A Plain Man by Mary Ellis

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A Plain Man By Mary Ellis is available on Amazon.com as a hardback, paperback and as an e-book.

CHAPTER ONE

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

March, Fredericksburg, Ohio

Caleb Beachy pulled the wagon up to the door; then carried two buckets brimming with sap into the barn. Careful not to spill the sticky liquid, he struggled up the stepladder and dumped one and then the other into the sap evaporator.

“How many does that make, Cal?” Pushing up the brim of his hat, James Weaver peered up from his crouched position in front of the woodburner.

“These are seventy-seven and seventy-eight for today, one-forty-two including yesterday’s for the weekend. But who’s counting?” Caleb winked to let his friend know he was teasing. Then he returned to the wagon for the rest of the sap—his eighth load of the day and by no means his last. Other friends and neighbors were collecting buckets from Weaver maple trees spread over two hundred acres of wooded hills. The trees had been planted by James’ grossdawdi many years ago. The other workers would combine half-buckets together and set them in rows at the collection point on the trail. Caleb and his daed each drove a team of Belgian draft horses to the Weaver sugarhouse, a veritable beehive of activity every January, February and March.

Maple syrup, along with sugar candy in a variety of shapes, was the cash crop for the Weaver family. Plenty of people preferred real maple syrup on their pancakes and waffles instead of the less expensive cane syrup. And judging by the joyous expression on his face, James would still be producing syrup when he was a grossdawdi.

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Lost And Found In Camden by Ann E. Hacker, et al.

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Lost and Found in Camden by Ann E. Hacker, et al, is available on Amazon as a paperback or an e-book for your Kindle.

Kayla sprang up abruptly in her bed, forcing herself awake. She rubbed her eyes, slowly gazing around the room. At first glimpse it seemed so unfamiliar. Two tall, narrow windows were covered with blinds that had defective slats. They bid entry to thin rays of the early morning sun, allowing them to invade the darkness of a small, stark room that held the twin bed, a tall bureau of cherry wood that had obviously seen better days, and a plain wooden desk with an equally plain wooden chair. On the desk were perched a portable computer and printer, which she hadn’t touched since she’d set them up. No desk phone or wall phone, no Internet connection. Her mobile phone, used primarily for business, lay propped up next to her handbag.

The dream that shattered her sleep had taken place in her last residence, back in Greenwich Village, New York City, across the Atlantic… in the modest one-bedroom apartment she had shared with her husband of seven years, Gregory O’Neill. Part of the dream portrayed actual past events: Kayla developing a wicked headache while working at the bookstore around the corner, then going home and noticing that the door to her bedroom was shut. She had stood there for a moment, frozen by the sounds emanating from the other side, then swiftly pushed the door open and confronted her husband
making love – no, having sex – with another woman. A woman who was not Kayla, his wife, but a stranger… in their bed.

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Progeny by Anita Bihovsky

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Progeny by Anita Bihovsky is available on Amazon as a paperback or an e-book for your Kindle.

PROLOGUE

***

“The patient’s still asleep, Doctor.”

“The results look promising. Wish they were all like this one. Did you assign a number?”

“Yes, Doctor. I’ll get the labels on right away.”

“Fine. The anesthesia should be wearing off soon. Is her escort still here?”

“He is. I’ll tell him it should be another half hour or so.”

“Another med student?”

“Yes, but there’s no problem. He’s relieved just to be here.”

“He’s relieved that she’s here. I expect he’ll be more careful in the future. Call Tillman stat. He’s been impatient. Tell him the shortage should be rectified soon.”

“Okay.” The nurse scurried out to make the call, then opened the door to the waiting room. It was full, as usual. What her employer lacked in charm, he made up in skill. She gestured to the waiting med student. He looked patently out of place among the others in the room. They were all women, some quite pregnant, some only barely pregnant — but not for long.

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The Last of the Blacksmiths by Claire Gebben

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The Last of the Blacksmiths by Claire Gebben is available on Amazon.com as a paperback or an e-book for your Kindle.

Chapter 1

New York City, 1857

I was lost, and had no idea of my way back. To ask for directions would be futile. Even if someone understood me, how could I understand their replies? New York City had seemed a grand entryway for my new life in America a few hours ago. Now I longed only to escape the chaos behind me, people spilling out of doorways, gushing up from underground, staggering, shouting at one another in thick, slurred voices. I could not tear from my mind the shaking of fists at the windows, the raining of bricks from the rooftops. I believed I could find my own way, but I had failed.

I had come too far. In the center of this broad open square a fountain splashed musically, enticing a few families to linger. The clop-clop of horses and rattle of carriages along the broad avenue helped restore my addled senses. I inhaled deeply, the reek of urine and sweat not so strong here. Into my awareness swam the memory of a shop with a German name I had seen a few streets back.

With faltering steps, I returned to the establishment, the shop of a cabinetmaker, the sign painted in both German and English. The windows were dark. At Castle Garden they had warned of this—that no businesses would be open on the festival of American Independence. But they had not warned of the fighting in these streets, more fierce and desperate than any I had witnessed as a child.

As I stood in uncertainty, a man came walking toward me, near to my older brother in age, perhaps eighteen. I drew up the courage and spoke to him.

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All I Could Be: The Story Of A Woman Warrior In Iraq by Miyoko Hikiji

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All I Could Be: The Story of a Woman Warrior in Iraq by by Miyoko Hikiji can be purchased on Amazon.com as a paperback or an e-book for your Kindle.

