Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Free of Malice Book Blast






Title: FREE OF MALICE
Author: Liz Lazarus
Publisher: Mitchell Cove Publishing LLC
Pages: 274
Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Laura Holland awakes in the middle of the night to see a stranger standing in her bedroom doorway. She manages to defend herself from the would-be rapist, though he threatens to return as he retreats. Traumatized with recurring nightmares, Laura seeks therapy and is exposed to a unique treatment called EMDR. She also seeks self-protection— buying a gun against the wishes of her husband. When Laura learns she could have gone to prison had she shot her fleeing assailant, she decides to write a hypothetical legal case using the details of that night. She enlists the help of criminal defense lawyer, Thomas Bennett, who proves to be well versed in the justice system but has an uncanny resemblance to her attacker. As the two work together to develop the story, Laura's discomfort escalates particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Reality and fiction soon merge as her real life drama begins to mirror the fiction she's trying to create.

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Book Excerpt:
Run. Run faster. As much as I strained my legs to move, they were immobile, like I was waist deep in quicksand.
Why can’t I move?
I tried to scream for help but my mouth was full, like it was stuffed with cotton—no sound would escape.
I felt something clutching my shoulder. No, it was someone. He was pushing me forward and then yanking me back. I tried to jerk away but he had a tight grip, like a vice.
I have to break free.
The tugging got harder, more forceful. He was calling my name— over and over. He knew my name.
“Laura, Laura.”
I jolted awake—my husband’s hand still on my shoulder.
“Honey, wake up. You’re having another bad dream.”
Slowly, I turned over in bed and looked at him—his dark brown eyes were fixated on me. I could see them clearly as the light from the bathroom brightened our bedroom.
For a month now, we had slept with this light on.
I could see the small wrinkle on his forehead. I loved that wrinkle though wished he didn’t have good reason to be so concerned. I was enduring the nightmares, but he had to deal with my tossing and mumbling in terror.
I remember when we first met—ten years ago in chemistry lab at Georgia Tech. He had walked up to me with those warm eyes and a charming, confident smile and asked, “Want to be partners?”
Two years later he took me to Stone Mountain Park, rented a small rowboat and, in the moonlight, he pulled out a diamond ring and asked me again, “Want to be partners?”
Life had seemed just about perfect.
Until now.
We looked at each other for a moment. Then he propped himself up on his elbow and said softly, “Laura, I feel so helpless. I know it’s only been a month, but...”
He hesitated.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s just as bad as that first night. After it happened. Look, I want to make you feel safe again, but I don’t know how.”
He rubbed his eyes and looked away. I waited, staring at him.
What isn’t he saying?
“I know you don’t want to see a therapist, but seeing someone doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapists don’t treat just crazy people. They help people who have been through traumas and you have. Hell, no one even has to know.”
He paused for a second.
“Don’t be mad at me, but yesterday I made an appointment for you. I was going to talk to you about it in the morning if you had another bad dream. I found a woman who is downtown by my office. She’s been practicing for about twenty years, got her doctorate from Emory and comes with really good patient reviews.”
He looked for my reaction and continued. “I made the appointment for you at 4:00 so we can go to dinner afterward. You know what you always say. You’ll try anything once, right?”
“I told you I don’t want to see a psychiatrist,” I pushed back. “I just need more time. I’ll bounce back. You know I almost came in the house on my own today. Besides, if I see a psychiatrist, on every job application I complete in the future, I’ll have to check the ‘Yes’ box when they ask if I’ve had mental health treatment.”
“Jesus. No you don’t. You’re too innocent sometimes.”
He gently tapped me on the nose.
“You can check the box ‘No.’ Besides, if that’s the only thing stopping you, I think you should give it a try. Her name is Barbara Cole. I’ll take you to Houston’s afterward,” he added.
I ignored the bribe. “But what can she do that you can’t? All she’ll do is listen and you do that for me already. Psychiatrists are for people who don’t have friends or husbands to talk to.”
Chris shook his head.
“Please? Do it for me.”
The tone in his voice was different—more helpless than normal. Chris had been so understanding, so comforting this past month, especially considering I had been waking him every night. How could I refuse his request?
I sighed. “Okay,” I relented. “I’ll go.”
“One visit. That’s all I’m asking. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back. She’s a psychologist, by the way, not a psychiatrist. She does therapy, not drugs.”
He glanced at the clock. It was 3:30 a.m.
Chris grabbed Konk, my stuffed animal gorilla that I won at the state fair by outshooting him at the basketball game. He had sworn the scum running the game couldn’t take his eyes off my butt and let me win.
“Here’s Konk,” he said. “I’m going to finish my presentation since I’m up. I’ll just be in the office. Want the door open?”
“Yes,” I said as I wrapped my arms tightly around Konk.
“Hey, we’ll celebrate your first therapy visit and my signed contract, I hope, this evening.”
“You mean you hope my first visit?” I said with a playful smile.
He gave me a look—he was in no mood for jokes.
“Fine. Fine. I’ll go,” I assured.
“If you’re asleep when I leave, just come by my office after the appointment and we’ll head to dinner. Try to get some sleep. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

