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VBT – THE TURSIOPS SYNDROME

TourBanner_The Tursiops Syndrome

The Tursiops Syndrome

by John C. Waite

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GENRE: Thriller

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BLURB:

How do you get a nuke into the heart of the city? Maybe a dolphin can help. From Author John Waite, the tale of a police detective who matches wits with a mad scientist and terrorists intent on destroying America. When detective Hickory Logan joins Park Ranger Kevin Whitehead investigating the mysterious death of a dolphin she finds herself sucked into a far deeper whirlpool. Can she and Kevin stop the tide of terror that threatens to kill thousands or will they be fodder for a nuclear fireball?

A newspaper review described Tursiops thus: “The writing is, well, wonderful. Waite has a gift for dialogue and story-telling, and his plot is adventurous and perfectly paced.”

Cover_The Tursiops Syndrome

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EXCERPT

 Red Logan hunkered down next to the Humvee’s left front wheel. He folded his lanky frame in several places to assure that the vehicle shielded him from rifle fire emanating from the house a hundred feet away.

A furious fusillade had greeted A-Company, first battalion, 407th Special Forces when their vehicles pulled to a halt in front of what was a rather strange building for northern Afghanistan. In the early morning darkness it looked for all the world like a California ranch-style home.

But there was no BMW parked in the driveway.

The firefight lasted less than fifteen minutes. There was only an occasional round pinging off the slate-riddled soil and infrequent bursts of automatic fire keeping the soldiers from charging the structure. Red wondered why the squads weren’t using some of the heavier weapons. He knew the unit armament included shoulder-fired missiles and a Carl Gustav 84-mm recoilless rifle but so far, the big stuff had been silent.

The tip had placed Azam al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s chief organizer for nine-eleven, in the house.

Numerous such tips over the past two years had come to nothing. Most of them originated in minds overly-motivated to garner the twenty million American dollars offered for the capture of several of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

At least one Osama bin Laden look-alike had been found dead. And it took weeks before authorities identified the body.  The man had been killed and left in a house to which an Afghan citizen directed U.S. forces. Not only did he not get the reward he sought, but his countrymen also jailed him for mutilating the corpse by cutting off its hands and feet.

Army intelligence, a title Red thought oxymoronic, had considered tonight’s tip more credible than most since it had come in anonymously. The tipster hadn’t mentioned the reward. So the Special Forces unit had headed out in the predawn darkness for a two-hour drive north from Kabul into the mountainous terrain.

“Red?”

The voice belonged to the figure squeezed into the wheel well behind him.

He could barely see Jessie’s sinewy shape, strangely gawky where the video camera and its now-dark lights rested on her right thigh.

“Yeah, what?” he whispered.

“Should I get some video?” Jessie asked, cocking her left hand back over her shoulder.

“Hell no. We’re reporters, not soldiers. CNN’s not paying us to get shot. Just keep your ass down. There’s nothing to shoot.”

Before he could finish his sentence, an amplified Afghan voice rang out from the vicinity of the lead Humvee, imploring the occupants of the house to surrender. The answer was a three-shot rifle volley, the rounds pinging off the hard-pack and whining away into the darkness.

“Now,” Jessie said, pushing past Red and swinging the camera onto her shoulder, leaning on the Hummer’s hood.

“No.” Red yelled, trying to pull her to the ground. But it was too late. The light on Jessie’s camera flared brilliantly then died in a crash of glass and the harsh double bark of a Kalashnikov. The rounds zinged away into the darkness, but Red heard in the report the crunch of bone.

“Jessie.” he screamed.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links

Author Image

Thousands of author John C Waite’s words flew past Alpha Centauri years ago,  heading for the center of the galaxy, perhaps sparking an arthropod’s grin in route. Waite, a degreed journalist and retired Merchant Mariner has numerous writing and broadcasting awards to his credit, and millions of words in print and broadcast media. Originally from New Orleans he has called Panhandle Florida his home for fifty years, but still retains a taste for things Creole and Cajun. A recreational and professional sailor, his travels have covered the Caribbean, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, portions of south and Central America, Canada, Hawaii, Ireland, Britain, and Europe. John resides in Pensacola, Florida. He is a father to four, and grandfather to four.  His books are available on Amazon.

http://johncwaite.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johngllgskns

 

The book will be on sale for $0.99 during the tour.

 

 

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY 

John C. Waite will be awarding a $50 Gift Certificate to Nuts.com to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $50 GC to Nuts.com – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tell us about you as a person, something not everyone knows about you.

Although I was born in New Orleans, I spent most of the first five years of my life in Anchorage, Alaska and I still hate snow. My father was an aviation meteorologist, and he had been stationed in the frigid state during the second Great War. I still have letters that he sent his then-wife, my mother, which are stringently redacted, many sentences blacked out.

I almost remember one fishing trip when, not much more than a toddler, I fell into the creek. My dad built a fire on the railroad tracks which we had walked to the stream and dried my clothes.

I have a few glimmers of memories from those days, the most distinctive of which was when something broke into a backyard cage and slew my pet rabbit. I remember crushing sadness.

From Anchorage, the weather bureau transferred my father to Miami. We spent about a year there, before being transferred back to New Orleans, where I passed my formative years. It was in Miami that I met my paternal grandfather for the first and only time. He was a Presbyterian missionary and had spent some years in China, where my father was born. I still possess letters between my father and his father. Because of his birthplace, my father had to prove his United States citizenship before he could work for the US Weather Bureau.

If you could hang out with one famous person, who would it be?

It would have to be Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He picks up where Carl Sagan left off. Not only is he a real scientist as Sagan was, but he is also a first-rate communicator. He has a feel for putting scientific principles into words. And if there is one thing the world needs more of right now it is real scientists willing and able to transfer their knowledge via the common language. Life is short. Science is forever.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

The story behind The Tursiops Syndrome stems in part from my affection for dolphins and people who appreciate them. And I always like stories of international intrigue. Dr. James Crabtree, the angry scientist (notice I didn’t say mad) in Tursiops loves dolphins and seeks notoriety. Despite his affection for Tursiops, he uses them in a get rich-and-famous plan.

What is your writing process?

My process is to just sit there and stare at the page hoping something will appear. Somehow that happens, and I think I am creating it. If I’m not and it just appears on its own, then I am the luckiest writer in the world.

Tell us about your main character.

A bit about Hickory Logan. She worked hard to win her stripes in the Pensacola PD, particularly in the wake of a previous bad relationship. However, she did that and still aims high. So she is a bit wary about her relationship to Kevin, her male co-star in The Tursiops Syndrome. Hickory is a tough, smart woman, with a bit of a soft spot for dolphins, evidenced in her attempt to rescue a porpoise stranded on a sandbar off Pensacola Beach.

If your book were to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role, and why?

I’ve always liked Halle Berry. She’s been in several action movies and carries herself beautifully, while still packing a good punch. She could certainly carry off Hickory Logan’s persona, and would definitely play well in the love scenes too.

What are you working on next?

My biggest project is a fictionalized account of the life and death of my best friend. He died in Vietnam early in that disastrous conflict. Had he lived he could have well accomplished his stated purpose in life, to be President of the United States. In the meantime, I am doing several things, some of which appear in the online journal Page and Spine.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their books?

I am still learning how to promote. There is a lot more to it that one imagines. And you have to spend a little money. There is a whole industry out there based on new writers’ needs. It’s a very different profession from what it was just recently.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?

I’m just finishing Jeffrey Eugenides “Middlesex.” To say the least, it’s a hell of a book. The hurricane of research he put into that volume is mind-blowing.

You are given the choice of one superpower. What superpower would you have and why?

Time travel, because I want to know how the universe ends.
List 5 things on your bucket list:

  • Get really good on the violin.
  • Be a bestselling author.
  • Sell my book to a good movie producer.
  • Complete the book about my best friend.
  • Fly airplanes again.

Any final Thoughts?

I write because I want people to enjoy the story. I hope they do.
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Spotlight – A Broken Reality

A Broken Reality banner

About the Author

Rob Kaufman

As a child, Rob Kaufman was always fascinated by the stories recited by those around him and the words used to tell them. As he got older, his need to tell his own stories grew, as did his ability to share them in exciting and captivating ways.

However, he wanted to share more than just stories. His primary desire was to create characters with whom people could relate, while at the same time bringing them through a journey from which most would crumble.

His degree in Psychology was the first step toward getting beneath the surface of the people in his life. What followed was a lifelong search for what makes people tick – what forces them to become evil when deep down in their heart of hearts, they are yearning for love. Rob’s characters walk this search with him, deep into the human psyche, creating psychological thrillers from every day events.

Rob’s second book “One Last Lie” continues to receive great praise and is selling well in both electronic and paperback formats. His current book, “A Broken Reality” is much darker than his first, with characters who hold bits and pieces of strangers he’s known, friends he’s had and personal tragedy he’s lived through.

“This book hits home for me,” says Rob. “There were a few pages that made me laugh out loud as I wrote them… and many that made me cry. And the great thing is, I’m finding that many readers of this book are experiencing the same emotions.”

Through social and other media, Rob hopes to get “A Broken Reality” into the hands of millions, so that they, too, can experience the ups, downs, twists, turns and final tragedy that has helped make this book a Five-Star contender.

Website Address: www.AuthorRobKaufman.com

Blog Address: http://authorrobkaufman.com/blog/

Twitter Address: @RobKaufmanCT

Facebook Addresshttps://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobKaufman/

About the Book:

Title: A BROKEN REALITY
Author: Rob Kaufman
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 320
Genre: Thriller/Suspense/Psychological Thriller
A Broken Reality

BOOK BLURB:

On a fateful night in the dead of winter, an unimaginable tragedy changes the lives of two families forever. How will they manage to deal with reality while stopping the sociopath who is pushing them toward the edge of sanity?

Ten-year-old, Danny Madsen, has been missing for four days when Jesse Carlton begins his own search for his godson on a frigid, snowy night. Driving along a deserted rural road, Jesse hits a stretch of black ice at the same time Danny appears from the thicket. Unable to control the car, Jesse slams into the boy and watches helplessly as Danny’s body flies back into the dark brush.

