Archive | March 30, 2016

It Doesnt Pay To Be Bad by Marie Astor Release Blitz 3/30/16

It Doesn’t Pay to be Bad, Book 5 of the Janet Maple Series 
Janet Maple couldn’t be happier—she just tied the knot with the man of her dreams and her work 
partner, Dennis Walker. Back from their honeymoon, Janet and Dennis are about to settle into 
married life, but a simple painting they brought back with them turns out to be much more than a 
memento.
Suddenly, Janet and Dennis find themselves in the middle of an international art theft scheme, 
tasked to entrap one of the most sought after art criminals in the world. There’s just one 
glitch—Janet and Dennis aren’t exactly art buffs. Will the duo have what it takes to get the job 
done?
*It Doesn’t Pay to be Bad is book 5 of the Janet Maple Series, but it can be easily read on its 
own.*

EXCERPT


Twenty minutes later Janet and Dennis were in the hotel lobby. Janet had called Pierre 


before they went downstairs and he already had a car waiting for them.


“Madam, if I may, you look very stylish today,” Pierre complimented Janet on her outfit.


“Thank you, Pierre. The boutique in old town that you recommended turned out to be 


fantastic. I love the local designers.” Janet twirled to showcase her navy striped dress, wide-


brimmed straw hat, and red high-heeled sandals.


“Magnificent!” Pierre exclaimed.


“Thank you, Pierre,” Dennis said wryly. “My wife has been raving about your 


recommendations our entire stay.”


Pierre lowered his eyes modestly. “I aim to please. There is so much to see in our town, 


but alas, there’s always too little time to see it all.”


“Yes,” Dennis said pointedly. “Too little time indeed.”


“My apologies, the car is waiting for you,” Pierre said, quickly catching Dennis’s drift.  


“I checked the gallery hours yesterday and they are open until six in the evening on weekdays. 


Enjoy your trip, Jeanette.” Pierre bowed, once he’d walked them to the car.


Janet smiled at the French version of her name, by which Pierre had been addressing her 


during the entire stay. “Thank you, Pierre. Hopefully we’ll find something to bring back with 


“Oh, I think you will. Joyau Gallery is truly a hidden gem of ours—off the beaten path, as 


the saying goes. Few tourists know about it, but I thought you would appreciate it.”



“Thank you, Pierre. I’m really looking forward to it,” Janet said.


••••••••••••••••••••••••••


Janet looked up as an elderly sales clerk emerged from the back room.


“Bonjour,” the sales clerk greeted them. He was short and very thin, looking almost like a 


dried up twig. He wore a tailored suit that fit his slight frame almost like a glove, complete with 


a bowtie and patent leather shoes.


“Good afternoon.” Janet smiled. “Pardon me, but do you speak English?”


“Of course.” The sales clerk bowed slightly. “But I am very sorry to say that we are 


closed.”


“Closed?” Dennis frowned. “But our concierge told us you’d be open. Look, we’re 


leaving tomorrow. Couldn’t you make an exception?”


The sales clerk shook his head apologetically. “I am very sorry, but we are taking 


inventory. Normally we’d be open, but not today.”


“Are you sure you couldn’t make an exception?” Janet decided to give it a try. “You have 


such beautiful paintings here, and I was so hoping to buy a nice seascape for our apartment.”


The clerk’s eyes widened, a worried look coming over his face. “Did you say a seascape, 


Madame?”


“Yes.” Janet nodded. “A seascape for our new apartment.”


“Mon dieu! Un Americain looking for a seascape for the new apartment! Red shoes, navy 


dress—” he muttered. “Forgive my impertinence. This old head isn’t what it used to be.” He 


flung up his hands. “I believe I have exactly what you’re looking for. Let me make sure that we 



will not be interrupted.” He hurried to lock the front door. “I will be right back.”

