degree black belt. His first novel, "Haven of Dante", is a supernatural Young Adult story centered on an ancient war between the Dante family and the nine circles of hell. "Haven of Dante: The Staff of Moshe" takes readers much deeper into the world of the family line with a prologue that begins with the plight of Dante Alighieri himself!

His follow up is a Science Fiction book called "The Jupiter Chronicles: The Secret of the Great Red Spot". It follows the adventure of two children as they are transported to the steam-powered cities of Jupiter where they find the secret of their long-lost father in the midst of a Martian attack.
Leonardo Ramirez lives with his wife Kristen, their daughter Mackenzy and their two dogs, Duchess and Tinkerbell in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee.

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15 November 2017

You Came Like Hope by Jyoti Arora

~ Cover Reveal ~


Title: You Came Like Hope
Author: Jyoti Arora
Word length: 53,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Contemporary Romance


Blurb:
Peehu:
“I heard them mourn my death. I lay in the next room. Motionless, silent, and staring at the ceiling.”
Adih:
“When it comes to a broken person, some of them are expert at blinding you. Spend an entire evening with such a person, but you may still not know how he is crushing inside.”
Uday:
“Who would say no to him? He is smart, intelligent, super handsome, rich, suave and sophisticated. He’s perfect!”
Pooja:
“Pooja gave no explanation. She asked no forgiveness. She just arrived in his home, resenting him for being her husband.”
Arunav:
“He had smiled as if nothing was wrong.
He had behaved as if he still had his dreams and hopes.
He had pretended as if it didn’t hurt.
But it did.”
Does Destiny hold the key to our happiness?
Is it always the feeble that is the victim?
Love can be the embrace of heaven. But what happens when it unleashes hellfire?
Lose yourself in the intense narrative of You Came Like Hope as it unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, uncovers some bitter truths, challenges widespread prejudices, and forces you to reconsider your beliefs.

Releasing on 23rd November 2017!

About the Author:
Jyoti Arora is a novelist and blogger from Ghaziabad. You Came Like Hope is her third novel, coming after Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl. She is Post Graduate in English Literature and Applied Psychology. Besides reading and writing novels, Jyoti enjoys checking out latest technological innovations, watching movies, and listening to old Bollywood songs.




14 November 2017

She Do Run Run by Amy Swifton



Romantic Suspense
Date Published: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Broadback

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She Do Run Run is a fast, double-shot-of-espresso read. Its heart-racing story can be consumed in a few quick hours.

Jenny’s life is shattered when her Special Ops husband is killed. To escape the pain, she falls into a dangerous cycle of random sex and booze, and one night she kills a violent man.

She runs off into the unknown, desperate to survive and change her life. That’s when Lieutenant Jon Dowling appears.




Excerpt

Enraged, KC bounced off the bed, faltered, then whirled about to face me.  He broke for me, spitting threats and curses, his giant shadow of a body charging.  I felt a twist of terror in the pit of my stomach.

I slipped the Luger from my purse easily—feeling the cool, sticky grip.  There was no time to shout out a warning.  He was coming—a charging, killing animal.  I squeezed off two shots.  The impact stunned him, jerked him erect.  Froze him.  I could see his eyes, wide in the bright flash of yellow neon.  He heaved out a loud breath, like a snort.

“You shot me, you bitch!  I’ll kill you!  You fuckin’ shot me!  I’ll kill you!”

He came at me, a big angry bear reaching.  I fired two more shots.  I watched in horror as he teetered, and stumbled backwards off-balance.  He bounced off the wall, face blank, and dropped like a heavy sack.  I felt the thud of his body shake the floor under my bare feet.

I stood breathing, sweating, heart kicking.  I knew he was dead.  I didn’t need to check.  I mean, I shot him four times, for Chrissake!  Did anyone hear the shots?  I strained my ears.  Dead quiet.  Were there people next door?  Would someone call the police?

Strangely, I felt calm—incredibly calm.  Where was the shock?  Methodically, I slipped the handgun back into my purse.  Then I realized I was naked.  I found my clothes, slipped them on, turned the room lights on dim and searched the room, refusing to look at KC, making sure I hadn’t left anything: still had my earrings, watch, phone, purse.  Would there be finger prints?  Maybe.  I knew, from some of Kyle’s police buddies, that prints were hard to find.  I hadn’t touched many things.  I hadn’t even drunk from a glass or used a towel.  What about hair in the bed?  A broken nail?  No time to search.  Impossible anyway.

I turned off the lights and slipped out of the motel into a dark humid night.  The motel office was 70 feet or so away and, fortunately, I hadn’t stepped inside the office with KC when he registered.  I had not been seen.  I listened for police sirens.   Nothing.  Strange.

We had come on KC’s motorcycle, leaving my car in the bar’s parking lot.  I’d have to walk the five miles or so, and I did, keeping my head low, edging along in the shadows.

When I arrived back at the bar, the parking lot was still bloated with motorcycles, trucks and old dinged up cars.  I glanced about, saw a couple locked in a kiss near the front door, climbed into my car, cranked the engine and drove away, still feeling oddly calm.  Why?  I had just killed a man.

