Dreaming in the Pages

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Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Halo of the Nephilim by Dina Rae

Chapter One

Armaros woke up disoriented, trapped in the backseat of a black sedan. His head throbbed. He was uncertain about the time that had elapsed and confused about the handcuffs that tightly bound his hands. Memories of his arrest came rushing back. He was taken into custody in front of his Chicago Yezidi congregation. Now he could be anywhere.

As he lay motionless in the backseat, he noticed his casual dress of khakis and a button-down shirt. The clothes spurred his memory. He was in real trouble. The car had double sunroofs, both open, allowing him to look up at the sky. Wherever he was the skies were bright blue with fluffy white clouds. He propped up his head silently and peered out of the backseat window. He was so hot, an almost impossible feeling. Angels were immune to earthly temperatures of all extremes. It occurred to him where he was and who he was with.

Armaros hadn’t been to this desert in centuries. The law enforcement agent driving the car introduced himself as Agent Gaston back in Chicago, but even then there had been something familiar in an unnatural way. The agent, also the driver, had piercing icy blue eyes, inhuman. Those eyes had the same hue and intensity as Satan’s eyes. Yes, it’s him. How could I have been fooled? Armaros shuddered. Did Master come up from the pit to take me back to Hell?

Pretending to sleep, Armaros racked his mind for a way out. As he stared through the sunroofs, he saw several large scavenger birds swooping through the air. They were abnormally larger than their Earthly counterparts. These supersized flocks fed off of the dead. They were vicious birds. Armaros nearly screamed. He almost forgot about his own powers. He had only seconds before Satan realized he was awake.

One of the birds, a female condor flying fifty yards above him, hissed at the others and then plunged toward the car. Armaros had the bird’s attention.

Find my congregation. They’re on my island off of the coast of Italy. Listen for their prayers to me. I am Armaros. Bring them here to Chaos. They will save me,” he commanded silently.

The giant, grotesque bird pounced onto the trunk and flew away. Armaros hoped she understood.

Satan looked in the backseat. Armaros tossed and turned, then opened his eyes and saw Satan’s gaze behind the black sunglasses boring into him.

He sat up and acted disorientated. “Nooo,” Armaros shrieked.

Satan lowered his sunglasses and exposed his true face, clay-colored, pocked with pits, scars, and burns. He heinously smiled, showing his double row of canines.

Andel looked out the back window and saw an endless single file line of identical black sedans following them. He continued yelling, putting on a show, although he was truly terrified. Once he thought his feigned shock was convincing, he stopped and watched Satan as he drove.

“You’re sweating. Haven’t been this hot in a while.” Satan smiled. “How long has it been since the temperature bothered you? To think you were once my favorite. I gave you the best of both worlds and you…” Satan paused. “You’ll pay for this rebellion.”

“We’re in Chaos?” Armaros asked.

“Ah, you remember,” Satan answered. Chaos was a vast desert that separated Hell and Earth.

They drove for miles in silence until an enormous black boulder large enough to be mistaken for a small mountain came into view. As they approached, Armaros recognized the infamous landmark. Satan stopped the car and got out. The ninety cars following them stopped and waited in a perfect single-file line. Inside the boulder was the locked entrance to Hell. Satan crawled up the rock like a professional mountain climber and opened up a panel.

While Satan unlocked the entrance, Andel looked up to the rock’s rugged peak. He heard inhuman sounds of wailing and bird squalls. There was his Fallen brother, Azazel, cuffed, chained, and bound to the boulder’s peak. This is Dudael, Hell’s entrance, Armaros recalled. Satan jumped several feet down from the rock and returned to the car. A hidden ramp caked with mounds of sand lowered into the Pit.

“Home sweet home, Armaros. Or do you prefer Andel Talistokov?” Satan drove down the sandy ramp onto the first level of Hell.

Armaros forgot about this level, although he had never spent much time in it. Many referred to this barren, dark region as Purgatory. Satan discouraged all of his angels from visiting the area. It was off-limits per the treaty after he lost the war in Heaven.

Although Purgatory was a hellish place, it was far from Hell. The land extended for thousands of miles with mountains on top of mountains jutting throughout the landscape. The mountains acted as gates, keeping the souls inside. Some would climb over to the other side and be greeted with a bottomless drop into one of the many lakes of fire below where the rest of Hell’s lower levels were located.

Armaros took in the desolate land and remembered how Purgatory served as a foyer before the Pit. The setting was sinister enough to give the undecided souls a taste of what was to come.

Sunlight from Chaos streamed in, giving the souls a taste of natural sunlight. The only other light inside of Purgatory came from fire and molten lava that erupted from scattered volcanoes throughout the mountain range.

“Armaros? Or Andel? Are you listening to me?” Satan asked, perturbed but still in control.

“Of course. It’s been so long. You choose my name, Master,” he answered.

“Armaros, your angelic name, is what you will be called.”

The heat was suffocating, getting warmer as they descended down the ramp. Armaros looked back through the ramp’s opening at Dudael. Ninety black sedans trailed them. He froze in amazement of his own arrogance. There once was a time he believed he could secede from Hell. Not only was he a traitor, but a fool.

A little voice inside of Armaros still fought, not willing to throw in the towel. It’s not over yet. I still got my island, my congregation, my children, and that bird that I sent…Satan is not all-knowing. Maybe the bird will get there in time.

“You see Azazel on top of the rock?” Satan asked.

“Has he been chained…”

“Yes, at least the whole time you’ve been on Earth. There were a few exceptions before that. But only a few of us have the key to his shackles, you, of course, being one of them. Do you still have them? Doesn’t matter. He’s part of the agreement with Him. I remember Raphael chaining him up as if it were yesterday,” Satan answered. “Soon Azazel’s time will be served and he’ll be free.”

Armaros remembered that life-altering battle as if it just happened. The war in Heaven lasted nine days. Their pride, arrogance, and stupidity caused the defeat. He remembered falling from the sky for what seemed forever. Nine days was not and never would be considered a war, but that’s how Satan referred to it. Nine days was more of an insignificant uprising, easily squelched. Satan had eternity to reflect on his mistake, and so did all of his followers.

Many, including Armaros, still held a grudge. Satan assured them that next time would be different. He, his Fallen, and army of lost souls would be better prepared, better equipped, and better trained for another chance.