AMAZON UNIVERSAL LINK:

Janet Maple Series
Bad Guys Don’t Win
Sinful Business Series
Standalone Contemporary Romance Titles
A Dress in a Window (a short story collection)
More books by Marie:
Marie Astor is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban cozy mysteries and romantic suspense. Readers have come to love Marie’s sexy and smart woman sleuths, fast-moving plots, and hot male leads.
In her spare time, Marie enjoys being adventurous out-of-doors. She often gets new story ideas while she is hiking up a mountain or trying to avoid bumping into a tree while skiing.
Whether you’re looking for a fun read while on vacation or just want to escape reality for a few hours, you’ll find it in Marie’s fun, light-hearted mysteries.
Marie loves hearing from readers and always answers all of her emails personally. Join Marie’s mailing list at www.marieastor.com to be the first to know about Marie’s new book releases and events.



Twitter: @marieastor

Playing the Game, Derek Backhard by Shawnte Borris Release Launch 3/30/16

 
Playing the Game, Derek Backhard 
(Book 2 in the Game
Series)
 
Synopsis: 
Since being drafted by the NHL to play for his home team at age
nineteen, Derek Backhard has had everything he’s ever dreamed of – unrivaled
MVP mentions, countless goals and assists, even being compared to the great one. Holding the power to
control his future in the palm of his hands, nothing stood in his way.
Until the unthinkable happened, and everything about his life shifted.
Past priorities fell away the moment he held baby Ryder in his arms mere
moments after losing his close friend, and Ryder’s father, Brad.
After weeks of watching Liz fall apart over the loss of her husband as
she struggled to adjust to life as a single parent, Derek vows to give her and
Ryder everything they deserve, creating a life he never knew he always wanted.
Rocked to her core by her changing feelings for him, Liz doesn’t know
what to do with Derek or his offer. Uncertainty swirls within her as she leans
on her lifelong friend during the hard times, but how much of his attention is
real, and how much is pity?
Is she strong enough to let him in and let him take care of her, or
will she force him away and back into the life she thinks he really wants?
Purchase Links:
 

 

 
 
Author Bio:
 
Shawnté lives in central Alberta, with her husband Ricky of 10 amazing
years and together they have two beautiful
children. Somehow her husband has managed to trick her into running a cow/calf
operation. As much as she fusses about it, she loves it.
 

When Shawnté is not sitting at her kitchen table
hammering away on her laptop while watching the moose chase her cows across the
yard, yes this really happens. Then she is busy attend school activities,
community events and chauffeuring children here and there. She is big on
playing softball and watching hockey.


When the time comes to relax, you
will find her snuggled underneath her down comforter reading on her Ipad.
Wait…who are we kidding, if the dishes, vacuuming, laundry or the bathrooms
needs a hose down, you’ll always hear her say, “Just after this chapter.” She
doesn’t have a favorite author or best story because everyday she falls in love
with someone new.
 

Shawnté is technology challenged so
with the help of Lacy you can find her anywhere. Please go like her page and
leave a review/star rating on the books she’s wrote.


Ways to
stay connected with Shawnte Borris:
 
Twitter: @shawnte_author

 

 
 

THE DECISION by LORHAINNE ECKHART RELEASE DAY BLITZ & Rafflecopter giveaway 3/30/16

The Decision
by Lorhainne Eckhart
Series: The Friessens, #5
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 30, 2016

The Friessens, stars of the bestselling series, are back with THE DECISION, another heartwarming fan favorite romance from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lorhainne Eckhart.

Emily Friessen has everything a woman could want: a husband who’s the love of her life, a family that stands together, and children she wouldn’t trade for anything. To everyone around her, she’s confident and strong—but then, she has to be with a man like Brad, who is all about family and too handsome for his own good.

Emily isn’t as together as she appears, though, and when life throws her and Brad a curveball, it tests their relationship, leaving Emily scrambling and feeling very much alone as both are faced with a decision no parent should have to make.

