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Who says a rising neurosurgeon can’t fall from his pinnacle? From the skullduggery taking place deep in the Tennessee woods to the silent tension in the OR, Doctor Danny Tilson’s life takes an abrupt turn after performing surgery alongside a scrub nurse with aqua eyes and a velvet voice.
Can Danny’s situation get any worse after the alluring lady disappears, he inherits her roguish retriever, and his Albert Einstein historical book turns up missing? A pack of Tennessee attorneys pursue Danny while he develops a scheme with his paramedic best friend to payback the mysterious woman who left in a hurry.
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A Brand New Free Kindle Nation Short:
An excerpt from
You never know … who’s in the OR
By Barbara Ebel MD
Copyright 2009, 2011 by Barbara Ebel and reprinted here with her permission.
– 2009 –
Through the desolate winter woods, she could see a run down single story house. She firmly pressed the accelerator to climb the hilly, rutted road as pebbles kicked up from the gravel, pinging underneath her sedan. All around her, tall spindly trees stood without a quiver, the area still, quiet and remote. On this damp, cold February afternoon, she had come to conclude a deal with a man named Ray.
The road narrowed past the house, fading over the hill, but she veered slowly to the left, a barren area in front of the peeling house, where a dusty red pickup truck stood idle and a black plumaged vulture busily scavenged. Deliberately she left her belongings, clicked the lock on her car and walked to the front door. She threw the long end of her rust scarf behind her shoulder. The raptor grunted through his hooked beak as he flew off to the backwoods. The door opened before she knocked.
“Nobody visits a feller like me,” the man said, smiling at her while adjusting his baseball cap, “unless we’re buying and selling. You must be the lady with the book.”
The tidily shaven man wore a salt and pepper colored beard and mustache and an open plaid cotton shirt with a tee shirt underneath. The boots peeking out from under his blue jeans had seen muddy days.
The woman smiled pleasantly at him and went in the front door empty handed. If the man had any furniture, she wasn’t aware of it. Car parts lay strewn everywhere, which made her wonder if he slept in a bed.
Ray followed her glance. “You nearly can’t find one of them no mores,” he said, pointing to a charcoal colored, elongated piece of vinyl plastic on the floor. She looked quizzically at him and shoved the woolen hat she’d been wearing into her pocket.
“It’s an original 1984 Mercedes dashboard. See, the holes are for vents and the radio. Got a bite on that one from a teenager restoring his first car.” She didn’t seem interested though. She eyed the dust, in some spots thick as bread.
“Are you sure you have twelve-thousand dollars to pay for this?” she asked, unbuttoning her jacket.
“You come out thirty miles from Knoxville? That baby in your belly may need something,” he said, pointing to her pregnancy. “You want a soda or something?”
“No thank you,” she said, grimacing at him.
“Oh, yeah. I got the money,” he said. “All I got now to my name is seventy-five thousand dollars. I got ruint in Memphis. Was a part owner in a used car dealership. Went away for a little while, and the other guy cleaned me out. Can’t afford nothing like a lawyer to chase ‘im down.”
She tapped her foot.
“Anyhow, I won’t bother yer with all that. I got a thing going good on eBay. I got a reputation, it ain’t soiled. You can trust me, I give people what I tell them, whether I’m buying or selling.”
A beagle-looking mutt crawled out from behind a car door. “Molly, you’re milk containers are dragging on the floor. Better get out to your pups,” the man said, prodding her out the partially closed door.
“You like dogs?” he asked.
“I suppose so.”
“I got no use for people who don’t care for dogs. Something not right about people like that.”
The woman turned and followed the clumsy dog outside, grabbed a bag from the front seat, and came back in. She took out a book, opened the back cover, and handed him a folded piece of paper. Certificate of Authenticity, the man read, from a company in New Orleans, verifying the signature on the front page to be Albert Einstein’s. He inverted his hand and wiggled his fingers, gesturing to her if he could hold the aged book.
