A darkness falls over the land when the Queen of Rurith dies.
Consumed with grief, King Ivar blames their son, Prince Leif, for her demise, and locks him away in the forgotten tower of the castle.
The Prince is left in total despair, until a girl, with hair the colour of a red sunset and green eyes shows him mercy.
For six years she visits him in secret, giving him hope where none existed before.
But Ruith hides many treacherous things that threaten to bring the Kingdom to its knees.
Until the Prince and his beastly curse are released.
Carlyle is a USA Today Bestselling, international bestselling and international award winning South African author – with a flair and passion for mixing genres, adding loads of drama to every story she creates. Carlyle has traveled the world with her books in hopes of connecting with all kinds of book loving people, to learn as much as she can from other book cultures with the hopes of bringing the knowledge back to her home country.
Her goal as an author is to touch people’s lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within every outrageous world she writes about. Carlyle uses writing as a healing tool, and that is why she has started her very own writers support event – SAIR Book Festival.
Founder of SAIR Book Festival Co-Founder of Fire Quill Publishing. Founder of Help build a library in South Africa.
Part family drama and part self-actualization story, this is about Donna Greco, who in her teens, subscribes to a conventional view of success in life and pushes her freewheeling, artistic brother, Vincent to do the same. However, he remains single, childless, and subsists in cramped apartments. She harbors guilt for her supposed failure to ensure his happiness until she discovers a book of sketches he made of his life, which allows her to see his internal joy and prompts her own journey of living authentically.
Thought-provoking, humorous, and filled with unforgettable characters, this book invites readers to ponder what pictures they will have of themselves by the end of their lives.
“a refreshing family portrait about interpersonal evolution…presented with affection, humor, and insight…an inspiring slice of life blend of philosophy, psychology, and transformation that draws readers into a warm story and examines the wellsprings of creative force and future legacies…evocative, uplifting,” Midwest Book Review.
The golden garden bird of peace were the words painted on the wall in Vincent’s room. I thought Dad would have painted over them because he couldn’t stand all that “hippie crap.” Beside the words hung a bunch of paintings he made. He painted trees, mountains, rivers, flowers, and people with real-life expressions that made them more than just pictures. They were alive, and they told stories.
Some of his paintings were abstract, my favorite being one that looked like a kaleidoscope with no beginning and no end and colors that bounced off the canvas like a beautiful neon sign sparkling against a black sky. I could stare at it all day. I went between staring at it and the album cover before me—Let It Be by the Beatles. Vincent sat by the record player, dressed in his usual Levi’s, T-shirt, and Converse high-tops, bent towards the revolving album, listening intently, his head of black curly hair moving back and forth, his right foot tapping the hardwood floor, keeping rhythm to the Fab Four.
Finally, he turned his head away from the stereo and said to me, “I can’t believe this is it.” His face was serious and gloomy, and I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I pretended that I did because I’d never let my cool down around Vincent. It was because of him that I knew so much about rock and roll, which made me pretty sure that I was the coolest eighth-grade girl in the whole town and possibly in the whole state of New Jersey.
“I know,” I said seriously.
“I mean, I just never thought the Beatles would break up.” He shook his head with disappointment.
“So, this is their last album, then?”
“Well, yeah,” he said, like I should have known better.
“Hey, check this out, Donna.” With the speed of a light switch flicking on, he turned into an entirely different person, no longer sad and gloomy but light and happy. He showed me a drawing he made of an old lady sitting on a chair with half of her body missing, and it looked as if the missing half was on the other side of an invisible door. She wore a mysterious smile as if she knew some extraordinary truth.
“Where’s the other half of her body?” I said.
“I don’t know,” he said, grinning. “You tell me.”
“Wow.” I sat there, trying to wrap my head around this while listening to the song playing. Just as I was about to figure something out about the picture, and just as I was really getting into the song, he took the needle off, turned the album over, and put the needle on the first song on the other side, a tendency he had that bothered the hell out of our brother, Carmen.
He scratched his head and looked up, his eyes penetrating the ceiling, deep in thought. He resembled Mom with his olive skin, Roman nose, and black curls, and was the only one of us who got her curly hair. The rest of us had straight hair. Mine was super long—to the bottom of my back—and I wore it parted in the middle and was certain that I was wearing it that way long before it was the style.
