“Fractured Wings” by C.R. Lemons #ReleaseBlitz


 

Title: Fractured Wings

Authors: C. R. Lemons

Genre: Adult, Psychological Thriller

Published: November 7, 2017

Page Count: 220 Pages

Just when the time has come to spread your wings and fly on your own, life has other plans and anchors you to the ground…

Alex Sutherland has lived a charmed, small town life, which has been perfectly mapped out. As a recently engaged law school graduate, she is on the cusp of starting her new life and career in the big city. However, her carefully laid out plan is instantly halted when she is attacked while out for a run on the last day at her childhood home.

Although her physical wounds have healed, she is plagued with constant nightmares and recurring memories of the brutality. At her lowest moment, Alex finds her strongest support from Anthony Gabrielli, the FBI agent in charge of her case. Through his subtle encouragement, she takes steps to reclaiming her prior self, even though her assailant has not been caught. When she discovers she is still being targeted, she decides to face her fears and becomes determined to find out what lurks in the shadows.

This change came over me as I was confronting Danny. It felt good to stand up for myself and express these feelings of anger and despair towards him for what he did, more importantly what he did to me. Now, I yearn to be able to confront my attacker in the same way. I have to find him along with the person responsible, and it is not going to happen with me withering away in my bed. My wings have merely been fractured, and it has taken some time for them to heal. I am on the brink of soaring again, and nothing is going to stop me once I am fully recovered.

“I have such an active imagination and I truly enjoy transcribing it into words. As I am writing, the people, places, and things come to life before me and I completely lose myself. Writing is my meditation. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them. Thank you and happy reading.”

After receiving a degree in paralegal studies, C. R. Lemons was a paralegal for many years until deciding on a career change of currently managing her award-winning, family-owned business.

As a child, she would sneak her mom’s romance novels and lose herself in them. She always had an active imagination and dreamt of sharing it through writing. This dream finally came true with her published catalog… a five novel erotic thriller series, Getting Him Off; her standalone novella, The Mysterious Mr. Blackstone; a collaborative Dom/sub romance novel, Naturally His; and, her two poetry collections, Naughtiness is Contagious, An Orgy of Erotic Poetry, and Poetic Nympho. For the latest list of books by C. R. Lemons, please visit her website at http://www.crlemons.com.

As an erotic thriller novelist, C. R. Lemons is a self-proclaimed occasional naughty poet. Her love of writing started through poetry in her teens. She was inspired to start writing poetry again and found a talent in the erotica.

C. R. Lemons is a native Texan who enjoys her coffee strong, her music rockin’ and her life full of laughter.

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“Gun Shy: A Psychological Thriller” by Lili St. Germain #BlogTour


 

Gun-Shy-iBooks.jpg



A stand alone psychological thriller.
** NOT A ROMANCE **



HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL?

In the middle of a fierce snowstorm in Gun Creek, Nevada, seventeen-year-old Jennifer Thomas disappears without a trace.

The second girl in nine years.

Identical cases. Identical conditions. Only last time, the girl was found. Dead, stuffed in a well beside the creek that feeds the town’s water supply.

The killer was never found.

As the small town mobilizes and searches for newly vanished Jennifer Thomas, one suspect comes to the fore. But did he do it? Or is there something else at play? Something nobody could have anticipated?

For Jennifer’s friend Cassie Carlino, the worst is yet to come. As she pins MISSING posters to store windows and joins the search, she begins to suspect that Jennifer’s disappearance might be much closer to her than she could have ever imagined.


