It’s time for another Book Spotlight featuring a Sunbury Press author! If you’re new to my blog, Sunbury Press is a traditional publishing house located not far from where I live. I’ve been showcasing their authors who have releases fitting with the readership niche of my blog followers. It’s my goal to share books that I think might interest you, while helping fellow authors. Today, I’m welcoming Maryka Biaggio with The Point of Vanishing, a historical account of an author that has me intrigued. Take a look . . .
Based on the true story of author Barbara Follett and her mysterious disappearance.
On a December night in 1939, famous author Barbara Follett fought with her husband and stormed out of their Boston home, never to be heard from again. Now novelist Maryka Biaggio provides a captivating account of Barbara’s enigmatic life—and disappearance.
Barbara had all the makings of promise and success. Early on, her parents recognized her shining intellect and schooled her at home. At age twelve, she published the novel The House Without Windows to much acclaim. When she was fourteen, her charming account of a sailing journey, The Voyage of the Norman D, was released. But when tragedy struck the family, Barbara floundered. Would she ever again find happiness or success–and at what price?
AUTHOR BIO: Maryka Biaggio, Ph.D., is a former psychology professor turned novelist who specializes in historical fiction based on real people. She enjoys the challenge of starting with actual historical figures and dramatizing their lives—figuring out what motivated them to behave as they did, studying how the cultural and historical context may have influenced them, and recreating some sense of their emotional world through dialogue and action. Doubleday published her debut novel, PARLOR GAMES, in January 2013, and Milford House Press has published her two most recent novels Eden Waits & The Point of Vanishing. She lives in Portland, Oregon, that edgy green gem of the Pacific Northwest. You can visit her web page at marykabiaggio.com.
Intriguing, right? A child prodigy, an unexplained disappearance, historical setting and basis . . . it has aIl the makings of a winner. Please drop Maryka a comment with your thoughts then use the sharing buttons to spread the word about The Point of Vanishing. Thanks so much for visiting today!
Welcome to another Book Spotlight with Sunbury Press author, A. A. Weiss. If you enjoy thrillers and high-octane intrigue, The Apologist is right up your reading alley. Take a look at this compelling novel, then hang around to chat with A. A. in the comments. It’s my pleasure to host him today!
Luke Lundy won’t kill for America ever again.
As the ex-assassin transitions to a government job behind a desk, he grows increasingly disillusioned by the errors in judgment made by the last five presidents. He works tirelessly to reverse the negative impact of American actions abroad, but his new bosses only see a paranoid former field operative no longer interested in protecting his country.
And yet, one newly-elected Congressman believes that Lundy should be the lead operative for a bare-bones mission to prevent an international incident in China. Given a plane ticket and complete operational independence, Lundy is tasked with a three-day-mission to locate Patrick Allred, an American teacher who disappeared in Beijing after run-ins with organized crime and secret police.
Using decades of his covert experience, Luke Lundy tracks his target through a web of human traffickers, designer drug dealers, and corrupt government officials. Saddled with a partner he doesn’t trust, leads that don’t make sense, and each new clue indicating a set-up, Lundy aims to locate the missing person while fighting his own old habits—like killing to stay alive.
Author Bio: A.A. Weiss is the author of the Luke Lundy thriller series and the travel memoir Lenin’s Asylum. His essays and short stories have appeared in various journals and twice received special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. A recipient of award grants from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council, he lives with his family in Silver Spring, Maryland. You can learn more at www.aaweiss.com.
The Apologist is book one in the Luke Lundy series, so it’s the perfect time to become immersed in the life of this fascinating character. There’s nothing like a little espionage and international mystery to keep a reader glued to the pages.
Many thanks for visiting with A. A. today. I know we’d both appreciate it if you use the sharing buttons to spread the word about The Apologist, then linger a few to say hello to A. A!
Welcome to the first of two Book Spotlights for Sunbury Press authors during the month of May. Today, I’m welcoming Natalie Pinter with her novel The Fragile Keepers. As always, I hope you’ll make her feel welcome. This sounds like a complex and entertaining read. If you’re a fan of fairy tales and/or dark fantasy, I think you’re going to love this one!
When a pair of siblings discover a mythical creature, she grants them both sublime gifts and horrific curses.
Following a lightning storm, Andre and her brother Ben discover a winged girl cowering in their backyard shed. The millennials are thrilled by the appearance of a mythical being, but they are wary too, particularly when she warns them that a dangerous monster has followed her from “Elsewhere.”
The girl, (Shae) is desperate to return to a world she can now only scarcely recall. Exquisite and beguiling, Shae evokes a protectiveness on their part—especially when she grants them gifts of extraordinary new talent. Andre and Ben want to help her however they can.
But the siblings soon find out that these gifts carry ghastly side effects. Andre is enchanted by prophetic dreams, but they wither her grip on reality; Ben creates sublime music, but his health deteriorates. And then, to their horror, they discover that Shae must complete a terrible task before she can return home and that everyone they know and love is in danger. Andre and Ben must now figure out how to thwart a being they’ve grown to care for.
What they don’t realize is that Shae is changing—she’s beginning to develop a conscience, and an affinity for her human hosts. And as her time runs out, she must make a terrible choice before all their lives spiral into a grisly climax of cruel irony and heartbreaking sacrifice.
Natalie Pinter has been an accomplished daydreamer for most of her waking life. After working for many years as a bookseller, she started sharing her own stories. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys taking pictures of nature and hanging out with her family. She currently resides in a swampy part of Florida surrounded by large and scary looking bugs. Learn more at NataliePinter.com.
AUTHOR BIO: Natalie Pinter has been an accomplished daydreamer for most of her waking life. After working for many years as a bookseller, she started sharing her own stories. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys taking pictures of nature and hanging out with her family. She currently resides in a swampy part of Florida surrounded by large and scary looking bugs. Learn more at NataliePinter.com.
The blurb for this book gave me goosebumps. I think Natalie has a winner and that cover is absolutely gorgeous. Please drop her a line, say hello, and use the sharing buttons to spread the word about The Fragile Keepers! Many thanks for visiting today!
Hello, and welcome to a new Sunbury Press Book Spotlight. If you’ve been following my blog, you that Sunbury Press is a traditional publisher located in my area. Twice a month, I’ll be highlighting their authors with book spotlights. Each selection has been chosen to appeal to the reading taste of my followers. You’ll find mostly mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and supernatural stories. Today, I’m welcoming Sharon Marchisello, with her mystery novel, Secrets of the Galapagos. I hope you’ll drop her a line and make her feel welcome!
Book Description: Shattered by a broken engagement and a business venture derailed by Jerome Haddad, her unscrupulous partner, Giovanna Rogers goes on a luxury Galapagos cruise with her grandmother to decompress.
At least that’s what her grandmother thinks.
Giovanna is determined to make Jerome pay for what he’s done, and she has a tip he’s headed for the Galapagos.
While snorkeling in Gardner Bay off the coast of Española Island, Giovanna and another cruise passenger, tortoise researcher Laurel Pardo, both become separated from the group and Laurel is left behind. No one on the ship will acknowledge Laurel is missing, and Giovanna suspects a cover-up.
When the police come on board to investigate a death, Giovanna is sure the victim is Laurel. She’s anxious to give her testimony to the attractive local detective assigned to the case. Instead, she learns someone else is dead, and she’s a person of interest.
Resolved to keep searching for Laurel and make sense of her disappearance, Giovanna finds that several people on board the cruise ship have reasons to want Laurel gone. One is a scam involving Tio Armando, the famous Galapagos giant tortoise and a major tourist attraction in the archipelago. And Jerome Haddad has a hand in it. Thinking she’s the cat in this game, Giovanna gets too involved and becomes the mouse, putting her life in jeopardy. But if she doesn’t stop him, Jerome will go on to ruin others.
AUTHOR BIO: Sharon Marchisello is the author of two mysteries published by Sunbury Press: Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019). Her other publications include travel articles, corporate training manuals, short stories, book reviews, a blog, and a nonfiction book about personal finance, Live Well, Grow Wealth. She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is an active member of Sisters in Crime. Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she now lives in Peachtree City and does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society.
Given Sharon’s background with Delta Airlines, it doesn’t surprise me she’s chosen to write about such an exotic and intriguing locale, not to mention the famed giant Galapagos tortoise. The blend of intrigue and mystery in this one sounds quite compelling. Sharon will be popping in to say hello, so be sure to drop her a comment and share your thoughts about her release. As always, thanks for visiting, and please click the sharing buttons to help spread the news about Secrets of the Galapagos.
Thanks for joining me for another Book Spotlight. Today, I’m welcoming Sunbury Press author, J.A. Wash with his suspense/thriller novel, Out of Kindness. J. A. has the perfect background to spin this type of tale, as you’ll see when you check out his bio. First be sure to read the blurb for his very intriguing release, then drop a line to share your thoughts! Doesn’t that cover rock?
A beautiful Irish island reveals its ugly secrets in this thriller of the opioid crisis
Sean Casper retired from the Boston Police to get away from murderers. He left Massachusetts to get away from everything else, especially his broken marriage and the pain of his son’s fentanyl overdose.
Casper retreats to a seaside cottage on a beautiful Irish island, unaware he is surrounded by ugly secrets. When Casper finds a mutilated lamb ritually displayed in an ancient cemetery, he reads up on the island’s only recorded murder and sees a pattern.
One of the island’s 600 residents is a serial killer. Someone else is about to die.
His investigation leads to Aoife Walsh, an island native suffering from the same addiction that killed his son. Her best friend was murdered twenty years ago, and she knows who did it. With no authority, but nothing to lose, Casper goes after the killer.
Instead of finding an island refuge, Casper discovers much of Europe’s heroin passes through the island’s remote coast. And as he gets closer to the truth, he places himself in the crosshairs of the island’s drug traffickers, who will do anything to protect their secrets.
Out of Kindness is a thriller about grief and isolation, swirling in the backdrop of the opioid epidemic, on one of the most hauntingly beautiful islands on Earth.
J.A. Walsh worked in intelligence and counter-terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, before embarking on a career advising the U.S. military on energy security strategy. He has degrees in Russian, English literature, and Environmental Law. He and his family split time between Lake Norman, North Carolina and the Florida Keys. Learn more at JAWalsh.com.
I love the location of this one. The story definitely sounds like one to sink your reading chops into, don’t you think? J.A. will be dropping by to say hello, so be sure to let him know your thoughts in the comments. We’d both be delighted if you’d use the sharing buttons to spread the word about Out of Kindness. Thank you for visiting today!
Today I’m shining the spotlight on the very talented, Sue Coletta, who is releasing the long-anticipated fourth novel in her Mayhem series. Shawnee Daniels makes a great MC, and “Mayhem” is one of my favorite book villains. Mayhem’s crows—yes, crows—Edgar, Allan, and Poe, also deserve a mention because they are every bit characters in their own right. Especially Poe.
I was lucky enough to score an ARC of this novel, and am sharing my 5 STAR review at the end of this post. Be sure to take a look and be ready to ONE-CLICK!
As bloody, severed body parts show up on her doorstep, Shawnee Daniels must stop the serial killer who wants her dead before she becomes the next victim.
But can she solve his cryptic clues before it’s too late? Or will she be the next to die a slow, agonizing death?
With crows stalking her every move, Shawnee can barely function. Things worsen when body parts show up on her doorstep. An unstoppable serial killer wants her dead. Mr. Mayhem threatens to murder everyone she loves, sending Shawnee a piece at a time.
As Mr. Mayhem sits in judgement, his cryptic clues must be solved before the final gavel drops. The game rules are simple—win the unwinnable or submit to a slow, agonizing death.
When Shawnee tries to fight back, she discovers her very existence is based on lies. But the full impact of the truth might become the headstone on Shawnee’s grave.
Author Bio: Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as one of the “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net” (Murder Blog sits at #5). Sue also blogs at the Kill Zone, a multi-award-winning writing blog.
Sue lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two serial killer thriller series (Tirgearr Publishing) and true crime (Rowman & Littlefield Group, Inc.). And recently, she appeared on an Emmy award-winning true crime show. Learn more about Sue and her books at: https://suecoletta.com
MY REVIEW: Wow! I’ve followed this series from book one, and it just keeps getting better. Coletta has penned a wonderfully unique and memorable set of characters—Shawnee Daniels, a (reformed?) cat burglar/computer hacker currently working for the police, her detective boyfriend, and Mr. Mayhem—serial killer, and chameleon-like adversary. Oh, and there are crows. Not just ordinary crows, but birds who are characters in their own right. Mayhem has three crows who do his bidding—Edgar, Allan, and Poe.
Poe, in particular, is a scene stealer. A charmer with Mayhem, Poe is oil to Shawnee’s water. Nails on a blackboard which makes for intriguing interaction.
In this the fourth book of the series, Coletta builds on the cat-mouse relationship between Mayhem and Shawnee. There is history between these characters, deeply-rooted, so it does help to have an understanding of that going into the novel, especially as this story picks up where book three left off. Stakes are high right off the bat with murder on the menu. As the story progresses, cold-blooded killings mingle with mysticism and Native American beliefs, customs, and folklore. For those who have followed the series, Shawnee’s family background is fleshed out, along with that of Mr. Mayhem, bringing surprising results.
Shawnee and Mayhem are polar opposites—one street-tough, and gritty, the other cultured but deadly. Parts of this story left me biting my fingernails to see how everything would play out, while other sections had me misty eyed. The suspense is great, but the character development is what makes this one so exceptional. The story wraps with a solid ending but does leave wiggle room should the author choose to continue. As a fan of the series, I can only hope she does. If you enjoy strong characters in a fast-paced tale layered with folklore and Native American themes (think skinwalkers and Tony Hillerman), you won’t want to miss this novel.
*I received a complimentary ARC for an honest review
Intrigued? I hope my FIVE STAR review enticed you. You can grab your own copy of I Am Mayhem from Amazon. Release date is April 20, but you can pre-order through the link below. An excellent read for a mere .99c.
Thanks for visiting today. Please drop Sue a line or two in the comments to help her celebrate her upcoming release.
Hi, friends. Welcome to another Book Spotlight, featuring author Sherry Knowlton of Sunbury Press. Sunbury is a traditional publishing house not far from my location in Pennsylvania. I’ve agreed to share books from their authors that align with the interests of my blog readers—mostly mystery, suspense, thriller, and supernatural-themed works.
Today, I’m spotlighting, Dead on the Delta. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments below. Please drop Sherry a “hello” as well. She’ll be popping in to chat. I love the setting she chose for this novel. What do you think? Exotic, much? 🙂
Book Blurb: Alexa Williams is about to spend four months doing lion research in the African bush with her boyfriend Reese. She looks forward to witnessing the elemental life and death struggle of the wild, but she never imagines she’ll become one of the hunted on the remote Okavango Delta.
Botswana protects its wildlife with strict policies and an entire army deployed to combat poaching. So Alexa and Reese are shocked when poachers wipe out an entire herd of elephants. At the site of the mass slaughter near their lion project, they promise authorities that they’ll watch for suspicious activity as they travel the Delta.
When the country’s strict wildlife conservation policies come under debate in the capital, tensions flare and Alexa begins to suspect the ongoing poaching incidents may be about even more than the illicit ivory trade. Especially when a close friend dies when caught in the crossfire.
After an alarming series of near escapes, gunmen attack the safari camp where she and Reese are staying, and Alexa must brave wild animals and the dangerous labyrinth of Delta channels in a desperate attempt to save the hostages, including the man she loves.
Author Bio: Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams suspense series, including Dead of Spring and Dead of Winter. Passionate about books at an early age, she was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works with her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of Southcentral Pennsylvania.
Hi, friends. Welcome to a new feature you’ll likely see on my blog once or twice a month for the foreseeable future. Sunbury Press is a traditional publishing house located not far from where I live in Central Pennsylvania. Their marketing assistant reached out to me to see if I would be interested in sharing occasional releases on my blog. I’ve asked for those books that may appeal to my followers, mostly mystery/suspense or in the supernatural vein.
Today, I’m sharing the first selection they’ve sent, Bottom Feeders by Jerry Roth. This book is tearing up the charts on Amazon. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Would you recognize the Devil if you met him?
A decaying prison hides a dark secret. Robert Deville, the youngest prison warden in the history of the state, never expected to feel a supernatural connection in a prison. After discovering a diary, Robert learns a prisoner, rumored to be the Devil, was hidden away under his feet.
Was this prisoner responsible for a fire that killed hundreds of prisoners? Did he play a part in the murder of a local family years earlier? Robert must learn the prisoner’s true identity and unravel why he hasn’t aged in decades.
Surviving a relationship with an abusive ex-husband, Jenny Deville is dealing with the pain of her past. Noticing a sudden change in her son’s behavior, and his horrifying drawings of murders, no child should ever witness, she must discover the cause.
As local children mysteriously disappear, there is little time to prove who the killer really is.
Author Bio: Jerry Roth is a graduate from The Ohio State University where he studied English Literature. He has written for Ohio newspapers and sports articles for the Disc Golf Pro Tour. His fiction career began as a screenwriter. He lives in Moxahala, Ohio with his wife Tricia and his three children Jesse, Lea, and Nick. After reading The Stand by Stephen King, he became passionate about creating his own work of fiction. Bottom Feeders is his debut novel.
Hello, everyone! After two months away from blogging—November for NaNoWriMo, and December for a business move—I’m happy to be back at the keyboard again and back in the blogosphere. Even better, I’m kicking off my first post of 2021 with the delightful Jan Sikes, friend and talented author. She’s here to share her newest release and also an intriguing post about auras. Take it away, Jan!
Thank you, Mae, for allowing me to take over your blog today and talk about my new book release! I deeply appreciate your generosity!
In Ghostly Interference, Charlotte Peters, Jag’s mother, has the ability to read and see auras around people. It’s something she’s done since Jag can remember. That ability makes it difficult for him to hide his true feelings from his mother.
Here’s a short excerpt from “Ghostly Interference.”
Fifteen minutes later, he perched on a stool at the kitchen counter while Charlotte Peters put the finishing touches to a vegetarian lasagna. She hummed a classic rock song from the sixties.
Jag never ceased to be amazed at how his mother held her beauty even in her mid-forties, with slender frame and long blonde hair she kept tied back in a pony-tail or in a braid. And, although he didn’t mention it, he often wondered why she hadn’t remarried after his dad died.
She slid the lasagna into the oven and handed him a chilled Perrier. “You look like you’ve had a day. Wanna talk about it?”
Jag waved away the bottle. “Can I have a glass of wine instead?”
She nodded and turned to retrieve a bottle of Cabernet and two glasses.
“How do you do it, Mom?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Do what?”
“Always know when things are out of sync with me.”
A smile spread across her face. “You forget I can read your aura, dear. You normally have a lot of yellow and pink around you but today there is red and orange. It’s really quite simple.”
Jag sighed. “Of course.” He’d grown up knowing his mother had special gifts. But, it seemed to him that she’d only allowed herself to be more open about them in the past few years.
Here’s what I’ve learned about auras and reading them.
Anything that has an atomic structure will have an aura, an energy field that surrounds it. Simply put, the aura is the energy field immediately surrounding a person or thing. I have seen auras around inanimate objects as well as living entities. Children are very good at seeing auras, and often depict them in crude drawings by placing a ring of some color around a person’s head.
To see an aura around a person or even an object, you must look a little off center and continue to stare. If you blink, the aura disappears and you start over. Sometimes you can see it right away and other times it takes a few minutes. I very often can see auras around heads in an oval shape. The color of auras tell what the person is experiencing at that time on a physical and emotional, even spiritual level. It helps if the background behind the person is either black or white with natural light.
Here are a couple of Aura photos I had taken through the years.
The first was in 2012 in Denver, Colorado and the second taken in Sedona, Arizona two years ago. The colors are completely different.
What some colors signify:
1. Deep Red – Hardworking, physical, action, power, survival, realistic, vital, grounded, strength, stamina or physical explorer.
2. Red – Excitement, Physical, energetic, competitive, leader, winner, achiever, courage, will-power, sexual, entrepreneur, or promoter.
5. Green – Social, nature, content, harmony, teacher, loves to communicate and share with others, perfect host or hostess.
6. Blue – Caring, sensitive, loving, helpful, loyal, helper, compasison, peaceful, desire to be of service and to help support others.
7. Indigo – Clarity, calm, deep inner feelings, love, seeker, introverted, inner knowing, authenticity, high sense of inner values, or artistic.
8. Lavender – Imagination, mystical, daydreamer, fantasy, artistic, soft, creative, fragile, sensitive, often appear spacey, unrealistic or etheric.
9. White – Transcendent, transformation, spiritual, healing, quiet, enlightened, sensitive, or live in higher dimensions.
10. Black – Black is probably the most negative colour to appear in one’s aura. It is associated with mental illness, stress, depression, hatred and negative feelings. It can also indicate the person’s habit of acting miserly.
Of course, there are many more colors, but these are a few of the basics.
I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve had any experience with auras, please share them!
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?
I hope you enjoyed Jan’s post and are looking forward to meeting Jag and Rena in Ghostly Interference. I’ve already got my copy loaded on my Kindle, waiting on my TBR. Please kick off the New Year by taking a moment to drop Jan a comment and share the news about her release by using the buttons below.
Hello, friends. It’s been a full month since I’ve blogged, but taking time off for NaNoWriMo made a huge impact on my WIP. I hope to get back in the swing of things eventually, but December will likely be sporadic for me. The company I work for is undertaking a physical move to a new location and life is chaotic right now. If you don’t see me about in the blogosphere for a few days, I’m likely up to my ears in packing and unpacking, LOL.
Today, I’m super excited to welcome friend and Story Empire author, Gwen Plano, with her latest release, The Culmination. I read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them both. I’ve already grabbed my copy of The Culmination and am looking forward to seeing how this adventurous series ends. Please welcome, Gwen!
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Mae, and for helping me launch The Culmination, a new beginning. Just a couple of days ago, it went public on Amazon and I’m super excited. To celebrate, the Kindle edition is on sale at 99¢ through December.
So, what’s the book about? The Culmination can best be described as a military thriller. It tackles difficult topics such as denuclearization, the power struggles over oil in the Middle East, as well as the ever-present danger of war. Readers will find themselves sitting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walking in the historic Red Square, and laughing with children in an orphanage in Turkey. They will glimpse the horror of war and watch the give and take of a negotiated peace. Readers will also meet the two Heads of State who fall in love and subsequently commit themselves to creating a world in which all are family.
I never expected to write this book, but in some ways, I had no choice. The characters crowded into my office and insisted that I listen to them. In a very real way, they wrote the book. I simply tapped the keys.
BLURB: The Culmination, a new beginning is the third book in The Contract thriller series. After an assassination attempt on an Air Force base in northern California, tensions mount. Heads of state meet to craft a denuclearization agreement. The meetings between these nuclear powers take a murderous turn. A nefarious conspiracy re-emerges and leads the characters into the heart of the Middle East, where they encounter the unexpected and find a reason for hope.
EXCERPT: Margaret Adler, the Vice President of the United States, has flown to Moscow at the request of Russia’s president. She is met by his son, Ivan. Upon seeing him, Margaret flashes back on her experience as a soldier in Afghanistan and wonders if they crossed paths at that fateful time. Margaret begins the conversation…
“It’s possible we were there at the same time. Maybe we were in the same locale.”
“Are you serious? Really? Why would anyone willingly recall such bloodshed?” Ivan’s eyes lower, and he glances to the side.
She presses, “I keep thinking we’ve met. Would you humor me and think back with me?”
“I don’t like such games.” Ivan’s response sounds gruff, and Margaret steps back as her agents step nearer. “Besides, I’m not sure what that would accomplish. This is one nightmare I choose not to recall. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He glares at her.
Margaret nods. “I understand, of course. But if we can travel back in time, perhaps we might decide if we can trust one another.”
He shakes his head and scoffs, “I can’t imagine that to be possible.”
“Isn’t it worth the effort to find out?”
Her persistence wears down his obstinacy, and begrudgingly, he agrees. Ivan stares off into the distance.
Margaret notices his grimace and realizes he’s gone back to the battle.
She lowers her voice and says, “A shell hits the building I’m in, and I rush outside. I can’t see through the clouds of dust and debris. People scream. People run. I hate this place, and it hates me.
“I call to my men, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ There’s gunfire, and we’re unsure which direction to run. I can smell the blood, the sweat, and the fear. It’s musty and thick; it lingers and gags me. Sand and bodies lie beneath my feet. I stumble and recoil at the horror that I meet. I see a female soldier among the masses. She moans from the hit she received. I reach for her arm to pull her up, but the limb is all that follows me. I retch and call for my men.”
“Pomoch’ yey!” Ivan yells. “And my men help her. They put a tourniquet on her arm, and we move on.”
Margaret holds back the shock that she feels and looks at Ivan. He keeps his eyes closed, and he appears to be caught in a battle.
Margaret says, “Another explosion. The shell lands close to me. My face is on fire, and I get thrown backward. I can’t move.”
Ivan reacts with a gasp and reaches for his face, now frozen and white and trembling.
Margaret says, “I’m being moved—my body dragged. The Afghan Northern Alliance is helping me.”
Ivan’s jaw clenches, and he holds his shoulders rounded and slumped. Resignation floats across his face.
Margaret notices his instability. He teeters. She calls out, “Soldier, lean in. Lean in!”
Ivan leans into Margaret. She wraps her arm around him, and time becomes fluid. Ivan chokes out tears, first in agonizing bursts, and then in sobs—loud and wrenching.
Margaret draws Ivan closer. They now stand cheek to cheek, tears blending. “Ivan,” she says. “Ivan, what do you feel?”
He doesn’t respond.
Again, she asks, “Ivan, what do you feel?”
His words are halting, “Failure. I could do nothing. I was only there to arrange for more armaments.”
“All right, what else do you feel besides failure?”
He holds her tighter. “Useless. I’m barely a man now. My body has betrayed me; it is broken.”
“There’s more, Ivan. Tell me what else you feel.”
“Sadness. So many are gone. My friends, my enemies. Gone. And for what?”
“The remorse of a soldier. I understand. There’s more.”
He flounders and struggles to regain composure.
“Ivan,” Margaret says. “What more do you feel?”
He pulls her close and whispers, “I feel hope—hope that maybe the treaty will work. It has to. It must. Maybe the countries are serious about ending this horror. That is my hope.”
Margaret nods. “You’ve identified your purpose.”
Ivan clasps her left arm, and at the firm feel of the prosthesis, he jerks away.
He opens his eyes and looks into hers. “You’re the one, aren’t you? The one we stopped and helped.”
Whether you’re new to this series, or have been following from the start, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating with Gwen on her release. And what a deal at .99c! Please use the sharing buttons and help us spread the word about The Culmination. Don’t forget to GRAB YOUR COPY and drop Gwen a comment. Thanks for visiting today. I wish you happy reading!