Vincent was also taller than the rest of us at over six feet. Dad said he took after his own dad in stature. I never knew Grandpa Tucci because he died before I was born, but I was told he was called Lanky because he was tall and skinny. I was pretty thin myself and had a bottomless pit. People would say that all my eating would catch up with me one day, but that never stopped me from eating ice cream every day after school. Breyers butter almond was my favorite.
Vincent listened to the music with pure attention, like there was nothing else in the world as George sang I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine. He was probably trying to figure out what the song was about or how he could play it on his guitar. His acoustic guitar sat in the corner of his room. He had the smallest room in the house, but it seemed like the biggest because it was its own self-contained universe. I felt like I could be on the other side of the world without ever leaving his room.
His paintings and drawings covered the walls. A bunch of leather-bound cases of albums colored red and black and bone sat on the floor between a stereo and a wooden desk with piles of books and sketchbooks on top. Comic books, pens, and paintbrushes were scattered on the floor like seashells on the sand.
I shared a room with my younger sister, Nancy, and she insisted on having the room be as pink as possible. She was the youngest, so she always got her way. On top of making our room a sickening pink paradise, she had a doll collection with faces that really creeped me out, and she started pushing over my beloved books on our shelves to make room for her dolls. A doll named Lucinda with blond hair and a blue satin dress was shoved up against two of my favorites—Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Check this out, Donna,” Vincent said, emerging from his music-listening trance. He took a skinny metal whistle out of a plastic case. “Got it at the music store in town.”
“Neat. Some kind of flute?” I said.
“A pennywhistle.” He had a big smile that stretched from one side of his face to the other. “Or sometimes called a tin whistle.”
“I wish I could play an instrument,” I said. “Just one.” I was the only one in our family that didn’t play an instrument. Mom wanted me to learn ballet instead because she said I had a dancer’s body. I liked it all right and stayed with it until my teacher put me on toe, and the wooden shoes imprisoned my feet and made them ache hours after class ended.
“Sure.” He started fishing in one of his desk drawers for something.
“Thanks Vincent.” No response. He just kept on with his searching. I looked at the tin instrument wondering how I’d learn to play it, when he poked his head up and gave me an instructional songbook for it. I went through it seeing musical notation for simple songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It was all new territory for me, but I knew I could learn it and thought I could go anywhere from there. I saw myself playing with Vincent as he strummed the guitar, playing on the street for money, playing in a small orchestra of other penny whistlers. Just then, Mom called out from the kitchen.
“Dinner’s ready!” I didn’t care that my fantasy was interrupted because I was starving. Vincent was always up for eating and was the biggest eater I knew. He seemed especially hungry because he was walking to the kitchen really fast. Even when he walked fast, he looked cool. He walked with a bounce in his step, his head bobbing back and forth like he was keeping beat to a song that only he could hear. I tried to walk like him once, but I ended up looking like some kind of uncoordinated monkey. I walked like Dad who moved fast and forward-leaning, like he was continually running late for something.
The kitchen smelled of garlic and fish. It was Friday, and Mom always cooked fish on Fridays. A big flat bowl with hand-painted flowers was filled with spaghetti, calamari and gravy, which was what we called tomato sauce in our house. My older sister, Gloria was setting the large wooden table that sat in the center of the kitchen. She wore her hair tucked neatly behind her ears and a black-and-tan argyle vest that fit snug on her shapely body. Her face had the usual serious, troubled look on it like something was wrong. Anthony—the oldest in the family—was away at college, and Nancy was at a sleepover, so the table was set for only six.
Mom was at the sink, getting a salad together. Above the sink was a long window that looked out onto our backyard, its ledge covered with little ladybug statues, which Mom loved because they meant good luck. She wore a red-and-white apron over a straight skirt and boots and took long, swift strides around the kitchen. Watching her get dinner together was like watching a performance. She’d put on her apron instead of a costume. The music played: the chopping of vegetables, the clanging of metal spoons against pots and the sweet sound of pouring. She’d dance around, gathering ingredients, sautéing, stirring, occasionally turning towards us—the audience—to say something or laugh with us so that we’d feel a part of the show. She presented her perfect meals like works of art, displaying them on the table, and we’d applaud by eating—grabbing, twirling, chewing—until we couldn’t fit anymore in.
