Benito then crushed his cigarette out on the pavement. I noticed it was half lit and still smoking. "When someone steals my property, I get very agitated. I can't sleep, break out in a rash and then I am uncomfortable. When I become uncomfortable I become unreasonable and you don't want me to be unreasonable." "No, I don't." I said. "Good just let me know what State he is in and I will find him. You will be off the hook. I know he is your friend but he is a rat and a low life. Now what State is he in!" He was now digging his hand into my left shoulder. I felt his grip, he was very strong. I loved Cliff like a brother but this was not my battle. "He is in New Jersey" I screeched. "Okay let's go Dobbs, have a nice day kid." I watched them walk across the street and get into a gray Corvette. As they drove away I felt my hands sweating. I got off easy. It wasn't me they wanted but I was the weak link. I also tried to convince myself that I didn't give up Cliff because I didn't pinpoint his location. I really did not know where he was and I think they knew that. They knew Cliff was smart. I told them he was in New Jersey but New Jersey is a big state. I must admit I was still frightened but I was more frightened for Cliff. I did not want anything to happen to him. I really believed these guys would hurt him.
"Hey Johnny, this is my only phone call so listen up. I have been arrested. I have killed Dobbs and Marquez." "What!" I said. "Yeah they came after me like you said they would. They worked me over pretty good. They beat me up but I was able to crawl over to my truck as they were leaving and pulled my dad's rifle out of the truck. I shot and killed them both as they were walking away."
Other books in this genre:
A young man was hunched behind the wheel of an older, white Toyota Camry while it sat idling at a suburban curb. The car was in oddly good shape considering its age and the man was wearing a chimpanzee mask. It wasn’t the good sort that goes over your whole head, it was the cheesy type that’s pulled against your face by the elastic thread so hard it hurts where the sharp edges of the eyeholes dig into your skin. He didn’t look particularly dangerous - but he certainly did look weird.
It was one fifteen on a Thursday afternoon and Chimp Face’s animal friends were inside a nearby bank robbing the place. This particular branch of the big, national chain had been chosen as victim from the many around the city for several different reasons. One was its position on a quiet street without too much traffic but the most important factor had been its lack of any obviously stringent security measures. There were only a couple of security cameras pointing haphazardly in apparently random directions, a simple alarm system with a panic button that nobody could reach and unfortunately one old, more or less token security guard.
The robbery had been carefully planned as a takeover-style heist months before and so far it was working out just perfectly. The three thieves inside the bank were wearing shapeless black, baggy jumpsuits, white cotton gloves and their faces were covered by a variety of similar animal masks. They were doing their best to come over as ‘methodical, efficient and firmly in control’ the way their gang-boss had told them but their nervous energy made them seem almost clownish in some way. But only almost clownish - the harmless fun was being knocked off the circus thing by the large caliber weapons they were all waving around.
The few customers who’d been in the bank when the robbers stormed in were lying face down on the floor shaking beside a couple of bank employees. They were all being covered by slim-built Cat Face who wielded an older M1 carbine, maybe an ode to Patty Hearst herself, while short, round Elephant Face had been assigned to guard the doors and the weapon he was pointing around so threateningly was a Remington, pump-action shotgun. Dog Face himself favored a military issue M16 that was ridiculously mounted with a laser sight and the red dot terrified those on the floor that understood what it was when it fell on them and bewildered those that didn’t have any idea.
One of the people lying on the floor was the old security guard, Larry Kitman. For most of his working life Larry had been a janitor at Rothman Junior High but budget related cutbacks in the city’s unified school district had forced him into early retirement despite the fact that he wasn’t ready for it . After a year of struggling to find his rent and the exorbitant sums of money needed for his heart medication he’d managed to talk himself into this job and he was happy to have been given a badge, a uniform and virtually no training whatsoever.
