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review 2018-09-28 11:00
Blog Tour with Excerpt & Review! Taking Control: Rick's Story (Love In Control #2) Morgan Malone!

 

 

About the Book:

 

Title: TAKING CONTROL: RICK’S STORY
Author: Morgan Malone
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 170
Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

 

BOOK BLURB:


Summer on the Jersey Shore and all Rick Sheridan wants is some solitude at his beach house. Then he spots a lean, leggy blonde coming out of the surf and his plans are shot to hell. And the dangerous looking knife strapped to her arm tells him this is no damsel in distress. As a not-so retired Marine, at 51, Rick’s learned that nothing is for certain, plans can spin out of control and shit happens.

 

Wounded and weary from one too many wars, Britt Capshaw thought a summer at the Shore, hanging out in her family’s beach cottage, would help her heal. And figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Out of the military, disillusioned and distrustful of any two-legged male, Britt’s one love is Alex, the yellow Labrador retriever she rescued from Afghanistan.

 

Rick and Britt are immediately attracted to one another, but after years in combat, they are wary of letting down their guard, of giving up control. The summer heats up and fireworks are flying between them even after the Fourth of July. But, ghosts from their pasts haunt them and finally bring them face to face with some dark secrets that may destroy the fragile trust they’ve built.

 

Can Britt trust Rick with her dangerous past? Will Rick be able to let go of the rigid control he needs to keep Britt and himself safe from more heartbreak? These two brave souls fight against surrendering their hearts and finally finding love. Who will win?

 

 

Scars from the past play a big part is heartwarming contemporary romance with strong, compelling characters that grabs readers’ attention and ensures that they want to know the story and as they get to know the story, the readers can’t help but admire them for the past, their courage and their strength. The relationship between Rick and Britt is sweet but full of emotional turmoil that tugs at heartstrings and a past full of strength, courage and some dark turbulence due to their time in the service that that adds to the heart jerking emotional atmosphere of the story, while the chemistry between the two is undeniable these issues have them holding back from each other. Readers can’t help but become caught up in the story as Rick and Britt both try to overcome the past that haunts them and they face dark secrets that threatens destroy the fragile trust between them. The plot is steady paced with an adorable dog that helps this couple reach for their happily ever after.

 

 


Add to your shelves at –

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40590496-taking-control

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/taking-control-rick-s-story-by-morgan-malone

 

 

Taking Control: Rick’s Story is the 2nd book in the Love in Control series –

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DXZ4XQQ?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

 

 

which includes –


1 Out of Control: Kat's Story

 

 

AVAILABLE in print or ebook at

 

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FG9LSQ9/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

 

B&N - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taking-control-morgan-malone/1128935792?ean=9781717351449

 

Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/taking-control-rick-s-story

 

iBooks - https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/taking-control-ricks-story/id1400572588?_bbid=10184597&mt=11

 

 

He stood before the French doors to the deck, with a large mug of steaming black brew cradled in his hands, letting its warmth take away some of the chill that had surrounded him for the last several months. I’m freezing. And it’s not the air-conditioning. It’s my damn frozen heart. Rick pushed the doors open, letting the heat of the sun and the smell of the ocean sweep into his house. He stepped outside, breathing deep, relaxing just a little. Yeah. This is what I need. A summer at the Shore, a few projects, and plenty of quiet—then I’ll be back to my old self. Chuckling as he mentally reminded himself of just how “old” his self was, Rick raised the cup to take a long sip of coffee.


He saw the figure emerging from the waves almost directly in front of his cottage at the same moment he heard the loud barking of a nearby dog.

 

What the hell?
She was a modern-day Botticelli’s Venus, with the waves foaming around her legs. Long, long legs, lean and tan, disappeared into a bright blue bikini bottom, just visible under the blue and white swim T-shirt that covered a long, muscular torso. Her arms were raised, her hands brushed back sodden strands of platinum blond hair. A swim mask dangled from her left elbow, dropping down into her hand as she lowered her arms. When she stepped from the surf, the woman gave an all-over body shake, drops of ocean water flying off her, glistening for an instant like diamonds in the early morning sun. Then she dropped to her knees so suddenly that Rick lurched forward, splashing coffee as he looked down for a place to leave the heavy mug before he rushed to her aid.

 

He needn’t have bothered. From the deck of the cottage to his left, a huge yellow dog was bounding down the wooden stairs two at a time in a mad dash to the woman. She stretched out her arms to the animal just before the happy hound collided into her, rolling her into the sand. The woman’s laugh floated on the ocean breeze. Rick straightened, still grasping his cup of coffee and stepped back into the shadows cast over his deck by the second-floor balcony. From his vantage point, he watched the woman ruffle the dog’s fur, the animal prancing and shaking in spasms of pure pleasure. When had he ever experienced such unfettered joy? Rick couldn’t remember. A long, long time ago…maybe.

 

Who was she? The owners of the cottage next door were an older couple who spent half the year in Florida and half the year on the Shore. Could she be a granddaughter or niece? Or had the couple decided to rent this year? Rick made a mental note to contact his property manager who handled many of the shore homes and make inquiries. He had not planned on having to deal with a stranger; he just wanted some peace and quiet.


The woman and dog were walking up from the water’s edge. Rick eased toward the open doors of his living room, thinking to disappear into the shadows. He just didn’t feel like an early morning encounter with anyone, certainly not the mermaid with those incredible legs who was ambling slowly in his general direction. He stopped suddenly when something caught the corner of his eye. A glint of sunlight on metal. He reached for his pistol, but his waistband was empty. Damn. What is that woman doing with a diving knife strapped to her right bicep? Who the hell is she?