The police would soon be looking for the killer, of course.  The bartender had seen me, and the man who had moved to give me his barstool, had seen me.  Would they remember what I looked like?  As far as I knew, they were the only ones.  No one knew my name or anything else about me.  Still, there was no doubt the police would find some evidence.  If there was hair in the bed, they’d run a DNA test.  This was Florida after all, and Florida cops weren’t stupid, at least not the ones Kyle and I had known.

So, what now?  I drove, and drove, and kept on driving.  I lost track of time and place, my mind soon entranced by the blurring white lines of the road, by the hum of the car engine and the expanding, chilling realization that I’d just killed a man. 

About the Author:
I'm a Florida-based writer, who loves all things romantic, with a shot of suspense.  I also love to write Time Travel Novels.
When the characters keep me up nights, I feel good about the story.

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13 November 2017

Dangerously Dark by C.J. Burright




New Adult Paranormal Romance
Date Published:  11/13/17

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Some call him Purgatory’s Missing Prince. Demon Master. Overlord of Shadows. Only one woman may call him hers.

A master of dreams, a failure at life…

After another botched career attempt, Quinn Carmichael escapes to a remote lodge for a weekend recharge, needing respite…especially from the nightmares that haunt even her days. When a wounded, sexy-as-sin stranger faceplants unconscious on her kitchen floor, there’s something disturbingly familiar about him—as in he’s the boy from her childhood dreams. Mr. Dark, Dangerous, and Diabolical may be the key to unlocking the mysteries of her past and future, and Quinn isn’t about to let the opportunity—or him—escape without a fight.

His time is running out…

Known as Purgatory’s Missing Prince, Zaire’s existence has been one of endless pain, torture, and loss. Resigned to his fate, his final goal is simple—rescue his nephew before succumbing to the deadly darkness inside him. But when a fateful misstep brings him face-to-face with the one woman who could have saved him once upon a dream—the one woman he treasures above all else—he battles to keep his distance before he destroys her, too. But he would gladly sell his soul for just one taste.

Love draws them together, destiny will tear them apart

With ruthless enemies closing in, Quinn and Zaire must fight to save each other and those they care for before it’s too late—even if it means they’re doomed to live apart forever

 Excerpt

Quinn tossed the note on the coffee table and wrapped one hand around the warm ceramic mug, absently petting Wolfgang with the other. Dusk took over beyond the wall of windows, made darker by the blizzard. Falling snow hid the skirting tree line. Wind howled at the house corners and turned treetops into jerking puppets. The perfect meltdown location. No phones, no people, no problem.
The lamp flickered and died, leaving her with only the dancing firelight, not that she minded. The power had lasted longer than she expected. Stoked fire, hot cider, and now she had a great excuse to procrastinate reading unhelpful flyers. She sipped her drink and wriggled back on the couch.
Wolfgang launched off her lap, kicking papers everywhere and sloshing her drink.
“Bad cat!”
He scurried into the kitchen, out of sight. A distinct thud followed, which meant Wolfgang was up to no good.
“I should’ve sent you off to the Nameless One.” Quinn shoved the remaining flyers aside and nabbed the flashlight from the end table. “You’d make an amazing hat, and there’d be enough fur left to make a stole, the perfect ensemble to compliment her plastic face.”
She flicked on the flashlight and shuffled into the kitchen, ignoring how the light made all the shadows twist and scuttle on the walls and ceiling. Broken bones might bother her, but the dark never had.
Wolfgang expectantly stood at the back door. He meowed, high and plaintive. Nothing looked out of place. Whatever had made the thud wasn’t in the kitchen. Maybe the wind had blown a loose branch against the house.
“What, you’re a snow leopard now? There’s no fancy feline feast waiting out there for you.”
Wolfgang rubbed his cheek against the doorframe, circled, and meowed again.
Thud. The entire door shook.
Quinn jumped. That was no branch. All the horror movies she loved to watch and ridicule flashed to mind, a lot less funny now. Alone in the woods. Killer storm. No electricity. No connection to the outside world.
Wolfgang’s purr rumbled, and he slid his face over the jamb again. The noise hadn’t spooked him even a little, and animals always sensed evil. Wolfgang had had no problem detecting it in Molly.
She squared her shoulders. No one would be roaming around in a blizzard. An animal had probably knocked the trashcan into the door, and a quick look would ease any worry. At the first glimpse of fur or fang—or red, glowing eyes—she’d go for the door slam.
Pushing Wolfgang back with one foot, she cracked open the door. Wind exploded in, ripping the doorknob from her grip and firing snow and ice into her eyes. The door banged into the wall, and the storm’s full force rushed inside. Quinn scrambled for the knob and stopped, frozen by more than the sudden blast of cold.
A man filled the entryway from threshold to frame, dark as the nightfall behind him. Steam drifted from his bare head. Frost coated his short, sable hair, and even in the flashlight beam, his complexion held an unhealthy blue-gray hue. One hand was anchored to the doorpost in a white-knuckled grip. The other brandished a wicked as sin knife.
She shone the light on his face, and her stomach roller-coastered. Her demon. The one who’d haunted her nightmares years ago and then abruptly bailed, never to return. No matter what face he wore, his death-black, abysmal eyes were unforgettable.
Or were her delusions returning with a vengeance?
“Get out of my way.” His chest heaved, and he lurched forward, the knife pointed at her. His guttural words erased any suspicion that he might be another hallucination. He was too present, too solid to be anything but real.
Merde. He was real.

