Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Risky Groom


  The Risky Groom by Carly Morgan

 A football player and the woman who got away! How much would you bet on true love this holiday season? The generous and seriously hot, Dalton Ruff, wide receiver for the Denver Storm, has had a rough twenty-four hours. Spending time in jail with his teammates a week for Christmas wasn’t on his to do list. But after fellow player and good friend, Will Kent bets him that he can’t find, date, and kiss the woman who got away, he accepts the challenge. The beautiful and talented, Lydia Landon is newly relocated to the quaint town of Port St. Austen. The fact that it happens to be her ex boyfriend, Dalton’s, hometown doesn’t bother her at all, until she runs smack into his naked chest on the beach and then finds herself at his brother’s house having dinner with his family. When Dalton asks her to go out with him again, she tells him no because there’s NO way they could ever work out. But when he shows up to help out with the Christmas program she’s in charge of…she remembers how determined he is. After exploring a cave of sea creatures together, unexpectedly discovering the secret acts of service Dalton was doing for a family down on their luck, and finding herself being comforted in Dalton’s arms when she’s attacked by a dangerous stalker, Lydia can’t help but find herself falling for him all over again. Now they have to make a choice, let the problems of the past keep them apart or give the ultimate sacrifice and get everything they ever wanted.

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Praise for The Risky Groom This is a refreshing and thoughtful love story with characters that will just steal your heart and lift your spirits with their journey towards true love.


Wreath Between the Lines (A Cookbook Nook Mystery) by  Daryl Wood Gerber


About the Book

Cozy Mystery 7th in Series 
Beyond the Page (November 8, 2018) 
Print Length: 221 pages 

The Agatha Award–winning author of Pressing the Issue returns to the Cookbook Nook, where Jenna Hart is busy decking the halls and ducking a killer . . .
The holidays are Jenna Hart’s favorite time of year, but just as she’s decorating the Cookbook Nook for all the festive events, her imperious older sister makes a surprise visit, anxious that her husband’s been more naughty than nice. To make matters worse, her father’s good friend Jake shows up on her doorstep with a frantic report that his friend has been murdered—trussed with Christmas lights and impaled with a tree star.
Worried that Jake was the intended victim, Jenna makes a list of suspects and checks it twice. Swapping her Santa’s hat for a sleuthing cap, she gets busy investigating Jake’s long-lost sister, his Grinch of a neighbor, and a stamp collector who covets Jake’s most treasured piece. When Jake himself is poisoned and nearly dies, Jenna knows she’ll have to do whatever it takes to corner the culprit before it’s lights out for Jake . . .
Includes tantalizing holiday recipes!

WREATH BETWEEN THE LINES is the seventh book in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series by Daryl Wood Gerber but can be read by itself and enjoyed. 
Ah, the holidays, with all the activity and wondrous plans and family gatherings. 
Will everything fall into place as you dream? 
Besides the members of the Cookbook Nook , who are one sort of family, and changes happening in their lives, owner Jenna Hart’s biological family shows up to take part in the festivities. There are secrets creating tension below the happy surface which either have to be pushed down deeper or brought to light when there is a murder in town. Jenna and her niece set out to unravel clues.

Wonderful characters populate this charming town and the creative shops.
Romance still seems to be trying to a happily ever after for several couples.
Family plays a strong role in this holiday themed cozy.

About the Author

DARYL WOOD GERBER writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mystery series featuring a cookbook store owner who is an avid reader and admitted foodie, set on the coast of California. 
 As AVERY AAMES, she pens the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series featuring a cheese shop owner amateur sleuth, set in the fictional town of Providence, Ohio. 
Daryl’s short stories have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and other awards. 
Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl has appeared in “Murder, She Wrote” and more.

