Monthly Archives: November 2017

VBT – Dead Cold

 

We’re really excited to be part of Jennifer Chase’s DEAD COLD Blog Tour! 

Title: DEAD COLD
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Pages: 326
Genre: Crime Thriller

What happens when one California
community has a disturbing spike in homicides? It catapults cops into a deadly
game of murder. Frozen human body parts hideously displayed at the crime scenes
offers a horrifying interpretation that only a sadistic serial killer could
design—and execute.On the hunt for a complex serial killer, vigilante detective Emily Stone must
face her most daring case yet. Stone’s proven top-notch profiling skills and
forensic expertise may not be enough this time.

Young and ambitious, Detective Danny Starr, catches the homicide cases and
discovers that it will test everything he knows about police work and the
criminal mind. Can he handle these escalating cases or will the police
department have to call in reinforcements—the FBI.

Emily Stone’s covert team pushes with extreme urgency to unravel the grisly
clues, while keeping their identities hidden from the police. With one
last-ditch effort, Stone dangles someone she loves as bait to draw out the
killer. She then forces the killer out of their comfort zone with her partner
Rick Lopez, and with help from a longtime friend Jordan Smith. A revelation of
the serial killer’s identity leaves the team with volatile emotions that could
destroy them.

The killer continues to taunt and expertly manipulate the police, as well as
Stone’s team, and as they run out of time—they leave behind everyone and
everything—in Dead Cold.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

ESCAPE WAS IMPOSSIBLE. TEARS STREAMED down her
face as she sat in the darkness and waited for the man to return. There was no
other choice—but to wait.
She hadn’t eaten anything in three days and had only a
limited amount of water—her strength continued to fade with every hour. With
her wrists and ankles secured with duct tape, her skin stung with pain every
time she struggled to move. At least the man had peeled the tape from her eyes
and mouth so that she could see something besides pitch-blackness.
Even if she could escape, the only way to safety was jumping
into the frigid water, but she could not swim and would drown before ever
reaching the shore.
The only thing thirteen-year-old Kayla Swanson thought about
was home. Fond memories flashed through her mind of her parents, her little
brother, and her dog Charlie. She was never going to see them again. Their
smiling faces were forever etched in Kayla’s mind, and she constantly held them
close to her heart.  
The boat rocked, and seemed to sway more violently as the
tide flooded in and out of the harbor. Kayla could hear a consistent clanking
noise above her as the boat rolled back and forth. The sound had a hypnotic
quality, and kept her mind on something else besides when the man would return
and what he would do next. 
Her lips were dry and cracked as she bordered on dehydration.
Even her tears dried on her cheeks, leaving her skin stiff and drawn. Her body
began to shake, not only from fear, but also because of the extreme exhaustion
and the constant dampness all around her.
The boat rocked more, but this time it shifted from the
opposite sides. Kayla heard soft footsteps above, which she knew wasn’t her
captor’s heavy walk. She strained her eyes in the darkness and thought she saw
a thin shadow stealthily move along the upper deck.
Was it a ghost?
Kayla remembered a television series where a team of people
hunted ghosts and they had said that ghosts could
occupy any type of space, house, property, and even a boat.
She blinked her eyes several times and hoped that she could
catch a glimpse of the ghost again. With every ounce of declining strength,
Kayla scooted her body closer to the narrow stairs leading to the upper deck.
Painfully craning her neck, she strained to see something up
in the darkness.
The dark shadowed areas played tricks on her eyes—it was
there, then it wasn’t.
She waited for several minutes.
Nothing appeared.
The only sounds she heard were the usual boat noises she had
grown accustomed to hearing. Whatever she thought she heard was gone now. It
was most likely her imagination trying to give her some hope and a few moments
break from her dire circumstances.
As she relaxed her shoulders and leaned back against the
wall, the reality of her world pressing down hard. Tears streamed down her
face. She tasted the saltiness that settled around her mouth. Her last moments
were approaching, and there was nothing she could do.

