In an alley, near the corner of 52nd and Cherry Street, Nicholas and his two armed thugs stared at what towered above their dead comrade.
A hooded figure wearing a dark grey cape looked in the direction of the three remaining thugs. Under his cape, he wore a thick, burgundy and black tactical suit. A black belt wrapped around his waist and was full of knife sheathes of varying sizes. Through his mask, he heartlessly stared at the scum in front of him, waiting for them to make their move.
Nicholas took a step back, horrified and momentarily stunned by the appearance of the prowler. After a couple of long seconds, both his subordinates charged the figure, their switchblades in hand and curses flying from their mouths.
The hooded man did not move until they were right on top of him. With a fluid motion, he drew out a long, bloodstained dagger from under his cape and grabbed the wrist of the first thug. Before the other one could strike, the masked man powerfully kicked him in the stomach, sending him sprawling. Turning back to the first goon, he quickly twisted the wrist, forcing the switchblade to fall out of the thug’s hand, before he mercilessly stabbed the goon in the neck.
Swiftly, he violently wretched out the dagger and whipped around just in time to dodge the next goon’s knife. As the first thug’s corpse collapsed, the intruder elbowed Nicholas’s last subordinate across the face, causing him to spit out blood. Without any hesitation, he grabbed the goon’s shoulder and plunged his long dagger into his stomach. The dying man’s body momentarily lifted off of the ground before the blade was yanked out and he fell with a loud thud.
The intruder turned around and leapt to the side with lightning speed, dodging Nicholas’s loud bullets that lit up the alley. While in midair, he let loose a small blade which pierced Nicholas’s hand, causing him to drop the gun.
Before Nicholas had time to even let out a cry of pain, the hooded man was upon him.
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Victoria stepped out onto the patio, ambled around the pool, and stood at the gate, gazing out at the moonlit beach and listening to the waves crash against the shore. She inhaled the moist sea air and basked in the soft touch of the salty air against her skin.
The moist, warm air felt refreshing until she realized goosebumps had begun to appear on her arms and then across her entire body. Something was off, and it was giving her chills. She had a feeling that she wasn’t alone. A sixth sense told her someone was watching her. Her body tensed, and she squinted out into the darkness. Scanning the patio, she slowly turned around toward the house. Then she saw her, saw her silhouette, standing in the window staring down at her. Her mother-in-law didn’t move away from the window, didn’t wave, but just stood and stared down at Victoria. Victoria held her gaze for what seemed like at least a minute. Then, finally, the drape slid across the window, and her mother-in-law was gone.
Sophie continued to ask around town about the previous owners of her house. She then found out that about fifty years ago, a woman that lived in her house vanished without a trace. What is even worse is that she was nine months pregnant! She was still missing, and the mystery was never solved. Sophie wanted to find out even more about the house after she heard that unsettling news.
Sophie was told that they searched and searched for the missing woman years ago. They dragged all the local ponds and questioned everyone in the neighborhood. Her husband had passed a lie detector test, so he was dropped as a suspect. A search party of over one hundred people searched nonstop for the missing woman during a twenty-four hour period. The police were dumbfounded by the lack of evidence. There were no clues and the case eventually became a cold case. Even though the husband passed a lie detector test, many people still believed that the husband was responsible for the disappearance of his wife. For the first year after his wife's disappearance, he was under scrutiny from the whole town every time he left his house and was seen out and about the town.
Many years later, the husband was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria in his hands. The doctor believed that he got it from working in his garden. His doctor treated him for the bacteria, but it continued to get worse. The flesh-eating bacteria spread throughout his entire body, and it was literally eating him alive! He had a major stroke and not too long after that, he had a massive heart attack and died.
A sharp pain jabbed Rebecca Kincaid’s side, and she sucked in a breath. Her hand fell to the hard swell of her belly, rubbing gently. Round ligament pain, she figured, just one of the many joys of being pregnant.
“Chillax, kiddo,” she said to the baby dancing inside her as the pain subsided.
