The Bitter Taste: a Collection of Short Stories

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The Bitter Taste: A Collection of Short Stories

by Various Authors

Genre; Contemporary Fiction

Release Date: May 20th 2017

Versetab

Summary:

Dive into the worlds of eight (8) sensational writers as they create engaging stories that will leave you spellbound the moment jump in.
The Bitter Taste is a collection of short stories written by eight writers from across the globe. Each story has been written to give different renditions of the title.
“Lena is on the brink of divorce from her estranged husband, Daniel, and she is doing everything in her power to make his life miserable. But decisions made the night after a confrontation will change not only Daniel’s life but hers as well.” – The Georgia Peach that Spoiled byNyQunaa
“After moving back to her hometown, Sasha figures out that honesty and love don’t come from the same bottle” – Bottles and Basslines by Sarah Cooke
“They say when death knocks at your door, your life flashes before your eyes. However, is it enough time for someone to redeem themselves before it’s too late?” – Redemption by Ruthie
“Only one decision can change history as we know it. Jenny doesn’t know what the future holds but she is certain of one thing, there can never be a future for her in the village with her grandmother.” – The One Way Trip by Kelvin O’Ralph
“A popular young woman questions the value of her own life after receiving a devastating diagnosis.” – Fireworks in Winter by Ameenah M. Hassan
“This story explores the mental trauma that lingers in a sexual assault victim for the rest of her life and how she puts an end to her agony.” – The Frozen Dish by Benazir Mungloo
“Tony still clutches onto an old guilt while others moved ahead erasing the memories left behind. Acceptance and forgiveness will not be seen without reliving.” – History Lesson by Silvia Latife
“Here is a story about a man who realizes that even though he has achieved a lot for himself, he has missed out on the most important moment in his life.” – The Little Things by Ignacio Bandoni
The Bitter
Taste on Versetab
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Excerpt

 

Story 1 –
The Georgia Peach that Spoiled 
by NyQunaa

 

 


It was hot outside the courthouse. Sweltering hot. It was the
kind of hot that could make a Georgia Peach spoil in the summertime. Lena sat
outside on a wooden bench that faced the courthouse and stared at Lady Justice
who stood on top of the clock tower on the historic Renaissance Revival stone
building. Lady Justice looked worn with defeat in her eyes.



 



Twenty minutes passed. The beads of sweat that were on Lena’s
forehead began to roll down her face. It was too hot to wear all black in the
Georgia heat, but she was mourning, mourning the death of justice in the legal
system.

 

She sat on the bench flabbergasted by what the District
Attorney told her. The DA called Lena 
on Monday and said that she wanted to meet with her to
discuss the case. Lena told the DA that she would be available to meet at the
end of the week. So Friday the 13th at high 
noon was when they met. Imagine meeting someone on an
unlucky day during the time of a decisive confrontation. She didn’t expect to
hear good news so she wore black in anticipation of what was to come.

 

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Whitfield,” the DA said as
Lena walked into her office.

 

“Good afternoon,” Lena replied.

 

The way the DA greeted her was grim, so Lena knew the meeting
was not going to end well.

 

“Look, Mrs. Whitfield, I’m going to cut right to it. Mr.
Whitfield’s lawyer presented evidence that hurts your credibility. Because of
that, I am not going to prosecute him.”

 

“But I have a recording of the incident. It should
surely be enough to prosecute him.”

 

“OK, let’s listen to it,” she said skeptically.

 

Lena played the tape. It replayed verbatim everything that
happened that early morning in November.

 

After the tape had stopped, the DA looked at Lena aloofly.
“Mrs. Whitfield, I cannot use the tape as evidence. Mr. Whitfield did not
say anything to you in an aggressive manner nor did it prove that he hit you.
It shows that you were aggressive towards him. Based on that and your lack of
credibility, I am not going to prosecute him.”

 

“This legal system is rigged,” Lena said as she got
up to leave. She picked up her purse and stormed out of the DA’s office.

 

“What is wrong with the legal system?” Lena
thought. “The system is supposed to protect victims like me and instead,
it slapped me in the face by dismissing the charges. The DA is just another
person that my narcissistic, soon-to-be ex-husband manipulated. How could she
not see how conniving he was?”

 

Lena began to think back to that early morning in November, a
day that started off ordinary and ended up with her lying on the ground.
 