When Jesse regains consciousness, he has no recollection of how he and his car wound up in a ditch. However, there’s a witness: Charles Hastings, the sociopathic kidnapper who chased Danny through the brush and into the path of Jesse’s car.

Hastings takes this chance to set up Jesse so he’ll take the fall for both Danny’s disappearance and death. And so the mind games begin–an onslaught of psychological manipulation that devastates Jesse, his wife, Danny’s parents and the cops’ investigation. Inexplicably, the torment continues even after the primary suspect is killed and the rollercoaster of emotions and confusion seems never-ending until the final and devastating truth is revealed.

If you like gripping, suspenseful page-turners that keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end, this is a must read!

Link to book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Reality-Rob-Kaufman-ebook/dp/B07HRYRSBP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538875993&sr=8-1&keywords=a+broken+reality+kaufman

Link to book on B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-broken-reality-robert-kaufman/1129769311?ean=2940156129126

Book Excerpt:

Danny Madsen had been missing for four days, and hope was fading faster than the weak sunlight giving in to the cold night ahead. Worse, there’d been intermittent periods of snow and sleet throughout the day, creating slick surfaces on unlit county roads and leaving behind asphalt without traction or boundaries.

Like every other evening since the boy’s disappearance, the approaching dusk put a damper on the search effort. Each was another day past the critical “48-hour window,” another night for Jesse Carlton to fight back tears of frustration as he crawled the icy streets of Hingham, Massachusetts in his silver BMW, looking for the ten-year-old boy the Amber Alert described over and over as white with blond hair and blue eyes, weighing fifty-six pounds and standing about four feet six inches. When last seen, they’d always add, he was wearing a bright blue North Face coat, blue corduroy pants, Nike sneakers and a backpack with the name “Danny” stitched into the left shoulder strap.

Danny’s description echoed in Jesse’s head as he made the right off of Main Avenue onto Forest, which passed the hundred or so square acres of conservation land. He didn’t need the Amber Alert to picture Danny. He’d recognize him the instant he saw him since he’d known the boy from the day he was born. Jesse had long been best friends with his parents, Becky and Don, and Danny had become the son Jesse and Melissa tried and tried for but could never have. They’d become so close to the Madsens, in fact, that they’d purchased a home up the block from them, sight unseen, when Becky and Don told them it had come on the market. It was apparent to all of them that the less distance between the families, the more fulfilled their lives would be.

It was this honorary parenting of Becky and Don’s only child that had Jesse driving the streets and highways in and outside of every neighboring town for the past four nights—pursuing leads he’d overheard cops discussing at the Madsen home, following up on hunches he’d get after scouring the Internet for clues from past abductions. Each evening as he began his search, Jesse prayed he’d be the one to bring Danny home safe, sound and emotionally intact.

Jesse knew his nightly searches were pointless, but he could no longer bear pacing the floor at home or sitting in the Madsen’s cop-filled living room waiting for another bullshit tip, another clue that led nowhere but deeper into heartache. Melissa spent her nights comforting Becky while Don worked with the police to pursue every potential lead. Jesse’s need to do something, anything, forced him into his car each night with dissipating hopes and, by the way things had been going recently, unrealistic dreams.

The last person to see Danny was the school bus driver who watched him jump down the vehicle’s steps four days earlier, just three blocks from Don and Becky’s. And that clue was as solid—and as clear—as mud.

Jesse turned off the radio and clicked on the high beams. The pavement was pure white from the newly fallen snow, and there wasn’t another car anywhere to be seen. In front of him was blackness; behind him was blackness; on each side, nothing but blackness. How did he expect to see anything out here, let alone find a scared and freezing kid? He didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. This was the only action he could take that made him feel like he was actually doing something to help.

The yellow light poles every 300 feet or so did nothing but offer a blurry glow that barely reached the road. And now that a smattering of snow had started again, the soft crunch of flakes beneath the tires filled the silence with an eeriness that sent a strange tingle sliding up Jesse’s neck.

On either side of Forest Avenue lay the Terrence Ford Conservation Land, acres and acres of brush, swamp and trees with a few neighborhoods dotting the outskirts. Since the homes were hidden behind the dense thicket and prodigious pines, they were usually invisible to Forest Avenue drivers. Tonight though, even in the deep blackness of this night, he could see their pinpricks of homey yellow light, which, like the rickety poles lining the road, was nothing he could see by.

As he passed the two-mile marker, his phone rang, jolting him from his concentration. The display on the dash showed Melissa’s cell. He took a calming breath and pressed the button on the steering wheel. “Hey, babe.”

“Where are you?” Melissa sounded almost panicked, her voice trembling.

“What’s wrong? What happened? Where are you?”

“I’m at Becky and Don’s. They just got a call from Agent Rivera…hold on.”

He tried to be patient, but after a few more seconds of muffled voices he couldn’t hold back. “Missy!” he yelled and banged his fists on the steering wheel. “For Christ’s sake, what did Rivera say?”

“Sorry, Jesse. I’m just getting more details.” The muffled voices he’d first heard faded away as though she was moving into another room. “Someone just called the hotline from somewhere out in Hingham. It was an older woman who lives—”

Jesse felt like his heart skipped a beat. “I’m in Hingham! Where in Hingham, Missy? Where?”

“Oh my God, Jesse. Wait, I wrote it down.” His pulse pounded against the side of his neck as he waited for the crumpling of paper to stop and her words to start again. “Okay, the woman lives on Tower Road off Route 228, on the east side of that conservation area.”

He brought up the GPS and frantically searched for 228. “I’m like five minutes from 228—five minutes. I’m literally on the other side of the woods.” His voice was shaky. “I’ll put Tower Road in the GPS.”

 “She says she saw a boy fitting Danny’s description running past her house a couple of hours ago. She didn’t call right away because she wasn’t sure.”

Jesse let out a shout of frustration. His shallow breaths quivered in his throat. “Shit, it’s starting to sleet,” he said. “I’m on Forest right now. It runs parallel to Route 228. I’ll turn around and work my way toward Tower to see if I can meet up with one of the units.”

“Jesse, please be careful. I don’t want you getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.”

“This isn’t nowhere, Missy—it’s Hingham,” he said with a sigh, knowing there was nothing he could say to help quell her anxiety. She was a worrier, plain and simple. It was something he’d become accustomed to and had learned to be patient with, but tonight his nerves were too raw, his patience too thin.

“Jesse, sleet means ice. Ice means slippery. Slippery means…”

Missy,” he snapped. He bit his lip and took another breath. “I’m going to turn around and head back toward 228.” He gazed into the darkness to his right, wishing there was a road that cut through the conservation area. “Once I get there, I’ll give you a call. Until then, sit tight. This could be the break we’ve been hoping for.”

“Oh God, Jesse. I hope so. Please be careful. I’ll wait for your call. I love you.”

“I love you, Babe,” he replied, making sure to sound as composed as possible as he disconnected.

Jesse was once again alone, the soft muffle of the car engine filling the otherwise empty silence. Keeping safety in mind despite his own anxiety to find the boy safe, he made a careful K-turn in the middle of Forest Avenue. The tires slipped a bit on the icy road, so he let up on the pedal allowing the car to straighten itself out. When he faced south, he stepped on the gas again and drove as fast as he could without completely losing traction.

Jesse could see the lights of Hanover Mall through the melting snow on the windshield. The liquid dripping down the glass made it look as though the lights were dancing, shimmying back and forth to the steady beat of the tires crunching the ice beneath him. He glanced at the speedometer: 25 mph. If he could keep up this speed, he’d be back at the intersection of Forest and Main within four minutes.

A faint smile crossed his lips as he remembered finding Danny’s favorite Spider-Man action figure in the back seat earlier that week; Danny must’ve dropped it the day Jesse helped out Don and Becky by picking him up from rehearsal for his school’s play. The toy had been right in the middle of the seat, and he wondered if he could reach it—maybe it would change his luck, somehow attract Danny to him.

Jesse reached back, fumbling around, trying to reach Spidey. Nothing. He leaned further and slid his open palm along the seat. Still nothing. Angling backward as far as he could, he patted the floor mat behind him in hopes that the figure had slid during a turn.

No luck.

A quick glance showed the tiny superhero jammed into the corner of the back seat. Spider-Man was tonight’s lucky charm; the idea felt right, and it would help him find Danny. It was a superstitious and even desperate move, but doing things by the book had so far turned up nothing.

“Gotcha!” he cheered when he snagged the action figure’s foot. He turned back toward the road to see a black figure stumbling out from the brush in front of him. In less than a second, the headlights shown on the figure’s face—it was Danny.

Horror seized Jesse by the throat and he gasped as he slammed on the brakes. The car went into an immediate spin, flying directly at Danny whose eyes went wide in the headlights. Jesse felt a thud against the back panel of the car. He screamed, the view from every window only blurred streaks of light. He tried to focus, to spot Danny somewhere in the whirl of his surroundings. But the boy was gone. He screamed again, his cry now muffled by the airbag exploding against his face. He squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the BMW skid off the side of the road and nose-dive into a shallow ditch filled with snow.

As the car lay on its side, ruined engine still ticking, Jesse could barely hang on to consciousness. Images and sounds swirled through his head: the screech of metal dragging along the pavement, Danny’s face hitting the window, the sickening thump as the car smashed sideways into the little boy’s body.

“It didn’t happen,” Jesse whispered. “This is a dream,” he panted. “Just a dream.” He repeated the words again and again until the weight of his eyelids became unbearable and he closed his eyes, allowing the sound of his sobbing to lead him gently into his own personal darkness.

VBT – THE COMPANY OF DEMONS

TourBanner_TheCompanyOfDemons

THE COMPANY OF DEMONS
by Michael Jordan

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GENRE: Thriller

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BLURB:

The brutal murder of a friend leaves lawyer John Coleman stunned and sends shock waves through the city of Cleveland. The technique of the killing recalls memories of the Torso Murderer, who dismembered at least twelve people decades ago and vanished–eluding even the legendary Eliot Ness. Jennifer, the victim’s beautiful daughter, hires John to handle her father’s estate, and romantic feelings for her soon complicate his already troubled marriage. When John finds himself entangled with a cold-blooded biker gang, an ex-cop with a fuzzy past, and the drug-addicted son of the dead man, he struggles to make sense of it all. But he cannot escape a growing sense of dread.