It was big built Dog Face who thought he was in control of the gang at this point. He grabbed an older, near hysterical woman who worked at the bank as a teller and yanked her to her feet. “You,” he barked at her as he pulled her behind the counter with its apparently useless, Plexiglas security screen, “open this cash drawer.” Shaking with terror she found the key which had been stupidly left hanging on a hook for all to see but her trembling hands couldn’t get it in the drawer’s keyhole fast enough for him so Dog Face grabbed her tighter, not really trying to hurt her but wanting to make her feel scared - maybe secretly needing to make her feel as scared as he was. Cat Face’s eyes narrowed in a disapproving frown at Dog Face’s unnecessary bullying.
“I said open the damned drawer and get a move on,” Dog Face went on with a snarl.
All that did was make the teller’s hands shake even harder and the keys dropped from her fingers onto the floor. She stared down at them not moving a muscle but looking like she might just pass out from the terror of the whole thing any second. Before things could get any uglier Cat Face scampered behind the counter and grabbed the keys holding them up to her so the teller could point at the right one. Without any more fuss the drawer was opened and Dog Face tossed a well-worn Adidas sports bag at the shaking bank employee. “Put the money in there and hurry up about it.” The poor woman did her best but her still trembling hands let the cash slip through her fingers, as so many people seem to do, and most of the money went cascading out of her reach. Dog Face locked up anxiously at the ticking wall clock. “Now what the fuck.”
With a low, angry-sounding sigh in his direction Cat Face again moved to save the day before Dog Face could get any nastier and quickly helped the woman do what she was being told. After a lot of fuss some of the banknotes somehow ended up in the smelly, old gym bag.
This was all taking a lot more time than had been planned for. As sweaty anxiety levels crept up Cat Face tried to save some more of those precious seconds by scooting over the top of the counter and, with cash bag in hand, landed on the floor close to the guard with a surprisingly clumsy sort of little hop. Nobody else moved or even dared to look up from their prone positions but Larry decided to do something brave in his meaningless life that might somehow make a difference. He waited for the right moment and when it presented itself, in his mind at least, he leapt to his feet and lunged at the robber closest to him. Chaos. The resulting struggle was brief, intense and disastrous because as Cat Face stumbled backwards from the heavy smack in the head the mask got torn away. Everybody froze for an ugly, long second - then everything changed for a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.
Nobody else in the bank could see Cat Face’s exposed, very human and horrified expression but while the mask was being yanked back into place Larry stared at the face in front of him. As far as he was concerned he was cleverly making sure he was getting a good look so he’d be able to give an accurate description of the robber later. The problem was he was too slowwitted to hide what he was doing and Elephant Face caught on. With an intimidating grimace he shoved the barrel of his Remington into Larry’s crinkly old cheek trying to make him look the other way.
Afterwards nobody could imagine why Larry would make the stupid mistake of grabbing at the muzzle of a shotgun and yanking at it as hard as he could. If he’d been trained at all he’d have known that guns have grips designed to prevent just such a thing from happening and this one didn’t come free from Elephant Face’s hands. Instead, the sudden force of the jerk tightened his finger on the trigger and the gun exploded into life from pointblank range.
Almost everybody looked away from the sickening sight as Larry’s old brains got plastered all over the walls and over some of the less fortunate people lying on the floor nearby. The deafening blast of a twenty gauge going off that close to everybody was followed by another long, stunned silence until Dog Face grabbed the killer by the throat growling at him ferociously. “Have you lost your stupid fucking mind or what?”
Cat Face stood rooted to the spot staring in disbelief at the bloody, virtually headless corpse on the floor while Dog Face went on ranting in a mindless fury. “Jesus Christ Teddy, why the hell would you want to do a thing like that?”
Feeling completely helpless he finally let go of the shaking gunman and chomped down hard trying to swallow his own, growing panic. “Come on,” he muttered when he’d gotten himself together enough, “we’ve got to get out of here. Let’s fucking go.” Money bag forgotten both of them charged for the plate glass doors but Cat Face still couldn’t move and went right on gazing at the horrific, bloody mess they were leaving behind. It was Elephant Face who ran back and grabbed Cat Face by the arm. “Come on for Christ’s sake,” he said not intending any pun, “this is no time for that pussy bullshit, the cops are on their way.”