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Spinning Time by D.F. Jones

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Spinning Time, A Time Travel Romance
D.F. Jones
Genre: Time Travel Romance, Time Travel
ISBN-10: 0-9861227-7-7
ISBN-13:978-0-9861227-7-4
ASIN: B06XGLX8WP
Print Length: 303 pages
Publisher: Jones Media 
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Description:
A love story that transcends time…
1948
Southern debutante, Julia Boatwright has everything a twenty-one-year-old desires, a wealthy family, close friends, and Phillip, her handsome fiancé.
Until one day, Julia plunges into the deep pools of Burkett Falls trapped in a natural time portal that propels her seventy years into the future.
Julia and Phillip live decades apart, but their love for each other keep them fighting to find a way to reunite.
ATTRA (Alien Time Travel Research Agency) Commander Adams runs a secret agency controlling time events, and she wants Julia.
Julia holds the key that may break the time space barrier into the distant past shaping the future outcome for the inhabitants of Earth.
With the help of time tracker, Ruben Callaway, and his team, a window of time approaches which may allow Julia to spin through a loop of time between the parallel universes back home.
Will Julia find her way home before time runs out?
“If you love time travel romance, drama, and thriller suspense novels, this book is a must read!”
Prologue
Present Day, ATTRA Lunar City
Charlie watched
Monica, the Commander of the Alien Time Travel and Research Agency (ATTRA)
unsheathe a nine-inch, pencil-thin, razor-sharp knife. Monica casually walked around
her desk to stand in front of the new female recruit kneeling on the shiny
black marble tile and slit the woman’s throat.
Turning to face
Charlie, Monica narrowed her eyes and said, “I caught this whore hacking into
my personal computer system. Dedria denied it, but I walked in, and my screen
was up.”
Charlie stood at
attention with her hands clasped behind her back. Her heart was pounding at the
brutal death of the innocent woman. Charlie had hacked Monica’s system and been
summoned to the gateway before she had time to replace the screen into the
sleeve of the wall. Monica returned early from her mission and caught Dedria in
her office and assumed the worst, slitting her throat before Charlie could
confess to the crime.
Monica stepped
over to her oblong glass desk. She pulled a tissue from her drawer, then wiped
the blood off the knife and returned it to its sheath that hooked on the belt
of her uniform. Taking a seat in the ergonomic white leather chair, she said,
“Charlie, you have real potential.
Are you up for a
challenge?”
“Yes,
Commander.” Charlie stared out the wall of windows facing the Milky Way. She’d
arrived at Lunar City shortly after tripping on acid at Woodstock in 1969. She
apparently fell through a time portal on the farm.
Charlie wished
she could remember what happened the day of the concert, but she’d been too
wasted. Not that it mattered because she was on a permanent trip now, like
something right out of a science fiction novel.
During Charlie’s
ATTRA training, she’d learned that after the Lord Supreme had created the
Earth, the moon was brought in and placed in perfect orbit to stabilize the
planet. The magnificent city within the interior structure of the luminous
silver moon housed several thousand people working for the organization
overseeing humanity, tracking Time Spinners, negotiating with alien
interlopers, while deflecting debris catastrophic to Earth’s existence.
ATTRA worked to
coordinate parallel universes and alternate realities to keep Earth’s path on
course to a future utopian society.
Charlie had been
placed under Monica’s authority, and with ATTRA’s strict protocols, it made
interference on the injustice she’d just witnessed impossible. Earth was
approaching a critical time shift based on the Time Trackers’ paradigm coming
in from around the world.
Monica motioned
for Charlie to sit in the white chair opposite of the desk. “Zane has informed
me the Lord Supreme recently assigned Ruben to monitor a Spinner crossing the
threshold on June 15, 1948 at 1500 hours.”
Charlie
straightened her spine in the chair at the mention of Ruben, her friend, and
mentor.
Monica said,
“The Spinner’s name is Julia Boatwright from North Carolina, born May 5, 1927.
She’ll give birth to a son, the first human physicist to break the barrier of
the space-time continuum into the distant past. Ruben’s assignment is to
protect Julia. He’s unaware of the child. Your assignment is to kill Ruben and
bring me the girl.”
Monica swiveled
back and forth in the chair with a glazed look in her eyes. “The Plates of
Prophecy state the time machine developed by Julia’s son will travel into the
far distant past. If I can train the boy, I’ll control the historical events on
Earth and use the information to barter with the more advanced civilizations in
the galaxies. General Agriaous and I have set up colonization of a new planet,
Veetreous, from the Andromeda Galaxy, and I need more Spinners.”
Charlie’s eyes
widened. She leaned forward placing her right hand on the desk. “You’re talking
about the lives we’ve sworn to protect. And kill Ruben? He’s one of our best
Trackers.”
With a wave of
her hand, Monica scoffed, “For space sake wipe off that lovesick expression. I
admit Ruben is very good-looking, and well, not bad as a lover. Oh, I’m sorry.
I thought you knew we slept together. Do you want to end up on my marble floor,
Charlie?” A slow smile crept across Monica’s face as Charlie’s cheeks reddened.
“No, ma’am. But
if the Lord Supreme learns of you and General Agriaous using Spinners as slave
labor, it’ll be your head on the floor.”
“Silence! May I
remind you that you’ve sworn allegiance to me.” Throwing her hands up, palms
out, Monica said, “Look, Charlie, Ruben’s a threat to me. He wants my job, and
I won’t allow it. That girl and her child are not only my ticket to a seat on
the council but will also make me the Queen of Veetreous. If you play your
cards right, you’ll have more power than you’ve ever dreamed possible. I’m
issuing you a direct order, Charlie. Be discreet and make Ruben’s death look
like an accident after he meets Ms. Boatwright, and I’ll consider making you
the new Commander.”
Charlie clenched
her teeth and then replied, “Yes, Commander.”
Monica motioned
to the sliding glass doors. “Pick up the details of your assignment with Zane
outside, then send him in to clean up this mess. You’re dismissed.”
Charlie turned
on a dime and marched out of Monica’s office. She grabbed the assignment chip
and raced down the corridor, ducking into an alcove to gather her wits.
Charlie had to
warn Ruben. But how? Last she’d heard, Ruben had traveled in the Needle-Horn to
1950. Betraying Commander Monica Adams meant immediate execution, but Monica
was out of control, and someone had to do something to stop the power-hungry
maniac.

 

Charlie headed
to the gateway for a quick trip to 1950.
 