 


ABOUT MORGAN MALONE

Morgan Malone is the pen name of a retired lawyer who turned in her judicial robes to write romantic memoir and sexy contemporary romance, which always features silver foxes and the independent women who tame them.

 

Morgan fell in love with romantic heroes after reading her mother’s first edition of “Gone with the Wind” when she was 12 years old. Rhett Butler became the standard by which she measured all men. Some have met the mark, most have failed to even come close and one or two surpassed even Rhett’s dark and dangerous allure.

 

Morgan lives near Saratoga Springs, NY with her beloved chocolate Lab. She can be found on occasion drinking margaritas and dancing at local hostelries, but look for her most often in independent book stores and the library, searching for her next great love in tales of romance, history, adventure and lust. When she can’t find the perfect man, she retreats to her upstairs office and creates him, body and soul, for her pleasure and for yours. Remember: love, like wine, gets better with age.

 

Her recent novel is the contemporary romance, Taking Control: Rick’s Story.

 

 

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

 

Website - http://morganmaloneauthor.com/

 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mmaloneauthor

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MorganMaloneAuthor/?ref=aynt_homepage_panel

 

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-09-20 11:00
Blog Tour with Excerpt! A Highland Emerald (Highland Treasures #3) Brenda B. Taylor!

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

 

Title: A HIGHLAND EMERALD
Author: Brenda Taylor
Publisher: Bethabara Press
Pages: 268
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance

 


BOOK BLURB:


Aine MacLean is forced into an arranged marriage with Sir William, Chief of Clan Munro, yet her heart belongs to a handsome young warrior in her father’s guard. She must leave Durant Castle, the home of her birth on the Isle of Mull, and travel across Scotland in a perilous journey to her husband’s home on Cromarty Firth.

William agrees to a year and day of handfasting, giving Aine an opportunity to accept him and his clan. He promises her the protection of Clan Munro, however, Aine experiences kidnapping, pirates, and almost loses her life in the River Moriston. She doubts the sincerity of William’s promises and decides to return to Durant Castle when the handfasting ends. William determines to win Aine’s heart.

Will the brave knight triumph in his fight for the bonnie lass?

 

A Highland Emerald is the third book in the award-winning Highland Treasures series. The novel tells the story of Aine MacLean and William Munro and is the prequel to A Highland Pearl.

 

 

Add A Highland Emerald to your shelves at:

 

Goodreads –
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36207443-a-highland-emerald

 


BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-highland-emerald-highland-treasures-book-3-by-brenda-b-taylor

 

 


A Highland Emerald is the 3rd book in the Highland Treasures series –

 

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/series/140606-highland-treasures


Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07G8FHJN5?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

 

 

which includes –

 

1 A Highland Pearl
2 A Highland Ruby
3 A Highland Emerald
4 A Highland Bride

 

 

 

in print or ebook at –

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Highland-Emerald-Treasures-Book-ebook/dp/B073N1VD4V/

 

B&N - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-highland-emerald-brenda-b-taylor/1126682551?ean=2940158821653

 

 


Chapter One

Isle of Mull

 

Isle of Mull

Scotland, 1486 A.D.

 

 

My father sat on his usual chair in front of the crackling fire, staring at the flames with dim eyes, a fur robe wrapped around his broad shoulders, the deerhound curled at his feet.

 

“Where are you going, Aine?” he asked with his back turned toward the stone, spiral staircase where I stood. “Come, sit with me for awhile.”

 

I pushed the arisaid from my shoulders, letting it drop to the floor, then stepped over the wrap, making my way to the stool where my mother's embroidery frame stood. I took a seat and watched the flames.

 

Without turning his head, my father, Lachlan Og MacLean, eighth Chief of Clan MacLean and fourth Laird of Durant Castle, asked, “Where are you going?”

“How did you ken 'twas I?”

 

He never ceased to amaze me with his uncanny knowledge of events around him although his eyes, so dimmed by injury, saw very little.

 

“I heard the rustle of your skirts.” Da extended his hand for me, so I rose and hugged his neck. He smiled, embracing my arms. “And I ken your scent, lass. ’Tis so like your mither's. You use the same scented soap as she.”

 

“Aye, but from so far away and with the smell of burning wood and dog in your nostrils?”

 

“Your odor is a different pleasantry among the usual burning wood and dog. It stands out in my memory as does the pleasant odor of your mither.”

 

He smiled broadly, showing still straight, white teeth beneath a greying beard. I could almost feel his penetrating gaze upon me as in the days before a battle injury took his sight.

 

He asked, “Where are you going this dreary night?”

 

“Here, Da. To sit beside you and talk of the feast on the morrow.”

 

“Don't try to deceive me, lass. I heard the sound of your arisaid dropping to the floor. You are planning a tryst, I feel certain.”

 

His dimmed gaze pierced through to the depths of my soul.

 

“I could see the turn of your head toward him each time he spoke at the eve’s meal.” A line formed between my father’s brows and a shadow darkened his face. “You are to marry the Munro.”

 

“I dinna love William Munro.” My voice began to rise, and I struggled to control the cry climbing from the depths of my heart. “I wanna marry him, Da. You promised I could wed for love, not convenience.”

 

The cry emerged from my lips. I buried my head on his shoulder and sobbed.

Da rose, grabbed my hand and pulled me to face him, wrapping his powerful arms around my shoulders. He stroked my hair and planted a kiss atop my head. Disturbed, the great dog stood.

 

My heart ached to please Da, I loved him so. His tender embrace brought back memories of my childhood when he comforted me after a fall or some aggravation caused by my three older brothers. We stood for a long time.

 

He gently pushed me away, looking into my eyes and planting a kiss on my forehead. “I only want the best for you, sweetling. You’re my heart, you ken. I dinna wish to leave this world without you being in the care of a good mon. The Munro is a good mon.” He hesitated then added, “With wealth and title.”

