Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior by Multiple Authors

Change Finds You

by Cara Michaels

“The date of record is October thirtieth, two-thousand-twelve. This is Special Agent Everett Benjamin.”

The voice drew my attention from the digital voice recorder resting on the table. The red recording light assured everyone observing that my words would be captured for all time, with “all time” defined as “until the Gemini Group buried the story”. At best, anything I said today would end up in a heavily redacted report buried in some government archive. Hadn’t stopped me from trying to get the word out, though. No, the FBI could take credit there. Getting nabbed at a convenience store just proved I’d never been intended for the undercover life. I’d only lasted two months on the official run.

“For the record, please state your name.” The special agent sitting across from me held an air of comfortable superiority. As homegrown investigative organizations rated, he still believed his FBI sat at the top of the food chain.

How sweet.

“Dr. Savannah Welborn.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” For a tough FBI guy, he had a nice voice. Kind of deep, kind of mellow.

The pen held between his index and middle fingers drummed an uneven, impatient beat. The air conditioning kicked on, a background hum of recycled air smelling faintly of paper and dust. Like the room needed to be colder. What brainless desk jockey thought hypothermia contributed to productivity? The beds of my fingernails had turned blue some fifteen minutes of waiting ago. My body had already forgotten how it felt to be warm. Inside, outside, and everywhere in between. I ground my teeth to hold in a shiver.

“Not a problem, Agent Benjamin,” I said. I even flashed my gritted teeth as I smiled. Just call me Doctor Cooperative.

His gaze slid over my Celldweller concert tee. Beneath the table, worn blue jeans allowed refrigerated air to sneak in at the torn knees. Like I needed his visual disdain to tell me I was way underdressed for a federal interrogation. They didn’t do anything without a tie or stockings.

At least my feet stayed warm in socks and sneakers.

“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t get apprehended in my Sunday best. I’ll try harder next time.”

His lips pinched, biting down on whatever he wanted to say and emphasizing his stern features. Add a sense of humor and strip away the premature aging of his job, and I put him in his early thirties, maybe. Salt dashed his black pepper hair, the cut military short.

“You understand why you’re here, yes?” he asked.

“I can play stupid if you’d prefer to explain it for the viewers at home.” I gestured to the large mirror dominating the end of the room on my left.

Benjamin clenched his teeth, let out a slow breath.

“You’ve been charged with obstruction of an ongoing investigation, as well as aiding and abetting the vigilante organization known as the Paladins.”

He made a good show of flipping through a manila folder stuffed with evidence. Of my so-called crimes, no doubt. My actions over the last several years tied me to the Paladins and — if one knew where to look — to the Gemini Group who had unintentionally created them. I’d built the Gemini Group, created the experiments, written the procedures. I’d documented its transition into a monster as the sons and daughters of my trial groups grew and revealed the changes in their genetic codes.

The cells made to save their parents had resulted in unexpected, even terrifying mutations. A woman with Ehler Danlos Syndrome gave birth to a daughter who could dislocate and reshape her bones and body at will. A man with early-onset Alzheimer’s fathered a child with eidetic memory. A treatment for severe hypothermia resulted in a son with extreme cold tolerance, who could manipulate the temperature around him, and even generate ice from the water in the air.

In short, my efforts to cure disease created superhumans.

But Karen Gemini, the reason any of my work had been possible, accused me of using her to play God.

She had it right, maybe. At least in the beginning.

Like a proud parent, I’d been thrilled by these gifted children. But like regular humans, they came in all shades of good, bad, and indifferent. Some made an effort to use their unique abilities to help the world around them. The public had taken to calling them the Paladins, and it suited them. Honorable, fierce, and steadfast in the face of a world turning on them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Karen Gemini gathered the blackest souls to her bosom, a nightmare brood poised to unleash hell on earth.

The FBI and Agent Benjamin might not yet realize it, but the Paladins stood in the way of gathering darkness. And as the woman whose research had started all of this, I stood to shield the Paladins.

If Benjamin meant to intimidate me, he needed a new strategy.

Go ahead, Agent Benjamin. Take me down. This is so much bigger than you know.

“Dr. Welborn?” Benjamin’s gaze, his eyes an eerie amber-orange, fixed on me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did you want me to deny the allegations? For dramatic effect?”

He turned away, but not before I saw him grimace. Aw, did my attitude hurt his career advancement opportunities? Tough shit.

He needed to toughen up his poker face for this job.

I’d stepped into sharky waters with open eyes. I’d known the risks of siding with the Paladins. Of siding against Gemini.

I smiled.

He rolled his eyes, tension visible along his jaw. “Belligerent charm. Does that work for you often?”

“What do you want from me here, Agent?”

“Names. Aliases. Addresses. We want the Paladin operation.”

I laughed. Not a polite titter, but a snort of disbelief. “Sorry to say, but you’re doomed to disappointment.”

“Doctor—”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Short Story Anthology

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

More details about the book

Connect with this cause on Facebook Events & Twitter

The Darkest Lie by Angela Day

clip_image001

CHAPTER 3

             "I bet he escaped from the psych ward," Remi mused, fascinated by Thane's story. "He sounds like one of those savants, people who can do one thing better than anyone else on the planet but lack in their connection to reality." 

              They were at his locker in the school hallway during lunch, two days after Thane's mad dash to catch the bus and lightning strike. Remi had been glad to see him and drawn out everything that had happened since he left school on Monday, and he'd just finished telling her about Brennan Tayler. "Here's your backpack, Flash," Remi said, smacking him in the chest with it. Thane gave her a quizzical look, and she colored. "He's a comic book guy. Wears all red, runs so fast he's hard to see."  Thane kept looking at her until she punched his arm. "Cool people like comic books."

              "Sure," Thane said, smiling a little. It felt good to be doing something normal after the last few days. He stretched the fingers of his right hand, thinking about the hospital and Brennan again. 

              Remi noticed. "Let me see it?" Thane held out his previously injured knuckles for her and she stared at them like a jeweler inspecting a diamond. "There's nothing here. No bruising, no swelling, nothing. Are you sure you even hurt it?"

              "Yeah," Thane answered. "It was broken. He fixed it."

              "I wonder why," Remi mused, reaching out and taking his hand in both of hers.  Thane stiffened, unsure, but Remi was too deep in her thoughts to notice. She rubbed his knuckles with her thumb, trying to feel for any inconsistency. Thane felt his face going red and was about to pull away when something inside his hand moved.

              Remi froze-- she'd felt it too. Their eyes met over his hand. "What is that?" she asked him. He shrugged, pulling his hand out of hers to look at it himself. He pushed his finger down in the space between his second and third knuckles, and felt that same something hard roll away. It was so small he never would have noticed it on his own. He pulled his hand up to his eyes, and Remi stood on tiptoe to get a closer look. They both leaned in, trying to see any evidence of what they were feeling under Thane's skin.

              The bell rang, startling them both. Thane and Remi realized their faces were only inches apart, and sprang back. Snickers around them in the hallway let them know their display had not gone unnoticed.

              "New girlfriend, Thane?" Ben called from a few lockers down. 

              "You could do better, new girl," Jeran said, flexing his muscles. "I could show you a lot more than that weak loser." Thane's face colored, but Jeran walked off laughing with his buddies. Jeran was an entitled prick, the star of the second worst football team in the state. He wasn't smart enough to be the quarterback but as a wide receiver, you only had to get the ball somewhere near him and he would catch it. Tall and muscular, girls flocked around him and grownups loved to talk to him. Thane wanted to punch him hard enough to make it impossible for him to smirk for at least a week.

              "Don't worry about those idiots," Remi started, but Thane spun around and left her behind. From the moment Mr. Hoffman introduced them, Thane had failed at his one cardinal rule. When he was with Remi everybody saw him.

              Thane was one of the first into the room. Ms. Rasmussen didn't look up as he entered, engrossed in some magazine. He managed to slide onto his stool in the back row without exciting note or comment from anyone. He took out his notebook and pretended to read it as the rest of the class arrived in twos and threes. 