About the Author

C.J Burright is a native Oregonian and refuses to leave. A member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter, while she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers (for now) and instead invades the world of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or fantasy. C.J. also has her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes a story isn’t complete without at least one fight scene. Her meager spare time is spent working out, refueling with mochas, gardening, gorging on Assassin’s Creed, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners…always with music. She shares life with her husband, daughter, and a devoted cat herd.

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12 November 2017

Kesar Sandesh


Original Recipe: A2Z Healthy Vegetarian Dish

Ingredients:
2 C Fresh paneer (hang to drain whey completely)
A few saffron strands
2 Tbsp warm milk (to soak saffron)
1 tsp milk powder
1/2 cup finely powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Ghee 

Preparation:
Mix the paneer(cheese), milk powder and 1 Tbsp of warm milk with soaked saffron.
Add sugar and cardamom powder and mix until smooth dough is formed.
Lightly grease the molds or your palms with ghee.
Press some of the prepared paneer mixture in the molds if using or just make small balls with your palms and apply kesar / saffron milk on top with your finger.
Chill for a few hours, unmold carefully and serve.

11 November 2017

Daredevils by Anne Greene

Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date Published: January 2017
Publisher: Forget Me Not Romances, Winged Publications

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What happens in the roaring twenties when a daredevil barnstormer falls in love with a wing-walking flapper threatened by dangerous men out to exploit her?

Orphan and wing-walker Gloria needs a job when her boss dies in a barnstorming accident. With no other jobs available, she sweet-talks Rand into letting her walk his wing. Flying Ace Rand fights wartime injuries that hamper his flying even as he works to gain the world-record for solo flight across the Atlantic. He bucks his wealthy dad’s plans for him to settle down, join the company, and marry a socialite.

Rand falls in love with the courageous, fun-loving, and  daring Gloria. But Orphan Gloria’s experienced too many men who promise love and marriage and instead take advantage of her being alone in the world. She holds Rand at arm’s length. Without her knowledge, Rand protects her and makes sure she doesn’t starve. When Gloria’s offered a movie contract Rand knows he must intervene.


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Excerpt

Kill Devil Hills, 1925

Gloria plodded from the bathroom into the bedroom. “Daisy, we’ve no food in the cottage, so I need to have a heart-to-heart chat with Mr. Rand Maitland. He’s exactly the type of older man I prefer to work with.” She bent to pat the blonde puppy’s head. No more fending off amorous bosses. “I need to find another partner like Buzz.” A tear slipped from her eye and wiggled down her cheek. “I miss you, Buzz. If you were still alive, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Thanks to Vincent and his lies, no other pilot will hire me.” 

Gloria swiped a fist across her cheek to wipe the tears and snagged her only dress from a hanger, leaving the small closet empty. “I’ll force myself to be amusing and cheerful. Older men like that.” Anything to improve her chance of getting a job. According to Annie, Rand Maitland had been an ace fly boy during the war. She could trust his acrobatics.

She perched on the edge of the sagging bed, pulled shiny, silk stockings just above her knees and rolled in the garters. She stood and slid into the white dress that ended in a shocking way just below her knees. Well, older men liked that too. She’d need every advantage to capture this job.

Suited her just fine she didn’t need to flatten her bosom because God hadn’t overly endowed her. In her line of work a voluptuous bust got in the way. She reached behind her back to zip up her dress. Easy, because the fabric draped open to below her shoulder blades in the rear. Scandalous in the daytime, but she only had this one gown or her trousers. “Trousers won’t impress the old man, Daisy, and I can’t wear my costume. Being broke is just tedious.”  She smoothed the drop-waist dress and settled on the edge of the bed to slip on red, high-heeled shoes. She stood and pivoted in front of her blonde puppy. “How do I look, Daisy?”

Though her might-be-new boss lived close, she’d borrow Annie’s Model T roadster. “Rand Maitland’s bound to have his Jenny tied-down near the sand runway, and I don’t want to get grit inside my only pair of dress shoes.”

Daisy raised a paw to be shaken. Gloria smiled, bent and shook the furry offering.  She didn’t need the auto since Kitty Hawk wasn’t more than five hundred yards or so from Annie’s cottage near Kill Devil Hills, but Mr. Maitland would be more impressed if she drove. He mustn’t know how desperately she needed this job or he wouldn’t hire her. Her high heels tapped a determined rhythm on the uneven linoleum as she crossed the living room. She shut the door behind her and marched down the rickety wooden stairs to the beach. Stepping carefully to keep loose sand out of her shoes, she tiptoed around the cottage to where Annie had parked her Model T before she left for Europe.  Gloria bent, cupped the crank handle on the front of the car in her palm, pulled the choke wire with her left hand and gave the crank a quick half-turn. The engine sputtered to life. Her shoes slipped on the sandy driveway as she minced on tip-toes around to the driver’s seat and climbed inside.