Armaros had been such a big part of building that army. Because of his innovations within the advertising world, numbers grew exponentially. And now, his usefulness was discounted. Satan once again let his pride supersede logic.

The long ramp eventually leveled out, leading them to the barren outskirts of Purgatory. The ramp stayed down while the others followed. As they drove further away, Armaros studied the swatch of sky from the ramp’s opening. Vultures, condors, and buzzards swarmed around the opening, waiting.

Frequently, souls attempted to escape. If they were smart enough, patient enough, and determined enough, they might slip out of Purgatory and into the desert while the ramp was open. Smelling death, the scavenger birds pounced, consuming what was left of the soul’s physicality. Many witnessed these blood-thirsty birds devouring the escaped.

Rumors spread throughout Purgatory. Souls continued to try, rationalizing that they might not get to Heaven but were spared from Hell. Those who slipped through the ramp’s opening into Dudael never made it past the Chaos Desert. The birds were too quick and too hungry.

As the last sedan drove down the ramp, the passenger, another Fallen angel, got out of the car and turned the key inside of the boulder. The ramp ascended, ending the light. Armaros admired their efficiency. Before the ramp completely closed, a few dozen souls slipped out.

“The birds will eat well today.” Satan headed towards the center of Purgatory.

Sand rained from the ramp, causing a sandstorm. All the cars stopped, closed up the windows, and waited for it to pass.

Armaros looked around Purgatory, surprised by its expansion. It had once been the size and population of a small city suburb. Now tens of thousands meandered through the valleys. Judging by the density of souls by the ramp, he figured over a million had to be stuck there, waiting.

As they drove, Armaros watched some of the souls pray. Others roamed around without destination carrying torches, lanterns, and candles. The fires only made the temperature even more oppressive, but were the only means of avoiding the darkness. Satan and his followers put on their headlights as they approached the spiral highway that led down to the Pit.

Souls who landed in Purgatory did not belong to God or Satan. They had to wait in a combination of spirit and bodily form. They were off limits, untouchable per the divine treaty that Satan was forced to sign after the Fall. Every split second someone was dropped into Purgatory through a one way chute. Next to the chute was the only star in Purgatory’s sky. Souls who were chosen to ascend would rise up to the star and disappear, giving the masses hope. Other souls not as fortunate were thrown into the black hole that a spiral highway was wrapped around. As Satan reached the exit, he’d smile every time a soul was cast into the black hole. His army was growing.

As they circled down the black hole on the spiral highway paved with ash, Armaros noticed the sideshows taking place along the highway’s shoulder. His ears drummed with the sounds of screaming and crying. He watched some dance, fornicate, cackle, scratch, and throw themselves at the cars as they descended. The world was so civilized, sophisticated, and kind in comparison. He had forgotten about the rampant madness.

With every circle they’d complete, they’d reach a deeper level of Hell, nine levels total, including Chaos and Purgatory. The kingdom was designed to sort the souls by their sins, assigning each type of sinner a level to take up residence until he or she was called upon. The lowest levels housed the most despicable sinners.

Each level had a gate with guards and guard houses, preventing souls from drifting into levels they were not damned to live in. Some would explore, but the guards made it almost impossible. Every century or so, a soul would escape their assigned level and make it as far as Chaos only to be greeted by vicious birds. Satan and his angels were the only beings with complete access to all of the kingdom’s levels with the exception of Azazel. Armaros predicted his movements would also be restricted.

The spiraled road grew wider with more lanes. Each level was more heavily populated than Armaros remembered. Resentment burned hotter than the temperature.

Once they reached the bottom of the spiraled road, they were officially in Hell’s capital, Pandemonium. Satan and his followers drove down the main road. The city was reserved for Satan’s castle, his Fallen, most of whom held high military titles, and the world’s most wicked souls.

The city’s architecture used chrome, mirrors, and other reflecting glass and metal, casting images of evil in all directions. Lakes of fire burned around the city’s boundaries, making it somewhat of an island. Satan’s castle sat atop the only hill. Endless blazing torches illuminated the ashen windy road that led to its gates.

Satan pulled into his dealership and dropped off his sedan, pushing Armaros out of the backseat, still cuffed. They stood at the entrance and waited for the others to drop off their sedans. Those who accompanied Satan to Earth were the bulk of his highest ranking soldiers. A few were missing. Like Armaros, they held Earthly charters for similar reasons. Armaros knew who they were. Some had even promised to join him. Where are they now?

Satan motioned to Samael, one of his angels, and directed, “I don’t want him flying.”

Samael reached into a tanned skin pouch he wore on his belt and retrieved a needle and spool. Armaros had the same kit left behind in his basement. The thread was spun from Satan’s hair. Samael tied the thread to the jagged needle, tore Armaros’s shirt off, and stitched yards of thread into his shoulder blades, preventing his wings from opening. The few ounces of blood Armaros had left inside of his body trickled down his back. The heat combined with the blood loss made him weak and dizzy.

“Carry him,” Satan commanded. “The rest of you go on with your duties.”

A flock of charred black wings fluttered into the air like giant bats and soared in different directions of the city. Satan, Samael, and Armaros were the last remaining in front of the car dealership. Samael threw Armaros’s body over his shoulder as if he was weightless, and then flew over the illuminated road leading up to the castle. The sky high metal gates spiked with pitchforks opened at Satan’s command. They landed at the front entrance where Judas Iscariot and his guards stood watch. Judas smiled at Armaros as if he was in on some secret.

Saddled with fear, Armaros looked at Satan and asked, “Will you forgive me?” He instantly wanted to take back his question as Satan and the others cackled.

“Forgiveness is His business, not mine.” Satan said.

Attempting to save face, Armaros asked, “I mean, will you ever give me another chance? I once exceeded your expectations. I could do it again. As I look around this place, I cannot help but notice the immense expansion. You know as well as I do that I am responsible for much of Hell’s growth…”

“Shut your ugly mouth. How dare you try to elevate yourself here, in front of me and my most faithful? You betrayed me!”

Armaros again wondered about how much he knew. He had been so discreet about the island and his new congregation. Was Satan only enraged about the Commandments that Armaros had stolen so many centuries ago? He remained quiet, ready to be tortured.