Dad was opening up one of his bottles of homemade wine. I had a sip once, and it went down my throat like an angry snake. He leaned on the table like he needed it to support him with his eyes half-shut and his black-and-gray hair falling forward in his face. In his tiredness, he didn’t speak, but even when he was quiet, he was loud, and whenever he walked into a room, everybody knew it, even if he didn’t say a word.
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This Giveaway runs from January 17th to the 20th
Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels, Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories—The Brightness Index. All titles have received stellar reviews from sources such as Midwest Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, and Indie Reader Reviews, and Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees has been on the prestigious “Best of” list in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She’s worked as a librarian for over 20 years and has been writing creatively since she was a child.
In her exhilerating book Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII, author Molly Merryman shines light on the critical and dangerous work of the daring female aviators who changed history. New York University Press classics series has just updated the book with Merryman’s reflections on the changes in women’s aviation in the past twenty years. A documentary based on Merryman’s work, Coming Home: Fight For A Legacy, is currently in production.
The WASP directly challenged the assumptions of male supremacy in wartime culture. They flew the fastest fighter planes and heaviest bombers; they test-piloted experimental models and worked in the development of weapons systems. Yet the WASP were the only women’s auxiliary within the armed services of World War II that was not militarized.
In Clipped Wings, Merryman draws upon finally-declassified military documents, congressional records, and interviews with the women who served as WASP during World War II to trace the history of the over one thousand pilots who served their country as the first women to fly military planes. She examines the social pressures that culminated in their disbandment in 1944—even though a wartime need for their services still existed—and documents their struggles and eventual success, in 1977, to gain military status and receive veterans’ benefits.
Airplane ferrying was the initial mission for which WASPs were created, and it would occupy nearly half of all active WASP graduates when the program ended in December 1944. Planes produced in the United States needed to be flown from the factories to air bases at home, in Canada, and overseas. To handle this transportation demand, the ATC hired thousands of male civilian pilots to ferry planes. These male pilots were later commissioned directly into the AAF if they met the requirement and desired commissioning. The WASPs were brought on as ferrying pilots, and by the time they were disbanded in December 1944, they had delivered 12,652 planes on domestic missions. By that time, 141 WASPs were assigned to the ATC. Although they comprised a small percentage of the total Ferrying Division pilots, WASPs had a significant impact. By 1944, WASPs were ferrying the majority of all pursuit planes and were so integrated into the Ferrying Division that their disbandment caused delays in pursuit deliveries.
The days of ferrying pilots were long and unpredictable. At bases that handled a range of planes, pilots did not know from one day to the next what planes they would be flying or how long of a flight to expect. In Minton’s words, “We usually reported to the flight line at seven o’clock in the morning and looked at the board to see what had been assigned us in the way of an airplane, where it went and what we would need in the way of equipment to take along, and then we would go out to find our airplane and sign it out at operations and check it over to be sure everything was okay with the airplane. And then we would take off to wherever the plane was supposed to go.”
Ferrying military aircraft during World War II was not an easy task. The majority of these planes were not equipped with radios, so pilots navigated by comparing air maps with physical cues (highways, mountains, rivers, etc.) or by flying the beam. (The “beam” was a radio transmission of Morse code signals. A grid of such beams was established across the United States. To follow the beam, a pilot would listen on her headphone for aural “blips” or tones to direct her. This required a great deal of concentration and was not always accurate.) Both navigational techniques were difficult, and this was compounded by the facts that many air bases and factories were camouflaged, blackouts were maintained in coastal areas, and the navigational beams were prone to breaking down. Problems sometimes arose with the planes themselves, which ha d been tested at the factories but never flown. Cross-continental flights often took several days, depending on the planes being flown and weather conditions.
In addition, planes equipped with top secret munitions or accessories had to be guarded while on the ground, and WASPs received orders to protect these planes at all cost. WASPs flying these planes were issued .45 caliber pistols and were trained to fire machine guns.