              Remi's voice, laughing and chatting, stabbed his ear and he couldn't help glancing up. She was walking in with Jeran, smiling at him and shaking her head so that her dark hair bounced. As they came in, Ms. Rasmussen's attention was diverted by Remi's giggle and she smugly observed them. "Know your way around now, sweetie?" she asked Remi in a satisfied voice. Remi gave her a half smile, but did not respond. Jeran flashed Ms. Rasmussen a grin calculated to charm, then turned to Thane and transformed it into a self-satisfied smirk.

              "Thanks, Jeran," Remi said, and walked back to sit with Thane. Jeran's face darkened as she walked away.

              "I found your girlfriend lost in the hall," Jeran swaggered down the aisle towards him, voice dripping with false sympathy. "I told her you were unstable." Thane was clenching his teeth, jaw taunt, and Jeran bent down in his face. "It's okay, loser. If your dad doesn't wake up, I'll take care of your hot mom, too."

              Music blossomed in Thane's mind as his fist connected with Jeran's jaw. There was a crunch and a sizzle and the smell of burnt flesh as Jeran fell backwards and the second bell rang. Jeran landed on the floor, as surprised by the sucker punch as Thane was. Jeran sprang back up, blood in his mouth and rage in his eyes and oddly, a bright burn on his jaw. He moved at Thane.

              "That is enough, Jeran!" Ms. Rasmussen snapped. Jeran hesitated, and then lunged for Thane. Ms. Rasmussen grabbed Jeran's shoulder and spun him around, her eyes flashing and her breath quick. "Get out of my class." 

              "What?" Jeran was stunned. "But Cressa--"

              "You will call me Ms. Rasmussen. Go to the nurse's office, then the principal's.  Now." Her voice had gotten softer, colder, and somehow so dark that Thane repressed a chill.

              Jeran crumbled. He fled from the room, the door banging as he ran through it. Ms. Rasmussen came to stand in front of Thane and rested the tips of her fingers on his arm. "Aren't you a hero for defending your mother's honor like that!" She was sweet, but her green eyes glowed with something Thane didn't recognize. Greed? Insanity? She tugged at his arm a little, and he stood up. "Why don't you come up here and take Jeran's seat? He won't be needing it."

              Thane obediently gathered his things and went with her to the front. Remi followed him. Ms. Rasmussen seemed delighted. She even clapped her hands to get the attention of the class, which was completely unnecessary as every eye was already on her.  

              "Change of plans today, everyone! We're going to be doing hands-on experiments instead of a quiz." Her announcement brightened the feeling in the room considerably. "Put away your books and keep out your notepads. You'll need to take good notes. Every team will need a Bunsen burner, a holding tray, one five hundred milliliter beaker, one hundred milliliter beaker, safety glasses for each of you, a thermometer, and a pair of tongs. We're going to talk about thermodynamics!" She seemed gleeful, as manic as Thane had ever seen her.  

              Thane got up and gathered the implements since Remi wouldn't know where they were. He felt awful for ditching her in the hall. Carefully holding as many of the implements as he could in his arms, he set them down gently on the table in front of Remi and spread them out. 

              "I stole his playbook," Remi whispered. Thane attached the Bunsen burner to the short tube that rose out of the center of their rectangular table. "I thought we could do some creative play changing."

              A rush of gratitude warmed Thane. Having a friend had perks. Ms. Rasmussen continued to give instructions.  "...and be sure, girls, to keep your hair away from the flames. I'll be around to make sure that the gas lines are connected. Place the holding tray about six inches above the flame and fill the larger beaker with water from the sink..." Remi grabbed the larger beaker and followed the line of students back to the sink. Soon all the students had their beaker of water in place on the holding tray and were turning the burners on, seeing the waving yellow and orange flame tighten into a straight blue and purple one. "Open the air hole to only about half, we don't want it fully on. We're just heating water."

              The lean, tall woman walked around the classroom checking each burner to ensure that the gas lines were attached correctly and the flames were high and hot enough. She came to Thane and Remi, bending to peer closely at their set up. "I think you need to lower your holding tray slightly," she instructed, and Thane made the adjustment. The corner of Ms. Rasmussen's mouth twitched, and then she moved on.

              Her foot slipped, the thin heel shooting into the air, and she flailed her arms. With one hand she grabbed the side of a table, and the other grabbed Thane's left arm, pulling his wrist directly across the open flame.

              "Argh!" Thane grunted, jerking his hand back. There was a shiny red mark along the underside of his wrist as wide as two fingers. He stared at it as his teacher regained her balance and turned to him.

              "Oh, Thane, I'm so sorry," she gushed. "Someone spilled some water on the floor and I slipped! Let me see it," and she jerked his arm towards her. Her green eyes studied the red welt for a slow heartbeat, and she appeared... pleased. But only for a moment. Her face was full of concern and contrition when she looked back at him. "It's not badly burned. Run cold water over it. As for the rest of you," she whirled to face the class, her beautiful features twisted in fierce and dangerous anger, "be more careful. This could have been a serious accident. If you spill any liquid, clean it up immediately. I could've broken my ankle and poor Thane," she looked down at him and her tone quieted, "poor Thane could have lost his hand. Well," she said, her voice returning to normal, "back to work, everyone."

              As the flames burned and the students adjusted their safety glasses, Ms. Rasmussen pulled a box off the shelf behind her desk. It was dusty, and she smiled and held it for a moment. Then she wiped it off and placed it on her desk. "In this box I have several pieces of Field's Metal. Has anyone ever heard of it?" She paused, but no hands went up. "It is a most impressive alloy. It's a non-toxic mixture of bismuth, tin, and indium. There are many alloys that melt at low temperatures, even though the metals they are mixed from require much higher temperatures to melt in their pure form. These low melting point metals are called fusible alloys."

              Several of the students were scribbling furiously, as Ms. Rasmussen was not writing on the board. Instead, her hands were resting on either side of the open box as she was intently watching the beaker and the flame in front of Remi and Thane. Remi was one of the desperate note takers-- Thane couldn't take his eyes away from the chemistry teacher, like a bird staring at a snake. His heart pounded against his chest and his palms felt sweaty. Something was wrong. 

              She reached her hand into the box and drew out what looked to be a silver straw. "Each of you will be given one of these Field's Metal wires. Place your thermometers into the water and the metal wire into your smaller empty beaker. Using the tongs, hold the smaller beaker partially submerged in the boiling water. Record at what temperature, both Fahrenheit and Celsius, the metal begins to melt. I will pass out molds to each team for you to pour your liquid metal into, and you will time how long it takes the metal to re-harden."

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – New Adult Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Angela Day on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://awriterbyday.com/

The Survivors by Daniel Harvell

The Survivors

When seven strangers impossibly survive a horrific airplane crash, they find themselves changed in remarkable ways. The survivors are endowed with powers that defy explanation. Some are blessed. Some are cursed.

Going their separate ways, they adapt their extraordinary “gifts” to their ordinary lives. The results, however, aren’t always pretty — particularly when one of them engages in a killing spree. With little more to go on than the psychic link that they all share, the survivors seek out one another to uncover the murderer and bring him or her to justice.

The fireman, the grandmother, the psychiatric patient, the basketball player, the mute girl, the rich blonde, and the man in the wheelchair — they all have secrets worth hiding. They can’t trust each other. They can’t even trust themselves.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Fantasy

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Daniel Harvell on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://danielharvell.com

Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson

5.

The next morning Molly got up and went to class, prepared to hear the groans from her Modern Poetry class for their late papers.  She usually punished them with half a letter grade for every class they were late, but she wasn’t sure what to do to compensate for her own lateness.  She thought if she could come up with a few options, like having class in the garden one day or letting them pick the next poem to discuss, and let them choose, they’d be happy. 

Her other classes held better prospects.  She was excited because the day brought discussions about Gulliver’s Travels in British Literature, and The Poisonwood Bible in Modern Fiction.  Save for the groaning from Modern Poetry, she expected it to be a pretty good day. 