“Armaros, and its Armaros from now on when you are down here, I alone will determine your fate. Judas, open the damned door!”

Judas and eleven of his men pulled back the immense black iron door with mosaic mirrored insets. Satan, Samael, and Armaros entered into the castle’s foyer. Trophies of human heads and penises lined the mantle of the enormous roaring fireplace. They walked down the never-ending hallway lit by dozens of candle chandeliers draped with mummified hands. At the end of the hallway there was no floor. The drop led to the basement, acting like a gigantic slide without a slope. Flames blazed around the circular walls.

“Your cell awaits. Let’s go,” Satan ordered. The three of them fell hundreds of feet down into the basement where the prisoners were kept.

Armaros looked down the long corridor. The prison was almost empty, with exception of two sleeping male prisoners. He wondered if they were really sleeping or acting the part to avoid involvement.

At the end of the cell block was a door. Armaros had never been to the prison. He wasn’t surprised it was almost empty. Hell was enough of a prison in itself.

“Girls!” Satan bellowed. “We’re back”

Satan led Armaros to the last cell in the block, the farthest away from the slide’s opening. He opened the barred cell door for Armaros. He obediently stepped inside, his eyes never leaving the bottom of the slide. He wondered who the ‘girls’ were. Moments later, two female human forms hit the floor. At first he didn’t recognize them, but as they came closer…

“Juliet? Catalina?” Armaros called out.

Both women stood before him wearing black lace and expressions of malice. They looked oddly seductive, like ghostly Playboy models. Despite his dismal situation, he felt a rise in his manhood. His arousal was short lived as they laughed at him. They were beyond enthusiastic in whatever Satan had planned.

They were advertising partners who worked for him at The Evil Empire. Juliet Jacobsen was his old lover. Catalina Rojas, his daughter, was a modern day nephilim. Both women had an incredible future, but turned against him. Their hatred was countered with death. Now the tables were turned.

“Ladies, warm him up for me, would you? My toys are in there.” Satan pointed towards the door adjacent to his cell. “Samael, stay with the ladies and keep an eye on him. Keep him cuffed. I’ll watch from the comfort of my throne.”

Satan strolled down the corridor and ascended up the slide.

What does he mean by that? Armaros wondered. Were there hidden cameras? Did he have some kind of viewing hole from his throne? It had been centuries since he was in Satan’s palace, but he remembered the throne was on the other side of the castle. There wasn’t a camera to be seen. First, the birds, and now the low security…A spark of hope flickered.

Samael stood in the prison’s hallway, emotionless and silent, as were the women and the two prisoners Armaros believed were pretending to sleep.

“So, Juliet, Catalina, what level did he put you on?” No answer. “I know how to get out of here, to Earth. A little help…” he whispered. No answer. “Any chance of rekindling our past relationship?” His last comment caused Juliet to slap him.

Catalina opened the unlocked door and came out with a stool and a sadistic grin on her translucent face. She looked at Samael who stoically let her inside of the cell.

Armaros could easily destroy what was left of her in so many ways, but Satan would keep a long line of torturers coming until he got his justice. For the moment he was trapped. The stitches firmly held his wings back, leaving him in human form, able to feel every nerve ending inside of his body, and every pulse of pain. That was how Satan wanted it. It was time to perform.

Catalina set down the stool next to him, gesturing for him to sit down. The stool wasn’t the usual bar stool Armaros was used to. It was special, a Judas Cradle. He had heard of this unique device, and was now subject to its agony. The small wooden seat was shaped like a pyramid with an arrowhead tip fastened at the top.

Catalina spoke for the first time. “Please have a seat. You’re our guest of honor.”

“Thanks for the hospitality, but I’d rather stand. You ladies want to torture me, why not do something truly sinister like…waterboarding.” They both laughed at the absurdity.

Juliet went into the torture device room and exited with a ball spiked with nails and razors attached to a chain along with a spray bottle. She sprayed the ball, careful not to let any of the drops touch her hands, and then entered the cell. Catalina stood in the corner, gleaming.

Juliet twirled the ball in circles, gaining momentum, and then whacked Armaros in the back. “She said, ‘sit the fuck down’. Now.”

Armaros doubled over in pain. As he stood up, he said, “Holy water. Effective. Guess I’ll sit down now.”

“Too bad we only have this spray bottle. A couple of gallons and we could really waterboard you,” Juliet sneered.

Armaros lowered himself onto the stool, allowing the sharp tip to be inserted deep within the recess of his anus. He cringed with pain as the tip ripped through the orifice’s lining. He wanted to cry, scream, kill, react, but bit his tongue and let the women continue, taking his mind elsewhere. He thought of the condor bringing Harriet, Franco, or Pasquale back to Chaos. Even Marcus might be crazy enough to help save him.

Halo of the Nephilim

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Genre - Horror/Paranormal

Rating – R

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Website http://dinarae.co/

Portals to the Vision Serpent - Carla Woody

— Chapter Four —

AT NIGHT BEFORE he went to bed, Preston had marked the moon’s cycles and felt an undercurrent of expectancy, barely contained. Mama Luna had kept a nightly vigil in the garden as well, and the loom continued to rest. The two of them shared an unspoken pact as though they were waiting for something to break. Preston wondered if Sybilla had detected the strain of excitement galvanizing the household because, instead of rushing off on far-flung assignments, she stayed home. Periodically, Preston noticed her contemplating him with a fine eye. Other times, she scrutinized Mama Luna going about her daily activities, perhaps trying to tease out something in her actions. For the first time ever, instead of longing intensely for his mother to be there with him, Preston had wished her gone for a while.

Finally, she did go. The assignment to Norway came suddenly, probably too good to turn down. She threw some clothes in a suitcase and left, after giving him a perfunctory kiss on the head and some short instructions to Mama Luna. The moon was waxing. In two nights’ time it would be full.

That will be when time is best, he thought to himself. For some reason, he chose to remain silent about this secret thing. Even though he had no clue what the “best time” was about, he knew it was well revealed to both Mama and Smoky but equally unspoken.

If you speak about some things, they lose their power. Smoky gave him this advice some time ago.

“Why, Smoky?” He hadn’t quite been able to figure out that one.