Leo

I visit Jennifer every evening at the diner; she seems to like the attention, and I could use the distraction. I make sure to turn up just before her shift ends, and she gives me a ride home every night. The first night she came over we ended up talking for hours. My mouth hurt by the end, every sense on high alert. I was a gentleman. I didn’t lay a hand on her again, not after she started to talk. She’s in trouble. A lot of trouble. I think it eased her mind to be able to confess to somebody who pretty much wrote the book on trouble in this town.
I mean, there’s not a thing I can do to help the girl. Not unless she tells me who got her into this mess in the first place. “That’s the problem with men,” she said to me when I urged her to give me the name of the guy blackmailing her. “They always jump straight to problem-solving. Men always want to fix everybody.”
“You don’t want to be fixed?” I’d asked her.
“I can fix myself,” she’d replied. “I just need somebody to understand.”
I don’t understand. Her predicament is something I’ve never experienced. But I can listen. I listen to her talk as she drives me home in her shiny new car every night, and it makes me feel less of a fuck-up. I mean, she hasn’t killed anyone. But she’s planning to. And that’s why we’ve found each other. I am a killer and she is ready to spill blood. She is a welcome distraction from my sins, and I am a makeshift altar for her to lay her own sins upon. Because when I’m with Jennifer, I don’t think about Cassie Carlino. I don’t think of Karen Brainard. And, most especially, I don’t think of Teresa King and the way she burned beside me in that car.
* * *
The night Jennifer Thomas disappears is like all the rest. I go to the diner. Order nachos and a Coke. I’m surprised Jennifer is working. It’s Thanksgiving, and the place is deserted. Even Amanda is nowhere to be seen.
“Working on Thanksgiving?” I ask Jennifer, as she slides my food in front of me. She shrugs, that glitter lipgloss catching the light as she moves. “It’s just another day, isn’t it?”
I nod.
“Besides,” she says, “It pisses my dad off. I asked for this shift.”
At ten, I help her to turn out all the lights. I wait beside her as she locks the front doors of the diner, feeling vaguely worried about the fact that somebody left a sixteen year old cheerleader alone to lock up this late at night. I note the lack of video surveillance, the remote location, the fact that everyone is tucked safely inside their houses while Jennifer is alone with a convicted criminal in the dead of night.
Jennifer offers me a ride home, which I accept. Except, instead of driving me straight home like she has done for the past six nights in a row, Jennifer pulls her Range Rover off the road into an uncleared section of pine trees that tower over us. The track is narrow and winding and she doesn’t answer me when I ask her where she’s taking us.
She stops in a small clearing and cuts the lights. The engine is still running. Bits of snow fall outside, slow and bloated in their trajectory toward the ground. Jennifer’s hands are small as they grip the steering wheel; her eyes lit up by the red illumination of the dashboard, making her look almost demonic.
“What are we doing here?” I ask her again.
“I don’t want to go home,” she says staring straight ahead.
“Fair enough,” I reply. I watch her as she struggles to find words. She squirms in her heated leather seat, her nails shiny and perfect, her shoulders sagging under the weight of something I cannot see.
“Do you think I’m pretty?” she asks me in a tiny voice, and she sounds so mouse-like and weak that I almost laugh.
“Do I think you’re pretty?” I echo, feeling a smirk cut its way across my face. “Jennifer, you’re so pretty I could die just from looking at you.”
She rolls her eyes. “You think I’m stupid. You’re just here because you feel sorry for me, Leo.”
I shake my head. “I don’t think you’re stupid. And I’m not here because I feel sorry for you.”
She swallows thickly; I can see the pulse beat nervously in her throat. “Then why are you here?”
“Well, I guess I’m here right now because you just drove us off the road and into the woods.”
“You know what I mean.”
Do, I, though? I sigh. “Because you’re the only person in this town worth talking to who will even look at me.”
She bites her lip and I have the sudden, piercing urge inside my skull to wrap my hands around her throat and drag her onto my lap. That’s some messed up shit. She’s sixteen. Six. TEEN. I’m repeating the number in my head over and over, willing my dick to settle down. I can feel the throb of wanting her in my cock, in the thunderous rush of blood that makes my heart hit my ribcage like the firing of a gun, bang, bang, bang. My need eclipses my rationality. So what if she’s sixteen? She drove into this fucking clearing and licked her lips and asked me if I thought she was pretty.
“Why have you been back to the diner every single night, just as I’m about to get off shift?”
“Umm,” I try. “It’s the only decent place in town?”
She narrows her eyes at me and there’s a fire inside her pupils; it might be below freezing outside, but it’s a billion degrees in here. We’re already fogging up the windows with our breath, and I haven’t even laid a finger on her.
“Liar,” she says. “I want the real reason.”
You’re about to get the real reason, sweetheart. I grip the armrest. I grip it so hard my fingernails ache.
“I’m here because I’m a bad guy, Jennifer.”
“And?”
“Because you’re so pretty I can’t think about anybody else. Because I want to do things to you… that would probably frighten you. Things that might hurt you.”
Her cheeks are flush; her breathing quickens. I haven’t even touched her, and she’s already excited. Or scared. Or both. I want to reach between her thighs and see if it’s lust I’m reading on her face.
“What kinds of things?” she asks.
I cover my face with my hands.  
“What kinds of things?” she repeats, a hand on my shoulder. I let my hands fall into my lap and fix my stare on this girl who should be home with her family, not out here in the dark in the woods and snow with a criminal. I watch in awe as she slides her seat back and reaches her hands up underneath her skirt, tugging a pair of panties down her legs and unhooking them from her heels. She can’t look at me as she hands me a pair of baby blue silk panties with a bow on the front. I grip the underwear in my fist so tight I could tear it to shreds with a single pull, but I don’t rip it. I find the damp spot of arousal in the center of the material and bring it up to my face. I close my eyes. I breathe Jennifer in.
I shouldn’t be here. Not with her. Not like this. I will get out of the car, I decide. I will walk home. I will not touch this girl.
But then, “I promise I won’t tell anyone,” she whispers.
Fuck.
I grab her. I drown her shock out with my mouth. I squeeze her slender neck with my prison-rough palms. I keep my promise and I hurt Jennifer Thomas until I’m sated.
It’s only after when I’m looking at the blank expression on her face, the odd tilt of her neck, the bruises blossoming on her spread thighs, that I understand what I have done.
By then, it’s too late.
The night Jennifer Thomas disappears is like all the rest.
Apart from the way it ends.