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning crime fiction author and consulting
criminologist. 
Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath,
providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In
addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. 
She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

Her latest book is the crime thriller, Dead Cold.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

 

VBT – Wrong Side of the Rift

wrongsideriftbanner

About the Book

Title: Wrong Side of the Rift
Author: Libby Heil
Genre: YA Fantasy

Grape can’t unlearn what living in Sortilege Falls has taught her. Magic is real. Vampires live among us. And there’s a portal in her back yard that leads to another world.

A few weeks ago, Grape lived a quiet life with her family in Watts Landing. Now, she’s stuck in Sortilege Falls, searching for a way to rescue her brother from the other side of the rift. She’s connected to Brad through dreams and what she sees terrifies her. Brad is being tortured into performing magic and, even worse, he’s being forced to torture others.

Grape hounds the magic folk in town, seeking a way through the rift. Her mother’s memory’s been stolen. Her new vampire friend refuses to help. Grape must do it all alone. What she uncovers is a whole host of secrets about the town and her own family. And she’s not the only one hunting for answers.

Time is running out for Brad, but it might be running out for Grape as well.

22290596_10100339757821341_1630258690_o

Author Bio

I was born during a blizzard. I’m told it was pretty cool but I have no memory of that time. I grew up in two tiny towns in Virginia and spent most of my twenties moving around the US. I’ve lived in Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. I’ve settled down, for now, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than memorizing them. My first play, Fourth Wall, was produced my junior year. Since then, I’ve written several full length plays, one acts and screenplays. I started writing fiction in my late twenties. Now, I focus mainly on novels but still dabble in theater.

Fun facts about me: There are none. I’m sorry to disappoint you so soon. But, I do love to read, write, and run. My hubby is my favorite person on earth. Dogs are my second favorite. All dogs. I love orange juice, especially when it’s mixed with club soda. Carbonation is better than alcohol. Jaws is my favorite movie. Everything I’ve said so far is true.

Awards:

Puschcart Prize Nomination for “Grow Your Own Dad” – Published by Mixer Publishing

Semi-finalist Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference – “STUFF”

Honorable Mention The Ohio State Newark New Play Contest – “The Last Day”

 

Links

libbyheily.com

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

Goodreads

Book Excerpt

This scene takes place in a church parking lot just after a funeral. Grape has just gone to find out information about her brother’s whereabouts from one of her teachers and returns to find her mother flirting with a vampire:

“Oh, honey, I was wondering where you’d gotten off to,” her mother said as she wandered back, lost in thought.

“Yeah, I saw someone I knew…” Grape stopped moving, her feet locked into place. Her mind had been so preoccupied with Milly and Mrs. Humphries that she hadn’t seen who her mother was speaking with. The couple and their daughter had gone, leaving Liam in their place. He stood beside Dr. Merriweather, smiling in his all-black suit.

Her mother waved a hand toward Liam. “Have I ever introduced you to Mr. Sable? He’s a nurse at the hospital.”

“We’re acquainted,” Grape said, her voice devoid of good humor.

“How so?” her mother asked.

Why is Mom smiling so much?

“Liam knows Graeson,” Grape offered through her clenched jaw.

“Oh? Our neighbor? How do you know him?”

“Liam owns a club Graeson belongs to,” Grape said before Liam could answer.

“A club?” her mother asked, a bit of doubt creeping into her voice.

Liam smiled. It was hard to read his expression as his crystal blue eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses. “I own a coffeehouse. It is very old and in desperate need of decoration. Mostly teenagers come. They play board games,” he said in his thick Eastern European-ish accent.

“And dress up,” Grape said, her heartbeat growing faster. She did not like the way Liam smiled at her mother or the way her mother looked at him.

“Yes.” Liam chuckled. “I believe it is called cos-play. The kids, they like to dress up as superheroes or villains. It is a common thing, and in a town this small they have no place to do it.”

“Maybe we’ll drop by and check it out one day,” her mother said. She touched Liam’s arm. “I’m sure it doesn’t need decorating as badly as you think.”

She touched Liam’s arm. Her mother touched Liam’s arm.

“Mom, we should probably get Mandy home,” Grape said, forcing herself to smile. Look normal, Grape, and get her the hell away from the vampire. She nodded toward Mandy, who stood beside Adam, arms crossed and tears dripping from her eyes.

“Oh, yes, you’re probably right,” her mother said, glancing at Grape before returning her attention to Liam. “I’ll see you at work, I guess.”