It’s natural to want to share with your friends. But sometimes people don’t understand some things, particularly things they can’t see with their eyes. Or things that don’t make sense to them. It scares them and they don’t like to be afraid.

Preston stared, his lips forming a perfectly round “o.”

“Like when I tried to tell Mom about you?”

That would be one example.

After Smoky started keeping him company, Preston wanted to share his new friend. He had asked his mother if he could invite him to lunch. She set a place for Preston’s guest at the table. But when no flesh-and-blood little boy showed up, yet Preston carried on a lively conversation toward the chair across the table, her brows knitted in confusion. After a while, a slight smile began to play around her mouth. Later he overheard his mother on the telephone to one of her co-workers.

“I wish you could have seen it! It was the cutest thing! PJ jabbering away to an imaginary playmate!” His mother’s friend must have had something to say on the matter. “Do you think I should worry about him? His father had problems, you know.”

His ears had pricked up at mention of his father, but indignation overcame his curiosity. Smoky wasn’t imaginary. He also felt a little ashamed, like there was something wrong with him. So he decided not to ever mention Smoky, even when his mother said to invite his friend to lunch again. He didn’t want her to laugh at him. He longed to tell her everything in his small life. But, from that point on, there were some things he made the decision to withhold.

The day his mother left for Norway was a Saturday. Preston had felt liberated. To express it, he played really hard in the back yard, running and jumping straight up in the air, pretending his feet had springs. Indeed, it felt like he could leap right up into the sun. He talked Smoky into a sword fight. Smoky called it “fencing.” Their implements looked different, too.

Preston made his sword about a month before during arts and crafts at school. It had a wide cardboard blade and handle. He’d glued aluminum foil over the blade and sprinkled glitter on the hilt. Not too much. It didn’t stay glued anyway. Every time he held the shaft some of the glittery stuff came off on his hands. One time he must have accidentally smeared some on his face because his mother noticed and proclaimed it fairy dust. He liked the idea that his sword was magical. He remembered the story about King Arthur. The magic rubbed off on him, just like the fairy dust, and made him wise. Preston relished knowing things other people didn’t. After all, he had Smoky advising him on how to notice things, and Mama Luna confided offhand tidbits.

When Preston ran circles around Smoky jabbing the air with his sword, Smoky gave his own arm a sharp shake. A long band of vibrating light emerged from the end of a finger. Preston thought in terms of Smoky having arms and fingers, but it wasn’t really like anyone else’s. It was more that he could see with his inner vision. Smoky’s blade, though, he could make out clearly as throbbing luminous pixels. Smoky had allowed Preston to thrust and yell until apparently he had enough. Then he took laser-like aim with the light particles, and tapped the spot where Preston’s hand met the shaft. The sword inexplicably flew out of his grasp and arced over to land several feet away. Astounded but gleeful at the challenge, Preston retrieved his weapon and charged back to win the day. Several times these events repeated themselves until he was just plain worn out.

Red-faced and sweaty with play, Preston huffed and puffed, “How do you do that, Smoky?”

Instead of running and expending his vitality needlessly, a true warrior becomes still. Then he can tell where the openings are for things to go his way. That’s when he acts because he knows the truth of his action.

“That’s what I want to be! A true warrior!” Preston beamed and waved his own finger in the air with half a hope that light would project.

“Solocito!” He heard Mama Luna calling him to dinner, sticking her dark head out the back door. When he came tearing into the house with a last bit of rambunctious energy, she laughed and exclaimed how stinky he was from his hot play. At least that was the gist of what he understood her to say. But she allowed him to sit at the table with her anyway and fed him his favorite meal: franks and beans mixed with some yellow mustard, carefully sprinkled with sweet pickle relish, and tater tots on the side.

After dinner she bustled him off to take a bath, ignoring his loud protestations. It was their way of joking. With his mother, he’d learned to be quiet most of the time. She usually seemed to have something on her mind.

“Very important tonight for you to take your bath, Solocito!” Mama nodded knowingly at him and closed the door to give him his privacy.

“Oh,” he peeped. A light bulb went on. He quickly discarded his clothes and submerged himself in the warm water. He thought briefly about playing frogman, but it seemed bathing had taken on a new significance based on Mama’s words. So, instead, he dutifully soaped himself and made sure all parts of himself were sweet-smelling and clean. By the time he had emerged from the now dark-ringed bathtub, he felt the effects of his earlier exertion, a full belly and freshly scrubbed body.

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Genre –  Fiction / Coming of Age / Historical

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.kenosis.net/

The Pat O'Malley Historical Steampunk Mystery Trilogy by Jim Musgrave

Jim Musgrave

Here are all three suspenseful mysteries in one book!
Forevermore, the first mystery, was a #2 bestseller in Amazon's Historical Mystery category. It has received outstanding reviews from readers, and it establishes Pat O'Malley as a detective sleuth par excellence. The second mystery, Disappearance at Mount Sinai, continues the development of the characters amidst an excellent caper. The third mystery, Jane the Grabber, plunges O'Malley into the middle of the Steampunk world, and it marks a turning point in the novels to come.

Forevermore Synopsis:
"Musgrave mixes accurate history with a spell-binding plot to create an amazing who-done-it! Watch for more Pat O'Malley Mysteries."

In post Civil War New York City, Detective Pat O'Malley is living inside Poe's Cottage in the Bronx. O'Malley is haunted by Poe one night, and the detective finds a strange note. As a result, O'Malley decides to prove that Edgar Allan Poe did not die in Baltimore from an alcoholic binge but was, instead, murdered. O'Malley quickly becomes embroiled in a "cold case" that thrusts him into the lair of one of the most sinister and ruthless killers in 1865 New York City.

Jim Musgrave's "Forevermore" is a quick read in four acts that will keep your mind razor sharp trying to solve the mystery of Poe's murder. Pat O'Malley must first find out how to become intimate with females before he can discover the final clue in this puzzle of wits, murder and romance.

Disappearance at Mount Sinai Synopsis:
What if the anti-Semites, racists, and terrorists wanted the final revenge following the Civil War? How do you stop them from committing the worst atrocity?