Author Links
  Visit Daryl or Avery “They” blog on as well as
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  Avery’s Blog –
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  Killer Characters –
  Facebook: Daryl
  Facebook: Avery
  Twitter: @AveryAames @DarylWoodGerber
  Goodreads: Daryl Wood Gerber
  Goodreads: Avery Aames

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  November 8 – The Book's the Thing - REVIEW, RECIPE GUEST POST
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  November 10 – Here's How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
  November 11 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Vampire's Embrace

Vampire's Embrace

Vampire Queen Series 15

by  Joey W. Hill



Nina's twin sister Sher has been groomed to be an Inherited Servant since she
was six years old. At twenty-eight, she will be given to a vampire of the Council's
choosing and serve him up to 300 years. While Sher insists that Nina is no less
service-oriented than herself, Nina does not see any correlation between her
own desire to pursue a career as a nurse and her sister's to be the slave of a
blue-blooded vampire, where she is allowed no will or dreams of her own.
It's 1941 and Nina signs up to serve with the Australian Army Nurses Service in
Singapore. What happens to her when the city falls to the Japanese will shatter
Nina all the way to the soul. But fate seems determined to give her more than
she can bear. When her sister dies in a car crash, Nina is informed that she must
take her place as an InhServ. She will be given to Lord Alistair, a vampire who
sees Nina as his property, to do with as he pleases.
Even as she rages against her fate, she is baffled at Alistair's insistence on
having her as his servant. Especially when the Council offers the Queensland
Region Master the option of another InhServ with all the proper training to
support his political needs. But that's not the most confusing thing about her new
Master. The ways in which he commands her surrender to him leads her to a
terrifyingly different understanding of her will and her dreams. By binding herself
to him, can she become whole again, but in a way she never expected?

Buy Links


About the Author

Winner of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award, Joey W. Hill has
published almost fifty contemporary and paranormal BDSM erotic romances, including
six series. Her emotionally-intense love stories offer everything from vampires,
mermaids, witches and angels, to boardroom executives, cops and simple
housemaids. With her books, she hopes readers won’t “look past the sex,” but instead
will “look within it,” and find a story that can touch not just the body, but also the heart
and soul.

Website & Social Media Links:
Twitter: @JoeyWHill
Facebook: JoeyWHillAuthor
Facebook Fan site: JWHMembersOnly
GoodReads: author/show/103359.Joey_W_Hill
Pinterest: jwhill23
Free novellas revisiting my characters:


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Yeast of Eden

Yeast of Eden
A Pancake House Mystery #4
by Sarah Fox

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Pub Date: 10/30/2018 

In USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox’s delicious new Pancake House Mystery, it’s up to Marley McKinney to discover the waffle truth behind a rival’s murder . . .

Winter has come to Wildwood Cove, and riding in on the chill is Wally Fowler. Although he’s been away for years, establishing his reputation as the self-proclaimed Waffle King, the wealthy blowhard has returned to the coastal community to make money, not friends—by pitting his hot and trendy Waffle Kingdom against Marley McKinney’s cozy pancake house, The Flip Side. Wally doesn’t see anything wrong in a little healthy competition, until he’s murdered in his own state-of-the art kitchen.
Marley isn’t surprised when the authorities sniff around The Flip Side for a motive, but it’s her best friend Lisa who gets grilled, given her sticky history with the victim. When a second murder rocks the town, it makes it harder than ever for Marley to clear Lisa’s name. Marley’s afraid that she’s next in line to die—and the way things are looking, the odds of surviving her investigation could be stacked against her.

Marley McKinney doesn't know the self proclaimed Waffle King who has come to town, but it seems plenty of others do. None of them are happy about his return. While it seems his wish is to drive the Flip Side out of business with showy modern techniques, Marley isn't worried about her loyal customers leaving her. However when the waffle king ends up face down in the batter, the Flip Side's chef and Marley's best friend, Lisa, are both prime suspects.
There are also some family themes explored in this book, as Brett is dealing with his father's heart attack and Marley discovers journals from a relative who disappeared amongst scandal many years before. I was really interested in that secondary investigation.

All around a well enjoyed addition to this delightful series.
Sarah Fox is the author of the Music Lover's Mystery series and the USA Today bestselling Pancake House Mystery series. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer, she can often be found reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel. Sarah lives in British Columbia and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

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Miss Management

Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.
Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.
Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.
Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.
Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.


First Chapter Reveal: Miss Management by Traci Highland @tracihighland

Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.
Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.
Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.
Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.
Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.