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Molly Merryman, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and an Associate Professor at Kent State University. She is the Historical Research Producer on the upcoming Red Door Films documentary about the WASP, Coming Home: Fight For A Legacy. She has directed and produced nine documentaries that have been broadcast and screened in the United States and United Kingdom. She is the research director for the Queer Britain national LGBT+ museum and is a visiting professor and advisory board member for the Queer History Centre at Goldsmiths, University of London. Merryman is the vice president of the International Visual Sociology Association.
Jeremiah Ward was just another convict, a disgraced investigator who once worked the Martian beat, now serving his sentence in a mining colony on Mercury. When a member of a powerful faction goes missing on Titan, Ward is given an opportunity he cannot pass up. In exchange for investigating the disappearance of this figure, he gets a clean slate and a second chance.
But, the deeper Ward digs the more secrets he finds. Instead of investigating a missing person’s case he becomes embroiled in a centuries-old conspiracy and Ward comes to realize his one shot at redemption may cost him his life.
They stood two by two. In standard squad formation, moving onto their target area.
In front, Bern and Valeri stood, there arms held squarely at their sides. Durand could see that their hands were twitching. Valeri was attempting to hide it by crossing her arms and tapping out the rhythm of some unheard melody against her bicep. Bern however couldn’t decide what to do with his hands, and kept wiping them against his trouser legs.
Durand and Chayond were fortunate that way. In their hands, the equipment bags hung. Though relatively light, they were just burdensome enough to require both hands to carry them. They did not have to worry about idle hands or telltale signs of nervousness as they waited for the elevator to finish descending.
“Remember, no talking,” said Valeri, reminding them as the elevator came to a stop. The doors slid open to admit them to the station’s main hub. Bern nodded forward, and the four stepped out onto the platform.
Evening was now upon them, with several bright lights shining down from the station’s vaulted ceiling. Through the station’s dome, a thick grey haze was just visible. The faint traces of light reflected off of Saturn’s disc turned what would have been the black night into a deep, murky twilight.
The four of them were quickly swallowed up by the din of chatter, footsteps, and the sounds of a computerized voice making announcements in Anglish, Franz, Deutsch, Chin and Swahili.
The station was filled with hundreds of locals milling about, moving from one transit lane to another. Few paid them any attention as they walked through the crowds. Why should they? To onlookers, the group’s blue and orange coveralls designated them as maintenance staff. To all recording devices and sensors in the area, their ID tags also designed them as such.
Still, Chayond felt a tinge of panic every time the bag he carried rattled. None of their party would fare too well if they were stopped for inspection. Chayond felt himself looking at the few Gendarmes mixed in with the commuters out of the corner of his eye. If Bern saw him, she would certainly backhand him across the face. Of course, she would wait until they were no longer in public before doing so.
It seemed to take a terribly long time to cross the main floor. At the far end, they began to descend a flight of stairs, and Chayond felt a little better. The bag was rattling louder, luckily it was being drowned out by the whooshing noise of hypertrains coming and going inside their tubes. The dull, monotone computerized voice continued to announce the arrival and departure of trains, though it was becoming more difficult to hear. The noise was like a cushion that began to cloak their every move.
Valerni motioned to their left as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Commuter traffic continued to pour around them, which made maintaining their tight formation somewhat difficult. Still, they held in their two-by-two stance, moving towards the left track – and to the small door that led to the maintenance tunnel. No one followed them there. All the commuter traffic was drawn to the tubes and left what appeared to be a maintenance crew alone.
As soon as they were through the hatch, the noise stopped. The busy station was now sealed behind the pressure door. The only sounds now the gentle hissing of the tunnel’s pressure controls. of course, Valeri’s commanding voice. Checking her chrono, she made a quick consult of their timetable.
“We’re on schedule,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way. Move out.”
The four collapsed into a single line, moving down the tight tunnel as quickly as they could. Durand threw the strap of his bag over his shoulder and Chayond did the same. Their steps became fast and heavy, their work boots striking hard against the metal grates that lined the floor. Heavy pipes and ducts controlling the settlements flow of fresh water and air whizzed by their heads. The high pressure and heat combined to make the going very uncomfortable.
Yet still, they moved. Rigid discipline and a clear purpose driving them onward. Until they reached their destination and set up, they could not relax.
When they finally came to the hatch that would admit them onto the platform that they wanted, they had all broken a good sweat. Only Valeri appeared to not be out of breath.