It's 1866 in New York City. Civil War Vet and Detective Pat O'Malley's biggest case returns him to the deep, dark South to search for the kidnapped wealthiest inventor and entrepreneur in America. But the widening gyre of anti-Semitism and racism pulls him down into the pit of hell itself. Disguised as an Oxford England Professor, O'Malley infiltrates the anti-Semites' group and travels with his partners, Becky Charming and his father, Robert, down to a Collierville, Tennessee mansion.

At the crux of this case are a Jewish father and his five-year-old son, Seth. They have developed a unique bond that relies on Jewish folklore and a belief that they are Mazikeen, half-angel and half-human, born from the loins of Adam's strange female cohorts during the 130 years he was banished from the Garden. Will O'Malley find Dr. Mergenthaler before it's too late? What does this world-wide eugenics group have planned for the mongrel races? Read Jim Musgrave's Disappearance at Mount Sinai, the second mystery in the series of Pat O'Malley Mini-Mysteries.

Jane the Grabber Synopsis:
What was it like before women were given rights to determine their own destinies? How was abortion and birth control used in the 1860s? What happens to a society when the last sexual taboo is permitted? Find out in the third mystery in the Pat O'Malley Historical Steampunk Mystery Series, Jane the Grabber.

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Genre – Historical Steampunk Mystery 
Rating – PG13
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$250 Amazon.com gift card giveaway

Free Call Me Jane (The Oshkosh Trilogy) by Anthea Carson


Jane's a nice girl, smart, pretty, and capable. But a desire to fit into her new school sends her reeling into a world filled with drugs, alcohol, and manipulation.

At first, Jane adores her new life. The dullness of the past has transformed into a thrill ride. She has friends, purpose, and an eye on the hot lead guitarist of a local garage band. Everything seems great. She feels free.

But it doesn't last.

Dark and captivating, Call me Jane is the devastatingly real tale of the price of fitting in.

Call Me Jane by Anthea Carson

Amazon Kindle US

Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

3.8 (26 reviews)

Free until 23 September 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Tales of Nick: The Seduction of Sera by Steve Wilhelm


Dark, cold, trembling. Where was I? I shook my head and slowly the black turned to a dull grey.

I opened my eyes and strained to see something—anything. My head throbbed as if a ping hammer was constantly pounding from the inside. The more I concentrated and tried to focus, the more I felt the pain in my head. It was overwhelming, and there seemed nothing I could do to overcome it. Why was I hurting so? The tumultuous angst was indescribable. I seemed totally immobilized, body, mind and soul. Where could I obtain help? Was there anyone out there? I practiced my relaxation therapy, and obtained a small amount of relief . . . but then . . .

There was that pain again, but it wasn’t as overpowering as before. As I tried to blink several times, all I could see was that dull grey and I realized I was blindfolded, unable to move and bound as well.

So many questions raced through my fogged mind. Where was I? Why was I blindfolded and incapacitated? What the hell was going on? I tried to scream, however only a muffled, senseless sound came out of my mouth. So I was gagged as well. Once again, I wondered where I was. The sick feeling of dread spread rapidly through my body when I realized I didn’t even know my own name. My God! I didn’t even know my name! Had I been kidnapped, drugged, or had “another one of those nights” again?

I stopped struggling and listened for a few minutes. I heard the cold clank of a door latch and it was frightening. I was in major trouble. I had no idea who was on the other side of the door. I began to think I was going to be a victim of some sordid type of torture which sent shivers of terror coursing through my body. Every thought of imaginable horror went through my mind. The door suddenly opened, and banged against the wall with such force, I thought the next sound I heard would be the hinges breaking and the door crashing to the floor.

“Nick? Are you awake?” A female voice.

The sound brought a new stab of pain into my head. I couldn’t tell where the voice came from; it could’ve been from in front of me or behind, or even inside my rattled brain, but fear engulfed my entire being. Suddenly memory and recollection began to flood in. I knew who I was.

My name was Nick Ambrose. I was a first time author, a recovering alcoholic and I was currently in deep shit. What the hell had I done to get into this hell hole?

It didn’t matter, I thought. My best offense at the moment was to try to relax, remain calm, slow my breathing thus to feign unconsciousness. If my captor was unsure if I was awake I would buy myself some time to form a plan on what to do. I was in trouble, and I knew it. There was no escape. I tried to think what my options were. Being quiet and appearing unaware of anything were my best options at this point. Just examine this moment by moment.

As I slumped back into the chair that confined me, I struggled to piece together the chain of events which led me to such a bizarre and possible deadly condition.

The Tales of Nick

Buy Now @ Amazon @ Smashwords

Genre - Thriller/Romance

Rating – R

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Steve Wilhelm on Facebook

Website http://stevemutt.wordpress.com/

#Free Brownie Points by Jennifer Coburn

Sometimes that’s the way the Thin Mints crumble...

When Lisa Taylor and her family move from San Francisco to the suburban paradise of Los Corderos, they know their family won’t fit in perfectly. They’re the only interracial family in the neighborhood. Lisa is a snarky sculptor. And 13-year-old Logan is gay.

After Logan is repeatedly bullied at school, he finds his niche in an unusual place – his twin sister’s Girl Scout troop. When he tries to join, the organization refuses, so the boy sues for gender discrimination and sets off a firestorm of national media coverage. This only makes matters worse between the Logan and his father, a macho firefighter who is already struggling with his son’s sexual orientation.

Adding to the strife is Lisa’s increasing distaste for Junta Moms who wish each other “Namaste” while rigging school elections and stealing each other’s husbands.

Join the Taylors on their hilarious journey as they face the fight of their lives and,in the process, discover what it means to be a family.

Praise for Jennifer Coburn’s Books

"Jennifer Coburn’s Tales From the Crib is a deliciously fun, laugh-out-loud read

about one woman’s journey toward motherhood. You won’t be able to put this book down until you arrive at the final, satisfying page.”

- Emily Giffin, author of Where We Belong

“The Queen Gene is entertaining…fresh, fast, and unpredictable…I didn’t want it to end!”

- Jennifer Lancaster, author of Jeneration X

“I absolutely loved The Wife of Reilly. It’s so funny and snappy, it was a total

delight…a riot from start to finish, but an intelligent, thoughtful one that says a

lot about the nature of love and relationships.”