There was defiance in it as the cat’s arm angrily twisted itself free from the elephant’s grasp but finally they all ran to the doors while nobody else moved.
Along with the impotent security cameras the shaken teller could only stand and watch as the gang dived into the waiting Camry and the doors slammed shut. A weird moment followed when the rising excitement went limp because, instead of pulling away with a squeal of tires like everybody expected, the car almost stalled stupidly. It had to grab a second bite of the clutch and over-rev its motor before it could finally peel away from the curb dramatically the way Chimp Face had been fantasizing about for the past couple of weeks.
Once clear of the suburbs the getaway car slowed down and drove through the city. It wove steadily and sure of its complicated and clever way through quiet side streets heading towards the docks. Finally it slipped into heavier traffic losing itself in the throng of thousands of other cars that weren’t worth a second glance - it was hiding in plain sight.
Inside, Chimp Face was concentrating hard on his driving but once he had time to think about it another concern leapt into his over-excited and usually dull mind. He tried to turn his head to look at the others but his mask kept sliding around stupidly on his face so the eyeholes didn’t line up with his eyes any longer. “What went wrong, where’s the money?” he wanted to know. Dog Face still had a nasty tone in his voice. “Just shut up. Keep your speed down and look where you’re going before you kill us all. Just follow the route we laid out and stay calm that’s all you’ve got to do.”
The escape had been planned just as meticulously as the robbery itself but that had gone so horribly wrong everybody was anxious the getaway was going to end in the same screwed-up way. The others didn’t need to see his face to know Dog Face was fuming behind his mask, he seemed to fume most of the time even under more normal circumstances.
“What the hell were you thinking? This is a war against capitalism and our weapons are the hearts and minds of the people. What part of that didn’t you get, how does shooting some old fart sway the populace in our favor?” Elephant Face understood well enough what a rhetorical question was but he wanted to answer it anyway. He was full of a desperate need to explain to the others what had happened, he was looking for some sort of understanding from them, maybe even forgiveness. “He saw one of us didn’t he? I thought trying to make him look the other way was the right thing to do, I wanted to make sure he couldn’t identify anybody.”
The only answer he got was an unconvinced grunt from Dog Face so he went on. “Anyway it was an accident, I didn’t mean to pull the trigger.” Chimp Face couldn’t believe his horrified ears. “You shot somebody? You dumb asshole! Now we’re all guilty of the same crime you know, that’s the law.”
He could tell from the way everybody else went completely quiet that the news was worse than that and even he was able to put that two and two together. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me he’s fucking dead, you killed somebody?”
Dog Face couldn’t take listening to any more of this panicking claptrap. “Just shut the fuck up, both of you.”
Beaten by their stupidity, or perhaps by his own, he pulled off his white gloves and then tore off his mask. “And get those stupid things off your dumb faces before anybody spots us.”
Not wanting to piss him off any further the other two jumped to do the same and Cat Face’s gloves came off slowly too but the mask stayed right where it was. Behind it a pair of deep, dark brown eyes hid themselves. They weren’t catlike in the least but instead seethed with a desperately human and angry shame that needed to stay hidden from the rest of the world.
While the Camry was making its slow way towards the docks Liam was finishing his lunchtime date with Margot. They’d been at it for the past hour or so but they weren’t eating a meal, they were only one step short of eating each other. Their lovemaking was crazy fun for both of them just like it always was which was odd considering the financial arrangements between them. When he made it to a very happy ending Liam buried his face in the perfume of Margot’s thick, red hair and he wasn’t surprised in the slightest when her back arched in her own ecstasy. She wasn’t faking it either, she never had to when she did it with him.