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Demons book cover JPG

Excerpt

There was never any trouble at the Tam O’Shanter, even on a rocking weekend night, even when one of the Tribe smacked a homer for a go-ahead run. Tim and Karen ran a tight joint, the perfect hideaway to lounge beneath faded posters of ‘70s rock bands and sip a cold one. So when Karen screamed from the seedy alley behind the bar, our little oasis was shattered. Tim bolted for the back door.

I rushed after him and squinted in the bright sunlight. Tim was cradling his wife in his arms. She stared at me vacantly, then broke away and retched. Huddled over the rough asphalt, in her thin T-shirt and faded jeans, Karen reminded me of a fragile little girl. The wastebasket she’d intended to empty lay near her, paper napkins and discared receipts fluttering in the humid breeze. Tim waved a hand toward a Dumpster, its lid flung open, wedged tight against the crumbling brick wall. “Don’t look.”

But I did.
The sight of a naked body, sprawled across plastic, garbage bags, was impossible to miss. Or part of a body, really, because the head was gone. So was everything below the waist. The hairy torso had been split down the middle, and I didn’t need to be a pathologist to know that someone had scooped out the guts and the lungs and the heart. Flies droned incessantly and, in the summer heat, the stench of rancid meat wafted to me. I backed away.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links

Author Photo_The Company of Demons

Michael Jordan obtained his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, with highest honors, and his law degree from George Washington University, where he was a member of the Law Review. A trial lawyer and arbitrator for over three decades, he has been recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer and named to Best Lawyers in America. A member of the International Association of Crime Writers, The Company of Demons is his first novel.

An avid traveler, Michael has climbed Mt. Fuji, swam in The Devil’s Pool on the cusp of Victoria Falls, trekked a glacier in Patagonia, and visited numerous other countries. Yes—an international thriller lies in the future! He has also acted in several theatrical productions and his experience on stage is helpful in creating characters for his novels. He is currently working on his next book, a thriller set during the closing stages of WWII.
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Michael and his wife, Linda Gross Brown, a soft pastel artist, divide their time between homes in Rocky River, Ohio, and Longboat Key, Florida. They enjoy traveling, pleasure boating, and very cold martinis.

Website: http://michaeljordanbooks.com/
Twitter: @mjordanauthor (https://twitter.com/mjordanauthor)
Facebook: michaeljordanbooks (https://www.facebook.com/michaeljordanbooks)

Buy links:

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1626344515/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-company-of-demons-michael-jordan/1126494375?ean=9781626344518
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781626344518
Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Company-Demons/Michael-Jordan/9781626344518?id=7108487229546
800 CEOREAD: https://800ceoread.com/products/company-of-demons-michael-jordan-english?selected=807542

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Michael Jordan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks for being here today Michael. Tell us about you.
I have been fortunate to travel extensively and have met interesting people all over the world. My wide range of interests has given me the opportunity to enjoy a variety of experiences, and I’m always ready for another adventure!

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci, because I am amazed by the depth and range of the man’s talents.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Years ago, the notorious Torso Murderer slaughtered at least twelve victims, eluded legendary lawman Eliot Ness, and vanished without a trace. What if the killer returned today for one final act of vengeance?

What is your writing process?
I like to be alone in a quiet space, preferably one with a view of something pleasant. When I hit a roadblock in the writing, contemplating the view helps me focus and figure out a fresh approach.

Tell us about your main character.
John Coleman is a troubled, conflicted man who often fails to take responsibility for his actions. Can he set aside those weaknesses and do what must be done to save those he loves?

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
I picture Bruce Willis as he could capture the underdog, cynical, and difficult John Coleman.

What are you working on next?
A thriller set in the closing days of WWII.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
To make certain that the book is absolutely top quality. If the book attracts readers, momentum can be built through many platforms—signings, websites, Facebook, etc. If the book is not a quality read, it may attract word, but not the type that you want.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
All the Light We Cannot See

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I enjoy acting and have appeared in several amateur theatrical productions.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
Flight, because how utterly cool would that be?

List 5 things on your bucket list:

  • Visit all 50 states (46 to date)
  • Travel throughout China
  • Learn to speak at least intermediate level Spanish
  • Visit Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
  • Publish three novels

 

VBT – Gun Kiss

TourBanner_Gun Kiss

Gun Kiss
by Khaled Talib

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GENRE: Thriller

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Teaser_Gun Kiss

BLURB:

The United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star, Goldie St. Helen.

Ex-Delta Force Blake Deco receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana.

With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue.

What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00069]

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Excerpt:

Clad in tactical black, Blake rested on his chest in the dark chaparral. He watched his curly-haired friend beside him maneuver the tiny dragonfly drone with his phone. The luminous screen showed its flight path toward Dai Lo’s hacienda in the northeastern outskirts of Tijuana, nothing around it for miles.

The drone sent back images of the 375,000 square feet compound, including some of Dai Lo’s men patrolling. It hovered in front of the three-floor mansion built with stacked balconies and double-hung windows. It then swooped down to a porch with three tall columns under a pediment. Finding no entry point, Jack raised it up again.

“I’m going to circle behind,” Jack said.

“Do that,” Blake responded.

“You going to kill Dai Lo?” Jack asked.

“Not unless I have to. I’m not an assassin,” Blake said.

“So why did you give Chavez the impression you will?”

“If Chavez knew what I was thinking, he wouldn’t give me the weapons. Then how are we going to save the actress?”

“You better know what you’re doing, Blake.”

“If you still want to go on that European tour, start thinking positive.”

The tiny drone went around the mansion and flew past a lit pool, buffeting over a garden and an annex connected by a sheltered catwalk. It moved sideways until it came to a lit corner window on the third level. The visual zoomed closer to the windowsill and sent back an image that left both men recoiling with gasps.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

AuthorPhoto_GunKiss

Khaled Talib is a former journalist with local and international exposure. He has authored three thrillers since 2014.

The author’s works have been praised by NY Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, NY Times bestselling author Ruth Harris, USA Today bestselling author Jon Land, NY Times bestselling author Keith Thomson, K.J. Howe, and Jon McGoran.

His debut thriller, Smokescreen, was listed as one of the six “boundary-breaking indies” in 2016 by the IndieReader. His second novel, Incognito, won the Silver Award for the AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest 2017. Gun Kiss is his third novel.

Khaled, who is also a member of the International Thriller Writers, resides in Singapore.

Authors website : http://www.khaledtalibthriller.com
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/KhaledTalib
Author Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/khaled.talib/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/khaledtalibbooks
Author Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00DYPSB72?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6940359.Khaled_Talib

Gun Kiss (YouTube) Book Trailer

GUN KISS Buy links:

The book will be on sale for only $0.99.

Author website direct: http://khaledtalibthriller.com/books/
Amazon Kindle
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Ibooks/Apple
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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Khaled Talib will be awarding a Amazon Fire 7 8GB tablet to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. The prize is limited to U.S. and Canada only.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview With … Khaled Talib

Welcome Khaled. Tell us about you as a person.

I’m intuitive and stubborn, but that doesn’t mean I won’t offer a lending ear. I’m considered serious by many, but that’s because I know who will appreciate my humor and who won’t. I’m not loud and I like my privacy, so when people obtusely ask me personal questions, which is common where I live, they’ll never see me again.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

George Clooney. I like his style and temperament. I enjoy watching him in all kinds of movies. He’s a cool and sensitive guy. I remember reading about him once settling the bill of another customer at a restaurant in Berlin. He thought he and his friends were noisy and he was concerned that they might’ve disturbed the customer’s peace.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

Gun Kiss is an accidental book. After completing my second thriller, Incognito, wasn’t sure if I could write another book. I couldn’t sleep one night because my legs were cramping. While rubbing them with an ointment, I watched an old comedy starring a famous actress.

Suddenly, an idea came to write a novel. I started working on it immediately. It’s a fun and breezy novel set in southern California. I can’t say what movie or which actress inspired me to write the book, at least not now. It’s my little secret.

Gun Kiss is a story about a former Delta Force soldier who runs a taco restaurant in Sunset Boulevard. He wears a few hats. He gets into trouble after rescuing a famous movie star from an obsessed drug lord in Tijuana. He finds himself falling in love with her, but their moments together are constantly interrupted by the drug lord stalking them and killing everyone around them to exact revenge.

What is your writing process? 

I can write anytime with music or without. Sometimes I listen to music with a certain tempo to boost my energy level, especially for action scenes. When I do listen to music, it doesn’t have to be something that was recently released. It could be from any era. After all, music is music. I also stockpile chocolates to boost my endorphins. I don’t force myself to write if I’m tired. I’ll just take a break and watch some TV and resume the next day.

Tell us about your main character:

Blake Deco is a fictional character. He lives in Hollywood Hills and he’s been trying to break into the movie business as a screen writer. He’s not been successful. He joined the army for a while before setting up a taco restaurant in Sunset Boulevard. Blake is a slightly tense personality with money concerns. He’s worried about the restaurant’s overheads. So, he also moonlights for Homeland Security and the FBI as an artefact hunter. In the beginning of the story, he is tasked by the FBI to recover the Deringer that shot Abraham Lincoln, which has been stolen by a Russian military general in the Balkans. At the same time, he’s compassionate, which explains why he decides to rescue the abducted movie star. It wasn’t part of any assigned mission, but something he chose to do on his own.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.

James Marsden. I see him as Blake Deco. His expressions are not rigid and he’s capable of expressing different emotions. My protagonist is complex; he can be funny and angsty at the same time. He’s also action-driven and well-toned. He’s neither big nor small.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a thriller set in South Australia. It’s called Spiral. I used to manage the public relations account of the South Australian Tourism Commission for the Singapore office. My duties included bringing journalists to the State, so I’m familiar with the region. Spiral is a mystery thriller that introduces a Sydneysider working in a Clare Valley vineyard. One night, he stumbles on a dead body…

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?