About the Author


Liz Lazarus is the author of Free of Malice, a psychological, legal thriller loosely based on her personal experience and a series of ‘what if’ questions that trace the after effects of a foiled attack; a woman healing, and grappling with the legal system to acknowledge her right to self-defense.

She was born in Valdosta, Georgia, graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern with an MBA in their executive master’s program. She spent most of her career at General Electric’s Healthcare division and is currently a Managing Director at a strategic planning consulting firm in addition to being an author.

Free of Malice is her debut novel, set in Atlanta, and supplemented by extensive research with both therapists and criminal defense attorneys. She currently lives in Brookhaven, GA, with her fiancé, Richard, and their very spoiled orange tabby, Buckwheat.

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Giveaway

Liz is giving away a $25 B&N Gift Card & an autographed copy of FREE OF MALICE!!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 B&N Gift Card or one autographed copy of FREE OF MALICE
  • This giveaway begins April 11 and ends on May 11.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 12.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Drafter: Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Kim Harrison



Kim Harrison, author of the New York Times #1 best selling Hollows series, was born in Detroit and lived most her her life within an easy drive.  After gaining her bachelors in the sciences, she moved to South Carolina, where she remained until recently returning to Michigan because she missed the snow.  She's currently working on the Peri Reed Chronicles, and when not at her desk, Kim is most likely to be found landscaping her new/old Victorian home, in the garden, or out on the links.

For More Information

Can you tell us what your book is about?

In a nutshell, The Drafter is Bourne Identity meets Minority Report. While on task, special agent Peri Reed realizes her partner has put her name at the top of a list of corrupt agents. Abandoning her employer and partner both, she has only her intuition to guide her as she tries to clear her name and bring down the agency that trained her. It’s a SF, thriller, action kind of story, fast paced and with a lot of attention put on relationships and how they move us.

Why did you write your book?

It’s no coincidence that the main character in The Drafter is dealing with similar issues as a person suffering from Alzheimer’s. I took Peri Reed’s coping techniques and a few of her gut reactions from the same. Her special skill destroys her memory, and though she occasionally regains it, she’s incredibly reliant upon those she trusts to keep her centered and herself. Her special ability make her very powerful, but it’s tempered by the vulnerabilities an Alzheimer’s patient deals with every day. I wrote The Drafter to say that those dealing with memory issues are still important, still worth considering, and still part of society.

Bu-u-u-ut, you can skip right over that and still enjoy it as an action thriller with a modified-human twist.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

My ideas form slowly, over the course of years, and most of my series plots are developed by taking two or three of these “I wonder if” concepts and mashing them up together. The setting is almost as important as the characters, and I’ll often research a city and gain ideas there as well. But what I look for most is that the ideas touch upon something that can be experienced, be it joyful, such as finding an enduring love, or painful, as in dealing with memory loss. The Drafter, incidentally, deals with both.

What do you like to do for fun?

At a recent family reunion, my aunt pinned me in a corner, demanding to know how I had time to landscape a tired yard, knit five baskets for Easter, walk the dog, rake the leaves, and still have time to write nine to five. My answer? Everything out of my office is therapy, and it’s true! Writing can be so mentally taxing that at the end of the work day, I’m very eager to dig into some of life’s daily challenges, seeing it as a relief, not a chore.