“I will be there.”

Grape watched as her mother walked toward Mandy. When she was out of ear-shot, Grape turned to Liam, fury in her belly. “What the hell was that?”

“What? I came looking for you, to see how you are. I ran into your mother. I know her from work.”

“You were flirting.”

“I was being nice.”

“Don’t. My mother is off limits.”

“Whatever you say, Grape Merriweather. I live to serve.”

“If that’s true, then take me to the Magic Lands.”

“There are very few who could open that rift, and those few all live in…the Magic Lands.”

“Then how did it open for Brad?”

“You would have to ask Brad.”

Grape’s hands balled up at her sides. She could feel a strange warmth growing through her body. “How the hell am I supposed to ask him anything if I can’t get to where he is?”

“Exactly. It is over. He is gone. I am very sorry, Grape Merriweather. It will be best for everyone if you let this go.”

“Nothing’s over.”

“You are spending too much time in the woods.”

Grape balked. “What? Did my mother tell you that?”

“No.” Liam sniffed the air. “But you smell of dirt and trees with a hint of desperation.”

Grape opened her mouth to protest, but Liam inclined his head toward her mother, who stood staring at them, her arm wrapped around Mandy.

“Enjoy the ride home.”

Buy on Amazon

Book Blast – LOTTIE LOVES

Lottie Loves banner

About the Author

Samie Sands

Samie Sands is the author of the AM13 Outbreak series; Lockdown, Forgotten, and Extinct. She has also had stories featured in best-selling anthologies.

Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Lottie Loves.

For more information, exclusive competitions, and free content, please connect with Samie via social media:

Newsletter: eepurl.com/bRjtkf

Website: samiesands.com

Facebook: @SamieSandsLockdown

Twitter: @SamieSands

Goodreads: @SamieSands

Instagram: @SamieSands

Wattpad: @SamieSands

About the Book

Title: LOTTIE LOVES
Author: Samie Sands
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Pages: 210
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]

BOOK BLURB:

“Will you marry me?”

Four words I’ve waited my whole life to hear. Four words which I was sure would change my life forever, and it did. Just not in the way I thought it would.

Finding out that my extremely gorgeous rock star boyfriend was about to propose, had the complete opposite effect I thought it would. Rather than catapult me into a future I’ve always wanted, it plunged me all the way back to a past I tried to forget.

Now I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t help but wonder what could have been, how our lives would have ended up if he didn’t leave me behind a shattered mess.

All these memories of the past are dangerous. It’s bringing my past back to ruin my future. And worst of all, it’s taking me right back to him, my childhood sweetheart, my first love…my biggest regret.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Book Excerpt:

“Will you marry me?”

It was the words that I’d wanted to hear my entire life. Didn’t every girl fantasise over the perfect man going to buy the perfect ring and getting down on one knee in the most romantic way possible, before telling them that they loved them so much, they wanted to spend the rest of their life with them?

I knew that I certainly had.

Me and my best friend Cici used to talk about it all the time. We used to plan our dresses, the music, the flowers—every part of the ceremony down to the very last detail. Of course, the man didn’t really matter. We were young enough and naive enough to believe that we would magically meet the perfect man without even trying.

And I really thought that I had. I really, truly believed that my dream had come true.

Me and Danny had begun our love story in a very typical fashion—our eyes had met across a bar, where we’d had long, lingering eye contact, sparking all kinds of emotions within me. The only difference between my story, and that of every other rom-com ever, was that Danny was a genuine up-and-coming rock star, playing on a fairly big stage, and I was a fan who already felt a lot of love for this man. I’d been admiring him from afar ever since I first heard their album a year or so before.

I certainly hadn’t expected it to ever go any further than that moment, so when he came and joined me at the bar later on for a drink, despite being mobbed by other members of the audience, I felt like my entire life had been leading me up to that moment. I felt like everything that I’d experienced was all drawing me closer to Danny, the love of my life. Here was a gorgeous man who was destined to be famous, and who could have any girl in the world hanging off of his arm, talking to me, asking me questions, and actually showing me interest.

It seemed like a dream—one that I was terrified to wake up from.