“Alright, pay attention because we don’t have time to dither.” Reaching into the pocket of her coveralls, she retrieved a small handheld. She held the transparent device up. Displayed on it was a single-frame. A man’s face.
“This is David Lee,” Valeri said. “He’s the Formist the Chandrasekhar’s sent on ahead to do their dirty work. Our intel says he’ll be travelling alone by the time he gets to the line. So that’s when we take him down.”
She tapped the screen. Lee’s image was replaced by a video feed of him standing with a woman. They stood close to each other, a degree of intimacy clearly implied by their body language.
“This is our contact. She is the one who provided us with Lee’s itinerary. According to her, Lee will be here at the time indicated, and he will be alone. However, if we find that they are together, then something’s gone wrong and we’ll need to take them both down. There can’t be any suspicion on her.”
“Who is she?” Durand asked.
Valeri shrugged. “Didn’t ask. neither should you. All you need to know is, she’s not our target. If it comes down to it, we take them both down. we leave her behind for the authorities to collect. Any other stupid questions?”
Durand was sufficiently shamed and shut up. Bern though had some thoughts on that score and offered them freely.
“Probably some just whore from the Yellow Light District. Point is, she’s a fucking patriot and gave us this information. So she’ll understand, I’m sure.”
All heads in the group nodded. A rumble shook the tube, indicating that a hypertrain was going by. It was nothing more than a passing tremor. No sound made it through the sealed pressure doors.
“That’ll be the 2115 to Cassini now,” she said, smiling. “Our Dr. Lee will be making the next one. Better suit up.”
Durand dropped his equipment bag on the ground, kneeling down to open it. Chayond did the same, placing his bag on the floor and separating the tabs on the seal. As Durand began removing their change of clothes, the others began to disrobe. The suits Durand passed out looked like something reptilian, scaly surfaces the same color as mercury. They were thin, no heavier than a stack of thermal blankets, with hoods at the top and small terminals on the left arms.
Valeri and Bern quickly became half-naked, their sweating frames glistening from the tube’s lighting. Quickly, they pulled the silver skins over their coveralls and began doing up all the clasps, sealing the suits around themselves and firing up the cells that powered them.
Durand tossed a suit aside for himself before handing one over to Chayond, who hesitated. His head was swimming from all the heat, the run had left him drained and full of endorphins. Still, he was aware enough to feel damn apprehensive. Accepting the suit seemed like a terrible step, one from which there was no turning back.
Durand noticed his hesitation. “Hey, you good?” he asked. Chayond glanced quickly in Valeri direction. She looked up from her suit to shoot him a look of disapproval and he quickly averted his eyes.
“Yeah, I’m good,” he replied, taking the suit in hand and unzipping his coveralls. Somehow, one look from Vslero was enough to silence any doubts, or enough to scare him into compliance.
A moment later, all four members of the team were suited up in their new vestments. Everything from their necks down was now covered in specialized material. Valeri pulled the last piece into place, pulling the hood up and covering her hair.
“Remember,” she admonished. “Make sure your sticks are charged just right. Too much, and his implants might rupture. that’s the last thing we want.”
All heads nodded again. Chayond interpreted the mention of the sticks as an order to distribute them. Reaching down into the bag, he began pulling them out, one by one. Four slender truncheons, a small console on one side, contained a power indicator, an electrical port, and a few controls. He handed the first to Valeri, passed out the second and third, kept the fourth for himself.
Each team member inspected the sticks to ensure that they were set at exactly the right power level before sliding them neatly into the waistband of their outfits. Each stick connected with the suit’s internal power supply.
“Alright, let’s power them up,” ordered Valeri. “Let’s see if these things were worth the price.”
“Doubt that,” Bern said sarcastically. “ they still better work.”
As one, Bern, Durand and Chayond pulled the hoods up over their heads and engaged the suit’s power supply. Three low-frequency squeals sounded out in the tube, and where three men with silver skins stood, suddenly there were just three faces. The rest of their heads, like their bodies, were now cloaked in advanced stealth fields.
Valeri smiled. “Not bad.” She pulled her mask into place over her mouth and eyes and put her finger to the terminal on her arm. It took less than a second before she completely disappeared from view.
“How do I look?” she asked, her voice filtered and modulated by the mask.