What do you like the most about being an author?
I am creative every day in ways I never imagined. I can arrange my day as I see fit to take advantage of an odd bit of sun in the garden or an invite from my mother to go to lunch, or even take a day off to be with a sick child without worrying if I will have a job when I get back. I can invest my time and energy as heavily as I want without the fear of losing my time-investment due to downsizing. Occasionally, I have the opportunity to work with incredibly talented people who know more than I do about this incredibly complex, markedly small world of publishing. I can touch the lives of people I would never otherwise, bring my thoughts to theirs, which is heady in itself, and a privilege that I have the greatest respect for.  It’s a profession that goes all the way back to the fire at the mouth of the cave, and it centers and connects me. What more could you ask for?

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

I have one piece of advice I like to give out: write like you have the contract, which means, write with purpose and a goal, not a long term, but short term. One page. One chapter. Whatever you suits you. Don’t go back and rewrite until you get to the end of the story, but do go back and make notes in the margins when you see the need to change something. Save actually doing it for the rewrite, otherwise you will be rewriting the same chapter for a year.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Interview with L.D. Beyer, author of An Eye For An Eye

An Eye for an Eye

Inside the Book:

An Eye for and Eye
Title: An Eye for an Eye 
Author: L.D. Beyer 
Release Date: January 15, 2016 
Publisher: Old Stone Mill Publishing 
Genre: Military 
Format: Ebook/Paperback
   

A powerful drug lord threatens to bring America to its knees. Only one man can stop him.

Two years ago, Secret Service Agent Matthew Richter faced the most difficult decision of his life, knowing that by saving the former, the latter would die. In the aftermath, he fled Washington and the agency that failed him. With wounds he’s certain will never heal, he seeks refuge behind a gun as the commander of an FBI SWAT team in New York. After a raid turns sour and Richter is sidelined, possibly for good, he is reluctantly drawn back to Washington by the man he once saved.

When drug cartels threaten to topple the Mexican government and the violence begins to spill across the border, Richter tells President David Kendall it’s time to take off the gloves. One by one, cartel warehouses and tunnels are raided and their drug caches destroyed. One by one, their sprawling compounds and bank accounts are seized. One by one, drug lords are targeted and killed. One by one—all except, that is, for Pablo Guerrero, the ruthless head of the Sangre Negras cartel, who has only grown stronger as others have fallen.

When the hunt for Guerrero finally draws first blood, he unleashes a war no one is prepared for. Now Richter must stop him before it’s too late.

An Eye For An Eye is the action-packed sequel to In Sheep’s Clothing, L.D. Beyer’s gripping debut novel.

   photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpgB&N

THE INTERVIEW

Q: Please tell us about An Eye For An Eye, and what inspired you to write it.
A: I write what I like to read.  I love thriller and suspense novels--medical thrillers, legal thrillers, historic thrillers, political thrillers—particularly ones that are full of intrigue and ones with a lot of action & adventure.  Brad Meltzer, Vince Flynn, Steve Berry, David Baldacci, Brad Thor—these are some of my favorite writers and they are a great source of inspiration.  When I read, I want to escape and to live vicariously through the characters, even if only for a short while.  I want to root for the good guy and hate the bad guy.  And if the tension is just right, I keep turning the pages because I need to know what happens next.  This is the journey I hope to take readers on with my books!
My newest release, my second book actually, is a political thriller titled An Eye For and Eye. This is the second book in the Matthew Richter Series and is the sequel to In Sheep’s Clothing. When the U.S. finally takes off the gloves, one by one, Mexican drugs lords start falling. Soon, Pablo Guerrero, a ruthless kingpin known as El Ocho, is the only man left standing. But when the hunt for Guerrero finally draws first blood, he unleashes a war no one is prepared for. Now former Secret Service Agent Mathew Richter must stop him before it’s too late.

Q: What themes do you explore in An Eye For An Eye?
A: This is the story of two men. For one, it’s the story of his quest to make sense of traumatic events in his past and to find peace. And for the other, it’s the story of his quest for power and control; but when the one thing he values above else is stolen from him, it’s a story of revenge. 

Q: Why do you write?
A: Most of my career has been spent in some fairly black and white fields.  Finance, and earlier on, accounting—these are fields that typically do not reward creativity.  Writing is what I do to find balance in my life.  It’s a right brain, left brain thing.
Writing is cathartic and the journey of writing is its own reward.  It’s really cool to start with a blank page and watch as the story develops and takes shape and as a character’s personality crystalizes over time.  While it’s a great feeling to complete a novel, the journey of writing is rewarding in and of itself.  Through the research I do, I learn many things I didn’t know, I meet many interesting people and I can see my writing style becoming more refined along the way.

