Dreaming in the Pages

Books ... where dreams are better than reality

Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Blood Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers) by Alexandra Sokoloff

Chapter One

The dark concrete corridor stretched out before him, smelling of blood and semen and terror.

Roarke had been here before, these stinking hellholes, cellblock rooms barely big enough for a mattress and bed stand. Twenty-five girls to a block, locked in the rooms and drugged to the gills, servicing twenty-five to forty men a day, twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Not just ordinary johns tonight: it was a new shipment, private party for the traffickers themselves.

He could hear the shallow breathing of the agents surrounding him, feel the warmth of bodies: four men before him, three in back, encased in camouflage body armor and hoisting riot shields, brandishing an entire armory. Somewhere down the hall there was sobbing, a young girl’s cries. “Mátame. Por favor, mátame.”

Kill me. Please kill me.

The number one man gestured the signal and the team shot forward in formation, then peeled off in a fluid dance, odd men to the right, even men to the left, kicking through doors, shouting: “FBI, drop your weapon! Face down on the floor!” Elsewhere in the corridor, shots blasting, more screaming, heavy thuds and the jangle of cuffs as men were wrestled to the floor.

Roarke covered the agent ahead of him until the tiny room was secure, bad guy kissing concrete. Roarke looked once at the terrified teenage girl cowering naked on the filthy mattress, and said “Es terminado.” It’s over. Then he moved out the door, leading with his Glock, down the corridor, past doorways open to similar scenes of hell.

He kicked open the next closed door and burst in—

A man with his pants half off turned with an enormous, ugly AK 47. Roarke shot twice, straight into his center mass. The man’s chest opened, blooming red, and his body went down, jerking as if tasered.

Roarke stood, his heart booming crazily in his chest.

And then, though the trafficker was as dead as a person could get, Roarke followed procedure and turned the corpse over to cuff him.

As he straightened he saw the girl, tiny and frozen, huddled on the floor against the mattress, her back pressed into the wall, her eyes wide and glazed with fear. This one twelve or thirteen years old at most, dressed in nothing but a cheap, stained camisole. Roarke felt a wave of primal anger he was able to suppress only by telling himself he must not frighten this child any further.

Estás seguro,” he told her in the softest voice he could muster through the adrenaline raging through his bloodstream. You are safe. Although he wondered if any of the girls who walked out of this place, this night, would ever feel safe again.

There was movement behind him and he twisted around... to see Special Agent Damien Epps in the doorway. Tall, dark, lithe, and righteously pissed.

“All clear,” Epps reported. His whole body was tense. “Thirteen of the fucks in custody, three —”

He paused as he glanced down at the dead man at Roarke’s feet. “Four dead.” And his face and body were suddenly tense in a different way. “Nice shooting,” he added.

Roarke felt the jab. He had twelve years of Bureau service and before two weeks ago, he had never killed in the line of duty. The man at his feet was his third since then.

He gave Epps a warning look, nodding at the girl huddled against the wall. He wanted to help her up, give her the shirt under his vest, but he figured she wouldn’t be wanting any man near her for a very, very long time. “Social Services?” he asked Epps quietly. They had social workers waiting in vans outside to take the rescued girls to hospitals and on to a shelter that specialized in support for trafficking victims.

“On their way in,” Epps said.

Roarke spoke directly to the girl. “Mujeres vienen. Usted se va a la casa.” Women are coming. You are going home.

The girl didn’t move, didn’t acknowledge him. He stood for a moment, helpless, knowing he was not the one to help her. He moved to follow Epps out. And then he stopped, his eyes coming to rest on the bed stand.

Just above the gouged surface of the table there was a small drawing on the wall. Roarke stepped closer... to look down at a figure scratched in the concrete, a crude skeleton wearing a flowery crown. Scraps of food and torn bits of lace were laid carefully in front of it.

Epps was staring, too, stopped in the doorway. “What is it?”

“An altar,” Roarke said. “To Santa Muerte.” Lady Death, Holy Death, protector of the lost.

He looked at the girl, still and silent on the floor, with her old and wary eyes, and wondered if somehow her prayer had been answered and the saint had intervened.

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Genre - Mystery / Thriller

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Alexandra Sokoloff on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://alexandrasokoloff.com/

Author Interview – Maggie Thom

When and why did you begin writing? I’m sure it was curiosity and boredom that started me writing. I grew up on a farm, 15 minutes from town, so in winter when it was too miserable to be outside and I was tired of reading or playing games with my siblings, I wrote. I think that my interest in writing became stronger when I entered my teens, because most of my siblings were older and were doing their own things or were moving out of home and on with their own lives.

How long have you been writing? I started playing at it at a young age, preteen for sure. And I dabbled with it over the years, more for amusement for myself but about 18 years ago, I really decided that I wanted to write and so started exploring what that meant for me.

When did you first know you could be a writer? Such a tricky question, one that I honestly don’t know how to answer. I love to write. I have written everything from poetry, to children’s stories to adult stories and everything in between. I always said I wrote but not that I’m a writer. I’m not sure what that distinction means but let’s just say it took me a very long time to recognize the fact that I am a writer.

What inspires you to write and why? Everything. Everything that I see, hear, taste, smell, touch, triggers or can when I let it, a whole raft of ideas and scenes and story lines. Sometimes I just play with them for fun but other times I really like where it’s going and need to put it down on paper. Sometimes I just write to get some ideas out so that new ones will come in :) . Sometimes it is just a great way to pass the time. If I don’t have a book that I’m enjoying at the moment or I feel like doing something else, I write.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? I’d have to say suspense. I love reading it and have learned how to write it. I love crafting this tangled web that doesn’t unwind until you reach the end of the story.

What inspired you to write your first book? Captured Lies isn’t the first book that I wrote but it is the first book published. So many things were going on in my life when I wrote it, it was really a way to deal with it all. On top of that some cool situations happened all around the same time. It brought together some great ideas that I was able to meld together into a suspenseful, compelling story.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? I have had a lot of people influence my writing, from other authors and writer’s to friends, to family to readers. Beyond that I’d have to say that the writing courses and instructing that I’ve taken and the types of books that I like to read (suspense) all started to make sense and everything clicked so that I was able to write the type of book that I wanted.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? The authors that I love to read definitely had an impact on how and what I write. An instructor that I had taught me a lot. But the biggest influence has been the people who kept encouraging me – my family and my friends. Because of them I kept working at being a better writer – reading, getting feedback, joining groups, etc.

