Tuesday, August 15, 2017

IT'S RELEASE DAY!

My latest book, More Than Just a Dog, is available!


With a Collie, star gates, and a shotgun-toting mother, I had great fun writing More Than Just a Dog. The digital version is at the special introductory price of 99 cents; the print version is $4.99 <http://tinyurl.com/CollieChronicles>. 


I have a blog tour coming up next week featuring freebies and special appearances with my beautiful Tucker, the Collie featured on the cover of this book. Will post those blog sites each day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD

LOST CITY ~ ADVENTURE ~ CENTRAL AMERICA

Peter VanOwen is living by the beach in Costa Rica when his old college roommate, a disgraced professor of archaeology, drops in unexpectedly to convince him to go on an expedition to discover a lost city in the Honduran jungle and help resurrect his career. He is enticed to join the expedition by the prospect of seeing once again his long-lost college girlfriend who has remained the love of his life. But once in Honduras he encounters a sinister and mysterious woman who entraps him into going on an expedition he had intended to avoid. Upon penetrating deep into the Honduran jungle in search of the lost city VanOwen comes face to face with a sinister reality that will change his life and that of his family, friends and even his ex-girlfriend.


AUTHOR BIO:



Monday, August 7, 2017

BLOG TOUR FEATURE: JAK BARLEY, PRIVATE INQUISITOR

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give away a digital copy of 
Jan Barley, Private Inquisitor, and 
the Case of Annoying Assassins 
to one random commenter.

Fantasy! Private inquisitor! Goblins! Witches! Demons! Adventure!

Jak Barley, Private Inquisitor, is tired of adventures and is ready to take on only hum-drum cases offering no drama--those of missing husbands, unfaithful spouses, or fat merchants paying well for outing thieving employees--anything not involving traveling, swords, or the darker magics.

Yet once again his otherworldy friend, Lorenzo Spasm, drags him into cases involving corrupt CIA (Clandestine Information Authority) agents, murderous bank robbers, nasty goblins, furious dragon chases, demonic foes, and going uncover at an elders’ RW (recreational wagon) park set atop a butte overlooking a harsh desert floor. To top it off, Jak finds himself the quarry of the Assassin’s Guild after an anonymous adversary takes out a whack contract on him.

Helping him get through this will be his intended, the beautiful witchling in training, Morgana.


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AUTHOR BIO 
Dan Ehl has been a journalist and editor at both weeklies and daily newspapers in Iowa. The winner of numerous journalism and photo awards, including first in humor from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, he enjoys breaking out of dryer newspaper writing to pen fantasy novels. He served in Germany as an Army photographer during the Vietnam War. “With a lot of Vietnamese people digging pits with sharpened stakes at the bottom for people just like me, I knew I wasn’t really wanted. I didn’t want to be rude and show up anyway. Being from Iowa, we always try to be polite. And Germany during the early 1970s was interesting enough with the barracks always reeking of beer, vomit and hashish every weekend.” His favorite hobbies are hitchhiking and hopping freights.