They lay in each other’s arms wallowing in that old ‘post-coital glow’ thing for a bit until he rolled over to look into her face. “Did you open that Eurozone brokerage account I told you about?”
She didn’t answer. She just looked at him blankly and listened with only half-believing ears at his sudden and maybe ill-timed change in direction. For some obscure and naïve reason he mistakenly took her silence as a cue to go on talking - so he did.
“The magic of it is, if you deposit American dollars they don’t convert the yield into euros until after the domestic tax has been paid. That means the tax rate is half of a percentage point less than it is on other accounts of the same type.”
He stopped talking when he realized she wasn’t paying any attention whatsoever.
“God, you and your boring banker’s brain,” she said poking playful fun at him and grinning.
He didn’t grin back. “It’s not about banking at all,” he argued pretending to be defensive, “it’s all about the magic of math, the poetry of numbers and there’s nothing boring about it in the slightest you fiscal Philistine.”
She knew how to stop him talking though. She pushed him over onto his back pinning him down then climbed on top of him beaming wickedly and spreading her perfect thighs. “Well then numbers nerd,” she purred impishly as she lowered her lush, unwaxed self down onto his quickly renewed enthusiasm, “work out the compound interest of this.”
Now it was her turn to be in charge and soon her skillful, rhythmical agility worked its magic making a poetry of its own.
When that round was over Liam reluctantly hauled himself out of bed. The condo they were in was clean and tidy but the furnishings were purely functional and not really her at all because she rented the place purely for business purposes - maybe that wasn’t really her either.
Liam was in his late twenties, small-built but athletic looking and almost handsome in a dark, boy-bandish sort of way. She watched him pulling on his clothes. “Are you leaving already? There’s still time left on the meter so why don’t you get back in here and use up that last quarter?”
He slapped her playfully on her bare ass and put some notes on the pillow beside her. “That’d be dead easy to do,” he said, “but I’ve got to go. Lunch time’s over and there are millions waiting to be diverted from somebody else’s bank accounts into ours.” She watched him lazily wondering why she found Liam just a bit strange, not strange in a bad way just very different from all of the other men who popped into and out of her life.
“You know,” she said, “you remind me of the boy-toys who played with the women tourists on the beach in Portugal. Your family must be Mediterranean or something.” That comment got close to a deep-buried nerve. He didn’t want to talk about his life or family to her or anybody else come to that which was why he came to a girl in her business to start with. So he wandered off into the living room and when he saw the open window he stuck his head out pretending to look at the view. The truth was he didn’t give a damn about the view - he was putting an end to the conversation. Not about to give up that easily however Margot crept quietly up beside him after a couple of minutes and leaned out the window too. “Hey, are you okay?” she asked.
She offered him the joint she’d lit. “Want some of this?”
He shook his head but not in a disapproving sort of way.
“Not good for an athlete’s lungs?” she said making light of it and taking another hit herself.
“It’s not that,” he told her, “plenty of guys on the team smoke now and then I guess. I’ve never done it much myself. Somebody I cared about screwed up real bad by doing too much of it.”
She took another hit but couldn’t ignore the darkness about him so she deflected the uneasy moment by picking up a small can and started sprinkling water on the potted plants that were wilting on the fire escape.
His dark mood passed quickly enough. “You’re into plants?” he asked her finding the notion pleasing but a bit surprising.
“Sort of. I planted them because I spend a lot of time here so I wanted to make it a bit homey at least.” As he ducked back inside to finish pulling on his clothes he put another $100 bill on the coffee table. “Here, you need help then. Use this for classes at gardening school or something. At least get a book or two on how to take care of those poor plants you’re killing.” Margot knew she was good at what she did and men tipped her often but not like this, not simply out of kindness so she broke a cardinal rule of her business and kissed him. It was almost a real kiss on his lips but she fought off the temptation at the last second and kissed him on the cheek instead.
“Isn’t that against somebody’s rules or something,” he asked her with a mock frown, “showing affection to a John?” She smiled back easily. “No. If you pay extra you get extra of course.”