“Where’d you say you got it?” He observed her carefully.
“It’s been in the family for years. I took my precious belongings with me when I left New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. Since I lost my house there, I decided to stay in Tennessee. Now I’m selling my expensive things. I have to make ends meet, especially with a baby coming.”
“Good thing you got this certificate with it, then. Twelve-thousand dollars, we’ve got a deal.”
He walked away to the back of the house while she held on to the physicist’s 1920 publication. He came through the doorway with a stack of money and a brown paper bag. She nodded once when she finished counting the bills, so he handed her the empty bag.
“I still got your email address and phone number,” he said. “I keep track of what goes and comes.”
“You won’t need them,” she said and left abruptly.
He watched her back out, stood there until the car disappeared out of sight down the gray road.
– 1989 –
“You dawdling over there?”
“No. Peeing, Dad.” Danny zipped his fly and wheeled around, his boots sinking in soft leafy earth. His father, Greg, stood on polished creek stone at the river’s edge beside Danny’s wife. “And on rounds, the proper term is urinating.” Danny slipped from the woods and approached them.
Greg threw a few red salmon eggs into the Caney Fork River and handed Danny his spinning rod. “I better catch up to the better half of you newlyweds.”
Sara propped her pole on the cooler, held up a rainbow trout in front of Danny, and exclaimed “Tah-dah.”
“We’re just here to have fun.” Danny grinned at both of them. “It’s not as if our lives depend on it.” But Danny knew the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency had recently stocked the river. The three of them had been bottom fishing since before the morning fog lifted like a friendly ghost drifting away to expose the slow but noticeable current.
“You’re right, Danny. You know what I say.”
Sara plucked algae off her four-pound test line and looked questioningly at her father-in-law. She waited to wade into the water, figuring one of Greg’s metaphorical sayings or idioms were forthcoming. She’d dated Danny throughout his four years of medical school at Vanderbilt and had spent so much time at his Dad’s house, where Danny had lived, that sometimes more lipsticks and tampons had been in Danny’s bathroom than her own.
“You may want to fish for dinner,” Greg said, “but if you must fish to catch dinner, you’ve screwed up.”
Sara pushed dew-misted hair behind her ear. “Danny’s one of only two residents they’ve accepted into the neurosurgery program, Dad. That doesn’t qualify as, umm, messing up.”
Danny beamed at his wife. During med school, almost two dozen students were already married or headed that way, but some couples split with the strain of exams and deadlines, hours in labs, physician’s offices and clinical rotations with overnight calls. Sara kept busy teaching high school biology and running, and always helped Danny focus. When he needed long-term perspective, objectivity, or softening after his brain was slammed shut for hours between pages of Principles ofPharmacology, she could turn him around. She would run her hand through his hair, or massage between his shoulder blades, or whisper to him under the sheets after they made love. When they took their vows a month ago, Danny secretly promised to nourish the effect they had on each other.
Greg had forgotten to bring wading boots, so he stayed on shore while Sara and Danny carefully picked their steps. Occasional diehards just sucked it up and waded in. The water was as warm as it would get, a cold summer temperature, unforgiving for anyone without proper gear.
Quiet spread across their sanctuary except for a small surface splash or a fish tail grazing the surface. A young man in a small canoe paddled by and without any fanfare hoisted his baby boat onto a jeep rack and left.
Danny and Sara finally came to shore, each with a brown trout. “Both about the same size,” Sara said. Danny agreed, leaned over and pecked his wife on the cheek as they crouched, holding their fish like new baby birds. The trout squirmed in their hands, then darted away. Sara smiled, pleased with their release.
“Time to go Dad. They’ll be generating soon.” Danny nodded at the Center Hill Dam, the nearby Goliath. Sara picked up their poles and Danny and Greg grabbed the unused salmon eggs, cooler, and tackle boxes; they walked slowly up the road to the parking lot as they heard the generating dam gushing Center Hill Lake water into the Caney Fork.