She drove close to the three bi-planes tied down just beyond a cluster of larger cottages on stilts. Too late to turn back. She’d forgotten to apply that new chalk-white face powder that was all the rage. Nor had she painted her lips red. She’d wanted that color to bolster her confidence and hide her pain. She shook her head and shrugged. Well, she had a stiff spine and didn’t need to paint on courage.  She pulled up next to the closest home, stopped the automobile, turned off the ignition, set the brake, and slipped out the door. Just off the road, her red high-heels sank into loose sand. “Ain’t we got fun?” she murmured dryly. Her shoes had survived worse obstacles. These red high heels would outlast this setback too.

In the slanting morning light, three visiting biplanes cast long shadows. All the other planes, snug inside hangars, waited for tomorrow’s barnstorming show. A man wearing blue coveralls with his back to her, bent over the engine casing of the middle Jenny. Annie had mentioned Mr. Maitland named his plane Jazzman, so that big fella had to be the man himself, right where she thought she’d find him. Taking giant steps through the sifting sand between her and the hard-packed sand beneath the Jennies, she stopped directly behind him. She tugged her red cloche hat low over one eyebrow, held down the silky skirt flapping in the breeze, and straightened her shoulders.

“Hello!” She highlighted her voice to sound perky. Older men liked perky.  The man grunted, tightened a bolt on the engine with a large wrench and then turned. She started, her hands flew up, and she almost lost her footing. Annie hadn’t mentioned her husband’s youngest brother was gorgeous. He flashed a smile. Dimples played around that dazzling grin and found an immediate place in her heart. He stared at her with eyes bluer than the bluest lapis. And he was no older man.

Too bad for her. She pressed her lips together. She’d so counted on Mr. Maitland being older. She’d learned her lesson about handsome men.

And she better make sure she remembered it.  

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About the Author

ANNE GREENE's home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas.

Her husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. Her little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares her writing space, curled at her feet. She has four beautiful, talented children who keep her on her toes.

She's traveled to every location of each book she's written, and each book is a book of her heart. Besides her first love, writing, she enjoys travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good.

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10 November 2017

American Revolution by T.T.Michael

Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Futuristic
Date Published: January 2018    
      
When Kelvin Hanson is dishonorably discharged from his naval captaincy he doesn't connect the events to the accession of new President Diego Silva. But as he researches further he finds that Silva isn't as he appears. Determined to rid the nation of a corrupt president, Hanson plots to assassinate him, but someone else gets there first.
Ashlee Townsend, head of the non-profit Freedom Group is equally determined to get to Silva, and is as surprised as Hanson when someone pips her to the post. Still reeling from the President's assassination, Hanson and Townsend join forces as a military dictatorship takes over the country.
As rumors of terrorist plots and Mexican invasions fly, Hanson's journalist wife sets the story straight, finding that it was the military themselves that assassinated Silva. As the truth comes out, California secedes from the Union, and Hanson and Townsend find themselves fleeing to Sacramento to head up a rebellion force.

Reuniting the states under a democratically elected President means war. And while Hanson heads up the rebel forces, his wife Kishanna deals with propaganda and information, and Ashlee becomes the center of yet another assassination plot.
This time, however, things go differently. And with a dead dictator, the threat of civil war crumbles. The governor of California becomes the interim President, and Hanson decides to throw his hat into the ring for the coming election. Democracy triumphs, and the United States is united once more.