First Chapter
Nothing says Happy Friday like having Mr. Roth dribble crackers and sing La Cucaracha.  Nothing.
“Great job!  But let’s make sure to give those crackers an exaggerated swallow before the next stanza.  All right?”  I grab the paper cloth from the box and give his chin a wipe.
He stares at me with rheumatic eyes, pushing his whole damn heart into his smile.
“Your smile always makes my day, Mr. Roth.”  I pick the last remnant of saltine out of his gray stubble and throw the paper towel into the garbage.  When Mr. Roth first came to see me, the stroke had paralyzed the left side of his face.  The paralysis had diminished somewhat and now he can do things like smile.  And sing.  Sort of.
At least we fixed the swallowing.  That’s a biggie.  He exhales a barely audible bar of his favorite song and I join him.  “Make it louder for me!  La cucaracha!  La cucaracha!  Ya no puede caminar…”
His smile widens and his voice rises, like a phoenix, dammit.  That asshat Dr. Robbins said he’d never speak again.  And here Mr. Roth is, six months later, singing.
Days like this, I love my job.  Just as we’re about to finish up our session, Dolly pokes her head in the door. “I’m sorry, Mags, but Dr. Robbins says you’re going to have to keep it down.”
“Tell him to shut his damn door.”  That man exists to be the pain in my neck.  You know the pain, the one you wake up with every morning and no amount of Advil can kill?  That one.
“Was I too loud?”  Mr. Roth asks, worry crossing his cherubic, drooly face.
“No, angel.  Not a bit.  You’re a rock star and I’m damn proud of you.” One day I am going to open my own clinic, so naysayers like Dr. Robbins can learn to shut the hell up.
Dr. Robbins, the asshat, runs the clinic. So naturally, he feels that everything in the office is his, too, like, you know, the pretty nurses and speech pathologists that he employs.
Grabbing Mr. Roth’s arm, I help him with his jacket.  Dolly clicks the pen in her hand like it’s a hand grenade.  On off, on off, on off.
“Stop it,” I hiss to her as I grab Mr. Roth’s gloves.  “Now keep practicing those scales we talked about and I’ll see you next week.”
He squeezes my hand and then says to Dolly, “She’s a saint, this one.  A regular saint.”
His r’s don’t come out quite right but hey, it’s a work in progress.
The second he’s out the door, I walk over to the nurses’ station and pull up the electronic records on my next patient. I haul on down to room number six, where Mr. Earle is waiting for me to re-adjust his tracheal tube.
I reach for the handle and I’m blindsided by Susie, the intern.  She’s the best kind of intern, hard-working and wicked smart, and rather pretty in a cute, slightly disheveled kind of way.  She’s shaking as she bumps into me, wiping tears from her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” There can be lots of things wrong when you’re twenty-one.  Hormones and boozing and all that, but this looks… different.
“Nothing, I’m fine. Tracheal tube, right?”  She straightens her Hello Kitty scrubs and adjusts the chunky black-rimmed glasses, making sure the floating strands of pinkish hair stay behind her ears.
I open my mouth but the words just sort of dry up.  Sometimes, it’s best just to leave it.  She knows I’m here—prodding would be rude, right?  Let her tell me when she’s ready, or not, her choice.  Besides, I’m running behind.
Susie and I wrestle Mr. Earle’s tube back where it belongs and the second we finish and leave the room, Susie’s face pales.
Dr. Robbins is standing in the hall, blocking the path between where we stand and the nurses’ station.
He looks up at Susie and gives her a grin that turns my stomach into a rolling pool of bile and fire. His yellowish, crooked teeth and greasy hair make him look more like a Goodfellas reject than a doctor.  But hey, it could just be that I’m biased because he told me once that he hired me for my boobs.
Not my stellar resume.  Not my incredible grades that I worked by butt off to earn, but because he liked my boobs.
I wanted to quit right then and there.  To stand up and shout and sue and do all those noble things I would tell my sisters to do if they were in the same situation.
But yeah, I had just gotten divorced and needed the job.  Nothing like having to buy your cheating ex out of half of your own damn house.
So the words disappeared and I sort of just resorted to sending politely worded emails, like “Please remember to interact with the staff in a professional manner.” And “I believe we are due for the state-mandated sexual harassment prevention course.  Can I sign us up?”
Susie freezes beside me.  Her cheeks turn to scrambled eggs and she grabs my hand.  “Don’t let him touch me again.”  She whispers.
Again?  Touch her?  My vision blurs.  Like actually blurs as he walks towards us.  That creep. That stupid, sexist creep.  He touched her?  She’s just a child.  Mostly.  Practically.  Hell, it doesn’t matter how old she is!  He’s a monster.
Dr. Robbins sidles over and his snakelike tongue pokes in and out of his mouth as his eyes roam over Susie.  “Susan, do you know where the canned peaches are?  I need to use them for a videofluoroscopy this afternoon.”  He leans in closer to her and she clenches my hand as his chili taco breath assaults us. “Maybe you can show me in the supply closet?”
She shakes like a shake weight in those cheesy late-night infomercials.  “No.” Her voice is barely above a whisper, but I can hear her just fine.
He, however, moves closer.  “Stop,” I say.  As usual, my words do nothing. No one listens, dammit.  Again and again and again I’ve asked him to stop doing this.
“Stop,” I say again, louder.
He just moves on in closer, like I’m nothing more than a lamp.
That’s when I see it.  He reaches down and grabs her ass.  She jumps and he smiles.  “Get off.”  She hisses but he doesn’t listen, he never listens.  He cups her whole cheek now, grinning.
I punch him in the face.
His head slams back, blinking like, well, like I just punched him in the face.
Oh crap.
Did I really just punch my boss in the face?
My fingertips chill and my hand aches.
I didn’ttell me I didn’t.
Susie gasps, her hands covering her mouth and a look of unadulterated panic in her eyes. My throat tightens.
Oh my God, I totally did.
“She asked you to stop.” It’s the only thing that leaves my mouth in a somewhat coherent fashion.
He narrows his eyes, a large red bump creeping across his smarmy face. “You hit me!”
Susie, her jaw now on the ground, looks at me. Her eyes are wide and frightened like a deer’s.  Her voice is flat when she says, “You punched him.”
I kind of hate deer.
“Yes!  Yes, I see that.  You’re fine, right, Dr. Robbins?  You should have stopped.  We all know you can’t go around grabbing asses like they’re doorknobs. But you just kept grabbing and squishing it around so I had to, had to—“
“You’re fired.”  He growls.
“You can’t!”
“Get out, Miss Anderson.  Get out now before I call the police.”
Well, damn.

Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies.  She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University.  She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams.  Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.
Her latest book is the romantic comedy, Miss Management.



Monday, November 12, 2018

SHORE by Enrique Rosado

Fatal Agreements

FATAL AGREEMENTS by Ashley Fontainne, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, 449 pp., $15.99 (paperback) $3.99 (kindle)

Author: Ashley Fontainne
Publisher: RMSW Press
Pages: 449
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Whispered rumors tickled the ears of the residents of an entire town for decades about the disturbing secrets of the old Halstead House, dating all the way back to the early 1920s. Most people didn’t believe them. Several people will soon discover they should have listened.

Three years after struggling to cope with the death of her beloved father and escaping an abusive relationship, Samantha Chapman decides it’s time to return to her hometown of Hot Springs. She buys the ramshackle Halstead House, eager to transform the dilapidated, abandoned piece of history into her new law office and residence, hoping it will be the start of a brighter chapter and a safe haven to escape her personal demons.

Instead of newfound freedom, things take a dark turn when the resurrection of the old home reveals the disturbing secrets hidden within its walls. When youthful transgressions of numerous people come to light, including ones some members of the Chapman family are desperate to contain, it reveals the sins of the past. They collide with the grave mistakes of the present, creating a perfect storm of chaos and death for not only the Chapman family but others as well.

Some will survive.

Others will get burned.

