A Secret Life

Will the love of his life forgive his duplicity and accept him as an American?

 

 

The German Army of World War II rips Karl Von Steuben from his family and privileged life, forcing him to conceal his American sympathies and Jewish heritage. Stripped of every tie to his home country, he determines to escape. As he crawls to the Siegfried Line, only he knows the hiding place of gold ingots melted from the jewelry of death camp prisoners. Wounded after assuming the identity of a fallen American soldier, Karl briefly deceives even himself. Discharged and shipped to America, he discovers God’s unmerited favor in a beautiful Atlanta nurse. But he must return to Germany or relinquish his family fortune and rear children under the name of another man. Will Grace forgive his duplicity and accept him as an American?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Lee Carver

Karl struck out for yet another green grocer or meat market. So the cook was correct about all the nearby ones. There used to be a fresh market a kilometer away. Probably down Kugelstrasse. He turned right and picked up his pace.

Shopkeepers told him the way, begrudging more than volunteering information. Queuing on the cobblestone sidewalk, he realized how much his awareness of Germany’s condition had changed this morning. Instead of the deference he had come to expect, citizens who didn’t want to share the food remaining in the city growled at him. His family’s money and profession mattered little to those who had no money, no provisions, and certainly no investments.

The roar of two German Army trucks startled Karl from his thoughts. They pulled in front of the store, bracing the customers right and left. Soldiers waved their Mauser 98 rifles and dismounted from the cabs and canvas-covered backs before the tires stopped rolling.

There goes the food. He stepped out of line, the urgency to escape spiking his heart rate. These men were dangerous.

“Halt! Get back here. Where do you think you’re going?”

A soldier with several stripes on his uniform grabbed Karl’s shoulder and shoved him toward the end of one of the trucks.

“Show me your Ausweispapier.”

Karl handed over his ID paper. The fellow glanced once and slammed it on the clipboard of the other soldier. That man copied the details then pushed Karl against the truck.

Stumbling, he braced on the high floor and found men staring out from benches along the inside walls. The reality of forced conscription stabbed his lungs. They would take him away without a word to his family and send him off to die in a war against his mother’s people and his father’s politics.

“Wait. I have a deferment. Von Steuben Investments manages Reichland funds—”

The kick half-missed its target as Karl turned to explain, to beg, whatever necessary to return home with or without food. His rear end throbbed with pain.

The soldier’s laugh broke from a crack in hell. “Yeah, and my son’s a lawyer but he’s serving. Get in. Now.”

An arm jerked him upward off the street, yanking his shoulder joint hard. Dangling, he scrambled for a foothold, scraping his shins on a metal edge, until he fell into the truck on his stomach at the boots of another soldier. His rifle barrel motioned for Karl to sit with the others. Its bore, aimed at his head, killed any idea of escape.

A man, fifty or sixty years old, climbed up at gunpoint.

“That’s all. Let’s go.” The soldiers with the uniform stripes swung into the truck as it lurched.

Shadowed occupants around Karl had to be too young, too old, or too sickly to fight, while his own prime condition made him a sure target. But nabbing him off the street was wrong, just plain wrong.

The older man stared out the back with haunted eyes, his mouth open as if in a silent scream. He slapped a hand over his heart, showing a thin wedding band. A family man. With him gone, they might not have food either.

A boy too young to shave sobbed, tears and slobber running down his face.

Karl held back the sting in his eyes, blinking hard.

I. Will. Not. Cry.

He gripped the bare wooden bench as the streets of Munich passed beyond the truck’s open back. Bumping over the rough cobblestones, his bruised rear took further beating. Three times the truck stopped to nab more men and boys. Three times his heart pounded with the challenge to make a dash for it, but the guard assumed a strong stance with his Mauser assault rifle at the ready and a dare in his eye.

Would they tell his family? Could his father find out where they took him and appeal his abduction? Most of all, he hurt for Mother, who would wring her hands and walk the floor crying. He had thought himself impervious to conscription.

Hours later, the captive recruits passed through a security checkpoint and into a barebones camp. Was this a prison camp?

Had they found out about Mother?

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Quicksilver to Gold – OUT NOW!

 

Gold mining is in Jeannie Kelly’s blood. But it’s a dangerous time to be an honest miner in Nome, Alaska—claim jumpers have invaded the territory. Jeannie has set her sights on Clint Tilghman, the strong, quiet man next door to her family’s claim. Clint fights his feelings for the impulsive lady miner, fearing he’ll lose his independence. Jeannie tries to change her tomboyish ways to attract Clint and gain respect from others, but there’s a lot to learn amidst gunplay and bar fights. Jeannie must woo Clint and beat the claim jumpers before summer’s end.

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Excerpt:

Copyright 2014 Lynn Lovegreen

“Hey, Frank’s here!” Barry called.

They ran out to see the other Kellys clustered at the edge of their claim upriver, with two men at the bank. Frank Burkhart was one of them, his beloved bowler hat a little less round, but still recognizable above his graying fringe of hair. His round mustached face hadn’t changed any since Jeannie saw him last year.

He took his hat off. “Evening, Jeannie. How are you?”

“Good, Frank. How are you?”

“Fine, thanks. My partner and I just happened to claim this part next to you. Small world, ain’t it?”

“Yep, it is.” Jeannie remembered the last time Frank smiled at her, when he asked her out to dinner, and she turned him down. Frank was a nice enough man, but almost twice her age, and he didn’t interest her. He seemed to take it well at the time, so she hoped there were no hard feelings.

“Jeannie and Danny, this is my new partner, Clint Tilghman.”

Jeannie turned her attention to the tall young man next to Frank. No smile, but the dark brown eyes flared with intensity for a moment as he looked into her eyes. The expression quickly disappeared as he looked away at Danny. His dark wavy hair was uncovered as his Stetson was in his hands out of respect. His high cheekbones and cleft chin seemed to point to his full lips. His face was unlined. She guessed he was maybe a couple of years older than she. A red plaid flannel shirt covered his skin, but a suggestion of muscles in his arms and broad chest made his masculine body apparent to anyone who cared to look. Jeannie couldn’t seem to tear her eyes away.

“I knew the Kellys down in Idaho,” Frank was explaining to Clint. “Probably the best prospecting family in the country.”

“I thank you for that,” Da answered. “Good to see you again. Won’t you come over for some coffee? The tent is down this way.”

 

 

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The Wish List Addiction

Can she ditch the list?

 

 

Rebecca Mathews is a Listoholic—you name it, she has a ‘To Do’ list for it. Coupled with her daily ‘Must Achieve’ List, she possesses a mid-term, creatively drawn ‘Wish List’ and an exhaustively-researched ‘Bucket List’. But so far, they have delivered nothing but spectacular failure. With her much-loved career exploded in her face, her marriage terminated in an acrimonious divorce and her frail father’s pleas to return to her native Northumberland ignored, Rebecca concludes that if it wasn’t for her beloved four-year-old son, Max, she would be adding a trip to a Swiss clinic to her list. A sparkle of light appears in Rebecca’s life wrapped in the guise of ‘The Little Green Book of Wishes’, which challenges the reader to ‘ditch the list’ and instead to use its gems of wisdom as a ‘dip in/dip out’ lucky bag of challenges from all areas of life. Persuaded by her colleagues to relinquish her obsessive reliance on her multiple lists, cast adrift from their reassuring structure, she agrees to complete random tasks selected for her from the ‘little emerald book of miracles’. Will it deliver the desired result and cure Rebecca of her Wish List Addiction?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Lindsey Paley

“Right! Where’s that wishes book then?” Deb demanded first thing Monday morning. “Hand it over! I’m holding you to your promise.”

Before Rebecca handed the little green book to Deb, Nathan glanced at their team manager, Georgina, still engrossed in a complicated call, then scootered his chair to Deb’s desk as if keen to get involved.

“The Little Green Book of Wishes.” Deb rotated the book in her hand, stroking its emerald cover as though wedding dress silk, parting its pages at the contents page. “‘Wishes with your Partner’, ‘Wishes with Children’, or ‘Wishes for the World’ section? Hey, there’s one of your wishes here, Nath, from the ‘Wishes with Friends’ section—‘Real Ale tasting’! Oh, and ‘Swishing’! Now that’s one I would include on my wish list!”

“I don’t understand why you are both so excited.” Nathan rolled his eyes. “It’s a complete waste of time and energy, if you ask me. Wishes never come true. I’d love to get the supervisor’s job when Georgina is promoted to associate next month, but I know I won’t, so what’s the point applying? Why put myself through all that anxiety and stress?

Anyway, it’s Becky we’re selecting random wishes for, not me. And why put poor Becky through the hassle and potential humiliation of performing challenges from a randomly purchased book extolling the unachievable virtues of fulfilling our deepest desires? Crazy, if you ask me.”

He flicked his Baringer & Co pen between his fingers until it became a blur. However, despite his pessimistic forecast, he continued to pour eagerly over the contents section of the little green book with Deb and Rebecca.

“Well, I think it’s an excellent idea and so does Fergus. Hey, look, there’s even a section on marrying. Thank goodness, ’cos I could do with some seriously helpful tips, we’ve still got so much to do. I’m up for ‘Becoming the Perfect Bride’ and ‘Maintaining a Successful Marriage’. Might even try ‘Co-existing With Your In-laws’.” She sniggered.

“Oh, I’m so excited. Look, Becky, ‘Amassing a Prestigious Shoe Collection.’ Let’s study that one and slip off one lunchtime soon to Jimmy Choo’s wedding shoe emporium! Come on, what’ll be your first challenge from the little green book? You chose the category, but me and Nath are choosing the challenge.” She held the book up to Rebecca’s face and flicked the pages from back to front, her perfectly plucked, honey-blonde eyebrows disappearing into her fringe.

“Well, I really don’t want to go on a date, and my career is rock bottom, so it’ll have to be some sort of an activity.” Rebecca fervently hoped the selection would be ‘Making Maracas’ or ‘An Afternoon Kite Flying’, which she and Max had discovered, but somehow she doubted Deb would let her off so easily.

“Right, now me and Nathan will confer. It’ll be a great way of meeting new guys, anyway.” She giggled. As she was in love, she expected the whole world to want to be, too. “Mmm, what do you think, Nath?” They huddled together in her cubicle, her blonde mane meeting his dark spikes. “Where will there be lots of hot, single men? Oh, and let’s find something she can do with Max, too, this being the first challenge.

“What about ‘Taking a Dance Class’? Must be on everyone’s wish list that, surely? It suggests the waltz or the tango. Here, did you know the tango is said to have been born in the brothels of Argentina, the dancers connecting chest-to-chest or hip-to-thigh displaying strong and determined passion? What could be better? Only two stars, Becky, must be an easy challenge, right?”

“You’re joking. I’m not taking Max to a tango class! Anyway, look what it says at the end. A dance class such as the tango or the jive is not for the faint-hearted when wishing to meet new people. No, Deb.”

“Well, okay, but I might persuade Fergus to take some lessons with me.

We could perform a passionate tango as our first dance at the wedding reception—spice up the night and shock the grannies!”

Her infectious giggle rang around the office, causing Georgina to lift her eyes and throw them a puzzled look. Shaking her short, black curls, she returned to her phone call. It was their lunch break after all.

“Right, ‘Exercising Section,’ then. What sport have you always had a hankering to try? Yoga? Crossbow shooting? Oh, what about Morris dancing? Is that really a sport?”

“Be serious. I’ve not done any real exercise since giving birth to Max. Anything too energetic would be the first and last challenge to be attempted from the book and I’d end up in the A&E.”

“I suppose that also means ‘Climbing Mount Everest’ is not going to make Rebecca’s wonderful wish list, then?” Deb smirked.

Rebecca’s glare said, “Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Right, got it.” She held the book up in front of her and Nathan’s faces. He glanced at the page and then peered around the cover at Rebecca.

“Sure,” Nathan agreed. “As good as any. And Max can join in with that, too, which is what the book is suggesting, I think. There’s a great club near us which runs a junior academy and welcomes kids from the age of three.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Rebecca’s heart hammered against her ribcage, particularly at Nathan’s suggestion that Max join her.

She had not agreed to involving him in this crazy folly. But her new friends ignored her protestations.

“Yes, I’ve been to that club with Fergus’ nephew. It’s great fun. Right, decided.” Deb turned the chosen page toward Rebecca. “There you are, Becky, ‘Learning to Play Golf’. You can take Max along and have some fun just hitting the balls from the driving range, or there’s an American mini golf course to try out. You can enquire about the junior academy whilst you’re there for Max. It’s an activity you can do together and there’ll be lots of men wandering around in that delightful golf gear. You could kill two birds with one golf ball!”

She handed the book to Rebecca, who grabbed it and read out loud, “Learning to play golf is fun. Hitting a golf ball is easy, but hitting the ball in the direction you want it to go takes an enormous amount of practice. Mmm. Look at the warning at the end. Be sure never to stand in close proximity to a golfer’s swinging club. I foresee disaster.”

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Hush in the Storm

 

Jen, a young widow floundering in the storm of mourning, whose only lifeline is her humdrum job, is tossed into a maze of deceit and intrigue by a coworker named Tom…at the request of her late husband, or so Tom says. He kidnaps her and fakes her death to keep her safe from the cartel who he thinks caused her husband’s “accident.” Together, they are thrust into a tempest of danger and deceit where no one is whom they claim to be. The list of people Jen can believe in keeps diminishing. Who can she trust while dodging the Feds, human traffickers and the press who’ve discovered she’s alive? How will Jen rescue the two held-captive girls she befriends without drowning them, Tom, and herself in the waves of betrayal, especially when she’s begun to suspect her husband may not be as dead as everyone thinks…

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Julie B. Cosgrove

 

 Something woke me. The pitch-black room smelled pungent and musky as if no fresh air had been allowed inside it this century. I eased my body up and tried to adjust my eyes to see through the dark. Clarity oozed in to replace the floating feeling in my brain.

I raised my hand, but couldn’t see it in front of my face. Why weren’t my eyes adjusting? No thread of light filtered under the door. No flashes of lightning outlined a windowsill, though I thought I heard rumbles of thunder, so it must still be raining.

I strained my ears, but heard no pattering on a roof above me. In fact, I heard no rain at all. Not against a window, nor on a sidewalk. My heart flinched. Where was I?

“Tom?” No response. I swallowed hard so I could call out louder. “Tom!” Silence. Why wouldn’t he answer?

This was why my brain had warned me to not follow him to Bob’s Burgers. My reluctance to listen to it earlier slapped me hard in the face.

The room sucked the air from my lungs. Nothing seemed right. I squeezed my eyes tight and rubbed them with my palms. A rush of dread flowed over me.

Then, just as quick, an old childhood prayer zipped into my mind. “God in Heaven, hear my prayer. Keep me in thy loving care.”

Seriously? Had I ever believed that? I couldn’t remember the last time I felt His loving care, much less know Him to hear my prayers. Not when Mom and Dad died in the mission field. Definitely not when Robert died.

Instead, Dad’s favorite adage blared in my head. Fear and worry never solved anyone’s problems. I shook off the fright and willed my analytical side to kick in.

My hands pushed against my temples several times. Tom said goodnight. We left the restaurant at night, in the rain. So, I hadn’t been out of it very long. Either that or I had been unconscious twenty-four hours.

No, no. My common sense told me it wouldn’t still be raining. It’s dark because it’s night and there’s no moon shining through the rain clouds. In the morning, there will be light.

Except for the faded rhythmic thunder, dead silence shrouded the room. I heard no city noises, no hums of electronics, no ticks of clocks. Not even the soft buzz of an air conditioner. No whish of air against my skin. Did it mean no air came into the room?

I sat erect and inhaled as deeply as I could. See, Jen, you have air. Wait. Musty, damp air. That smell. What did it remind me of? Something horrible, and long ago. A cardiac tom-tom beat in my ears like when my upstairs neighbors turned up the bass on their speakers.

I swung my feet to the floor. A scratchy rug scraped against my toes. Where were my shoes? I patted the cushions, then the floor around me. They weren’t there. I probed around some more. Nothing. The smell grew stronger.

“Where’s my purse? And my cell phone?” I spoke into the darkness, as if it would answer me. Duh, Jen. You’re alone.

I leaned against the back of the couch. Of course. Tom wouldn’t have left my cell phone so I could call the police. Not if he’d kidnapped me. He had, right? But, why? To protect me?

What about all those times he’d look away quickly when I caught him staring at me across the cubicles? Maybe he brought me here for another reason. I crunched my blouse buttons in my hand. No, I didn’t want to think about that.

My brain whispered, “No one will know you’re here.”

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Julie B. Cosgrove is a freelance writer, professional speaker and published author. She is a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, North Texas Christian Writers, The Christians Writers Group Two, and Christian Writers Fellowship International.

She represents Women at Risk International, a Christian missionary group who sponsor safe houses for women and children snatched from human trafficking and slavery in thirteen countries and is actively involved in Prayer For Freedom, a nonprofit anti-trafficking ministry.

As a speaker, Julie has achieved the highest level of communication award, the Advance Communication Gold, in Toastmasters International. She has led quiet days, workshops and retreats as well as spoken to many women’s and church groups throughout Texas, Louisiana and Florida, and in Indianapolis.

Julie writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications. In the past three years alone, her articles have been featured in Devozine and Alive Now Magazinespublished by the Upper Room, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness, Faith-filled Family Magazine, Good News Daily, The Secret PlaceLight from the Word, andThe Journey.

She has also published five nonfiction works: P.R.A.Y.I.N.G.: Bringing Power and Purpose to Your Prayers (2009), Song Notes: Devotionals from the Book of Psalms(2010), What Can She Tell Us? (2011), Between the Window and the Door (2012), andSqueeze More God-time Into Your Day (2013).

Julie has authored three contemporary faith-based novels. Focused, set in the Texas Hill Country, which follows a woman’s journey to find God in her empty nest, was released in 2012. She is working on the other two novels in that trilogy, Grounded andRooted. The sequel to Hush in the Storm, Legitimate Lies, launches through Prism Book Group in early 2015.

Contact her at www.juliebcosgrove.com or through her blog, http://WhereDidYouFindGod Today.com

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Sarah and the Scary Ferris Wheel!

Sarah, Heaven’s Little Love Angel, is back for a new fun-filled adventure!

 

 

Sarah is given a new mission—to link Robert Johnson and Brittany Lee—two people she encountered while trying to bring a couple together on that irksome computer Internet dating service. Oh sure, she’d done it. Not without trial and a lot of error, but with this fresh assignment, trouble would come…she was positive.

If she hadn’t grumbled about the computer, perhaps the Lieutenant wouldn’t have ordered her to ride the Galveston Ferris wheel. She’d seen the huge rotation device built over the Gulf of Mexico, and the very thought of a ride on that monster made her nauseous.

What if she threw up on the humans?

Oh merciful heavens! Why did the Superiors give such tasks to bumbling angels anyway?

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 Gay N Lewis

Sarah finished her meal and rather than vanishing, she chose to walk back to Brittany’s office. Pausing at a window, she admired a display of beauty aids. Why not go in and look around? She’d never done that before. What would it hurt?

She opened the door and stepped into the interior—a mixture of lavender and vanilla greeted her.

“Welcome to Body and Bubbles.” A young woman smiled at her.

“Thank you. If it’s okay, I’d just like to look around.”

“Certainly. Let me know if you need help.”

Sarah noticed a display of colorful bottles and picked one up. Reading the label, she frowned.

“Something wrong?” The sales lady walked to her side.

“This bottle says Midnight Woods Luxury Bubble Bath.”

“Yes, it’s one of our bestselling products.”

“Do real people bathe outside in a forest at midnight?”

The woman laughed. “Not usually. I guess the manufacturer thought it was a romantic idea.”

“How does this liquid make bubbles?”

“Oh, that’s simple. Pour it into a bathtub with the water running, and it automatically foams up.”

“I’ve never taken a bath.”

“Not ever?”

“No, never. I don’t have a bathtub where I sleep. They’re dangerous and too heavy. The thing would tumble down and hurt somebody. Do you have something for rain showers?”

The lady’s eyes grew wide, but she tried to conceal any mystification. “How about this?” She handed Sarah bar of soap labeled Blow Away Stress.

“Now that I could use. I get blown away all the time.” Sarah gauged the weight of the bar in the palm of her hand. “This bar is too light to keep me on top of a car, but it smells good. I’ll take it.”

Sarah paid for her purchase and left the store. With super-hearing, she caught the saleslady say to another woman. “That was one strange woman. She must be an escapee from a mental hospital.”

Why in the world did she mix angel talk with human conversation? Sarah shrugged. Maybe she’d look for a pharmacy and ask about memory pills. Couldn’t damage anything—or could it? She ate human food, so vitamins might help. She made a mental note to find one of those stores.

Without further distractions, Sarah arrived at her female charge’s location.

As she hovered near the ceiling, she grinned at Brittany’s expression. The lady held the magazine Sarah had left on her desk. As she read the article about Robert, a smile lurked at the corners of her lips.

She finished reading, stood, and left the workspace with the publication in her hand. Sarah followed her to Karen’s office.

Karen’s door stood open, and Brittany strode in. Sarah took her place in the ceiling corner.

“Did you leave this on my desk?” Brittany sat in an available chair.

Karen’s eyebrows shot up. “No. I’ve never seen it before. Looks like a good article.”

“It tells about the soup kitchen and how Robert donates a large amount of time to work with the unfortunate. He says he’d like to use his medical skills to aid children—either here or in another country. What do you think of that?”

“I find it remarkable. The more you tell me about him the more I believe he’s a man you could fall in love with. You said you enjoy being around him, and you admire his willingness to help others. Are you upset about this essay?”

“I’m not sure. I have an official date with him on Friday night and I was excited when he asked me out. But I don’t know about getting serious with someone who might move to another continent. He told me he was considering such a thing, but I didn’t think much about it. This article brings it home. Even with all the problems we have in the good ol’ US of A, I’m quite fond of my country and plan to stay right here. Maybe I should cancel the date. I see no reason to pursue a relationship with someone when I don’t plan to take it any further.”

Sarah performed an elaborate eye roll. What if Brittany canceled?

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Falling Like a Rock

Watch out for falling rock! A mountain town and its rugged mayor captivate a woman in search of a new life and love.

Unloved and unemployed. That’s Elaine Svoboda, after she’s sacked, then flees across country to her boyfriend who drops her flat. Teetering on the abyss of disaster, she calls an old friend who invites her to a tiny mountain town with fresh prospects. There she meets rugged, hunky Joe Richter-Leon, mayor of Falling Rock. Maybe he can help her find a job. Maybe they can become friends, even share romance. Sparks fly immediately, but major obstacles make a new life on the ashes of the old appear impossible. Joe’s consumed with challenges like the dismal local economy and an impetuous sister. Elaine butts heads with him at every turn in the rocky road. Is the problem her bungling attempts to help? Or does she remind him of a greedy, selfish ex-wife? Before they can build a new life on the ashes of the old, she must overcome a few obstacles like a broken ankle, an eating disturbance, his stubbornness, and her own fears. She’s smothering her hopes when a battle with a forest inferno illuminates their true feelings and desire. Funny and frank, poignant and perceptive, when two people are “Falling Like a Rock,” they learn surrender sometimes means victory.

 

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Bonnie McCune

The movement now wasn’t rocking but more like a grind. A slowness. A shiver. She knew she had to leave the main road and find help. She swerved onto a pull-off that appeared as if by a miracle, turned off the motor, and sank into the seat. In all directions she saw flat monotone prairie. If spring was about to arrive, no sign of it blossomed here. An occasional bush of greenish sagebrush nodded, but most of the landscape consisted of earth-toned dirt and dirt-toned pebbles scoured by a constant wind, which threw a thin top layer of particles hither and yon.

What she knew about auto mechanics fit on a matchbook cover. She’d been shown where to fill up on gas and wiper fluid, and that was the extent of it. She flicked the ignition off and on several times, peered at the dashboard, even popped the hood. Nothing looked out of place or broken.

She returned to the driver’s seat to think and worry her tooth with her tongue. It wasn’t safe to sit out here alone, and dismal warnings from her parents to never trust a casual passerby in a situation like this darted in her mind. So she hauled out her cell phone. No service. She slumped in her seat.

The plains spread horizon to horizon around her, and an appreciation rose in her for the courage and hard work of the pioneers who had traveled one slow step at a time over an endless landscape to reach their new homes. At least nowadays an asphalt ribbon transversed the plateau. On the road an occasional semi whooshed past, rattling her vehicle as it traveled. One trucker slowed to a crawl and honked, but by the time she decided he was offering help, he’d disappeared.

She twisted her brain in knots to find some way to save herself. Surely if she were careful, stayed in her car and blinked her lights and beeped, someone should rescue her. Perhaps she should wait until a woman stopped, but another female would be as afraid to pull over as she to chance an encounter.

Clouds began to build in gray billows, flowed from west en route the east, and the sun plunged toward twilight. If anything terrified her more than an appeal to a stranger for assistance, it was spending the night out here in the open. In her rearview mirror, a battered Land Rover appeared, and almost on impulse, Elaine switched on her hazard lights and leaned on the horn.

The vehicle slowed but didn’t stop. Not until it was some yards down the road. Next a tall, lean figure climbed out, the engine still in operation. A man dressed in jeans, ski jacket, and a black Stetson. Elaine would have laughed if she hadn’t been worried about the security of the car door locks. She was in the West now. It made sense for a cowboy to show up.

He approached with careful deliberation, halting a few feet from her, and she rolled her window down several inches and studied him in case she had to describe him later to the authorities. Not particularly suave or polished, but certainly with the rugged strength typically associated with cowboy types. Dark, as if he spent time outside or had some Mediterranean or Latino ancestors. A prominent nose, off-centered, perhaps from being bashed once too often.

“Need help, ma’am?”

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Sparks Fly!

 

Carlisle’s dream of attending culinary school goes up in flames when she accidentally burns down her landlord’s shed while cooking ribs for a contest. Winning the cook-off would have provided enough money for tuition. Now she needs to win to replace the damaged building. Carlisle resigns herself to putting her future on hold while dealing with the problems of the present.

The hot fire chief who puts out the fire makes it clear she’s used up precious resources with her carelessness. He’s furious that she’s wasted his time when he needs every second to track down an arsonist who is escalating dangerously.

The far more serious problem is that Carlisle’s small fire draws the attention of the arsonist who doesn’t like anyone stealing the limelight. He comes after her with a frightening single-minded focus. Can Carlisle save herself and their budding romance from the flames of a maniac?

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EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Daisy Jerico

 

“I’ll take the ribs instead. Whoa, that’s a big fire. Hey, I think your shed’s on fire.”

“No, I spread the coals out so the meat cooks more evenly. They should absorb the smoky flavor.”

Kelly took Carlisle by the shoulders and turned her around. The two girls stood motionless for a moment. Flames danced across the shed, threatening the overhanging oak tree. The walls of the wooden structure glowed orange against the evening.

“My ribs are burning.” Carlisle lunged forward as a wall of the shed collapsed. Kelly slung her arms around her friend’s waist and dug in her substantial heels, hauling her friend back to safety.

“There’ll be other ribs. We should call 911.”

“There’s a fire extinguisher in the pantry. I think we can take care of this.” Carlisle ran for the kitchen, her lungs screaming for air. The small red can sported rust around the handle. Did they expire? She’d never checked the label in the two years she’d rented. She promised to mend her slacker ways. Please God, let the charge still work.

“One of those itty-bitty ones?” Kelly yelled after her. As Carlisle flung open the flimsy door, she realized Kelly had her phone out. Carlisle raced to the back yard with the small fire extinguisher.

Where to begin? The intense heat burned her face. Carlisle fumbled with the pin on the top. How did the darned thing work?

A rush of air blasted her, throwing her body backwards a couple of steps. Everything sounded muffled as if she had cotton in her ears. She walked away from the mess, defeated. A round metal projectile whistled past her ear—the lid of paint can?

Kelly came back and pushed Carlisle ahead of her as they scuttled around the side of the cottage to let the wall shield them. Kelly held the phone to her mouth, but Carlisle’s ears were ringing too loud to hear what she said. Carlisle gazed, fascinated as the ancient paint in front of her peel up like ribbon on a present. She hadn’t liked yellow anyway. Where would she live if the house went up?

Instead of fading, the ringing became a siren. Kelly put an arm around her shoulders and dragged her to the sidewalk. The fire truck pulled up at the fire hydrant directly in front of her house. Carlisle never noticed the large yellow plug before.

Carlisle grimaced in misery as the men in their bright yellow suits piled out of the truck and began assembling equipment. There were going to be nasty repercussions from this night. Did God hate her so much? She closed her eyes. Please let tonight be a dream instead of a nightmare.

A huge man strode across the lawn, blocking out the light. The backlight made his face invisible, but he walked angry. She stood up and squared her shoulders. She deserved a tongue-lashing.

She shouldn’t have lit the fire near the shed. She knew that now. The entire night had been a terrible mistake. She hated getting yelled at.

He came up and spoke. His lips mesmerized her but his voice sounded under water. She wished she’d learned to lip read. Fire safety would have been handy to know too. She wished she’d done her hair. If Kelly had started a huge fire requiring trucks and a platoon of attractive men, she’d have lipstick on. Carlisle sighed and shook her head. She couldn’t hear him but she surmised he was asking her what happened.

He didn’t look angry, more concerned. Hard planes and strong angles made up his face.

She spoke and her own voice hardly registered in her ears.

“Fire in the backyard got out of hand. Things in the shed exploded whistling and sparking. There must be paint in there. I never looked. I don’t know for sure.” Ribs were history. She knew this guy didn’t care a rat’s rear end for her dreams of glory. He shouted at the men dragging the hose to the backyard.

A lone tear slid out of her eye and tracked from her cheek to her chin. He turned back and patted her shoulder and the small kindness almost brought a flood of tears.

How come she never met men who could be on a calendar—tall, strong and in charge?

www.prismbookgroup.com

Hush in the Storm Launches Aug 6th

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LAUNCHES AUGUST 6th!

Jen, a young widow floundering in the storm of mourning, whose only lifeline is her humdrum job, is tossed into a maze of deceit and intrigue by a coworker named Tom. . . at the request of her late husband, or so Tom says. He kidnaps her and fakes her death to keep her safe from the cartel who he thinks caused her husband’s “accident”.

Together, they are thrust into a tempest of danger and deceit where no one is whom they claim to be. The list of people Jen can believe in keeps diminishing. Who can she trust while dodging the Feds, human traffickers and the press who’ve discovered she’s alive? 

Will Jen’s re-budding faith help her rescue two illegal teens trafficked by the cartel without drowning them, Tom, and herself in the waves of betrayal, especially when she suspects her husband may not be dead after all?

READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

 

Follow Julie’s blog – Where Did You Find God Today

Check out her other books including three Bible studies perfect for small groups.

ENDORSEMENTS:

A recent widow is kidnapped and her death faked, supposedly for her own good. But if she’s really a widow, why does she keep hearing her husband’s voice? Julie B. Cosgrove weaves a tale of suspense and romance as her heroine crosses paths with human traffickers and discovers the real faces of the victims. A story that both informs and shocks, but keeps you reading to the very end. Mary Hamilton, author of the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Series 

“Julie Cosgrove’s new novel “Hush in the Storm” is the compelling story of a woman’s journey through tragedy, betrayal and triumph.as the heroine addresses issues of grief, love and modern day slavery. A must read.”   Joy Brooks, Prayer For Freedom

Hush in the Storm by Julie B. Cosgrove is a tough but compelling read about a woman spirited away into the darkness and harsh reality of human trafficking. In addition to her terror and confusion over this split-second turn in her life is the unspeakable horror that perhaps someone very close to her is involved in her nightmare. This is a page-turner that will not only entertain but also inform and educate on a topic relevant to our time and culture.  Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning writer of more than 40 books, including Deliver Me from Evil.

Abiding Flame

Darkness can be overcome…

 

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Terminally ill Lynette Lamb is forced to reunite her wayward son and grandson. Her options are as limited as her strength and mobility. Through a fateful series of events, the rejoined pair will leave Earth to become part of a colony orbiting a new planet. Sam Austin and his wife mourn the loss of their only child and decide to make a fresh start at the space station. The same ship holds the one who will fulfill the dark planet’s prophecy, but a demonic force boards to stop the vessel. The demon’s obedient but unwilling servant is sent on a suicide mission to keep the ship from reaching its destination.

 

$3.99 Ebook


Available through these popular eBook retailers & more!(Click to follow link) 

 

EXCERPT

Copyright 2014 © Pauline Creeden

“Freak,” a boy in green yelled, drawing Lynette Lamb’s attention from her second story window. Three boys caught up with her eleven-year-old grandson, Jeremy, and blocked his path. “Why you look so weird?”

“Do–” Jeremy clenched a pharmacy bag. “Why do I look so weird?”

The green one laughed. “That’s what I asked. See, he doesn’t even know.” Snickering, two of the boys punched each other in the shoulders.

Lynette could smell their bloodlust on the breeze. Like rough burlap, her tired lungs scratched against her rib cage, but she ignored the pain and watched the three boys who harassed her grandson. One wore red, one blue, and one green. Otherwise only a modicum of disparity existed among them. That was the problem with normalization. In an effort to make everyone look the same, society succeeded in taking away individuality. She could hardly tell the kids apart anymore. She coughed, and splatters of blood stained the washcloth she gripped in her weak fingers.

“Is your doctor blind or sumthin’? ’Cuz I can almost see through you, white boy.” Green smacked Jeremy in the chest to punctuate his words. “And what’s with those teeth? Was yo’ momma a horse?”

“No.” Jeremy attempted to cross the street.

The boy in red pushed him and knocked the pharmacy bag to the sidewalk. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

The one in blue giggled like a hyena. “Yeah. Unless it’s to a doctor. It’s called normalizing. Ain’t you never heard of it?”

“Shut it.” The one in red smacked Blue in the back of the head. Blue cowered, nearly falling backwards as he stepped off the curb.

Jeremy focused on the bag at his feet and stood still. His tall, lanky frame and pale skin made him an anomaly to the normalized, olive-skinned children his age. Because of his recent growth spurt, he seemed to be more knees and elbows than his limbs accounted for. Next to the other children, he stood like an awkward, leafless cedar.

Lynette clenched her teeth, hoping none of the young brutes held a weapon. If only she had the strength and wind in her lungs to yell at them! Tears filled her eyes. It crushed her that she could no longer take care of her grandson like he needed.

Green poked Jeremy in the chest to emphasize each word. “Why. You. Look. So. Weird.”

“I look the way God made me.”

Lynette’s heart swelled. But the primary colors doubled over and slapped each other on the backs. Green barked laughter, but stopped, spit on the ground, and said, “You one of those religion freaks, ain’t you? I knew it.”

Blue giggled, hand over his mouth, and pointed at Jeremy. “My dad said you was extinct!”

Red gripped the front of Jeremy’s shirt and growled, “Well, I says we make you extinct.”

He rammed his fist into Jeremy’s stomach. The other two boys jumped into the fray, arms thumping in a wild rhythm.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

In simple language, Pauline Creeden creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long. Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy.

Armored Hearts, her joint effort with author Melissa Turner Lee, has been a #1 Bestseller in Christian Fantasy and been awarded the Crowned Heart for Excellence by InDtale Magazine.

Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and is now available as an audiobook. #1 Bestseller on Amazon in Christian Sci/Fi and Fantasy (October 2013)

One of Pauline’s short stories has won the CCW Short Story contest. Other short stories have been published in Fear & Trembling Magazine, Obsidian River and Avenir Eclectia. An urban fantasy short will appear in The Book of Sylvari: An Anthology of Elves from Port Yonder Press, and a vampire short will appear in Monsters! from Diminished Media Group.

www.prismbookgroup.com

Dried Flowers

After dressing all in black, Paula Summers walked aimlessly through her mother’s house. She looked inside the refrigerator for what seemed like the hundredth time. Yes, there was plenty of food for the crowd that would gather after the funeral. Piles of sandwiches cut into perfect triangles, a whole ham ready to be sliced, celery pieces stuffed with pimiento cheese, baby carrots, deviled eggs–enough to feed a small army. She closed the fridge, swept her eyes across the foil-covered pans of brownies on the counter. Jugs of tea waited only for the addition of ice. Mom would be proud.

Paula had known there was a secret since her first semester of high school biology. Gregor Mendel’s experiments with black-eyed peas made for dull reading. As she slogged on through her text book explanations, Paula realized two blue-eyed human beings never produced a brown-eyed baby. She studied the snapshot of her father on the mantel, a fresh-faced young man dressed in a khaki uniform, blond hair peeking from his jaunty cap, the insignia of the 82nd Airborne prominently displayed on his jacket. His eyes were pale and clear, tinted to resemble a morning sky. A shade or two lighter than her mother’s.

Some time passed before Paula was able to process her new-found information. Was it possible her mother dallied with someone other than her husband, Captain Robert Summers? Did the couple adopt and withhold the information from their daughter? Was her birth the outcome of an undisclosed rape? Paula speculated endlessly, but was afraid to voice her questions. She was well aware that a substantial portion of their household income came from the US Government in the form of support for the child of Captain Summers. Paula had the details memorized, Robert S. Summers, killed in action, December 23, 1944, in France, during the Battle of the Bulge. She even knew her father’s service number, having written it on many forms over the years.

Paula was able to go to college because of her father’s sacrifice. She agonized over whether she should accept the scholarship. If Summers was not her real father, was it dishonest to claim he was? After studying her birth certificate–which clearly stated that she was the seven pound, seven-ounce legitimate daughter of housewife Betty Louise Holman Summers and Army Captain Robert Stinson Summers–she chose to pursue her education.

Although she did not think about the circumstances of her birth constantly, Paula continued to wonder. She hungered for information, but her mother turned any conversation about her father in another direction. Once or twice Paula pressed for more disclosure. “I’ve made a life for us the best I knew how,” her mother once said. “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

After finishing her nursing degree, Paula went to work in a large hospital. Three years later, she made up her mind to confront her mother without accepting anything short of the truth. However, when she arrived home in Texas for a visit, Betty had just received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Putting her own life on hold, Paula quit her job and moved home to take care of her mother. Betty’s two-year battle was over now, and questions lingered in Paula’s mind.

During her mother’s illness, cleaning house became a treasure hunt for Paula. She searched every drawer, looked inside each book, always vigilant for clues to the past. There was no trunk in the attic, no secret compartment behind the bookcase, no safe deposit box. Nothing.

Betty occasionally made telephone calls to a sister-in-law in North Carolina. Paula remembered meeting her aunt and uncle at Christmas before she started to school. Not knowing the reason for years of separation, she was relieved her mother and aunt were on speaking terms. She tucked the North Carolina telephone number into her wallet, thinking she might go in search of her relatives someday.

During the next few hours, Paula felt as if she was floating outside her body, watching herself. She accepted hugs from childhood friends, people from Betty’s church, and a few sympathetic strangers. The pastor’s words seemed to bounce off her skin, never penetrating her mind. Afterwards, people drifted in and out of the house, eating, talking, occasionally weeping. Betty’s neighbors helped Paula straighten up the kitchen. Both to repay their kindness and to avoid making storage decisions, she insisted they take all the leftover food with them.

That evening, Paula took stock of her situation. She’d mailed the last mortgage payment on the house several months ago. Since she’d been able to work part time during the first year at home, there was no compelling financial reason to look for a job right away. She could rent out her mother’s house, or sell it. She might even decide to live there, but trying to make plans overwhelmed her. She reached for her handbag and took out her aunt’s telephone number. After staring at the scrap of paper for a long time, Paula reached for the telephone.

More about Paula later…

-by Carlene Havel