“This is the last load, Dad,” Danny said.
Greg waved his hand as Danny walked by him with a flat cardboard box and suitcase and entered his bedroom. Inside, ebony blue curtains framed windows to a view that appeared as if by magic despite his mother’s illness. She had died three years ago from ovarian cancer.
Danny looked out over south facing slopes of grown hickories, southern red oaks and maples, white and Virginia pines. Donna had assisted the native habitat by producing a real show for early spring. She’d worked with Mexican migrants from a wholesale nursery to plant rows of redbuds and terraced beds of mountain laurel, rhododendrons and wildflowers. Specks of white, hints of pink and tinges of purple had helped her to divert thoughts of a possible short life expectancy to reminiscing about her family and their accomplishments. She would leave behind a wonderful marriage, two fantastic children, and a beautiful estate.
Danny turned his head to find Greg at his doorway. “I miss her, Dad. There’s not a day …”
“Me, too,” Greg said, gazing at his shoes, his thick dark eyebrows practically covering his eyes. “I still can’t believe I’m without her at fifty-two years old.”
Greg walked in and sat on Danny’s bed, his shoulders slumping over. Greg had gotten married in 1960, after only dating Donna for six months. They never missed Sunday devotion together until Donna had been bedridden. Greg’s gaze averted to the outside hallway where one of his wedding pictures hung, the loving couple fixed in an embrace.
“You know what I told her?”
Danny shook his head no.
“A girlfriend who prays with me is worth keeping.”
Danny did know that, as well as the adoration his father had shown his mother for as long as he could remember. He patted his father’s knee once and got up. Danny unfolded the cardboard box, and then dumped it in front of his dresser.
“Dad, Sara and I can’t thank you enough for the wedding present. The house is home already. Sara’s summer vacation and my break before residency made it all work out.” Danny looked around. “Will you turn my room into a guest bedroom?”
“Yes. And I’ll keep it the same. For visiting grandkids?”
Danny laughed. “Are you prying, Dad?”
“If there are plans for me to be a grandfather, I want to be the third one to know.”
“Done deal,” Danny said, checking his top drawers to make sure he’d emptied them on a previous trip. He opened the last drawer and threw his winter stash of sweaters into the box. A large baggie still sat at the bottom, which Danny picked up, then sat next to Greg on the cream-colored bedspread. The mattress indented with their weight and their knees lined up together, their six foot two frames carbon copied from similar blueprints.
Danny’s eyes gleamed. Greg reached to touch the plastic storage bag, an uncanny method to preserve the emotionally stirring and valuable treasure. Danny opened the bag and took out the brown hard-covered book as gently as he had held a hummingbird the previous week after he had found it stunned from hitting Sara and Danny’s glass front door. He placed the small item on his lap and opened the faded cover to the yellowish tinge of aged paper.
“Your sister will wear your mom’s jewelry,” Greg said, “but you? Someday you can bequeath what your mother gave you to your children or a museum. Or sell it.”
Danny whistled, knowing it’s price tag would have plenty of zeroes, with more added as time went on.
“I still remember when your mother purchased it. She drove a hard bargain and requested that the store manager in New Orleans have the book and the signature verified by an authenticator of such things.”
They both looked at the front page: Einstein’s 1920 Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. Many copies existed, but this was one of the few remaining from the early 1900’s. Two-thirds down on the page was the author’s signature: Albert Einstein. Which wasn’t the usual way the historical genius had autographed his books. Almost always, he had signed A. Einstein.
“It’s the real McCoy,” Greg said. “And with Einstein’s full signature, you’ve inherited a diamond in a trowel of white sand.” Danny slid it back in the bag. “Perhaps you should put it in a safe deposit box.”
“Perhaps. But occasionally I look at it, Dad. I think of Mom.” Danny paused, looking again to the summer’s day, tree shadows beginning their leftward crawl. “It’s inspiration for entering a field where I’ll surgically be in the very matter which spawns incredible ideas and discoveries like his.”
