Shopping for an Heir: The Inheritance (Shopping for a Billionaire #10) by Julia Kent

Tags

, , , , , ,

Shopping for an Heir
Julia Kent
(Shopping for a Billionaire #10)
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance

Gerald Wright works for billionaires. He never imagined he’d become one.

The former Navy Seal is a chauffeur by day, artist by night, so when hotter-than-ever ex-fiancée Suzanne Dayton interrupts his nude model sculpting class to serve him with inheritance paperwork from a man he’s never heard of, he assumes it’s a joke.

Turns out the joke’s on him. There’s just one catch. A big one.

And it might be Suzanne — in more ways than he ever dreamed.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

SNEAK PEEK:

He smelled like home. Like love. Like promise and comfort, like passion and disbelief.

“What’s wrong?” he snapped, his face alternating between joy and anger. “Why are you here?”

Coming to her senses, she extracted the thick envelope from her brief bag, looking him square in the eye. “Legal matter. I’ve been instructed to deliver this to you.” She used remarkable restraint in not peering around Gerald to get more of an eyeful of Declan McCormick’s stately form.

Then again, Gerald was an impenetrable wall of muscle himself, not easily subverted. She’d need taller heels to peer around him. He did not move his palm from her arm, and his touch infused her, a deeply satisfying sense of connection slowly creeping along her skin, her breath quickening, his touch ringing bells inside her that had been dormant for a decade.

“What is it?”

“Read it. You’ll understand.” She turned on her heel and started to leave, shaking inside so hard she might trigger the New Madrid fault.

He glared at her. “What? That’s it? Ten years and that’s it?” He pulled back, breaking contact.

All her anxiety faded, like an antidote injected straight into the heart, his words kicking in, providing such clarity.

“Ten years you chose, Gerald,” she hissed, mouth curling, throat seizing. “You do not get to put this on me.” Grief flared in her, a burst like a fireball, and then it turned to the ash of anger, a light coat settling over every spare surface of her heart.

His eyebrows shot up, eyes gliding away, his nose twitching and mouth tightening as if holding back.

Squaring her shoulders, Suzanne decided to make this easy for him. God only knew why. “My law firm is handling the estate of deceased billionaire Harold Hopewell. You’ve been named in his will.” She tapped the thick envelope in his hand. “These papers explain everything.”

“Explain what?”

“You’re his heir. One of them, at least.”

sfah-graphic-1

 

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

Celia Kyle’s Mated World Series

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Even the growliest of men need love. Grayslake is home to the alpha shifter Abrams brothers who—along with their friends and occasional enemies—fight for their lives, their future, and their mates. And more than just finding love in the unlikeliest of places, these ferocious men find their perfect matches. And when they realize they’re not just mated, they’re in love, they’ll battle to the death to keep it . . . Follow these alpha males, and their luscious mates, to Grayslake and beyond.
celia-kyle
Grab your copy on Amazon today!

SNEAK PEEK:

BEARS DO IT BETTER

by Jessie Lane

All reason left him as his bear surged to the front of his mind, demanding to be let out. The beast wanted to find whatever or whoever was making that scent and make it his.

Ignoring the calls from his bear brethren on the den porch, Borys turned and started stalking toward the edge of the forest across the lawn. With every step he took, a little more reason left him and a bit more desperation took over both him and his bear. The aroma became stronger, sweeter as he found himself now running toward the trees.

In the back of his mind, he registered the fact that people were calling his name behind him, but nothing was as important as finding that scent. It was something like oatmeal cookies laced with vanilla, but better. It made his mouth water and his cock hard.

He probably should have been concerned over the fact that he might be getting hard for a cookie, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He wanted that fucking cookie, and he wanted it now! Borys could analyze the disturbing new trait later and pray that it wouldn’t hinder his grocery shopping trips.

The edge of the forest was coming up fast, the nearest trees only a few feet away. By now, the mouthwatering smell was strong, and he knew he was close to finding his proverbial cookie.

His bear roared inside his head that there were others chasing them. He needed to hurry before they could reach his cookie.

Borys assured his beast no one would have their cookie but them. They were so close … just a little farther.

Running around the massive trees, he followed that sweet scent, zeroing in on one tree in particular. Just a few more feet, and he could climb up that tree and figure out what was making that smell that was slowly driving him insane.

Leaping off the ground, Borys sunk his bear claws into the tree and started to climb up. Maneuvering his way around a few branches, panting, not with exhaustion, but the need for that damn cookie. It struck him a bit dumb when he pulled himself up onto the thickest branch and found, not his mouthwatering oatmeal cookie, but a pair of big brown eyes set in the prettiest face he had ever laid eyes on. Did the woman have his cookie?