Q: How picky are you with language?
A: It depends.  Dialogue should be real and people rarely use proper English when speaking.  So I’m not hung up on language conventions in writing dialogue.  At the same time, though, descriptions of scenes need to evoke images in the reader’s mind, so language is crucial for this.  I keep Dictionary.com book-marked in my search engine and the app is on my phone.  When I’m writing, I’m constantly checking meanings, looking for the right synonym, and trying to find a better way to convey a particular thought.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
A: It’s funny that you mention this.  I was discussing this very thing with another writer last night.  It’s really cool to start with a blank page and watch as the story unfolds, sometimes taking twists and turns I never expected. Even the characters tend to develop and evolve on their own.  After giving them a nudge, they tend to go in directions I never envisioned when I first began typing. I know that sounds like I’m merely a play-by-play reporter, sitting on the sidelines and describing the action as it happens before me.  It’s not quite that remote but the story does tend to take on a life of its own. 

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?
A: Frankly, when life—my day job, family priorities—gets in the way.  Sometimes it’s tough to carve out the time to write and to make meaningful progress.  But these things tend to ebb and flow so I’m learning patience.

Q: Your best?
A: There is no better feeling than when I complete a novel, when I write that last sentence.  It’s the culmination of a journey and I’ve just crossed the finish line.  This is the point where I have something I can finally share with my early readers—my trusted confidants who do the initial editing and provide initial thoughts on the story.  In reality, the journey isn’t quite over, because there’s still a lot of work to do on the editing front.  But a big part of the creative journey is over.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
A: My family is my number one priority.  So it would have to be something dramatic with my family that would force me to give up writing.  But I can’t see myself giving it up completely.  I can always put it to the side for a while and pick it up later.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
A: My happiest moment was a few weeks ago!  I had no idea what to expect when I released my first book.  Everything I read on writing and publishing told me it takes time to build an audience. But in March of this year, just 6 months after I launched, In Sheep’s Clothing reached the #1 spot on 3 separate Amazon Best Seller Lists! It’s ranked right up there with books by Vince Flynn and David Baldacci!

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?
A: No, I wouldn’t say that.  Writing is something I do because it’s pleasurable.  On the weekends, I enjoy cooking.  I enjoy finding a new recipe, or checking to see what we have in the fridge and whipping something up.  There’s something cathartic about the creative pursuit.  While the end game—writing that last sentence or coming up with a dish that my family has never tried before—is definitely the best part, the journey itself is also pleasurable.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
A: Indirectly they are.  To one degree or another, we are all a product of our environment. I am an avid reader of thriller and suspense novels from authors like David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Michael Connolly, Mike Lawson and Brad Thor.  I’m certain my writing is influenced by these and many other fine authors. But in many subtle ways, it is also influenced by my own experiences: the places I’ve lived, the events that took place, both in the broader world and in my own back yard.  From a scene perspective, I tend to write about locations that I’ve been in, places I’ve lived, and cities I’ve visited.  I’ve lived in over a dozen different cities and I’ve lived through many historic moments going back to the racial tensions and turmoil of the 60’s, the Viet Nam war, the Kent State shooting, Watergate, the attempted assassinations of two presidents—Ford and Reagan—the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, a rash of kidnappings, hijackings and terrorist attacks, rapid advances in technology…all of this was happening around me and I’m sure it has influenced my writing. 

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
A: I’m not sure I see it that way.  I write because it’s pleasurable, because the journey itself is its own reward.  But there may be another distinction between how Ray Bradbury and I see the world.  Ray Bradbury writes science fiction.  With no disrespect to Mr. Bradbury or to science fiction fans—I enjoy picking up a good science fiction novel now and then—I write about things that are perhaps a bit more plausible.  I don’t see writing as an escape from the world—I see it as a way of trying to make sense out of the world around me.

Q: Where are your books available?
A: Right now, only available on Amazon. 