 

I looked into his faded blue eyes that once shone with the brilliance of the azure sky on a sunny day. He could only see the outline of my face whilst standing close, now. “If you truly desire the best for me, you'll let me marry the love of my heart, not some bloat because of his title. Titles mean naught to me, Da.” Tears streamed from my eyes, wetting my cheeks. I pulled away from his grasp, swiping at the wetness with a sleeve.


“The Munro is a good mon and a fierce warrior. ’Tis nae better for a husband. He’ll be here on the morrow. We’ll have a feast to celebrate your marriage.”

 

“He’s old. I’m only eighteen summers. I shan’t attend.” Sometimes the stubbornness of my nature overtook good sense. I knew not to speak to my father in such a manner.


He also possessed an immovable streak, and his word overruled my desires.

“He’s no’ old, Aine. A few years your senior, but no’ old by any means. When he’s my age, then he’ll be old.”

 

I continued to sniff, wetting the front of his léine.

 

“All right, Aine. If that’s the way this game is to be played. You'll be watched until after the celebration and you depart with the Munro.”

 

The words spewed from Da’s mouth. A sinister, dark shadow cloaked his face. Muscles twitched in his jaws and his hands clenched in tight fists. I stepped back. He abruptly turned, making his way up the stone steps to the upper story bed chambers, feeling the wall for security. When his foot struck the arisaid I’d dropped on the stair, he reached down, seized the garment, flung it with a vehemence I rarely witnessed from him, and continued up the staircase. The large dog followed at his heels. Not knowing what to do, I grabbed the arisaid, wrapped it closely around my shoulders, pulled the hood over my head, then ran toward the door of the great hall. Ellic waited in the garden. I wanted to be near him, feel his embrace, and listen to the sweet words he would whisper in my ear.

 

I pulled on the large oaken door, reinforced with bands of iron, and stepped into the damp, grey air of gloaming. The large figure of Da’s luchd-taighe, Sion MacLean, filled the portal when I tried to close the door. He put up a massive arm, keeping the door from closing. I stared at him, and he back at me.

 

“Did Da send you to watch me?” I asked the huge brute.

 

“Aye,” he answered, stepping out of the keep, but leaving the door open.

“I’m going to meet Ellic Garvie, in case you are wondering. He waits for me in the stables, so be sure to report my tryst to Da. He kens, anyway.”

 

Ellic Garvie, one of the warriors in Da’s slaugh and a member of his luchd-taighe, held an attraction for me and I for him. I turned on my heels.

 

Sion grabbed my arm, jerking me toward the door. “You're no’ going to the stables this eve.”

 

I tried to jerk my arm from his powerful grasp, but he held tightly whilst pulling me toward the door.

 

Pushing me inside, he said with a hiss, “Stay put, lass, or Laird MacLean will lock you in your room.”

 

I didn’t answer, only returned his gaze. The big oaf. The door closed in my face, and I heard him walk away. Giving the guard time to leave the keep’s vicinity and enter the outer bailey housing the stables, I carefully opened the large door to squeeze through so only a slit of light shone on the cobblestones, closed the door, then made my way to the garden enclosure beside the keep. Upon entering the garden, I glanced back to make certain no one followed, then took the rose-lined garden path to the very end. Ellic’s dark form emerged from the shadow of an apple tree beside the stone wall. I rushed into his strong, powerful arms. He pulled me close, and I buried my head on his chest. Tears fell from my eyes, wetting his jacket.


Ellic held me away, my eyes met his in the last light of gloaming. Their dark color grew darker and ominous as his lips brushed mine with a tender caress. I could not help but respond. The kiss grew harder, more passionate until he broke away, holding both my arms.

 

His ale-tainted breath fanned my face. “I love you, Aine. You must come with me to Oban. My aunt works at Dunollie Castle as the lady’s maid. We’ll be married there and I can join the slaugh of MacDougall and perhaps become part of his luchd-taighe. The Laird of Lorne provides well for his people.”

 

My voice hitched remembering Da’s words. “I canna. Da is having me watched now. The Munro is arriving on the morrow for our marriage ceremony.”

He looked around. “Where is your guard?”

 

“I sent him to the stables looking for you, but I feel certain he will come here soon.” His lips hushed my words, taking my breath away. I turned my head from his and snuggled into his broad chest, feeling the prickly wool of the great plaide draped over his shoulder on my cheek. “I love you so,” I whispered.

 

He took my chin, raising my face to his. “Then come with me tonight.”

 

Suddenly, a vision of my life wed to William Munro flashed through my mind. He was an older man and lived a long distance from Durant Castle, my home. I wanted a young, powerful warrior like Ellic. Da may disinherit me and no longer call me his daughter, but my heart could do naught else.

 

“Aye. I will come with you. Tell me the way.”

 

“Who is your guard?” He stepped back, rubbing his chin in deep thought.

“The brute, Sion. He will ne’er let me slip by him to meet you.”

 

Ellic grew silent, then backed to the stone wall, pulling me with him and gathering me into his arms. We kissed as a full moon rose in the east, casting white, silvery light into the garden. His brown hair glisten in the moonbeams. Ellic was the most handsome of Da’s guards. The thought of leaving him to marry another twisted the inner most part of me into a tight knot. I knew at that moment, I could never marry the Munro.

 

“Sion will drink and make merry along with the others at the feast. He’ll sleep instead of watch at your door, then you can slip out and meet me by the postern gate.”

 

“What of the guards at the postern gate? Da will have extra posted during the festivities with so many warriors inside getting drunk.”