Excerpt

Prologue

The absurdly large clock above the television clicked as its minute hand pushed past six. A little after half past midnight. The room was smaller than he'd imagined. Not his choice, but that of his ultra-efficient campaign manager. Not that there were that many places in Wyoming large enough to hold the small crowd that currently surrounded him. The air smelled of sweat and fear and elation, a bitter, sour smell that reminded him of the taste left in his mouth after eating only candy for hours. He was half listening to the chatter around him, the other half of his attention on the television screen.
It was odd, he thought, to be sitting down, to be inactive. For the last few months he felt that he hadn't slept, had barely eaten, had done nothing but smile until his face ached and shake hands and speak and then smile again. And now nothing. The speech was written. The campaigning was done. There was just a vast empty swath of nothingness, and all he could do was sit and wait. This wasn't quite as odd, however, as seeing his name flash up constantly on the TV screen.
Diego Silva. Billionaire, businessman, father, candidate. But still, always, the big-eared, buck-toothed kid of a single mom who’d raised him on rice and beans and not much else. Maria Silva was gone now. Pancreatic cancer a decade ago. It was a shame, really—she'd have been good for a slew of photo shoots, and probably a daytime TV interview or two. Silva grunted as he shifted position on the couch, his full belly pressing against the Armani belt on his slate-gray pants.
“It'll be in soon.”
Mike Callahan perched on the edge of the sofa. His wiry body was like a coiled spring, ready to jump up at a moment's notice. But Silva knew Callahan well enough to see the man was exhausted, close to the edge. Not that it mattered now. After the next few hours, Callahan could snap like a twig if he wanted to. His job would be done by then. One way or the other.
“What will?” Silva asked, not turning his eyes away from the television.
“Vigo County.”
Silva eyed the clock thoughtfully as the minute hand clicked again, then nodded. Vigo County, Indiana, had voted for every US presidential election winner since Eisenhower. The seemingly prescient county was his good luck charm. Silva had been quite clear on his orders. He wanted no disturbance from interns running in every few minutes, trickling down results that hadn't been fully counted. Not until after Vigo County had announced. Once he knew that, he'd know. Everything else would just be noise, would be air inflating the balloon until it exploded. One way or the other.
“Coffee?”
Silva shook his head. His stomach was already sour from too many cups. And God forbid he'd be taking a piss when the result did come in. Thinking of hearing the news as he stood up against a bleach-smelling urinal, dick in hand, made him grin.
“It's not a guarantee; you can't afford to make Vigo the be-all and end-all,” Callahan said, turning bright blue eyes to him. “I've said it before, Silva, and I'll say it again: there has never, ever been a candidate with your ratings. Ever. You've broken the damn polls. You've had the counters checking and double checking their math, convinced they'd fucked up. Whether you get Vigo or not . . .”
He trailed off. Silva grunted again. Callahan was confident, but not quite confident enough that he was willing to jinx the whole thing by saying it out loud. A good old Boston boy, Callahan's accent had grated on Silva's ears when they first met. Then he'd ceased to notice it. Only now did those flat vowels again bother him. But he didn't respond. Had no time to respond.
“Mr. Candidate, sir.”
She was tall and blonde and big breasted, just as he'd liked them when he was a kid. That flawless white all-American girl with enough fat on her bones to have curves. The ideal. Almost as hot as his first wife. Almost, he thought, studying the snub nose sprinkled with light freckles. A slim strip of white paper was trembling in her hand, and Silva nodded at Callahan to take it.
The campaign manager looked at the black print, dismissed the girl, turned to Silva.
“Vigo,” was all he said.
And Silva knew, knew as he'd always known he'd know. His heart hammered in his chest but he didn't let it show. In a corner of the room on blue plastic chairs, his two sons were playing poker, oblivious and uncaring as to what was happening around them. His two daughters were nowhere to be seen, but they were around somewhere. Sitting alone, her eyes downturned, demure and silent, Min-Seo, his wife, could have been asleep. He had a flash of gratitude that he'd made such a good choice. Neither of his previous wives would have been silent. Both would have been screeching, complaining, thrusting themselves into the midst of things, eager to be the center of attention.
Callahan was talking; the noise level was growing. The television screen blinked as an infographic appeared. Kentucky had declared. Indiana too. The US map filled the screen, the two states bright, bold blue.
Silva felt Callahan clap him on the shoulder, felt, rather than heard, the cheers around him. He looked again at petite, quiet Min-Seo, her eyes now turned to him. She gave a small smile, unsure, and he gave a short, sharp nod in response. And he saw the weight settle on her shoulders. He hated that she was smarter than he, but knew it to be true, though he'd never even hinted that he knew. But now he was glad. Glad because she'd be a far finer First Lady than either of his ex-wives.
President. He allowed himself a smile and stood, turning to face the others in the room, lifting his hands in a sign of victory.
“The numbers aren't all in yet, Silva,” Callahan warned him in his ear.
But Silva didn't care. He knew now that he'd won the lot, and he accepted the cheers and congratulations, allowing them to wash over him. He'd done the impossible. The first non-politician, the first non-military man to hold the presidency of the United States. And the first Hispanic leader.
“All right, all right, calm it down.”
Callahan's voice was a hell of a lot louder than his small frame indicated.
“We're not out of the woods yet, people.”
There was grumbling, but the motley assortment of interns, advisers, family members, and hangers on quieted. Callahan turned and began giving orders.
“I want the unofficial numbers from West Virginia, and why the hell hasn't Vermont reported in yet?” he barked at the same blonde girl who'd brought the news of Vigo County. “Hey,” he said, noticing Silva walking away. “Where are you going?”
His tone irked Silva. Like Callahan had any control over what he was going to do now. The man knew every detail about his life, every minute indiscretion. Hell, he knew every place his hands had been, every dime he'd stolen, every lie he'd told. Part and parcel, Callahan had told him when they had first met.
“I can't cover up something I don't know about,” he'd said. “And that means I need to know you better than you know yourself. I don't give a fuck how small, how irrelevant, how minor something is—I need to know.”
Silva had looked him in the eye, debating whether or not to bluff, determined that this man wouldn't know half the things little Diego had done to get to the top.