It happened in the middle of Modern Fiction.  A student had asked what point Kingsolver was trying to make by sacrificing the family’s youngest child. 

“What could possibly be worth killing such an innocent character?” she asked.

“Well, what do you think?  Do you think the father is so taken by his ‘mission’ to ‘save’ the heathens in the Congo that his youngest is a fair sacrifice, as you put it?  What’s one life if it saves a handful of others?”   Molly had just said it to spur the discussion.  She often made extreme statements in class just to stir the pot and get a good discussion going.

She sat cross-legged on top of her desk looking at the rows of students as hands shot into the air.  She smiled and surveyed their faces.  Their expressions ranged from angry to mischievous.  Molly picked one that seemed undecided.  “Mia, what do you think?”

Before she could answer, the lights went out.  It wasn’t really all that dark, because the back wall had several windows on it, and for that she was thankful. 

“Um…OK.  Just a second here, let me poke my head into the hall and see if I can find out what the deal is,” Molly said as she got down off the desk.

The students whispered to each other as she walked to the door.  “Settle down.  I’m sure it’s just a power surge, and it’ll be back on before I can even find out what happened.” 

“My phone doesn’t work.  Does yours?”  A boy in the front row asked his neighbor.

It caught Molly’s attention.  “Is your battery dead?” she asked.

“No.  I left home with a full charge.” 

Other students began retrieving their phones.  The consensus was unanimous.  No one’s phone worked.  Molly took her phone out of her pocket to see, and to her surprise, it displayed nothing but a black screen. 

She frowned and continued on her journey to the door.  “I’ll find out what’s going on.  Just stay calm,” Molly assured them.  They all looked worried.

Teachers were beginning to poke their heads out of their doors, making similar inquiries about the outage.  No one seemed to know what was going on.  Normally, there would be an announcement or some sort of directive about what to do, but they’d never encountered this type of outage before. 

Molly ran to her office to grab her laptop and returned to the classroom.  By then the kids were getting a little panicky, letting their imaginations run away with them. 

“Why would the power and our phones be out?  What could possibly cause something like that?”

“How long do you think it’ll be out?”

“My mom said she thinks the apocalypse is coming.  She said the signs are all there.”

Another student burst out laughing.  “Your mom is crazy.”

Molly interrupted before a fight could break out.  “OK, enough.  The power will probably be back on soon.  The school has an emergency generator that should kick in any minute now.  Just let me get my laptop going, and I’ll see if I can get some information about it.”

“Dr. Bonham, if the power’s out, will you be able to get online?”

By then, Molly had already gotten her computer out and was trying to get it powered up.  “Oh, that’s a good point.  Probably not.” 

Then she noticed nothing was happening with her computer.  She held the power button down, with no response.  She waited a few moments and tried again.  Still nothing. 

“What on Earth…” Molly muttered.

“What’s wrong?” 

“Um…I’m not sure.  I can’t get my computer to come on.” 

“What should we do?  Can we go home?”

“I don’t know about that either.  The stairwells are dark, I don’t want there to be a stampede.  Just give me a minute to think about the options.” 

They weren’t prepared for something like this.  They knew exactly what to do for a tornado, a fire alarm, or an earthquake.  But this was new territory. 

There really was no reason not to continue with class.  The only things they were using were the lights, and it was plenty bright enough to continue the discussion without them.  However, the kids were rattled, and quite frankly so was Molly.  Continuing with the discussion seemed fruitless, but leaving right this second wasn’t a good option either. She didn’t want to put the students in an unsafe situation. 

“Let me run back to the department head’s office and see what he thinks.  You guys wait here until I get back, OK?”  Molly looked at them all, seeing the panic starting to bubble up.  “I mean it,” she said sternly.  She thought giving them a task, even if it was just sitting still, would help occupy their minds.

Molly caught up with Terry Longman in the hallway.  She looked at him and shrugged.  “Now what?” she asked.

His normally disheveled appearance looked a little more unruly in his stress.  His grey hair stood straight out and his tweed coat hung unevenly.  “I have no idea.  I’m telling the kids and teachers to stay put for now.  There are no lights in the stairwells, and I don’t want anyone getting trampled.  Let’s wait twenty minutes or so and see if it comes back.  If it doesn’t, we’ll let the classes go one room at a time to prevent a stampede.  So, since your class is at the far end of the building, they may be here a while.”

“No problem.  Just keep me posted.”

Molly stopped in Cindy’s room, knowing she had a rowdy group this time of day.  They were arguing with her about getting to leave.

“HEY!”  Molly hollered to get their attention.  They were immediately quiet.  “This is a professional environment, not a middle school.  Arguing is not tolerated.  You will stay put until Dr. Longman says you can go.  He’s making his rounds now, and he’s said if power is not restored in another twenty minutes or so, he will let everyone go home.  However, he doesn’t want any misconduct, so he’ll be letting classes go one room at a time.  Just sit tight.”

A unified groan went up.  “Hey, you’re supposed to be in this class right now anyway!  I don’t want to hear your complaints,” Molly said.

“Yeah, well I’m not sitting here any longer than I have to.  Class gets out at three, and I’m out of here at three,” declared an older student, dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt.  It was obvious that his silver chains, piercings, and long hair were meant to intimidate.  Molly was unfazed.

“You’ll do whatever the head of the department says you’ll do.  No questions about it.  This is considered an emergency situation, and for your own safety and the safety of others, you’ll stay put for now.  We’re not keeping you here forever, so just relax.” 

Cindy had that deer-in-headlights look.  Molly turned and put her hand on Cindy’s upper arm.  “Hey, straighten up.  These kids’ll eat you alive if you let them.  Don’t.  Terry said he’ll be letting classes go one at a time if the power’s not back in twenty minutes.  The process shouldn’t take too long, since there’s about ten rooms downstairs and ten up here, so just hold the fort for maybe an hour tops, OK?”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Stephanie Erickson on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://stephanieerickson.weebly.com/

Death Ain't But A Word: A Supernatural Hot Mess - Zander Marks

Death Ain’t But A Word - Zander Marks

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Urban Fantasy

Rating -  PG13

4.4 (29 reviews)

Free until 31 July 2013

Just because Wilkin's a crackhead doesn't mean the shadows aren't real.
They're real. And they've been haunting him since he was seven years old. Mostly he ignores them.
But when the ghost of his best friend from childhood shows up at the local motel, Wilkin can't ignore the call of friendship. And when his friend's killer buys the motel so he can destroy the remains, Wilkin can't ignore that, either.
Wilkin steals his friend's skull before the killer can destroy it and is plunged into a hot mess of a supernatural thrill ride.
A death-race pursuit of a child's skull. A spirit-whispering trucker hauling plush toys to Kansas. Five demonic farm-kids in a housing project. A Dodge City marshal who executes wayward ghosts. A nasty yellow jersey that takes the joy out of living. And a graveyard full of snitches.
It's enough to make you want to hit the crackpipe. All leading to a climax where staying alive is the least of Wilkin's worries.
Because when most of the people around you are spirits anyway, DEATH AIN'T BUT A WORD.

Dogs Aren’t Men by Billi Tiner

Dog's Aren't Men

A contemporary romance.

Rebecca Miller is a gifted veterinarian with an extraordinary understanding of animal behavior. She is leading a fulfilling life as the owner and operator of the Animal Friends Veterinary Clinic. Ever since her 30th birthday, her mother has made it her mission to help Rebecca find a man, get married, and give her grandchildren. But Rebecca doesn’t see the need for a man in her life. She has her dog, Captain, and that’s all the companionship she needs. However, her world changes the day she literally runs into Derrick Peterson, a gorgeously handsome ER doctor.

Derrick’s experiences with women have taught him that they are vain, silly, and untrustworthy. He keeps his relationships with them brief and superficial. However, he finds himself being irresistibly drawn to Rebecca. She’s smart, witty, compassionate, and very different from the women he usually encounters. Will Rebecca be the one to break down the wall he’s spent a lifetime building around his heart?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Billi Tiner on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.tinerbooks.com/

Summer Kindle Fire Giveaway

Kindle Summer

This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7".