 

“Fret no’, my men and I will take care of the guards. A birlinn is ready to take us across the Straight of Mull to Dunollie.”

 

The thought of leaving with Ellic made my heart thump until I felt certain he could hear its beating.

 

“Now go. Sion will find us soon, and you shouldn’t be seen with me.”

He gave me one last lingering kiss, then pushed me toward the garden gate. I hastened down the path, glancing back for one last look at my love, but he was gone. The bright moon lit the pathway out of the garden. I emerged, but did not see Sion in the bailey. Suddenly, a large hand grasped my arm, pulling me along toward the keep. I tried to jerk free, but could not escape the clutches of the powerful guard.

 

“So you sent me on a wild goose chase to the stables whilst you kept the tryst in the garden. Laird MacLean will be anxious to hear all about it.” He pulled harder.

“Stop you big oaf! I’m no’ a sack of barley to be dragged about.” I wrestled, yanking at his grasp once more and tried not to budge from the spot, but he kept pulling until I stumbled.

 

We reached the keep’s entrance. He pinned me in front of him, using both hands to open the heavy door, then pushed me through the portal. I tripped on the threshold and fell to the stone floor, bruising my hands and knees. Sion grabbed my arm, helped me up, and pulled me to the spiral staircase. Several of the luchd-taighe milled around the great hall. Some glanced our way, but said nothing. They never interfered with another’s orders. I saw none of my family. Sion followed me up the stairs then to my bed chamber. Opening the door, he pushed me through.

“I’ll send for Breda to care for you, for you'll no’ be coming out until the feast on the morrow.” He stood, eyes stormy. “I’m sorry you fell. I dinna mean to push so hard, but what I do and tell you is for your own good. The laird is determined to keep you away from Garvie or whomever you're meeting.” We continued to stare at each other. Determination rose like bile in my throat. “Do you understand, m’lady?”

 

“Where are my brothers? They’ll no’ let this unfair treatment continue. I wish to speak to Gillian.”

 

“Sir Gillian is telling Garvie of the laird’s wishes. Since the mon is a member of the MacLean’s guards, he’ll be allowed to stay and enjoy your marriage feast. Make nae mistake, m’lady, he will be watched.”

 

The door slammed closed, and my face burned with rage. Where are my brothers and my mother? They would never allow such rough treatment inflicted on my person. Surely, they would come to my rescue if they knew. Surely. I flung myself onto the bed, sobbing. My tears wet the coverlet, so I sat up on the side of the feather mattress, reached for a hand kertch on the small table, and blew my nose. Removing the arisaid and flinging it to the floor, I examined my bruised hands, then pulled up my heavy skirt to look at my knees. A small cut bled on one knee, but they were mostly scrapped and blue. I dabbed at the cut with the hand kertch.

A knock sounded. “Who is it?” I rose and rushed to bar the door if necessary. Sion was not coming back into my room.

 

“’Tis Breda, Lady Aine. I’ve come to help you prepare for bed,” the maid called through the door.

 

“Come,” I answered with a sob.

 

The door opened slowly. Breda entered and observed my cut, bruised knees. She searched my eyes, hers filled with anxiety. “I’ll fetch the healer, Lady Aine. That cut should be cared for.”

 

“Nae, Breda. Washing with a clean cloth is all that’s needed.” I dabbed at the blood. “Rinse this in the basin, then wash the cut again. It’ll be much better with the cleansing.”

 

Breda poured water from the pitcher into the bowl, then rinsed the cloth. She brought it back and began to rub on the cut knee. The cold water felt good and stopped the bleeding. She rinsed the rag then washed the cut once more.

Handing me the cloth, she said, “I’ll empty this bowl and fetch more water. Are you certain you dinna wish for me to call the healer?”

 

“Nae. Bring my mither, and if you see my brothers, send them also.” I needed their broad, understanding shoulders to cry on. My brothers usually took my part in any squabble I had with Da and Mam. Da complained they spoiled me ’til rotten, which in truth they did. One major problem my siblings’ overprotectiveness afforded was their interference with beaus and suitors. No man was good enough for their young sister, and Da encouraged this attitude.

 

The large oak door opened with a bang. My brother, Young Lachlan, strode to the bedside and pushed Breda aside, examining my knee. He took both my hands, turned them over, then looked into my questioning eyes.

 

“I’ll speak to Da about Sion,” he said with shards of light glinting in his eyes.

 

“Nae. Please dinna make matters worse with my father. These are naught but scratches.” I didn’t want my brothers interfering in my relationship with Ellic. They probably knew about our courtship since they knew all the comings and goings in Durant Castle. My brothers were Da’s eyes and ears now.

 

“You ken the Munro is coming to finalize the marriage contract.” Lachie dropped my hands, lifting my chin to search my eyes. “What are your feelings on the matter, Aine?”

 

“I care no’ to meet the mon, much less marry him. He’ll take me away to that godforsaken place on the other side of Scotland he calls Ferindonald.” Tears brimmed my eyes. “Away from my family and home. Away from you, Lachie. I dinna care if he’s titled. I’ll no’ go with him.”

 

“I’ll speak to Da this eve, before the Munro arrives. You're a bonnie woman, Aine. Surely he can find a suitor closer to Durant.”

 

I buried my head in his wool plaide and wept, wetting the garment.

He stroked my hair for a long while, then pushed me away and planted a kiss on my forehead. “Take care of your wounds, now.”

 

Lachie turned on his heels with his sword clanking in the scabbard buckled around his waist. Breda began washing the cut on my knee again. She was a good caretaker and I planned to keep her with me wherever I may go, especially if the object of my journey happened to be Fàrdach Castle on the Cromarty Firth.