Don’t miss any of The Friessen books, beginning with The Forgotten Child, the very first book in this big family romance series:

THE OUTSIDER SERIES
The Forgotten Child (Brad and Emily)
A Baby and a Wedding (An Outsider Series Short)
Fallen Hero (Andy, Jed, and Diana)
The Search (An Outsider Series Short)
The Awakening (Andy and Laura)
Secrets (Jed and Diana)
Runaway (Andy and Laura)
Overdue (An Outsider Series Short)
The Unexpected Storm (Neil and Candy)
The Wedding (Neil and Candy)

THE FRIESSENS: A NEW BEGINNING
The Deadline (Andy and Laura)
The Price to Love (Neil and Candy)
A Different Kind of Love (Brad and Emily)
A Vow of Love, A Friessen Family Christmas

THE FRIESSENS
The Reunion
The Bloodline (Andy & Laura)
The Promise (Diana & Jed)
The Business Plan (Neil & Candy)
The Decision (Brad & Emily)

PRAISE for Lorhainne Eckhart’s books: 

“Lorhainne Eckhart has a way at really tugging on the heartstrings and this story is no exception.” 

 “The latest installment into the Friessen legacy has continued the rich storytelling and chemistry since the series began with The Forgotten Child. I love how all of these characters have grown/matured with each new story. Thank you Ms. Eckhart for continuing this wonderful saga.” 

“Eckhart is one of the best storytellers that I have read in a long time. I was riveted by this series as much as I was by Saved. I am an avid reader, and I’ve become impatient with poor writing. I would recommend reading any of Lorhainne Eckhart’s books, but only if you enjoy reading books that you can’t put down.” 

“Wow, what a story!
Loved this, loved this, loved this! Grabbed me from the start and held me the whole way through. Obviously this writer has the talent to pull the readers in and keep them – thank you.” 

 “A brilliant book, a must read and thoroughly enjoyable. I am passionate about Lorhainne Eckharts writing.” 

 “This family history is so intense it is hard to stop until the end. I enjoy this story so much that I bought all the books concerning this family. Had a hard time closing the book until I finished.” 

“Best Family Series Ever!
I love the dynamic of this powerful close family. Three brothers, a cousin and all the spouses and children make for an interesting spellbinding story you won’t want to put down.”

 “Whole lot to love!
Haven’t read one yet I haven’t absolutely loved, this one is no exception. Get it, read it, fall in love with this series and this author.”

“I loved the whole series. I could keep on reading about this family. Makes a person wish they could be part of them.”

THE DECISION (Brad and Emily are back) releasing March 30, and for all my superfans I’m offering a very special #99Cent pre-order DEAL on THE DECISION up until March 31 when it will revert to its regular price of $2.99

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lorhainne Eckhart’s books have been described as Longmire meets old-school Dallas, and she recently received the 2015 & 2013 Readers’ Favorite Award for Romance & Romantic Suspense for her titles The Price to Love and  Lost and Found. With over forty titles under her belt, her big family romance series are loved by fans worldwide. Books that celebrate love, family, commitment, hope, and making a relationship work. With flawed strong characters, characters you can relate to. Lorhainne writes the kind of books she wants to read.

She is frequently a Top 100 bestselling author in multiple genres, such as romance, western, military and mystery/suspense. She has written multiple series, including The Outsider, Walk the Right Road, The Wilde Brothers, Saved, The Friessens, and her two newest additions, Married in Montana, and her high-stakes suspense and sizzling, red-hot romance series, Kate and Walker, Deadly, Dangerous and Desired.

You can chat with Lorhainne on Facebook www.facebook.com/AuthorLorhainneEckhart, Twitter @LEckhart, and her blog at http://www.lorhainneeckhart.com/blog/.

HOUSE HUNT by Jackie Keswick Release Blitz & Rafflecopter giveaway 3/30/16

House Hunt Blitz Banner

HOUSE HUNT
by: Jackie Keswick
The Power of Zero, #3
Publication Date: March 30, 2016
Genre: Adult, MM Romance, Romantic Suspense

House Hunt Cover

Purchase: Amazon | Amazon PRINT | B&N | Kobo | ARe | Dreamspinner Ebook | Dreamspinner PRINT

Synopsis: Jack Horwood hates owing favors. But when a simple day out to treat Gareth to the best oysters in England leads to a discovery of drugs and counterfeit money—things that neither Jack nor Gareth have the jurisdiction to handle—he has to call in help. Help that doesn’t come cheap, and that forces him to do something he promised himself he’d never do again—walk away from Gareth and the family he’s starting to make for himself.