You can’t afford to detach yourself from the marketing and promotion side. It means spending time every single day creating awareness through social media platforms, advertising on book promotion sites, and pitching to book bloggers. I also manage an email newsletter that goes out to my subscribers. I feel the newsletter is most important because you’re in direct contact with your readers.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?

The Bone Shroud by Jean Rabe. It’s a thriller about an archivist at the Chicago Field Museum who travels to Italy to attend the wedding of her brother. However, the occasion turns into a desperate search for historical relics, and a struggle to stay ahead of a killer.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

I create my own book trailers. Please let me know what you think of the one I did for Gun Kiss.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?

If I could be like Superman and fly, I would protect every child on earth.

Any final thoughts?

I want to write more stories. I hope I can.

VBT – Three Brothers

Three Brothers banner

About the Author

Joerg H. Trauboth

Joerg H. Trauboth (Wikipedia) was born just outside of Berlin in 1943 during an air-raid. He discovered his love for writing early in his career as an officer and was awarded top honors by the General Inspector of the German Bundeswehr. Along the way, he flew over two thousand flight hours as a Weapons Systems Officer and instructor in the Phantom RF4E (in which he survived two critical lightening strikes). After a training in George AFB (CA), Major Joerg H. Trauboth flew the  Phantom F4F  and finally – followed by another conversion training in Cottesmore (UK) –  the Tornado aircrafts. Trauboth became a General Staff Officer in the Military Academy of the German Armed Forces in Hamburg-Blankenese and enrolled as LtCol  in the NATO Defense College in Rome. He has served in the German national operational headquarters as well as in the NATO Headquarters in Brussels as the German representative in the areas of Crisis Management, Operations, and Intelligence.

At the age of fifty, he retired early from his post as a Colonel in the German Air Force to become a Special Risk Consultant at the Control Risk Group in London. He was trained and engaged in negotiating extortion and kidnapping situations in South America and Eastern Europe.

The former Colonel, eager to start making money on his own soon founded the Trauboth Risk Management company. He received a startup award and quickly made a reputation for himself internationally as an top-notch crisis manager in Europe. During his time as CEO, he conceptualized crisis prevention strategies for a number of European companies and employed a 24-hour task force to protect them from product tampering, product recalls, kidnappings, and image crises. He was also a co-founder and the first president of the European Crisis Management Academy in Vienna and wrote a standard reference book on the subject of crisis management for companies at risk of threat.

Today Joerg H. Trauboth is an author, filmmaker with more than 75.000 youtube clicks, and an enthusiastic Grumman Tiger pilot. (See this latest night flight-video here. And if you want to know who his favorite Co-Pilot is, have a look here.)  The crisis manager and active pilot has served as the European Director and President of the US – based international American Yankee Pilots Organization.

His advice on crisis management is continually sought after and he is present as expert in radio and television interviews regarding his opinion on  international crisis situations.

Joerg H. Trauboth has been  53 years married with Martina. They have two sons, three grandchildren, and both live near Bonn, Germany. In addition, Trauboth voluntarily contributes his expertise to the Crisis Invention Team of the German Federal Foreign Office in Bonn and reads from his fiction and non fiction books on readers’ tours followed by discussions with his readers about the dramatically changing world.

Joerg’s latest book is the thriller, Three Brothers.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE

About the Book:

Title: THREE BROTHERS
Author: Joerg H. Trauboth
Publisher: Ratio Books
Pages: 581
Genre: Thriller

Three Brothers

BOOK BLURB:

Marc Anderson and his two commando brothers Thomas and Tim are highly respected elite soldiers in the secretive German Commando Special Forces, the KSK. Together with the American Navy Seals, they successfully rescue the crew of a downed American F-15 tactical fighter jet in the Hindu Kusch Mountains under a barrage of heavy fire from the Taliban. However, their next mission – in Northern Iraq – to save two German hostages taken captive by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ends in disaster for the three brothers in arms. The perfectly laid-out strategy of Operation Eagle is betrayed, causes Marc, Thomas, and Tim to narrowly escape death. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) starts the hunt for the informant.

The devoted commando brothers decide to leave the KSK and start a new career together as security advisors with a family-owned company based in Cologne. But the terrorist activities of ISIS continue to determine their fate. The brothers are faced with one of their greatest challenges when ISIS kidnaps company heir Johannes Ericson and his partner Karina Marie. Moreover, the terrorists demand a ransom and extort the German government to immediately suspend its military intervention in the fight against ISIS. It is a race against time to save the couple from assassination.

Joerg H. Trauboth has written more than just an exhilarating novel. Three Brothers unites the current omnipresent threat of terrorism with the author’s first-hand experience as a crisis manager and a military and terrorism expert. The result is an unrivaled political thriller. In this gripping novel, Trauboth foretells possible scenarios for our society in light of the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Read the full chapter 1 here …

Three Brothers is the English translation of the successful German thriller Drei Brüder (ratio-books), highly appreciated by thousands of readers, as well as military organizations and government officials alike. Jörg H. Trauboth’s storytelling skills can be compared to those of Tom Clancy and similar authors as James Patterson. The German version of the novel will also soon be available as an audio book.

Drei Brüder has been translated into English by (US native) Leanne Cvetan.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

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Youtube Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uym8p3rlv0&list=PLGeO_Iw6CFgDpDRmMuqKHUTjqxCeZ-ESP

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Book Excerpt:

Afghanistan

For the last five hours, a group of six men have been trudging through the dark, barren landscape of the vast Hindu Kush Mountains. The distant howling of a lone wolf accompanies them as does the cold wind, but the men don’t seem to feel the sting.One of them stops abruptly. Marc Anderson, captain of the German KSK Special Forces Commando, raises his hand to his neck and decisively whispers into his throat mic.

“George, I see her. The nose of the aircraft is at eleven o’clock, the tail at two.”

George, the short, wiry Navy Seal One squad leader from Ohio, folds down the night vision lens mounted on his helmet.

For whatever reason, the fighter jet did not explode, but the debris is still smoldering.

“Copy that, I’ll inform Bagram Air Base.” “Charlie Force from Echo Force – over.” “Echo Team – go ahead – over.”

“We found the jet – now searching for the crew – over.” “Roger Echo Team – we’re waiting for your response – over.”

As unorthodox as it is, the Navy Seals insisted on having German elite soldier Marc Anderson with them on the mission. He is one of the few soldiers who knows the area, located deep in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, better than anyone else on account of a number of earlier missions in the region. At only 27 years old, the tall, slender soldier from the southern German town of Calw has already achieved legendary status among the American and British Special Forces. Together with the Navy Seals, he has succeeded in rescuing and retrieving American soldiers from behind enemy lines, securing himself a formidable reputation as both a leader and a team player.

But Anderson refused to do the job on his own: “Only if I can take my commando brothers with me,” he told the commanders at Bagram Air Base. “Only with Thomas and Tim.”

“OK, Marc, agreed.”

The Seals know full well what “Band of Brothers” means. Elite soldiers throughout all the Special Armed Forces are not just comrades, they are brothers. On this mission – the search for a U.S. fighter jet gone missing along with its crew – the Seals have three German brothers. Nationalities play no role, however, only professionalism and unconditional trust. Marc also agreed to the mission since he and George have worked well together on previous missions.

Echo Force, made up of U.S. Seals One, Two, Three, and the German KSK soldiers Marc, Thomas, and Tim, had parachuted in during night. They chose a landing site six and a half miles from the F-15E Strike Eagle’s last known position in the hope of not being discovered by the Taliban. There were no exact coordinates of the crash site. What’s worse, they weren’t able to receive any location transmission from the crew. The pilot had only managed to transmit “No engine – Mayday – May- day – Bailing out!” at the last minute as they lost altitude.  A hasty final message, nothing more. Everything seems to have happened very quickly. The crew must have needed to abandon the aircraft immediately, there would have been no time for discussion.

After a successful landing, they spent the next five hours systematically scouring the possible search site of twelve square miles at almost ten thousand feet altitude.

Marc was a true pathfinder in this unwieldy and perilous terrain. The Americans trusted him whole-heartedly, and with good reason, as he proved once again. He immediately found the wreckage of the F-15 in the pitch-dark of night and undetected in this hostile territory. They operate meticulously together, as though they have done this a million times before: Marc out in front, checking the terrain, giving signals, the other five men following, step for step, crouched down, secure, silent. The stillness of the dark magnifies every word and any misstep on the gravel is a potential giveaway for the Taliban.

While George now relays the coordinates to the American intervention force standing by, Marc scans the crash site with his telescope. The F-15 was not shot down but crashed due to technical problems. That seemed clear. However, the crash would have been heard all throughout the Hindu Kush Mountains. It was very possible that the Taliban has already taken the crew captive and were now waiting for the Navy Seals. That’s how it typically happened at least.

“Thomas, please report.” “Left is clear.”

“Tim?”

“Right is clear.”

Slowly, and securing all sides, the spotter team moves toward the crash site.

“I’ll take it from here, Marc.”

“Okay, George, you’re in command.”

George leads the troop within 300 yards of the wreckage. The aircraft’s nose and cockpit are stuck in the ground like a giant arrow. Bent, but incredibly, still intact.

And exactly right there where there’s that tiny patch of earth, he thinks to himself.

“Can you see anyone in the cockpit?” asks Marc.

“Negative, can’t see anything through the glass, but the canopy is missing.”

“Thomas and Tim – the two of you to the wreckage and report back. The rest of you wait here,” whispers George into his throat mic.

The two Germans start to move. Just like the old comedians Ole and Axel, or like Laurel and Hardy, Marc thinks. Thomas, a tall, strapping blonde, built like the Hulk. Next to him, Tim, also in excellent physical shape, only considerably shorter and, who with his signature black goatee, looks like an Afghan.

They cautiously approach the front section of the wreckage on both sides. The rest of the group tensely watches every move their two German brothers make. It is absolutely silent, save for that wolf. The cold wind that tirelessly blows in this region goes completely unnoticed as they all lie on the ground and watch. The night is not just dark, it is black. Pitch-black. No stars shine, no light reflects off the ground. Barren cliffs, a few shrubs, no trees at this altitude. They see only whatever appears in their night vision devices. The little bit of light available is electronically magnified as a green image of the area. They are used to this artificial picture.