When Greg left, Danny packed the last shirts and shoes left in his closet, a few medical texts in the nightstand and a bottle of Sara’s shampoo from his bathroom. He opened it and smiled. Orange ginger. Sara’s hair.
Danny glumly endured his first postgraduate year, then six months of general surgery, a few months of neurology and one month of neuro ICU. He knew how important these rotations were for establishing his clinical knowledge and skills; but he couldn’t wait to focus on physical brains, the control panel of it all. As he tolerated these months, he tried to listen to Greg, who kept telling him, “It’s not the end result, but the journey that matters.”
Finally, late in his second year of residency, Danny was smack in the middle of his first true month of neurosurgery. He pushed through hospital health care providers in scrubs, police officers, and uniformed ambulance personnel in the ER hallway, to see three stretchers in the trauma room. Someone yanked at his arm.
“Dr. Tilson, the one in between. The anesthesiologist is intubating the difficult airway over there, the driver. The ER physician will probably declare that patient on the right, another driver who went off the road to avoid them.” The navy blue uniformed man, the same age as Danny, spoke quickly and sped Danny to the head of the middle stretcher.
Danny had already begun assessing the patient while gesturing for the young man to continue. “This patient. Right front seat, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. A ten-pointer buck ran from the ditch, driver slammed the brakes, trophy rack came through the front window. Brown body and appendages followed. She was talking when I arrived, but became somnolent en route. To be on the safe side, I intubated her.”
Danny glanced at the monitors. Vital signs okay, but not great. Dirty, dark blood covered the sheet and neck brace behind the motionless woman’s head. He slipped on gloves and felt around the endotracheal tube protruding from the patient’s mouth, palpating facial bones for stability and orbital area for swelling. Danny checked her pupil size and reaction to light. A general surgeon had arrived and simultaneously examined her abdomen and chest. They assessed quietly despite the chaos around them.
Danny finished, stepped back to a tray covered with the patient’s ER paperwork and grabbed physician order and progress sheets. “I’m going to need a non-contrast CT scan of the brain,” he said to the general surgeon and nearby nurse.
The surgeon nodded. “Looks negative down here.” A gloved nurse waited for Danny’s other orders.
“Nice job, driver,” Danny said to the man who had given him report. He pressed ahead with his writing without looking at him.
“I’m not just an ambulance driver,” the man said sarcastically, “but a highly trained EMT. A paramedic. And unlike you, I’m launched in my career. You’ll be pussyfooting around for the next five years before getting yourself established.”
The female nurse didn’t move.
“Shut up, Casey,” Danny said with a small grin.
The nurse exhaled. “Phew. I thought you two were for real.” She untwisted a pretty ivory earring.
“We’re throw backs to grade school. It’s just that he never grew up.” Danny glanced sideways at Casey. “And I still think you should’ve been a quarterback. Thick neck, muscular build and all.”
Before Casey could open his mouth, Danny continued, “I’m not touching a book tonight, so pop over. Sara and I could use some deck time.”
“Okay. For Sara. But don’t let that baby fall asleep until I see her awake. What do you two do, tranquilize her?”
“That’s what babies do, Casey, they sleep.”
Casey weaved out of the trauma room through the diminishing gawkers. As the patient’s stretcher rolled past, Danny paged his chief resident to give her a report.
“When the CT is finished, meet me in radiology,” Dr. Welch said.
Chief residents, in their final sixth year of neurological surgery, were in charge of lower residents and had an attending physician available for counsel. Danny had an appreciation for Dr. Welch, a thick waisted, fast talking female whose gender in her specialty made her rarer than lobster ice cream.
Karen Welch stood in the CT scanning office when Danny arrived. She had evaluated the patient before they had transported her to the ICU. She glanced up and down the CT images on the viewer, hands on her hips.