As he flicked his messy auburn hair from his warm, chocolaty eyes and he gave me that smile that had already melted the hearts of the nation, I thought for a dreaded, wonderful second that he was going to kiss me in front of all of those people. But after a few beats of pure terror, he didn’t. Instead he handed me his phone number, and he asked if I would like to go on a date with him.

Me—boring old Charlotte (Lottie) Jones—on a date with Danny Boreom, bassist of the (now very) famous band Jax. It didn’t seem real.

Yet, it was real, and it did happen.

It was the start of my real life.

After a night out on the town where he well and truly wined and dined me, he walked me home to my tiny flat which must have looked ridiculous compared to the mansion that I now know he lived in with the rest of the band at the time, and he finally kissed me. As his lips met mine, I felt myself flying on top of the world—he was an amazing kisser, and there seemed to be an endless chemistry between us. One that I never wanted to end.

Breathless and turned on by the power of his mouth, I invited him inside. Although he coolly and calmly turned me down, it was still the best night of my entire life, made even better by a phone call the next day to say that he only didn’t come inside with me because he wanted to be something real. He didn’t want our love to end at a one-night stand, he actually wanted us to develop and for him to become my boyfriend.

Fast forward three and a half years and we were blissfully living together, grazing by every day happily and easily. Although he was away for a lot of the year touring, it didn’t seem to bother us. We were so strong and so solid with what we had, that nothing would get in our way.

It was perfect, still a dream come true and that intense chemistry hadn’t burned down one bit.

Which made it even weirder that my reaction to Cici telling me that Baz—another member of the band—had just told her that he’d been engagement ring shopping with Danny, wasn’t one of pure joy.

“What…what do you mean?” I asked, my heart racing frantically in my chest. I could tell that my voice was breathless and kind of terrified, but my mind was spinning too fast for me to be able to do anything about it.

“Aren’t you happy?” She giggled, “I thought that you’d be over the moon to finally be Mrs. Boreom.”

“No, no, I am,” I half lied. The idea had always been at the edge of my thoughts. I knew that Danny was the one for me, and despite all the car crash relationships around us, we’d even managed to survive the fallout of him becoming mega famous. It helped that I had no interest in the spotlight and that I did everything I could to avoid it, but even despite all of that, I felt like it proved that we could go the distance, and be together forever. So why wasn’t I excited for us to take the next step? “It’s just a bit of a shock, that’s all.”

But that was normal, right? Everyone freaked out at first when they learned that they were going to become someone’s wife…didn’t they?

Of course, I already knew that wasn’t true. I’d already been proposed to once in my life before, and that time, I didn’t hesitate one bit. Panic didn’t even come into the equation, I was happy, over the moon at the thought of becoming his wife. This was nothing like that had been. I felt completely different.

For the first time in a very long time, I allowed myself to think about Joe again, and almost the second that I allowed that vault to open in my mind, I felt myself fall into a tailspin. As his face filled my brain once more, it was almost as if the last five years hadn’t happened at all, and that I was still his proud girlfriend, waiting to be his wife.

As the wound reopened, I could barely hear what Cici was saying to me. I felt like I was gaping, exposed, and extremely vulnerable all over again, and I did what I’d always done when I was younger, when things got too difficult for me. I started to talk to Joe in my mind.

Where are you now?

What became of you?

What happened to your life?

It was so strange to have gone from the closest people in the world, to absolutely nothing, and I struggled to imagine that he’d changed one bit. Of course I had, my life was completely different, but I couldn’t think of Joe without viewing him as the other half of me. The boy that I’d adored, and the one that I never thought would leave my side.

“I…I’ve got to go,” I finally announced to my friend. “I’ll speak to you later, okay?” And then I hung up the phone, without even waiting for her to answer. I knew that I was being rude, acting more than a little strange, but I needed some time. I needed to be alone with my thoughts to try and process all of this.

So quite how I found myself sitting at my computer with my fingers running along the keys, I wasn’t quite sure.

Don’t press anything, I willed myself. As soon as you do, everything will change.

Since we had gone our separate ways, I hadn’t contacted Joe once, and with the uprising of social media I hadn’t looked him up either. I just couldn’t face it. He was like an imaginary fantasy in my mind now, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ruin that with reality. What if he was married now? Or into drugs or something? His life could have gone in any direction, and I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to find out which one.