EXCERPT
“What-t-t-t?” I managed to croak in answer to the incessant hammering on my sleeping room door. I keep it bolted along with several magical wards after a number of tedious attempts upon my life by diabolical assassins, blood-thirsty necromancers, and numerous bat-turd crazy priests and neophytes of ancient and deranged deities. Other than that, my life is fairly normal.
I am back to yawn-inducing cases dealing with unfaithful spouses, stolen silverware, and runaway teensters—and I intend to keep it that way. You will not be kidnapped by piss dragons for investigating a horse theft, hounded by nasty wizards over a missing spouse case, nor forced to traipse through monster-laden wastelands to answer a simple paternity question. I now choose my private inquisitor cases wisely in my hometown of Duburoake, and again, that means no adventures. I hate adventures.
“Come on Jak, open up.”
What kind of hedge-born miscreant would be trying to wake a person this early in the morn?
“Jak, it’s almost afternoon. Open up, you dipsomaniac.”
“Ugh-h-h,” was all my dry throat could sound. I tried opening my eyelids, but it appeared some twisted jester glued them together. I was forced to pry them apart with palsied fingers.
What had that demented lunatic been shouting last night as he kept refilling my ale mug? “There be no tomorrow.” Yes, in principle there be no tomorrow. The clock strikes midnight and it be today, with tomorrow pushed another twenty-four hours away. We all chase a tomorrow that never comes. Unfortunately, today has again arrived and it be not pleasant.
My idle thoughts were just about to lure me back into a feverish slumber when the caller again began shouting. “Jak Barley, get out of bed, you lazy ne’er-do-well sot.”
Like some pitiable prisoner coerced to climb the steps to the gallows pole, I forced myself to sit up and then fight the sudden centrifugal force that threatened to send me rolling across the room to be plastered against the wall like some youngster in a harvest carnival ride. The spinning slowly receded to where I could safely pull on my trousers, though it set off an angry outburst behind my eyeballs.
“Jak, get up, you wretched lay about.”
I lurched to the door and waved my hand across the latch, letting the ring cancel the charms placed upon it. The magical band and its wards were a gift from my betrothed, Morgana, a novice witch at the Kuu Academy of Mystical Arts and Witchcraft. Beginning at the top, I slid the five bolts over and then hesitated at the latch. I knew the grotesque vision I would see on the other side. I sighed in resignation and opened the door, there to view the huge, mocking, obnoxious, leering, and gleeful smile of my supposed friend, Lorenzo Spasm.
“Holy crap, Batman, what wizard cursed you with that aging spell?” he exclaimed.
I was used to his outlandish phrases and words because that is what they literally are—outlandish. Spasm claims to be an inhabitant of a parallel firmament, one similar to our world in many ways, but devoid of any magic. Partial proof of that claim is Spasm’s immunity to spells. Any enchantment will rebound off my friend and back onto the mage or witch who cast the curse.
“What in Hades do you want? Cannot you see I am ailing?” I managed to moan. I could not even lift my head to look in him eye-to-eye without setting off another round of thunderbolts.
Lorenzo is about six-foot, two inches, to my five-nine. I took in his droopy mustache and slightly greying hair that went to his shoulders—and the outlandish mixture of clothing reflecting his exotic wanderings. It is difficult to estimate his age, though I would guess in the late forties. He was taciturn when it came to personal details and background.
“Downed by the brown bottle flu is my guess,” Lorenzo observed with little sympathy. “You reek of a brewery.”
My answer was a glowering stare that failed to wipe away his enthusiastic demeanor. “What do you want?” I finally asked.
“I have a job for you. It seems . . .”
I slammed the door in his face and staggered back to bed. Anything Lorenzo found so enjoyable could only mean peril and hardship. I made the mistake of not locking the door and Spasm pushed it open. He crossed the room to open a window and then took a chair at the foot of the bed.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

BLOG TOUR FEATURES MYSTERY, CRIME, DRUG RUNNERS, MURDER...

 

Mayaki is reportedly dead. 
Her car crashed over Tariaah, the sacred hill, 
making front-page on the morning daily.  

Gloria Reginald rushes to Lohada to verify and arrange for her friend to be brought home for burial but, shockingly, the body in the morgue has a matted face under a roll of bandages and looks nothing like her, raising questions that beg for answers. 

The police can’t be trusted and the doctors seem suspect. 

To the natives of Lohada, Mayaki is merely another victim of the anger of the god of the hill.

But when Mayaki’s wooly red doll providentially turns up in the outcrops, Gloria’s intuition quickly leads her closer to uncovering an ingenious plot hidden behind her best friend’s mysterious disappearance. 

With the conviction that her friend is still alive, 
Gloria must take charge of matter if she hopes to get to the root of the goings-on.