What made you want to be a writer? I wanted to be a writer to do something with the ideas in my head. They had to go somewhere, my brain was getting awfully full. I love to weave stories, see where they will go, what can I create. I also wanted to take people on an adventure, a journey and pull them into the story and help them to forget their everyday lives, even for a short period of time.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Sometimes it’s just getting my butt in the chair to write and not be distracted by a hundred other things. It is sometimes very challenging just to sit down and do it. Beyond the writing, which in itself isn’t all that challenging, it’s the editing and the marketing and finding the balance to do all of it.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Suspense

Rating – PG13

More details about the book

Connect with Maggie Thom on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.maggiethom.com/

Friday, July 12, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Swimming Upstream by Jack Thompson

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Sometimes justice needs a hand.

When a young lawyer for the number one environmental law firm in Seattle is found dead on Mount Rainier, the police declare it a tragic accident. A desperate mother turns to Raja Williams, a private investigator always willing to help.

Neither the dark, tragic anti-hero nor the James Bond super-hero type, Raja is a wealthy Oxford-educated PI of mixed Caribbean descent who possesses a strong empathic power and a sixth sense for evil that gives him headaches and steers him straight into trouble. His partner Vinny Moore is a gorgeous hipster geek who prefers hacking computers to haute couture.

The discovery of a sinister scorched-earth plot to hide the truth leads Raja and Vinny to the Arctic wilds of Canada and lands them in the middle of a battle over the riches of the pristine wilderness. If assassins don’t kill them, the sub-zero weather just might.

Swimming Upstream is the third intriguing mystery thriller in the Raja Williams Series. The colorful cast of characters and timely topics make it a fun, entertaining story that can be read as a stand-alone novel.

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Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Suspense

Rating – NC17

More details about the author

Connect with Jack Thompson on Twitter

Website http://jackwrites.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Way Life Is by Rick Johnson


Peace and innocence

The peace and solitude of the small prairie town that Patty and I had lived in during the early years of our marriage reflected our life before children – ordered, secure, and repetitive. My job in the provincial government civil service fit right into the mold, also secure, predictable and repetitiv

Neepawa, located in south central Manitoba, just a few miles from Riding Mountain National Park to the north, in the mid 1970s was a town of about 3,000 people, about half of whom were retired farmers.

On any half decent day, most of them were out walking along the perfectly squared-off streets, in front of well-manicured lawns and flower gardens surrounding impeccably-kept little homes, all exactly the same distance apart and the same distance from the street. Throughout the town, those streets were canopied by huge Dutch Elm trees lined up on the boulevards like so many soldiers on parade.

It often amazed me how the fire engine-red hydrants were always particularly shiny clean and bright in Neepawa, as if they were somehow resistant to splashing water from the gutters, and to the dogs in town, which it seemed, must have been trained to avoid them for some other, less conspicuous facility. Perhaps a civil servant, not unlike myself, with scrub brush and Windex in hand, had the job of maintaining clean fire hydrants.

I remember how most days the westerly prairie breeze seemed to come to town with the same predictability as everything else, bringing with it the rich smell of freshly cultivated fields in spring; the sweet odor of wild roses and fresh cut hay in summer and the dusty, dry scent of harvest in the fall. The growling combines in the distance always reminded us it was time to take the annual drive through the park to see the reds, yellows and oranges of autumn, and time to plan the ritual trip to the in-laws for Thanksgiving.

Life was as predictable as the seasons. Each day was a copy of the one previous. I would head to the office at the same time each morning to the backdrop of a blue jay squawking at the neighbour’s cat and then, further down the street, a dozen chattering sparrows would take their turn. In late summer, trees full of blackbirds, tired of the slough and the cattails on the edge of town, would come in to enjoy the vantage point the elms offered them as they screeched at me passing belo

Winters were silent, odorless and colourless for the most part, and after a few years in Neepawa, we began to wonder if that was what our life was becoming. There was comfort and security in it all for certain, but we began to grow weary of predictability, security and comfort.

We decided it was time to start a family, but getting pregnant did not happen the minute Patty quit taking the pill, as we had thought it would. So, for about nine months, a calendar and a thermometer dictated our love-life. Frustrating and disconcerting, to be sure. Fears of infertility, or something being wrong with one of us, were the biggest challenges our relationship had faced in five peaceful years of marriage and two similar ones before the wedding.

We were, in fact, quite distraught about the situation for a time, partly because, although I was just 27 and Patty 25, in those days, going so long into marriage without kids was not nearly as acceptable as it is today, and our respective parents were none too subtle about reminding us that it was time to give them grandchildren.

On one visit to our home, my mother, a quiet personality reluctant to enter any conversation that was not absolutely necessary, which usually meant it had to be about her children, was sitting in the living room knitting something for a child of one of my older, more productive siblings. Patty, unlike her mother-in-law, enjoyed a lot of conversation, so she took the initiative.

“That’s going to be nice. I hope you will knit something like that for our kids somed

To that, mother, who was a healthy 62 at the time, replied without hesitation or the slightest glance from her work, “Well, I hope I still have my eyesight then

For children of the 60s, Patty and I were not very radical in any way. Although Patty was a mild feminist, she never went without a bra, let alone burn one. But she did do all the required reading for her generation of females: The Descent of Women, Mother Was Not a Person, Women’s Fate, some Germaine Greer and Gloria Steinem stuff, and a subscription to Ms Magazine when it was in its heyda

We were as influenced by our 1950s early childhood upbringing as we were by the radical 60s, sometimes caught in the middle of changing value systems, one day living with the old and traditional, the next day with the new and radical.

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Genre – Self-Help / Mental Health

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Rick Johnson via Facebook

Author Interview – Alana Cash

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Stories.  Fiction or nonfiction, I like to write stories.  If you look at my blog, that’s all there is – stories of my adventures – stories of my friends’ adventures.
The genre I have difficulty with is the one I’m dealing with write now – writing nonfiction in a linear fashion – nonfiction in which I do not see a story in my mind.
Have you developed a specific writing style? Yes.  Rather than describe someone in prose, I prefer to do it in dialogue.
Sometimes I do not write in complete sentences.  I write a phrase.  I write a word.  Because that is how we actually think.  We don’t think in complete sentences.  However, more often I do use complete sentences.  I had an editor try to remove those incomplete sentences/phrases, making them into sentences.  But that wouldn’t have been my storytelling.
In “Dam Broke,” I didn’t give the narrator a name because the story is told in first-person and she and her friend had known each other for seven years and they wouldn’t be using names.  However, an editor decided to insert a name and call her “Linda.”  What!  So, I used her name, Annabelle, once in the story (and removed “Linda”).
Will I write other books in this same genre? Sort of.  HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is four separate stories about four young women who live in different Texas cities and leave Texas for different reasons.  What I am writing currently is a series of short stories about a girl growing up as a military brat.  The stories are sequential and they will read more like a novel when I get them finished.
Have you started another book yet? Yes, I have started the book about a girl growing up as a military brat.  I have two stories that have already been published – one of them won and award.  I have drafts of about seven other stories.  I need to edit those stories and write a few more.  Sounds simple, but just putting that down in writing that made me want to take a nap.

HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is a volume of four unique stories about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail. These young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and find it. Told with humor and pathos, here are the synopses:
DAM BROKE – after high school graduation, two quirky best friends reveal big secrets.
“In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.”
CAMILLE’S NET WORTH – on her 40th birthday, Camille’s life falls apart in uncontrolled demolition. Life improves when she gets a job creating art paper and returns to painting. But the plot twists and she ends up in jail, laughing.
“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
KRYSTAL’S WEDDING – Heading for New York, Krystal leaves behind her shoddy family in Midland, Texas. Ill-prepared for the culture shock and expense, she takes a few slippery steps before she finds true independence.
“Krystal’s family wasn’t an American success story. Mom felt like life had cheated her since Daddy never made any real money and spent most nights getting drunk at the Welcome Inn. Erin never finished beauty school and worked at a donut shop. Bethany worked as a bar-back at the Rusty Nail and was turning out like Daddy. Alcoholic, back-slapping, charming. Eddie Garthwaite, owner of Garthwaite Used Cars located on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. Eddie Garthwaite who currently had his driver’s license suspended because of a DUI.”
FRYING YOUR BURGER – Nicky and her friends spend mornings slinging repartee in a coffee shop. While paying a traffic fine, she meets a director and soon finds herself a pawn for two directors trying to ruin each others careers.
“I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the ‘hospital orderly fashion catalogue.’ It was all I had clean that day.”
Book Description:
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre –  Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
Connect with Alana Cash on her

How You Leave TexasHow You Leave Texas by Alana Cash
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Favourite location / setting …When the priest Nicky is talking to reminds her that youth, money and a good tan are not the only things you need in Los Angeles. I liked that the setting for this scene was a bus stop. In the midst of talking about changing lanes in life, the location meant everything to this little bit on advice Nicky received.

Favourite scene … When Camille is arrested. Reading this scene, although predictable, was nail biting to me because it felt so much like a scene from "Locked Up Abroad".

Favourite quote … Remembering the day she’d had, she wanted to cry, but her tears were jammed somewhere. Spoke volumes to me and yes, we've all had days like this.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Author Interview – Bob Mayer

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Developing real characters.  I’m not a fan of thrillers where the hero is a black belt, an expert shot, speaks 14 languages, is a gourmet cook, a perfect lover, etc. etc. etc and they never work out or practice.  I like my characters to be real.  Horace Chase in this book and the previous one, Chasing the Ghost, is a deeply flawed man, a soldier with PTSD, and even deeper issues.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? To trust my wife even more when she tells me to do something.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I’ve been writing for a living since 1991, other than some active duty tours in Special Forces as needed.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

Story.  I can plot anything.  Since that’s my greatest strength, I focus a lot of my energy on character development and also get my wife’s help with that.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? I’m working on the third book in my Nightstalkers series and a possible serial called Burners.  The latter is the best “big” concept my wife and I have ever had and we’re very excited about it.

How did you come up with the title? Good question.  I didn’t realize title was critical early in my writing career and no one made me the wiser.  So I had titles that didn’t say much sense like Eyes of the Hammer, Dragon Sim-13 and others.  The worst was Z.  That’s it.  Just a single letter.  A title has to invite readers into the book.  We added The Green Berets to those first six books but kept the titles since we didn’t want to confuse readers and have them buy the same book again.  So we have The Green Berets: Chasing the Lost.  The Chasing part comes from the character’s last name:  Horace Chase.  The first book was Chasing the Ghost and all the rest in this series will be chasing something.

Who designed the cover? My business partner, Jen Talty.  We do all our own covers and we’ve learned a lot over the years.  I love the image, the color and the boat that you can see through the letters.

Who is your publisher? Cool Gus Publishing, my own company.  We view ourselves as publishing partners, where the author comes first.  Publishing has got to change from the distribution model to the discoverability model, and we’re leading the way on that.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Bob Mayer on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.bobmayer.org/

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Awaken - RM Daigle



Awaken - RM Daigle

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Contemporary Fantasy

Rating - PG

4.4 (88 reviews)

Free until 12 July 2013
Book One in the Fated Saga, A Contemporary Young Adult + Fantasy Series, fueled by Action, Adventure and the Eternal Desire for Truth...
While summering in a New England campground, mind reading thirteen-year-old twins, Meghan and Colin Jacoby, discover they have until the rising of the Blue Moon to help save the life of a young man, whose caravan is forced to flee through a magical portal to another world, without him.
In the process, they have a dark awakening when their own simple, normal world, begins to collide with the complexities of the magical world. The twins face unimaginable dangers, which thrust them into an unexpected choice: to live as they always have or to learn the truth about their past and enter a world that is equally thrilling and terrifying.
More importantly, however, is whether they even have a choice, or will destiny not only force this new magical reality upon them, but require them to sacrifice everyone they love in doing so?
Fated Saga Book List:
Book One, Awaken
Book Two, Shifting
Book Three, Embrace
Book Four, Broken
Book Five TBA
Book Six TBA

Orangeberry Blast Off - Osteoblasts to the Rescue by Dr. Heather Manley


Merrin and Pearl are at it again! This time these two young Human Body Detectives are exploring the skeletal system. With the ability to jump in and examine the various systems in the body, Merrin and Pearl’s adventures are fun stories and helpful tools to educate children.

In Osteoblasts to the Rescue, curiosity on how a bone can fix itself, takes Pearl and her sister on another wild adventure through the skeletal system where they brave high heights, ambitious climbs, and a mass of osteoblasts coming their way.

As the fourth in the Human Body Detectives series, Osteoblasts to the Rescue can also stand alone as a book that’s sure to inform, engage, and inspire readers of all ages.

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Genre – Children’s Book

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Dr. Heather Manley on Facebook & Twitter & Google+

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - Amidst Traffic by Michel Sauret

Three Straws

The same dream kept coming for Eli, and it was terrible. The worst part about it was the faces of children who chased him through cobbled streets beneath dilapidated, stone-faced buildings of a foreign country. In the dream, he kept looking back over his shoulder as he ran. Their faces looked as if someone had taken a box cutter and carved at their lips, noses and eyelids. Tiny monstrous faces. Eyes wide and nostrils flared. Their cut-up lips revealed small, gnashing teeth.