Sam and her loved ones realize some family secrets should have remained buried.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, April 14, 1993
“I HOPE OUR chat made my intentions clear about what I expect from you, Samantha. Another incident like today will force me to contact your parents about your behavior. Again. This is junior high not elementary school. The days of disrupting class are over. Do I make myself clear?”
Biting her lip to keep from saying something nasty, Sam nodded. Rather than look at the irritated, sour face of Principal Townsend, she kept her gaze on her lap. She understood the proper response was “Yes, ma’am,” yet the words wouldn’t form on her lips. She was still too angry to play nice after Ms. Jolly sent her to the office.
The old hag English teacher, one of many in a school overrun with them, should have sent both guilty parties. Sam had no control over someone passing her something during class. Resa should be sitting right next to her, forced to listen to Terrible Townsend’s yammering about following rules and respect.
Sam tried to talk her way out of the situation. The thought of spending more time in detention or listening to yet another lecture from her mother made her mad. She tried to reason with the principal earlier, but it was a waste of time. Sam didn’t understand why she was the only one sent to the office. Resa passed the note to Sam during a pop quiz, not the other way around. Of course, Resa’s actions were sneaky. Sam’s loud argument in class with Ms. Jolly about the existence of the note and the request to produce it earned the trip to Terrible Townsend’s office.
“I can’t hear your head nod, Samantha.”
Raising her gaze, Sam stifled a laugh. Ms. Townsend’s ugly, beady eyes glared back, awaiting the proper response. Eager to escape the office, join Suzy for lunch, and read the note which started the mess, Sam caved. “Yes ma’am.”
“Thank you. You’re excused.”
Jumping to her feet, Sam strode toward the door.
“One more thing before you leave, Samantha.”
Cringing at the false assumption Ms. Townsend would let her go without some sort of punishment, Sam’s fingers wound around the doorknob. Terrible Townsend was fond of handing out detention as though it were Halloween candy. “Yes, Ms. Townsend?”
“When you enter high school, you should enroll on the debate team.”
Shocked by the words, Sam turned around. “Excuse me?”
After removing her glasses, Ms. Townsend stood, smoothing out imaginary wrinkles on her linen dress shirt. “Samantha Chapman, you have a way with words like your sister, though she’s yet to come out of her shyness. You have the command of a room like your parents; a perfect mixture of Big Sam’s joviality and Charmaine’s cool elegance. For a few seconds, you almost swayed me over to see your side of things. Your temper derailed you. It is something you need to work on controlling. I believe you are a natural debater and would make a great litigator someday.”
“Litigator?” Sam had no idea what the term meant.
Coming around from behind the desk, Ms. Townsend smiled, something she rarely did when alone, much less around the student body of Lake Hamilton Junior High. The student’s bright blue eyes were wild with curiosity and a hint of pride. As an educator, Ms. Townsend had seen the look enough times during her career in the public-school system. Samantha Chapman would go places if she learned to corral her mouth.
“Have you ever watched the TV show L.A. Law?”
“No.” Sam wondered where the strange conversation was headed.
“Lawyers who argue cases in front of judges and juries are known as litigators. I think you might be blessed with the raw abilities I mentioned. Don’t waste them. Focus your natural gifts and harness them while taming your tongue. If you do, I assure you great things will happen in your life, not only for you, but for those around you.”
Stunned by the surprising praise, Sam blinked several times before responding. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“Go before you eat lunch too fast. No need for you to get sick.”
Disappearing out the door, Sam headed toward the cafeteria while extracting Resa’s note from the front pocket of her jeans. A hint of smile danced on her lips while thinking about Ms. Townsend, pleased she didn’t hand out any detention. Maybe it was time to give the woman another nickname? She wished her mother would say such nice things; be more complimentary, but the kind words were saved for Suzy only.