About the Author
After graduating Middle Tennessee State University, D.F. Jones landed a job as a broadcast consultant at the ABC Affiliate in Nashville, which led her opening an advertising agency. Over the years, she’s created many campaigns for clients and still enjoys developing marketing materials.
However, in December of 2010, D. F. Jones became a caregiver for her parents. There’s nothing quite like facing mortality to shake up one’s life. She began my writing her first novel in the late Fall of 2014.
Writing is a source of creative expression, but it also releases stress for D. F. Jones. Writing takes her to a place where anything is possible, and fiction takes D.F. Jones to a place made of dreams.
D.F. Jones is happily married to the love of her life and best friend, KJ. They have two gorgeous grown sons she loves and adores more than life itself. D.F. Jones loves to laugh, and her husband keeps her in stitches!
D.F. Jones is a fan of the Tennessee Titans, MTSU Blue Raiders and she enjoys working in her flower gardens.
Register for the newsletter and get a free book, information on new releases, contests and updates http://dfjonesauthor.com/register-for-updates/
 
On Sale #99Cents
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Special price ends 6/2
 

The Future of Sex (Future of Sex #1) by Aubrey Parker

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The Future of Sex
Aubrey Parker
(The Future of Sex, #1)
Publication date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Love doesn’t matter. Romance doesn’t exist.

In the year 2060, sex is a game of extremes. No desire is unexplored and even the unimaginable is possible.

Alexa Mathis, head of the monolithic O Corporation, has found a prodigy she believes will drive her sex empire to rapturous new limits: Chloe Shaw, a common girl with uncanny gifts that make her a powerful escort.

Chloe doesn’t believe in love. She believes in ecstasy, and her employer’s newest tool to usher “the future of sex”: an intelligent network known as The Beam.

And so it is until she meets Andrew … and the whole world changes.

The Future of Sex is a 12-part romance/sci-fi series exploring the line between today’s conception of love and the sensations that await us in the future.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

“Close your eyes.”

Andrew was startled. He’d been listening to music when Chloe entered, and hadn’t heard her approach. His door was unlatched, without a digital lock. He hadn’t been kidding about being poor. His connection was isolated to the terminal playing the music. He lived like a bohemian, and his apartment was little more than masonry and glass. She felt guilty about using her Beam connection to ferret out Andrew’s address, but once her hands were on his hips, her chest pressing into his back, Chloe no longer cared.

“You surprised me.”

She reached toward the terminal — a simple, no-frills model — and touched his screen to change the music, choosing something soft and lyrical to replace it. Something sappy and lovelorn that her mother would mock.

“Close your eyes,” she repeated.

He hesitated. She couldn’t see his eyes because she was behind him, but Andrew’s body language betrayed a man at attention. His moment of reluctance gave her pause until she realized his doubt was about himself rather than her.

“Chloe …”

“Just do it.”

She sensed his eyes closing. Then she rested her hands on his chest, palm flat. The movement was sensual, but not sexual. Her default would have been to go below the belt, so she kept her hands high.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Feeling.”

“I wish I worked out more.”

“Not feeling you. I meant that I’m attempting to feel. To emote.”

“How is it going?”

“I don’t know.”

And she didn’t. Chloe was feeling just fine, but it was like an ingrained response to Andrew’s presence. If he were feeling doubtful or down, her chameleon nature would want her to adapt, to touch him in just the right ways and say just the right things. She wasn’t sure if her genuine reaction — if she’d ever felt such a thing — was the same.

“You don’t know?”

“What do you want me to say, Andrew?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“What do you want from me? How would you have me feel?”

Andrew hesitated. “Is this a test?”

He sounded concerned, or even more doubtful than before — the opposite of his usual carefree, playful self. Something had been wrong at the park, and it had occupied Chloe’s mind, heavy like an anchor, ever since. That same thing was still wrong, but had matured into something else.

“No,” she said. “It’s not a test.”

“I don’t want you to feel anything. You feel what you feel.”

It was such a simple thing to say, yet Chloe didn’t know if her body and mind understood.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Nervous.” It was the truth, but she wasn’t sure if it was her base or something more meta. Was she nervous for her own reasons, or because she wasn’t sure how she truly felt?

“Me too,” he said.

With her flat palms, Chloe could feel his heart. “I can tell.”

“I don’t know what to make of you, Chloe.” His words were rushed as if he’d been dying to say them.

“Nobody seems to.”

“I don’t know if I like you for you, or if I like the person you’re becoming so that I will like you.”

Chloe turned Andrew around. She didn’t have to tell him to open his eyes. He did so automatically, those usually-playful orbs suddenly so serious.

“So,” she said, “you can tell.”

“I don’t know what I can tell.”

“You’re conflicted. There’s something wrong.”

“Conflicted,” he echoed. “But nothing’s wrong.” Then: “At least, I hope not.”

“But you don’t know.”

“Honestly? I don’t.”

“My whole life is about feeling, but it’s always as a response.” Chloe swallowed, hesitant to voice what was coming. “But I know how I feel about that — about your hesitation.”

“I think I love you, Chloe.”

“But you don’t know.”

He shook his head.

A tear tickled the corner of her eye.

“And I know how I feel about that, too.” He moved to kiss her.

“Don’t.”

“I want to.”

“Because I want you to?” Chloe asked. “And I want you to because you want to?”

Andrew tipped his head a little; he didn’t have to say that Chloe’s double-talk was confusing them both. He pressed his lips to hers, felt her lack of response, then pulled back. “Does it matter?”

 

Author Bio:

I love to write stories with characters that feel real enough to friend on Facebook, or slap across the face. I write to make you feel, think, and burn with the thrill that can only come from getting lost in the pages. I love to write unforgettable characters who wrestle with life’s largest problems. My books may always end with a Happily Ever After, but there will always be drama on the way there.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Chosen Path by J. Whitney Williams

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Yumiko Itsumoto wants it all. An accomplished artist and feared attorney, she gets what she wants, all else be damned. Now she wants love, even if it means charting a new course for her life, but changing course can be dangerous.  In mere moments, she tumbles from the dizzying pinnacle of success into a bottomless abyss of murder and treachery.  Yumiko will not live happily ever after—not this time—but can she at least find a way to stay alive?