Smiling to herself, she glanced around to see if anyone else was close enough to hear. Some people called you crazy for talking to yourself in public. She caught the eye of a redhead standing beside a stack of Diaper Genies. Dressed in blue jeans and a red flannel coat, the woman smiled. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, older than Becky, but not as old as some of the women in her prenatal classes. The woman’s gaze strayed to the strained buttons around Becky’s baby bump.
“When are you due?”
“Two more weeks and counting.” She grimaced. Being this big, nothing was comfortable. Her back ached, her hips hurt, and even sleeping was hard.
The woman smiled sympathetically. “I know, right? I felt the same way when I was pregnant, like I was Sigourney Weaver in that Alien movie with a little monster just dying to get out.”
“I know what you mean,” Becky said, breaking eye contact.
Truthfully, she hated that movie. Violent and gory. Comparing a baby to a bloodthirsty alien tearing its way out of its mother’s womb, well, that was kind of sick. She was much more of a romantic-comedy kind of girl.
“I have a toddler at home,” the woman said. “Seems like just yesterday I was in maternity clothes, though.”
Becky faked a laugh and turned down an aisle, away from the stranger.
Hunter King struggles to keep his town from falling apart. With the Government Security Agency threatening to close down The Slayer program, an unknown beast on the loose in his city, and commanders at other locations disappearing, he finds himself at the breaking point.
Dominic follows clues that bring him closer to Florin while Chari finds herself struggling as a slayer when her heart belongs to a vampire. On this night, loyalties will be forged, promises broken, and secrets revealed. In a war between all, some will live and some will die, but everyone’s lives will change.
Finalist for Book of the Year Military Autobiography in 2015 and Nominated for Best First Book of the Year in 2016
A GRIPPING, TRUE STORY TOLD FROM THE FRONT LINES AS THE WORLD FACED THE POSSIBILITY OF NUCLEAR WAR
This is a personal account of military service and the historical events that were happening during President Reagan's time in office as the world faced the possibility of nuclear war. The author was in the US Army from November 1980 until March 1988 which coincided with President Reagan's time in office. He quickly went from a naive seventeen year old boy to a dedicated die hard soldier ready to sacrifice his life for his country.
An assignment that likely would have been at Ground Zero of a nuclear war.
On the verge of World War 3 and nuclear war, "We Were Soldiers Too" is about the difficult job of serving in the infantry during a very critical time of the Cold War.
Serving as the first line of defense for a Soviet invasion in Germany, he found himself assigned the responsibility of defending an area in the Fulda Gap with only one objective, to hold the advancing Soviets until reinforcements arrived.
Read what other veterans think of "We Were Soldiers Too"
"An excellent illustration of the lives and sacrifices of our Cold War enlisted service members. I recommend it to all. It brings back memories of those days and what we did during that era." Edward A. Chesky
"I highly recommend this for anyone to read, especially for anyone that has served this great Nation. I suspect that my fellow Cold War Veterans will be able to relate to a lot of what this author writes about." Tracy A Stephens
"An excellent book about those men who served during the Cold War. Excellent insight into how the Army prepared for a possible Soviet invasion. I highly recommend this book." Gary E. Earls
"I too am a Cold War Reagan Soldier and I Enjoyed this Book very much. I think Bob did a great job by putting in writing how we all feel. We were highly Trained and Ready to meet any Challenge and Subdue any Threat. We were part of the Strongest Army in the history of the United States. We were and Still are Soldiers. I am Proud to have served with such fine members of the Military." Curtis Nazelrod
In the future, the only solution to mass overcrowding and dwindling resources is the lottery. A game where people are paid to play but, if they win, they legally become food. Two such lottery-winners, a suicidal teenager named Sammie and an impoverished middle-aged woman named Kim, find themselves 'purchased' by the upscale Bistro Viande which is run by celebrity Chef Nick Delano and his jaded sous-chef, Anne. In the few remaining days of their lives, Kim decides to make the best of her life in enjoying what few pleasures remain for her, while Sammie decides to make the best of her death in ensuring she is at her tastiest. Little does anyone else know, however, that Sammie hides a dark secret, one that could both save her life and destroy the Bistro.
Anne stalked in and shouted “What the hell are you doing!?” Sammie and Kim looked at each other. Sammie stammered and Kim said “What do you mean? We just did as you told us. We weren’t trying to escape or anything like that. Just sitting here.” Anne pointed at them and said “You took that shower and then put your grungy, dirty clothing back on!?”
Sammie nodded quietly “Yes ma’am.” Kim squinted at first, but then smiled. Kim said “Wait, you’re so pissed, that you’re going to send us back into that hot shower.” Kim chuckled and said “We should piss you off more often.”
Anne stared at her coldly and replied “It’s not cheap!” Sammie pulled off her shirt and said “…or legal.” Anne shot her a look and Sammie held up a hand “Not that I’m complaining at all. We really enjoy and appreciate it.” Anne smiled wryly “It’s a perk of being food. The law says using hot water to wash a person is an illegally wasteful practice.” Anne cocked her head to the side lightly and continued “But… you aren’t people anymore and the use of hot water in cleansing of food in its preparation is legally allowed.” Sammie’s jaw dropped “That’s freaking genius!” Kim started to unbutton her pants and said “But, you’re not allowed in, Anne, are you?” Anne shrugged “The only time I’m ever in there is when I’m force-shaving a runner chained to the wall. Trust me, I’m not enjoying the water during those times.”
Sammie said “But, you never, you know… when no one is looking, or maybe between shipments ever want to hop inside this thing and get an actual, nice shower as opposed to those two-minute ice-bucket pieces of crap we’re allowed to have?” Anne shook her head “Never.” Sammie cocked her head to the side and said “Really? I mean, aren’t you even tempted.” Anne replied darkly “It’s an instrument for cleaning food. All the women who shower in there, they die.”
Kim pursed her lips and asked “Is it because of too many bad memories?” Anne’s gaze softened, but only for a second. She shook her head and it was gone “Just rinse off and get ready.”
They both disappeared in while Anne waited outside. In a few minutes, giggles and splashing could be heard coming from the shower. Anne shouted “Hurry up!” Sammie called back, laughing, “I suddenly feel like running, Anne. Maybe you should take off your clothes and come in here to hold me down. Why don’t you bring a bar of soap in for yourself while you’re at it?”
Anne threw a hand to her mouth to stifle the laughter that yearned to raise from her mouth. She clenched her jaw tight and squinted her eyes hard. She whispered to herself “They’re food, not friends. Food, not friends.” She leaned her head back against the wall and whispered to herself “Come on, Anne. Don’t make the Mary Jenson mistake again.”
Anne closed her eyes and remembered Mary. Over Mary’s short stay at Bistro Viande, her and Anne had grown incredibly close. She had a hard time remembering, between Mary and herself, who cried harder when she eventually loaded Mary into the oven. But, the end result lay seared in Anne’s mind…
Anne had to live on knowing herself to be Mary’s killer.
Anne took a deep breath to force the growing emotions away. Anne whispered “Die inside. Live outside.” She closed her eyes and pictured herself dead until the waves of memories and emotions passed. She reopened her eyes once more…
She remembered who she was. A consummate professional fully capable of a job that required her to kill two people per week.
Her face returned to its normal cold stare.
One night Aaron Tyler has his world interrupted by a knock at his front door. He finds himself confronted by a broken and bloody girl unconscious on his doorstep; he makes the snap decision to help her, something that goes against his reclusive behaviour – a decision that will transform his life.
What ensues is an unlikely friendship between two people, but why is Sophie there? Over the course of several weeks Aaron’s life is reawakened by the seductive powers of Sophie. She realises early on that her hidden agenda could ruin everything, her family are manipulating her for their own gains, dysfunctional at best, violent and abusive at worst. She is torn between doing what they want and her new found loyalty to Aaron – and what roll does the mystery man play in the scheme.
At fifteen Sophie has no business living in the home of a forty year old man, but she convinces him that she has no family, nowhere to live and no other options. Aaron for his part only wants to help the poor girl.
Sophie brings out a side of Aaron that even those closest to him didn’t know existed. For twenty years he has not left his house, as he gets to know her he realises that he would do anything for her, even die for her. As her seduction progresses she uses his infatuation with her to entice him out of the house, baby steps at first before breaking his tether from Sotherby House.