They looked so much like his father’s drawings.

Eli couldn’t take another night of those faces. So he stood outside behind his trailer because he didn’t know what else to do. He didn’t want to go to sleep.

He stared at the dark forest for a while, but then he imagined those children hiding among the trees. So he looked up at the sky and stared a while longer at the stars. Time simply passed, but eventually even in the sky he could connect the dots and see those carved-up stares.

“Oh my God,” he said, covering his face with his hands. “Let it stop.”

Impulsively, he hurried to the shed. He needed to put his hands on something. The first thing he saw was a shovel, so he grabbed it. He walked a few hundred feet into the open stretch of land behind his trailer and stabbed the dull blade into the earth.

It felt good.

The blade went in. The ground was soft. So he pulled out a chunk of dirt and stabbed the earth again. The soil was moist and easy to dig. A few more of these, he thought, and he would be okay. He just needed to work it out. He just needed to release whatever demons plagued his mind. If any alcohol had been in the house he might have washed those demons away with booze, but he rarely drank and there were no liquor stores open this late for miles. Living out in the countryside of Oklahoma relaxed him, but even out here he couldn’t hide.

Don’t think of it. Keep digging. Keep working.

He dug and flung chunks of dirt across his body and over his shoulder. He thought that after a few shovelfuls, the labor would make him exhausted. Then it would be okay to sleep. Maybe if his body ached, he would pass out from exhaustion and there would be no dreams. He didn’t know how this worked, but that seemed right.

After an hour, he had only built up momentum. Now he was consumed in his digging. Sweat formed a paste with the dirt and glued to his skin from the neck down. It wasn’t until three in the morning that the pains finally caught up to him. In a few hours he had to start his morning shift at the diner. He finally paused, looked around and realized he had dug a hole as wide as a kiddy pool four feet into the ground.

“Good,” he said, although it wasn’t.

What would he do next; fill it back up?

“No,” he said, “Leave it.” He said this as though he needed to answer the question. Maybe I’ll fill it later. It will give me something to do.

He slept for two hours that morning and dreamed nothing.

The diner was a few miles from the Texas border. When he showed up for his shift, his muscles felt like knotted ropes of twine. He grabbed an apron, tied it around his waist and stood at the grill in the kitchen. Food orders came immediately. He didn’t realize how many muscles he used to simply grill breakfast orders until that moment. Pouring pancake mix with a ladle made his arm feel twisted against his will. Every step he took shot a flare of pain from his heels up.

He washed down a mix of pain pills he found in the first-aid kit and fueled his mind with coffee as the morning wore on. He regretted sleeping only two hours. In the midst of a breakfast rush, it became harder for him to focus on orders. Cynthia, one of the waitresses, had to send two plates back to him because the sausage was burnt on one and he forgot to include cheese in the omelet on the other.

“What in the hell’s wrong with you this morning, Eli?” she asked him. “This ain’t the time to be messin’ up orders. It is too damn busy right now, okay? I ain’t made tips since you came in, and haven’t stopped apologizing to customers since.”

After a week of this—mindless digging, no sleep, then coming to work half-dazed, feeling broken and sore—the diner’s manager still had no heart to fire him. He was a good kid. Didn’t talk much, but up until now had always been a good worker.

Instead she asked him, “Would it help to put you on night shift, honey? You’ll have to work the counter, too, and you won’t get no sleep until the morning risers come in, but it’s ‘tween that and lettin’ you go.”

“I’ll switch,” he said, and although his voice was a whisper, his eyes were desperate with relief. Anything to work through the night, he thought. Anything to avoid the faces.

Eli wasn’t good with people. He could never get a hang of the small talk the other waitresses mastered so effortlessly. Most of the truckers who came through told stories of drunken hitchhikers, cross dressers and visitor centers no one should ever visit after dark. Eli listened, nodded on and served their midnight breakfast orders.

“Y’ain’t gonna make no tips if all you do is bob that noggin’ of yours. Gotta converse with the fellas,” Rosie, the manager, whispered in Eli’s ear as he grilled some hash.

“Not worried about tips all the much. ‘Need just enough to get through.”

It was true. He didn’t need much. The land he lived on was paid for. So was the trailer. He had no girlfriend. No hobbies. No other desires. Wasn’t a boy with many complexities. Just lived by himself in a single-wide big enough to feel like he was sleeping inside a box. The land was his after his father passed on.

At one point he had wanted to go to Bible college and become a preacher just like his daddy. But those felt like boyish thoughts now. He was twenty-two, and somehow that made him feel very old.

“Alright then,” she said.

But then a man walked in with a strange aura about him. There was a tenderness to the man’s walk. A careful step, as if he didn’t want to disturb the air around him. He was an older gentleman with a glow to his face that provoked a feeling of friendliness in Eli. It was a strange, strange sensation.

“How are you doing young man?” he asked, but sounded as though he actually expected an answer.

“I’m quite fine, sir.”

The old man’s face held lines, but his eyes didn’t sag.

“I’ll take your finest roast. Straight black,” he said.

Eli rushed to fill him a cup, wondering if this oil-resembling crud would satisfy the man. He brought over the mug, felt the need to introduce himself, but instead found the man joking around with Rosie, asking about the kids, complimenting her new hairdo.

Eli waited a while to see if the opportunity came up to interject. What in the hell’s wrong with you, man? He’s just some guy old enough to be your daddy’s father. Just some customer with stories as any other.

The man might have been seventy, but he made gestures with his hands and spoke like he had the energy of a man half his age. He had a gentleman’s face, that of someone who might never utter an insult at anyone. He wore a small red rose was pinned to his vest, like a corsage.

“Will there be anything else, Sir?” Eli asked after refilling his third coffee.

“Sure is. Could I kindly have three straws?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Straws. Three of them, please.”


The man nodded.


Nodded again.

“What for?”

“Just three straws, and I’ll be on my way.”

So he grabbed the straws and handed them to the man.

The man nodded, smiled and went on his way.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Short Stories / Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Michel Sauret on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Honest Sid: Memoir of a Gambling Man by Prof. Ronald Probstein

1 Play Ball

Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack, I don’t care if I never get back, Let me root, root, root for the home team, If they don’t win it’s a shame

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, at the old ball game. Jack Norwich and Albert Von Tilzer (1908)

“Ronald! Ronald! Get up!” The voice was that of my mother trying to awaken me, the place a run down hotel near Times Square at about two or three o’clock in the morning. I was a good-sized five-year-old, so it took a great deal of pulling before she finally managed to get me out of bed. She threw some clothes on me and, with muted cursing, dragged me toward the fire escape with one hand while holding a suitcase in the other.