“Like nothing at all,” replied Durand.
“Good.” She suddenly reappeared, removing the mask and hood. “Then be ready. If the target escapes, we may not get another chance. So make this one count.”
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Growing up in the 80s and 90s Matthew Williams was born in to science fiction. He enjoyed many of the infamous SF franchises of the time and read many of sci-fi’s most influential works. As an adult, Matt marvelled at those SF novels which stood the test of time, while making valuable observations of the human condition, and he decided to create his own novels.
As a professional writer for Universe Today, Matt is well-versed in many nerdy topics ranging from: spaceflight to terraforming, Earth sciences to physics, and the future of human space exploration. He has interviewed many of today’s top scientific minds and NASA personnel, and been a featured speaker at astronomy societies. His articles have appeared in such publications as Business Insider, Science Alert, Phys.org, HeroX, Pionic, Gizmodo, Futurism and IO9.
‘They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down……’
Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.
As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands.
The second in a set of spy thrillers that have been expertly crafted with stunning plot lines, magnificent locations, and twists that leave you gasping for air. Perfect for fans of Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and Scott Mariani.
*Each book is a stadanlone adventure
‘Russia and Iran are our immediate threats,’ Jack stated. ‘Now, shall we start?’
Jack tapped a couple of buttons on the audio-visual console before a screen lowered itself at the end of the room, the lights dimmed automatically and a picture of a middle-aged man lit up the room. In his forties, Sean thought. Baby-faced appearance. He looked scared. The picture certainly gave that appearance. Sean could see it was a photograph taken by a surveillance team and it seemed to have been taken in London.
‘This is Sergei. A Russian GRU colonel who was a walk-in ten months ago.’
‘Bloody hell. A live walk-in. To where?’
‘A rural police station in Sussex. He covered his tracks well enough. He’s the GRU lead officer for their illegals programme. A massive catch.’
Sean sat forward and leant on the table in astonishment. The last time he had met a Russian sleeper agent, a woman called Natalie, she’d nearly killed him in a shootout in France. ‘An incredibly lucky catch I’d say. Is he kosher?’
‘He is. I’ve made sure he is by running him myself. I’ve used him on a few operations to make sure he’s not swinging both ways and, so far, he’s come out clean. He’s ready to trust now and we’ll provide him with full defection status once we get what we need from him. A deal we agreed on.’
Sean smiled, rubbed his chin and sipped his coffee, using two hands around his cup. ‘You’ve been plotting again Jack. This bloke better be one hundred percent legitimate, else I’m out.’
‘Well, you can judge him for yourself. You’re about to meet him. He’s sitting outside.’
Jack pressed a button on the console and the door opened. Sergei walked in accompanied by a chaperone, a tall brunette who looked more like a professor than an intelligence officer.
‘Sergei, this is Sean, a good friend of mine,’ Jack said, pouring water for both of them. Neither man stood to shake hands. Sean didn’t feel it was necessary, and a respectful nod sealed the introductions. Nothing more was said but an unspoken connection was made between the two men.
Sean wondered why on earth a senior GRU officer had handed himself in to MI5 after running sleeper agents for Mother Russia probably for a decade or more. The risk to his life if he was caught was immense.
‘Sergei, can you let Sean know about the mission you’ve been working on please?’
A pause. Then a wry smile from Sergei before he started to talk in immaculate English, with no sign of an accent. ‘I was instructed by Moscow to find a bomb-maker in Britain.’ He stopped abruptly, turning to Jack to check he had permission to carry on. Jack gave an indiscernible nod. ‘Not just any old bomb-maker,’ Sergei continued. ‘An ex-military one. An expert who could make the most complex of explosive devices.’
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I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.
I feel privileged to have served for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, working in Defence Intelligence and Counter-Terrorist Bomb Disposal operations, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.
I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.
Appearances are everything in my family. We are the Strongs. Fame is our birthright. Music flows through our veins in a continuous harmony. Flaws are unacceptable.
When my parents got a good look at the freak they’d created, I was hidden away, my existence wiped out.
Until they discovered my secret.
Now I had something they wanted.
Taking it from me didn’t faze them. They believed they were entitled.
I was just a boy, unable to fight back.
So I did the only thing I could.
That was nine years ago.
Now they are back, and they want something from me again.