 

Mother pushed past Lachie in the doorway. He addressed her, then moved on. She rushed to me, taking the wet cloth from Breda and wiping the wound on my knee. She examined the cut, then turned to the maid and told her to fetch, Màdra, the healer. I tried to tell Mother I did not need the healer, but she would not listen.

“You may get blood on your night shift and bed linens. The cut needs a bandage and the scrapes need plantain salve.” She searched my eyes. “Perhaps willow bark tea for pain, also.”

 

“Mam,” I protested. “The wounds are small. I dinna need willow bark tea or anything else.”

 

Mother told Breda to fetch the healer anyway. The maid left, gently closing the door whilst Mam took a clean shift from the trunk at the foot of the bed and told me to stand. She assisted with the laces of my kirtle, then took the garment over my head. She did the same for the blouse, and hung both from a peg on the opposite wall. I grabbed the shift from the bed and put it on. Although a fire blazed in the fireplace, the air felt cold on my body. I moved closer to the fire. A knock sounded on the door. Mother answered, then Breda and Màdra entered the room. Breda held a mug.

 

I sat in a small upholstered chair beside the fire whilst mother took the other. Màdra quickly examined my hands, opened her leather healer’s bag and withdrew a small glass container of salve. She spread the cool balm over the scrapes and bruises on my hands with nimble fingers, then raised my shift and examined the cut on my knee. Shaking her head, she wiped the seeping blood away with a clean cloth, smeared plantain salve on the cut, then placed a linen square over the wound, tying it in place with another, larger strip of linen.

 

Màdra searched my eyes, then motioned for Breda to hand me the mug. “I can tell by your eyes, you’re in some pain, m’lady. Please drink the willow bark tea.”

I looked at Mother who nodded. I could not fight the three of them, so taking the mug from Breda, I drank the bitter tea. The nasty brew would help me sleep and get the rest required to resist the demands of my father. I rose and walked toward the bed. Breda placed the mug with the remainder of the tea on the bedside table, pulled back the bedcovers, tucked the coverlet under my chin, then pulled the fur blanket on top of me.

 

Mother stood beside the bed, brushed the hair from my face, and kissed my forehead. “Don’t hesitate to drink the remainder of the tea if you wake and feel pain.”

 

I hated being treated like a bairn. “Mither, I am fine. Please stop treating me like a bairn.”

 

“You'll always be my wee lassie, Aine. No matter how old you are.” She took Breda’s arm, and the three women left my room.

 

I lay in bed searching the plastered ceiling, thinking of Ellic, and waiting for the potion to take effect on my wakefulness. Mayhap I should do as he asked and slip away with him in the birlinn to Dunollie Castle then beyond. Someplace unknown to my family where we could live in peace the rest of our lives. Maybe I would do just that.

 


ABOUT BRENDA B. TAYLOR


The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.


Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.


Her latest book is the Scottish Historical Romance A Highland Emerald.

 

Author Contact Information:

 

Historical Heartbeats
http://www.brendabtaylor.com

 

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text 2018-09-19 11:00
Blog Tour with Excerpt! Azrael (Detective Allira Rose #1) M.T. Ellis!

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

 

Title: AZRAEL
Author: M.T. Ellis
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 340
Genre: Crime Thriller

 

 

BOOK BLURB:

 

Emily thought her ordeal was over after she escaped a brutal kidnapping. She’s wrong. He’s coming for her again.

 

The body Detective Rose is looking at bears a striking resemblance to Emily, a woman who survived a horrific, sexually motivated abduction five years ago. Her fear is confirmed when Emily goes missing again.

 

When another woman, Grace, is abducted, Detective Rose finds herself doubting the instincts that tell her the disappearance is the result of intimate partner violence. She connects the cases and recruits Grace’s partner, Ethan, to help in the search. Together they must find Grace and Emily before it’s too late.

 


Add Azrael to your shelves at –

 

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34838367-azrael

 

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/books/azrael-by-m-t-ellis

 

 


Azrael is the 1st book in the Detective Allira Rose series –

 

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/series/240939-detective-allira-rose

 


which includes –

 

1 Azrael
2 Dollhouse (coming September 30, 2018)

 

 


in print or ebook at

 

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com./Azrael-Detective-Allira-Rose-Book-ebook/dp/B071L4YC6N


B&N – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/azrael-mt-ellis/1126941889


Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/azrael-10

 

 

 


Prologue

 

“I think I must have scared the shit out of her,” Azrael joked to himself as he opened the van door and smelt the stench coming from the dark brown stain on the back of the girl’s jeans. He laughed, even though he couldn’t be sure if she had defecated from fear or because she lost control of her bowels from his accidental overuse of the stun gun. He’d only needed to hit the woman for a second or two to disable her, but his nerves got the better of him, and he kept shocking her for a good thirty seconds, just to be sure. He could smell burning flesh as he picked up the woman and dumped her in the van. This was his first abduction, and so far the plan was working.


Azrael looked at his victim lying face down on the floor of his white Toyota HiAce. Conveniently, the commercial van had no back seats or windows. As long as the police didn’t pull him over, and she didn’t wake up, no one would be able to see the sprawled petite twenty-something brunette. He wondered whether, when he bought this van five years ago, he had subconsciously known he would end up using it for this type of adventure.


He had picked up the girl from the university grounds around the corner from his house. It was luck, really. He’d been driving past and saw the woman walking by herself, and since there was no one around, Azrael went in for the kill, so to speak.


There had been no traffic nearby when he drove past the woman the first time, or when he doubled back. He stopped and asked her for directions. She leaned into the window to answer him, and a short squeak came out of her mouth as she was hit on the side of the neck with the stun gun. The woman silently convulsed and then dropped to the ground, whimpering in the fetal position and twitching occasionally. Azrael whistled as he casually got out, walked around, and opened the side door. “In you go, love,” he said as he picked her up and dumped her onto the floor of the van.