Kindle Fire HD 7" Giveaway

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

  Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)

  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

 

Sponsoring Bloggers & Authors

  Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire. Sponsor a future Kindle Fire Giveaway by signing up HERE. Ends 8/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Orangeberry Book of the Day – I’d Kill For You by Alan Plessinger

Chapter 2: A Detective, pursuing a lead not likely to produce significant results, comes upon a young girl needing to solve a certain mystery of her own, and upon interrogation finds her life to be not quite an open book, if not yet a fully closed one.

After reading and memorizing the case file that’d been faxed to the office, Riley grabbed the key to his residence for the night, the apartment of a lovely blonde secretary named Karen. He also grabbed his overnight bag with a few essentials. He left the office and took a cab out to her place in Tribeca, let himself in, and crept silently to her bedroom. A light was on. He eased open the door, and found that she had fallen asleep with the lamp on and a book in her hand, waiting for him. He took off his clothes as silently as possible, but not silently enough.

She woke up and asked what took him so long, but it was plain to see she had no real interest in the answer. He smiled, crawled across the bed, and kissed her.

When they were finished making love, Riley got up and took a shower, taking a moment to flush the condom down the toilet. After the shower he dried off and took a moment to use his beard-trimmer and then brush his teeth with his toothbrush from the overnight bag, things he liked to take care of at night. When he finished, he returned to the bedroom and sat naked on the bed, finally ready to get some sleep. Karen was lying there, looking at him, smiling, her arms and legs relaxed, her body contented. Before he could lie down, she crawled across the bed and hugged him.

“I’ve got some bad news, Riley,” she said, kissing him on the shoulder. “I’m taking myself out of the harem.”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that, Karen. Why?”

“I’m getting married.”

“Really? That’s great! Congratulations!”

“Thanks. I’m really sorry, honey, but you can’t stay. He’ll be here in a few hours for a breakfast date. You’ve got to be gone.”

Riley was a little taken aback by being thrown out unceremoniously, considering they’d just made love. But he didn’t want to be a nuisance.

“Couldn’t I get some sleep on the couch? I can be your cousin from Schenectady.”

“Honey, I’m marrying the guy who gave jealousy lessons to Othello. You can’t be anybody’s cousin.”

Riley sighed a little and said, “OK, Karen, if that’s the way you want it. I’m sure you two will be very happy together.”

“Thanks, honey. Let’s hope so. I’m not starting things out too well, I know. I should’ve stopped you. I should’ve told you about him, but I had to have one last little taste of the Riley.”

Riley had the unpleasant reaction most men would have, hearing the word little used in any context during pillow talk, but he didn’t complain.

“I take it you never told him about us?”

“Us? There is no ‘us,’ Riley. One day a month does not an ’us’ make.”

Riley smiled. She intended to enjoy dumping him, getting some of the power and control back for the first time in a long while. She continued.

“Honey, how long do you think you can go on this way? A lot of the girls in the harem are worried about you. You’re knocking on forty, you know.”

“Please don’t call it a harem. If you call it that, I might start calling it that. I started this arrangement because I was tired of everybody hating me for having a lot of sex with a lot of different women. I’m tired of being the bad guy. I don’t like people acting like I’m a predator. This way at least there’s no lying, and everybody knows where they stand.”

“Plus you don’t have to pay rent.”

“Yeah. That’s nice.”

“And when’s the last time you told any random woman about the arrangement?”

“I’m discreet.”

“Because you know any woman who hears about it is going to hate you.”

“I wish women could be a little more understanding about this. You’ve never had any cause to complain, have you?”

“Honey, I’ve been a part of the arrangement for more than two years now, and I look forward to the twenty-fifth of every month like a high holy day. You never disappoint. But I never kidded myself for a second that this was a real relationship. Don’t you want a real relationship? Don’t you want to get married one day?”

“I’ve never understood the point of marriage, at least for me. You’re getting married; you explain it to me. What is it for?”

“Lots of things. Companionship. Not dying alone.”

“Oh, what’s the big deal about dying alone? If a couple is married for fifty years, unless they die together in a car accident, at least one of them is going to die alone. Right?”

“So you really don’t ever want to get married?”

“I really don’t. I don’t even like dating. Seduction kind of bores me. I really think I don’t have any ability to fall in love. But maybe some day I’ll meet a woman who might change my mind. I don’t want to say it’s totally impossible. It might happen.”

“Not if you never date, it won’t. Honey, I’m not kidding. A lot of the girls are worried about you.”

“Do you all get together and talk about me, or something?”

“There’s a Web site.”

“Of course. Of course there is. Please don’t tell me the name.”

She kissed him on the shoulder again and said, “Your clothes are hanging up in the usual place, Riley.”

“Thanks. Your fiancé didn’t find them?”

“If he’s checking out the clothes in my closet, we’ve got worse problems than you. Forget the dry-cleaning bill, OK? It’s on the house.”

He stood, turned, and leaned down to kiss her good-bye on the lips, but she gave him her cheek.

“Denied!” he said.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Murder / Mystery

Rating – R

More details about the book

Connect with Alan Plessinger on GoodReads

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Mars Rising by Mark David Major

1 At the Threshold of the Gate

The lieutenant retired to his quarters, removed his tunic, and tossed it across the arm of a chair. He threw his weary body down on the bunk. The collection of bones, ligaments, and tendons in his left knee made a cracking sound as he stretched out the lingering injury. A feeling of anxiety troubled him. He could not adopt the captain’s levity about the situation. The captain had played the role of a man on the brink of Vassalage for so long now that he was, under most circumstances, incapable of gravity. The lieutenant’s position was different. He was young, full of spirit, and most of his life was still before him. He had a lot to lose. He could not dismiss the dread he felt about an uncertain future clouded by civil war. For all he knew, Hande could make good on her boast to raise millions to oppose the Commander, whether through the utility of her foot or more practical means.
His eyes refused to embrace the serenity of sleep. He tried swallowing a sleep aid but it had no effect. His mind raced like a tornado in the lonesome prairie of his quarters. What had the prophecy about the Commander meant? The implications were disturbingly obvious. And because of this, and many other things, the lieutenant could not rest. The lights eventually rose to simulate daybreak within the artificial environment of the ship. The bright light caused the lieutenant’s eyes to momentarily water. An alarm sounded throughout the ship. The lieutenant quickly rose, threw on his tunic, and exited the quarters. He methodically proceeded through the metal corridors of the ship to the bridge. He entered and saw the captain was already there, standing erect among some of the crew gathered about him. The great armada had remained poised throughout the artificial night, holding its position just beyond the invisible boundary formed by the lunar orbit. Other soldiers soon pushed past the lieutenant onto the bridge. One could sense their eagerness, their desire for events to unfold however as they would, rather than continue to bear the strain of this static pause. A sense of anticipation afflicted every person on the bridge. It was reflective of the thoughts and emotions assaulting every member of the crew on every ship of the armada at that particular moment in the drama.

____________

The crackling sound of an incoming transmission caused everyone to turn towards the center of the bridge. They watched as the light of a hologram slowly flickered into existence, as if arriving from some faraway place and unknown time. The hologram materialized into a shape. It was the image of a woman, larger than life and towering over everyone. It seemed apparent this image was simultaneously appearing before everyone on every ship of the armada. The woman was almost painfully beautiful. Her skin was paler than normal for a human, her eyes were a lush dark green, and her lips narrow but inviting. About her shoulders spilled a mane of curly black hair, which miraculously appeared both unkempt and meticulously groomed. There was something eternal about the vision of womanhood before them. One could easily infer by her dress that she was a Marineris priestess. The sheer garment she wore displayed the nubile shape of her lithe body without revealing any details of the concealed flesh. The woman’s appearance silenced everyone. Now, the low rumbling of the engines powering the ship was the only thing that could be heard.