Jun gave me a towel, with which I wrapped up my hair, and a yukata, one of his. Its sleeves hung well past my hands, but its hem did not drag the ground. I decided to go ahead and indulge. I’d had a difficult night. A little smear of grease on my back would do the trick. I worked as quickly as I could to remove the rest, but it still took me perhaps twenty or thirty minutes.

I emerged from the bathroom with a much-improved mood.

Jun lived in a modest flat, sparsely decorated in Japanese style: tatami flooring and rice-paper screens to separate (or not) a small bedroom from the tearoom. I liked it. He had put on a yukata as well and sat formally in the tearoom. I duly went to the first guest position and knelt.

“Do you have any citric acid?”

He blinked and asked, “Citric acid?” I had woken poor Jun from a sound sleep and it seemed he was still trying to gather his wits.

In my gentlest voice, I said, “Yes. I was unable to remove all of the grease from my skin. If I might further impose upon your hospitality, I would be grateful for your help with it. Citric acid, lemon juice if you have it, might break down the grease more readily than soap.”

He stood and walked toward his small kitchen. I turned my back to him and widened my stance to sit directly on the ground with my feet beside me, and I opened my yukata to drop it from my shoulders and expose my deliberate grease smear. Holding the yukata up with the crooks of my elbows, I crossed my arms over my chest and turned my head down. His steps halted when he saw me. His voice, when he spoke, bore more confidence than his approaching footfalls.

“I would be honored to provide you with whatever counsel I can, Itsumoto-san.”

“Thank you, Jun-san,” I said, “and please call me Yumi.”

“Will you tell me of the matter?”

I inhaled to fill the hollow in my chest and kept silent, tasting enjoyment in dabs of cold lemon juice against my back, softer than raindrops. I’d have all day to tell my tale before he finished, and part of me wanted to drag it out. The better part of me wanted to rip the band-aid off and be done with it.

“I was in the subway yesterday. There was a woman next to me. She was killed by a passing train. I believe I will be charged with her murder.”

“Why would you be charged?”

Another deep breath did nothing to fill my chest. It was hard enough admitting my mistake, a mistake made in the making of another mistake. I had to tell him the unconfessed secret of my heart. In a way, sitting half-naked in front of him made it easier to let go of my pride.

“I believe she was engaged to marry a man I previously dated—a past lover. I had gone to his home yesterday hoping I could reconcile myself to him. When I got there, someone, I believe it was this woman, was there with him. I left without announcing myself. It seems she left not long after I did and intended to catch the same train as me.

“After the incident, I ran. That was foolish. I was scared, shocked, and not thinking clearly. I have not been sleeping well. I had not slept for perhaps a week. This insomnia has affected my mental state. I did not intend to kill her, but I stood to benefit from her death. There were witnesses. I paid my PASMO with a credit card. The police will be able to determine who I am.”

Jun’s hands on my back remained timid, but his voice reassured. “Your situation may not be so dire as you believe it, Yumiko-san, but I can understand how it troubles you.”

The room filled with silence until I deemed it thick enough to call attention to my next statement.

“Jun,” I said, “when a woman takes off her clothes and kneels before you, it’s safe to assume you can drop the honorific.”

“I never assume facts not in evidence.”

I sighed and gave instructions. “I want you to call me Yumi. I want you to press hard against the stain on my back and scrub until I am clean.”

He did as I told him, taking my shoulder in one hand to steady me and grinding into the grease with his other. Sooner than I might have liked, a smear of cold water slid up my back, and the collar of my yukata patted me dry. I gave him further instructions.

“I also want you to fuck my brains out.”

His hands snapped back.

I waited him out, wandering my gaze along the weave of his tatami floor. Eventually he spoke.

“Will you not be needing them?”

I liked the innocence of his question, so I answered earnestly. “They have functioned poorly in recent times.” I waited again to hear his next quandary.

“I would think it a difficult thing to do to a woman of your considerable intellect.”

“Take your time.”

I waited while he tried to think through what was happening, seemingly as disturbed by his own unanticipated circumstances as I had been by mine the night before. Clammy fingertips, followed by their palm, touched down high on my back and slid haltingly up my shoulder and alongside my neck. I tilted my head up, yielding to the almost imperceptible push of his index finger under my jaw. He followed, and I continued until I craned my neck back as far as it would go.

When his fingertips drew gently against my throat, I went with them instead of letting them drag against my skin. I kept leaning, transferring my weight onto my toes, which pointed back along the floor by my sides.

Flipping over my toes to set my weight on my spine and straighten my knees from that position is always an awkward move. Jun was unprepared for how suddenly I fell backward when my weight transferred, but he caught me with a hand behind my neck before my head hit the floor. That was just as well because his abrupt catch knocked the towel free from my hair and just in time because I held my back still fully arched and would have driven my head hard into the mat.

I’d left my hands in my lap, straightening my elbows as he bent me backward, leaving my torso bare in front of him. My yukata, folded inward over my thighs, provided only a pretense of modesty. His eyes struggled not to wander while I stared up at him, so I closed mine to let his have their way. I’d told him to take his time, so I parted my lips and waited.

“Did you do it?”

My eyelids rocked open. “You ask your clients if they’re guilty?”

“I’m asking you.”

I closed my eyes again and rolled my spine downward, relaxing my back to the floor. “Nice dodge.”

“Likewise,” he volleyed. “Shall we play again?”

“I’d rather not.”

“Then answer my question.”

His hand behind my neck firmed and steadied and was soon joined by his other hand to cradle my head. Jun had no idea how to handle a woman, but he knew exactly what to do with a hostile witness.

I had to tell him, and he knew it. I was the one asking him for help. He could simply decline and be rid of me. Something inside him clamped down and turned to stone. He was awake now, and our little back-and-forth spanned the full width of his patience. It takes a hard man to set murderers free every day and still look at himself in the mirror.

I drew a slow breath to show him I would answer. I needed a hard man. I was a murderer.

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A mathematician by training and computer programmer by trade, J. Whitney Williams lives and works under the X in Texas, thinking too much and speaking too little.
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Crescendo (Beautiful Monsters #1) by Lana Sky

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Crescendo
Lana Sky
(Beautiful Monsters, #1)
Publication date: May 13th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense

You don’t become the fiancé of one of the most powerful crime lords in the city without understanding exactly how gritty and depraved the world truly is… and how to thrive in the inferno.

After five years spent under his controlling thumb, Daniela knows her position with a man like Vincent Stacatto is precarious, but as long as she plays by the rules of his “game”, she’s safe…

Until she’s taken by the devil.

Kidnapped by a rival boss, Daniela becomes a pawn between two powerful forces, and just another casualty in a bloody game of chess. But to get to the top, and stay at the top, you have to fight dirty and hold nothing back, because the most dangerous piece on the board isn’t the King.

Contains Mature subject matter not suitable for those under 18.

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EXCERPT:

Daniela

I think I hate him the most of all. The bastard with the blue eyes—he’s watching me even now.

The other men are mere dogs like Vinny. They don’t understand anything but violence and bloodshed. But he…this man is different. He’s colder. He’s calculating. He is a snake circling the carnage and swallowing down his chosen prey before the poor soul even knows what’s happening.

Though, maybe it’s the alcohol that makes me so angry. My head drifts. My thoughts are harder to grasp, and sanity is like a rudder, struggling to propel me through the darkness. The bottle is gone; I don’t know what he’s done with it, or if it was really there in the first place.

Delirium likes to play tricks on an already exhausted mind. My head is on a cloud. My right ear is miles away, and everything else feels like distant pulses. I can see my other limbs when I crane my neck down, but controlling them seems about as easy as telling smoke in which direction to float.

I can’t help feeling like this is his own selfish pittance; make the poor girl so drunk she won’t be able to feel her own rape. Hell, maybe she’ll pass out during it. Whatever helps him sleep at night.

Silly, silly bastard. Didn’t he know how impossible it was to sleep with the souls of others weighing you down? They whispered in your ear at night, right before you drifted off, and they haunted your dreams, turning them into nightmares. I haven’t slept in five years. I cease to exist at night. I go numb right until the exact moment that slumber takes me. Then, I open my eyes again, wide awake, and it’s torment.

On second thought, he doesn’t seem as tired as I am. He drank more than me, and yet his posture is stoically erect. He watches me unashamedly. He’s counting down the hours.

“Vinny.” I don’t know why I speak. My voice is a hollow whisper that slithers to the farthest reaches of the room—he can’t pretend like he doesn’t hear me. “Vinny. You want to know what would really make him angry?”

My tormentor doesn’t answer, but I know I’ve piqued his interest.

“If I willingly f-fucked another man…that would make him anggrrrryy.” My tongue fumbles with the words and then end on a sudden hiccup. “That would make him want me back.”

If only so he could kill me himself.

The man doesn’t seem impressed by what I’ve said. He’s un-amused by the unfiltered Daniela, but she suddenly feels desperate to have an audience.

“I would do it, too,” I tell him. Virginal Lynn’s deep, dark secret. I would take anyone over Vinny. The red-haired man. Any one of his thugs. The man with blue eyes.

Anyone. I’d deny him the one thing of value I had left. No matter how tonight ended, Vincent Stacatto wouldn’t claim all of me.

“I’d do it,” I say out loud, just to make it sink in. My confirmation to the universe if not to the man himself. Vinny would never have me fully. The thought makes me snicker, and the blue-eyed man pulls away from the wall, bored of me already.

I watch him head to the doorway that leads to the stairs. There he pauses, and it’s only then that I realize someone else is already in the process of descending them.

“It’s show time,” the red-haired man declares in a guttural rumble. His eyes burn with a sickening mixture of rage and excitement.

Slowly, my gaze drifts over to focus on the wall. I’m not here anymore. I see a stage…a cello. I’m playing Bach. My mind spins the invisible notes. I focus hard on crafting the melody, its soothing cadence. But I’m too dizzy. Words break through the song.

“What the fuck is wrong with her? Is she drunk?” The words dissolve into countless syllables that bounce across the room. My head throbs. A million thoughts and fears leak through the cracks these men have beaten and cut into—I can’t hide them anymore.

A hand grazes my shoulder, and I flinch. Then the entire chair is wrenched out from under me, and I land hard on the floor. My knee smarts. More pain joins the symphony of it that fights with the rising stream of voices for my attention.

“Set up the camera—”

“Where?”

“Any-fucking-where!”

I bite my lip to silence a scream and squeeze my eyes shut, blocking out the room and the men who crowd it. I’m not here. I’m floating…flying…playing. Bach’s melody fills my ears again. My bow is in my hand. I can feel the tension in the strings.

“All right…get her clothes off.”

A hand seizes the collar of my borrowed shirt and tugs. I hear ripping. There’s cool air on my back and the laughter and jeers of countless men battle with my attempts to ignore them. My cello is too heavy to lift. The bow breaks. The music dies off.

All at once, I’m lying on an ice-cold floor, clothed only in a pair of underwear, which someone attempts to drag down my legs while they croon what a “sweet ass” I’ve got into my ear.

“Wait.”

The hands stop tugging, but the calloused fingertips still graze my skin. Whoever speaks…he has a voice that makes the entire room go silent. The roar of a lion is heeded by all predators. A part of me flinches in recognition. I know that voice, but my mind is too busy spinning to place it.

 

Author Bio:

Lana Sky is a reclusive writer in the United States who spends most of her time daydreaming about complex male characters and legless cats. She writes mostly paranormal romance, in between watching reruns of Ab Fab and drinking iced tea. Only iced tea.

Drain Me is her debut novel and the first novel in the upcoming “Ellie Gray Chronicles.”

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Butterfly in Amber (Spotless #4) by Camilla Monk

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Butterfly in Amber
Camilla Monk
(Spotless #4)
Publication date: May 12th 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Romance

He’s waiting for you…

Under a blanket of snow, surrounded by dark woods and a frozen sea, lies an ogre’s castle. There lives a little princess, trapped in the maze of her own mind.

On a battlefield where the past meets the present stand a fairy godmother and a pirate, an old ice cream man and a knight in shining clean armor…

The clock is ticking fast, and to pierce the ogre’s secrets and defeat him, Island Chaptal will have to fight to remember…and stay alive.

Can the Lions and the Roomba cats be stopped before it’s too late?

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EXCERPT:

I didn’t mean to, but I just dropped my glass again. It still happens—less than it used to. From time to time, my hands will shake uncontrollably, and whatever I’m holding will go crash, splatter, scatter on the floor, for Stiles to pick and clean up, as always.

“I’m sorry,” I say, without looking at him.

As he carefully mops the purple mess of broken glass and grape juice on the tiling, he smiles that sweet, empty smile he always gives me. Faded, like his baby blue eyes. “It’s all right; we’re good. That marble has seen worse.”

I mumble another apology, gazing past him and through the bay window, at the ghostly silhouettes of the snow-covered pines surrounding the castle. You can’t see the Baltic Sea, but it’s there, beyond the trees, encircling the island. My father sent me here to rest because he says it’s quiet; it’ll help me find myself again. “An island for Island,” he said, and it made him chuckle. When I’m depressed though, which is more often than I like to admit, I just think my world has shrunk to a mile-long rock.

“Island, are you still with me?”

I look up at Stiles and nod automatically, but in truth, for a second I didn’t recognize him. I mean, I did, but it’s his voice or, rather, his accent. He told me once he was born in a place called Denton, in Georgia, where time trickled slowly and people squeezed their pennies so hard the eagle screamed. He said he spent sixteen years there, hunting quail, skipping church, and waiting for something to happen—according to him, the rest of the town is probably still waiting. All he kept from his hometown is a soft drawl that will occasionally weigh on his vowels. There’s nothing wrong with that, but every time he opens his mouth, it’s like my brain is expecting something more, someone else, until the feeling is gone, and I remember that it’s just Stiles.

I don’t know; it’s just one of the many things that are wrong with me. I guess I’m still pretty messed up since my accident. I feel slow, confused most of the time. Everybody tells me it’s normal, that eight months is not much to recover from the kind of trauma I went through, that maybe it’ll take years. I hope not. I turned twenty-six in September, and I’d rather not stay a convalescent child for the rest of my life.

Once he’s done wiping the last pinkish smear, Stiles wastes no time crossing the kitchen and opening the fridge to grab the bottle of juice again. He reminds me of a big robot: The man is cut like a Terminator, and he never gives up, never gets distracted. I drop the glass where he put my meds? He’ll fetch another one. I never tried, but I’m pretty sure that if I dropped it ten times, he’d fix it all over again ten times too. Always the same gray dress pants, white shirt, and black tie every day, always the same blond crew cut I suspect never grows. I could complain he also looks forty every day, but that’d be unfair: it’s not like I’ve known him for so long.

My heart skips a beat at the distressing thought. I have. I’ve known him almost all my life, since the day my father hired him to take care of me. Bodyguard, nanny, nurse . . . friend, maybe?

How could I know? I don’t remember any of that.

 

Author Bio:

Camilla Monk is a French native who grew up in a Franco-American family. After finishing her studies, she taught English and French in Tokyo before returning to France to work in advertising. Today, she builds rickety websites for financial companies and lives in Montreal, where she keeps a close watch on the squirrels and complains on a daily basis about the egregious number of Tim Hortons.

Her writing credits include the English resumes and cover letters of a great many French friends, and some essays as well. She’s also the critically acclaimed author of a few passive-aggressive notes pasted in her building’s elevator.

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Impeachment: a Complicated Solution to a Dangerous Presidential Problem

(reblogged from the Misfortune of Knowing)

The constant flow of information about Donald Trump’s scandalous and dysfunctional administration has intensified the calls to remove him from office. But what is the impeachment process, and what will it take to use it against Trump effectively? The process stems from provisions in our Constitution that have long baffled scholars, jurists, and lawmakers: Article […]

via Impeachment: A Complicated Solution to a Dangerous Presidential Problem — The Misfortune Of Knowing

The Girl from the Woods by Chris Keane

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The Girl from the Woods

Chris Keane
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Pennant Collective
Date of Publication: April 25th,
2017
ISBN: 978-0692832172
ASIN: B06X9Y715F
Number of pages: 144
Word Count: 43,000
Cover Artist: Nick Kiefer
Book Description:
It’s summertime and the last
place 19-year-old Dante Elton wants to be is at his grandmother’s in rural
upstate New York. But it’s exactly where his parents dump him, as they jet off
to Europe. Without a car, cell service, or even basic television, there is
nothing to do but wander around the nearby woods just as he had as a small
child…
There he meets sexy—and slightly
older—Angie Sewall while on a hike. On the surface, she’s a devoted daughter
content to be single while she manages her father’s medical practice. Yet deep
down, Angie is bored and heartbroken…and is harboring some special gifts that
she keeps secret from her father and their backwoods community.
When Dante’s grandmother’s health
declines, he reaches out to Angie’s father for help, only to uncover the good
doctor’s dark side. When Dante confides in Angie, it drives a spike into their
budding relationship. He’s left to wonder if he’s all alone in his quest to
save his grandmother
Excerpt:
As the sun
splintered through the gaps in the tarp, Dante held Angie in his arms while she
slept. He had never felt or even imagined being this happy. He watched her
sleeping peacefully, half-expecting she would just vanish like the girl from
his dream. She seemed other-worldly, more of a product of his imagination than
the surrounding environment. In the real world, a beautiful girl like Angie
would barely give him the time of day. She wouldn’t be into reading horror or
Japanese anime either. She would probably be rejecting his friend request on
Facebook.
He still hadn’t
told Angie that she had appeared to him in his dream back in New Jersey. He
figured she would probably just laugh at him. The past few weeks, he had
assumed he would forget about it. Yet somehow, the thought wouldn’t vacate his
brain. If she had actually appeared to him in his dream, this was no ordinary
girl, and that frightened him. She seemed normal, but her father did not. He
was an eccentric man with a sketchy past. Dante had come across a stack of
books on witchcraft in his study. But she brushed it off, saying that he had
grown up in Massachusetts, and everyone up that way was into the history of
Salem.

About
the Author:

 
Chris is a graduate of Rutgers
University and studied the art of storytelling at Gotham Writers’ Workshop in
New York City. Chris’ first publication, “Loot,” became a bestselling
Kindle Short Read, in the category of Young Adult Fiction.
“Loot,” set on
Halloween in 1977, tells the tale of three boys who skip Halloween to hunt for
cash to purchase an Atari in an old farmhouse belonging to one of their
deceased aunts. Adventure ensues in his coming-of-age tale in the spirit of
Stand by Me and The Goonies.
In addition to authoring prose,
Chris is a screenwriter. In 2013 he wrote the screenplay for a short film, The
Baseball Card, about three twelve-year old boys who fight over a Don Mattingly
baseball card during the summer of 1984. The Baseball Card was an official selection
of the Garden State Film Festival, Hoboken International Film Festival, and
Maryland International Film Festival in 2014.
The Girl from the Woods is his
debut novel.

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Hell Will Rise (Bloodthirst Mafia #1) by Skyla Murphy

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Hell Will Rise
The Bloodthirst Mafia Series
Book One
Skyla Murphy
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Publisher: Skyla Murphy
Date of Publication: May 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9958306-1-5
ISBN: 978-0-9958306-2-2
Word Count: 86,400
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
Tagline: “When dawn breaks…”
Book Description:
This was never what I wanted, but fame in the mafia was what I got.
When you see numbers like I can, death becomes a constant threat. It lingers, waiting for you to make one wrong move. One falter.One fatal step out of line. The endless presence will drain you, layering you with guilt and regret. Until one day, you’re covered in blood. And in that moment, you realize… you’ve become the grim reaper yourself.
Nothing could stop me from saving my little sister. Nothing could weaken me… until my boss threw a blonde slave at my feet. Once I found out who she was, I should have wanted her dead.
But I had a bad habit of breaking the rules.
And I loved that she hated me.
Like a stupid man named Romeo, I fell for the daughter of the feuding family. Like an idiot named Juliet, she didn’t try to run.
And when I fell for the fair maiden, I shook a pair of dice. I smoked a cigarette, but she paid the final price. As I offered her a smile, my venom filled her core. I watched her drink my poison as her soul walked out the door.
Chapter 1 Excerpt
I carved the next X into the concrete wall of my cell,
stashed away in the depths of somewhere much like hell. If my tallies were
accurate, it was Wednesday again today; my
twenty-first day of captivity
.
Dried blood was splattered on the concrete flooring of
my new home. Some of the red was undoubtedly mine, but many other droplets were
evidence of prior struggles. The dried handprints along the walls were telling
me the stories of many other slaves before me. All in a row, our bloody prints
depicted a painting of a morbid reality. My handprint was the last in line.
Three weeks had passed since I’d tasted more than
blood and saltine crackers. Three weeks had passed since I’d showered, turned
eighteen, and had then said goodbye to my freedom forever. Three weeks had
passed since the thugs had given me my first tattoo. And now, whether I managed
to escape from this prison or not, a barcode would mark me indefinitely.
My identification number was 40347. I had memorized
the digits within moments of staring at the unwanted code on my right wrist. I
had memorized everything right down to the dirty needle. My barcode had become
infected now, just like I’d anticipated it would, leaving me certain of one
detail; whoever chose to abuse me would consequently become infected with
whatever diseases I had. For participating in such a masochistic scheme, it
would serve the motherfucker(s) right.
My friends had been with me that night during spring
break. We’d been out celebrating my eighteenth birthday on the grass down by
the marina. Since most of us were attending different colleges come fall,
inevitably vanishing from each other’s lives one by one, we’d made a pact to
make good use of the time we had left together. Little did any of us know, when
I had insisted I was fine to make the short walk home alone that night, it
would be the last time they would ever see me.
I pressed my ear to the cell door. A slab of closed
steel was blocking my only exit, making it difficult to hear the voices
chattering in the distance. It wasn’t until the men footed closer that I
managed to make their words out. Once I could, I wished I couldn’t.
“Rows of whores…” The voice sounded like the man I had
woken up to on my first day of captivity. “But it’s that blonde bitch who
caught my eye. Once Garciez finds out who she is, the white girl will be dead
within hours.”
I stared at the mats in my blonde hair, suddenly wishing
I’d been born a brunette. This week had been the absolute worst so far. My
hallucinations had kicked into overdrive, a cause of low blood sugar and
dehydration. But in this moment, I was aware of my fever. Another few days,
maybe even just hours, I wasn’t confident my sanity would still prevail.
I wanted to believe this was just a nightmare. I hoped
I was in a parallel universe, in a hospital bed, maybe even in a coma. I prayed
this was just a sick plot my unconscious had stirred up. That all seemed better
than this reality; the reality where an ice-cold floor was my new home.