Three months undercover is a long time. After missing Gareth’s birthday, Jack is determined not to miss their first anniversary. But coming home and being home are two very different things. So when he is asked to assist with a corporate espionage investigation, Jack can’t say no, despite knowing it will impact his already straining relationship.

Except, of course, he’s walking into a trap….

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EXCERPT

When the car’s growling engine stopped, Gareth found himself surrounded by woods in a corner of the Weald he’d never been to before. The small car park was deserted except for a handful of cars, and Gareth heard only birdsong, the rustle of the breeze in the trees, and the faraway drone of a plane. They hadn’t passed any villages or farms during the last leg of their drive, and nothing around him hinted at human habitation.

The car park didn’t even have a sign.

“You know where we are, right?”

“Would you believe me if I said we’re eight miles from Canterbury?”

It was hard to imagine that a city full of tourists, bars, and shops was in hiking distance of this deserted corner of Kent. The air held the bitter, musty scents of pine and damp leaves and—barely detectable—the savory smell of mushrooms. Most of the oak and beech trees surrounding the small, graveled car park were just starting to unfurl their leaves, giving the afternoon sun almost unhindered access.

Jack unlocked the boot, ready to get out of the car and retrieve the TVR’s roof. Before he could move, Gareth wrapped a hand around his neck and pulled him closer until the center console got in the way. Jack didn’t fight. He braced his elbows on magnolia leather and leaned across the barrier into Gareth’s touch. Their kiss was slow and languid, more teasing than enticing.

“Really not the car for that,” Gareth commented when he leaned back to put space between them. “Though I could imagine spreading you across that bonnet.”

“Yeah, let’s scandalize the locals,” Jack agreed and popped the doors.

It was the third time and Gareth still hadn’t figured out how it was done. Not that he’d been paying particular attention to the TVR’s doors. Though now that he’d started thinking about the acres of bonnet, he could see that the car had potential. He turned to look for Jack, but despite having opened the boot, he wasn’t anywhere close to the car. He stood in the center of the car park, staring at a beat-up green Rover.

“What’s the matter?”

“Not sure.” Jack’s voice was distant. “Thing gives me the creeps.”

“How?”

Gareth couldn’t see anything that might have set off Jack’s warning bells. The N-plated Rover 400 showed every one of its seventeen years of hard work. Flaking paint marred the sides, hinting at rust-eaten bodywork, and one of the car’s wings had been replaced with one of a slightly different green. It wasn’t a car that invited a second look from anyone, but somehow it had immediately drawn Jack’s attention.

“Jack?”

He stared a moment longer before he shrugged and turned back to Gareth. “I don’t know,” he said, sounding apologetic. “Probably nothing at all. Fancy a walk?”

“Since that’s what we came here for….” Gareth wanted to reach for Jack, whether to distract him or shake him hard enough to rattle some sense back into that busy brain of his, he couldn’t have said. “Was there anywhere in particular you wanted to go?”

“Just… around,” Jack said as he found a narrow path that led into the surrounding woods.

“Liar. And crappy at it, too. How’d you ever make it as a spook?”

Gareth had merely meant to tease, but a dark flush crept up Jack’s neck, and he hunched forward. “I wasn’t that kind of spook,” he mumbled when Gareth caught up with him.

“No?” Gareth wrapped his arm around Jack’s shoulders and felt him flinch at the contact. Jack was suddenly so tightly wound he was close to taking off. And that wasn’t something Gareth wanted to deal with right then. He cast around for something, anything, that could serve as a distraction.

“So, what’s going on with you and that Dave character?” he settled on, glad when Jack’s head shot up and he stared, caught out.

“Nothing’s going on. He’s straight.”

“Bullshit. He was all over you.”

The vehemence in Gareth’s tone brought Jack’s head around. The frown dissolved and the smirk appeared. “That jealousy I’m hearing, Flynn?”