“Don't bother,” Callahan had said in a bored voice. “I'll find out anyway. And don't kid yourself. No one's clean. No one. I could dig up dirt on the pope himself if I had to. And if I can do it, so can anyone else. You get a choice. Trust me to hide your failings, or trust the press not to find them. Up to you.”
And if Silva had had any doubt, if there had been a moment of indecision, Callahan had sealed both their fates with his next words.
“They call me the kingmaker,” he said quietly. “The kingmaker.”
Silva had almost laughed, but then he hadn't because Callahan had been serious. And because the tiny Irishman had never worked on a losing campaign. In thirty-five years of politics he had never backed a losing horse. Not once. And Silva knew that. Hell, it was the reason he'd chosen the man. If he was having anyone, it would be the best. And Michael Callahan was the best.
Now Silva surveyed his campaign manager for a moment. His time was almost here. But not quite. As much as the guy pissed him off, now wasn't the time to do anything about it. So he shrugged.
“Just hitting the can,” he said.
But Callahan wasn't listening anymore. He was back to giving orders, and Silva walked away from him, ignoring those who called out to him, leaving the room.
The bathroom was cool and quiet after the waiting room, and Silva took his time washing his hands. Despite all the coffee, he didn't have to piss. When his hands were thoroughly clean, he looked up, examining himself. All he'd wanted to do was look at himself in the mirror. He wanted to know if he looked like a president yet. If he had that aura of greatness and power. But all he saw was little Diego, Maria Silva's son with his teeth fixed up and his ears pinned back and his expensive suit and blue tie.
Fuck it. He smoothed back his black hair. The jet would be on standby. It was time to go. He'd been firm on the fact that he would break with tradition. Wyoming might be his home state as far as politics was concerned, but Washington was where he belonged. And Washington was where he would accept the presidency. Little Diego looked back at him from the mirror. No. President-Elect of the United States Diego Silva looked back at him from the mirror. It was time to get out of Wyoming for good.
***
Callahan insisted they hold off on the flight until the Texas results were in. And Silva eventually conceded to his demands, though he thought them ridiculous.
“It's the one state that's vacillated,” Callahan reasoned. “You get Texas, we can take the jet.”
Silva clenched his teeth but sat again on his couch. Callahan was wrong on this, he knew. True, the Lone Star State was traditionally Republican. But Silva was Hispanic, and with the huge Mexican immigrant population of Texas, he knew he was going to take it. And yes, Callahan was right about the polls. But the problem with polls was that the men in suits asked other men in suits how they were going to vote. No one bothered to ask Juan the gardener where his vote was going. But still, Silva waited patiently as the results from Texas came in, county by county.
By two o'clock they had the result. The infographic of the United States appeared again on the screen. And for the first time anyone could remember, Texas was colored in blue. Better still, all signs from Florida indicated that they too would be blue. Silva had spent long nights making speeches in Spanish, long afternoons doing meet-and-greets in bodegas and churches. He'd expected nothing less.
He stood as the cheers from his supporters at the Texas result still rang through the room.
“Let's go.”
Callahan nodded, and Silva turned to his sons.
“On the plane, boys.”
They shuffled up their cards and grabbed their jackets from the backs of their chairs. His daughters, seeing their brothers move, gravitated toward them. Safety in numbers. Or safety in familiarity, perhaps; none of the four was much used to being surrounded by politicos. Looking at them, Silva wondered again at the miracle of genetics. While the two girls had the angular, blonde good looks of their mother, his second wife, the two boys were mirror images of himself. Dark haired, dark skinned, they were the product of his first marriage. The only right thing his first wife had done was to give him the heirs he wanted. Other than that, all she'd done was cost him money. A lot of it.
Callahan was already collecting together tablets and papers and issuing instructions, and Silva was turning to discuss orders with him before he remembered his wife. Min-Seo remained seated in her chair, still silent. It wasn't until he gave her the nod that she stood, prepared to follow him. When she came to his side, he smelled the flowery scent of her bespoke perfume, saw the flawless glow of her skin. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. She had been a good choice. A wise choice. But he didn't take her hand. And when they left the building, Min-Seo walked a comfortable two steps behind him.
***
“They're calling it the biggest landslide since Reagan,” Callahan said, unbuckling his seatbelt and stretching out his legs.
“Screw that,” Silva said, not turning from his tablet. “It'll be the biggest since FDR.”
“Perhaps,” said Min-Seo. “Even the biggest since Harding.”
She did not often speak out of turn. Maybe it was the late hour, or the thin air in the plane cabin.
“FDR,” Silva said, the warning tone already in his voice.
“No, she's right,” said Callahan, popping open a can of Red Bull. “Harding versus Cox, 1920, the biggest-contested election result in US history. A 26.17% margin. Now that was a landslide. Get California and you'll beat it.”
This pleased Silva, though no one would have known by looking at him.
“Dad, I've got Agri-Com on the line. They're willing to come down to fifty; what do you think?”
Jake, his older son, leaned over, across the aisle, mobile dangling from one hand. Silva frowned at him.
“No, no, Jakey,” Callahan said immediately. “No dice. He gets no input, no say. You know the rules.”
The younger man scowled at the campaign manager but settled back into his own seat. As the rules dictated, Silva had divested himself of all business interests in the run up to the election. Silva Eco-Energy Solutions, the green energy company that had made his fortune, had been handed over in full to his older son. Silva waited until Callahan's attention was diverted back to his tablet before catching Jake's eye and briefly shaking his head.
“Nah, I'm afraid that's not going to fly,” he heard Jake say into his phone before he turned his head away.
Jake—a nice, wholesome American name. Jake, followed by Andrew, followed by the two girls, Madison and Nicole. He hadn't lumbered any of them with loaded names like Diego. Silva was enough of a blight for them to carry. And those good, solid American names now graced the boardrooms of some of the largest and most successful corporations in the country. A job well done. Silva beckoned over a staff member, allowing himself another coffee before settling back to see just how blue that US map infographic could get.
***
They were still in the air when the call came. At 05:27 a.m. on November 9th, Harrison Foster-Bright, esteemed Republican candidate for the US presidential election, conceded defeat. The call was later than they had expected, though earlier than most other historical concessions had come. It had been clear for far longer than an hour now that there was no way Foster-Bright could catch up. And as Silva watched the tall, thin figure take the stage in his home state of Mississippi, a state that Silva had won hours ago, there were shouts of jubilation from the back of the plane. Silva put his tablet down on the table, clicked open his seatbelt, and stood.