“Option one:” says George, “they are still strapped to their seats and then it’ll be a mess. Option two: one of them is still there and the other managed to get out. Or option three: they both made it out.”

“The only question is, why they aren’t answering,” Marc whispers in George’s direction. George whispers back, “which means option one.”

Thomas and Tim reach the nose.

“Thomas on Seal One: no one in the cockpit, ejector seats missing, the crew ejected.”

“Understood, good news, do you see their papers?” They shine a light inside.

From the distance, the three Navy Seals and Marc are blinded as the light from the two KSK soldiers flash in their goggles like bright strike of lightening.

“Maps and a kneeboard,” reports Tim.

“Okay, take that with you. Thomas, you prepare an explosive.”

First Sergeant Thomas Heinrich, a six-foot tall ball of muscle and the explosives expert takes off his 80-pound knapsack which belongs to his profile as though it has grown attached to his back. His comrades have only ever seen him with either a heavy bag or on a bench press. And always with a combat knife under his pillow.

While he lays the explosive, his shorter friend Tim secures the immediate area surrounding the jet. Neither of them speaks a word to the other. They don’t need to. They know each other better than any old married couple. That’s also the reason George sent them to the wreckage site.

In less than four minutes, Thomas prepares the cockpit with explosives for remote ignition.

“Finished, George.”

“OK men, now slowly retreat.”

A few minutes later, the group is complete again. Six men, two nations, one team.

They hide between some boulders and use their night vision devices to establish any other possible reference points. Cliffs, ridges, gaps. Where could the parachutes be? And the ejector seats? At least the seats are big enough to spot, if they are here.

George waves to Marc to come over. “What do you suggest?”

“According to the radar, the F-15 was flying on an easterly course. That means we need to look for the men to the west. The weapon systems operator shot himself out first, so we should be able to find him to the west of the wreckage, but the pilot should be here closer to it.”

George nods in agreement. The person in the rear always activates his seat first, otherwise he runs the risk of getting hit by the seat of man before him.

Marc refers to the digital map with a scale of 1:50,000. Mountains, rivers, nothing else. To these westerners, the unforgiving, cold Hindu Kush Mountain range is a barren and alien landscape.

“I think we should go this way” “Okay, boy scout, you take over.” “Affirmative.”

These standard procedures are the pre-requisites of a functioning team. One man takes the lead and the others confirm. It is the case in the cockpit and is no different in Team Echo Force, currently led by Marc Anderson.

He speaks softly to the group.

“Seals One, Two, and Three, you take the left side. Thomas, Tim, and I will take the right. I will be in the middle. Keep a distance of no more than 30 meters between you. Everyone has contact with his neighbor.”

They disperse.

“In position,” each of them confirms one after the other. They now stand in a line of approximately 160 yards across. Each one by on his own, but they can each see the soldier on either side of them. Their brothers in times of crisis.

Marc looks at his compass, 270 degrees. They start to move. After thirty minutes they reach a long, narrow ridge.

“Down,” Marc radios quietly to the others. They lay flat on the ground. Marc slowly pushes himself against a bare cliff. He lifts his head, weighed down by a heavy helmet, ever so slightly to get an overview. In front of him is an open area with large, round boulders and steep cliffs, interspersed with deep cracks that he can barely make out in the almost non-existent light of night. The white glow he sees above it through his night vision device is the snow at twenty thousand feet.

Marc laboriously searches the area. Nothing. No ejector seat, no parachute. Only this sea of rocks and sparse vegetation. A wretched green world of artificial reality through the lenses of his night vision device.

“We can’t take the straight path, Gentlemen. There is a rift two hundred meters in. The end of the road.”

The group continues westward, securing the way as they go. George suddenly stops.

“Do you hear that, Marc?”

Their radios give off a faint screeching that intensifies and then fades again.

“The distress signal, George! Gentlemen, we have contact!” The troop knows that this is the signal pilots activate upon ejecting and is only transmitted for a few minutes per hour.

“Five minutes past each full hour, that’s right, just as we discussed. That’s our man, George!”

“What’s the bearing, Marc?”

“Eleven o’clock. The source is pretty damn quiet. He must be lightyears away.”

The men of Echo Force can feel their pulse quickening. They’ve made contact with one of the crew! They keep formation and continue their search. They still do not have the location coordinates. Unexpectedly, they are forced to stop. A dark and terrifying 25-feet-wide abyss stretches out before them, like a hungry, open mouth.

The tone of the distress signal abruptly increases its shrill intensity from one second to the next.

Startled, George turns down the volume. “He must be right here.”

“Tim to Marc, I see a parachute in the opening, about 20 meters down.”

“Everyone, round up – go to Tim,” Marc whispers into his mic. “George, you take over!

“Affirmative!”

They crawl over to him, very close to edge of the rift, and shine a light down. They can see something that doesn’t belong there. The remnants of a parachute hanging from the ledges of two cliffs. The laser device measures 23 meters.

There is something else. George gasps as he recognizes it in the green light. Not that someone is hanging lifelessly from the shreds of the parachute, but the never-ending emptiness that continues below. George knows at once it will be a challenge getting that poor guy out of there without him falling completely into the abyss.

“But is he okay?”

He shines his light at the figure. “Are you okay down there?”

“Are you Americans?” answers a weak voice from the depths.

George beams. He’s alive!

“Yes, my friend, we will fly down from Heaven and get you out of there.”

“It’s about damn time! I’m freezing my ass off here!”

He seems to be all right, George thinks and calls into the cavern:

“Did you have to pick this one to fall into?”

“I love rifts, but even this is a bit too big for me!” George proudly looks over to Marc.

“That is one cool dude hanging there. Talks like a real Texan. Let’s get him out!”

George looks at his team. He would likely need two soldiers down there. One to secure against any further falling and the other for the recovery. Navy Seal One knows that Tim and Thomas have the most experience in these kinds of rappelling situations, thus, the German friends are called to take over once again.

“Tim and Thomas, start the descent.”

A few moments later, the inseparable team descend into the darkness of the rift. The Navy Seals secure them from above. Marc and George direct light into the chasm to allow the two as much orientation as possible. But the light is quickly lost in the dark. They need to be careful not to touch the parachute or the straps. Still, the descent lasts less than sixty seconds.

“We have him,” radios Tim.

The Texan is hanging freely. Completely unhindered. There is nothing there he could have grabbed onto to slow down his fall. One false move and the shreds of his parachute would flatter behind him as he fell to his death at the bottom of this seemingly bottomless pit.

Once he had stopped falling, he cautiously reached for his flashlight with a haunting suspicion. A sharp pain in his upper right arm. What was wrong? He touched his shoulder with his right hand.

Intense pain.

Fear.

No false moves!

It took him a while until he finally got hold of his flashlight. What he saw underneath terrified him. He saw nothing.

The beam of light did not allow him to even faintly guess at the depth of the chasm below. It was like the secret entrance to Nirvana. Was it 50 meters, 1000 meters? He would try banging against the wall a few times and then…

Oh, my God…

He shined the light upward. The parachute seemed to be caught pretty good between two sections of rock. He had only gradually been able to convince himself that he can trust the anchoring above him. He talked to his parachute, gently begging it with loving words to hold strong. Something clipped his head. And again. A number of times.

Bats?

Doesn’t matter, don’t move! This damn pain. The cold.

His torso felt like it was dying off under the tension of the straps. Would his rescuers even hear his distress signal?

As he looked up through the narrow window-like opening to the sky and saw a few stars, he started to find hope. They had practiced a rescue mission behind enemy lines a number of times. He knew that the CSAR team must be on their way. And here they are! Thank God! They were able to locate him in this godforsaken rift.

“Nice to meet you!” Tim calls to him and grabs his straps to latch him on to his own. But the Texan can only stare at Tim, whose fuzzy, black goatee sprouts out over the chin strap of his helmet.

“You are not an American, you’re a Taliban!” Tim laughs.

“No, I am your friend Tim from the German Mountain Rescue Team!”

The American looked dubiously at Tim’s face.

Then Thomas joins in. “And I am Thomas, old friend! You can call me Tom, but just for today. Nice place you got here.”

“I’m going to free you now from the parachute,” says the suspected Taliban, “and then I’ll hook you to the elevator going up. Hold on to me. Are you ready?”

The American nods.

He jolts downward and lets out a scream so loud it must have woken up all of Hindu Kush.

“Fuck, something’s wrong with my shoulder, watch out.”

The burly Texan clings to Tim’s slender frame, his face is twisted in pain.

“Thomas on George, dislocated or broken right shoulder. No blood.”

Tim grabs him by the hips and uses his feet and back to repel off the walls of the cavern.

“Let’s go, Cowboy! Bringing you up to mama!”

The three arrive at the top only a few moments later. As Echo Force secures the area behind them, George and Marc welcome the rescued man.

“I’m George, Navy Seal. You are among friends. Are you the pilot or the weapon systems operator?”

“Les Miller, WSO. Have you found my pilot Buddy already?”

“Negative. How much time was there between you each ejecting?

“Two seconds at the most.”

George thought for a moment. Buddy was not at the wreckage, at least not in a direct line with Les.

“Then Buddy must be here in the vicinity. We need to search again.”

“Charlie Force from Echo Force. We have Les.” “Copy that, Echo Force – we are standing by.” “Can you run, Les?”

“How fast do you think you could run after having your balls crushed for the past seven hours?” He casts an eye at Tim: “Watch your Taliban there, I don’t trust him!”

He then pulls a clump of something out of his pocket and gives it to his new friend from the German Mountain Rescue Team.

“What is it?” “Chocolate, Taliban!”

“How’s your shoulder, Les? Do you think you need a shot?”

“Depends on what you plan to do with me. I certainly can’t crawl on the ground.”

Buddy McAllen is not far away. In fact, they almost trip over his ejector seat. The wind fills his parachute, causing it to pull away from the long, slender body of the American pilot and then deflate again. Buddy is shaking. The right side of his head along with his short blond hair is covered in blood. George sees a large dark stain on Buddy’s olive-green flight suit just above his right hip and, underneath him, a rather large pool of dried blood on the ground.

“That doesn’t look good,” George signals to Marc, “he must have hit against that sharp rock in the dark.”