Plus, my life really was amazing now. Why would I want to even consider risking that? I had a gorgeous, passionate man who actually wanted to be with me forever, even though he was about ten leagues above me, I had a teaching job that I loved, and friends that would do anything for me. That was a hell of a lot more than most people had!

In the end I forced myself to stand up and to move away from the computer screen before it lured me in. I couldn’t do it; I just wasn’t willing to take that step into the unknown. It terrified me far too much. But as I wandered aimlessly from room to room, I realised that I couldn’t just do nothing either. I needed to calm this beast within me, which meant delving into my past whether I liked it or not.

I stood at the bottom of the attic ladder, wondering what awaited me up there. When me and Danny decided to buy a place together—well, he put the most money in of course, but we still classed it as ‘ours’—I shoved everything related to my old life away, not wanting to even consider it. But it was always a comfort, knowing that it was there, knowing that I could access it at any moment if I really wanted to.

And I could feel myself finally taking that step.

I creaked up the ladder, feeling my heart thump and my palms sweat with nerves. This was a mistake, I knew it was, but at the same time I couldn’t stop.

There would be no way for me to get married without taking this step anyway. Right now, things were comfortable, but if I was ever going to have a future with Danny, I needed to consult my past first. At least, that was my excuse and I was sticking to it.

Danny knew about Joe anyway. Well, he’d been told some of it, the very basics, so I supposed that I was probably going to have to confess all before we finally took the plunge. With that thought in mind, I tore open the first box I stumbled across, and I ended up looking at the few photographs that I had of me and Joe when we were very young, when we very first met…

Samie Sands is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of LOTTIE LOVES!

Lottie Loves giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight November 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on December 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Spotlight – ONE NIGHT IN AMBOISE

One Night in Amboise banner

About the Author

 Ken Malovos book photo

Ken Malovos has been practicing law in Sacramento for over forty years. He spent twelve years with the Public Defender’s Office and twenty-five years as a business litigator. He now serves full-time as a mediator and arbitrator. Ken has written two previous Mike Zorich novels and both have been recognized by Chanticleer Book Reviews. Contempt of Court was a First Place Category winner in the legal genre of the Mystery and Mayhem competition in 2014. Fatal Reunion was a finalist in the Thriller and Suspense competition in 2016. Ken and his wife live in Sacramento.

His latest book is the legal mystery, ONE NIGHT IN AMBOISE.

Visit his website at www.malovoslaw.com.

 

About the Book

Title: ONE NIGHT IN AMBOISE
Author: Ken Malovos
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 289
Genre: Legal Mystery

One Night in Amboise

BOOK BLURB:

JIM HANSEN AND CORINNE LARSON are overseas college students at Amboise, France. After meeting at a local bar they leave and encounter a drunk. JIM hits him and the man may be dead. At the manor house where they live, they kiss and make love. The next day she accuses him of rape but does not formally charge him. He denies the charge. The police investigate the killing of the drunk.

After they return to California, CORINNE struggles with the whole incident, wondering if she was at fault. She talks to her sisters and then seeks professional help after turning to alcohol.  JIM goes to law school and becomes a deputy district attorney, always wondering if the allegation of rape will surface and whether he did the right thing. He marries another overseas student from Amboise.

ALICIA OBREGON contacts JIM and asks him to dismiss the criminal case against her husband. She informs JIM that she knows all about Amboise and threatens to expose him. He throws the case, thereby allowing a guilty person to go free. Over time he pays her money.

JIM is appointed a judge and ALICIA continues to blackmail him. CORINNE’s husband comes to Sacramento and confronts JIM in his chambers. JIM says he is sorry about the whole thing. JIM goes to a rehabilitation facility but in a few weeks he leaves, feeling he has resolved all of his concerns.