“Congratulations,” said Callahan, rising to his feet. “Congratulations, Mr. President.”
And despite the number of times Silva had wanted to punch that smug Boston smile off the man's face, and despite the number of threats he'd made and promises he'd sworn to himself, he found himself embracing his campaign manager.
“I couldn't have done it without you,” he said.
It wasn't politeness. It wasn't a token gesture of appreciation. It was simple, bold truth. Without Callahan he'd have been lost, trodden underfoot and laughed off the stage. With him, he'd won. Simple as that.
“I know,” Callahan said.
And it wasn't boastful. It wasn't immodest. It was clear, simple truth. And they both knew it.
Silva gave him a nod before turning to his children first to be congratulated, then the campaign workers on the plane, and then, finally, his wife. It wasn't until a half hour later that he again spoke to Callahan, this time in the small galley of the plane, and in private.
“You are my golden goose,” Callahan said bluntly. “And I won't disrespect you by sugar coating things. I've done the impossible. And I will be rewarded.”
“You've been paid,” Silva said.
“Handsomely,” said Callahan, leaning back on the metal service cart. “But I will have more. You will appoint me in an advisory capacity for as long as you remain in power, with a hefty paycheck at the end of every month. And after that, you will grant me an honorary position in one of your companies for just long enough that no one's surprised when I retire with a very healthy retirement package.”
Silva hadn't gotten to where he was by bowing to threats. “No.”
With a smile, nonthreatening and light, Callahan leaned forward. “But I know everything, Diego. Everything. The companies, the affairs, the money. All of it. It would be very dangerous indeed to grant me my freedom. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that.”
“And is that what you are: my enemy?”
“I don't have to be,” said Callahan, leaning back again. “I don't even particularly want to be. I am simply a man with a price, as we all are. I know what I want, and I will have it. I know you can understand that.”
Silva considered this, put his anger to one side. He was angry. Furious. But he couldn't afford to be, and he knew it. He hadn't gotten this far by bowing to threats. But he also hadn't gotten this far by acting on impulse. He as much as anyone knew that prices needed to be paid.
“No,” he said again. But not quite as firmly, allowing room for persuasion, for negotiation. He wasn't convinced yet that Callahan had what it took to follow through on his threats.
“I told you when we met that they call me the kingmaker,” Callahan said, quite calmly. “And thirty minutes from now, the door of this plane will open and you will greet the world as the president-elect of the United States. I am the kingmaker.”
Silva said nothing. There was no dispute to what Callahan said.
“But I can also be the kingbreaker,” continued Callahan. “With all I know, I could destroy what I have created.”
“And destroy yourself at the same time,” Silva pointed out. “You’d never work again if you leaked information about me.”
“True,” Callahan said. He didn’t seem disturbed by this. “But who has more to lose here? This is a small price to pay, Diego, and you know it.”
It was. However much Callahan might want, it would be a mere grain of sand in comparison to all Silva had. And perhaps the man did have a point. Given all that he knew, it would be foolish to release Callahan back into the wild. And he might prove useful. Finally, Silva nodded.
“On one condition,” he said.
Callahan raised an eyebrow.
“You never call me ‘Diego’ again.”
“As you wish, Mr. President,” said Callahan, smiling.
***
Half an hour later, the plane touched down at Ronald Reagan International Airport. There was shuffling as everyone gathered their belongings. The campaign staff was ushered toward the rear of the plane, while Silva, his children, his wife, and Callahan prepared themselves by the front door. Outside, Silva knew, waited the world's press, and his chosen vice president. Jane Reynolds had opted to stay in DC in preparation for the victory party she knew would come. Tall, and attractive in an intimidating way, she was a three-term senator from Ohio and the reason Silva had clinched the swing state so early in the game. She was also his legitimation. “Reynolds” was a name held in great esteem in political circles. As Callahan had joked when he had introduced them, it wouldn't be a senate without a Reynolds in it.
But Jane would be the first Reynolds to make it to the cabinet. Silva had been dubious about the choice at first. She had been Callahan’s choice, obviously. But as it turned out, having a woman on side had only bolstered his votes. And having a serious politician on side hadn't hurt either. Surprisingly, he found over time that he actually liked the woman. He didn't want to fuck her, which was relatively unusual for him. What was more unusual was that he took the time to interact with a woman he didn’t want to fuck. But Jane had proven to be a firm and solid ally. And perhaps, though he’d never have used the word outside of a political speech, a friend.
“Ready?”
Callahan stood one step behind him to his right. Two steps behind him to his left stood Min-Seo. The children were arrayed behind his wife. Callahan looked to Silva for permission. Silva took a good, deep breath. He set his shoulders, checked his tie one more time, and then nodded. He wasn't nervous. He'd never been nervous in public. It wasn't his style. Callahan nodded to the staff member by the door, and Silva painted on his campaign smile for the last time.
The door opened, and he was blinded by the photographic lights and flashbulbs. But he remembered to keep his eyes wide open. If he didn’t, the shots would be useless in the morning’s press. He took a large step, clearing the threshold of the plane, and then stopped. His smile was no longer painted on; it was genuine as he raised his hand and waved to the crowds threatening to burst out from behind the control barriers. Below him, Vice President-Elect Jane Reynolds waited, a small oasis of perfect calm in the middle of the roaring, cheering, waving crowd. Silva felt her eyes on him, and he maintained eye contact as he slowly began to walk down the red-carpeted stairs.
He was home, and he felt it. And in those few seconds it took to reach the tarmac, he was determined that he'd never leave Washington again. They'd have to drag him away kicking and screaming from this, the center of the world. The steps leveled out, but the red carpet continued, leading him to his running mate.
“Madame Vice President,” he said, extending his hand to Reynolds.
“Mr. President,” she responded, shaking his hand.
The crowds roared, helicopters buzzed overhead, and fireworks exploded from somewhere, flashing in the sky. Silva smiled. Little Diego had made it. And little Diego was about to pull off the greatest coup in political history. A camera flashed, and President-Elect Silva grinned a bit wider.