As it turned out, there was no fire; our unusual exit was the result of being considerably behind in the room rent. In the Depression days of 1933, when residents were in arrears, it was common hotel practice to lock the room door from the outside at night. That way, no one could leave undetected with his or her belongings.

Scrambling through the window onto the fire escape, my mother swore again as she caught her high heels in the grating. She managed to get her shoes off and, holding the shoes and suitcase in one hand and grasping me with the other, she led me down a couple of stories to the lowest level.

By then, I was fully awake. Peering down I saw a dark, menacing chasm. In reality, we were only about ten feet above the sidewalk of a back alley where the most frightening aspect was a jumble of garbage cans, but I was certain that fanged, wolf-like creatures were hiding in the dark shadows below, waiting to jump out and attack us when we reached the bottom.

It was then that I heard my father in a stage whisper calling, “Sally, have you got the kid? You okay?”
“Yes, damn it, but I can’t get the ladder down. The latch is stuck.”
My mother struggled to release the catch that would allow the ladder at the bottom of the fire escape to slide to the ground. My fears heightened as I watched my father scramble around the alley below. He picked up a discarded wooden crate that he carried over and put down underneath the fire escape. Standing on it, he said, “Pass me the kid.”
After pulling me into his arms and setting me down, he helped my mother climb down. For a moment the three of us stood gathered together on the pavement amidst the rubbish and cans, a family portrait of an American scene that Norman Rockwell never captured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
My father possessed an optimistic disposition that no amount of adversity could dampen. What little money he brought in he made by taking bets on the horses. Unfortunately, he was not very successful. Like most bookmakers, he assumed that the customer is usually wrong. Acting on that assumption, he all too frequently took a bet he couldn’t cover. If the horse finished in the money, my father sometimes had to scramble to come up with the payoff.
Known around Times Square as “Honest Sid,” he followed the aphorism, “To live outside the law you must be honest”—since the penalties for dishonesty in the underworld can be far more severe than those meted out by the justice system. Whether or not his nickname was totally accurate, my father had no desire to find himself with broken kneecaps for welshing on a gambling debt. Skipping out on a hotel bill, though, was something else again. He looked upon it as a game of wits in which he was just one of many players.
That night my father was in his usual good humor as we walked hand in hand a few blocks to a rooming house where he had found temporary lodging. He turned to me and, despite my mother’s glare, said, “See kid, I told your mother it would be a cinch.”
My father was born in New York City on November 7, 1894, the next-to-youngest of twelve children. His father, my grandfather Nathan, had emigrated in 1868 from Austria at nineteen to seek his fortune in America, mainly at the card tables, staking himself with the money he made from his occupation as a jeweler. In 1876, Nathan married Rebecca Breiter, an extremely pretty young girl of seventeen who lived with her family on Delancey Street, a Jewish ghetto in New York’s Lower East Side.
The tone of my grandparents’ marriage was set early on when my young grandmother was expecting their first child.
“Becky, pack your bags. We’re leaving New York and going to England in three days. See, I got the tickets!” my grandfather exclaimed, waving them in his hand as he burst into their little flat. “Cousin Morris has that big store in Manchester—he’s written me and they could use a jeweler,” he continued.
“But why now, in such a hurry? And England—when I’m already five months along?” my grandmother blurted out.
“Please, don’t ask questions,” was the imploring reply.
All of the necessary arrangements were made with the help of my grandmother’s family, and within a few days they sailed for Liverpool on the Adriatic, one of the White Star Line’s express steamships that traveled the Great Circle route of the Atlantic from the United States to England. These iron-hulled ships were powered by steam-driven screw propellers but were still rigged with tall masts and canvas sails. On board, the first-class passengers were pampered in plush staterooms and a grand saloon furnished with marble fireplaces and plump velvet chairs and settees.
By contrast, my grandparents’ berth was a bare wooden stall lit by oil lamps with a canvas sleeping cot that folded away so a table with attached seats could be lowered for meals. In “the cellar on the ocean” there were two toilets for every hundred passengers, but my grandparents remembered the worst part of the ten-day voyage in steerage as the foul smell leaking from the engine room. The smell, the incessant noise of the screw, and the roll of the ship in heavy seas combined to make for a difficult journey, especially for a young woman pregnant with her first child.
During their voyage, my grandfather finally told his wife the real reason for their abrupt departure. He had lost heavily at cards and then borrowed money from loan sharks to cover his debt. In short order, he lost the borrowed money and realized that he had no chance of repaying the loan. Fearing for his safety, he decided to flee to England. Not only did a job await him, but most importantly, he would be beyond the reach of the loan sharks.
“Don’t worry, Becky. We’ll go back soon as it’s safe,” was the only consolation he could offer his wife.
They arrived in Manchester where their first son, Jacob, was born. The following year my grandfather felt the heat was off and he kept his promise to his wife. The family returned to New York City, moving into the same tenement on Delancey Street where Rebecca’s family lived. They were extremely fortunate to get a small four-room flat facing the street, although only the front room received direct light. They also had the luxury of a common indoor toilet in the narrow hallway. In case of fire, however, there was little chance of escape because the narrow stairways and fire escapes were crowded with furniture and boxes. In the hot summer months the fire escapes were also overflowing with tenants seeking relief from the fetid air indoors.
At the time, the English novelist Arnold Bennett remarked during a visit to New York that the Lower East Side “seemed to sweat humanity out of every door and window.” Factories, garment shops, laundries, and cigar shops crowded the rows of densely-packed dark tenements. Small shops and pushcarts lined the streets; the teeming throngs and cacophony of vendors hawking their wares gave it the feel of an aviary caged by tenement walls.

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Genre – Biographies & Memoirs

Rating – PG13

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

True Love’s First Kiss, The Queen of the Realm of Faerie Books 1-3 by Heidi Garrett

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***This is NOT Book 4 This is a compilation of Books 1-3***

In the Enchanted World, true love’s first kiss is magic.

Nandana’s Mark, Book 1: When two half-faeries–Melia and her younger sister–are cursed under dreadful circumstances, true love’s first kiss is the remedy.

The Flower of Isbelline, Book 2: Nothing but true love’s first kiss can save Melia’s younger sister from blind ambition and ruin.

The Dragon Carnivale, Book 3: Melia must choose the freedom she cherishes or true love’s first kiss–and a relationship that promises to secure her place in the Whole.