Still smiling she let go of him but, as he backed away from her towards the door, he stumbled over the edge of the curled-up carpet. She giggled at his clumsiness and the almost awkward moment of caring between them was over. Her smile grew into a grin as he opened the door. “Thanks for the delicious lunch,” he said, “see you again soon.” “Thanks for the generous tip,” she told him, “and I’ll be waiting. You can have the boys put you through to me direct anytime.” “And hey,” he added as a more serious thought occurred to him, “you should do something about that carpet before somebody trips over it and gets hurt.”
Then he was gone.
A few minutes later Liam was driving through the city in his new model Mercedes which oddly had an uncared for, rusting dent in its door and when he got to the business district he joined a sea of other, high-end German cars. He careened through the packed traffic without giving a toss or showing any sort of respect for all that shiny materialism and pissed horns honked at him but he waved back with a smile enjoying being a complete pain in the ass.
The Burnell International Bank building was a downtown ant farm of concrete and glass shining brightly with its own self-importance. An ugly sign screaming the bank’s name sat massively on the roof with the company’s motto beneath it - ‘Seize Life’s Opportunities’ it suggested.
Oddly enough Liam scowled when he saw the lettering and he turned into the private, underground parking garage. He stopped at the security booth where he hopped out and left the motor running for the valet as he ran to catch the executive elevator with a familiar wave to the impeccably uniformed guards.
In the meantime and despite being forced to make an unscheduled stop the robber’s escape had gone pretty much to plan. The Camry had made its way calmly through the heavy city traffic unnoticed to arrive at a rundown, disused factory. In its prime the place had served double duty as a warehouse but hadn’t been used in the last couple of decades and was now in such badly dilapidated shape it was lucky to be still standing even if it was as a derelict eyesore in the seediest part of old dockland.
There was a faded sign hanging over the rusting front doors that read ‘Montgomery Bath Wares Inc.’ and beneath this lettering there was a hand painted, cartoonish picture of a toilet. The Camry pulled up and stopped under it but before Chimp Face could turn off the motor Dog Face seized the opportunity to give him even more shit. “Have you really got a sack of hammers for a brain? You can’t leave the car here, it’s out in plain sight. Take it around the back and park it where nobody can see it.” The car started up again and crept slowly down the rough alley to hide itself sheepishly away behind the back of the building.
At the bloody scene of the robbery all police hands were already on deck. Outside the now chaotic bank uniformed cops controlled the lookyloos and swarming reporters while inside forensics guys took photos, fingerprints, DNA trace swabs and all that other scientific stuff. The coroner had carted away Larry’s brave, old body but his brains still clung nastily to the walls and floor and there was a glob of his cerebellum on the sole of more than one clumsy cop’s boot.
Back in a quieter corner a couple of detectives were interviewing the shaken witnesses which included trying to help the still-agitated teller remember the details of the things she’d seen. It turned out she wasn’t doing too well as a witness, the only thing she could remember clearly was the feeling that Cat Face seemed ‘far too nice’ to be a bank robber.
The officer in charge of the case was a seasoned veteran of the force, Detective Inspector Bob Willis and, as he always did these days, Bob had his sidekick with him. Detective Constable Charisse Vaughan was an attractive, young black woman with intelligent, almond-shaped eyes and, as she well knew, a sizzling hot body. She took her police work seriously enough but couldn’t stop her playfulness showing through by wearing her departmental badge on her belt the way a lot of detectives do but hers dangled on a leather fob so that somehow it drew attention, either by accident or design, to her tight waist and flat little belly.
Willis had never seemed to notice her body much but if he had he’d never let on, he liked working with Charisse for far more important reasons than that he told himself and everybody else. He admired her ‘bright, ambitious and determined personality’ and saw himself as her mentor, not that she always agreed with his old school, somewhat unimaginative approach to policing, but he was a very experienced cop and Charisse was happy to learn from anybody she could. It wasn’t all about work for Charisse either since there were odd moments in most days when Willis could be fun to be around too and she sort of liked him.
But right then she was concentrating on Larry’s congealing grey-matter. “What a goddamned mess,” she said to her boss.
She looked around the bank taking in the details of the scene and couldn’t stop herself from building a preliminary theory of how she thought the job must have gone down. “These guys were a real bunch of clowns,” she said having no idea she was making a play on the circus theme. Then she looked up at the scattered security cameras. “Did anybody check those cameras’ hard drives yet? Let’s hope some bright spark in security broke with tradition and remembered to turn them on.”
Willis looked up at them too. “Cameras have got hard drives now?”
She frowned at him lightly but then added a more serious thought. “But what numbskull set them up with those dumb-assed fields of view?”
If Mark Wilkerson had to listen to any more of that morbid organ music, he was going to throw up. A migraine beat against his temples and tears rolled down his cheeks as he stood propped against his crutches, his dislocated shoulder aching. Through bleary eyes, he viewed the three closed coffins at the front of the viewing parlor. Gold glitter on white satin ribbons across the caskets read, “Devoted Father,” “Loving Mother,” and “Baby Sister – Sabrina.” She was only six.
Ornate floral arrangements surrounded the closed caskets, their florist shop fragrance adding to Mark’s migraine. He ran his hand across the smooth surface of his mother’s coffin; fingered the satin ribbon. She was in there, at least what was left of her, but he would never see her again. Never again would he feel the warm touch of her lips on his cheek when she kissed him good night.
His weepy eyes abruptly gushed with tears. What happened? He still wondered, shaking his head. Even though he’d somehow survived the accident, he still didn’t know anything about it. All he knew was what the County Sheriff’s deputy and the doctor at the hospital had told him; that he and his family had been in a tragic, fiery accident on the Carquinez Bridge on Christmas Eve.
The doctor also told him his memory would probably return, but it could take some time. He’d called it “dissociative amnesia," whatever that was. He said it was often caused by severe emotional trauma.
Mark’s grandmother, Emily Wilkerson, told him he’d performed with the family at a rest home earlier that night, but he couldn’t remember that either. He felt, more than remembered his father had been angry about something. Then there was Amanda Bonfili. What happened on their date? Or did they have a date? He just couldn’t remember.
Mark moved to his father’s casket. How could he live without him? His dad had been his greatest inspiration, his best friend. He looked down at the casket as his tears rolled. How could he live with the guilt of knowing their last words may have been spoken in anger? He’d never even had a chance to say I’m sorry, if he’d done something wrong or even good-bye. Somehow, he felt he might have been at least partly responsible for the accident. “Forgive me, dad.” His cries escaped his lips in a whisper, “for whatever I did. I’m sorry.” Tears stung his eyes and he wiped them on his sports jacket sleeve.
He wished he could see his family just one last time, but the undertaker had told him their bodies were too charred. The thought horrified him and Mark agreed it would be better to remember them as he’d last seen them alive.
At least his sister, Amy, was being spared the funeral ordeal. But she was still in a coma and her condition was serious. The doctors said she could have brain damage if she survived. That sounded worse than his amnesia.
The accident had only been three days ago and tomorrow, after the funeral, the coffins would be lowered into the cold ground. Is that all there is to life? Mark wondered, To live your life then be discarded like some trash. Hanging his head, he wished he could have died in their place, or at least with them. How Amy and he had survived was a mystery.
Moving to Sabrina’s casket, he laid his forehead against her tiny coffin. “Dear God! Please make this go away. Make them come back.” But even as he prayed, he knew God couldn’t make that happen, assuming He was even real. After all, why would an all-powerful, loving God take away the people he loved most; his parents and his six-year-old sister who had so much to live for, the family Amy and he needed?
Why? The question kept repeating over in his mind, as he wiped his eyes again. Why did his parents have to die and of all people little Sabrina?