ALICIA is found dead. ALICIA’s husband is charged with her murder but he implicates JIM because he knows all about the blackmailing scheme. JIM then is arrested and must stand trial for the murder of ALICIA. The prosecutor focuses on JIM’s motive. JIM asks noted trial lawyer MIKE ZORICH to represent him.  JIM turns down a plea bargain and a sensational jury trial follows. JIM is not truthful with his wife, his attorney or the jury. CORINNE’s husband testifies. The jury cannot reach a decision and JIM must live with a tarnished reputation amidst unsettled questions whether he killed ALICIA and raped CORINNE.

 

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

 

Book Excerpt:

April 1985

It all happened in a couple of seconds. The man was lying on his back in the café doorway on a wet, dimly lit street in Amboise, France. He appeared to be lifeless. There was no movement.

Corinne Larson looked at the man and then at Jim Hansen in astonishment. The two American students were standing under the overhang of the closed café, as rain fell lightly. It was just after eleven at night and all the shops were closed on the dark, narrow street, just down from the Rue Nationale.

The man startled them when he jumped out from behind a garbage can and grabbed the end of Corinne’s coat. Instinctively, Jim grabbed Corinne and pulled her away. She clutched her purse and said something to the man, who was reeking of wine and looked crazed with wide open eyes. Then he lurched toward them again. Jim swung his fist and caught the man on the right side of his face, stopping his forward movement. The man was stunned. Jim quickly pushed him as hard as he could and the man fell back, banging his head on the garbage can and landing in front of the door with a thud.

Jim paused for a second, deciding what to do, but the man lay still, his eyes closed. Jim did not think he felt a pulse when he put his fingers to the man’s wrist, but he was not certain. He stared at him for a moment. The man was unshaven and hatless; his belt rested more on his ample stomach than in the loops of his pants. He wore a tattered jacket with a large tear on the left sleeve and a battered, old beret lay on the ground.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Jim said.

“Wait. Is he okay?”

“I don’t know. I think he’s drunk. But I think we need to get out of here.”

“Wait a minute.”

Corinne looked around, a worried expression on her face. Jim took her by the arm and they started walking, each of them checking back every few seconds to see if the man moved. He didn’t. Jim looked down the street, but there was no one in sight. It was quiet and dark and wet. They only had a few more blocks to go, as they hurried within eyesight of the Chateau Royal d’Amboise and headed to the manor house, where they were staying with other overseas college students from California.

“Maybe we should say something to somebody,” Corinne said. “Call the police?”

“There’s nobody around here. Let’s just forget this whole thing,” he said. “Leave it alone.”

“That doesn’t seem right.”

“I don’t think we should get involved. They may blame us. You never know.”

“But we didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Right. I was just defending you. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

She looked at him. He didn’t meet her eyes. Instead, he looked down the street again.

“You know, probably nobody will even miss him,” Jim said.

“Why would they blame us?”

“I don’t know. We are foreign students. I’m just afraid I could be charged with something and get locked up. Somebody else will find him…” his voice trailed off.

Jim pulled Corinne close to him. She pulled the lapels of her black coat up around her neck and leaned her head slightly into his, as they scurried along. That April night, a group of American students went to the Brasserie Hippeau, about a half-mile from their manor house. Everyone had too much to drink, but that’s what kids do in college—they drink too much.

The memories of America’s saving role in World War II and all of the G.I.s who served in France during the war were not entirely gone, even forty years later. The residual good will from that horrific time was passed down to the children and grandchildren of the town’s citizens. So a little excess drinking by the young Americans was easily tolerated. Most people took a parental interest in the students. A group of middle-aged women engaged in a game of bridge at a table about twenty feet away grinned at each other as they observed the noisy group in the corner.

The students talked about their families back home and about the year that was drawing to a close. Mostly, they drank beer. Gradually, the group of students that assembled at the watering hole decreased in size until only six remained.

The brasserie stayed open past its usual 9:30 closing time, as it often did when there were patrons. It was late and someone said it was time to go home. The other four took off and it was just the two of them. Jim waited for Corinne while she went to the restroom.

Jim watched as she sauntered to the back of the bar. He liked the way she her rear moved with each forward motion of her hips. He thought about her big brown eyes when she gazed up hazily from her glass of wine into his eyes. They were soft and her eyelashes were long. Her brown hair fell just below her shoulders and she would brush it away every now and then as it tickled her cheeks. After a couple of minutes, she emerged from the back of the brasserie with a slight smile on her face. He looked at the curve of her waist and her perky breasts. On her slender neck she wore a silver chain with a silver heart. He was glad to be with her.