He drove around town, looking for a place to take her. He couldn’t take her to his one-bedroom apartment. If the neighbours didn’t see him carry her in, they’d certainly notice when he took her out again. He’d have to cut her up so she’d fit in the wheelie bin outside, but the bins were only collected on Mondays, and since it was Tuesday she’d have to sit around for a week. At the very least, he was sure the seventy-year-old woman who lived in the apartment next to him would be nosey enough to rummage through garbage to find out where an offensive smell was coming from.


Azrael decided to take his victim out to The Common, thousands of acres of City Council-owned bushland about an hour from his apartment. Burnt-out cars were regularly found dumped there. Kids often stole them to go bush-bashing, setting them on fire when they were done. By the time he got there it was nearly 7:00 p.m. Luckily it was spring, so the weather was warm enough for him to wear shorts, a t-shirt, and dirty old Converse sneakers. Springtime also meant the sun went down at about six, so it was dark by the time he got there. The moon was full, so Azrael had no problems seeing where he was going when he turned his lights off. As he drove through the bushland he was happy to note there were no cars on fire tonight. This meant there would be no unexpected interruptions from the local fire brigade.


He settled on a location a few kilometres into the property, where he figured he’d be most hidden. He shut off the van and listened. All he could hear were cicadas clicking outside his window and some muffled whimpers from the back of the van. Ooh, she’s awake, Azrael thought excitedly. He stepped out of the van and looked back towards the clearing he had just driven through. The van was concealed well enough by the dense scrub. He leaned back into the driver’s door to grab the map from the dash and to turn on the light above the rear-view mirror. We are here, he thought as he pointed at the middle of the map. If we go by foot into the bush a few hundred metres, no one will find her.


Azrael walked around the front of the van to the passenger door and pulled out a small backpack that was stuffed underneath the seat. He had been planning this for weeks and had hidden the bag, which contained a hunting knife, zip ties, blue latex gloves, and various other items he might need on his adventure. He took out three zip ties and looped them together to make a chain. He would put an outer ring around each of his victim’s wrists and tighten them to make handcuffs. Azrael put on the latex gloves and zipped up the backpack then shut the driver’s door and pulled the bag onto his back.


As he opened the side door, the woman started to stir. He quickly dragged her towards him by the leg and turned her over onto her stomach. He pulled both of her arms behind her as he attached the makeshift handcuffs.


“Let go of me,” the woman shrieked once she realised what was happening.


“You didn’t have to shit yourself, madam,” he said in his husky voice. “I’m not that scary.”


“W-who, who are you?” she stammered. “What do you want from me?”
“Never mind who I am. You and I are going to have some fun out here tonight,” he said playfully as he dragged the woman by her upper arm out of the van and onto the ground. She landed with a thud. She screamed as he yanked her up onto her feet. “Stand up and start walking. Don’t bother screaming — no one can hear you.”


About ten minutes later, Azrael had pushed her, kicking and screaming, further into the bushes. Once they had reached a suitable location, he kicked the woman’s feet out from underneath her. She crumpled in a heap on the ground and sobbed, “Please don’t hurt me.” He unhooked one arm of his backpack, twisted the bag around in front of him, and took out the hunting knife. The blade was about thirty centimetres long, and when the woman saw the moonlight gleaming on it, she lost it and started shrieking hysterically.


Azrael became impatient with her screaming and yelled, “Shut up,” before kicking her in the face. The woman stopped screaming, and he could see her right eye already starting to swell. She lay with tears silently streaming down her face. He slid the backpack off his arm and dumped it onto the ground beside her, then bent down and pushed the girl onto her back, crushing her hands, which were still bound behind her. He took the knife and held it to the girl’s throat, putting just enough pressure on it to make a small cut. “Are you going to behave yourself?” he asked as he watched blood trickle in a thin red line just below her ear.


When she didn’t answer, Azrael knelt down beside her and slowly used the knife to cut her white singlet. She shivered as he cut each strap just above her shoulder and again as he made a single long slash down the right side of the singlet. He pulled the top out from underneath her, scrunched it up, and put it to his nose. He breathed in the scent of her berry body wash and became aroused. He crawled over her until he was straddling her upper thighs. He was still holding the knife in his right hand but didn’t have any trouble using it to steady himself as he put his hands down on the ground on either side of her shoulders to keep his balance. He leaned in to rub his face on her chest and let his lips rest between her breasts. She recoiled from his touch, and he could feel the friction from his five o’clock shadow scratching at her skin like razors. Suddenly, he turned his head to the right a little and bit down on her breast, just above where her lacy white bra was covering her nipple. He twisted his head and tore away a small chunk of flesh. She let out a blood-curdling scream and started to buck fiercely beneath him.


He sat up and looked down at the bite-sized hole in the woman’s breast. He followed the blood trail down her stomach, onto his groin, and up the front of his shirt. He started to chew on the chunk of tissue, savouring the taste. Just as he moved his knife hand towards his face, so he could wipe away the blood dripping from his mouth with the back of his hand, the girl bucked her hips up and knocked him off sideways. She raised her right leg up to her chest and kicked him in the stomach, which forced him off her. The shock of the woman’s defence made Azrael gasp. It rammed the piece of flesh he had bitten off towards the back of his throat, and he started to choke.


He dropped the knife, lay on his side, and clutched at his neck. The woman used this second of freedom to clamber to her feet and run away through the trees. By the time she had taken her first step, Azrael had coughed hard enough to dislodge the flesh from his throat and spat it onto the ground. He grunted as he got to his feet and gave chase.