SABRINA! Mark wanted to shout, as if it would bring her back.
He missed his baby sister every bit as much as he missed his mother and father.
“Sabrina,” he whispered.
He would never see her again. Tears rolled down his cheeks as Mark thought of her charred little body inside the tiny coffin and the pain she must have endured in the fire. She didn’t deserve to die.
Mark felt a warm hand on his shoulder. Straightening with his crutches, he leaned into his grandmother’s arms. “Go ahead and cry,” she said. “It’s good to let it out.”
Mark leaned down and laid his cheek in the hollow of her neck. He could smell her sweet, old ladies perfume. “Why?” he asked. “Why didn’t God protect them? Why did He let Sabrina die and not me? She didn’t even get a chance to live her life.” He turned away and tightened his fists on the crutch’s handgrip.
He felt his grandmother’s warm fingers turn his chin. “Mark, I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for me too and it will be hard on Amy when she comes home.” His grandmother choked on her words then blotted her eyes with her hankie, “if she does. Son, we don’t always understand why He allows things like this to happen, but my mother always told me, ‘what we see today as a tragedy, we may look back at tomorrow as a blessing.’” Emily hugged him tighter and stroked his hair.
“A blessing? How can losing almost my entire family ever be a blessing?” Mark huffed and pulled away. His head throbbed even more. Then looking back at his grandmother, he said, “If I ever find out who caused the accident, I swear… I’ll… I’ll kill him…. I promise that.”
“No, Mark. Don’t think like that. It was just that, an accident. You need to forgive them.”
“I can’t, Grandma. I just can’t.”
Why read 7 short stories?
7 is a special number for people all over the world. There are 7 days in a week; 7 deadly sins, 7 virtues; 7 colours of the rainbow; 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – and, of course, the 7 year itch!
These 7 stories are special, like the number itself.
Why an extra ½?
We all like a little extra and this extra comes with a bonus.
You get to decide how the last story ends. ‘The Night Before Christmas’ leaves Emily with a choice – and it’s not an easy one! Read her story and go for what you want to happen. Wonder what you’ll decide.
Grimly he shuffled forward a decisive five centimetres. Nothing was ever going to change the world or his place in it. Just one second of courage,then it would be over. He would be over, on his way to the pavement and certain death.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Renee is a mess. She has barely slept or eaten for two weeks. Her hair is ratted, her eyes are puffy and bloodshot, and her clothes are filthy. In the throngs of an anxiety attack, she decides to commit suicide by jumping off a nearby bridge, though the thought of it terrifies her. As she drives toward the bridge through the Virginia countryside, she considers driving into an oncoming cement truck. But at the last moment, she can’t do it. Then, she sees a dark, foreboding man hitchhiking. On a whim, she stops and picks him up. What does it matter anyway? But she immediately regrets her decision.
Who is the intimidating, tattooed hitchhiker – and what are his plans for her?
KISS OF DEATH
My girlfriend's son was seeing a girl and one of her friends was out with a group of five of her girlfriends one night. They were at a club when a guy came up to her friend and they began talking and having a good time together. She was really attracted to him and eventually he gave her a kiss. They began to kiss off and on during the night. Late into the night, he asked her to leave with him and go to his place. He continued to try to get her to leave with him. She thought about it and decided she would go with him because she really liked him. She went over to her friends to tell them she was going to go home with him. They said, "No, you shouldn't go home with him! Don't do it!" They kept trying to talk her out of it. She finally agreed with them that it wasn't a good idea. She didn't go.
A couple of days later, she began to break out with sores on her lips. At first she thought that it was a fever blister she must have caught from him. But then she broke out with more sores on her lips and all around her mouth too. Then it started spreading up the side of her face. She knew she had to get to a doctor as soon as possible.
She went to the doctor and the doctor ran some tests on the sores. She was sitting in the doctor's office waiting for the results to come back. Finally, the doctor came back in to talk to her. He had a person with the Infectious Disease Control with him and also the POLICE!