“They said they wanted to get going, so I told them I would walk with you,” Jim said. “We can catch up.”

“That was nice of you, but I have walked these streets alone a lot of times at night. It’s a pretty safe town.”

“I know, but just the same. Can’t be too safe. Besides, we’re both pretty buzzed.”

“You’ve got that right,” she said. “I haven’t had that much to drink in a long time.”

Jim Hansen liked Corinne Larson, even though they had not spent much time together during their stay in France. They were part of a group of 80 students, but for some reason they did not cross paths all that much. Maybe it was because so many smaller groups formed naturally.  But then they met unexpectedly a couple of months ago on a Saturday afternoon in Amboise. Both were exploring where Leonardo da Vinci lived at the Chateau du Clos Luce in 1515 and the Chapel of Saint-Hubert where he was buried. Every citizen of the small town knew the story of how Leonardo came to France with his famous painting, the Mona Lisa. Their interest in French history drew them together.

Ever since that afternoon, Jim and Corinne often smiled at each other in class and in the dining room. But they did not spent time alone with one another. Jim was reluctant to approach Corinne, for reasons he could not explain, and Corinne was naturally shy.

They didn’t say much more on the way home, both lost in their thoughts, just walking along to avoid any further issue with the drunk who had accosted them. He saved her, so to speak. He did a good thing and he felt proud of himself. They passed the fountain in the center of the town, a favorite gathering spot for the students. As they arrived at the manor house, Jim let her scent waft over him. He wondered if he would dare make a move. He had to, she was so good-looking. And he figured he was her hero.

They opened the creaky door and shook off the raindrops, Jim keeping in close contact while he helped her out of her coat. And then he kissed her. She seemed to be surprised at first, but she reciprocated and they sat down in an adjoining parlor on a sofa. They kissed a lot that night. After a while, he closed the door to the small room. He started to unbutton her blouse, but then it ripped in the process as their kisses became stronger and longer.

It might have been the alcohol or the hormones or the exhilaration of the knight-in-shining-armor saving his lady, but only the two of them knew exactly what happened in the next few minutes. It became the subject of their memories for many years after that rainy night in the middle of France.

He recalled her saying “no” at some point, but he didn’t really think she meant it. As he saw it, her actions said the opposite. Yes, she struggled and tried to push him off and yes, he was bigger, but she never yelled out. She didn’t leave. He may have pushed her back, he couldn’t recall. She turned her head to the side when he tried to kiss her some more. Later, she grabbed her clothes, put on her coat, and left quickly. It was quiet in the old house and he was pretty sure nobody heard them.

* * *

The morning after that April night with Corinne, Jim ate breakfast with his usual gang. He was thinking of the man he shoved. Maybe he wasn’t dead. Maybe he had a pulse and Jim just didn’t feel it. He certainly seemed to be drunk. Maybe he slept it off and was okay. That was probably what happened, Jim thought to himself. The more he thought about it the more he became convinced the man survived and everything was fine. He probably should have looked for help, but it was too late now.

With a sturdy build and 6 foot 2 inches in height, blue-green eyes and dark brown hair, he bore something of a resemblance to Paul McCartney. At least that was what he was told by his sisters and a couple of their friends when he was growing up. He didn’t think he looked like the famous singer at all. He had a small scar over his right eye, the result of an accident in his youth when he was playing catch in the front yard with a friend and crashed into a lawn sprinkler attached to a hose, but he figured he was still handsome enough.

He thought of Corinne and wondered if they might become real friends. He liked her and he hoped she felt the same way. Last night was exciting and still at the front of his mind. He wished she had stayed instead of leaving so quickly. He looked around the dining room for her, but she was not to be seen. After breakfast, he went to class and then spotted her on the other side of their classroom in the stately hall that served as the large classroom. She did not even look at him when she walked by him. Odd, he thought. Surely, she couldn’t be mad at him. A couple of hours later, he saw her again as they were leaving their French Revolution history class, the last one of the morning.

“Hey, Corinne, how’s it going? I really enjoyed getting to know you last night. That bar is a happening place.”