Chapter 1

Being GI, but not Joe

Iraq was a beautiful hell. I roasted atop a stone retaining wall listening to music through my head phones. I watched the Euphrates dance of water bugs and emerald birds with triangular wings. Behind me stretched a green grass courtyard that, despite the desert environment, was able to flourish through a river-fed sprinkler system. At the tip of my platoon’s pie slice of land was one of the former palaces of Saddam Hussein, who was currently hiding. Its dome now toppled and upside-down had been blown off by a missile whose partial casing (now festooned with a Ron Jon Surf Shop sticker) lay at the center of the ruins. The front of the palace had a gaping, jagged hole through which you could see a crumbling marble staircase. The thought occurred to me that maybe only a few months before Saddam had climbed that staircase to peer through the window in the rotunda as if he were, and always would be, king of his world.

I was on a week-long mission in the provincial capital of Ar Ramadi supporting a Florida National Guard infantry unit that was in charge of the city’s security. The outpost was about the size of three city blocks. The infantry lived in a partially destroyed building that had also been part of the palace grounds. My co-driver Nick and I shared one of the four frame tents with another truck team. The second and third tents held four other truck teams including Di, the only other woman on the mission, and the last tent housed the platoon sergeant and his driver. That tent doubled as an office. A cleverly crafted patio area had been constructed using scavenged pallets covered with scrap wood for a floor. Camouflage bits stretched and tied between the open spaces of low tree branches provided relief from the relentless sun. Waving atop a few extra tent poles in the center of our compound was the Iowa state flag.

It was July 2003 and we had just moved to this forward operating base in preparation for our fourth mission since arriving in Iraq. With nothing to do beside clean my M16 and kick the tires on my truck, I moved languidly about trying to find the least miserable spot in which to endure the day’s heat. I circled from my bunk to the patio to the retaining wall and back like one of the emerald birds.

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The Second Letter by Robert Lane

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The Second Letter is available as a paperback or an e-book for your Kindle from Amazon.com.

Chapter 1

West Coast of Florida, April 14, 1961

The day the letter arrived Dorothy Harrison heard the song for the first time and thought it was one for the ages.

She twisted the ribbed knob of her car radio in an effort to eliminate the static and noise that crackled through the speakers of her pearl fawn 1959 Buick Electra 225. A deuce and a quarter of fins, steel, and chrome that the world would never afford the luxury to construct again. Machine, time, and a woman forever joined in a singular stylistic statement.

She drove down the beach road and swung onto a green-canopied street. She turned into her drive and parked on the packed white sand next to the trimmed oleander bush with its tropical red flowers. Angelo, her young Cuban gardener, dragged branches to a brush pile. She knew he would wait for a west wind before igniting the dry sticks. The oleander bush was toxic and its smoke dangerous to inhale. A black sedan rested across the street. She wondered what they wanted this time and why they just didn’t leave her alone. Beyond the sedan in the park, old men played cards, read newspapers, and smoked cigars.

“Morning, Miss Dorothy,” Angelo said. He faced her with his hands at his sides and his shirttail tucked in. The shirttail was always tight within his trousers.

“Good morning, Angelo. Beautiful day, isn’t it?”

“Yes, ma’am. When the Lord wants, he can make a sweet one. I’ll be here just a couple of hours if that will be all right with you.”

“That’s fine. You really do have everything looking very nice.”

“We have a visitor,” Angelo said. “He came by himself in that black car. Said he knew you. He’s inside right now and all dressed up.”

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Deadly Echoes by Philip Donlay

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Deadly Echoes by Philip Donlay can be purchased on April 1, 2014. Get a sneak preview here! Then preorder your copy here from Amazon.com

The Zodiac maneuvered quietly in the darkness, riding the mild swells of the Pacific Ocean. The sky was moonless, a perfect night for killing. The man in charge watched the Kaiyo Maru #7 through binoculars. The garish lights from the fishing vessel lit up the ocean, illuminating the screeching, circling ocean birds that wheeled above the carnage. The six-person team was dressed in black, each carrying an assortment of weapons. They motored confidently toward the larger ship, the stench of dead fish stronger as they drew near. The sound of the powerful winch hauling the ship’s catch helped mask the Zodiac’s approach. The leader focused his binoculars on the fisherman tending the long-line. The main cable ran for miles with monofilament line tied to a razor-sharp hook at one-hundred-foot intervals.

He watched with growing revulsion as each hook was stripped of its prize. The line had been set to run shallow, which also allowed for the indiscriminate catch of diving birds and sea turtles, their lifeless carcasses tossed back into the ocean. But most of the hooks held the fishermen’s target catch: sharks. They ranged from four to seven feet in length. Each shark was hauled aboard where every fin was expertly sliced off. Spewing blood, the shark was then thrown back into the water, still alive. The sharks could no longer swim so they sank. The lucky ones would quickly bleed to death, or drown, since sharks need to stay in constant forward motion for water to flow over their gills. Others would linger for days as they died of starvation. He’d seen footage of the butchery before, they all had, but to see it firsthand was like touching a match to the dry tinder of his outrage.

Using hand signals, he instructed his man to bring the Zodiac around, careful not to create a telltale wake. They motored in a
slow arc until they were directly in the path of the Kaiyo Maru #7 then waited. As the one-hundred-sixty-foot vessel drew close, they matched the Zodiac to the speed of the ship and using rubberized grappling hooks, looped lines over the forward section of the hull.

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