- Marian Keyes, author of This Charming Man


Brownie Points by Jennifer Coburn

Amazon Kindle US

Genre – Women's Fiction

Rating – PG13

4.1 (81 reviews)

Free until 20 September 2013

Mark LaFlamme – Curing Writer’s Block With Strawberry Shortcake

Curing Writer’s Block With Strawberry Shortcake

by Mark LaFlamme

The evening was a disaster from the start.

It was midnight and I’d just sat down to write the final chapters in my novel “The Pink Room.” I was writing in my usual spot, but the snow globe was nowhere in sight. It wasn’t on the shelf where I’d left it, it wasn’t on the desk next to my keyboard.


Panic rising, I searched the house, eventually turning to ridiculous spots like the refrigerator and the toaster oven. Astoundingly, the snow globe wasn’t there.

I woke my wife, desperate like a junkie looking for his stash.

“Code red! The snow globe is missing! I repeat …”

These are the household emergencies wives solve without waking all the way up. There was no problem here. A niece had been playing with the snow globe, a little pink number featuring Strawberry Shortcake smiling atop a piece of fruit. I was directed to the living room where I found it on the floor.

Crisis averted. Back to work.

A good therapist would have a field day with my writing ritual. I surround myself with trinkets, simple items that have come to represent various works of fiction over the years.

There’s the heavy metal cog I turned to while writing “Worumbo.” There’s the fabric flower with the demented smiling face that served as avatar for “Vegetation.” There’s a baseball, a bottle, a box shaped like a book, and a stuffed chickadee that makes realistic bird noises when you squeeze its belly.

Trinkets and treasures – stuff that would fetch a combined five dollars at a flea market and yet to me they’re priceless. Without those items, I’d freeze at the keyboard, my hands hovering over the letters, the page blank white, until someone comes to cart me away.

It’s superstition, no different than a baseball player pulling on the same crusty pair of socks before game time. I sit down to write, touch the item that represents the book du jour, and I get rolling.

And yet, it’s more than that. When I touch that slightly rusted cog – or the stuffed bird or the tiny plastic shovel that represents my fourth novel – it’s like pressing the “on” button. Once that simple act is behind me, I know it’s time to write. Permission has been granted, a few thousand words are demanded before I can leave my desk again.

As a cure for writer’s block, it’s unbeatable. “Well, I don’t feel like writing today, but I already touched the (your item here) so I better get to it. It would be bad juju not to.”

When other writers ask me how to fight back against dry spells, I advise them to get a trinket. It doesn’t have to be much – a little something out of the 99 cent bin will do. Keep it nearby, touch it when the words won’t come and bam! It’s go time.

By the time you have a few books under your belt, you’ll have an impressive collection of souvenirs to mark your time. Your writing room will look like the “win these prizes!” booth at the carnival. It’s a beautiful thing.

Get rid of the crusty socks, though. Those things are starting to reek.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – YA / Thriller

Rating – PG

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Website http://marklaflamme.com/

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Iron Locket (The Risen King, Book 1) - Samantha Warren


Kane leaned against the wall drumming his fingers on his sword. As a prince of the Southern land, he was unaccustomed to waiting and it grated on his every nerve that Leanansidhe had the gall to treat him like a common servant. The wooden door beside him slid open and he straightened with expectation.

A pixie scuttled out, carrying a tray with an empty goblet. The door closed behind her again, shutting Kane out with it. His snarl startled the faery and she squeaked, dropping the goblet to the cold stone floor. She leaned over to pick it up, but it slipped through her spindly fingers, clattering across the hall. Kane's anger exploded and he drew his sword to swing at the creature, but she scampered out of his reach. She eyed him briefly, then darted in, grabbed the goblet, and retreated before he could connect with his deadly weapon.

"Get out of here, then," he shouted at her. He didn't need to tell her again. She took off, her flat feet slapping the stones as she retreated.

"Why are you abusing my servants?" Leanansidhe leaned against the oak door frame, crossing her arms over her ample bosom. One delicate eyebrow quirked toward the ceiling and her full lips held a natural pout. Her silky chestnut hair was pulled back into a tight, no nonsense bun, throwing her prominent cheekbones into stark relief.

Kane straightened and sheathed his sword, shoving it into the bone scabbard that hung from his belt. He raised his eyes to Leanansidhe, locking her in his glare. When they first met, she had balked at such bravery, but soon she came to welcome his forthright attitude and refusal to bow down to her as a slave. "You're late." The comment was meant as a rebuke and his irritation bled into his voice.

She smiled, her full lips parting to reveal sharp, white teeth beneath. She sauntered over to him, moving one luscious hip at a time. Her low-cut black dress hugged her figure and accentuated all her curves. A slit up the side revealed one long, powerful leg, its smooth skin peeking through as she stepped toward him. His eyes dropped to her shoes, black and strappy with heels several inches tall, then inched up her body, pausing at the exposed navel. The material covered very little and he struggled to control himself as she reached out with a black nail and traced it along his chest. Despite the heels, she was still slightly shorter than him and she used that to her advantage.

Raising her lidded eyes to his, she smiled. "I am never late, my darling. I am always exactly on time."

He struggled to breath as her nail traced down his chest and across his abdomen. His brain screamed at him to pull away, to insist they focus on business. It was dangerous to let Leanansidhe have the upper hand like this. He knew if he let his guard slip she could get him to agree to just about anything, but at the moment, his body didn't care. It wanted to give in and let her have her way with him. He tilted his head down, his lips craving hers. He saw the predatory smile waiting there, the victory in her eyes, but the pull was irresistible.

The clatter of metal on stone broke the spell. He jerked away, stumbling back several steps to distance himself from the powerful faery woman before searching for the source of the noise. It was the servant he had attempted to kill, trying to gather the tray she had forgotten in her haste to retreat before. She stared at the pair with enormous eyes as she picked it up again. A snarl erupted behind Kane a bare moment before the pixie squealed in terror. Bending in half, she clawed at her feet, screaming with pain and fear. Kane watched as stone crept up the creature's body until she was an unmoving statue.

"Hmmph. That'll teach her." Leanansidhe dusted off her hands as if she had been playing in the dirt. "I never really liked her anyway. Too much of a sniveler." She pulled her face back into an alluring smile and took a step forward. "Now, where were we?"

Kane took another step back and rested his hand on the sword at his side. He squared his shoulders and imagined his face as the stone statue beside him. "We were going to discuss this potential business arrangement."