Lili writes dark, delicious romance full of love, lust and revenge. Her USA Today Bestselling Gypsy Brothers series focuses on a morally bankrupt biker gang and the young woman who seeks her vengeance upon them. The Cartel series is a trilogy that explores the beginnings of the club, published through HarperCollins.

Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, excellent coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Instagram.

She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.
Author Links

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“Gun Shy: A Psychological Thriller” by Lil St. Germain #ReleaseBlitz 18+


 

Gun-Shy-iBooks.jpg



A stand alone psychological thriller.



HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL?

In the middle of a fierce snowstorm in Gun Creek, Nevada, seventeen-year-old Jennifer Thomas disappears without a trace.

The second girl in nine years.

Identical cases. Identical conditions. Only last time, the girl was found. Dead, stuffed in a well beside the creek that feeds the town’s water supply.

The killer was never found.

As the small town mobilizes and searches for newly vanished Jennifer Thomas, one suspect comes to the fore. But did he do it? Or is there something else at play? Something nobody could have anticipated?

For Jennifer’s friend Cassie Carlino, the worst is yet to come. As she pins MISSING posters to store windows and joins the search, she begins to suspect that Jennifer’s disappearance might be much closer to her than she could have ever imagined.


Cassie
I am a girl with a darkness inside me.

Carefully placed. Cleverly concealed.

A darkness that could devour you.

One hand on a cold pane of glass, watching the snow fall outside. It’s pitch-black out here, far away from bright city lights. You can’t see a goddamned thing. You can only feel fingers digging into your hips, hot and insistent, a tug of hair, a smack of skin, and the snowflakes as they fall through the weak pool of light that the porch light illuminates below. And the pain. He’s not gentle when he uses me to satisfy his want.
I think he likes it like this, up on the bed, against the window, as if somebody might see. But nobody could ever possibly see. It’s too dark. No streetlights. No houses for a clear half-mile in every direction.

Just us, and the silence, and the darkness.

And the snowflakes, steady as they fall, through that yellow beam below.

You could never count them all. One blink and you’d miss some. One sharp stab of pain that drives your face into the mattress, and you’d miss plenty.

And that’s the point, I suppose. You keep counting. You watch the snow fall, and you count every snowflake your eyes can catch until it’s finally over.

* * *

The darkness wasn’t always there. I was bright and shiny once. There was no tarnish at my edges, no very bad thing that existed inside me. I had a mother, and a boyfriend, and a life. I was loved. I had plans and goals and aspirations.

One moment and they were all gone.

I know what you’ll think after you hear my story.
You’ll think I went mad when I saw Leo being burned alive, or when I gazed down at my comatose mother in the hospital after, as words like brain swelling and head-on collision drifted through the air, meant for me but headed somewhere beyond.