Soon the puzzle unravels and 
she finds herself locked in a dire struggle 
to save her friend from the hold of a 
dreadful and powerful drug-running organization 
that demands just one thing that only 
Gloria can provide in exchange for Mayaki.

BUY AT

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be giving away a digital copy of Mayaki's Doll
to one random commenter.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR
Twitter: @efbenedict9

ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
think it’s FANTASTIC....This is just great.
--Francis Benedict

Monday, July 24, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: HIS ETERNAL PROMISE

Title: His Eternal Promise
Eternal Gifts Book Two
Genre: Paranormal romance; vampire
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4

She never imagined that a peculiar encounter with Maxim, followed by a night of extraordinary passion, would result in His Eternal Promise.

Carlee put everything into her family and her job over the last couple of years, sacrificing any personal life. After a rare evening out with a few girlfriends, she encounters a captivating man under inexplicable circumstances. Against all rational judgment, they share an evening of the most fulfilling and erotic sex she's ever experienced.


Maxim hasn’t wanted a woman, especially a mortal, in over a century, but he wants Carlee. He intends to keep the truth from her in order to build a relationship first, but a woman from his past complicates things forcing him to reveal the truth. He hopes Carlee chooses to keep him in her life, because he can’t leave, her life is in danger.

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give away a digital copy of His Eternal Promise to one randomly drawn commenter.

AUTHOR BIO

I grew up an Army brat, so my childhood involved moving every three years. However, truly a southern gal, I currently reside in Alabama with my husband, two Chihuahuas, a mean cat, turtle, and a teenage daughter. I have two sons, who live on their own, and a stepson and stepdaughter.

Romance novels have always been my first reading choice. I'm a hopeless romantic, and that trait materializes in every aspect of my life. "Wearing your heart on your sleeve" has been a common phrase repeatedly heard throughout my life. Writing romance and happily ever afters comes naturally.

Whether a result of my childhood, or not, I love to travel. Warm weather and beautiful beaches are always my choice destination.








Monday, July 17, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: CAPTAIN'S SORTIE


Another Book of the
DELAND SEA & LAND ADVENTURE NOVELS

The American colonial frontier is at war and stained in the blood of farmer and soldier alike. French generals have filled the land with armies of white uniformed troops and their north woods Indian allies. No one is safe from the perils of this conflict that seems to have no end. Captain Ben Deland sails north from the warm Caribbean with more than one mission to accomplish. The war is not going well for the British and Americans in the late winter of 1758 and Ben once again must lead his loyal crew ashore and into the dangerous forests and mountains to face the French and Indians.

But the British have undertaken a great task to stop the French from overwhelming the Hudson and splitting the colonies in two. Captain Deland is drawn to their aid and then has to launch a desperate rescue into the dangerous wilderness filled with enemies to find the victims of the war raging all around them.

Sea and shore action and adventure told through the stories of the men and women who face overwhelming obstacles and evil characters. Real history mixed with rich descriptive portrayals of nature and man set in the violence and uncertainty of war on the colonial frontier. 


COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be giving away a digital copy of Captain's Cross (book one of the Deland Sea & Land Adventure Novels) to a randomly drawn commenter during this blog tour.

AUTHOR CONTACT INFO
Twitter: @mikefullerwrite


ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"You nailed it! Just the look I envisioned."
--Mike Fuller



Saturday, July 15, 2017

COVER REVEAL: MORE THAN JUST A DOG

NEW BOOK!
Arriving on Earth
August 15, 2017...

Three generations of independent women, 
driven in different directions by one man’s anger. 
Until his death reconnects them 
with their mystical Irish ancestors and 

wonders beyond this limited human existence.

This is my next book 
written under the pseudonym Genie Gabriel,
for which I also designed the cover.

Monday, July 10, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: THE STRANGE HORIZON

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN...
The author will be awarding an ebook copy 
of one of his titles to a randomly drawn commenter. 

A Collage of Short Stories emerged from my imagination--a few actual experiences--and some possibly conjured from a previous life, if you believe in reincarnation and Edgar Cayce. 