“Buddy, can you hear me?” George jiggles him. Thomas takes a water bottle out of his knapsack and carefully pours a fine trickle of water over his neck. The American does not move. Marc smacks him gently on the cheek and tries talking to him.

“Buddy, we are your friends, can you hear me, you are almost home. I will just take a look at that leg.”

“Charlie Force from Echo Team. We have Buddy – need a medic – ASAP!”

George reads off the coordinates from his mobile GPS and waits for confirmation.

“It’s our lucky day, boys! We have both men, secure radio communication, and Charlie Force will be here in fifteen minutes.”

He looks at Buddy, who is badly hurt, then adds: “But we’ve got a real bad situation here.”

The troop is highly-visible from the front. There is no natural protection. Behind them is a hill with an unobstructed view of them from above. Buddy is sitting out in the open, propped up against a large rock as though he were a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a miracle he hasn’t been discovered already.

The rest of the squad lays flat on the ground while Thomas attends to Buddy’s wounds. He inspects the deep wound on Buddy’s thigh, dresses it with a compression bandage, and wraps him in a thermal foil blanket. He’s lost a lot of blood and could suffer a circulatory collapse. Thomas is a medic, but Buddy needs more than Thomas has in his first-aid kit.

“His pulse is very low, George.”

“Buddy, don’t fall asleep. What is your wife’s name?” George asks.

Buddy opens his eyes slowly. For the first time. “Linda…my girlfriend.”

“Where does Linda live, Buddy?” “New Jersey.”

George’s face lights up. Buddy is pale, moaning, and breathing heavily.

“Tell her that I love her,” he whispers.

“You can tell her that yourself when you see her at Bagram, Buddy, do you hear? What do you think about that, Buddy? Buddy, say something!”

Buddy looks at George with blank eyes. His lips start to make a shape. George put his ear to Buddy’s mouth.

“Les…is he okay?”

George waves WSO Les to come to him. “Keep him awake, Les, and encourage him.” Les’ brawny stature leans over his pilot.

“Buddy, man, don’t give up, Linda needs you. I need you in our fucking F-15. You aren’t going to leave me hanging, are you, Buddy? How do you want your hamburger when we get back to Bagram, Buddy? How about a big Texas burger with cheese and peppers and Mexican toppings? Do you want mustard on it, or ketchup?”

Buddy opens his eyes again slightly and softly smiles. After all, Les, whom he has been flying with for the past six months just described his absolute favorite dish.

Then his eyes close again. Thomas and Marc nod to each other. His condition is critical. Buddy must get an IV within the next thirty minutes, or that’ll be the end of it.

Tim’s green goggles wander over the horizon from right to left, left to right.

“We are not in a good location, not good at all.”

“We can’t move,” whispers Marc, “Charlie Force is expecting us to be at these coordinates.” Marc additionally scans the area which appears more like the ugly landscape of an alien planet through the infra-red residual light amplifier.

Marc is not interested in the regular green hue of his night vision device. He is looking for a glaring green, the white of clothing, and black. People.

“Oh man, we are not in a good location, not at all. Like sitting ducks,” Tim repeats himself.

Marc shivers.

“Taliban at ten o’clock!”

In the telescope he could see  the outline of a group of  men approaching. Five, six? They seem to be searching for something and were gradually coming closer.

The faint lull of voices could be heard through the hazy early morning sunrise.

“Charlie Force – Tangos in the area,” George radios quietly to the approaching troop.

“Roger – Five minutes to go – Stay where you are.”

The Echo Force lies as flat on the ground as possible, partially protected by a handful of small boulders. Thomas pulls Buddy down, he groans loudly. It can start at any minute. The Americans are individually equipped with rapid-fire weapons from the Navy Seals’ secret weapons arsenal, the Germans with G 36KA2s. Encounters with the enemy are practiced a thousand times. But it still causes their blood to race through their veins, and their pulse to increase, the adrenaline runs high.

George sees one of the Afghans throw his arm in the air. A sign?

Now loud shouts. More Afghans!

George contemplates when it’s the right time. “Fire only at my command!”

He doesn’t like long-distance fighting. The others don’t either. They all nod to their leader.

“Two tangos at three o’clock, behind the rock, thirty yards,” Seal Two radios.

“Okay, I have him.”

“Four tangos at ten…,” adds Seal Three.

Suddenly, the cracking sound of a missile being shot from a rocket-propelled grenade breaks the silence. It misses Echo Team by only a few feet. George studies the situation. That was close. Really close! A moment later, Taliban fighters abandon their concealment positions and charge the men.

“FIRE!”

The elite soldiers systematically take aim at each individual enemy fighter.

Bull’s eye! A direct hit!

Dark, black blotches appear in Marc’s night vision goggles 20 meters out.

Blood. Blood is black. Aim. POP!

Tango at three o’clock! The information is conveyed through hand signals and head movements.

Precision shots.

Short drumfire. The casings rattle out the right side like a waterfall.

Targets to the front, on the side, upright, crouching, jumping.

Just like in the training room. Only now with short screams. The team acts with clockwork precision.

The distance between them and the enemy fighters is becoming shorter and shorter. There are too many, many too many…

“Gentlemen, they want us use up all our ammunition,” Marc says. But a guy like Marc always has enough.

He, along with Tim and Thomas, are regarded as best sharp shooters in Calw, the hometown of the German Special Forces. And he never wastes magazine cartridges with sustained fire. Even if thirty men were attacking him. That would cause his G36 to overheat and lose accuracy.

Marc does not like inaccuracy.

One of the Taliban kneels against the side of a rock. He’s looking for a target. Through his night filter 80 attachment, Marc only sees the warhead of the bazooka. An ugly, spiked, green tube. About a hundred yards out.

Short artillery fire from the bar magazine. Directly to the head. The Afghan whirls through the air. In the green visor, black blotches. His head is gone.

George nods to him.

He knows that killing people is a very disconcerting legal problem for the Germans. Germans do not shoot to kill suspects. But this is a fight for survival! The rules of engagement are fulfilled – and they are alone among themselves.

Buddy groans and tries to sit upright. Thomas forces him back down.

“He needs an IV, George, or he’s gonna die!”

“Tell him he’ll be on his way home to Linda in five minutes.” Shots scream over their heads.

“Did you hear that, Buddy? We’re gonna be on our way in a few minutes, just hold on. Linda’s waiting for you.”

George and his two Seals fire to the front, the Germans cover the hill behind them.

They are surrounded. It’s getting pretty damn close!

George feels fear creeping up inside of him that his troop won’t make it out of this goldfish bowl. He has no solution. They need help immediately.

“CHARLIE FORCE – ECHO TEAM IS UNDER HEAVY FIRE!” “ROGER ECHO TEAM – WE ARE…”

The sentence gets swallowed by noise. The sound of a helicopter! The most beautiful noise an elite soldier can  ask for in a desperate situation. From out of nowhere, two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters appear in the sky over the valley. They are rather more heard than seen. Air-to-ground missiles whoosh out of the missile pods on either side of the helicopters at the small groups of Taliban fighters, followed by bursts of fire from the 30-millimeter aircraft cannon. George’s anxiety from a moment ago instantly disappears now that his fire-spewing dragons have arrived. Special night vision sensor, target acquisition system – don’t look directly at it or you’ll go blind!

A new roar of thunderous noise.

The long silhouette of a monster appears and comes closer. The Chinook transport helicopter hovers heavily some feet above the ground. Rattling bullet fire percolates from the behemoth. Fifty life-saving yards away from the elite soldiers. Each yard is one too many! There are still too many Taliban. The pull of the tandem rotors kicks up stones and dirt in the air.

Why always these huge machines? Marc wonders, I hope this works out.

The leviathan lowers itself to the ground, first landing on its rear wheels, then the front.

It hits the ground, bounces, and finally comes to a halt on the lightly sloping, rocky ground. Charlie Force troops immediately jump out of the Chinook equipped with their night vision devices.

They kneel on one leg and take aim.

The Apaches rotate toward the target like remote-controlled robots to provide Echo Force cover from the fire.

Marc flips onto his back and assesses the situation for the forces. Next comes the most dangerous endeavor among all this pandemonium for them and the helicopters as this is a potentially perfect opportunity for an extraordinary ball of fire from only one of the Taliban rocket launchers.

The three Seals carry Les and Buddy, who in the meantime has lost consciousness, to the Chinook amidst the fire from the Apache helicopters.

Mission accomplished.

The medic rushes to Buddy with an IV and oxygen mask in hand. Buddy now has a chance of survival. Hopefully.

One of the Americans outfitted with a wire waves hectically at the door of the Chinook.

“GET IN, GET IN!”

“TIM, TANGO BEHIND YOU!”

Marc can’t help him. His brother is standing directly in the line of fire.

As sprightly as a cat, Tim shoots from the hip. The Taliban throws up his arms as he falls to the ground. His AK-47 flies into the air like some grotesque circus act.

“Thanks, Marc.”

Tangos on all sides. Echo Force runs, bent over, toward the helicopters.

Look, assess, shoot, new magazine, go!

Each of them secures a radius of sixty degrees.

Six times sixty. No sector is left unsecured. One for all and all for one.

Only more ten yards to the Chinook.

Charlie Force and Navy Seals One and Two are in and give cover to George and the three Germans, with assistance from the two death machines hovering nearby.

Thomas kneels down under the protection of the helicopter and activates the mobile device. In the distance they hear a massive explosive and the entire valley quakes. The echo reverberates for a long time as though the entire Hindu Kush is about to burst.

Mission accomplished.

Anything that was hidden must be destroyed now. The U.S. jet fighter would be reduced to only a heap of metal shards.

“HURRY UP, HURRY UP!” one of the Americans was still waiting in the door of the Chinook, wildly waving his arm. The giant monster is in danger. It wouldn’t be the first time soldiers had to be left behind.

Tim and Thomas make it in with a powerful leap, George and Seal One are right on their tails.

Marc is still on the ground. As always. First his troops, then him.

The monstrous helicopter starts to ascend. George waves to him in desperation.