*


He’s coming. Emily found it impossible to avoid branches whipping her in the face as she ran with her hands still cable-tied behind her. She had only been running for a few seconds before she could hear her attacker’s breaths behind her. Run! He can’t catch you, she thought urgently. Fear gripped her, and she moved faster than she had ever run before. There was a sharp sting in her wrists as he grabbed the centre of the zip-tie chain that was holding her arms together and yanked her backwards. She was pulled into the air, and just as she thought her shoulders would pop out of their sockets, the middle zip tie snapped. Her arms flew out to her sides just in time for her to land with a thump on her back. Her attacker tripped, fell forward on top of her, and knocked the wind out of her. They both lay for a second, his head near her feet, gasping for breath.


“Gotcha, you little bitch,” he said breathlessly.


His weight crushed the air out of her lungs. Pain seared through her limbs, one by one, as he pressed down on them while he turned his body around until he straddled her again. Then his strong hands were on her throat. She could feel his wild eyes burn into her soul as he started to squeeze the life out of her. She coughed and choked as she struggled underneath him. Emily scratched desperately at his hands. He wouldn’t let go. She reached out in search of anything that could help her and found a rock the size of her hand. She stretched out her arm and tried to grab it with her fingertips but couldn’t get it into her grasp. She had just started to feel light-headed from the lack of oxygen from the short, quick breaths she took when her attacker readjusted his grip. Come on, you can’t die out here. Not like this, she thought as she tried once more to pick up the rock.


Emily stretched her whole body as far as it could go and rolled the rock towards herself with her fingertips. She eventually got it close enough to pick up. She grabbed the rock in her right hand and beat him repeatedly in the temple. She felt her attacker’s warm blood trickle down her arm as he lost consciousness. His full weight fell on top of her as she strained to get out from underneath him. Emily grunted as she pushed him off her and slowly got to her feet. She stood there for a few seconds, bent over with her hands resting on her knees, and tried to catch her breath. In between gasps, she saw her attacker start to stir. Emily stood up immediately and started to run through the dark bushes.


*


Azrael woke to a pounding inside his head. The left side of his face felt hot and swollen. When he touched his temple, he could feel the warm blood oozing through his gloved fingers. Shit, he thought as he started to get up. Where’d the little bitch get to? He was dizzy as he got to his feet and had to stand still for nearly a minute to get his bearings. Once the nausea subsided, he looked around in the moonlight to find the girl’s trail. He noticed some flattened and broken branches on a bush in front of him and figured she must have damaged them as she took off. He started to follow the trail.


*


Emily wandered hysterically. She ran into bushes and tripped over roots for what seemed like hours. She eventually collapsed, exhausted; she couldn’t stop sobbing. Once on the ground, she thought, Slow, deep breaths. Calm down, he can’t find you. You are going to be okay. She looked around for a bush or a fallen tree to hide behind until daylight, when she hoped she’d be able to find her way out of the maze of trees and scrub. She crawled on her hands and knees for another ten minutes and then unexpectedly heard something in the distance. Her heart fluttered as she tried to keep down the rising panic. She kept low to the ground as she crept slowly towards the noises and hid behind a cluster of bushes.
While keeping concealed, she poked her head out from behind a bush and listened intently. She heard laughter and the sound of empty beer cans clinking as they were thrown to the ground. Her stomach lurched as she saw a group of teenagers in the shadows. She crept over to some bushes nearer to them to get a better look. There must be six of them, four boys and two girls, standing around an old red V8 Commodore. Judging by the smashed rear quarter glass, it was stolen. She peeked through the scrub and saw two more later model Commodores sitting back a few hundred metres. Suddenly a fireball erupted around the stolen car, and they all started running towards the getaway cars. Shit, they’re leaving! I have to get their attention, she thought as she ran out of the bushes, directly towards the group. “Help me!” she shrieked. “Help me, I’ve been abducted, let me come with you!”


She was a horrid sight: blood poured from cuts to her face, neck, and chest. Bruises had formed on her eye, cheek, and wrists. She was wearing only her stained jeans and bra, with no shoes, and was covered in dirt and clotting blood. Her wrists still had zip ties around them, and her hair was full of leaves and clumps of dirt. The teenagers didn’t hear her, and by the time she had reached the burning car, they were in their getaway cars with the engines running. She ran towards the closest Commodore. The driver had just turned on its headlights, and it started to turn away from the flaming wreck.


Suddenly, the Commodore’s headlights swept back in her direction. The car stopped as if it was trying to figure out whether what it was seeing was real. It slowly started moving towards her. The car stopped about ten metres away, and a blonde guy with a southern cross tattoo down one leg got out of the passenger side and came over to her. “Are you okay? Who are you?” the boy asked. He could not have been more than seventeen.


“Please take me with you, he’s coming!” Emily screamed as she limped towards him. “Please.”


The boy looked frightened as he stared wildly around. He focused back on her and said, “Quick, get in the car!”


*


“Fuck!” Azrael yelled. Exhausted from running, he stopped and gathered his wits. I’m never going to find her, he thought after searching for what seemed like an eternity. He looked down at the torn and bloodied latex gloves on his hands and thought, Fuck this shit, I’m out of here. He turned around and headed back towards the van.


As Azrael got to the van, he saw an orange glow from the top of some trees a few kilometres away. Great, the Firies will be here soon. Just what I need. About twenty minutes later, as he pulled onto the main road after leaving the gates, Azrael saw three fire trucks with sirens and lights blaring turn off into The Common.