Opening the crinkled paper, she paused in the hallway, ignoring the sounds of laughter and clanking of dishes coming from the cafeteria. The aroma of sloppy joes and coleslaw filled the hall, making her mouth water and stomach rumble.
“There you are! Come on, hurry!” Resa’s long fingernails dug into Sam’s forearm. Her blonde, frizzy curls bounced in time with her rapid pace while tugging her friend toward the cafeteria doors.
“What’s going on?”
The paper slipped from Sam’s fingers, flittering to the floor.
Bending over, Resa scooped up the note while continuing to drag Sam toward the doorway. “I tried to warn you when overhearing Kathy and Tanya planning it out in first period. I begged them not to do it, but Kathy wouldn’t listen. Hurry up because he’s started! Kip’s at her table!”
“Started what?”
“Kathy’s game. Suzy’s today’s victim.”
Yanking her arm away, Sam stopped inches from the double metal doors leading to the cafeteria. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. He plans on flirting with Suzy before asking her to the Spring Fling dance loud enough for everyone to hear the words before he…”
“Oh, shit!” Sam’s pulse quickened.
Kathy Poole was known for insensitive pranks. Even the slightest annoyance like bumping into her in the hallway was justifiable cause to be in her crosshairs.
Pushing Resa aside, she peered around the doors. Kip Hale sat on the edge of the table, peering down at Suzy, his smile fake and movements practiced. Suzy’s blue eyes were laser-locked on Kip’s tan, gorgeous face, mesmerized as though the boy cast some sort of hypnotic spell over her love-struck mind.
Sam spotted Kathy Poole, Tanya Reynolds and the rest of the cheer team three tables over, hands covering their mouths as bouts of laughter made their bodies shudder. Sam didn’t care for any of the snotty cheerleaders, yet she despised Kathy Poole. Tanya and the others were mindless followers—Kathy was the mean ringleader.
Every single student at Lake Hamilton Junior High understood head cheerleader Kathy Poole claimed track star Kip Hale as her own, including Sam’s twin sister, Suzy, who had a massive crush on the hunk.
The “game” would break Suzy’s love-stricken heart. Suzy tried out for next year’s squad and made it, beating out one of Kathy’s friends.
Shoving her books into Resa’s hands, Sam scowled. “If you’re the one who blabbed about Suzy’s feelings toward Kip, I’ll whip your ass next.”
Resa said nothing so Sam ran to Suzy’s aide.
The din of laughter from the boisterous students disappeared after they let out a collective gasp while watching Sam race across the floor, her unruly coppery hair flapping behind her like fluttering flames.
Kip’s devious smile vanished as Sam barreled toward him.
Suzy turned her head at the commotion.
The flush of embarrassment made Suzy’s normally pale cheeks vibrant burgundy. The smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheekbones disappeared. A trail of wet tears spilled from her sister’s eyes, rolling down the red cheeks in a steady stream.
“What an idiot! I can’t believe she fell for it! Like Kip would ever take her ugly ass on a date or to the Spring Fling dance! She looks like Bozo’s kid!”
The snickers from Kathy’s table ignited Sam’s fuse. She balled up her fist, never slowing her pace.
Kip stood, holding his hands out in mock surrender. “Hey, it was a joke…”
She never let him finish the sentence. The sound and feel of her fist smashing into his face made her own devious smirk appear even though the impact hurt like hell.
Kip flew backward, head grazing the edge of the table behind him. He landed with a loud thump on the stained tile floor.
Kathy stopped laughing as blood squirted from in between her boyfriend’s fingers. “You crazy bitch! Look what you did to him!”
“I’m not finished yet.”
Sam turned the focus of her rage on Kathy, splitting her lip before the faculty swooped in to intervene. The metal braces on the girl’s teeth ripped open her knuckles. She didn’t care. Wrapping her fingers around a wad of thick, brown hair, Sam yanked, ripping out a large chunk.
Ms. Townsend arrived, pulling the girls apart as another teacher helped Kip to his feet.
Kathy sobbed on the floor.
“My office, all of you! Now. Looks like our little chat earlier fell upon deaf ears, Samantha.”
Glaring at Ms. Townsend, Sam yanked her arm from the woman’s grip. “They deserved it, trust me. No one messes with my sister. No one.”


HOURS LATER, EARS ringing from her mother’s yelling, Sam stared at the ceiling while Suzy finished brushing her teeth in the bathroom. Ms. Townsend suspended her for three days, which ended up getting her grounded for three weeks. She didn’t care. The punishment was worth it because Kathy, Kip, and Tanya were suspended as well. She won her argument this time with Ms. Townsend.
After Resa showed the note to the principal, their plan in black and white doomed them. Less than twenty minutes after the battle in the cafeteria, several students humiliated by the trio in the past came forward. Once they spilled their stories, Kip was kicked off the track team, Kathy and Tanya stripped of being cheerleaders, and they all received a week’s suspension.
A soft knock on the bedroom door made Sam smile. Suzy slammed the bathroom door shut.
“Hey slugger. I brought some ice for your hand.”
“Thanks, Daddy.” Sam noticed the gleam in his baby blue eyes. It looked like he had some new grays, making his fading auburn hair shimmer under the overhead light. “Does this mean you aren’t mad at me anymore?”
Easing down on the edge of the bed, Big Sam smiled after handing the ice pack to his daughter. “Your ma’s the one who’s got her feathers all ruffled. Not me. I’m a preening peacock. You stood up for your kin when the bullies attacked. I’m proud of you.”
Sam’s mouth dropped open. “You are? Why didn’t you say something when Mom was tearing into me?”
“Because over the years, I learned when to try and battle your ma and when to let her have the reins and run amok. Tonight, I picked the latter.”
After resituating the ice pack, Sam asked, “When my grounding’s over, may I start watching L.A. Law on Thursday nights?”
Big Sam raised an inquisitive brow. “Fine by me but TV ain’t my preferred entertainment choice. You know your ma watches Knots Landing on Thursday nights. Good luck convincing her to give up her nighttime soaps. Why the sudden interest?”
Sam shrugged her shoulders. “I’m thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. Being a lawyer sounds like fun.”
Ruffling the mop of dark auburn curls on his daughter’s head, Big Sam smiled. “You can be anything you want, darling daughter. Put your mind to it and stay focused. I’m behind you, and your sister, one-hundred percent with whatever career choices picked.”
Yanking the door open, Suzy stormed out of the bathroom and jumped into bed. “I hope you aren’t letting her off the hook, Daddy. What she did was wrong.”
Sam gaped at her sister.
Big Sam chuckled, rising to his feet. He found it rather amusing the twins looked identical yet had polar-opposite personalities. One’s attitude was courtesy of his wife, and the other was more in tune with his laid-back style.
He sensed an epic battle looming between his girls. “Well, enough raging estrogen for one day. Time for me to retire to the back porch with a good book and cigar. Try not to leave marks on each other or make a mess, girls. Love you both.”
Neither sister spoke for a full minute after their father left. Sam sensed Suzy’s anger from the across the dark room. She couldn’t fathom why in the world her twin was mad at her instead of the mean kids at school.
“You ruined my life.”
“My turn to talk, Sam! You did enough gabbing all day, and when talking didn’t work, you acted like a boxer. Don’t stick your nose into my personal life again. Ever. I’ll handle things on my own. You may not mind being a social outcast, but I do, so butt out.”
Stung by the harsh words, Sam remained quiet. Suzy had never, ever, spoken to her like that before. For thirteen years they were consumed by the tight, twin bond between them. Silent tears trickled from her eyes, soaking the pillowcase while fuming over the day’s events.
Streaks of lightning lit up their bedroom, followed by a crack of thunder so loud their beds shook. Sam was terrified of storms and Suzy knew it. Closing her eyes, she counted to ten, waiting for her sibling to come snuggle next to her like she always did when thunderstorms came.
Suzy never moved a muscle.
When the second boom rattled the bed, Sam’s eyes popped open. “Are you…?”
“No, I’m not. Deal with your fears while I handle mine.”
Sam sensed things would never be right between them. The knowledge made her sad and angry at the same time. She did nothing wrong and yet was being treated as though she did.
She wouldn’t grasp until many years later the devastating effects of the day’s incident, and how her actions to protect her sister would end up being the downfall of her entire family.

Ashley Fontainne writes in multiple genres ranging from mystery/thrillers to suspenseful paranormal to dark comedy. The recipient of numerous awards for her gritty, no-holds barred style of writing, her stories will captivate and pull you inside the lives of her characters and intricate plot lines.

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