Q: What are you currently working on?
I launched my first book, In Sheep’s Clothing, last September, and my second, An Eye For An Eye, in January. These political thrillers are part of the Matthew Richter Series. I do have one more Matthew Richter novel coming out this year. That book is tentatively titled The Deadliest of Sins, and is scheduled to be released in November.
In the meantime, over the summer, I am releasing a historic fiction set in Ireland during the War for Independence (1919-1921).  Branded a terrorist by the government and a traitor by his friends, Frank Kelleher is forced into hiding until he can figure out how to right the wrongs of his past. The story is based on family legend for my grandfather, who served in the Irish Republican Army during the war. The legend I grew up with held that he was forced to flee Ireland below a false passport because of a price on his head by both the British and by the IRA. Like most legends, I think the truth is somewhat less exciting, but it does make for a great story line! This book is titled The Devil’s Due and is scheduled to be released on June 15th.

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
A: I do.  http://ldbeyer.com/
Please come visit and see what else is going on in my world!




Meet the Author:

LDB-portrait1

L.D. Beyer spent over twenty-five years in the corporate world, climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. This meant a lot of time away from his family, extensive travel, a half dozen relocations, and the opportunity to live and work in Mexico for several years. In 2011 he decided it was time for a change—he was tired of moving every few years, he wanted to spend more time with his family and he wanted to chase his dream of being a writer. LD Beyer is an avid reader and although he primarily reads Thrillers, his reading list is somewhat eclectic. He believes a few hours with a good book beats a few hours in front of the TV any day. LD Beyer lives in Michigan with his wife, three children and a dog named Tope (pronounced Toe-Pay), which he adopted in Mexico. He enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, working out and fixing just about anything that breaks in the house. With 3 kids, a dog and an aging house, he always seems to be fixing something!

For More Information

Visit L.D.s website.
Connect with L.D. on Twitter and Facebook 

Friday, April 22, 2016

RESTLESS BOOK BLAST!



We're thrilled to be hosting Michelle Bellon's RESTLESS Book Blast today!  Pick up your copy!







Title: Restless
Author: Michelle Bellon
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 204
Genre:  Contemporary Romance

You grow up. You get married. You have a family. At least, that’s what Malea Winters believes she’s supposed to do. So why is it that every time she comes close to finding that happily ever after, she runs?

When she meets Garrett Taylor, she warns him that she’s not the marrying type because history has shown that long-term relationships are not her forte. She has a tendency to leave when things get too serious; the direct result of being raised by an emotionally detached mother and a stepdad with philandering ways. So she swore off men and surrounded herself with her best friends; three quirky, funny women who are facing challenges of their own.

But Garrett is everything she’s ever looked for; charming, successful, fun, and sexy. Despite her better judgment, his persistence pays off and she finds herself falling for him.

Learning how to love and be loved will be the hardest lesson she’s ever faced. The question is, will her relationships survive that lesson?

For More Information

  • Restless is available at Amazon.


Book Excerpt:

As I walk down the aisle, avoiding eye contact with my husband-to-be, I remember the dream and feel the need to run.
I clutch the bountiful bouquet of flowers, red and white for our Christmastime wedding, and feel the sweat on my palms collect in the center. I want to rub them down the front of my dress.
But that would be unacceptable. My grandma has lovingly sewn every stitch, carefully placed every pearly bead, and worked every delicate piece of lace. It’s a work of labor and love.
Today, I am supposed to be a princess.
But as I look around at familiar faces, friends and family, watching me take this enormous step into life as a wife, as a life partner, I feel anything but princess-like.
I feel the lie. I feel the relentless pursuit of truth. Both follow me down the aisle, tapping on my shoulder and reminding me that I have no ability to live up to this responsibility.
I am quaking in my white heels. My knees are shaking. But still I march forward on the arm of the only male in my life I’ve ever thought of as a father. He isn’t really, but he’s the only man my mom brought home over the years to whom I formed any real emotional attachment before they’d split ways. Due to his philandering ways, he was out of our life more than he was in it. But when he was around, something inside of me recognized something inside of him, and I cared for him.
I swallow down my fear. It’s only nerves. It’s normal. This is the natural order of things: you grow up, you get married, you have a family. That’s how it’s done.
Then what?
I finally make eye contact with Garrett and search for…safety? Love? Answers?
Only my own fear reflects back. He can see the hesitation, the anxiety, the angst. He smiles cautiously. He’ll never admit what we both know.
Just before we reach the altar, I take one last look around. The gathering within the small church is there for only one purpose: to watch us get hitched.
I could run right now. This is my last chance. I could just turn around and make a run for it.