She raised her right hand to her face and, with her middle and forefinger extended, gracefully touched her forehead and then lowered her right hand to her heart, which she also touched, thus completing the accepted manner of greeting in Marineris ritual; tracing the ‘path of the spear’ from head to heart.

Once completed, she opened her mouth and began to sing. The melody she sang was of pure joy. A joy unlike any of them had ever experienced or even before dreamt. It was a very old song. She sang in a dialect long forgotten to most humans. The translation of the song was:

Exultation, lovely flame of God, Sons and daughters of Mars, We enter fire empowered, Heaven our reward!

Embracing that Destiny, Share your kiss among the stars, Brothers in arms and soul, A loving Father, your true north!

Can you sense this time, brothers! Seek salvation in the valley, Above the stars, you’ll dwell.

Embracing that Destiny, Share your kiss among the stars,
Sisters in arms and soul, A loving Mother, our constant!

Can you sense this time, sisters! Seek salvation in the valley, Above the stars, you’ll dwell. The priestess continued to sing by repeating these verses but then the chattering voices of the soldiers articulated thoughts into words. Phrases like ‘the Creator is with us’ and ‘the Holy Mother blesses our path’ escaped their lips. Another voice rose above the others, “Ran’s hand will strike down our enemies with the force of God!” Several of the soldiers fell to their knees in an almost violent manner to worship before the image of the priestess. The hologram slowly began to fade. The song also began to drift away. The lieutenant continued to watch until the last moment when the image at last vanished from their view. The vision of the woman dissolved into an electronic mist as if consumed in a cloud of smoke. Once the image had completely disappeared, an echo of the song hung briefly in the air. For a moment, many believed they could reach out and capture the dying embers of that song to prevent its escape. A few even reached out their hands in contemplation of the attempt but the song then faded into oblivion. There was silence.

The captain began to bellow orders. “The order is given! Proceed into the forbidden zone! Man your stations or get wherever you’re supposed to be!”

There was a moment of quiet and then the entire bridge burst into frenzied activity. Crew members returned their attention to the stations in front of them. Ordinary soldiers exited the bridge. All had now accepted their roles in the coming drama, each according to their own talents and beliefs. After the song of the priestess, it was clear the crew and soldiers were suddenly triumphant in their demeanor and determined in their purpose. The entire weight of the mighty armada slowly edged forward in united action. So began the fateful crossing of the Moon’s orbit into the forbidden zone around the birthplace of the Sovereignty. Ran had begun his thrust into the very womb of humanity.

The captain made his way across the bridge. He stood beside the lieutenant and whispered like a conspirator with a wry grin on his face. “Some trick of the Commander’s, I suspect.”

The lieutenant merely nodded his understanding.
Was it? Or were the mystics of the Marineris Sect intervening in this great drama on behalf of the Commander? Were they blessing the path he had dared to tread in pursuit of glory and honor?

____________

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Mark David Major on Facebook & Twitter

Pistachio the Tyrant (Tales of Pistachio) by Elvis Deane

Pistachio the Tyrant

Things aren’t going well for Prince Pistachio. Just as his grandpapa dies and revolution sweeps the kingdom, the bratty young lad is betrayed by his most loyal servant and sent into exile.

Lost in the woods with only an adventurous rabbit to accompany him, Pistachio’s courage is tested time and again. While his only goal is to find a way home,along the way he might discover a thing or two about himself.

Pistachio the Tyrant is written by Elvis Deane, with cover art and illustrations by Samantha Turnbull.

Buy Now @ Amazon @ Smashwords

Genre - Children’s Fantasy

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Elvis Deane on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://impossibilia.com/

Blog Hosts

http://www.aspiringbook.com/

http://authors-friend.blogspot.com/

http://bitsnbobsbooks.blogspot.com/

http://blogaliciousauthors.blogspot.com/

http://book-connisseur.com/

http://booklovers-dream.blogspot.com/

http://bookprofessor.blogspot.com/

http://booksontherange.blogspot.com/

http://booksbooks-morebooks.blogspot.com/

http://brainyreads.blogspot.com/

http://blog.kybunnies.com

http://cityofbookreviews.blogspot.com/

http://creating-imaginations.blogspot.com/

http://dreamingpages.blogspot.com/

http://einkreviews.blogspot.com/

http://everythingforbooks.blogspot.com/

http://www.farmgirlbook.com/

http://frommindtomind.blogspot.com/

http://frompages2pages.blogspot.com/

http://gentlemanreads.blogspot.com/

http://highclassbooks.blogspot.com/

http://imaginationinbooks.blogspot.com/

http://journeythrubooks.blogspot.com/

http://justmyopinionbookreviews.blogspot.com/

http://booksane.blogspot.com/

http://kindle-nookbooks.blogspot.com/

http://lifealteringreads.blogspot.com/

http://living4-books.blogspot.com/

http://lonelyheartreviews.blogspot.com/

http://meuandbooks.blogspot.com/

http://www.ravinaandreakurian.com/

http://mylifein-books.blogspot.com/

http://myloveforbooks.blogspot.com/

http://myreadingproblem.blogspot.com/

http://needtostopreading.blogspot.com/

http://thenextbigbookthing.blogspot.com/

http://non-stopreads.blogspot.com/

http://pageturningbooks.blogspot.com/

http://pagestochapterstocovers.blogspot.com/

http://pastimewithbooks.blogspot.com/

http://pawsonbooks.blogspot.com/

http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/

http://readingawaylife.blogspot.com/

http://readingmyaddiction.blogspot.com/

http://readingdreamlife.blogspot.com/

http://nobodyimportantreviews.blogspot.com/

http://thereadingcat.blogspot.com/

http://topomorning.blogspot.com/

http://topofshelfbooks.blogspot.com/

http://ukbookclub.blogspot.com/

http://ukqualtiyreads.com/

http://unbiasedbooks.blogspot.com/

http://unendingtbrpile.blogspot.com/

http://upinsmokereviews.blogspot.com/

http://working4books.blogspot.com/

Orangeberry Free Alert - Transcender: First Time by Vicky Savage

clip_image001

Transcender: First Time - Vicky Savage

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Fantasy

Rating - PG

4.6 (68 reviews)

Free until 25 July 2013

When a freak lightning storm turns terrifying, seventeen-year-old Jaden Beckett leaps for her life only to be glitched into an alternate universe. The destiny police want her out. Jaden's got other plans.
Ripped away from her quiet Connecticut life and dumped into a post-apocalyptic version of earth, Jaden lands smack in the middle of a kidnapping--her own!
Agent Ralston of the Inter-Universal Guidance Agency (IUGA) rescues her and helps her to assume a new identity. And what an amazing identity it is ...
In this world, she's Princess Jaden a member of the royal family of one of the three surviving nations. Plus, her mother's alive here--a miracle she never dreamed possible. If that weren't enough, she finds herself falling hard for Ryder Blackthorn, the half-Cherokee half-Irish outlaw who kidnapped her in the first place.
So, when IUGA finally gets its act together and is ready to send her home, Jaden's not budging. She's pretty sure Agent Ralston's been lying to her, and this whole thing isn't really a cosmic accident after all.
Can the powerful IUGA force her to leave? Or is Jaden what some in this strange land believe her to be--a Transcender with the ability to travel among alternate dimensions at will?

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Redwood Violet by Robin Mahle

CHAPTER 1

KATIE MADE HER way to the back of the plane. Lightheaded, heart still racing, she stood in the galley and spotted a tray of water set out for the passengers. A nagging thirst that was brought on by the intense dream from which she had just awakened consumed her. After three cupfuls, her tongue no longer felt like cotton still clinging to its boll. However, the water could not satiate the vivid images that were still swirling in her head. A dream, more like a nightmare, had been the cause of many sleepless nights of late. The best she could recall, it had been about two months since they first started.

“Excuse me,” Katie said, returning to her seat.

“You okay?” Spencer stood up to allow her to squeeze back into the middle seat.