She looked at him for a second and then turned away and walked into one of the many small rooms nearby, clearly inviting him to follow. Jim tried to close the door, but it jammed, as did so many of the doors in the old house. He fussed with it for a moment before finally getting it to shut.

“I was thinking we might go somewhere this weekend, if you are up to that, maybe Paris.”

“You know, there is an honor code in this program. And when it comes to sex, the rule is that ‘no means no.’ Have you ever heard of that?”

“Sure I have.”

“You bet you have. And I said no, but you pushed me down. You know I didn’t want to have sex. You forced me. What happened last night was not right.”

“I don’t know what to say, Corinne. I thought you agreed. I don’t know what you are talking about. I thought we were friends. I really like you.”

She stared at him without blinking, hands on her hips. “You know what I am talking about. I never wanted to do anything like that.”

“You went along with everything we did. How can you possibly say that?”

“I can say it because it’s true.”

“Look, be reasonable. That’s not what happened at all.”

“Oh yes, that’s what happened. And that’s not all. You hit that man and you pushed him over. You didn’t have to do that. He was a drunk and he wasn’t going to do anything to you or to me. And you did not even want to stop and see what happened to him. I think you might have killed him.”

“I was trying to protect you. He grabbed you!”

“Oh, for God’s sake, he was harmless. What you did was unnecessary. And you made me rush away with you. You didn’t even want to stop and help him. That wasn’t right. You need to turn yourself into the police and tell them what happened. And you need to figure out why you didn’t stop when I told you to stop.”

“But…”

“I don’t want to hear it. Not until you are ready to apologize. You need to stand up and do the right thing.”

She opened the door and walked away.  Jim looked at her, speechless, and then sat down. What was that all about? She couldn’t possibly be saying he raped her, but she was. He thought again about last night. Yes, they had been drinking, but he was sure she agreed to everything.

 

Guest Post – Emma Hartley

The Nature of Entangled Hearts banner

How Do Writers Build Authentic Characters?

EmmaHartley

How do writers build authentic characters? How do we come up with our ideas? These are the questions I am most often asked by aspiring writers and readers alike. I will venture here to discuss some of the motivations and inspirations I use for story and character development, with the caveat that everyone does this differently. These are my methods—they are not for everyone.

Most of my characters grow from seeds. They might start out with a vague characteristic such as hair color or an unusual mannerism, then germinating into a more fully developed person as the story grows. Elwyn, in THE NATURE OF ENTANGLED HEARTS, for instance, grew from the seed of my own insecurity. She avoids mirrors and dreads her reflection. Those simple characteristics allowed me to grow Elwyn into the dynamic, complex and nuanced character that she is. Writing in her voice allowed me to show her feisty attitude, her temper and her creativity. Her inner landscape is rich. These characteristics blossomed as I wrote in her voice. To continue this growth, I asked a million questions. Who is she? What does she love about life? What bothers her? Is she clumsy or graceful? Is she smart? Is she driven? Does she question the world around her to the point of incapacity sometimes? Why would she sabotage her relationships with men? As I asked myself these questions, and as Elwyn grew into the character she is, I realized many things about her. Her past was illuminated, her motivation to create her artwork became clear. She grew out of that tiny seed into a person as real as you or me.

My plots grow in much the same way. They germinate from small ideas – tiny moments from my own life that perplexed me or vexed me, moments that made me ask questions about the nature of love, of consciousness, of the universe around us. These essential questions helped me grow my stories into fully formed plot lines. I weave many threads together into riveting conclusions. I don’t always see the endings until I am close to them. It’s rare for me to see the ending of my story at the beginning. My writing style is linear, and the story grows with my characters. Once I get to the mid point of my work, I can start mapping out the trajectory of the plot and I will often make a rough outline for it.

I love working in this organic manner. Growing stories and characters from seed is a fulfilling and rewarding aspect of writing for me. It’s like watching a child grow up – I am so proud of the people my characters become. Even if they have made some iffy choices along the way, because let’s face it, who hasn’t? Part of the fun is letting the characters’ lives unfold authentically, which, in turn, drives a riveting plot.

The Nature of Entangled Hearts

 

%d bloggers like this: