Hired to care for her elderly Great-Aunt Rosalyn, newly graduated nursing student, Danielle Petit, moves to Western North Carolina. There she finds herself intertwined in the life of a woman whose life and influence is much more expansive than expected and who has been underestimated by her son. Danielle finds help from friends, family and a handsome family attorney as tensions grow between mother and son, made worse by the unearthing of a long-hidden painting, and the son’s political ambitions.
“I do want to thank you for agreeing to help my mother,” Spencer began. “This is your first nursing job, so I just want to be sure you’ve got everything you need for my mother’s care.”
“It did take some serious negotiating to get things set up,” Danielle replied. “I had been under the impression that I had another week to get everything up to speed for Aunt Rosalyn.”
“I do admit that I am taking a big chance on you.” Spencer tilted his head, ignoring the matter of the reduced time table. “You don’t look all that healthy yourself, and considering your past, I wonder if you are up to the task.”
“What I am is tired.” Danielle was irritated what she thought her uncle was implying. “I had a week less than expected to get the house ready for your mother, to get all the supplies ordered in, review her health records so I could plan her care, and set up rooms for both of us to sleep in, which I didn’t quite have time to complete.” She tucked a strand of hair that had escaped her slightly bedraggled braid. “I got this. I may look like hell right now because hair and make-up have had to take a back seat for the past few days. Don’t worry. Your mother is in good hands.” She stood. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get the chance to get acquainted with my patient.”
Spencer watched Danielle walk out of the room and sat there, staring at nothing in general for a moment. “Well, that’s that,” he declared aloud. Slapping his hands against his thighs, he stood and walked out of the room after Danielle.
Sylvie D. Parris is a product of a large family, good food, bad religion, terrific books and an over active imagination. Sylvie raised three children in the mountains of North Caroline along with an array of cats. She eventually settled in the upstate of South Carolina. Recently widowed, she co-exists with a grey tabby named Miko and a tuxedo wearing kitten named Baffi.
Sylvie started writing doing feature pieces for a local community newspaper, before moving to SC. She then spent two years writing a weekly humor column called Miss Mom for The Spartanburg Spark, a community weblog. That is where she learned how much she loved writing stories. She’s since had a short story, several of poems and two novels published. She enjoys reading, playing MMORGP games, haunting Twitter at 3 A.M. and gardening.
Who wrote Beowulf? Perhaps we’ll never know. Or did it happen this way….?
England: circa. 879 A.D. In the time of King Alfred the Great
With the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet, Faran Kilbraun travels far from home in search of the sword and shield of his ancestors. Protecting the ancient relics was his responsibility. Now, to regain his honor, he must recover the stolen artifacts and battle a life-long enemy.
Following the accidental death of her cruel husband, Leanora Wrenn is wrongly accused of his murder. Forced into exile, a small north shore island becomes her place of refuge, exoneration her only hope.
When Faran discovers Leanora’s remote sanctuary, both their lives are changed forever. Destined to become comrades-in-arms, they fight side by side. Ending up in one another’s arms, will they find redemption and love?
Leanora tapped her foot with impatience. Would the sun never set?
Thank goodness, the autumnal equinox would soon be upon them. After Mabon, the hours of brightness, stretching into forever, would wane even more to her advantage. Until then, wait she must, for it was no longer safe to venture out
along the shoreline in the light of day.
Of late, there had been an increase in the number of ships passing by. And although no one had yet to come ashore on her tiny isle, they might if they saw her. Like silent demons, the wretched ships appeared without warning. Their wickedly graceful, serpentine prows gliding out of the sea mist—mighty beasts, unstoppable and terrifying in their splendor.
At the very sight of them her heart raced with fear, and it did not calm again until the ships were reduced to harmless blurs upon the horizon. Yes, it was safer to wait until nightfall.
As darkness subdued even the memory of the sun, she grabbed up a large basket and drew aside the ragged piece of cloth hanging across the cottage door. She liked to think of her habitat as a cottage, although in truth she knew it only merited to be
called a hut. Woven of sticks and branches, it listed in the direction of the prevailing winds.
She had lived in a real house once. A home of timbered halls carved from towering oaks. Woven tapestries warmed the walls, but those who dwelled within had been wrapped in cold cruelty.
Thank the Lord those days were over. She was safe now. Was it worth the price of living like a peasant, with threadbare clothes and no well-tended hearth? She had to believe it was so.
Turning her back on her thoughts and the hut, she stepped through the doorway. The sand, still warm from the day’s heat, comforted her bare feet, and threading her way between the huge boulders, she glanced at the troubled night sky. The stars refused to shine, and high-riding clouds obliterated the full moon. There would be no helpful illumination to guide her to the nets along the shore.
No matter, she knew the way by heart, and the use of a torch might attract more than moths in her direction.
At the breakers, she paused and listened to the ocean’s never ending song. Tonight the tune seemed filled with lament. There was no gurgle of happiness
where the waves lapped at the rocks, and no sigh of contentment as the receding waters rushed back to the sea.
Perhaps the elements regretted their earlier behavior of today when the wind had terrified the air and the waves had battered the island. For a moment she had feared for her life, but the storm had soon passed. Like people, the wind and the
water were fickle and not to be trusted. Yet on occasion, the sea could be benevolent, and she gave thanks for the fish and crab it provided. Together
with foraged berries and the eggs from the chickens, her meals were healthy and varied. Not grand fare, but good enough for now.
Angling to the left, she abandoned the shelter of the rocks and headed across the slope of open beach. A sharp wind teased her ankles, buffeting her from
behind. It felt as if another storm approached. Or did the cold herald more than a change in weather?
In answer to her unspoken question, she tripped over something where nothing should be. Her skirt tangled about her legs, and she pitched headfirst over the unexpected obstacle. The basket flew from her grasp as she landed with a thud in the sand. A cross between a growl and a groan came from the mound that had caused her fall.
On hands and knees she scurried to one side. Then leaning forward, she peered through the darkness trying to determine what lay before her. Was it a scaly monstrous thing from the sea? Or worse yet, a human? Instinctively she unsheathed the long-bladed dagger hanging at her waist.
The thing groaned again, and uttered several words in a language unknown to her. Holy Savior, it was a man. She prayed he had not been sent to find her. Her mouth went dry, her throat constricted. She tightened her grip on the hilt
of the knife. “I will kill you before I let you take me back,” she threatened, not caring if he understood her Saxon words.
He made no response in sound or movement.
What should she do? Drive the knife swiftly into his heart, instinct urged.
Weapon at the ready, she awkwardly crawled forward on both knees and one
free hand. She was glad for the darkness hiding his features. A faceless enemy was so much easier to hate and deliver unto God.
Drawing closer, she realized the man lay upon his stomach. In ire, she jammed the knife into its rawhide case. Reaching across his broad shoulders, she gripped the remnant of his tunic, and using her body as a counterweight, leaned backward. The stranger rolled toward her. She scrambled out of the way as he settled onto his back. A rush of air escaped his mouth.
“Thank you,” he whispered, through lips that sounded stiff and parched. This time the words he uttered were in Saxon English. He may be the master of two languages, but he was a fool to thank her for helping him.
She knelt once more at his side, and again took up the blade. Like a pagan priestess about to perform a sacrifice, she raised the knife high overhead and tensed for the downward thrust. Then the horrible truth of what she was about to do hit her full force and her resolve faltered.
The moon broke through the clouds casting an ethereal brightness upon the man’s face and chest. He gazed up at her with an expression as startled and questioning as a child’s.
She swallowed hard, shocked by the manner of brutality that had come so easily to her. The pain and suffering she had seen and endured did not give her free reign to become as merciless and savage as her tormentors. Still, she must protect herself.
Leanora glared down at the man. His straight nose and the planes of his cheeks were highlighted by moon-glow, and the same celestial light turned his shoulder-length hair into a mantle of silver. Her gaze drifted lower.
He labored for each breath, and through the rips in his tunic a wet glittering iridescence reflected off his powerful chest and well-muscled abdomen. The
arm rings he wore and the scars that he bore proclaimed him a warrior, a man who had faced many enemies, a man who had won the day.
Captivated by these thoughts, she remained unmoving. The rough pebbles dug into her knees, and her arms ached from holding the knife on high. A decision must be made. But she was more familiar with taking orders than making far-reaching
“Half the treasure will be yours,” the man croaked, “if you let me live.”
Treasure? There were not enough riches in the world to prompt her to risk her freedom.
She brought the knife down with all her might, burying it to the hilt in the sand beside the stranger’s right ear. “You owe me your life, warrior.”
She spat out the words like bitter fruit tart upon her tongue. The man’s eyelids drooped, and his head lolled to one side.
Leanora rocked back on her haunches. Then she began to shake, not out of dread for what she had almost done, but out of fear for what she had not been able to do.
Desperately she prayed her compassion would not also prove to be her undoing.
Gini Rifkin’s books follow characters who are courageous and passionate about life, and when they meet, sparks fly while danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval and Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not writing, Gini has the privilege of caring for her rescue animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts. So step back in time or into the future, where adventurous romance is waiting just for you.
They can save the human race. To do it, they must take down their own government…
Sixteen-year-old Jema is on the run. Branded a traitor for trying to share a DNA-based cure for a lethal contagion, she and her friends are hunted by forces loyal to her sinister uncle. And unless they force him to release the formula, she fears a worldwide war to claim the antigen.
Forced to fight like soldiers in the desolate desert, Jema learns there could be sympathizers who will support a coup. But with only scavenged food and fading hope, she and her small group of grimly determined teens face a deadly trek across dangerous territory.
Can Jema get the cure in the public domain before the planet descends into bloodshed and chaos?
Torch is the second book in the thrilling Lovelock YA dystopian science fiction series. If you like intense action, courage under pressure, and races against time, then you’ll love Tricia Copeland’s fast-paced novel.
Buy Torch to battle for humanity’s survival today!
*´¨*) ¸.•*´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) (¸.•´ (¸.•`Don’t miss Torch! Now Available $0.99 or Free on KU!
“Okay, I’m officially confused.” Troy cut the radio. “It’s been three weeks. They should at least have something about vaccination centers.”
“Death counts seem to be holding steady which means they’re distributing the anti-viral to those that are sick, right?”
“Who knows what they’re doing. If all that crap we went through was for nothing, I’m going to be majorly pissed.” Troy stomped towards me.
“Hey, pregnant mama here. Calm down.” I held the hare out to him.
“Fine, but I’m definitely going to need an extra-long run tonight.”
“Does the answer to all your anxiety have to be to run?” I lowered the mother rabbit into its pen.
“Maybe there’ll be some eggs. If I have to eat rabbit another day, I think I might kill myself.”
“You could always eat one of the MREs. With the crops and animals, we’re going to have enough food for fifty people soon.” Cleaning my hands, I followed him to the bird coops.
Troy opened the pen, and the road runners scattered. “The meal kits are for emergency use only. We have to be self-sufficient.”
“Is that why I’m hurting my brain to learn electronics, fluids, and mechanics?”
Reaching in a nest, he produced two eggs. “Hey, I stroked a rabbit’s belly to feel for a pea-sized mass that’s supposed to be a baby rabbit. You can learn to hack a computer. Besides if something happens to one of us—”
“Stop, now you sound like my dad. I can fend for myself.”
He kissed my cheek. “We take care of each other, right?”
Leaving the eggs in the kitchen, we weaved through a tunnel to our hidden exit. I loved the feel of the cool air on my skin and the calming effect the darkness had on me. My shoulders relaxed, and I took a deep breath. Traipsing to the road, we stretched and started to run. At the half-hour mark, we looped around.
Cresting a hill, Troy grabbed my arm and pulled me to the ground. Hear that? he signed to me.
Holding my breath, I listened but shook my head. With his super senses, it didn’t mean anything that I couldn’t detect the sound. If he had, we needed to be wary. Staying low, we cut away from the road, stopping every fifty feet to listen.
Vehicle engine, he signed.
We slowed our pace. The highway passed eighteen miles northwest of us, and I wondered if he could hear a motor from that distance. Maybe many vehicles? But what would a convoy be doing this far from the border? My heart raced. Looking for us was the answer.
At our next stop, I heard it, a low roar of an engine in the distance, the crackle of tires on asphalt, rocks pelting the hard desert floor in their wake.
How many? How far away are they? Can you see lights?
Troy nodded. They’re slowing down.
*´¨*) ¸.•*´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) (¸.•´ (¸.•`Don’t miss Torch! Now Available $0.99 or Free on KU!
An avid runner and Georgia native, Tricia now lives with her family and four-legged friends in Colorado. She believes that magic infuses every aspect of our lives, whether it is the magic of falling in love, discovering a new passion, a beautiful sunset, or a book that transports us to another world. You can find all her titles from contemporary romance and fantasy, to dystopian fiction at www.triciacopeland.com.
When the heroes have reputations like these, who needs a villain?
Have you ever read a fairy tale and wondered why the goody two-shoe Princes and Princesses were always the ones who got their happy endings?
Pandora is a Fairy Godmother who’s never fit in with her own people. Still, she has the power—and the attitude—to step in and help those who others have decided “aren’t worthy” of a happy ending. How hard could it be to manipulate some of the most feared beings in their world?
Viktor has spent his entire undead life being the bogeyman to the paranormal community, and that’s the way he wants to keep it … with everyone else far away from him. But when the opportunity arises to take his revenge on his nemesis, he can’t resist—even if it means risking his reputation and rescuing the damsel in distress.
Halle never expected to find herself in need of a savior, especially one with a reputation like Viktor’s. But she’s used to listening to her instincts, and her cat trusts the strange woman who pops up and claims to have some solutions. After all, if a girl can’t trust her own Fairy Godmother, then what is this world coming to?
“I mean you no harm, lady. You can go. I’m only here for what’s in the car,” he said slowly walking towards her. She was a cute little thing, all soft curves with golden skin and hair.
“Ummm, yeah, about that … I’m what’s in the car, Mr. Krescech. You have to take me with you out of here,” she said almost nervously, those big green eyes pleading with him.
Clearly, she was also insane. What was with the women he was running into this week? Viktor had had more than his fair share of groupies throwing themselves at him in the bars, wanting to take a walk on the wild side for a few hours, but this wholesome little beauty certainly didn’t look like the type, so he had no idea exactly what she was asking him for.
“I don’t think so,” he said, moving past her towards the open back door to search the car.
“Seriously, there’s nothing else in the car. They were taking me from my family and my pard to be married to Conrad. I have to go with you to get away from him,” she continued, putting her tiny little hands on her very curvy hips in a way that distracted him far more than it should have.
Interesting, so this little number was a leopard shifter? Viktor hadn’t really had any interaction with the pard in this country, but by reputation, they were a good lot. Why on Earth would she agree to marry Conrad?
“I don’t rescue damsels in distress. I eat them,” he said with a flash of fang. “So run along, little kitten.”
The tiny spitfire threw her hands dramatically up in the air and sighed loudly.
“You just saved me from a life of baby-making slavery. Aren’t you supposed to whisk me away to your super-secret villain lair and ravish me? Sheesh, where’s your follow-through?”
Viktor just stood there and stared at her for a moment. He didn’t know whether to laugh at her ridiculous statement or take her up on her offer and bend her over right here on the trunk of Conrad’s car. He was extremely turned on by the fact that she didn’t seem the least bit afraid of him. He’d always tried to pretend that his reputation in the paranormal community pleased him, that it helped him by keeping the rabble away. But deep down it bothered him that everyone always thought the worst of him. His honor was just yet another thing that Melisandre and Conrad had stolen from him when they took his mortality.
“Don’t you know who I am, woman?” he finally said as she just stood there looking at him expectantly.
“Yes, I know who you are. Who else is capable of keeping me out of Conrad’s douchy hands?” she said sounding a little impatient.
“Don’t you have a family you can go to?” he asked, still wondering why he was even standing here talking to her.
Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Once she’d said the word “slavery” he knew he couldn’t leave her to Conrad’s tender mercies. Viktor knew more about slavery than he ever wanted to, and no being should ever be held against their will. That and he had seen firsthand what Conrad enjoyed doing to women. It still sickened him to think back to the horrors he’d had to witness as Melisandre’s pet.
“If I go back to my family they’d just have to hand me right back over to him again. My pard owes him a blood debt, and I am the payment. I need this to look like Conrad’s men lost me in the confrontation with you. This needs to be his fault, as otherwise, it will start a war between my family and his coven,” she said, stepping ever closer.
She stood so close now that Viktor could smell the strawberry and coconut scent of her shampoo. Good Gods, she smells good enough to eat.
“Why would you think that I should care whether or not this starts a war for your people? I will not be fighting in it,” he answered, trying to sound like he didn’t care one way or another.
“Because I think that you hate Conrad just as much, if not more than I do, and there’s nothing he wants more than to possess me,” she answered quietly, her huge green eyes staring right into his grey ones.
She was right of course. There was no one on this Earth that he hated as much as he hated Conrad. That’s what he told himself anyway when he ultimately decided he would take the girl with him—whether it was the whole truth about his motivations or not.
“First, tell me how your pard was thoughtless enough to enter into a blood debt with a killer like Conrad?”
“It’s not like we had any choice. My father was jumped one night by a bunch of rogues, and Conrad just happened to be there to offer his assistance … for a price.”
The venom in her voice clearly stated that she suspected they’d been set up. The rogues were most likely paid to attack by Conrad himself. It was a trick the coward had used over and over again.
“Fine,” he said with a sigh. “You can come with me, but just until we find somewhere to stash you that Conrad cannot reach you.”
“Thank you!” she said with a squeal just before she reached up and hugged him before he could stop her. “I’m Halle, by the way.”
Clearly, his reputation was never going to recover from this if anyone saw him being hugged in the alley, but with her luscious frame leaning against his, smelling so sweet, he had a difficult time finding a reason to care.
Sarah Marsh was born in British Columbia where she still lives, she has only recently began her writing career finding it the perfect outlet for taking the edge off a nine to five office job. She’s been a science fiction and romance junkie for years and when her imagination started to take the characters she’d read about even further in their adventures she decided to try writing something of her own.
Sarah’s also a former pastry chef and spends a lot of time cooking and baking for friends and family as well as painting and knitting. Her biggest weaknesses are animals of any kind…she even loves the ones that wake you up at four in the morning because they can almost see the bottom of their food dish.
When it comes to life in general she’s a big believer that laughter is the best medicine and that there’s no such thing as too much love, which is why she’s such a sucker for a happy ending.
A naturally immune girl. A genetically modified boy. A search for a cure that may cost them everything…
Fifteen-year-old Jema Walker would do anything to protect her sibling. But she never imagined they’d be facing another global flu pandemic. Sent to a remote desert location for safety, Jema is horrified when her sister contracts the deadly virus.
Caught in a conflict of impossible choices, Jema teams up with a specially bred eighteen-year-old boy to find a remedy. But when they’re forced to go rogue and abandon their community, she fears the ruling adults only want them for their uniquely protected DNA.
Can the duo hunt down an antidote before they fall victim to ruthless experiments?
Lovelock Ones is the first book in the action-packed Lovelock YA dystopian science fiction series. If you like bold heroines, strong heroes, and post-apocalyptic settings, then you’ll love Tricia Copeland’s thrilling fight for survival.
Buy Lovelock Ones to battle an unforgiving authority today!
“I’m never going to get this.” I let the bow fall to my side.
“Mark.” Jema used my Lovelock name. “I’ve been doing this for ten years. You’re not going to be perfect in a couple of months. It’s muscle memory, just like with football. You’ll get it.”
We’d been practicing for almost three months, both shooting and adapting to our community names. I called her Cleo about sixty percent of the time and hit the center target only one in ten.
“But for you it’s like breathing, Cleo.” I forced out her new name, trying to make the switch in my psyche. She would always be Jema to me.
“Have you never had to work at anything?”
“Yeah, this.” I held up the bow and arrow.
She kicked at the sand under her feet. “Maybe I’m not a good teacher. I just remember how my dad taught me. Think about it like throwing a football. You aim and then release, right?” Cocking her arm back, she faked a throw.
I dropped the bow. “If you put your arms around me like this.” I took her hands and wound them around my waist, so our lips were inches apart. Even in the dim light, I could see her cheeks flush. I loved feeling the warmth from her face. One day I would get up the courage to kiss her again.
Backing away, I lifted the bow and drew the string and arrow to my ear. “Twenty more and then we’ll run.”
“Might help if you use your night goggles like the rest of us.” Her voice trailed off as she walked away.
Swish. I let the arrow fly and fitted another on the string until my quiver emptied. I jogged to collect the arrows and turned to scan the area for Jema. I grabbed a bag and headed to her. “Commander Butler will be happy.” I held the open sac out to her.
“It’s a big one. It will have to hold him till we’re back.”
“You’d think he’d get tired of these.” I synched the bag closed.
“He loves rabbit.”
We walked to the blacktop, and I set the bow on top of her catch. Bumping her shoulder, I faced into the wind. “You ready for this?”
“You beating me again? Never.”
“No, tomorrow.” I pumped my knees up and down in place a few times.
“Yep.” She started a slow jog beside me.
“Always nervous. I hate that it has to be a different place every time.”
“Yeah, and this is the farthest west we’ve been since our marrow run.” I shook my head, clearing the image of the dead soldiers from my brain.
“I do not like that the rendezvous is half an hour from the border.”
“Butler says they’re tightening security.”
Beside me, Jema’s shoulders trembled. “I feel like General Zhou is waiting for us at Port Orford.”
“Yeah, I can see him sitting at your kitchen table, wondering where you went.” I elbowed her, and she jumped to stay in stride.
“Fine. Whatever. Make fun of my nightmares.”
“At least you don’t dream about punching the commander every night.”
Hitting the one-mile mark, my body slid into the familiar rhythm. I watched Jema out of the corner of my eye. She’d become comfortable with our pace after three months of training. Thinking back to our first days in exile, I chuckled at how I pushed her to run. After our rogue mission, we switched to a night work schedule with the rest of the security and supply teams. Waking at 1600 every evening, we ate supper with the community and started our workday. The acquisitions training included physical conditioning, weapons drills, tactical maneuver and psychological warfare study.
Even though the other supply teams switched out, Cmdr. Butler sent Jema and me on each of the last two monthly restocking runs. The next supply run was scheduled for the next day, and we were, again, on the roster. I think Butler tried to keep us busy, so we didn’t plan any tangent missions. Besides being hungry all the time and the lack of friends, cave life wasn’t too horrible, considering marshal law had been issued in the states. At least they’d upped our food portions after we each lost four pounds the first month. Still, it’d taken another month to get my body to stop signaling the need for food.
At the three-mile point, I swirled my finger in the air, and we looped around to head back to the cavern. In addition to the team training, Jema and I ran just before dawn each morning. Then, we showered, and went to sleep just as the rest of the community members started their workday. Mom didn’t like seeing me for only an hour a day, but I appreciated the space from her. Jema and I roomed with the security team, and we had bunks beside each other. This arrangement counted as another plus in my head. Rooming with your mom at eighteen just wasn’t cool.
Nearing the cave we slowed our pace and walked to cool down. Taking in the last few breaths of open air, I snagged the bag with the rabbit and caught Jema’s hand. She smiled and squeezed my fingers, and I wondered if she wanted to kiss me too. But it might’ve made things weird if I pushed beyond our friendship, so I stayed my course.
Inside we dropped the night’s catch in the kitchen, showered, and joined the rest of the community for breakfast. Then, Cmdr. Butler briefed us in the command room, and we made our way to our darkened dorm.
“You ready, Mark?” One of our supply run leads, Garrison, caught up with me in the washroom.
I stood up straight. “Yes, sir.”
“Better not let that brunette mess with your head. I need you sharp tomorrow.” Chuck, the other team leader, pointed at me.
“Cleo? We’re not together. You know that.”
Chuck shook his head. “Commander wants you guys focused.”
I turned to face him. “We are. We’re just friends. We make a good team.”
“It’s more than just your life out there.” Chuck pushed his finger into my shoulder.
I straightened my spine and leaned towards him. “I know, dude.”
“Hey.” Garrison slapped my arm and turned to face Chuck. “Mark and Cleo are solid. They know what they’re doing.”
“Okay, if you say so.” Chuck swung his towel over his shoulder and walked away.
I held my hand out to Garrison. “Thanks, man.”
He clenched my palm. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been on the past two runs with you.”
I hated people doubting my skills. “Well, keep spreading the word. Mark and Cleo are the real deal.”