Flying home, or at least close to it, was not something she relished or did frequently. Her current destination was as close to home as she had gotten in the last three years. However, the upcoming nuptials of her dearest friend was the reason this time. It just happened to be that Sam lived near her childhood home.

“I’m okay; I just needed some water,” Katie replied.

The flight was packed when they had boarded in Sacramento this morning. And that was after the sold-out flight from San Diego. Traveling from southern to northern California could sometimes be as difficult as a cross-country flight. Then, there was the forty-five minute drive to the suburbs outside of town, where Sam and her fiancé called home.

“Another dream?” Spencer asked.

She only nodded and shrugged her shoulders. Her post-nightmare routine—leaping out of bed, eyes, full of terror—was becoming something of a habit with which Spencer was growing accustomed. However, its occurrence during a brief nap was something new. Her fatigue was crossing into new levels of desperation.

The plane began its descent, the left wing tilting up towards the blue sky, high above the clouds to make the turn into Eureka. The jet engine groaned and a swift drop in elevation sent a shot of adrenalin through Katie’s body. Landing wasn’t as bad as the taking off; nevertheless, her tolerance for flight had decreased significantly over the past several years.

“I’m glad your parents will be at the wedding. It’s important for you to see them,” Spencer said.

Katie only tightened her seatbelt and prepared for the landing.

Rio Dell was a small town and was even smaller when Katie and Sam were growing up. Everyone knew each other, as was often the case in rural communities. So, when Sam mentioned she had sent an invitation to Katie’s parents, she was not surprised. Slightly disappointed, but not surprised. She knew it was Sam’s plan to get the three of them in the same room. A plan she might regret.

The wheels made contact with the runway in a rough fashion, forcing the plane to bounce up and down. As it slowed down, the drag pulled the plane forward. Relieved that she had touched ground, Katie opened her eyes and released the death grip she had on the arms of her seat.

“Come on, this’ll be fun!” Spencer patted her shoulder.

His sardonic wit was a quality she only mildly appreciated and this wasn’t one of those times.

“Sure! I’m looking forward to it.” She returned an equally ironic smile as they deplaned.

They were a good match for each other.

In the baggage claim area, Katie saw Sam in the distance and headed her way. Arms open and flashing her sparkling smile, Sam seemed thrilled at the sight of her old friend. Katie’s eyes brightened in response as she was both genuinely happy to see her friend and grateful the journey was over.

“How was your flight?” Sam asked. “It’s so good to see you!”

“You too, Sam; you look beautiful. The flight was all right. You know me, not much of a flyer.”

Spencer collected the bags from the conveyor and approached the two of them. “Hi, Sam, long time no see.” He leaned in for a hug from the waist up; appropriate physical contact for his girlfriend’s female friends.

“It has been a while. I’m so glad the both of you could come,” Sam said.

“Are you kidding? You know we wouldn’t miss your wedding.” Katie glanced around. “By the way, where’s Jarrod?”

“Oh, he’s driving around the airport, waiting for us to go to the curb. He didn’t want to pay for parking.”

Katie raised her eyebrows at Spencer as they followed Sam out of the terminal.

***

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Mystery  / Thriller / Suspense

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Robin Mahle on Facebook & Twitter

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Eyes Behind Belligerence by KP Kollenborn

P A R T  O N E

They Will Live in Infamy

Chapter One

NO ONE turned off the radio as the sheriff and mortician carried a body down the stairs; their large feet popping the creaky steps. A sheet covered the boy’s face, hiding his lips that were frozen in a death grin. He was only seventeen. Jim watched the two strangers haul his older brother on a stretcher as if he were luggage; as if scraps. The broadcaster’s voice straggled up the staircase, pursuing a haunting image. Each whitewashed wall, with flowered borders peeling at the tips, reflected streaks of drizzle and snow from the windows. Jim stared out the window.  Away from the body.  Away from his parents. He felt like vomiting. Only five hours ago he had asked John if he could borrow one of his Count Basie records.

“Take the whole damn collection,” his brother retorted. “Ka-mai-ma-sen.” He then crumbled a Valentine’s card he made for his girlfriend, uttering, “Worthless!” and tossed it into the trash.

Jim didn’t understand his brother’s sarcastic tone. He didn’t take any records, fearing his brother would lash out, or that it was some sort of test. Because his brother had been irritable all month, Jim maintained an amicable distance. John’s bruises had remained dark after arguing with their father. And that was unusual. Normally their father showed restraint by keeping his fists relaxed; calmed. But John’s girlfriend was pregnant and dishonor had blighted the family name.

The mortician’s wide shoulder bumped into a family portrait, slanting the frame. Jim recoiled. His brother’s rigid mouth suspiciously resembled a smirk.

“Harold!” the sheriff snapped. His leather coat squeaked with his movements. “Watch yerself!”

The mortician scowled. His youthful appearance implied clumsiness like a newborn calf in the field. Glancing up, he uttered, “Sorry!”

They proceeded to step down; their knuckles grazing by the wooden rail on one side; family photos on the other. The mortician trampled to the bottom of the staircase, and balanced the stretcher to his chest.  He shifted and crimped the rug. Swinging his head back and forth, grumbling, he tried to avoid bumping into the radio that sat on an end table. The sheriff thumped down the last two steps. A dizzy odor of fried shrimp and seaweed wafted under their broad noses; the stench of an unfinished dinner lagged in the air. The sheriff and mortician never got used to the odd smell of the Japanese. Even after all those years living on the same island.

Jim’s father calmly sat on the couch with his hands over his knees. His clean, shaven face became petrified; his small frame transformed into frigidness. He had forgotten to remove his polished shoes and damp coat, not realizing he still had them binding his body. Jim’s mother cradled Bethany, Jim’s youngest sister, in her lap. Her cotton yukata, a delicate housecoat, wrinkled underneath the child’s heat. Both parents retained composure in front of the strangers as they sipped down their son’s death like a glassful of razor blades. To expose their pain to outsiders was simply not done. They felt once they cried out they would never stop bleeding.

Stroking Bethany’s hair, the mother wondered how much of John her daughter would remember. At seven, she was too young to comprehend everything. The mother was only two when her eldest brother was killed during the Russo-Japanese war. She had no memory of him. The familiarity of her brother came from an old, discolored photograph that hung with her other ancestors’ portraits.  Every week she was forced, by her parents, to pay respects to an unknown dead brother. She would not do the same to her daughter. She accepted the grief and agony she felt for her son, but would not force guilt onto her daughter as if her life bore less value than her brother’s death.

Dr. Ellis, a middle-aged man with reddish hair, stood in the living room with the family. He wiped off droplets of sweat from his forehead. “Mr. Yoshimura,” he said. “We’ll take care of the rest. Don’t you worry.”

The father shook the doctor’s hand and bowed his head. Dr. Ellis couldn’t disguise his pity. The circumstances of John’s death would torment Mr. Yoshimura for the rest of his life. Having children of his own, Dr. Ellis understood the fear of not only losing a child, but also claiming responsibility for that child’s death. He had known his friend since he stepped off the boat to work in the lumber mills. Their friendship lasted through war and Black Tuesday, never wavering under the pressures of politics. He had always perceived Mr. Yoshimura as a good man.

“We’ll get you through this,” Dr. Ellis continued, “if that’s what you want. Anything else I can do, let me know.”

Mr. Yoshimura said nothing, and only bowed his appreciation. He was grateful for his friend’s immediacy and discrepancy, declaring his son’s death as accidental. No other white doctor would have done the same. He was grateful, and yet all he felt were shards of grief and guilt; his tongue shackled by pain. No father could ever prepare himself for the death of his oldest son. Especially in that fashion. Especially when he had pushed his son to that brink. The pride he had possessed now seemed ridiculous. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it.

The sheriff and mortician paused to listen to the radio. Reports of the Japanese Imperial Army ravaging China amplified the details of executions, beatings, and violations against women. The sheriff shuddered with a series of grunts, and glanced at the mortician.

Walking through the front door, Jim overheard one of them disdainfully utter, “These Japs don’t even cry for their dead son! Go figure!”

The doctor quickly shut the door, nervously looking at Jim, wondering if he had heard the cruel remark.

Jim bruised his tongue with his teeth until it bled. Hate began to bloat inside. These outsiders knew nothing, not a goddamn thing, about his family. About his grief. About being Japanese in America. Now the war in China began castrating horrible images, and the public winced. What Jim couldn’t believe was how these men spat out judgment on the day of his brother’s death. What goddamn right did they have?

The car door slammed. He heard their large feet sloshing over the mud. Roughly exhaling as if breathing out boiled water, Jim looked at his father. His father had not protected John, and now John was dead.

“Doc!” the mortician yelled. “Ready when you are!”

Jim turned his attention to the doctor; although avoided eye contact. He knew Dr. Ellis was observing him while he tightly folded his arms across his chest. The doctor’s worried expression only aggravated him. He hated pity. Pity meant stupidity.

The doctor gently rested his hand on the father’s shoulder, and said, “I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”  He then reached for his hat and long coat that lay on an easy chair. He browsed through the drafty house, examining the painting of Jesus on one wall, and two Japanese scrolls on the other. It was a superbly tidy home. Too tidy, in fact. Organized, dust free, and not cluttered. Unlike his home. His four children, all teenagers, managed to overrun his household. Swing music blaring. Magazines, coats, lipsticks, and jock straps crowded him out of his living room and into his tiny office. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. As frustrating as it often was, at least they were content. Glancing at the father, then the son, he opened the door and left.

Jim finally gazed out the window. He relived the image of John’s face and body as he lay beside a box of rat poison; stiff like an iron rod; lips curled over his teeth like a decomposed corpse. There Jim found his brother dead on the attic floor.

The men started the hearse. Mist outlined the black vehicle like pebbles in a pond, enforcing the unwanted change. It pulled down the dirt driveway. A soft layer of snow sunk in the dusk’s darkness.

Jim suddenly ran upstairs to his bedroom; the very room he had shared with his brother. The walls were covered in stripes, but bare of pictures except one. The portrait of their great-grandfather hung in an oval frame glared down at their beds. Dressed in traditional Japanese garments from the Meiji era, his stern expression locked an implication of customs. His deteriorating portrait seemed primitive in a modern world. Jim spat at the picture. Slamming the door, he fell on his bed, and plunged his face into the pillow, weeping. He felt like his chest had been crushed by an avalanche of rocks. Choking on his saliva, he had difficulty breathing. He wanted to die. To end this piercing pain. To escape. Jim knew once the doctor departed, John’s name would never be repeated in the house. It would be as if he had never existed.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – R (strong language)

More details about the author & the book

Connect with KP Kollenborn on Facebook & Twitter

Blog http://kpkollenborn.blogspot.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Chasing the Lost by Bob Mayer

Chapter Two

“What the hell is going on?” Chase demanded as he checked Chelsea once more. The bandage and seal were working; bleeding and losing air through the wound was stopped. That was good. Still no sign of an exit wound. That was bad.

“They kidnapped Cole,” Sarah said once more. She had her arms wrapped around her body, shaking. “I couldn’t stop them.”

“Who kidnapped him?”

“I don’t know.”

“Call the cops,” Chase ordered. On Sarah’s face, he could see shock setting in.

“They’ve got Cole.” She said it as if she didn’t believe it. She blinked. “We need to get your dog to a vet.”

Chase looked up from checking Chelsea’s wound and spoke distinctly, combat mode when trying to get through to someone in shock. “Call. Nine. One. One.”

She shook her head slowly. “We can’t go to the police, and we especially can’t go to Spanish Wells Security. You saw them today.”

“This is kidnapping. Not some dispute over a dog.”

She seemed adamant. “We can’t call the police.”

“The guys in the SUV have him?” Chase asked.

Sarah had not stopped shaking her head. “Two men in a boat snatched him off the dock where he was crabbing.” She nodded over her shoulder. “The house is on the other side of the street. Backs onto Broad Creek.”

Chase knew that boat was gone into the dark, up Broad Creek, into the Intracoastal and gone among the thousands of barrier islands and miles of wetlands. “I still think you should call the police and—” He stopped as Chelsea whined loudly, struggling in his arms. He grabbed some disinfectant, and gingerly poured it into Chelsea’s wound as he pulled back the bandage. She whined once more, but didn’t fight him as he pressed the bandage back on the wound.

With a shaking hand, Sarah pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. Using an ACE wrap, Chase secured the bandage and seal to Chelsea. She whined in pain, but didn’t try to pull away.

“Good girl.”

“Closest veterinarian!” Sarah shouted into the phone.

“Searching your location,” the phone replied. There was a pause, then the mechanical female voice continued. “I found three veterinarians. One of them is fairly close to you.”

Sarah did something on the screen of her phone and put it to her ear. There was a pause, then Sarah spoke rapidly. “We have a dog that’s been shot. She’s hurt badly.”

Another pause, then Sarah looked at Chase. “The vet will meet us at her office. Twelve-forty Palmetto Road. Do you know where that is?”

“Yeah.”

Once more, Chase scooped Chelsea up and carried her out to the Jeep, Sarah following. He laid the dog down in the back, then jumped in the driver’s seat as he tugged on a black pullover that had been draped over the steering wheel. As soon as Sarah slid into the passenger seat, he threw the Jeep in gear and raced down the driveway, spitting out gravel and taking the turn onto the hardtop too fast.

With the wind whistling past them and his focus on the road, there was no more conversation as Chase raced out of Brams Point and onto the Island’s main drag. He tried to remember if he’d seen a Vet’s office on his way to his new home in the morning, an event that seemed very long ago now.

“Eleven-ten,” Sarah called out, pointing to the right as she spotted an address. “It will be on that side. Soon.”

Chase saw a light go on in a window ahead and turned the wheel, skidding to a halt in front of the building. It was an old service station, painted bright green. Chase jumped out, picking up Chelsea and carrying her to the door. Sarah was ahead, opening it.

Chase came to an abrupt halt as he spotted a woman wearing jeans and a green smock waiting for him. Her red hair was fiery as he remembered, but cut short now, tight and efficient. “Erin?”

The veterinarian smiled. “Horace Chase. Been a long time. I got your message, but you didn’t leave a callback number and it just said private line.” The smile faded as she saw the blood on his and Sarah’s clothes. “Bring your dog in here.” She pointed toward a swinging door and led the way.

Chase carried Chelsea in, and gently set her down on an operating table. Erin already had a needle out, and expertly stuck it in Chelsea’s right front leg.

She looked at the ACE wrap, bandage, and seal. “You know what you’re doing. QuickClot. That’s good. And the seal.” She glanced up at him. “But that’s Army gear and Army training, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“All right. West Point, and all that good stuff. Never saw you again after you left for the Academy. Tried to call you, and you never called back. Tried to write, and you never wrote back.” Erin shifted her focus back to the dog. “She’s stable. You can go back out now. I’ll take care of her.”

Chase nodded and slowly backed up.

Erin smiled. “Good to see you again, Chase.”

Chase could only nod, then his back was against the door and he almost stumbled out into the front room. Sarah had collapsed on a rumpled old bean-bag couch at one end of the room. He half-smiled, thinking the couch and the rest of the waiting area fit Erin Brannigan as he spotted a large rocking unicorn in the corner. At least the seventeen year-old Erin Brannigan he remembered with surprising clarity from his teenage years. Weeks, Chase reminded himself. He’d only known her weeks.

“You need to call nine-one-one,” he said.

Sarah was about to answer when the door to the operating room flew open, and Erin stuck her head out. Her red hair was covered with a surgical cap and her smock had a splatter of blood on it, and Chase felt a moment’s déjà vu, remembering the Evac Center in Kandahar, waiting on the doc to tell him about one of his men.