Gareth felt the rush of heat in his neck sweep up the sides of his face. He held Jack’s disbelieving gaze regardless. “Would you blame me?”

OTHER BOOKS IN THE POWER OF ZERO SERIES…

Job Hunt Book #1 Cover

JOB HUNT
by Jackie Keswick
The Power of Zero #1
Publication Date: May 13, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, M/M, Romance, Suspense

BUY: AmazonAmazon PRINTB&NKOBOiBooksAReDreamspinner Press

Synopsis: You don’t greet your new boss dressed like an underage rent boy. But when Jack Horwood—ace hacker and ex-MI6 operative—opens the door to Gareth Flynn, he’s too busy to worry over details like that. And anyway, his potential new boss is his former Commanding Officer – the same guy Jack has had a crush on since he was seventeen. So he should understand, right?

When he applied for the job in Nancarrow Mining’s corporate security division, Jack had hoped for peaceful days repelling cyber attacks. Maybe a bit of corporate espionage on the side. His plans didn’t include rescuing abused children, hunting pimps, or dealing with his overly protective and hot-as-hell boss, Gareth Flynn.

Walking away is not an option. Jack never takes the easy way out. More than that, meeting Gareth raises old ghosts that Jack needs to put to rest. Rescuing kids. Taking risks. Saving the day. Jack can do all that – but deciding what to do about his attraction to Gareth isn’t the sort of cloak-and-dagger game Jack plays well. Yet Gareth, strong and smart and always on hand when needed, might be Jack’s salvation.

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Ghosts Book #2 Cover

GHOSTS
by Jackie Keswick
The Power of Zero #2
Publication Date: February 10, 2016
Genres: Adult,Contemporary, LGBT, M/M, Novella, Romance, Suspense

BUY: AmazonB&NKOBOiBooksAReDreamspinner Press

Synopsis: Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.

But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.

When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.

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ABOUT JACKIE KESWICK

Jackie Keswick

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist’s butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

GIVEAWAY

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ASCENDERS: High School for the Recently Departed by CL Gaber Book Blitz & Rafflecopter giveaway 3/30/16

Ascenders

book blitz

Ascenders Updated

Book Title: ASCENDERS: High School for the Recently Departed (Ascenders Saga)
Author: CL Gaber
Genre: YA/NA Romance/Paranormal
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads

book blurb

Is this Hell or is this High School?

THE ASCENDERS Takes You To the In-between Where Teens Who Died Young Go On the Epic Adventure of an After-Lifetime

Walker Callaghan doesn’t know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago…and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.

Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.

She doesn’t go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. “There are even cheerleaders in death,” Walker observes. It’s not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who “used to have this band.” The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.

Principal King explains the rules — there are none. Why? You can’t die twice.

There is no homework.

No tests.

No SATS.

You’re just there to learn because the human brain isn’t fully formed until you’re 24.

By the way, you can’t get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do …because no one knows how long you’ll stay in this realm or what’s next.

“Losing someone you love would be like dying twice,” Walker says.

* * * * * *

Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this hell or is this high school?” she asks.

She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He’s looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.

He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.

Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.

Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?

At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.

praise

Resch Reads:

One word to describe this book is EPIC. Sheer writing brilliance.”

Amazon: “A new ‘Twilight Zone’ of a world. Speaking of Uncle Stevie, otherwise known as Stephen King, ‘Ascenders’ reads like something he might have written back in the Twilight Zone of his own youth. I love Koontz and King and haven’t been this excited about an author in a long time.”

Author Groupies: “If you’re a fan of dystopian epics, this bring a whole new element to the genre: the afterlife. I loved this book. What an original concept! Constantly changing, riveting and thought-provoking.”

Amazon: “The next big book series. Powerful and beautiful. I was so moved by this book that I actually cried, tears streaming down my face. Five minutes later, I was cheering. I felt like I had just seen a movie.”