About the Author


Perhaps you wouldn’t characterize the Finance Manager of your local automobile dealership as an Amazon best-selling author—until you get to know T.T. Michael. He has worked for the past decade at a Toyota Dealership in Illinois, but he is in the driver’s seat as the writer of, Fire War, a political thriller set in the year 2076. See what happens when the United States, Canada, and Mexico all join forces to make one super country. See more about him and his book Fire War at www.ttmichael.com

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09 November 2017

Last Call by Phyllis Smallman


The Sherri Travis Mystery Series, Book 7
Mystery
Date Published: October 31, 2017

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Down in Key West, Sherri Travis and her best friend Marley are looking for a little fun in the sun. Promising to be back for last call, Marley leaves the Rawhide Saloon with an Elvis impersonator. She doesn’t return. With Hurricane Alma turning toward Key West, and the police saying Marley must be missing for seventy-two hours before they start searching, Sherri and Lexi Divine, a six-foot tall drag queen, hunt for Marley amidst the chaos of the evacuation.

Other Books in the The Sherri Travis Mystery Series:
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Margarita Nights
A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 1
Sex in a Sidecar
A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 2
A Brewski for the Old Man
A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 3
Champagne for Buzzards
A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 4
Highball Exit
A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 5
Martini Regrets
A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 6


Excerpt

Thursday, May 18th
96 hours before Hurricane Alma hits Key West
Lunging into water up to my knees, I threw myself into the canoe, tipping it wildly until it threatened to roll. The paddle cracked against the side, signaling where I was. A yell went up in the dark, “She’s here!”
Beside me, Marley screamed, “Slow down.”
I gulped air. The terrifying memory of the Everglades receded and the sun shone again, but my heart still hammered in my ears and fear still trickled sweat down my body.
“Shit, Sherri, you’re going to kill us. Pay attention!”
“I am,” I said, but she knew it wasn’t true. Terrifying images, dangerous waking nightmares, were a daily part of my life since Clay’s murder. I glanced over at Marley. She had her bare feet braced against the dash, one hand locked to the back of my seat and the other one clutching the door, ready for the crash. The freckles she hated stood out on her pale face. Trying to make light of her fears, and diminish any fault of mine, I waved at the empty road in front of us where only a mirage of heat danced on the fiery asphalt. “There’s no one but us out here. What are you afraid of?”
“Dying, you idiot.”
The speedometer was closer to one hundred than it was to ninety. I backed off a little and took a deep breath. All the crosses and plastic flowers along the road said she might have a point.
“Pull over,” she said. “I’ll drive.” I eased up a little more on the gas but I didn’t pull over.
We’d come down the west coast of Florida from Cypress Island, and now we were going east on Alligator Alley toward Miami. “You drove to Fort Myers so I drive the rest of the way. That was the deal,” I said. Ahead of us, a flamingo flew low over the road, racing us toward the Atlantic. “Relax and enjoy the scenery.” I needed to be in control. I was the only one who could deal with the disaster when it came, and my head was in a place where the only thing coming was disaster.


About the Author


Phyllis Smallman's first novel, MARGARITA NIGHTS, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada after being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in the U.K. and the Malice Domestic in the U.S.. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. The Florida Writer's Association awarded CHAMPAGNE FOR BUZZARDS a silver medal for the best mystery and her fifth book, HIGHBALL EXIT, won an IPPY award in 2013. LONG GONE MAN won the Independent Publisher’s IPPY Gold Award as best Emystery/thriller in 2014. The Sherri Travis mystery series was one of six chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read. Before turning to a life of crime, Smallman was a potter. She divides her time between a beach in Florida and an island in the Salish Sea. Visit her website at www.phyllissmallman.com


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