About the Author



Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four children and boyfriend, Seth. She loves coffee and has an addiction to chapstick.

She works at a surgery center as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. She writes in the genres of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards to include making finalist in the New Age category in the USA Book Awards for her latest release, The Fire Inside.  Her latest release is the contemporary romance, Restless.

For More Information


 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Feature: Scorpio's Kiss by MC Domovitch & Win Books!




Title: SCORPIO’S KISS
Author: Monique Domovitch
Publisher: Lansen Publishing
Pages: 588
Genre: Romance

Scorpio's Kiss is a spell-binding tale of love, ambition and greed that will keep the reader turning the pages until its surprise ending. Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio's Kiss takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes.

There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.

Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.

Domovitch’s novel is a compelling tale, filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio's Kiss promises to resonate with all who once had a dream.

For More Information

  • Scorpio’s Kiss is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
The days were getting shorter. The boy looked up in surprise at the sky, which had suddenly grown dark. He pulled his worn sweater tight against the October chill, blew warm breath into his cupped hands and hurried on. The newspaper bag strung across his shoulders was almost empty. He no longer had to put it down at every street corner to massage his sore back. He was almost home.
Alexander Ivanov lived at the end of the world. To the twelve-year-old, that was exactly what Brooklyn was; the end of the world. Maybe because the one time he had been to the city, what he called Manhattan, it had taken forever on the subway.
Alex hated living in Brooklyn, and never more so than when his mother talked about her youth in Leningrad with tears running down her face. She would revert to Russian, which he didn’t understand, but the passion in her eyes spoke more volubly of the beauty of her old country than words could convey.
Every day on his way back from school, weighed down by the load of newspapers, he passed the same dusty old stores, their signs barely legible from the peeling paint; the same ratty tenement buildings in which people suffocated in the summer and shivered in the winter; the same old women in their ritual wigs and shapeless dresses, vacant and blank expressions of hopelessness etched on their faces. Hopeless, that was how he sometimes felt; and then he would remember Manhattan and feel better. If there was one thing Alex wished for, it was to live in Manhattan. He yearned for Manhattan the way his mother pined for her old country.
Alex walked along Main Street, where pickles marinated in barrels, salamis swung from hooks, and sausages dried in their cotton bags. He was oblivious to the sights and smells around him. One by one, he took the papers from his bag, and with a quick, experienced motion, he threw them. His aim was almost perfect.
Tomorrow was collection day. He would stop at each house along his route and wait while his clients went to get their money. After making change, he would thank each one of them politely even though most never bothered to leave him a tip. His work would take him more than twice as long as on normal delivery days. Still, he looked forward to it. Collection day was when he could go home, count out his profits and decide how much of the money he could save. This week, if all went well, he might reach the fifty-dollar mark in his bank account. Fifty dollars! It was a fortune.
He reached into his bag, pulled out the last newspaper and aimed it with unerring precision at the Kodesky’s front porch. At that moment the door swung open and old man Kodesky stepped out. The paper flew through the air like a projectile and landed with a thud in the startled man’s well-padded stomach.
“Hey, you no-good little piece of shit!” He waved his fist. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Alex did not hear a word. He was a million miles away, dreaming of the day he would escape the hell of living at the end of the world.
Even now, two years later, he could still remember every detail of his trip to Manhattan. After a long subway ride, he’d emerged in the city surrounded by skyscrapers so tall, he could only see the top by looking up high and leaning back. People on the street rushed about in the lightly falling snow, pushing and jostling each other, their arms full of brightly wrapped packages. It was one week before Christmas and there was a dizzying feeling of joy in the air. Alex had been almost drunk from the excitement. This must be what Leningrad was like.
Deep in his dreams of unlimited delights, he walked home. Three blocks later, Alex climbed the stairs to the dingy one-bedroom apartment where he and his mother lived.