Leanansidhe's smile was replaced by an irritated pout. She shot a useless glare at the petrified servant and sighed. "You're no fun. Fine. Be that way." She brought back her seductive smile, but this time it held a predatory edge. "But someday, I will have you. Make no mistake about that. I always get what I want, and I want you."

Kane raised his chin and glared at her. "We'll see. For now, we need to discuss business and keep it on a professional level."

Leanansidhe nodded once and dropped her seductress act. Her manner changed entirely, becoming business-like as she turned back toward the door. "Very well. This way."

Kane followed her inside. The room beyond was paneled in rich mahogany with a large glowing fireplace along one end. A velvet-covered couch and several chairs were arrayed in a semi-circle around it. An enormous desk stood about two thirds of the way down the room on the opposite side. Behind it was a plush executive chair that would make even the Four Queens jealous.

The walls were covered with tapestries depicting gruesome battles and wild love scenes, as well as the heads of numerous faeries. Kane recognized several of them. Leanansidhe was well known for her penchant for having debts repaid in a method that was satisfactory to her, though not necessarily to the debtor. Death was her favorite payment of all, especially if it involved trophies.

She strolled across the room, making sure that Kane watched her every movement and he berated himself when he felt disappointment as her bottom disappeared behind the desk. He raised his eyes to hers and she grinned in victory before waving a hand at one of the chairs in front of the desk. "Sit, please."

Kane shot a glare her way, which only caused her grin to grow, but he settled into the chair, placing the bag on the floor beside him. The chair was stiff leather, designed to look expensive and welcoming, but squeak with every tiny motion to make its inhabitant uncomfortable. He almost smiled at the thought. Lea knew how to take advantage of every situation and he was willing to bet that she did not make a single move without weighing every option first.

"So, my darling boy," Leanansidhe oozed as she reclined in her chair, crossing her shapely legs in front of her. He could just see the tip of an exposed knee peeping over the edge of the desk. "Have you done what I asked of you?"

His glare deepened. "Would I be here if I hadn't?" He infused his voice with more venom than usual.

Her eyes twinkled. She knew she was getting to him. He chided himself at falling prey to her games so easily. With a low growl, he opened the bag and withdrew its contents. He tossed the shriveled head onto her desk, watching the blue eyes disappear again and again as it rolled toward her. Her lips curled in distaste as she stopped the offending object by placing one finger on the graying skin. She picked it up by its blond hair and gazed into its eyes. Her annoyance evaporated in a flash, replaced by a disturbing amount of glee. She began to giggle like a school girl chatting with her friends.

"Oh, this is rich. Priceless," she gushed, her eyes glowing with a wild insanity. "Oberon, King of the South. Greatest warrior... or not, apparently." She set the head down and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her desk as she clasped her fingers under her chin. "Tell me, Kane, darling, how did daddy dearest take it when he found out his one and only son was a traitor, hmm? Did it break his poor cold heart?"

The cruelty on her face did not go unnoticed. Kane pressed his lips together and met her challenge with silence. She didn't need to know that his father, the most powerful faery to ever live, had not begged for his own life, but had pleaded with his son to remain faithful. She did not need to know that Kane had shed so many tears, he almost couldn't see his father's chest well enough to pierce it with his blade. She did not need to know that his own mother had stared in silent horror, unable to even cry out, bound by her own child, forced to watch as he ripped the life from his father and then sliced off the man's head to take as a trophy. She did not need to know that Kane's own heart was breaking even then. All she needed to know was that he had paid the price she demanded.

She was still watching him, waiting for him to crack. But true to her nature, she grew bored quickly and sat back, crossing her legs. "Very well. Keep your secrets for now. I shall know soon enough. Anyway, you have proven your loyalty to me. I shall honor your sacrifice by making you my General. General Kane. That does have a nice ring to it, does it not? You will answer to no one but me, and when we remove the old hags from their thrones, Faery will be ours. The South will be yours to rule as you wish, while the rest of the land will be mine. Fair?"

He didn't answer for a moment. Though he had known the deal all along, ever since that first day when he ran into Leanansidhe in the Grey Wood after arguing with his father decades ago, he still was hesitant. He glanced at the table, staring into the cold dead eyes of the man who had given him his name, the same man who had denied him many pleasures and treated him like a common slave most of the time.

"Yes, that is fair. As long as you stay out of the South and let me keep to my business."

"Of course, my darling. The South is all yours, including all of its inhabitants." She placed extra emphasis on the word "all" and he stiffened. She caught the movement and smirked. "Mother is still there, is she not? Alone and afraid, without either of her men to care for her? But with daddy dead, that leaves room for a certain son to step up and take the place of king, does it not?"

"You're sick." He rose and grabbed the bag, stalking toward the door.

"Oh, come now, Kane. Don't be like that. I was only joking."

Her fake apology only made him angrier. He paused with his hand on the ivory handle when he reached the door, turning his head to the side. "When you need me, send word." Then he left, slamming the door behind him. He could hear her delighted giggle through the wood. It seemed to slip under the door and echo down the halls. He leaned against the wall near the statue of the servant, staring at it without seeing a thing. His mind was racing, going over the events of the last several days. He kept returning to one specific image, that of his mother, tied to the bed, screaming at him, pleading with him, the horror on her face when he ripped the life from the only man she had ever loved. He knew her pain. It ripped at him every day, threatening to tear him to shreds.

Pounding a fist against the stone wall, he growled, focusing on the pain blossoming out over his knuckles instead of the unwelcome image of a human girl with red hair, a ghost from his past. He straightened and willed the hurt in his heart to subside. He shoved the new statue out of his way as he passed and smiled in satisfaction as it shattered across the stones behind him.

The Iron Locket

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre –  Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.samantha-warren.com/

Featured Author - Yvonne Jones

What is the purpose of your book “Closing the Gap: Understanding Your Service(wo)man?
The book’s title is “Closing The Gap: Understanding Your Serviceman” (woman). Its principal purpose is to reconnect military families with their non-military friends and family members. It is meant to help civilians learn more about the life within the military to better understand their own service member.

Fact is that there currently is a big divide between those who protect our freedoms and those who are being protected.