The Strange Horizon ranges from stories less than a hundred words to over four thousand words. There isn't any profanity, gore or sexual innuendo in any of the short stories. The genre varies from mystery, suspense, contemporary, horror, science fiction and fantasy. You may smile, chuckle, express a tear or two, feel a sudden chill or feel a warmth at the end of the story. Emotions are in the mind of the reader and the heart cuddles or rejects those emotions. 


CONTACT THE AUTHOR
Email address: gosky1@outlook.com 

EXCERPT 

Guiding Spirit 

Adam leaned forward and slid his shovel between the sidewalk and six inches of snow. His peripheral vision saw someone walking toward him. He straightened up and gazed at an elderly man wearing a parka. A cold northern wind gently blew at the man's white hair and long white beard. 

Adam threw the shoveled snow next to him and said, "How are you?" 

"Just fine, thank you." 

"I'm Adam Morris." 

"Please to meet you. I'm Ben Stanton." 

"Didn't you and your wife move into the old Kramer house last month." 

"Yes. We did." 

"Is everything all right there? It sat vacant for a few years." 

"It's just fine. We're very comfortable." 

"I heard you're going to play Santa Claus at the family shelter on Christmas Eve," Adam stated. 

"Yes. I'm looking forward to it." 

"You sure do fit the part. Don't need an artificial beard." 

"No. I don't," Ben said, pulling at his beard. 

"I understand you retired a few years ago." 

"That's right." 

"What kind of work did you do?" 

"Public relations for a large global company." 

"Did your wife retire too?" 

"You ask a lot of questions. You must be a newspaper reporter." 

"Yes. I am. How did you know that?" 

"You're standing in front of the Northern Star Newspaper office." 

Adam rolled his eyes, grinned. "Never was good as an undercover reporter." 

Ben placed his hands on his large protruding abdomen and chuckled. 

"You laugh from your belly just--" 

"I know," interrupted Ben. "Just like Santa on TV or in the movies." 

"Didn't mean to offend you." 

"You didn't. It doesn't bother me at all. Matter of fact, I take it as a compliment." 

Two teen-aged boys approached them. "Hey old man, where's your reindeers?' asked one of the boys. The other boy snickered. 

"Get out of here you juvenile delinquents." Adam scowled at them. 

The boys kicked snow on the shoveled sidewalk in defiance and took off running. 

"You little brats." 

"They mean no harm," interjected Ben. "They got good hearts. Their attitudes just need some guidance." 

"Being in public relations, I would think you'd have negative judgments of people." 

"No. I try to see positive attributes in people. It's the way I am. Too old to change now." 

~ * ~ 

About a week before Christmas, the Santa at the mall became sick. Adam heard about it when the manager of the mall came into the newspaper office to place an ad in the paper. He contacted Ben, who accepted the position. 

Ben sat in a large, adorned chair. A woman in her late twenties, holding the hand of a girl around six-years-old, walked up the red-carpeted entranceway and stopped a couple feet away from him. 

"Hi, Santa," said the little girl. 

"Well, Jasmine, how are you today?" 

"How did you know her name?" asked the woman, frowning. 

"Santa knows all the boys and girls of the world. Although, I heard you call her name a few minutes ago when you walked behind me." 

"So, Jasmine. What do you want for Christmas?" 

"A daddy. Mine died when I was a baby." 

"I'm not sure if Santa can promise you that." Ben glanced at the mother. A tear ran down her cheek. 

Jasmine's face saddened, as her shoulders slumped. "That's okay, Santa Claus. I still love you." 

"Bless your heart. What else can Santa bring you Christmas morning?" 

"My own bed." 

"Do you share your bed with someone else?" 

"Oh. No Santa. The shelter owns my bed." 

The mother leaned forward. "We're staying at the family shelter in town. It's just temporary until I earn enough money for a place of our own." 

"I hope things work out for you and your daughter. Have a Merry Christmas. And God bless you." Ben handed Jasmine a candy cane. 

~ * ~ 

On Christmas day, Adam sat at his dining room table surrounded by family members. 

"I heard that Ben and his wife suddenly left town two days ago," Carl remarked, Adam's brother. "No one seems to know where they went." 

Adam frowned. "That's strange. Ben was looking forward to playing Santa Claus at the family shelter." 

Maybe they wanted to spend Christmas with relatives in another town or state." 

"I don't think so." 

"Why's that?" asked Carl. 

"Ben and his wife were 'only children' and didn't have any relatives. At least that's what he told me a while back." 

~ * ~ 

"Jasmine, get over here." 

"Karen. She's okay," said a young man in his late twenties, sitting next to her on a bench in the mall. Across from them, they were dismantling the Santa Claus stage. 

"I still can't believe how we happened to meet after not seeing each other since high school." 

"Me either. The elderly man that was playing Santa here at the mall came into my store a few days before Christmas. He asked me if I would go to the family shelter on Christmas Eve dressed up like Santa. I couldn't believe it when I saw you there." 


ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"Excellent! The revision is perfect."
--G.L. Didaleusky 

Monday, June 26, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: TWO TREES

Memoir/Trauma/Adoption/Therapy
Book contains mention of sexual abuse
Julie is adopted by the Beekmans in the late 1960’s and at first, brought up in the idyllic town of Grand Haven, Michigan. When her father dies, her mother, Marge, decides to sell everything, leave town and provide Julie and her brothers with some “cultural awareness” which includes enrolling Julie in an all black school in the south. Over the years, Marge becomes more abusive and ultimately Julie seeks help. She begins to confide in a young Art Therapist who helps uncover a barrage of secrets. 

While the book covers some dark times and tragedy, there is a strong sense of humor running through it that will keep the reader reading to see just how Julie manages to pull through it all, not only in one piece, but as an adult well able to survive in this world.

The author will give a digital copy of Two Trees 
to one randomly drawn commenter during this blog tour.
Comment to enter!

AUTHOR BIO & LINKS
Julie Beekman is an avid runner, hiker and skier and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her dog, Francesca. 


BUY NOW AT:





EXCERPT
I don't remember the baby showers family and neighbors threw for Marge after the Beekmans adopted me, or that I refused to eat anything other than lima beans. I was nine months old when Warren and Marge brought me home. I listened to stories about how it all came to be. "We kept having boys and, after three, I just wanted a girl, so bad." These were the moments when I loved listening to Marge, when she was just being my mom. She was endearing and it reminded me she meant to love me. "I just told the caseworker we wanted a girl with blue or green eyes. I mean, no one in our family has light eyes!" she explained dramatically. The speech was always the same; Marge telling me it took four years for the adoption agency to approve them, that I cost three-hundred and fifty dollars.
"When we went to visit with you for the first time, you were wearing a little pink dress. You held out your arms to Warren and said, Da Da." She raised her arms out and made a face that looked helpless. "We knew then, we just had to have you." She seemed to always refer to him as Warren and not my dad.
"Did Randy, Scot and Dan want a sister?" I asked like it was the first time I heard the story.
"Oh, of course." Marge lit a cigarette, took a short drag, and then held it near her coffee mug. I hated when she just held her cigarettes and didn't smoke them or take the time to tap the ashes into the ashtray, because I couldn't focus on her. I could only stare at the long cylinder of ash, wondering when and where it would fall. "We came home after meeting you and told the boys all about you. We were especially concerned when it came to Danny because he was only five and used to being the youngest." Marge took a sip of black coffee without the slag of her smoke even moving slightly, although I could see the slight orange glow move fast toward her fingers. "I don't want to be the youngest, Mama! I want a sister, is what he told me." Marge pushed her cheeks out to imitate her idea of what Dan looked like when he was a kid and she laughed. "He was so damn cute! All you kids..." She smiled, stamped out her cigarette and looked far away like it had been some other lifetime and now she was let down. It felt the same to me because I didn't remember any of it.
My first memory is my third birthday and that Grandma Beekman made me a cake in the shape of a lamb. The white sugared icing was thick and billowy, like wool. The lamb's eyes stared back at me with chocolate glare. It was also the first year of many that Grandma made me a baby purse. She washed out old dish detergent bottles, cut out the bottom half and punched holes along the edges. Then she crocheted the holes so that she could build a purse with drawstrings from the plastic base. She showed me how to pull the drawstrings and yarn over the plastic sides, to reveal a crib with a tiny doll baby inside. The crib had a pillow and knitted blanket, too. She demonstrated over and over. It seemed she rather liked talking about her own creations and it drove Marge over the edge sometimes. Thankfully, Marge allowed Grandma to stay on my birthday and the cake didn't end up on the floor.
Grandma didn't come over too often. My dad would go to her house every week and sometimes take us kids. I especially liked to go, because Grandma gave us sugary treats and we rarely got sweets. Once, I spent the whole day with Grandma and we made church window cookies. We melted butter and chocolate, stirred in mini colored marshmallows, rolled everything out into a log coated with coconut, and refrigerated it in wax paper. Once the cookies were chilled, we sliced the log to find all the colors like on a stained-glass window. Grandma cut a lot of slices for me to take home.
When Marge picked me up and we headed for the car, she threw the bag of cookies into a snowbank. "How many times do I have to tell you and that woman, no sugar. You're fat enough!"
I huddled against the passenger door on the way home.
Wherever I wandered, there was Blackie. Blackie was adopted about a week after I was. She was the runt from a litter of short-haired mutts. She was a sweet little dog that, right from the start, tried jumping into my crib. She ate everything I didn't want and protected me as best she could. At night, she slept under my covers and growled when anyone entered my room.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: UNMASKED


COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give away a copy of Unmasked to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour.

OR BUY NOW!