Mugglenet, The #1 Harry Potter Site: “Ascenders is one of those books that stays on your mind for days after reading it. Though you continue your days, your mind keeps wandering back to the main characters, the overarching theme, and of course, the scenarios of what could possibly happen next. I finished this novel within the span of two days, and I wish that I could start over and read the whole thing again. “

Mugglenet: “Walker and Daniel are incredibly believable and realistic. Walker is a strong female character that isn’t afraid to fight for what she loves. Daniel, while having a hard, cold exterior, is actually soft underneath it all and incredibly loving. C.L. Gaber did an excellent job describing the setting and places. I felt like I was right there. The dead celebrity appearances kept me on my toes.”

Mugglenet: “I can’t wait to read the second book. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a book.”

Amazon: The story is so amazing, and completely unique, I have never read anything like this or that will compare to this. I would rank this up there in my top reads of 2015. The tail is enchanting and I fell in love with Daniel and his family and I wanted to be best friends with Walker, this was the book that kept giving. Perfect storytelling!

The Pen and the Muse: Ascenders by C.L. Gaber was an utterly refreshing, original, and an un-put-down-able read. This book was brimming with emotions, feels, and had a striking story line that kept you glued to your e-reader. I was completely mesmerized with the characters and their journey of the “in between.” With a concept so unique, Ms. Gaber had her readers totally invested with the story of Walker and Daniel. Be prepared to get spell-blinded and fall in love with this beautiful and enchanting story.

Booknerds: “I was completely absorbed in the Ascenders world. It’s an insanely creative world. AMAZING, AMAZING concept and characters. Daniel and Walker had great chemistry. Daniel is everything a male lead should be. Total crush material. He walks that line of bad boy and sweetheart. Walker was one hell of a strong female character. She was intelligent, quick witted, charming and a bad ass in the best possible way.”

excerpt

Now that it was absolutely dark, I felt like the world had faded to inky black. I didn’t have any idea where we were walking, but knew I had to get home before my mother became frantic and called the cops, which would be mortifying in a new town.

“So, how long have your parents been gone?” I asked, sliding along and breathing not-so-heavily, while thinking that maybe his mother and father had a time-share in Miami or Palm Springs during this time of the year and had just snuck away for the weekend or even dumped the kids on him for a week.

“How long have they been gone?” Daniel pondered out loud. His laugh was beyond sarcastic; it was vicious. “They’ve been gone years, months, and days. Who cares about them? I certainly don’t.”

Of course, he was kidding. Parents didn’t take vacations from their four children for years. It was called child abandonment and there were laws. Wait, maybe his parents were in jail for breaking the law. Embezzlers? Ponzi scheme? My journalistic mind was in overdrive. “So, it’s just the four of you kids in the house? For years. Home alone.” I said with a little laugh. “Obviously, that was a bad joke.”

“No joke. It’s just us four—we’re a family. Intact. For the most part,” said the David Beckham look-a-like with the short dark hair and steel gray eyes, quickly walking ahead again. He really didn’t want to get into it now.

Intact? I thought. Now this was really getting interesting. I knew he was the exacting type, and his choice of words was deliberate.

My next question would have to wait.

In what seemed like an instant, my back foot caught on a large fallen tree branch and I fell forward with all my body weight. Crashing hard onto my hands and knees, I cried out, but I wasn’t in any real pain. Before I could stand up, I slipped again until my stomach slammed against the surface of the thickly iced-over pond. The cracking sound was like thunder. Then, in what felt like a sickening surge of broken glass and rushing water, the ground suddenly ceased to exist. I didn’t have time to scream as I dropped into the dark, lifeless, icy chill of wintery water.

I braced for the first slap of bitter freeze, instantly calling up some stupid fact from science class at Kennedy High where we learned that Titanic survivors described hitting the freezing ocean water as thousands of tiny knives stabbing every inch of their bodies.

I expected excruciating pain, but there was none. There was just numbness as I entered the earliest stages of being converted to ice.

Resistance was only natural and I fought hard as my hands flailed through the water trying to keep my head above the murky freeze, but it was pointless. The water was hungry that night and my thrashing almost made a game out of its impending conquest. It only took a second or two of my desperate survival dance for the lake to swallow me whole.