The Queen of the Realm of Faerie is a fairy tale fantasy series that bridges the Mortal and Enchanted worlds. The main character, Melia, is an eighteen-year-old half-faerie, half-mortal.

When the story opens in the first book, Melia is troubled by her dark moon visions, gossip she overhears about her parents at the local market, and the trauma of living among full-blooded faeries with wings–she doesn’t have any.

As the series unfolds, the historic and mystical forces that shape Melia’s life are revealed. Each step of her journey–to find the place where she belongs–alters her perceptions about herself, deepens her relationships with others, and enlarges her world view.

True Love’s First Kiss is a compilation of the first three books in this ongoing series.

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Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Blog http://www.heidigwrites.blogspot.com/

Orangeberry Free Alert - Will To Love by Miranda P. Charles

Will To Love - Miranda P. Charles

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Contemporary Romance

Rating - R

3.3 (16 reviews)

Free until 13 July 2013

Clarise Carson was desperate to keep her newly-engaged sister from playing matchmaker at her very own engagement party. She couldn't think of anything more embarrassing than have her sister's guests see her as the loser in love who couldn't find "The One" so she dragged a handsome friend to be her "pretend" boyfriend for the night. 

Will Matthews attended his friend Rick's engagement party for one reason - to meet Rick's future sister-in-law, the writer for Lifestyle by Design magazine, in the hope that he could have an article published for his boutique travel agency service. He knew Rick had plans to introduce him to some single girl at the party but he laughed it off. He had no desire whatsoever to be in a relationship with any woman who would want commitment. He was far too focused in building his business to the success he dreamed.
When Will and Clarise met, sparks flew and there was an instant, undeniable attraction between them. With Will, Clarise found herself wanting to bury demons from the past. But Will knew what he wanted - and it wasn't a relationship.
How could Clarise stop her old wounds from opening up and bleeding again? And how could Will learn to embrace the one thing he didn't even know he wanted?


Each book in the Lifestyle by Design series is a complete stand-alone novel that would give you enjoyment on its own.  However, to maximise your experience of the series, the author recommends reading them in order.

Will To Love is the first of three beautifully passionate, steamy love stories from the Lifestyle by Design series.

This book is for adults only.  It contains hot sexual content.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Tainted Waters by Maggie Thom

Chapter Seven

“We need to come up with a plan. It’s time to make a move.” He knew what the answer was going to be. It was the same one he’d been receiving for almost eighteen months. At some point those higher up had to get it.

“We’ve had this conversation. We have the opportunity to bring down a lot of players. A lot. So I’m not going to let you screw this up just because you’re getting a little antsy. Stick with it. Keep doing the job you were hired to do. Suck it up, in other words. This is too big for you to mess up now. You’re in there. The last two guys didn’t make it out. I’d hate for the same to happen to you.”

After a few more minutes of lecture about how important this operation was, he hung up before his asshole contact could say anymore. Like the guy would put his life on the line. Throw away all his morals, just to catch a bad guy.

He flung his cell phone across the small, flea-infested motel room and watched as it splintered into twenty pieces. It wasn’t exactly how he was supposed to get rid of his burn phone but it felt good. His boss, well, on this assignment anyway, was just looking to get his name in lights. To retire after having brought down one of the biggest dope rings in the area, maybe even the country. He was focussed on what he’d get out of it. His men, it seemed, were expendable. It was bring the son of a bitch down or die trying.

And all I stupidly want is an end to this. An end to the drugs. The killing. Driving his hand into the tattered wallpapered wall, he felt a little bit of satisfaction at the hole he’d left. Especially since he imagined it was a certain someone’s face. His boss may want him to continue as planned. To keep playing the game. But he’d had enough. He was in, tight. Had been in for a long time, but it was now time to figure out who, all the people involved were. He had some names but he’d made sure not to do too much digging. He had not wanted Ozz to be suspicious of him. But the time was now to figure out who they all were. At this point, all he wanted to do was to bring down the man who was as cold and as ruthless as they came.

He grabbed the pieces of his phone and strode out, distributing the small chunks in ten different dumpsters before heading back to the lake.


Keegan rode alone up to the fifth floor. The elevator opened into an expansive and expensive area. There were two solid cherry wood doors directly in front of him. He let out a long low whistle as he looked around. It felt more like he was in a lawyer’s office building in New York than a newspaper office building in the small city of Bentley. The large wall to his left caught his attention. Artfully framed plaques and photos adorned the cherry colored wall with brass inlays. Several things caught his attention immediately. His gaze was caught and held by a large blow-up picture of Mr. Tennison, the man who had built this dynasty but who had died way too young. In the picture his hair was dark brown and swept over to the side, leaving a big swoop in front. Keegan couldn’t help but smile. Even when his hair had turned white, he hadn’t been able to control that wayward curl. The plaque with the newspaper’s mission caught his attention.

“The Truth shall be told... by us.”

I’m working on that, Gramps. I’m working on that.

He pulled out his cell phone and snapped several pictures before turning around to get his bearings on where he needed to go. He walked back past the elevators to the large receptionist desk on his right. There was no one sitting there and the desk was clean as though no one had ever worked there. The computer was shut off. There was no one around. There were some faint rustling sounds but other than that the floor was almost silent. He moved around the counter, reaching to open a drawer, when he heard someone bellow.

“Corrine. Get in here.”

It appeared she’d forgotten to tell the boss she was gone for the day.

Keegan followed the voice and walked towards the cherry wood door, several feet behind the desk.

“Uh. I’m not–”

“Who are you?”

“Your receptionist downstairs called up, said I could meet with you.”

The large man behind the desk straightened from his slouched I-don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world-and-no-one-can-touch-me-position to sitting up and resting his arms on the desk. He straightened his wrinkled and stained tie. “You must be that author. Are you looking to do a local piece? An article on CEO’s? An article on running a paper? Being in the media?” He took off his glasses, tossing them on the desk, looking slightly embarrassed at being caught wearing them.

Keegan hunched his shoulders slightly before walking forward and sitting down in the plush leather chair, situated in front of the desk.

“Yes. How did you know? I know I’m being presumptuous but I’d really like to know about your life. About how you rose to be in this position? What training do you have?” What butts did you have to kiss? Or kill? And just who in the hell are you?

Mr. Donner’s chest puffed out. “I have no problem with that. However I want to make it clear that I want to have final say on what’s written. You’re not putting anything about me in a book that I don’t get to see. I pride myself on not being blindsided.”

Keegan slouched down in the chair. “Oh. Well. I’m not really going to write about you, I just need to get to know your story so that I can write a fictional story about a man like you. I can’t–”

“Oh. Oh. You’re just looking for some information?”

“Yeah. I mean I’ve heard so much about you. You’ve been in this position for almost ten years, haven’t you? That has to have been tough. What did you do before you got this position?”

“Well... I... well just like anyone else, I had to work my way to the top. I did most of the jobs here – from grunt work, layout, reporter. You name it, I did it.”

Yeah. And should have been fired from most of them. If his suspicions were correct, he’d done a whole lot more than that. He kept his smile in place. “Could you tell me what it was like when you first started as the CEO?”

He leaned forward resting his forearms on his desk. “It was damn hard when I started. The previous CEO died of a heart attack. Left the place a mess. Why, it took me weeks, months to scrap most of what he’d been doing and clean this place up...”

Keegan kept this head bowed. His fingers tightened on the pencil but he didn’t slow down the pace of his writing as Mr Donner droned on and on about himself.

“I had to let a lot of the staff go. They were just too loyal to the old guy. Wouldn’t take orders from me. Had to start fresh. I wasn’t going to put up with that. You know what I mean?”

“What happened to the previous CEO? I’m assuming that would be Mr. Tennison?”

“I already told you he died. Of a heart attack. Don’t you listen? What did you say your name was again?”

He winced at his mistake. “Wow, you had to take over just like that. The guy dies and you’re expected to come in and take over. Wow, that must have been something. I’d have been so scared I would have... well... you know. You sure are bold.”

“Well, it does take a certain kind of man to be able to do that. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy. It was a lot of hard work. Lots of meetings. Making it clear to people what was going to happen from now on. I’m not one to speak ill of the dead but the previous CEO didn’t know how to run this place. No sir. I had to straighten many a person out. Nothing gets printed in this paper without my say so.” The man continued on for another ten minutes without taking a breath.

He scribbled as fast as he could but then he pressed too hard and snapped the lead. He looked up. “Uh. I hate to interrupt but would you have a pencil sharpener or a pencil I could borrow? Wow, what about this pen?” He reached up and grabbed a gold pen mounted on a black onyx stand. “Mr. Tennison. Is that what it says? It’s hard to read, it looks like some of it’s been scratched out.” He looked up expectantly.

“Give me that!” Mr. Donner stood up and reached over the desk.

He leaned forward fumbling the pen, it fell to the floor. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I’ll get it.” As he stood up he placed his hand on the desk and then went down on one knee to get it. He bent way down so that he could reach under the desk. His hand slid along the desk and the black onyx stand flew off the desk, narrowly missing his head.

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Genre – Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.maggiethom.com/

Monday, July 8, 2013

Author Interview – JD Combs

If I could live anywhere in the world, and still have easy access to my family after they’ve grown and gone, I would live on a Caribbean Island where warm tropical breezes tickle my face when I wake up in the morning.

One of my all-time, favorite movies is Love Actually.  It warms my heart every time I watch it.

Hands down my favorite meal is crab legs ~ just crab legs, nothing else.

One thing that gets me more fired up than anything is women/girl’s rights.  I just watched Girl Rising.  It was a powerful movie about the plight of women and girls across the world.  It made me realize how far we still need to go to make sure all of our girls grow up to be strong, educated women who don’t have worry about living in poverty, being infected with AIDS or being beaten, raped or killed because they are female.

How many friends does a person need? You know, it’s funny.  A writer friend, Julie Farley, and I were just talking about the perception most people have about writers.  We both came to the conclusion that most people assume writers are solitary people who prefer their own company.  Julie and I feel that we are not the same as other writer’s.  Both of us need the company and companionship of friends to help keep us motivated and moving forward.

Charley, a devoted wife and mother of five, has a life that looks picture perfect to those around her. But years of living life in a neglected marriage make her question her relationship with her husband. Charley spends sleepless nights writing in her journal and trying to find happiness in the life she has. She’s not sure she can continue living a dull, loveless life anymore.
When an old high school crush strikes up a conversation on the Internet, an innocent flirtation begins. Charley begins to, once again, feel alive and vibrant, but she quickly learns not everything is what it seems. Will her naiveté in the online world propel her toward the point of no return? Will the woman who seemed to have it all lose it in the blink of an eye? Or will Charley finally find the happiness she’s been craving?

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Genre –  Romantic Suspense

Rating – R (adult language / sexual scenes)

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Website http://www.jdcombs.com/

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - An Unquiet American by AFN Clarke

DAY 3 – MARCH 2008


Rufus Reed stared at the light as if trying to assimilate it into his soul. To become the light and block out every other stimulus that had been flirting with his sanity. The after effects of the drug they had given him had finally worn off, leaving a lingering feeling of disconnect with the real world.

‘What difference would it make in the totality of time?’ he thought idly as the light burned deep into his mind, shining onto memories that had long been left in the dark recesses of a life few people would ever know. ‘This is an interesting experience and what matter if I should die as a result? I’ve lived well, loved deeply, fought hard…’ he paused his thinking and sighed. ‘But perhaps I haven’t been the father I should have been.’

Normally he was not given to reminiscing about the past, except perhaps to enhance the quality of his work, because the future always had so much to offer in the excitement of the unknown. Besides, he knew that a few unforgivable mistakes, some bad behavior and two ill-advised marriages, had no redeeming qualities under the harsh light of introspection. ‘Just what kind of ridiculous truth serum did they give me,’ he thought, knowing that the drugs were more successful in novels than in real life. ‘Except that stuff the Russians were supposed to have come up with, Litvinenko called it SP-117 before he was killed by radionuclide polonium-210. And he should have known because he said he used it himself when he was working for the Russian Federal Security Service. Ah well, no matter, my life’s an open book.’ The silly reference to his job as a novelist made him smile as tried to clear his head. He had no memory of anything from the moment he felt the needle in his neck, just glimpses of shadowy figures and the boring murmur of his own voice, until yesterday when he began to emerge from his drugged state.

He tried to remember the events from the time of the attack in Marin to this moment, but only saw ghostly images in his mind as if he was caught in a living dream. ‘Perhaps if I can go with the dream I can piece together the puzzle. Figure out what I said, or didn’t say,’ he thought, rationalizing that fighting the remembered images and trying to sort them into a logical pattern would not reveal the truth.

The CIA was well versed in truth serums, the use of LSD, and hypnosis from their experiments during the 1950s, but what other chemical tools were in their box-of-tricks. Reed was sure he had caused his interrogators a great deal of frustration, which was why they were letting him drift back to reality so that they could progress in a more traditional way.

‘This is combat,’ he thought as his mind slowly cleared. 'There is always a certain feeling of inevitability about combat, a feeling that you are already dead, and that surreal conviction helps get through the fear, the terror of killing and watching friends die.’

And like combat, there were certain tactics, manoeuvres and tricks that could keep the enemy guessing. It didn’t necessarily change the outcome, but it made their job much more difficult.

Rufus Reed liked that tiny sense of control, that rebellion against the inevitable.

‘According to Sun Tzu,’ he mused, ‘All warfare is Deception and If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant’.

Reed wondered if his tormentors had read ‘The Art of War’. He had been in this position before, and the training of so many years ago stood him in good stead, but he idly wondered why he should fight instead of just succumbing to their wishes.

“You wrote that you 'knew’ that Saddam Hussein did not possess nuclear weapons. How did you know?” The voice was as reasonable and insistent as always.

“I was born….” Rufus began.

“Answer the question,” the Interrogator interrupted impatiently.

Rufus sighed disappointedly, held the Interrogator’s gaze and allowed a slight smile to twitch his dry lips.


“Really. But that still doesn’t answer my question.”

Rufus looked away from the light at the face in the shadows. It took a little time for the face to come into focus as the effects of the drug had slowed his reactions. When it did, it was a caricature American Military face; a clean-cut face with fleshy lips, and an impossibly chiseled jaw.

Rufus smiled inwardly. ‘An amateur posing as a professional,’ he thought with a glimmer of satisfaction. ‘A True Believer. Patriotic to the core, but under-educated and inexperienced. Why is it that the most Powerful Nation on Earth is politically and diplomatically the most ignorant?’

As he studied the face behind the light, his peripheral vision took in the rest of the cell. The Interrogators euphemistically called it a room, but it was a cell and each day he formed a more cohesive picture of what might be outside these walls.

The room was obviously East European. Rufus could smell the mould in the rough cheap wall plaster tinted with ageing colors of green and pale yellow, and idly wondered why Government interior designers the world over, seemed to think that two tone wall colors were in any way desirable.

Perhaps he was in a Russian satellite country.

‘No not Russia, a former Russian province.’

The window behind him was narrow and quite wide, punctuated with two cheap heavy galvanized steel bars that rusted in the damp winter, beyond the bars mildew formed on the concrete that blocked any view there might have been. The heavy steel door in front of him, was set into the rotting walls, and he smiled inwardly at the thought that perhaps the people who constructed this prison imagined that the door itself was deterrent enough for a determined prisoner. But then maybe this had been the house of an aristocrat long since deceased as the Russian revolution swept across Eastern Europe. The mildew was a clue, and he smiled at the thought that the room was in a cellar and the bricked up ‘window’ was a bluff.

‘It is going to be very undignified, dying in a foreign cellar at the hands of sadistic amateurs.

He brushed the musings away.

“You have the rudeness and arrogance of youth, and none of the finesse of experience,” Reed said quietly. “I was born in a foreign land, just after the Second World War…”

“We know that. Kowloon, Hong Kong.”

The Young Interrogator felt secure in the knowledge he had digested for four days before starting the interrogation and that he had control. The experimental drug they had injected Reed with produced nothing more than garbled reminiscences, so now it was time to move to the next phase of interrogation. It was difficult because the man opposite him, this ‘Master Terrorist’, had the ability to shut him down with a few, well-chosen, words. He could feel the sweat beginning to pool in his lower back and soak through his underwear, and feared it would appear as a small ‘V’ shaped stain on his immaculately pressed pants. It was a fear he had never been able to shake. An irrational fear based on the thought that anyone he met was secretly scrutinizing him in detail and would surely notice that telltale sign of his lack of confidence.

Rufus Reed leaned forward and stared into his eyes, and saw the uncertainty.

“You know nothing,” Rufus said slowly. “You only know what you think you know, but you know nothing. You have a list of dates and times, of names and places but that tells you nothing. Only that I existed in those places at those times. You do not have the thoughts, the emotions, the smells, the experiences of touch and sensation. You do not have the ability to understand why something happens…..,” he paused again and waited, watching the young man’s eyes until they flickered down to the table, “…differently.”

The Interrogator tried to smile, feeling that maybe he could fool Rufus Reed into thinking that he was playing with him.

“We have everything you ever wrote,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “We’ve studied your books, emails, everything.” He leaned forward as if explaining to a child. “We know you. We have all the facts,” he whispered and leaned back again smiling smugly, feeling a little more confident.

“The facts,” Rufus Reed said quietly. “What facts? Do you know what a man is thinking when he stares at a woman’s breasts? Could it be that he is a sculptor thinking of Venus, a predator thinking of rape, or a homosexual thinking of his mother? Or do you assume he is thinking what you would think and what you want him to think? What do you know when a man writes satire that is interpreted as literal truth? Fiction that is interpreted as fact? Know me? You know nothing. I can tell you more about yourself right now than you will ever know about me.”

There was a sudden fear in the young interrogator’s blue eyes. An unconscious flicker that Rufus was looking for, and the impossibly square cleft chin thrust forward antagonistically.

“I doubt that,” the younger man said aggressively.

“You were born in the mid west, your accent gives that away,” Rufus carried on smoothly. “Your father was probably a middle manager for a local company, Westinghouse maybe, and your mother a pillar of the PTA. You were a High School quarterback but failed to make a college team so you went into the military. After all, your Daddy was a cook in some training camp, maybe in Biloxi, never saw combat and voted conservative no matter what the issues were because that’s what ‘Good ole country boys do’. And whatever America did in the world was a-okay, providing it kept the dollars flowing in and you didn’t have to think about the poor Blacks down the road and starvation in Bangladesh, or that fact that you were ripping off the resources of the oil producing countries as fast as the tankers could sail. That’s what this country’s all about. Overthrow a democratically elected Government, put a Dictator in power and bribe him to give away his country’s wealth for a Swiss Bank Account and an apartment in the Big Apple. This is a pale copy of the Roman Empire with all of the self-centred, militaristic arrogance and yet none of the art. We let the Government do anything it wants as long as we don’t have to think about the consequences as we wallow in luxury.”

The Interrogator’s eyes widened before he recovered and attempted a weak smile that was supposed to impart denial. Rufus Reed allowed himself a moment of smugness before he went back to staring at the light, but not before he looked directly at the mirrored wall behind and to the right of the Interrogator.

“You want to know me, then listen. But I fear that you will not hear. It’s not in your nature. Any of you.” His eyes flickered back to the light.

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Genre – Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.afnclarke.com/