Happy with her new found life, she decides to abandon her families plan for her. The plan was that after they placed her in the midst of Aaron’s universe she was supposed to manipulate him into sleeping with her which would then trigger their scheme of blackmail.
Before she undertook the task she had been warned that Aaron Tyler was a pervert who likes underage girls, what she discovered was the sweetest man she had ever met. For the first time in her life she feels like part of a family.
While she deviates from the plan the friction between her family increases. The pressure and strain on her parent’s relationship results in a violent split and her dad taking things into his own hands having realised they put their daughter in harm’s way. He decides that he will do anything to get her back and to punish anyone that gets in his way.
With her dad prepared to do anything, things get eventful at Aaron’s house when he turns up to retrieve his daughter, a man on a mission who will stop at nothing to protect his family.
The story highlights society’s stereotypical ideas about love and life, how a married couple with a fifteen year old child would appear to be the idyll. While a man living a lonely existence of exclusion from the world seems to be living a wasted life. At its heart ‘Hard Candy’ is a forbidden love story between Aaron and Sophie – a love that turns out to be pure, and the abusive marriage of her parents which on the surface is good and wholesome but below is toxic to the core.
Society’s need for material possessions is a driving factor for why Sophie’s family do what they do as well as the mystery man. Elements of jealousy and a sense of being owed by the world are also highlighted.
The heavy gate groaned shut. He pulled the backpack out of his Jeep and slung it over his shoulder. He walked a quarter of a mile along the fence line and stopped. Then he pulled a “No Trespassing” sign from the pack and propped it against the fence. With a few strokes of a hammer, he nailed it to the post. The dull blows echoed in the quiet woods.
Branches and fallen leaves popped and crackled beneath his feet as he worked his way methodically along the ridge, checking the barbed wire fence for gaps. The cinnamon smell of the turning leaves was a sure sign that hunting season would soon begin, and he couldn’t afford to have strangers stumbling onto his property.
He nailed the last sign to the post.
He turned and started down the rugged trail carved into the steep hillside. A couple of hundred feet below, the valley floor glimmered like an emerald in the late-day sun. Three cabins stood in the clearing beside the river. The place had been a youth camp once, before the drowning of a teenage girl had destroyed its reputation. Afterward the camp had closed and the cabins had fallen into disrepair.
Dappled sunlight shone through the thick canopy of branches overhead. He loved days like this. Alone in the woods, he felt at peace with the world.
A scream rent the air, shattering the stillness of the afternoon.
It was shrill. Human.
Crows fled the safety of the trees, a torrent of black wings flooding the blue sky. Heart racing, he started to run. The uneven ground slid beneath his boots. Branches slapped at his face, and he ran faster, driven on by her panicked cries.
Another scream. Louder.
It was coming from the cabin farthest from the water’s edge.
The hot water felt good on her skin. She closed her eyes and imagined what she and Tim had just been doing. It made her tingle a bit as she could still feel his hands on her. She looked around as though to be sure no one was watching as she continued lathering her body. As she did, the lights suddenly flickered off and on and then off again. Suzy looked around and then up at the darkened light. “Oh crap!, just what I need” she muttered. She wasn't looking forward to a power failure right in the middle of her shower. She turned and reached for her shampoo on the ledge of the shower stall. As she did she seemed to see an unmistakable shadow on the wall of the next shower over. At first she felt a little frightened as she called out “Who’s there?”
Then her fear melted away and a wry smile came across her face as she called out quietly, “Tim? Is that you? Come on in, the waters fine” She waited for a moment for him to respond. When he didn’t, she smiled and figured he probably wanted to slip in beside her after turning off the lights and surprise her.
“Come on over Tim, you and I can make this water even hotter eh?” she cooed. She looked up as the shadowy figure moved towards the front of the adjacent shower stall. Suzy felt a little shiver of excitement come over her, as she thought about the two of them in the shower together....
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Tastes Like Murder (Cookies & Chance Mystery #1) by Catherine Bruns Narrator: Karen Rose Ritcher Series: Cookies & Chance Mystery #1 Published by Gemma Halliday