Her doctor told her that the particular type of bacteria she had can only be contracted from someone who eats HUMAN FLESH! She was horrified. They began to ask her questions and determined that she had met and kissed a guy that the police have been after for a long time. He was wanted for murdering his wife and eating her body parts! They told her he was a CANNIBAL! He had been on the run and avoiding the law by moving from state to state. The police knew he was in the area but hadn't been able to find him.
With her help, the police located him and arrested him.
No telling what would have happened to her if she had left the club with him that night. She might have become another one of his victims. He might have murdered her and eaten her just like he did his wife!
Branimir emerges from the Netherworld as a living legend and learns the Ash Tree is still in danger from the cursed dagger, kaelandur. An old friend compels Branimir to finish what they started at Melkorka. Once again, the former slave must keep kaelandur out of uncertain hands, while struggling to separate heroes from villains and friends from foes.
Where do the Banned go when home’s no longer home?
The lyrics of the old village tune haunt Astrea, who wants nothing more than to feel like she belongs in the redhead Rudan tribe. To prove it, she captures a unicorn who has wandered into the Mist, the first hope of meat for a while in the famine-ridden land.
But unicorns are magical creatures, and anyone who kills or eats one will become cursed.
When the tribe council votes to eat him anyway, Astrea fears the worst. She’s determined to figure out a way to fix it before the tribe pays for her actions.
This is part one of Running Toward Illumia, which will be released in three parts over the next few months.
Taking the stairs two at a time, Kayla nearly tripped. The world tilted, her vision blurred, and her stomach lurched. She grabbed the handrail. Icy coldness stung her fingers and she jerked free. A miasma enveloped her senses. The smell of lavender and kelp drifted like a heavy mist through the open glass doors from the moonlit deck outside. Light fixtures shaped like seashells flickered, illuminating gold carpet and avocado green walls. She clutched a folded note between gloved fingers…
I’m not wearing gloves! Kayla thought and shuddered. A loud “ding” announced the arrival of the elevator. Expecting to see the Lady standing inside, Kayla tried to run but stood frozen in place. The doors slid open and her mouth felt too dry to swallow. Her vision blurred—and cheerful passengers walked lazily from the elevator to the sunny deck outside. A balmy breeze filled the corridor and a shaft of golden sunshine gleamed across salmon-colored carpet and coral walls.
Kayla’s knees buckled. She gripped the solid wood handrail to steady wobbly legs and gulped deep breaths. What happened to me? Glancing at her shaking bare hands, Kayla wished she’d read the note before it disappeared.
Two souls, united for a brief moment in war-torn western Europe during World War II, is more than a coincidence. Major Daniel Humphrey, a former high school teacher, is injured while on a reconnaissance mission for General Patton’s Third Army at the start of winter in 1944. He is transported to a hospital in Nancy, France, where he meets a pretty American nurse named Cassandra Burns. For him, it is love at first sight, but it is only temporary. The next day she disappears, and he is told she never existed. However, the rose she left on his pillow tells him otherwise.
After the war ends the following spring, Daniel confirms Cassie’s existence but she did not return to the states. Fearing she died or is missing, he visits the place where they first met and unknowingly opens a Pandora box of intrigue that changes his life forever.
Cassie is an American spy and married to one of Hitler’s most notorious spymasters for the Eastern Front — Oberfuhrer Erik Bauer. Now, armed with information about Bauer’s plans to destroy the West’s restructuring efforts, Cassie is on the run.
Cassie wants out of the espionage game, but what price will she pay for leaving? Can Daniel find Cassie before Bauer and his band of Hitler loyalists find her first? Is Bauer the only threat to Cassie's safety, or is someone more sinister hiding in the shadows?
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Utopia by Thomas More Narrator: Douglas McDonald Published by Cornerstone Studio on 06-23-17 Genres: Classics Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins Format: Audiobook Source: Publisher