Before he was born, his mother had tried to make the apartment look warm and inviting. She hung pretty paper on the walls and crisp curtains over the windows. The furniture was inexpensive but attractive and functional. Whatever nesting instinct had once inspired Marlena Ivanov’s efforts had long disappeared. For the past twelve years she had done nothing more to improve her home. Indeed, she had not done even the most basic of repairs. Over time, the wallpaper had become worn and faded. The curtains lost their freshness and the once attractive furniture became old and shabby. The sour stench of poverty clung to the apartment like old dirt.
Alex closed the door behind him and dropped his canvas bag on the floor. He sniffed the air and wrinkled his nose. From the kitchen came the smell of boiled cabbage.
“Is dat you Alexander? Vere ver you? Is nearly six o’clock and dinner is been ready for hour,” his mother’s heavily accented voice called out from the bathroom. “I getting ready to go out. You vill ave to eat alone.”
Through the thin door came the sound of the toilet flushing. A moment later Marlena appeared wearing a tight pink sweater set and a black satin skirt. Her dark hair was freshly coifed, the marks of the bobby pins still imprinted between each wave. Her mouth was painted crimson in the shape Joan Crawford had made popular a decade earlier. From ten feet away the smell of vodka on her breath was overpowering.
“Will you be coming home by yourself?” asked the boy suspiciously.
“Vat you vant me to do?” She picked up her purse abruptly and threw in her lipstick. “You vant to eat. I not do dis for me. A boy need food to grow big, strong. Someday you understand.” A moment later, she was gone.
Marlena Ivanov was a bitter woman. She made no secret of the fact that raising a boy by herself was a heavy cross to carry, one she deeply resented. Alex sometimes thought his mother hated him almost as much as she did his father. He had never seen his father. He knew, only because his mother repeatedly told him, that Pavel Ivanov had been a gambler and a womanizer. Whatever wages the man had earned, he just as quickly spent on those two vices. The day Alex was born was the day Pavel Ivanov decided that married life was not for him. He disappeared, leaving his seventeen-year-old wife to deal with the struggles of working and raising a son by herself.
After a dinner of cabbage soup, Alex turned off the lights and climbed under his blankets. In the dark, he could clearly see his mother’s empty bed a few feet from his own. He turned his back to it and curled up.
Hours later, the muffled sound of laughter woke him up. The bedroom door swung open and the light turned on.
“Turn dat off. You vake up boy,” his mother ordered in a shrill whisper. The light flicked off. “Das better. I like dark.” She laughed. “Now, come to Marlena.” Clothes rustled. From his cot, in the corner of the room, Alex guessed every gesture, every movement. Old springs creaked. The sounds were loud, magnified by the stillness of the night.
Alex covered his ears. By trying hard, maybe he could keep the noises from reaching him. It was too late. The guilty stirring in his loins had already begun. His mind swirled in a mix of emotions too strong for him to understand. Maybe if he thought of something else. Someday I’ll drive in from the city in a brand new Cadillac. I’ll show them all…
The next morning, Marlena kissed the man goodbye and turned triumphantly to Alex. “See dis?” She pulled out a ten-dollar bill from between her breasts. “Dis can buy food for whole week.”
Alex looked away, embarrassed and ashamed, and returned to the picture he was drawing on the back of his spelling book. 



Giveaway!

Monique Domovitch is giving away 5 paperback and 5 ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five people will be selected to win one of five paperback copies and five people will be selected to win one of five ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS
  • This giveaway begins April 18 and ends on July 18.
  • Winners will be announced on Monique’s tour page on July 19.
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About the Author


Monique Domovitch has had many careers, starting with being one of Canada’s top models. When she retired from modeling she moved on to a career in the financial services as an adviser and planner, specializing in helping women attain financial freedom. During those years, she was also one of the first women in Canada to host her own national financial television show. During all those years, Monique’s dream was always to someday become a writer. Ten years ago, Monique attended a writer’s conference where the first line of one of her novels was read out loud in a workshop, attracting the attention of a publisher and an agent.

Since that life-changing conference, Monique Domovitch has published nine books, four with Penguin using the pen name Carol Ann Martin, two with Harlequin using her own name, and another two with Lansen Publishing. Scorpio’s Kiss was previously published as two novels, Scorpio Rising and The Sting of the Scorpio. Scar Tissue, her latest, is her ninth novel and she is hard at work on her tenth.

A great believer in the energizing power of writers’ conferences, she says that if not for that first conference she attended, she would not be published today.
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