With his brain and his bear running on nothing but the most primitive instincts, he growled, “Gimme the cookie.”

 

World Created By:

Celia Kyle would like to rule the world and become a ninja. As a fall-back, she’s working on her writing career and giving readers stories that touch their hearts and *ahem* other places.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 

 

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

Beck: Hollywood Hitman by Maggie Marr

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Beck
Maggie Marr
(Hollywood Hitman #1)
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance

Natalie Warner can’t ignore the risk any longer. A star on the rise, her latest film is on track to be the biggest box office breaker of the summer but Natalie isn’t safe. Someone is after her. Could it be her angry addict father, or her mother who always wanted to be a star herself? What about her ex-boyfriend who just did time? The Studio refuses to ignore the threat and forces Natalie to take on a bodyguard, but that bodyguard comes in the shape of rugged, irresistible Beck Tatum, because whoever is after Natalie isn’t going to stop until someone makes them.

A question, wrapped in a riddle, Beck Tatum doesn’t know what part of the government he worked for before he lost his memory or what exactly his mission was. He can remember that he loved and that he lost that woman as well as his memories on that final mission. Now with a second chance, he’s assigned to protect a high-value asset. Rich and entitled but yet kind and vulnerable, Natalie Warner isn’t the spoiled rich woman Beck expected. But falling for her would put her life on the line and Beck is’t about to lose anything else.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

SNEAK PEEK:

Beck welcomed darkness. The night was a cloak of anonymity that provided him with a freedom the daylight never did. When he chose to be, Beck was soundless in his movements. Swift and stealthy under the cover of night, he could move before anyone knew of his presence. You didn’t get nineteen confirmed kills without embracing silence.

He entered Natalie’s bedroom. Moonlight glanced through the window and shone on her face. Her dark hair lay like liquid night on a pillow. Those perfect lips barely parted. Her sleep was peaceful. Restful. A thought . . . a memory . . . a moment from before, with Marisol, flashed through Beck’s mind like lightning in a summer sky, then was gone.

Natalie was tough. She might appear like a sexy girly-girl, but with all the treachery she’d endured from her family and friends, she’d developed a thick hide to survive and thrive.

Beck circled the room. Tested the locks on the French doors that led to the balcony. Her room was on the second floor, but if a person was determined they’d find a way to get inside. He scanned the bathroom. Pretty damn swank. Next was the walk-in closet, which was bigger than his last apartment and filled with more shit than one of those fancy-ass high-end department stores.

He circled back to the bedroom and stopped beside Natalie’s bed. She had no reason to trust Beck. All the people in her life had failed her when she’d trusted them. Why would she expect anything different from him?

Because Beck wouldn’t fail. Not again. Not this time.

“What are you doing in my room?”

“My job.”

 

Author Bio:

Maggie Marr is the author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She writes smart, sexy, women and the men they love. She got her start in Hollywood pushing the mail cart at ICM, but quickly rose through the ranks to become a motion picture literary agent. As well as writing, she maintains a boutique legal practice dedicated to the needs of creatives & entrepreneurs. She is the current President of Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) and legal adviser to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). Maggie loves all things pop culture and when she isn’t taking care of her clients or writing she can be found reading, chasing kids, or exercising her rescue pup.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter

 

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

Whatever You Call Me by Leigh Fleming

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Whatever You Call Me
Leigh Fleming
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Annie Cooper is fed up with Washington. More importantly, she’s done with being Senator George Cooper’s daughter and all the expectations that come with it. She changes her name and tries to start fresh after quitting her job, but the only position she can find is in the political world she despises.

Kip Porter is a two-term congressman from a blue collar district along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay whose ambition leads him astray from the core values he—and his constituents—hold dear. He needs Senator Cooper’s backing to get his bill through the Senate and plans to use Annie to do it.

What starts out as a simple game of hidden identity soon becomes complicated. Annie wants to prove her worth on her own terms, but the closer she grows to Kip, the more she needs to come clean. With unexpected romance blossoming between them, will Kip keep his own secrets, or reveal the truth in the name of love?

(This is a stand alone romance – you do not need to read Best Friends Book 1 to enjoy this title).

Goodreads / Amazon / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Annie felt the sting and quickly slapped the mosquito nibbling on her calf. They’d been sitting in the grassy field for over an hour waiting for the tow truck to arrive. The subs had long ago been eaten, but they lounged on the trunk carpet sipping what was left of their fountain drinks.

“Damn, it’s hot.” Kip began unbuttoning his shirt and pulling the tail out of his pants. “I’ve got to get out of these clothes.”

Purposely looking the opposite direction, Annie fought the urge to take a glimpse of a shirtless Kip, but instead looked out at the baking weeds in the field. She jerked upright when she heard his belt buckle clink.

“What are you doing?” she shrieked.

“I’m getting out of these clothes. I’m burning up.” Kip tramped to the car, walking around to the driver’s side back door, and leaned inside where Annie couldn’t see. She strained her neck and rose up on her knees, stretching to see what he was doing. A few minutes later he returned to their makeshift picnic spot wearing gym shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers. Annie dropped back onto the carpet and pulled up a few blades of grass as Kip dropped beside her.

“Disappointed?” he whispered in her ear.

“Huh?”

“You heard me.”

“Why would I be disappointed?”

“You were hoping I was going to strip down.” He wiggled his eyebrows and nudged his shoulder into hers.

“Oh, please.” She went back to weeding the field, furiously yanking blades of grass and letting them flutter in the humid breeze.

“Come on, Coach. I saw the look on your face when I started unbuttoning my shirt.”

“Get over yourself.” She shoved back and then stood up, brushing the dust from her dress. “Should you call them again to see where the truck is?”

“What, don’t you like our little picnic?”

“Porter…seriously, we need to get back.” Annie glared at Kip where he lay on the carpet, resting his head in his hands.

“Relax, it will be here soon. Come lay down with me.” He patted his hand on the carpet and gave her his most salacious grin.

“Not a chance.”

“Come on…what are you afraid of?”

Annie stared at Kip, taking a tendril in her hand and twisting it tightly around her finger. She glanced over her shoulder at the car and then back at him, now lying on his side with his head resting on his hand. He patted the carpet once more and invited her over with a swoosh of his hand.

“Fine,” she said, joining him on the carpet and mimicking his relaxed position.

“Tell me about the mechanic.”

“I already told you. We dated in high school and he taught me all about cars.”

“Nah…there’s got to be more to the story.” Annie watched Kip’s soft lips curl at the corners. The memory of him leaning in to kiss her earlier in the day flashed through her mind. She sighed and flipped flat on her back.

“Not really. My father hated him…thought he wasn’t a good influence. We didn’t date long.”

“This is the first I’ve heard about your dad. You’ve never mentioned your family, actually. What do they do?”

“Oh, um…” Annie closed her eyes against the bright sun. “My dad is an attorney and my mom is a professional party giver.” Not a total lie.

“Sound like interesting people. I’d like to meet them.”

whatever-you-call-me-quote-card-2

 

Author Bio:

After several years of saying she would write a book someday, Leigh Fleming finally fulfilled her ultimate bucket list item by writing and self-publishing a novel. In 2013, she completed her first work, Precious Words, a romance suspense story set in the glittering world of men’s professional tennis, taking the reader on a whirlwind trip full of love and danger.

Leigh continues to hone her craft and learn what it takes to create a page-turning novel. She has completed Whatever You Call Me, set to release in fall, 2016, and Whatever You Say, to be released spring, 2017.

Leigh lives with her husband, Patrick, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and is mom to adult children, Tom and Liza, and her two dogs, Lula Belle and Napoleon.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Amazon / Newsletter

 

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

Cover Reveal: My Junior Year of Loathing by Jennifer DiGiovanni

Tags

, , , , , ,

SR-Cover-Reveal-BannerNEW

 

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

My Junior Year of Loathing
by Jennifer DiGiovanni

Be on the look out for this upcoming release from
Swoon Romance!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

mjyol-ebook-final

 

Junior year is supposed to be tough. Exams, term papers, homework, college tours, and participation in extra-curricular activities can all add up to non-stop stress. But Melinda Banner has goals to achieve and dreams to make real. This year, she’ll be unstoppable. But even over achievers need a break.

While walking in the woods to take a break from the stress of it all, Melinda meets a boy named Connor. After a few more run-ins, the two settle into an uneasy friendship, if you can even call it that.

But Connor’s closed and mysterious. Whenever Melinda asks too many questions, he suddenly has to go or is no longer interested in talking. When they’re together, she’s torn between wanting him to open up and running away as fast as she can. Still she can’t seem to shake her budding interest in him.

Connor has his own way of looking at the world, and his views often conflict with Melinda’s practical nature. Can you like someone and loathe them at the same time? Is he even worth the emotional tug on her heartstrings or distraction from all things Junior year?

And, as if she needs another project right now, Melinda starts to obsess over the abandoned estate she passes on the way to school each day. Between Connor and the old estate, Melinda’s beginning to think she’s taking on too much.

But Melinda’s smart. She finds a way to indulge her interest in the estate and fulfill her obligations. She will uncover the truth behind the aging edifice for an epic article in the school newspaper.

But when her investigation reveals a connection between Connor and a tragedy long-since forgotten, Melinda has a choice: put off her junior year achievements to save a local landmark and a boy who constantly pushes her away or put them both out of her mind for good and focus on making the grade.

add to goodreads

My Junior Year of Loathing
by Jennifer DiGiovanni
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Romance

Available for Pre-order:
Amazon

 

About-the-Author2

Jennifer DiGiovanni

 

Jennifer DiGiovanni is the author of the School Dayz Series. When she’s not writing or reading, she likes to try new sports and activities from archery to ballroom dancing, with varying degrees of success.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookTumblr

 

giveaway2

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chapter-by-Chapter-blog-tour-button

 

The Surrendered by Case Maynard

Tags

, , , , , ,

The Surrendered
Case Maynard
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

EXCERPT:

A sinking feeling washes over me. “We’re going to Meadowood.”

He responds without opening his eyes, “I want answers.”

I start to argue that this will be a fool’s errand, but in truth, I want the same answers he does. “Do you think the man who rescued Oliver was with the Southies?”

“I don’t know who else it could’ve been.” He sits up and stretches. “It must’ve been them, and I want to know why they changed the plan without informing us. The Master and his Regulators got to the rooftop very quickly after I fired that shot. I have to wonder if someone told them we were there.”

“You think the Southies took Oliver to get the combination and then set the Regulators on us? Why would they do that?”

He rubs his face. “It doesn’t make any sense. But something’s not adding up.”

I ponder this, thinking about my brother’s strange plea. “I know you think I’m insane, but I can’t help but feel like Oliver knew someone was going to take him; I swear it felt like he was speaking to me when he said not to interfere. But that doesn’t make any sense, either. He’s been behind the fence for years.”

Cason yawns and tries to shake off the effects of the Papaver. “I don’t think you’re crazy; his message did seem odd for someone who was about to hang for a crime he didn’t commit. I don’t know, but hopefully he’ll be at Meadowood and you can ask him yourself.”

My mood elevates as I realize I may only be hours away from a reunion with my brother. The pain in my arm forgotten, I try to concentrate only on this knowledge, confident we’ll have our answers soon enough. “I didn’t get a chance to thank you for earlier. You could’ve just turned me over to the Master and walked away, but you didn’t. I’m grateful for that.”

I feel a little embarrassed as soon as the words leave my mouth. Normally I’m not one to share my feelings, but the Papaver Flower makes me breathless and lightheaded and loosens my tongue.

He reaches for me, careful not to jostle my splinted wrist, and pulls my face to his. “I’m probably going to ruin that sentiment by telling you the Master would never have let me go anyway, but know this—” he runs the pad of his thumb along my lower lip and meets my eyes “—if everyone else in the entire world leaves you to fend for yourself, if your father, your mother, your brother disappoint you, if God himself decides you aren’t worthy . . . you’ll still be able to count on me. I’ve got your back, Vera.”

the-surrendered-teaser-8

 

Author Bio:

With over 20 years’ experience in the legal and medical fields, Case Maynard decided to trade in her briefs and reports to write the stories that have been floating around in her head since childhood. She lives with her two teenagers and husband in South Georgia, while maintaining a long-distance liaison with her oldest daughter and partner in crime in Alaska. When not writing, she enjoys reading as often as possible, binge watching anything good on Netflix, and all things NCAA football (Go Noles!). You can learn more about Case and her stories on her website.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

Author Interviews @shuchikalra #Writerslife #Writers #Author — BlondeWriteMore

Welcome to my Author Interview Blog Series! This series allows me to interview some amazing and inspirational authors. In the interviews I glean some writing tips from them, find out how they have overcome their literary challenges and most importantly get some valuable insight into their creative life. This week I am beyond excited as […]

via Author Interviews @shuchikalra #Writerslife #Writers #Author — BlondeWriteMore

Writer’s Weekend Resources – Reading and Writing Links — Live to Write – Write to Live

Hello, and happy third day of fall! I’m keeping today’s post pretty short since it’s my birthday today, and I’m trying to spend as little time as possible behind the keyboard. I told all my clients in advance that I was going to be unavailable this weekend. (I’ve had a summer’s worth of working Saturdays […]

via Writer’s Weekend Resources – Reading and Writing Links — Live to Write – Write to Live

Friday Reveal: The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief by Charles Day

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Today Charles Day and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for the Bram Stoker Award Winning THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF, which releases October 18, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

 

Title: THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF
Author: Charles Day
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N| TBD| Goodreads
As the townsfolk sleep, something creeps into the neighborhood. Hidden in shadows, its presence is as old as time itself, its intent not born of goodness.
Nick, a teenager who fancies himself a detective, wakes to find his carved masterpiece missing. Now a mystery is afoot, and Nick has his first assignment, to find out who or what is snatching up the town’s pumpkins and why.
Unfortunately, as with all great detectives, obstacles stand in Nick’s way—the neighborhood bully and his cronies, and the strange old lady and her dog who share the run-down house at the end of Nick’s block. As Nick investigates, an urban legend unravels . . . .
The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief.
Nick fears the legend as he embarks on the most dangerous adventure of his young life. Collecting clues, getting ever closer to the true nature of evil, he learns that curiosity comes with a high price.
“Charles Day’s The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief should be every Halloween-crazy kid’s favorite book–and a lot of us adults will love this wonderful tale as well.  Part mystery, part fantasy, and part perfect Halloween scary story, it all adds up to 100% sheer delight. Bravo to intrepid young detective Nick, that black-suited Pumpkin Thief, and Charles Day for putting them together in this sweet-‘n’-spooky novella.”
~Lisa Morton, four-time Bram Stoker Award winner and author of The Halloween Encyclopedia.

 

Excerpt


Chapter OneNick sniffed the cold air that had started to settle in and around Chesterville, New York, his quaint, upstate hometown located in the Catskill Mountains. Halloween was one day away, a Friday this year. Nick looked forward to the holiday, one of his favorites, next to Christmas, of course. However, today he had something he enjoyed even better: a great mystery.

Nick flipped through the final pages of yet another mystery novel that fed his mind with exciting characters and great plots. As he sat in bed with his new favorite book held in his sweaty palms, the earth could have exploded into smithereens, his house pulled from its foundation by a tornado—it didn’t matter what catastrophe might occur at this moment; Nick found himself fully immersed in the final chapter with his favorite characters.

He loved stories about missing people, crazed or degenerate criminals intent on doing their victims harm, or a detective two clues away from capturing his suspects.

Although he was only twelve, Nick had already completed a good number of mystery novels in his short life. He kept his own personal collection in a large cardboard box on a shelf in his closet, safe above wooden hangers holding football jerseys, dyed T-shirts, and ripped blue jeans, and he was about to add this latest mystery to his library. Just a few pages to go and he would know what these characters were up to … until he heard a voice from downstairs.

“Nicky, time for dinner! I’m not going to call you again,” his mother yelled up the stairs, apparently for the second time. Yes, nothing interrupted his concentration when he neared the end of a good mystery book—except his mom, with her threatening voice.

Nick’s mother was not unlike other mothers in the neighborhood. He had some friends whose moms were the same when it came to gathering their families for dinner, but tonight was not the night. He wanted to finish the final pages before stepping back into reality.

“I’ll be down in a minute, Ma!” Nick screamed back, but his eyes still focused on the book. Sure, he knew he’d be in trouble if he didn’t heed her call. Dad would eventually come upstairs and yell at him for not showing up at the table on time. So he bookmarked the page, took a quick peek at himself in the mirror on his way out of his room, admired the short blond hair, blue eyes, and thin physique—still looking good, guy—then quickly ran downstairs to join his family.

As Nick walked into the dining room, he saw Samantha, his younger sister, still ten but going on sixteen, already seated at the table with a generous portion of meat and potatoes

falling over the edge of her plate. Her dark hair, pulled up into pigtails, bobbed as she inhaled the aromas. And, coming out from the kitchen with freshly baked dinner rolls, was Mom.

“Sit down, Nicky,” Mom said, passing him by while the smell from those warm rolls filled his nostrils and made his mouth water.

As Nick suspected, Mom, adorned in a silk blouse, yellow skirt, and high heels, was dressed as if she’d just stepped out of one of those beauty magazines scattered about the house. However, he focused on those dinner rolls she’d placed on the table. He had to have one. As he went to grab a roll, Samantha’s annoying voice short-circuited his growing appetite to savor the warm goodness.

“Glad you could make it, snot-face,” she said, smiling at Nick.

There she was, in all her glory, his pigtailed brat of a sister.

Nick’s appetite suddenly disappeared. He stared at Samantha, who continued to smile, and wondered how … how he could make his sister’s life miserable at that very moment.

“That’s it, sis. Fill up on all that food you got there on your plate so you can keep getting nice and fat, because—”

“Ma!” Samantha yelled.

“Knock it off, Nicholas. Leave your sister alone and let her eat,” Mom said.

Of course, Samantha screaming was always his fault. Whether or not his sister was wrong didn’t matter; it seemed that he’d be the guilty one. In fact, Nick knew that even if she stood on the dinner table and kicked the plates full of food to the floor, with his parents witnessing the whole event, he’d still be the guilty one, accused of making her do it.

“Yeah, okay … I know it’s my fault. Even though she called me snot-face, I’m the one who’s guilty.” Nick gestured, using his hands to show his frustration. “Whatever.”

Nick watched his father come in while he argued.

“I don’t care much who’s at fault; what I want is for everyone to stifle it and eat your food … understood?” He sat down at the head of the table.

“Ma, have a seat and join us.” He looked to his left. “Nick and Samantha, not another word out of you two, or you’re both grounded.”

That’s what Nick wanted to hear—fairness. His dad was harsh when it came to disciplinary things, but he also was fair. Nick could reason with him on occasion, and he liked that.

“Oh, by the way,” his father said, looking confused, “I was coming in from the rain and noticed the jack-o’-lantern on the steps out front is missing. Anybody know where it went?”

He knew his dad wanted an answer from him, by the stare he sent deep into Nick’s eyes. The Stare of Death!

Nick felt singled out again. Sure, Dad, blame it on me. Score another win for Sam.

Nick heard the drops of water as they exploded on the roof. Loud tapping sounded against the windows from the windswept rain. Halloween is tomorrow. Maybe one of the local punks in the neighborhood took it to use as a flying projectile. I don’t know.

Nick figured that since eggs were hard to come by on Halloween, especially for kids his age, it had to be a teenager who’d stolen their pumpkin to toss around instead. That would make a nice mess on some unsuspecting neighbor’s driveway.

Then it hit him. Here was his chance to find out who may have taken the carved-out pumpkin and, just maybe, assist in the apprehension of the punk. After eating most of his dinner, Nick excused himself from the table and ran up to his room to gather a few items.

He shut his door, surprised his parents didn’t question his early departure from their nightly dinner ritual. Not even an evil eye glanced his way from his mom. That had certainly made him feel better. No need to get on Mom’s bad side.

There was another good reason to venture out and start his investigation: to be far away from his sister.

She was trouble.

Besides, there was a mystery to solve, the case of the missing pumpkin, and he figured he’d start by checking to see if any of his neighbors were missing their pumpkins.

The new mystery reminded him of the stories he’d heard among his classmates: the urban legend of the Pumpkin Thief. He’d cut out an article about this legend from the school’s newsletter a few years ago, when he’d first heard the story, intrigued by the creepiness of it all.

Nick wanted to read the article again. He went to his desk and rummaged through his stack of papers until he located the piece of tattered print, written by some kid, a Jeffery Beamer, in the Journalism Club. He’d certainly done his research on the urban legend. Nick re-read the whole thing while standing.

“Legend of the Pumpkin Thief, by Jeffery Beamer.

“One thing that truly amazes me is urban legends. I’ve heard a few good ones over the years, some from watching TV, others from Googling urban legends. So when some of my older friends in school shared with me the Pumpkin Thief legend, I just had to do a little bit of research. And this is what I found.

” Legend has it that around Halloween, this evil creature, the Pumpkin Thief—a tall, green-bean-thin figure in a black suit and large, orange tie, with a massive orange pumpkin for a head and carved-out eyes, nose, and jagged mouth—would sneak into a town of his choosing and snatch up the pumpkins at night. He’d collect as many as he could hold, then he’d carry them away to a secret location.

“Why did he snatch up all the pumpkins? Well, my dear readers, folklore said it had to do with him trying to stop the townsfolk from using them to ward off evil spirits. You see, without the pumpkins to protect their homes, they were prey to all the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that float around on Halloween, having fun on the one night when they get to celebrate all things horror. They run amok and frighten trick-or-treaters. It’s their night, and the Pumpkin Thief does what he can to allow them to have fun on this special night.

“Now, although the urban legend has been discredited, I was able to retrieve some stories from people who said they have evidence that he is indeed real.

“It appears that a few local towns had confirmed that this Pumpkin Thief visited them. They had their pumpkins stolen, and on Halloween night, weird things happened to a few of the townsfolk. Some said they saw ghosts peering into their homes through the windows. One person claimed that floating chased about his bedroom Another said his doorbell kept ringing, but no one was there. I even found a few photos from a nearby town that showed strange, large, orb-type lights floating above their homes on Halloween night.

Of course, experts discredited these allegations. It seems no one had concrete evidence of a Pumpkin Thief caught red-handed grabbing pumpkins; nonetheless, the legend continues. Which town will be next?

Nick stopped reading. He had enough to go on. One missing pumpkin certainly did not qualify as a visit from the Pumpkin Thief. But it was kind of cool, getting all worked up the night before the holiday, a special holiday devoted to celebrating evil and dead things. And the article intrigued him. Maybe I should look into this some more, find out who else might have been visited by this legend since Jeffery wrote the article. I need to track down this kid. I’m sure he’s got more to tell.

He replaced the article on the pile of papers and went to pack his jacket pockets with all the detective tools he’d need for tonight: a flashlight, cell phone, and a small pair of binoculars. Those were all he had, so far. He’d ordered some other items out of one of his detective comic books, but they hadn’t shipped yet. He loved all the detective gadgetry!

He knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wanted to be a detective with the police department. He wasn’t sure how to get there, but between his parents, teachers, and those guidance counselors they had in the big high school he’d be eventually attending, he’d find his way. Once he had the title of detective, and access to all that high-tech gadgetry he’d seen on his favorite TV shows, he’d be happier than an ant in a picnic basket.

And now that his family’s pumpkin had gone missing, most likely stolen, he’d been given the perfect opportunity for an early taste of detective work. Just the thought of it excited him as he began preparations for tonight’s quick investigation.

Nick sat on his bed for a moment longer, still imagining how, one day, he’d succeed at what he wanted to do. Detective work. The girl. The cars. The life.

Nick had to stop thinking so much about the future and instead concentrate on solving the mystery afoot. He already had an idea about who may have put their grubby hands on his pumpkin. Lou, the bully of his neighborhood! He stood and walked out of his room, closing the door behind him, then to the top of the stairs. But when he approached the top step, he saw his evil little sibling with the pigtails at the bottom, looking straight up at him.

Samantha put both hands on her hips and smiled. “Where are you going? I’m telling.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Sam. What is your problem? You’re ten, but sometimes you act like a spoiled baby. Do you really hate me that much?”

Nick hoped a little guilt would soften his sister up, and possibly keep her from saying anything to their parents. She seemed to have a relentless desire to make his life a living mess.

For real.

“You’re playing stupid detective again, right?” She smiled, her arms folded. “Well, you’re going to need me if you want to solve a mystery because I know how to be a real detective.” She continued to smile while blocking Nick’s exit.

He knew her motive. She wanted to follow her big brother through a night of detective work, a complete gathering of clues, and hopefully witness a crime get solved through the quick actions of her detective brother.

He also figured she’d tell all her friends that her older brother could solve any crime that dared to enter her neighborhood. He could see it in her eyes. “Yeah, sure. Get your coat and let’s go. It’s getting dark out.”

Nick wasn’t the least bit happy about having to drag Samantha along, but he didn’t want her telling her friends and their parents any lies about his motives. Besides, she might be able to help keep an eye on things.

***

Nick and Samantha left the house together, first telling his parents he was taking his sister across the street to his friend’s house. He knew they would’ve noticed Samantha missing, with her always under their feet.

As they crossed the street, Nick took out his flashlight. He directed its yellow beam to his neighbors’ stoops and porches in search of pumpkins. He pointed the light at each home, every porch that may have displayed a pumpkin, as he walked farther down his street, Samantha by his side.

He was having trouble getting a clear view. Although the rain had stopped, a misty fog had taken over, reflecting the beam of his flashlight back into his eyes. That made it difficult for him to check for pumpkins, even with some porch lights on. But as far as he could tell, none of the houses had any pumpkins on their porches, either. That bothered him.

Eventually he made it to the last house on the left, the home of Mrs. Needlewhitter, an eighty-seven-year-old widow who hated children. Nick knew she was a mean old lady, and he usually did his best to steer clear of her. Tonight was different. He needed to check her porch, just like he’d checked the others.

Nick slowly approached the gate, then jumped back in sheer fright, pulling his sister to the ground with him. Baxter, the old lady’s German Shepherd, slammed up against the fence, barking, snarling, and showing off his white canines.

Samantha cried and screamed, “I want to go home!”

Her loud voice made the dog bark even more.

“Come on, sis, let’s go. He can’t hurt you. He’s behind the fence,” Nick said, lifting her up off the wet grass that left a fresh, green stain on the knees of her white pants. He shined his flashlight on Mrs. Needlewhitter’s porch, noticing a few smashed pumpkins by her bottom stoop.

Could that be it? Had he found the culprit? An eighty-seven-year-old, half-crippled, almost blind, gray-haired … pumpkin thief?

Baxter stood on his hind legs, his massive front paws hanging over the top of the gate, snarling and barking at Nick as he came closer for a better look. He shined his flashlight in Baxter’s eyes, turning them red as blood, reminding him of a movie he’d seen last week on the Chiller Channel about this dog gone bad, evil incarnate, determined to do harm to those who’d messed with him while he was still a pup.

Nick shook this thought from his head and, instead, focused his attention on the front porch.

The porch light turned on.

“What’s going on out there, Baxter boy? You see trespassers, is that it?” Mrs. Needlewhitter yelled through the screen door. “Get ’em, boy. Rip ’em to shreds. Dirty rat punks.”

Nick couldn’t understand why she said what she did, but he wasn’t waiting around to find out what would happen next. He grabbed hold of his sister and ran across the street, not looking back as they sprinted home. He still heard the old lady’s dog, barking in the distance.

When they reached their house, Nick walked his sister up the front porch steps, and then opened the door. He gave his tearful sister a nudge inside. “Go, and don’t say a word to Mom or Dad, you hear?”

She didn’t look back or reply as she walked indoors.

He quickly shut the door, then sat down on his front steps to think of what he needed to do next. He’d found a few broken and smashed pumpkins, and Mrs. Needlewhitter might just be the pumpkin culprit, but why?

How?

How could she manage to sneak around and grab all those pumpkins? Or could this be the work of Lou, the bully? Or worse. Has the Pumpkin Thief chosen this town for this Halloween? My town? Now Nick had even more reason to find this Jeffery Beamer.

In the interim, Nick knew he had to gather some evidence, so he thought up a plan, a great plan on how he’d get closer to those pumpkins scattered about Mrs. Needlewhitter’s yard. This was going to be his first real detective work, and he knew deep inside that he was so ready to accomplish the task.

 

 

Charles Day is the Horror Writer Association’s Mentor Program Chairperson, Co­-Chair for the NY/LI Chapter, and a member of the HWA Library committee. He is also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association, the American Library Association, and the Young Adult Library Services Association.
He is also the Bram Stoker Award® nominated author of the YA novel, THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF. He’s also published his first adult novel DEEP WITHIN and the first book in his Adventures of Kyle McGerrt trilogy, a YA western heroic fantasy, THE HUNT FOR THE GHOULISH BARTENDER, and his first co­authored novel with Mark Taylor, REDEMPTION
His forthcoming publications and projects in development for 2014 include a comic book series based on the ADVENTURES OF KYLE McGERRT trilogy, his first middle­ grade series, THE UNDERDWELLERS, and his third YA novel, IMMORTAL FAMILY.
On the publishing business side of things, Charles is the owner of Day Media and Publishing in New York, which houses the successful imprints, Evil Jester Press, Evil Jester Comics, and Hidden Thoughts Press (mental wellness collections)
He’s also an artist and illustrator, who is passionate about creating the many characters he’s brought to life in his published, or soon to be published works. You can find out more about his upcoming writing projects, check out his illustrations and art, or find out what he’s cooking up next with that evil dude­in­the­box, the evil Jester.

 

3 winners will receive an eGalley of THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF. International.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Half Life by Paul H.B. Shin

Tags

, , , , ,

30423364Half Life by Paul H.B. Shin

Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC

Genre: Thriller

Release Date: September 6, 2016

The year is 1997. North Korea is suffering from a devastating famine that has shaken the foundation of the ruling class. A series of high-profile defections to the West has lead the reclusive country’s leadership into the grasp of paranoia.

Nuclear scientist Han Chol-Soo is on a tenuous diplomatic mission to the United States. There he is forced to embark upon a high-stakes pursuit after his wife disappears with their newborn son. Paralyzed with fear at the repercussions of her decision, Han turns to his colleague Park Jun-Young for help — a man that he suspects is an intelligence operative. He soon regrets his decision as Park cuts a swath of mayhem in the name of helping Han, and the chase forces Han to confront the harsh realities of his home country.

Half Life Reviews

“Half Life is a terrific novel. Right from the start you’ll be drawn into many dark worlds—politics, espionage, and North Korea—and it will keep you on the edge of your seat right until the last page. Paul H.B. Shin’s authenticity and style cannot be missed.” –Dale Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Starfire (William Morrow)

“A gripping, taut espionage thriller, Half Life is enriched by the love story at its core and the refusal to give simple answers. I loved it.” –Robert Ferrigno, bestselling & award-winning author of Heart of the Assassin (Scribner)

“Paul H. B. Shin wraps an engaging tale of espionage and intrigue around a failed marriage in his new international thriller, Half Life. With sure-footed prose and vivid characterization, Shin takes readers inside the paranoid claustrophobia of North Korea’s political world, where even high-ranking diplomats live in constant fear. With North Korea’s nuclear arms program as a backdrop, the eminently believable and thoughtful plot will have readers wondering if they’re looking at tomorrow’s news. A well-wrought debut.”

–Jim DeFelice, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper (William Morrow)

b72ae5_ecb967a4068e4dbf93a52ab8ea4d8063

Paul H.B. Shin’s debut novel follows a career as an award-winning journalist for more than 20 years, most recently for ABC News. He previously wrote for the New York Daily News. He was born in South Korea and lived in London during his childhood. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Paul on Twitter

Bewitching Book Tour Host