EXCERPT
If most of the other Masks were like Alenze, then she was never going to fit in. He didn't have a hair out of place. His clothes were grey but of the highest quality, with a beautifully fitted long tunic and breeches and well-made knee-high leather boots.
"During the travelling, you'll be placed in a trance. This is done so you're not alarmed by the experience. I'll be in control, and you'll not be aware of what's happening around you."
He spoke to her as if she were a child. The fact he was at least a head taller than her didn't help matters as he peered down.
"I assure you growing up here has made me resilient." Daria crossed her fingers behind her back at the lie.
"Many people struggle with the experience. I myself was glad I wore brown britches the first time. I agree though. I sense you'll not be alarmed easily," Alenze replied.
For a second Daria saw a smirk on his face. He had a sense of humor, who would have thought. He even almost looked handsome when he smiled.
"Traveler Quatrome, the sun is setting," her father interrupted. "The Chamber is ready." He bowed his head to both of them.
Alenze offered his arm to escort her into the Travelling Chamber. Daria stared at his hand as her heart pounded in fear, but knew she had no choice but to eventually take it. Pell stopped outside the Chamber and smiled at her, then looked to Alenze.
"Take care of her, and warn your fellow Masks to watch out for her temper; she didn't inherit her mother's green eyes and red hair without reason," Pell warned.
"You have my word, Master Gallo," Alenze replied as he shook her father's hand.
Atia and Chelle hugged her with tears streaming down all their faces.
"It won't be long, and I'll be back, especially if they don't want me, which is highly likely," Daria soothed them as she tried to get her tears under control.
Alenze coughed and Daria couldn't delay any more. Again, his arm was offered and this time she accepted. He escorted her into the chamber and as the doors shut behind them, she could hear Rumus howling and her breath caught in her throat.
Alenze let go of her arm and walked into the center of the circular, windowless room. With the doors closed, there was an oppressive feel to the space, with the only illumination coming from the oil lamps placed about the walls. The floor was covered with a beautiful painting. The tales were that the settlement had been built around this place.
Alenze was studying the markings on the floor. Daria's breath was catching in her throat and the room was getting smaller. She couldn't go through with this, they couldn't make her go. Her chest was getting tight as her panic increased. She ran to the door of the chamber and raised her fists, thumping hard again and again. The yells coming from her throat blanked out the pain as her fists started to redden and bleed.
"Let me out."
A hand touched her shoulder, causing her to spin around screaming, her clenched fist aimed at Alenze. Placing his hand over hers, he brought her fist down. He stared intently at her with his dark grey eyes as he spoke.
"When I went to the Domain in Denarius, I believed no one would want someone like me. Those who came with me at that time were filled with a confidence I never had. I didn't feel I'd ever belong, but now I do. Becoming a Mask has given my life meaning beyond what I would ever have thought possible. I've grown to love what I've become. You must trust me, and believe you'll feel that, too." He paused. "Are you ready?"
Daria nodded as he let go of her hands and walked over and stood over the open mouth of the winged serpent painted on the floor. She stood on the outside of the circular floor painting and thought her eyes must be playing tricks on her. The painting was starting to move as the serpent's coils began to entwine one upon another hypnotically.
"We can delay no longer. Stand on the mark of the moon." Holding out his arm, Alenze beckoned her to move forward.
She took the step, her breath coming in gasps. The outer circle had symbols of the sun, moon, stars and the Goddess Ikrar. The Goddess stood with her hands clasped around a crystal.
Alenze removed a small, plain brown mask from a pouch hanging around his neck and put it on his face. It had no hooks or fastenings, but melded to him on contact.
"Enter the circle, Daria."
Daria stepped forward onto the moving picture. Alenze took her hands in a firm grip, and needing something to hold onto, she gripped equally as hard around his wrists. She wondered if he could hear her heart beating. He should, as it felt as if it was going to explode through her chest.
"I don't want to do this. My life is here, Crane is here, I love him and I want to stay." Tears flowed down her face.
"Trust me, Daria, and you'll be safe," Alenze instructed.
"I don't want to trust you. I don't want to go and no one there will want me. They think I'm bringing doom with me because I touched the crystal," Daria sobbed, but Alenze wasn't listening anymore. His eyes were shut and he was chanting strange words over and over. There was a humming noise making her dizzy, and then something touched her foot. She jerked her knee up. Peering down, she let out a scream as the coils of the snake picture on the floor started slithering over her feet and around her ankles - where was the trance Alenze had promised? The Mask was no longer solid on his face; the flat surface was bubbling as though something was trying to erupt. Then the small heads of two snakes broke free from the surface and bit into his temples. If he felt any pain he didn't react.
More snakes oozed from the Mask until the whole of his head was a wriggling mass moving down his back and entwining around his arms. Two vipers separated from the others encircling his arms. The snakes stopped their movements at his wrists and raised their bodies up as though to get a good look at her. They swayed hypnotically. Daria tried to pull free of Alenze's grip, but he was too strong. Then without warning, both snakes struck at her wrists in unison.
"Alenze," his name burst from her mouth as the pain hit her arms and the poison burned into her. His eyes opened, looking first to her face and then at the vipers injecting their venom. She could hear his thoughts.
Forgive me, Daria.
AUTHOR BIO
I live in Adelaide, Australia with my husband, one cat, two dogs and a snake. I have a motorbike that I would like to ride more than I do and I love walking at the beach and listening to the waves. I've always loved reading all forms of fiction from high fantasy and paranormal to contemporary, and decided the stories in my head needed to be written down. It was either that or start on medication. Unlike many, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years back. I started off doing a degree in drama but soon realized my love was in writing, though there is a play lurking somewhere on my computer. My day job is as a nurse in the operating room. I believe romance can be fun to read and write but it’s exciting to spice it up with the uncertainty that comes with suspense where the rules can be broken.


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ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"I love it. Thank you so much for your hard work."
--Maggie Mundi