Or maybe, maybe, you’ll think it was during that first time, on the kitchen floor, a tangle of limbs, palm pressed against desperate lips, fingers squeezing wrists until it felt like they would snap.

And every time I’ll tell you, you are wrong. That, even as I cried in the aftermath of his sudden interest in me, I still was a girl without a black coal heart.

I can tell you the exact moment the darkness burrowed in to stay. I imagine it like some filthy worm, coming up from the earth, chewing a neat circle in my skin and wriggling in. Finding that hollow space beneath my heart, in my ribcage, and curling up. Sated. Satisfied. Warm. I feel it sometimes when I’m frightened, and my heart won’t slow down. It beats like crazy like a machine gun with the trigger locked on. I can’t breathe. My vision tunnels. In those moments, I imagine the worm, how happy it must be, how comfortable within my fragile chest.

It’s strange how you know something has happened, even if you can’t remember it.
When you wake up in your bed, and the sheets beneath you are wet, and you haven’t wet the bed since you were little, a three-year-old girl who started to cry because she’d slept through instead of getting up and going to the bathroom.
Eighteen years old, naked, and laying in a cold, wet spot, damp thighs and a bitter taste on your tongue. The taste of a medication you took once after your dad died and you started having nightmares that kept you awake. The bitter pill that your mother crushed into a glass of milk for you, the one that knocked you under and held you there in a chokehold, so that you could still see the nightmares in your sleep, but could no longer wake up from them. It was terrifying then, and it’s terrifying now. It’s in your mouth and in your nostrils and down the back of your throat and all you can remember is a low voice that says, Finish your milk, Cassandra.

You have been drugged.
Somebody has undressed you, tucked you into your bed, and they have used you. They have left something inside you.
A darkness. A coiled, buzzing midnight that becomes all you’ve ever known.
You don’t like it at first. It frightens you.
The darkness is where nightmares come to life.
But after time goes by, you start to feel differently.

You begin to realize that the darkness you’ve been given is not a burden, but a gift.



Lili writes dark, delicious romance full of love, lust and revenge. Her USA Today Bestselling Gypsy Brothers series focuses on a morally bankrupt biker gang and the young woman who seeks her vengeance upon them. The Cartel series is a trilogy that explores the beginnings of the club, published through HarperCollins.

Lili quit corporate life to focus on writing and so far is loving every minute of it. Her other loves in life include her gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, excellent coffee, Tarantino movies and spending hours on Instagram.

She loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.
Author Links

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“Touched” by Mara White #BlogTour


 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
Does your sister let you touch her, Gemini?
-Barely, but, yes, more than anyone else. I remember even in preschool when the teacher would grab her hand, she’d stare at the spot where their skin connected as if it were an affront to her existence. Just stand there and glare like she wanted to hurt someone.
-Junipera suffers from a rare phobia.
-Please, what does June not suffer from?
-When did she start chasing storms?
-In third grade she started obsessing about the rain. Full blown? I’d say after hurricane Katrina she never looked back. And she didn’t just chase them, June became those wild storms.

Junipera and Gemini Jones, Irish twins born during the month of June, survive a childhood of neglect and poverty by looking out for one another. Destined for a group home, the girls are rescued by a rich aunt and uncle who move them from Northern Minnesota to Fairfield, Connecticut. One sister thrives while the other spins out of control. A violent assault leaves Gemini searching for clues, but what she finds might be questions that are better left unanswered.
Praise for Touched


“Fresh, raw, relevant. TOUCHED slips under your skin with lush prose, unforgettable characters, and a story like no other.”
        -Leylah Attar, New York Times best-selling author


“Hauntingly beautiful and downright emotional, White grabs you by the soul in her latest novel, Touched, and leaves an indelible mark.”
-K. Bromberg, New York Times best-selling author

“Mara White has crafted characters so real and complex, they live and bleed. Watching their story unfold was heartbreaking, beautiful, and riveting. Touched is stunning work.”
    -Nikki Sloane, Best-selling author of the Blindfold Club Series

“Touched is a truly beautiful book. It’s raw, real, and possessing of a quiet poetry.”
        -Emma Scott, Best-Selling author of the Full Tilt Duet

“I can confidently say, without a shred of doubt, that this story and these people will stay with me for the rest of my life. I bow down, Mara White. You wrote a category 5 masterpiece.”
-BB Easton, Bestselling Author

“A phenomenal, mesmerizing and unforgettable masterpiece!
This story blew me away! I cannot put into words how beautiful this story was! Absolutely astonishing! A must read!”
    -The Book Queen

“The writing is voracious and hungry and insatiable. Touched is a story that will devour you as you stuff your face with it. I’m not only touched, I’m digested. Just read it.”
    -Suanne Laqueur, Best-Selling author of the Fish Tales Series

Alaric

Alaric was used to being tossed off, so it didn’t surprise him or especially hurt his feelings when his grandfather passed him on to another group home. Three months had been enough for the old coot. Buyer’s remorse. Maybe driving him to school every day put him over the edge. He took the high road and took in the kid, but then soon realized it was a crazy idea. Too much of a responsibility. Besides, he hated people, let alone a grandson. Alaric was needy and Thorn didn’t do needy.
He did miss the room he’d quickly become attached to. He missed choices for breakfast and the hum of the loud refrigerator. He even kind of missed how his grandfather grunted instead of speaking full words, how he’d catch him studying his face like he was trying to decipher a code. Alaric knew he looked like his father, that the fact both pleased and aggravated his grandfather. A second chance the man didn’t ask for and obviously didn’t want.
Alaric realized he was slipping in his game. He shouldn’t have feelings for a bed or a ceiling after only a few weeks of staying in the same place. The trick was, he’d let himself think it was permanent and allowed himself to believe his home wasn’t going anywhere. Turned out he was half right—his home wasn’t going anywhere, but apparently, he was. Alaric reminded himself that nothing was permanent, change was the only guaranteed constant in life.
The other thing he missed were his nightly summer visits with Gem and June. Even though they pretended not to know each other at school, in the few months he’d been there, June and Gem had snuck over almost every night to watch the television in the garage. They shared snacks and laughs, secrets and intimate moments of fun. Although he’d never hung out with girls before, he’d imagined it would be boring, tedious and maybe even petty. How wrong he was, because Gem and June were electric, their curiosity was infectious, their fearlessness—almost troubling. He was, admittedly, a little bit scared of them. Especially June, whom he’d seen eat a bug, let a spider crawl down her turtleneck, poke a dead cat with a stick and turn it over so they could see the maggots, try a sip of beer from a can someone discarded on the curb, ride Freddy Bullet’s dirt bike down the dirt hill at full speed with her legs held out to the sides, hold her head under water in a bucket of freezing water, touch tongues with a teenager from the middle school who dared her to, drive her mother’s car to the other side of the street for alternate side parking. Phew! He would never challenge June to something he wasn’t readily willing to do. Because June would do it and leave him crying in the dust.
***
Junipera and Gemini turned ten and eleven in June. Alaric was ten in August. Midway through the year, Albert Thorn felt guilty about abandoning his grandson and came back to get him. Alaric was most excited about seeing his neighbors, Gem and June. He felt closer to them than he did his only living relative. Their reunion was spectacular. They smiled so hard their cheeks hurt, eyes dancing with the possibility of another summer spread out before them.
Life wasn’t easy, but they lived it fully and sometimes secretly. Fun was a reality they trusted much more than adults or rules or the surreal transformation that was growing up. If something appeared fun, it carried with it a truth that spoke directly to their hearts. A joke. A puddle to be splashed, a doorbell to be rung and ditched, sidewalk chalk to spell out pastel curse words, the pink heart dotting the I on the word shit, slides to slide upside down and two by two or three if they could fit, wrestling matches to reenact the ones they’d seen on TV—June could do full body slams until purple bruises appeared on her hip bones—they’d gossip and whisper stories from warm lips to ears, candy, costumes, screaming, running, laughing until tears or until June wet her pants. The magic of summer and having friends to share it with; they didn’t take it lightly and reveled in its bewitching yet innocent power.
Alaric would make videos that starred June and Gem. They didn’t reenact stories, he just documented their interactions, the two girls giggling and telling inside jokes, yelling at the television to egg on their favorite characters, fighting over seats or sticks or candy—Alaric found everything they did to be fascinating. He liked to zoom in close on both of their faces, record the flashes of expression and subtle eye movements that informed their unique communication. Once he filmed June outside dancing in the rain. He and Gem stayed in the shelter of the garage overhang while Junipera soaked her white nightgown all the way through. She threw her arms to the sides and spun in circles, tipped her head back and opened her mouth. Thunder crashed around them like the crack of a cosmic whip; purple lightning split through the dark sky making them both jump and cower. June was oblivious.
“Junipera, come back in. It’s dangerous and you’ll get sick,” Gem screamed at her sister.
Alaric panned to her face, which was twisted up in concern, then back out to June, who was laughing openly at the sky in some kind of trance-like rapture. Her feet were covered in mud up to her ankles, her nightgown soaked transparent and advertising her blue underwear. Gem could even see her navel. Greenish lightning zapped through the rapacious clouds and moments later, another clash of thunder shattered their ears. Gem and Alaric bumped shoulders as fear moved them involuntarily. The lightning lit her up in intervals like the glitz of a macabre disco. The vibration of the storm rumbled low in their bellies and when the thunder struck it shook the earth beneath them.
“June, I’m serious. Get back in here!” Gem screamed. Alaric filmed her face, concentrating on her brown eyes filled with panic. “What if she gets hit?” Gem asked him, her palms turned upward in defeat.
“Well, then she’d stop dancing for sure and you and I could go save her.”

AP  new -about the author.jpg

Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.

Author Links

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“Touched” by Mara White #ReleaseBlitz


 

 

 

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
Does your sister let you touch her, Gemini?
-Barely, but, yes, more than anyone else. I remember even in preschool when the teacher would grab her hand, she’d stare at the spot where their skin connected as if it were an affront to her existence. Just stand there and glare like she wanted to hurt someone.
-Junipera suffers from a rare phobia.
-Please, what does June not suffer from?
-When did she start chasing storms?
-In third grade she started obsessing about the rain. Full blown? I’d say after hurricane Katrina she never looked back. And she didn’t just chase them, June became those wild storms.

Junipera and Gemini Jones, Irish twins born during the month of June, survive a childhood of neglect and poverty by looking out for one another. Destined for a group home, the girls are rescued by a rich aunt and uncle who move them from Northern Minnesota to Fairfield, Connecticut. One sister thrives while the other spins out of control. A violent assault leaves Gemini searching for clues, but what she finds might be questions that are better left unanswered.
Praise for Touched


“Fresh, raw, relevant. TOUCHED slips under your skin with lush prose, unforgettable characters, and a story like no other.”
        -Leylah Attar, New York Times best-selling author


“Hauntingly beautiful and downright emotional, White grabs you by the soul in her latest novel, Touched, and leaves an indelible mark.”
-K. Bromberg, New York Times best-selling author

“Mara White has crafted characters so real and complex, they live and bleed. Watching their story unfold was heartbreaking, beautiful, and riveting. Touched is stunning work.”
    -Nikki Sloane, Best-selling author of the Blindfold Club Series

“Touched is a truly beautiful book. It’s raw, real, and possessing of a quiet poetry.”
        -Emma Scott, Best-Selling author of the Full Tilt Duet

“I can confidently say, without a shred of doubt, that this story and these people will stay with me for the rest of my life. I bow down, Mara White. You wrote a category 5 masterpiece.”
-BB Easton, Bestselling Author

“A phenomenal, mesmerizing and unforgettable masterpiece!
This story blew me away! I cannot put into words how beautiful this story was! Absolutely astonishing! A must read!”
    -The Book Queen

“The writing is voracious and hungry and insatiable. Touched is a story that will devour you as you stuff your face with it. I’m not only touched, I’m digested. Just read it.”
    -Suanne Laqueur, Best-Selling author of the Fish Tales Series

 

 

Kettling, Minnesota
1985


If she lined her spine up perfectly with the porch railing, she could balance. One leg on the porch, the toe of her sneaker just touching, the other dangling maybe two feet above the scraggly grass and the house’s foundation. Her view when she rested her head all the way back was half of the porch roof overhang and half of a deceptively sunny blue sky that wasn’t as warm as it pretended. Still, she wore shorts and a t-shirt with a stretched-out neckline. Some other kid’s faded camp shirt, found at the Goodwill, advertising a canoe ride Gem never in her life got to go on.
Fuck them. Who cared? She didn’t want their stupid camp anyway.
It was summer and Gem wasn’t going anywhere except to the front porch, the creek, the gas station for candy and maybe to the lake to swim if she were lucky. Her sister June wouldn’t be going either. But June had Maggie and Maggie’s mom Charlene who was generous and responsible; she’d pick June up and bring her over to their house for the day, feed her, and sometimes even give her clothes.
Smack!
Gem struck a mosquito on her exposed thigh. Her legs were bruised. Scabs decorated her knees like a relief map, little brown islands on a white sea of skin.
Both girls had birthdays this month. Gem would be turning ten and her little sister June, nine. They were Irish twins, born twelve months apart. They left their father when they were just babies, or maybe their father left them. The story changed every time their mother told it.
Charlene beeped the horn of her rusted Buick as she turned onto 5th Street. All the windows in the car were wide open and neither Maggie nor June wore seatbelts. Charlene blasted the radio and sang along to “Eye of the Tiger,” while smoke from her cigarette swirled through the car. Both girls slid across the long backseat as she took the corner. They were too wrapped up in their Pretty Ponies to notice. Charlene beeped again once she was in front of the house and Gem sat up on the railing. The world swung at a dangerous angle so she locked her thighs around the railing and pushed one sneakered toe between the rungs as she waited for the dizziness to subside.
“Hey pretty girl!” Charlene sang to Gem. She waved from the car but didn’t get out or turn down the radio. Gem watched her light another long skinny cigarette as soon as she extinguished the smoking one in the ashtray. Charlene smelled like cigarette smoke, Charlie perfume and Aqua Net hairspray. Charlene’s hair was naturally big and she teased it even higher.
“Hey Charlene, hey Maggie.” Gem waved back at them as June knocked open the car door with her hip and stuck one bare foot out onto the curb.
“Shoes are in her backpack,” Charlene said to Gem. Maggie was up on her knees, half of her whole body leaning out of the car window as she said goodbye to June. “I can take her all day on Saturday. You can come too if you want. You don’t have to play with the girls, just watch TV if you want?” Charlene said. Gem would love to jump at the chance. Have someone to talk to, watch her and June, feed them—it all sounded too good to be true. She always had a nagging feeling in the back of her mind that Charlene must want something from them if she was so nice.
“I’ve got stuff to do,” Gem lied. “But thanks. June can go if she wants to.” Every time she spoke to Charlene she felt like an amateur, a fraud. She was used to pretending to be nice, to be happy, two things she felt very rarely. Instinctively she knew that those were qualities adults desired from her and her sister, so she put them on like ill-fitting clothes in their presence and shrugged them off as soon as they were out of earshot. Charlene never questioned why it was always Gem taking care of June and the one to give permission. She didn’t ask questions about their mother; she’d heard it all in town. The woman was a deadbeat—too wrapped up in herself to take care of her own.
“Have fun?” Gem asked June as she marched up the steps. June stepped gingerly on the third one because it was rotten in the middle and a heavy foot on the suspect step could easily crash through it. Her dirty pink bag with the long strings was thrown over her shoulder. A stripe of sunburn swept across her nose and cheeks. Her lips were chapped and her hair was tangled.
“Did Charlene feed you lunch?” Gem asked. June was a quiet kid, not much of a talker. She nodded instead. Gem wanted to ask her what she’d eaten but she was afraid of making herself hungry. June liked kid food. Mac ‘n’ cheese, Spaghetti-Os, grilled cheese on Wonder bread, crinkle cut potato chips, even hot dogs. Luckily, those were the kinds of things Charlene usually fed her. Gem, on the other hand, had a taste for real food. She rarely got it.
Gem slid down to the floor, where June sat and emptied out her bag. She had treasures from Maggie’s house. Some marbles, a few Pretty Ponies, their hair braided and twisted in a tangle of elastic bands. There was a Jolly Rancher that looked like it had been sucked on once and then slipped back into the wrapper.
“Mom home?” June asked her.
“Nope,” Gem answered. Their mother Anne was out most of the time. She worked a lot, she got lost, she met men and forgot she had kids at home, or at least that’s what Gem and June deduced from her behavior. They sat on the porch brushing through the pony’s hair, stretching their legs out to the railing, both of their backs up against the house.
“Want to jump rope?” June asked. She pulled a wound-up jump rope out of her backpack. The girls stood and stretched their arms and backs, sauntered down the steps to the sidewalk. The apartment building across the street was filled with “lowlifes” as they’d heard their mother call them. Young people, poor people, who got drunk and rowdy more often than not. They were coming out now, sitting on the steps or the folding chairs on the lawn. A boom box attached to an orange extension cord ran back in through the front door like a snake’s tongue.
June jumped to the beat of the music instead of the rhymes they usually chanted. Her blond hair bounced all over her face; she needed a bath. Gem could see that the bottoms of her feet were covered in dirt and it was thick under her nails. She probably hadn’t brushed her teeth last night either, fallen asleep sucking on a Jolly Rancher in the middle of her tongue. Gem was too tired to care. She counted to fourteen and June stumbled.