Marc throws his weapon over his shoulder and sprints to the door, George grabs hold of his arm and pulls him in. Half hanging in the doorway,  Marc shoots his last rounds  of ammunition in the direction of the muzzle flash from the ground.

The three helicopters with Echo Force and the rescued F-15 crew disappear through the hazy valley.

Seal One proudly slaps his German friend on the shoulder from behind in acknowledgment.

Marc Anderson is currently at the zenith of his career, albeit unaware that his biggest challenge still lies ahead of him and that his luck as an elite soldier has now, as of today, just run out.

VBT – Monsterland Reanimated

TourBanner_Monsterland2

Monsterland Reanimated
by Michael Okon

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GENRE: Young Adult Fiction/Thriller

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BLURB:

After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent. Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world, and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.

During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.

When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?

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BookCover_monsterLand2

EXCERPT

A bright moon painted the desert’s surface pewter. Here and there, dark spots soiled the landscape like oil spills. Most of the bodies had been taken before the troops were ordered to leave. They carted away the corpses, bulldozing the zombies into mass graves, until radios chirped with urgent orders deploying the soldiers to the bigger threats that erupted in the main cities like a chain of angry volcanos.

Monsterland was extinguished, its carcass left for the vultures to pick, the exhibits silent as a tomb.

The dead president and his equally dead entourage were whisked away on Air Force One, along with the dark-clad special operatives that came and left like the brisk desert wind that now howled through the empty streets.

A gate screamed in the silence, slamming with a reverberating smash. The uneven gait of someone with a physical challenge filled the void. The scrape and plod of his limp echoed against the wall of mountains framing the theme park. His labored breathing huffed as he made his way down the streets.

A door creaked loudly as it was blown by the wind. He stopped, his distorted figure silhouetted in the pale moonlight, his body turning silver. He looked at the broken glass littering the pavement like diamonds, then up to the still, pre-dawn sky. He considered the sun peeking over the jagged horizon in the east, its golden light painting the dips and hollows of the hills. Soon the coming day would chase the darkness away.

Time was the enemy now. He had to move faster, or it would be too late. He picked up his pace, lurching along the winding road. A keening howl ricocheted through the streets, bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a … no, he thought, it couldn’t be. The werewolves were all dead. Destroyed by Vincent Konrad when he made their heads explode.

The old man paused, listening for it again, and was not disappointed when the animal whimpered. He gauged it to be inside the defunct vampire exhibit. He moved toward the entrance. The storefronts had been destroyed. A few body parts lay on the pavement, as if people had discarded them in a rush. He heard the scraping of paws on the street and a shiver went down his crooked spine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links

AuthorPhoto_MonsterlandReanimated

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Website:
http://www.michaelokon.com/

Amazon Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Okon/e/B0752THRZV/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

iBooks Link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/michael-okon/id1292020808?mt=11

Kobo Link:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Michael Okon&fcsearchfield=Author

Barnes & Nobel Link:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monsterland-michael-okon/1126998959?ean=9781614755944

SmashWords Link:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MichaelOkon

Email:
michaelokonbooks@gmail.com

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/IAmMichaelOkon

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/iammichaelokon/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/iammichaelokon

Snapchat:
https://www.snapchat.com/add/iammichaelokon

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview Short

Who would play you in a film of your life?
Someone with a ridiculous six pack. Maybe Channing Tatum or Chris Evans.

Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?
Yes. Many of my characters share traits I have, like being terrified of flying.

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing novel?
Completing your characters arcs. If you don’t, you fail.

What do you consider your biggest failure?
Being overweight in my 20s. I wish I would have learned about diet and health in my 20s. I would have never touched sugar or carbs.

VBT – Wheels Up

Wheels Up Banner

About the Author

Jeanine Kitchel, a former journalist, escaped her hectic nine-to-five life in San Francisco, bought land, and built a house in a fishing village on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Shortly after settling in she opened a bookstore. By this time she had become a serious Mayaphile and her love of the Maya culture led her and her husband to nearby pyramid sites throughout southern Mexico and farther away to sites in Central America. In the bookstore she entertained a steady stream of customers with their own Maya tales to tell—from archeologists and explorers to tour guides and local experts. At the request of  a publisher friend, she began writing travel articles about her adopted homeland for websites and newspapers. Her travel memoir, Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya, and Maya 2012 Revealed: Demystifying the Prophecy, are available on Amazon. She has since branched into writing fiction and her debut novel, Wheels Up—A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival, launched May 2018.

Jeanine Kitchel

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK (Personal) | FACEBOOK (Page)

About the Book

Title: WHEELS UP: A NOVEL OF DRUGS, CARTELS, AND SURVIVAL
Author: Jeanine Kitchel
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 294
Genre: Thriller

Wheels Up

BOOK BLURB

Layla always wanted to run the family business. But is she willing to kill for it?
When her notorious drug lord uncle is recaptured, Layla Navarro catapults to the top of Mexico’s most powerful cartel. Groomed as his successor, Layla knows where the bodies are buried. But not all the enemies. She strikes her first deal to prove her mettle by accepting an offer to move two tons of cocaine from Colombia to Cancun by jet. Things go sideways during a stopover in Guatemala whe Layla unexpectedly uncovers a human trafficking ring. Plagued by self-doubt, she must fight off gangsters, outsmart corrupt officials, and navigate the minefield of Mexican machismo. Even worse, she realizes she’s become a target for every rival cartel seeking to undermine her new standing. From her lush base in the tropics, she’s determined to retain her dominant position in Mexico’s criminal world. If she can stay alive.

ORDER YOUR COPY:
Amazon

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Present Day
The Gulfstream jet, loaded with two tons of Colombian cocaine, careened over dense Yucatan jungle as Layla stared out the compact window, horrified. If they weren’t running on empty and destined to crash, it might have looked lush to her, even beautiful.
Without fuel, the engines starved into silence, she heard only the whooshing sound of the aluminum plane as it cruised over mangrove swamps and fast-approaching mahogany trees. All thoughts of her hasty departure from Guatemala to escape Don Guillermo’s wrath had vanished along with any hopes of safely landing in Cancun. They were going down.
Layla gripped the armrests, dropped her head between her knees, and prepared for the worst.
#
Three weeks earlier, Layla was sitting at the crowded bar in Bucanero’s Cantina in Ensenada, on Mexico’s west coast, while she waited for Clay Lasalle, Canada’s biggest pot dealer, to show up. Carlos, her bodyguard and sometime lover, was with her, but rather than relieving the stress, his overbearing presence just added to the pressure.
With the recent recapture and imprisonment of El Patrón, her notorious uncle, Layla had catapulted to the top of the Culiacan Cartel as his replacement. Now she was facing her first deal without her uncle’s guiding hand. To calm her jitters she resorted to the one thing that never failed her: tequila shots.
“Don Julio, por favor!” Layla called to the paunchy bartender over the clamor of the rowdy, alcohol-fueled crowd—mostly tourists in shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Above the polished mahogany bar a framed poster-sized photo showed a nude blonde being ushered out of the century-old watering hole by two Mexican policia. Of course it’s a gringa, Layla thought, Mexicans treaded more carefully in shark-infested waters. She waved a two-hundred-peso note as the bartender passed by with a tray of margaritas.
“Momentito!” he promised.
Carlos stepped away just as she downed her second shot. Though he’d given her his “cuidado” or “be careful” look before heading to the restroom, she ignored it. When a handsome gringo sat next to her and started talking, she was all in.
By the time Carlos returned, Layla was too busy chatting with her neighbor to worry about her bodyguard’s glare. Carlos hated outsiders as much as seeing her drink, but she needed to chill. Tequila shots and flirting were a mindless diversion. The agave centered her, allowing her to distract herself without losing her edge before the meeting.
“You’re from Chicago?” she asked. “I’ve been there.”
The man gazed at the dark-haired Latina by his side. “What did you think?”
She gave a dismissive shrug. “Too cold.” Her intelligent almond-shaped eyes were the color of charcoal. “I prefer Mexico.” A sardonic smile highlighted her cheekbones, making her face even more appealing.
Layla turned back toward her bodyguard and focused on the shot glass the bartender placed in front of her. Poor Carlos. Coming to Baja always rattled him. It wasn’t only the jaw-breaking drive from Culiacan on dodgy Mexican roads. It was Ensenada—far from the safety of Sinaloa, well out of their comfort zone. But for Layla, Bucanero’s Cantina qualified as northern Baja’s one saving grace. The dive bar brought back memories of her wild, reckless early years. At thirty-five, Layla still had plenty of the right stuff. Her five-foot-six frame seemed mostly legs and Carlos’s rare compliments always focused on her tiny waist. She emphasized her striking physique by wearing low-cut tops but her most notable feature was the cascade of curly dark hair that spilled over her shoulders.
She downed her last tequila shot, scooted off the wooden bar stool a step ahead of Carlos and moved towards the empty dining room. The cantina was not the best place for a meeting, but it suited their needs: an easy landmark near the border with a back room for business. Layla slipped into the barely lit room, accepted a menu from the waiter, and handed him a two-hundred-peso note.
“Our associate arrives soon. We need privacy. Close the restaurant,” she ordered. “Your manager knows.”
He nodded, pocketed the bill, and turned towards the kitchen.
Layla walked across the worn wooden floor to a corner table in the back. She took a deep breath to steady herself before sitting down. Things would escalate into a full-scale argument once Carlos reached the table. She could already hear him scolding, “Bosses keep to themselves, especially in public.”
When Carlos had a bad day, everyone had a bad day. He could easily vie for title of most miserable man on the planet. Too bad the sex was so good. Hijole! He had the body of a male model but two sizes larger, with café au lait skin. So handsome, but so disagreeable. Granted she shouldn’t have given that gringo the time of day, but tequila made her bold.
Layla opened the menu, waiting for her bodyguard’s interrogation to begin.
Carlos banged a cheap wooden chair against the table before sitting down. “What the hell do you care about Chicago? It’s not Madrid, not even Barcelona! That guy was boring! Are you so starved for conversation you have to talk to a gringo?”
Layla silently perused the bill of fare.
“I’ve had it,” he said, his voice rising. “I’m tired of my life. Am I just your bodyguard and nothing more? Everyone, everyone, told me to keep it strictly business, even your uncle. But I didn’t listen. I thought it would be that one drunken one night stand, and now I’m fucking chained to you because of this goddamn job!”
His powerful hands clenched into fists as he rubbed them over his knees. “If only I could’ve left you in Guadalajara. But I’d have never made it out of the city before taking a bullet from your uncle.”
That was accurate: You didn’t quit the cartel, the cartel quit you. She looked at the menu, avoiding eye contact, glad the waiter hadn’t yet returned. “Should we order?”
He glared at her. “Are you acting like this conversation isn’t happening? Do you want me to walk out of here, meeting or no meeting?”
Best not to test him. He’d do it, and then she’d be without a bodyguard. The drone of his voice, the bullying, started to sink in. Chinga! She had no trouble working the cartel mob, but Carlos ran her. He was as overbearing as her two brothers. Reynoldo who should have been running the cartel had died trying, and Martín, her other brother, wasn’t up to the task. Now with one brother and two cousins dead, Layla found herself atop the Culiacan Cartel.
She looked up and said in as soothing a tone as possible, “Carlos, let’s not fight, okay? We’re here for business. I need you with me. You’re not only the man who protects me. I love you.”
She did love him, though his bad attitude and barking complaints—usually aimed at her—were tiresome. He shifted his perfectly-proportioned body forward, staring at her with eyes she’d been lost in a hundred times. He surprised her by grabbing her hand, a little harder than necessary. They never touched in public.
“After this meeting, we’ll talk about you and me.” He scowled. “I don’t know why you drink so much—and with strangers.”
These macho men! “Okay, okay. I’ll let up on the shots. One last Pacifico while we wait.”
The waiter came and they ordered. She checked her watch, 10 p.m. Lasalle would be showing up soon. She’d met him once before in Miami and sparks had flown—there was no denying they had chemistry.
Layla changed topics. “So, what does he want?”
“Chinga! Who cares?”
She backpedaled. “Carlos…”
He gave her a cold look but couldn’t hold back his opinion. “Routes for coke or pot.”
The meal went smoothly. Layla pushed an enchilada around her plate and watched Carlos demolish an order of chilaquiles, three tamales, and a couple chicken enchiladas. As he piled it in, a rare calm settled over him. He was well into his second beer when Clay walked into the restaurant. Layla saw him first, but Carlos looked up the moment Clay crossed the threshold. As a bodyguard, Carlos’s instincts were flawless.
The thirty-something Canadian smuggler was six feet two, a looker with brown shaggy hair and an easy smile. Though his frame was solid, almost hefty, he moved like a cat. Spotting Layla, he gave a nod as his long strides brought him across the room.
He let his knuckles graze the table as he flashed her a warm smile. “Layla, it’s been a long time. Good to see you again. And this is…”
“Carlos.”
“Carlos, hola. Clay.” The Canadian extended a hand.
Carlos rose from the booth. “A pleasure.” He spoke in Spanish. “I’ll be close by,” he said to Layla.
“Have a seat.” Layla slid over to allow room for Clay. Not much had changed about the northern grower since she last saw him—still that laidback air even though he controlled the lion’s share of Canada’s pot sales.
“Something to eat?” Layla continued in English, though she knew Clay spoke passable Spanish.
He shook his head. “Just a Pacifico.” She gestured toward her beer and the hovering waiter sprung into action.
“Long drive?”
“Not bad. Been waiting long?” Clay asked.
“No.”
They silently watched the waiter set down the bottle of beer and retreat from the room.
“Salud,” said Clay, raising his bottle. “Layla, I’m glad you could meet with me. I’ll get right to the point. I want a partner to move a couple tons of coke to Cancun by air—a regular run. I heard you lost a yacht recently, so a partnership could work out well for both of us.”
How did Lasalle know about the navy seizing their yacht?
“Cocaine…”
“Boats are fine, but flying’s faster and we can carry more. Plus I’m dealing directly with FARC. Gotta hand it to ’em. For a guerrilla army in the Colombian jungle, they know how to run those cocaine fincas. And we can get better prices from them than anyone’s gotten before.”
He took a swig of beer.
“Interesting,” she said without emotion. “How will you manage those good prices?”
“A combined order with you.” He paused and waited for her reaction.
She said nothing.
“The airport manager’s on board,” he said, “Already allowed some of my flights through.”
She leaned back against the worn naugahyde booth, settling into the game of cat and mouse. “What kind of planes?”
“A Gulfstream and a DC-9.”
Layla raised an eyebrow. “Who owns them?”
“A couple guys in Lauderdale run a shield for drug planes by providing American registration to the cartels. It’s complicated—big money down, more than what the plane’s worth. In return these guys maintain the plane registration, and hire Vietnam vets to do the cartel runs.”
She nodded.
“If the plane’s seized, the pilots deny responsibility. These hooked-up guys can reclaim the plane because their corporation holds the lien,” Clay said.
Layla slid forward, placed her elbows on the table and picked at the label on the empty beer bottle in front of her. “How can they do that? Someone must hold the original papers.”
“They disguise ownership by sheep-dipping it—you know, a fake identity—and pass it on to straw owners. It’s a slick process, an old scheme used by the CIA.”
“The CIA? Come on, Clay,” she said with a slight frown. Do I look naïve? She flipped her dark hair over one shoulder. Clay’s gaze shifted to Layla’s long elegant neck.
He caught himself, looked away, and readjusted his long legs under the table before speaking. “These vets couriered traffickers from Colombia to Miami for the CIA. Talk about walking the line. They did time for trafficking, but they’re back, and they’re hotshot pilots.”
“Your shipments came in with no problem?” Layla asked.
“Like I said, I have connections, and the players, they’ve worked it out.”
“Does that include the Gulf Cartel?”
He nodded.
“Hmm. I’ve got to think things through,” Layla said. “When’s your next run?”
“Got a few details to sort out. I hear you’re growing the European market—this’ll get you a lot closer to that trip across the pond.”
Layla gave him a cool smile. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you were spying on me.”
“Layla,” Clay said with a chuckle. “I’m just trying to keep up with you.”
She looked at him a second too long before she continued. “Can I get back to you?”
“Sure.” Clay finished off his beer. “Let me know where and when.”
#
Layla and Carlos left Ensenada immediately after the meeting, heading out on the road to Culiacan. Carlos high-powered the black SUV through the moonless night while Layla closed her eyes and imagined the impact of bringing in new business on her own. In a four hundred billion dollar global industry, she could begin to stake out her territory.
“By working with us, FARC will see Clay as a real player,” she confided to Carlos.
“Basta! Always business!” Carlos said, still in a huff.
Layla composed herself before responding. “Yes, it is. Business that allows you to drive a new Escalade, wear expensive suits and five thousand peso boots, and drink Don Julio and Dom Perignon. Let me remind you: My uncle’s in prison and he’s left me in charge. Get used to it!”
She leaned against the window, pulling as far away from Carlos as possible. Always fighting. She turned her attention to the darkness outside. It was a lonely two-lane road, not used much even in the daytime. Though she couldn’t make out the mountains that surrounded them she knew they were there.
They rode in silence, absorbed in separate thoughts. Carlos concentrated on dodging potholes. Layla contemplated moving powder with Clay.
The rules were changing and in this game they all had to stay ahead of the curve. She was anxious to run the idea by El Patrón. But they had a long drive ahead.

Guest Post

Why I Decided to Write Fiction

I write about Mexico, the Maya and the Yucatán. I’ve always loved Mexico. It was my home for 15 years and once I moved there and opened my bookstore, there were just too many untold stories that needed telling.

At first I was cajoled into writing by a publisher who wandered into the shop one day and started quizzing me on various pyramid sites and eventually got around to asking how I ended up there, pretty much the middle of nowhere—a fishing village on the Mexican Caribbean coast. He asked me to write an occasional column about Mexico life for his publication and I obliged. As a former journalist with two non-fiction books under my belt, travel articles were an easy assignment.

But after my last book, I realized I could reach a wider audience by writing fiction, and still discuss big ticket issues. Now, in 2018, I’ve watched the creeping dominance of Mexico cartels for more than a decade. Living in Mexico gave me an insider’s view to the damage being done and the effect the cartels have on every level of society.

Speaking and reading the language is an immense benefit. If I missed a bit of gossip, Mexican papers provided the back story—they’re newsy but a strange combination of fluff and gore. During my early years in Mexico, locals feared the Russian mafia. That idea may seem quaint, but it was a real thing. That worry fell to the wayside when cartels entered the picture. Primarily centered inland or on the west coast, Cancun’s treasure trove of tourist dollars beckoned. Though relatively safe—as are all major Mexican tourist destinations— a sleeping giant lies nearby. How could I not write about it?
—Jeanine Kitchel, author Wheels Up—A Novel of Cartels, Drugs and Survival

Movie Review – Get Out (2017)

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Get Out (2017)

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley WhitfordLil Rel Howery.

Plot: Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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Review: Sometimes I get to watch a movie that is sinister right from the start, and this film makes no difference.

Tagline: Just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you’re welcome.
My Tagline: Guess who’se for dinner!

Get Out is the story of a young interracial couple, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), meeting her parents for the first time. By all counts, her parents have no idea that Chris is black. They appear to be friendly and progressive, if not awkward, but everything at their upstate house is not what it seems.

Done in a style that I would put in “true Hitchcock”, Jordan Peele wrote and directed this horror/thriller flick. While Jordan is no stranger to world of film (49 credits as an actor, going back to 2006), this was his first shot at directing a feature film. I will say that his directing debut certainly made the grade.

Imagine this: You go with your girlfriend to meet the folks at their country house. Soon after you arrive, you think you are seeing ghosts, but you are not. People brush off your instincts, and leave you wondering if you are going insane. You know you got to get out of the house and head back to the city, but you cannot leave. Everyone has it in for you, and are “bidding” on your body in a family game of “bingo”. Your girlfriend is the only way out of the madhouse, but then you discover that she is in on the scheme too.

What scheme does Rose and the rest of the Armitage family have in mind for Chris Washington?

That folks, I am not saying. You just need to watch this film for yourself and see the thriller unfold.

IMDB Rating: 7.7
My Rating: 9

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