 

I didn’t have much to compare being locked in
captivity to, but I’d seen movies of this type of thing. In Hollywood, the lead
female always gets rescued. A timidly sweet girl generally plays the role,
perfect in all the right areas. Unlike her, I was far from timid and even
further from perfect. I carried a chip on my shoulder; a chip that only came
from nearly dying of cancer.
About the Author:
Skyla Murphy is a highland junkie from West Coast, Canada. When she’s not searching the Rocky Mountains for Sasquatch, she can be found researching every other conspiracy theory known to mankind. Her Yorkshire Terrier is usually clung to her side, but he doesn’t buy into her philosophies much. Therefore, she writes about them instead.

 

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Looking for Trouble (Nashville U #1) by Stacey Mosteller

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Looking for Trouble
Stacey Mosteller
(Nashville U #1)
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

She’s:

Uptight

Sheltered

Allergic to fun

He’s:

Cocky

Crude

Unapologetic

He’s all dirty jokes and curse words, while she’s quiet and shy. She blends into the background, while he is the center of everyone’s attention.

Clay Mitchell never expected to fall in love. Especially not with a girl he’s known all his life and one who’s always been off-limits.

Opposites might attract, but in this case of explosive chemistry, someone’s heart is bound to be shattered.

As enemies become friends and friends morph into more; Clay has definitely met his match.

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On sale for 99¢ for a limited time only!

EXCERPT:

Kat

Before I can get my equilibrium, his mouth brushes mine, so light I almost think I imagined it. I gasp, my back arching and bringing our bodies closer together. The contact makes him gasp too, and our mouths touch once more. This time, his tongue darts out to trace along my bottom lip. My arms tighten further as he presses the top half of his body against mine.

Reality intrudes, and I wonder, should we be doing this? Is this what I want? Then, Clay’s tongue touches mine and every thought in my head evaporates. Unable to focus on anything but the sensation of his tongue exploring my mouth, tangling with my own before he retreats. I automatically follow him, tasting the inside of his for the first time. If someone had told me that the first Mitchell boy I would kiss would be Clay, I would have laughed in their face. But, here I am, Clay’s hands on the bed, on either side of my head, his arms taut as they hold him above me.

The kiss deepens, and Clay’s body moves as he toes off his shoes before climbing up on the bed to hover above me. My legs fall open, letting him move between them. His body lowers onto mine and now we’re touching from head to groin, his erection against the part of me that clenches at the feel of him pressing into me.

Clay’s mouth leaves mine, traveling along my jaw until he gets to my ear where he sucks the lobe into his mouth, biting down gently. My arms go lax at the exquisite feeling, sliding down the side of his neck until my hands find purchase on his shoulders. He tugs a final time on my ear before his mouth moves lower to press a kiss just behind it. My nails dig into his shirt and his body shudders above mine, prompting a delicious feeling between my legs.

Before I can register the motion, he rises up on his knees, grips the back of his t-shirt in one hand and pulls it over his head. He drops it over the side of the bed and pulls me up to a sitting position to grip mine by the hem. Pulling it slowly over my head, he drops it down as well, leaving me clad in only bra, jeans and panties. Clay’s eyes travel from the top of my head to my breasts, where they hesitate for only a few seconds before his hands slide along the sides of my face, tunneling through my hair to tip my head to the side. His mouth descends on mine, and he thrusts his tongue back inside my mouth, more forcefully than before.

This kiss is totally out of my control. His hands on my face move it from side to side until I’m in the position he wants me in. Clay’s mouth is greedy, and he presses it harder against mine until I’m lying back against his pillows. All I can feel is the sensation of his mouth on mine, his bare chest touching my almost bare one. It makes me long for more. I arch my back, struggling to undo the clasp of my bra awkwardly with one hand. Noticing what I’m doing, he takes one hand from my face and runs it down my arm and around to where I’m struggling with the clasp. It takes him less than a second to undo, and then he uses both hands to slide the straps down my arms.

 

Author Bio:

Stacey is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of Second Chances and Shadows of the Past (co-authored with H.M. Ward), the Nashville Nights, Two Sisters and Nashville U series (coming late 2015 from Swoon Romance).

She is also a wife, mother, writer and self-professed bookwhore – not necessarily in that order! As the mother of three growing boys, her Kindle has become her temporary escape from the insanity of boys, dogs and her husband. Stacey can usually be found curled up with her iPad when she’s supposed to be writing or creating endless Spotify playlists!

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