Daniel must have heard the crack and he stopped in place. Slowly, he turned around as I struggled to pop up again, but by putting up a fight I only succeeded in making it worse. As my body was being carried under the heavy sheet of ice in an involuntary dance, I could see Daniel above, the soles of his black boots carefully

following my route as he calmly watched me drown.
In a way, it was fascinating to watch him ever so gradually shuffle along as my

hands desperately reached from under my new icy roof for the bottom of his boots. The only thing that separated us was about five solid inches of deadly winter soup. By the time he found me in an even darker spot where the lake mingled with several dead, embalmed trees, all he could see from under the thick coating was my face looking up at him, frozen in horror. He saw my pouty mouth almost kissing the ice and frantically trying to say one word to him.

“Help!” I mouthed.
I gulped down murky green water, ingesting long tentacles of lifeless leaves and

thick clumps of sludge-dirt, and it all slid easily into my lungs while he just stood there. He. Stood. There.

Frantically, I maneuvered away from the spot by the trees, which made it worse because now I was pinned under even thicker ice, my milky-white face pressed up against eight to ten inches of immovable crystals.

Casually, Daniel walked to where I was wildly waving my arms underneath the water. When I looked up now, he was a hazy dark blur that made me suddenly dizzy. That’s when I shut my eyes to wait for the inevitable.

But I didn’t black out. Long minutes passed, my eyes sprung open, and I continued to push upward again as the water became midnight black. For some reason I was still alive, but I still couldn’t free myself from this wintry prison.

My mind raced. How much time had passed? How much time could pass before I would be brain-dead? How much time before I died?

Daniel still stood above the ground and calmly watched me struggle. “To hell with this,” he finally said, loud enough for me to hear him under the ice. Was he telling me to stop struggling and just accept that I lost?

After another endless minute passed, he shook his head and, though apparently talking to himself, said even louder, “Okay, enough . . . but you need to know.”

Kicking through a thinner spot of ice, he made a small hole and then pummeled it into a bigger passage with those clomping boots. Reaching down into the crack, he offered me a strong hand and a tat-covered, muscular arm. Somehow through the dark water, I saw human fingers moving and grabbed them like they were my only lifelines, which is exactly what they were to me.

All it took was one big hoist and I was in his arms, pressed body-to-body up against him, soaking wet, freezing cold, and mad as hell.

With my right hand, that had absolutely no feeling in it, I slapped him squarely across the jaw as hard as possible. When he didn’t budge much, I slapped him again, which made my hand tired, but it didn’t hurt. When I attempted to punch his face, he grabbed my hand in a firm way that signaled we weren’t going another nine rounds.

“Easy there, tiger,” he said with a smirk that made those soft eyes twinkle. “I guess you’re a fan of the Rocky movies.”

“Why . . . you bastard . . . why . . . you didn’t even try to save me,” I sputtered, but I wasn’t really coughing and certainly my brain was perfectly fine. For a split second, I counted to five backward. Again, it was amazing that my mind was still functioning. Maybe the water was cold enough to save me. Is that how it worked?

“I saw you. You were just standing there! Watching! Watching me die!” I

screamed, shoving him again. This time, I took him by surprise and he landed butt-first in a pile of snow.

Calmly, he stood up, lurched forward, and grabbed both of my arms, holding me against his rock-hard chest until I stopped struggling and gave up the idea of trying to knock his block off. He held me tightly like he was protecting me from some danger worse than what just happened. Tears formed in my eyes and I began to touch my arms and then tested my breathing, which was perfectly normal. He still refused to let go. Big white puffs of my breath filled the dark sky and I watched them evaporate slowly like little clouds. Then I looked up.

“Why aren’t I dead?” I said in an anguished voice.
Daniel took a deep breath, carefully released me, and then answered slowly. “Because, baby, you can’t die twice,” he said.

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meet the author

CL GABER is the author of ASCENDERS and the sequel ASCENDERS: SKYPUNCH (Book Two).

She is also a journalist writing about film and television for the New York Times Syndicate.

CL lives in Nevada with her husband Ron, bonus daughter Sabrina and two unruly dogs. You can reach her at CLGaber@Yahoo.com

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