The book is meant to be part of a much bigger plan or picture: While I obviously do not have any high-profile impact on any decision makers, I do have access to everyday citizens. I believe that the key approach in closing this gap should be to utilize and strengthen the connections that ALREADY exist between the military and civilian worlds: the connections between military families and their OWN extended non-military families and non-military friends; which, in turn, might extend to a better understanding within the entire population.

Are there really differences between Military Families and Civilian Families?
I have seen and read through a L-O-T of forums that were trying to answer this very question. People get really passionate when it comes to defining themselves.

I personally believe that we, as military families, ARE different from non-military families, whether this difference is acknowledged or not. Different in many aspects, but mainly in the burdens we carry and the sacrifices we make as an entity, and we are simply different in the way we live.

Why is it important that others know/understand military families?
A very good question. You know, we love our own non-military friends and extended families. And BECAUSE we love them, we want them to be part of our lives. So it’s only understandable and natural that we also want them to UNDERSTAND our way of life.

BECAUSE the military is such a relatively small body right now, the more or less only remaining substantial connection that currently exists between the military and the rest of the American society is the one found between military members and their civilian families and friends. And that’s why we have to nourish this connection. And I believe we can do this best by helping them to learn more about us.

As for understanding from outside our own circles of friends and families, I believe knowing more about military families is important in that people only seem to support what they believe in and what they understand.
People need to understand the stresses military life imposes on the entire military family, not because we want pity, but because we want to instill a sense of shared sacrifice and share the emotional price we have to pay during difficult years.

It is all too easy to ask others to make certain sacrifices known only to military families, if the consequences of such are not understood. Adequate support needs to be provided, veteran benefits protected, military pay maintained, and retirement benefits upheld. All this is only possible with the public’s understanding.

So, understanding is especially important in times like this, where budget cuts need to be decided upon and implemented. Without the American citizens’ understanding of what their military is doing and sacrificing, it is much easier for them to support military budget cuts.

It is for those reasons that Americans’ support and understanding are more important than ever before. The level of understanding won’t ever truly be complete, of course. But, in my mind, even a tiny trace of understanding, a hint (if you will), is worth the effort (to try to promote understanding).

Why do you think there is a gap between military and civilian worlds?
Well, let’s see. As I wrote in my book, a smaller share of Americans currently serve in the Armed Forces than at any other given point in time since the Second World War. And I believe that this is the reason for this growing gap between people in uniform and the civilian population. Back in the day, most everyone in America had similar experiences regarding war, since most families had at least one individual within the Armed Forces due to draft laws and regulations. They all knew what it felt like to have someone out there risking their life for their country. War used to be something everyone was forced to live and endure. Everyone understood what it meant, how horrible it was, and why it should be avoided at all costs. But this is no longer the case.

Nowadays, most people outside a military installation have little understanding of what it means to send a loved one off to war. They don’t know what impact multiple deployments can have on service members, their spouses, and their children. Most of these people are not aware of this part of the population that serves their country. And the result is a military far less connected to the rest of society when compared to previous decades.

We currently live in a world where invisible wounds are considered imaginary, where separation from one’s better half is deemed normal and therefore not worthy of any sympathy. We live in a world, where record-high service member suicides are barely of anyone’s concern outside the military. And this current perception and lack of awareness needs to be changed.

Why this ambiguous title? Why not “Closing The Gap: Understanding Your SOLDIER,” for example?
Well, I have to admit that substituting the word “Serviceman” with “Soldier” would have made for a catchier title. But if I’d used the term “Soldier,” some Military Families might have been discouraged from reading this book, simply because they would have thought it only covered the Army and wouldn’t apply to THEIR branch, since the term “Soldier” is technically used to describe a service member within the Army only. But I wanted this book to appeal and apply to all families and friends of our service members out there, no matter what branch within our military. So that’s why I chose the more generic term “Serviceman.”

Was there a specific event, or series of events, in your life as a military spouse that made you realize this book was needed?
Most definitely. Many, really. And they pop up everywhere you go, if you pay attention to them.
Most of my civilian friends, for instance, are always amazed when they hear that our address has changed yet again. And then they usually ask, if we aren’t tired yet of all the moving around, and why we don’t just stay longer. Most believe that the frequency of our moves is dictated by the military family itself, rather than by the service member’s command.

Another very important reason that caused me to write this book was the fact that our civilian families and friends seemed to grow a bit resentful toward our chosen assignment locations over the past couple of years, simply because they don’t know what all plays into the decision-making process of the service member’s new duty station. Most assume that we get to choose where and whenever we want to move, which then causes them to believe that we voluntarily chose a place far away from them.

And then you always here questions like “So, when are you going to move again?” or “Where are you going to move to next?” Questions no one really knows the answers to, including ourselves. And that always seems so incomprehensible to people outside the military. The unpredictability of our lifestyle is simply beyond any of their own experiences that most civilians have a hard time imagining what our life really is like.

Was it difficult to get "outside" your military life to see the things that you needed to address, that civilians don't understand?
Not really. I knew what needed to be addressed in order to help our civilian families and friends understand our way of life a bit better. I mean, civilians more or less ask the same questions all the time, like “When are you going to move again?” and “Where are you going to move next?” So I knew I had to include something about the moving process and the assignment process, to help them see how things really work.

What WAS difficult, however, was to think of some issues that NEEDED to be addressed, but are never asked about by outsiders, simply because they don’t know about those differences. You can’t ask questions about something if you’re not even aware of its existence.

For example, in my book I write that it’s not very often that we’re asked to explain the DIFFERENCES between the military and the civilian lifestyles; and that this, in turn, might imply that civilians are simply not aware that there are distinctions between these two worlds.

Most people outside the military, for example, don’t realize that over the years we have created something that is referred to as a Military Culture, in which we share common beliefs and behaviors.

Another example of an issue that needed to be addressed, but is almost never asked about is the wellbeing of a military family AFTER the service member returns home from a deployment. Most assume that once the family is reunited, the hardest part of the deployment process is over; whereas in reality, those that actually HAVE experienced a deployment know that that’s the time where most problems for a military family begin.

These are all important issues, yet, they never get asked about simply because outsiders don’t know about their existence. And that’s where my book comes in. To draw attention to those problems and concerns, so that they can be discussed and talked about.

Closing The Gap
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Military Family
Rating – G
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