 

 

 

 

M.T. Ellis is a Brisbane/ Lockyer Valley-based author. Her debut crime thriller, Azrael, won Bronze in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards, Suspense/Thriller Catagory. Her short story, The Ballerina in the Box, was short-listed in the Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction Competition. Two of M.T. Ellis’s stories made it onto a billboard during the Queensland Writers Centre’s 8 Word Story competition.


Her dogs, Opal, Zeus and Matilda, occupy a lot of her time. She would write books about their adventures if she thought people were even half as interested in them as she is.

 

M.T. Ellis is an Australian Writers’ Centre graduate, freelance writer and journalist. The second novel in her Detective Allira Rose Series will be out on October 1, 2018.

 

Her latest book is the crime thriller, Azrael.


WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

 

Website - http://www.mtellis.com.au/

 

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/mtellisAuthor

 

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/mtellisAuthor

 

 


Post by M.T. Ellis, author of Azrael.


I grew up reading the likes of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwall so writing a crime thriller about a despicable sexual predator kidnapping women was probably always going to happen.


The idea for my debut novel, Azrael, came after I had a nightmare about being held captive in an old house. I’ve always been interested in what makes people tick, and especially what makes them murder, so I tried to show the readers what turned Azrael into the monster he is.


Azrael is set in Brisbane, Australia. The killer takes his victims out to an area West of Brisbane where his property is covered with thick bushland. It’s kind of creepy because I ended up moving to the area not long after I released the book.


I decided to make Azrael’s nemesis a woman because I like writing stories with strong, but imperfect, female characters. I love how Detective Allira Rose has the determination to chase down offenders no matter how hard it is and she owns her mistakes. She just gets on with it.


I was pretty excited when I found out that Azrael had won Bronze in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards, Suspense/Thriller category. The award ceremony was held in Times Square, New York, and it was great to mingle with so many other authors.


The second book in the Detective Allira Rose series is Dollhouse. Readers can look forward to reading more of Detective Rose’s story and what makes her tick. In the book, Brisbane's elite are being abducted and murdered. Detective Rose suspects a hoarder named Lillian is the culprit. Lillian is a meticulous killer but her personal life is a mess. Her home is filled to the brim with junk so not only does she have to try and hide her crimes, she has to hide behind the fake tanned and immaculately dressed persona that she has created for herself.


The second book in the Detective Allira Rose series, Dollhouse, comes out on October first, 2018.

 


 

 

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text 2018-09-13 11:00
Blog Tour with Excerpt! Wheels Up: A Novel of Drug, Cartels and Survival by Jeanine Kitchel!

 

 

Title: WHEELS UP: A NOVEL OF DRUGS, CARTELS, AND SURVIVAL

 

Author: Jeanine Kitchel
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 294
Genre: Thriller

 

 

BOOK BLURB:

 

Layla always wanted to run the family business. But is she willing to kill for it?

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

 

 

AVAILABLE in print or ebook at:

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Wheels-Up-Novel-Cartels-Survival/dp/0692064699/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1531070072&sr=8-1&dpID=51WOvdpfbqL&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=detail

 

 

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

 


About the Author

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

 


WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

 

Website - http://www.jeaninekitchel.com/

 

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/jeaninekitchel

 

Facebook (personal) - https://www.facebook.com/jeanine.kitchel

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Jeanine-Kitchel-255426494528083/

 

 

 

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text 2018-08-10 10:00
Blog Tour Spotlight with Excerpt! Miss Behave (The Anderson Family #1) Traci Highland!

 

 

 

Title: Miss Behave (The Anderson Family Series Book 1)

Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 330
Genre: Romantic Comedy

 

BOOK BLURB:


She's great at giving advice, too bad she never takes it…

 

Piper Anderson wants to be a serious journalist at a serious paper covering serious news. Instead, she’s stuck at the Pendleton Falls Herald, where her massive investigative skills are wasted penning the paper’s advice column, Miss Behave.

 

Her shot at a meaty story comes when she’s assigned to write up a profile of a local business, Brookes Jewelers. She is determined to write the piece so she can use the article to impress a real paper.

 

Unfortunately Hunter Brookes, co-owner of Brookes Jewelers and the Pendleton Falls Herald, is rather persistent, in his own hot little way, that the piece should be nothing more than a glorified sales pitch.

 

But when diamonds disappear, Piper may get the chance to do a real investigation, leading her to confront family secrets and worst of all, turn to her mother for help.

 

Piper soon realizes that there is more to Mr. Brookes than a tight ass and a ridiculous fascination with name tags. Together they deal with roasted pigs, crazy cat ladies, and gun-toting fashionistas.

 

In all the chaos, they just might find the one thing that neither one was looking for: true love.

 

 

Dear Miss Behave,


Last weekend I was at the pool with the children, and there was a woman naked and walking around the locker room.


I hate to be prissy, but to be naked around young children like that just isn’t right. She comes to the pool regularly and I am not the only one who has happened upon her strolling around the locker room without clothes. Now I know there are showers and that people change in locker rooms, but showers should be taken while wearing bathing suits and there are private changing rooms that are clearly marked.


How can I convey to her the accepted rules of decency before any of our children become hopelessly corrupted?


Sincerely,
-Agape at the AquaPark

 

Dear Agape,


Do please get over yourself. People shower naked. If you choose not to, then I assume you probably smell and your skin is beset by odd rashes.


I suggest that you buy your kids an ice-cream and treat yourself to a margarita. Life is short, darling. Lighten up.


Sincerely,
Miss Behave


Find Miss Behave at:

 

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40653055-miss-behave

 

available for purchase at:


Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Miss-Behave-Anderson-Family-Book-ebook/dp/B07F19T6QT/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 


Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University. She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams. Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

 

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

 

Website - http://www.tracihighland.com/

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/TraciHighland

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TraciHighland/

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/traci-highland

 

 

 

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