“Get in here, Chase. I need help to get the bullet out.”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Bob Mayer on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.bobmayer.org/

The Frog Prince (A Romantic Comedy) by Elle Lothlorien

The Frog Prince

It was his pheromones that did it. With one sniff, sex researcher Leigh Fromm recognizes that any offspring she might have with the mysterious stranger would have a better-than-average chance of surviving any number of impending pandemics. But when Leigh finds out that the handsome "someone" at her great aunt's wake is Prince Roman Habsburg von Lorraine of Austria, she suddenly doubts her instincts--not that she was intending to sleep with the guy. 

The royal house of Habsburg was once completely inbred, insanity and impotency among the highlights of their genetic pedigree. (The extreme "bulldog underbite" that plagued them wasn't called the Habsburg Jaw for nothing.) It doesn't matter that his family hasn't sat on a throne (other than the ones in their Toilette) since 1918, or that Austria is now a parliamentary democracy. 

Their lives couldn't be more different: Roman is routinely mobbed by paparazzi in Europe. Leigh is regularly mocked for having the social skills of a potted plant. Even if she suddenly developed grace, charm and a pedigree that would withstand the scrutiny of the press and his family, what exactly is she supposed to do with this would-have-been king of Austria who is in self-imposed exile in Denver, Colorado?

A handsome prince, gut-busting laughs, love, dirty ballroom dancing, pathetic commoners, sex factoids, Vienna palaces, cursing in German, random hilarity, little to no frogs. See why tens of thousands of readers have fallen in love with this Amazon bestseller! Because someday your prince will come...sort of.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Romantic Comedy
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Elle Lothlorien on Facebook & Twitter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Titan Drowns by Nhys Glover

Prologue

clip_image001

Karl

Summer 2336 New Atlantis, GAIAN CONFEDERACY

              ‘We are undertaking another major mission,’ Jac Ulster announced to the assembled group of Retrievers from the Child and Adult Programs. ‘Like our 1942 mission, we will require a large, well-orchestrated team working in strategic stages. Our main Target will be the forty-eight children our research has indicated were not seen during the chaos of the early hours of April 15, 1912, and whose bodies were never found.’

‘April 15, 1912. That is when…’ Pia Rogaland interrupted in stunned amazement.

‘The Titanic sank,’ Jac finished for her, nodding at the tall blonde. ‘Yes, you have correctly identified our objective. We are going to redress a little of the loss that occurred that day.’

Karl Ontario felt his heart flutter strangely in his chest. It wasn’t the first time he’d experienced this odd sensation since he’d heard the news of the planned Titanic mission, but it still struck him as uncharacteristic. It almost felt like sick excitement; but that was absurd. The only time he’d ever been excited by anything was in his Original body when an experiment had yielded interesting results.

Since then, some 216 years, excitement had never been an emotion he’d experienced. Interest, determination, compassion, contentment and satisfaction were feelings he recognised in varying degrees of mild intensity, but never excitement.

It was commonly believed that the cloned bodies they inhabited were responsible for their race’s lack of passion, but there was no scientific evidence for that. Whatever the cause, it was certainly factual to say that post-apocalyptic man’s emotions were dimmed and marginalized.

Of course for him, even in his Original, the ‘desires of the flesh’ and the concomitant passions it aroused had only ever been mild. One lady-friend had once told him he had ice water in his veins and he’d believed her. He was, after all, the product of his upbringing.

Karl’s father had been an eminent Canadian surgeon in the middle years of the twenty-first century. A fierce and cutting man, he’d ridiculed all emotion out of his son by the time he was ten years old. All that was left in Karl from that time on was the determination to excel. This he’d done spectacularly, out-shining his father in his chosen field by the time he was twenty-five.

Once this goal was achieved, he’d begun looking for new fields to conquer. It was then that he’d encountered the early work on accelerated cellular development the government was funding. Once he saw the potential for their experiments, his course was set.

It gave him satisfaction to know that he was partly responsible for saving what was left of humanity after the Last Great Plague decimated their numbers. Humanity had been whittled down to little more than a few hundred thousand after that last catastrophe, which ended the Second Dark Age.

He firmly believed that he’d been spared by Divine Intervention so that their work, which had previously been directed into military areas, could be utilized to save mankind. Had he or one of his team not been one of the one in a thousand who survived that horrendous pandemic, no one would ever have known about their spectacular research and results. The sterile and sickly survivors of their race would have died out, and humanity would have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Before the Last Great Plague, if anyone had asked him about his beliefs about Divinity he would have called himself an “unconvinced agnostic.” He’d wanted to believe there was a God, but his analytical mind had never found the proof needed to commit to such a belief.

He’d gotten all the proof he needed the day he woke up alone in a town filled with the dead and realised he had the knowledge of cloning that could save the lives of those few who remained.

Man had paid a huge price for his hubris and neglect, but a merciful Creator had given them a way to redeem themselves. The statistical chances of any top scientists surviving that pandemic were infinitesimally small. Yet, among the survivors, there were a surprisingly large number of eminent specialists from a wide cross section of the sciences, including those involved in cellular transpositioning. Their research had eventually led to the time travel they now employed to Retrieve suitable candidates from the past to replenish their depleted numbers.

“Noah’s Ark for humanity” he called the Last Great Plague of 2120; somehow, it had selected survivors who could preserve the best of mankind’s legacy.

His mind returned to the topic at hand. The Retrieval teams were going to Jump to 1912 and pluck children and other suitable adult candidates from the decks of the mortally wounded Titanic. And, for the first time in his life, he was intensely excited by the prospect and wanted to be involved.

Karl wasn’t a Jumper. Such work was left to the more adventurous of his kind. He held a support role – the Head of New Atlantis’ Medical and Research Facility. Not once in the last seventy years of time travel had he felt the urge to involve himself in that other side of life.

Until now. Until the word Titanic reminded him of the undulating rows of grey stone markers, many unnamed, he’d seen in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when he was a child.

His mother had taken him to the Fairview Cemetery to visit the grave of her father that long ago day. While she stood quietly grieving, he’d wandered off into another part of the cemetery. There he found the 121 graves, arranged in three neat rows of markers, all bearing the same date of death: April 15, 1912.

Those graves had affected him. Separated by time – nearly 200 years – he’d still felt a strange bond with those unnamed bodies who were robbed of all that made them human: their names, their history and their loved ones. All they had left were their corpses, which had been collected up by unknown hands and buried in graves of earth, instead of the water that had claimed the bulk of their comrades.

His mother told the story for many years after – well out of his father’s hearing, of course – of how she’d found him standing there among those stones. When asked what had possessed him to wander off like that, he’d simply replied, ‘I came to keep them company. It must have been terrible to die cold and friendless that way and then to be left here to lie forever among nameless strangers.’

He didn’t remember saying that, but it was certainly what he felt for a long time afterwards. All he did remember of his interaction with his mother in that spot was her taking his cold hand in her warm one and gently leading him away.

Now, more than 200 years further on again, those nameless dead were calling to him once more. And this time he could do more than provide short-term companionship. This time he could help to save some of those lost souls from their lonely fate.

Jac and Chen, the leaders of the Retrieval programs, would fight him over his decision to join the undertaking. They’d claim he was too valuable to their society to risk on such a dangerous mission. However, he’d be adamant, and he had enough pull in the higher echelons of government to get his way.

The prep for the mission would take many months. During that time, he planned to integrate with a new clone. Currently, he had been housed in his fourth clone for fifty-five years. Not the limit of the lifespan for a clone by any means, but he wanted to be fit and energetic in a twenty-year-old body if he was to take on tasks that might prove physically demanding and dangerous.

That thought roused the sick excitement once again. Could he be changing in the same way some of the Old Timers were beginning to change after they found their significant other? It felt like it might be the case.

After nearly 250 years within a chrysalis of emotionless rationality, he seemed to be feeling the first tremulous moves toward freedom and life. Within the death throes of that metal Titan, he sensed he would be reborn. The how and why of it he didn’t know, but the when and where was certain: April 15, 1912, Mid Atlantic, aboard the doomed Titanic.

He couldn’t wait!

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romance

Rating – Between PG13 and R (sensual but not erotic)

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Nhys Glover on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://nhysglover.com/