 

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Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.

 

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“Daddy Soda (A New Hampshire Mystery Book 1)” by Mira Gibson

#FREE at the time of posting!


“Daddy Soda (A New Hampshire Mystery Book 1)”

Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Psychological

Release Date: November 8, 2015

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Hannah Cole has built a life around her job as a receptionist at the local precinct after surviving a tumultuous upbringing, one she’s worked hard to forget. For years, Hannah has hardly spoken to her overbearing mother or the half-sisters she barely knows: shy Candice, and Mary, a stunning fifteen year old with an eerie grip on the town. But when she learns her mother has been kidnapped, she returns home to the shack on Hermit Lake and the step-father she’s never trusted.

Detective Cody McAlister has never seen a case like this. The kidnapper has planned every detail with exquisite precision and when body parts begin to arrive at his department, the glaring reality becomes all too clear: Kendra won’t be alive for long. The key to the deranged kidnapper’s motive and identity may be held in the unsteady hands of a twelve-year old girl. But Candice hasn’t spoken a word since that tragic night.

As Hannah and Cody’s investigation takes them from abandoned strip malls to the outer reaches of the marsh, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Hannah finds herself reliving hellish memories of the shack she thought she’d never have to face. If she doesn’t unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past, she won’t find her mother in time. In small-town New Hampshire where what you see is what you get, no one is who they seem.

***Author’s note: Each book in The New Hampshire Mysteries can be read as a stand-alone***

“Before He Sees (A Mackenzie White Mystery—Book 2)” by Blake Pierce

#FREE at the time of posting!


“Before He Sees (A Mackenzie White Mystery—Book 2)”

Genre: Thriller & Suspense/ Psychological/Serial Killer

Release Date: September 14, 2016

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In BEFORE HE SEES (A Mackenzie White Mystery—Book 2), FBI agent-in-training Mackenzie White struggles to make her mark in the FBI Academy in Quantico, trying to prove herself as a woman and as a transplant from Nebraska. Hoping she has what it takes to become an FBI agent and leave her life in the Midwest behind for good, Mackenzie just wants to keep a low profile and impress her superiors.

But all that changes when the body of a woman is found in a garbage dump. The murder bears shocking similarities to the Scarecrow Killer—the case that made Mackenzie famous in Nebraska—and in the frantic race against time to stop a new serial killer, the FBI decides to break protocol and give Mackenzie a chance on the case.

It is Mackenzie’s big break, her chance to impress the FBI—but the stakes have never been higher. Not everyone wants her on the case, and everything she touches seems to go wrong. As the pressure mounts and the killer strikes again, Mackenzie finds herself as a lone voice in a sea of experienced agents, and she soon realizes she is in way over heard. Her entire future with the FBI is in jeopardy.

As tough and determined as Mackenzie is, as brilliant as she is in hunting down killers, this new case proves an impossible riddle, something just beyond her reach. She may not even have time to crack it as her own life falls apart around her.

A dark psychological thriller with heart-pounding suspense, BEFORE HE SEES is book #2 in a riveting new series—with a beloved new character—that will leave you turning pages late into the night.

Book #3 in the Mackenzie White Mystery series will be available soon.

Also available by Blake Pierce is ONCE GONE (A Riley Paige mystery—Book #1), a #1 bestseller with over 600 five star reviews on Amazon—and a free download!