They send the sexy and oh-so-tempting Mia Bennett to persuade me, and I’m helpless to resist her.
Mia seems innocent in my family feud, but is she really?
I can’t be sure.
All I know is she makes me feel alive again. She gives me the courage to just be me. She’s the new inspiration behind my music, my heart’s own melody.
But something dark and twisted lurks close to home, and leaves me questioning who is friend and who is foe.
Now I am forced to make a decision that could well break me.
How far am I willing to go for the woman I love?
These books contain strong language and adult situations. Recommended for readers ages 18 and up.
I eyed the nearest “no trespassing” sign mounted on the fence about ten feet away. With all the surveillance cameras, he had to know I was out here. I was probably lucky the guy hadn’t had me arrested yet.
Another hour passed.
The sun was disappearing over the horizon now, darkness settling in. It didn’t look like I was going to be successful today.
With a heavy sigh, I gathered up my bag and rose to my feet, deciding to call it a day.
My skin prickled as something moved on the other side the fence.
I spun around, my heart smacking into my ribs.
The heavily-treed yard now deep in shadows, it took a moment for my eyes to take in what had appeared before me. Even then, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking at in the low light. He stood as still as the tree trunks surrounding him.
My hand flew to my throat, my eyes widening.
Gasping, I stumbled back, tripping over my own feet and falling into the underbrush, my bag landing beside me.
I tilted my head back, unable to tear my gaze away.
Ohmigod. Ohmigod. Oh. My. God.
Leslie Georgeson writes a blend of romance and suspense, sometimes tossing in a dash of sci-fi or paranormal to make things more interesting. From genetically-altered super soldiers (The Dregs) to deceptive, daredevil rescuers (The Pact), her stories are laced with danger, action, and plenty of steam. Music and the mafia combine in her newly released romantic suspense series, Something Real. Book one, FREAK, is now available at all retailers. Look for the next book, SNITCH, in the spring of 2021.
Leslie is an avid reader, a nature and animal lover, a plant enthusiast, and enjoys spending time with her amazing family. She lives with her husband of 25+ years and her teenage daughter on a quiet country acreage in Idaho.
In 1913, Henry Hamilton disappeared while on a business trip, and his sister, Sorrow, won’t rest until she finds out what happened to him. Defying her father’s orders to remain at home, she travels to Tidepool, the last place Henry is known to have visited. Residents of the small, shabby oceanside town can’t quite meet Sorrow’s eyes when she asks about her brother.
When corpses wash up on shore looking as if they’ve been torn apart by something not quite human, Sorrow is ready to return to Baltimore and let her father send in the professional detectives.
However, after meeting Ada Oliver, a widow whose black silk dresses and elegant manners set her apart from other Tidepool residents, Sorrow discovers Tidepool’s dark, deadly secret.
With this discovery, some denizens of Tidepool—human and otherwise—are hell-bent on making sure Sorrow never leaves their forsaken town.
Lovecraftian dark fantasy gets a modern treatment in this terrifying debut novel.
Nicole Willson lives with her husband outside of Washington, DC; this does not mean she wants to talk U.S. politics with you. She has been a frequent visitor to small coastal towns located along the Eastern seaboard but has yet to see anything truly alarming emerge from those waters, much to her disappointment. She’s hopeful that her lifelong aversion to eating fish or seafood might earn her a little mercy when the hungry ocean gods finally start coming ashore.
Nicole’s debut horror/dark fantasy novel Tidepool will be coming out from Parliament House Press in August 2021. The novel was showcased in Pitch Wars 2017, where Nicole was mentored by Peter McLean (Priest of Bones).
Her story “Christmas Every Day” appears in Cemetery Gates Media’s Halldark Holidays anthology edited by Gabino Iglesias (Coyote Songs). She is a regular contributor to The Weekly Knob, a prompt-based writing challenge on Medium. You can find an up-to-date list of Nicole’s fiction on Medium here.
Nicole is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She has attended the Borderlands Writers Boot Camp and the Futurescapes Writers Workshop.
She has been a publications editor, a web content specialist, and an editorial assistant. She fulfilled a longtime dream of competing on “Jeopardy!” in 2011, although she did not fulfill her longtime dream of being a Jeopardy champion, alas.