“Dr. Tilson, glad you could join me. So your college bound, buck startled patient has a high-density area on CT,” she said, pointing.
Danny carefully looked through the images, careful not to let Karen bait him into hurrying the probable diagnosis, or missing something else evident.
“A cerebral contusion from a sudden deceleration of the head.”
“Is there more to that story?”
Danny took a step off the imaging room’s platform to establish better eye contact. “The brain impacted on bony prominences. A coup injury occurred where the skull struck the brain. A contrecoup injury is an injury directly opposite the impact site.”
Karen Welch turned to her resident. “Surgical treatment is not indicated at this time. When will surgical decompression be warranted?”
“With threatening herniation. If she becomes refractory to medical management. With increased ICP.”
“Ah, yes. The magic three letters for increased intracranial pressure. You know what to do.” She winked at the radiologist sitting in front of his equipment.
She handed Danny the patient’s chart from the table and began walking out. “I’ll talk to the general surgery resident. Most of the patient’s scalp wounds are only a few inches. They can clean and suture them without bringing the patient to the OR.”
That evening, Danny left Vanderbilt University Hospital and traveled southeast to the wedding present Greg had given them almost two years ago. Greg had hired the builder, but Danny and Sara had approved the plans and construction, giving the builder lots of latitude with his work. Since they chose a lot in a newborn subdivision, their split-level ranch at the end of a cul-de-sac faced woods in the back. Danny and Sara liked the outdoor, natural environment and had a wooden deck built on the front and back of the single story side of the house.
Danny hit the remote and pulled his four-year old Toyota into the garage. “Hi girls,” he said, entering the door. Melissa sat in her high chair, her right hand swinging a red rattle, the other hand holding a small white stuffed dog with a ribbon collar. She shook with glee when she planted her eyes on Danny. Sara graded the sprawling papers in front of her but got up to meet Danny halfway.
Danny put his right arm around Sara, pressing his head into her blonde peppered hair. Her bob cut accentuated the contour of her cheeks and her silky hair made him linger and revel in its fragrance. He pulled back. Sometimes her hair stayed behind her ears, but sometimes she’d purposefully leave it up front and kink it softly around her face. Danny liked it either way.
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Laura Katleman-Prue’s Skinny Thinking exposes how thought and belief can sabotage or create a healthy relationship with food and provides us with important tools for transforming our relationship with food. –Georgianna Donadio, MSc, PhD
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The only way to create a healthy relationship with food and stop battling with your weight is to change the way you think about food. This is the missing piece of the eating puzzle.
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Laura attended Pomona College and pursued graduate studies in Marketing at Boston College. In 1980, she founded the Boston Brownie Company Inc. with retail and wholesale distribution in 2,000 stores in 14 states along the eastern seaboard.
In 1992, Laura completed coursework at Lesley University in Counseling Psychology. That same year, she received a Certification in Transpersonal Psychology from the Theravision Institute. A long-time meditator, she has been teaching meditation and self-inquiry for the past four years. She began teaching Skinny Thinking Workshops in 2009.
“At AuroroTech, we record your actions and your words, then transform that data into a lifelike simulation. After that, the possibilities are endless. Imagine meeting yourself, being able to experience what others truly see and hear when they talk to you. Imagine if your friends and family could always keep in touch, no matter how busy you are. Imagine if in a hundred years from now, a part of you remains for future generations to interact with.”
When Persephone Kilard signed up and strapped on the miniature recorder, all she wanted was a social networking service that would take the actual work of socializing off of her hands. Fringe religious groups could wax poetic about deeper meanings and universal truths; she just wanted to make her life a little easier. After all, the simulation was only supposed to be her reflection, not her soul.
But there was one small glitch. Suddenly Persephone’s digital profile has a mind of its own. Face to face with herself, Persephone is forced to confront questions about the nature of identity that she’d rather avoid. She’d better figure it out quickly, though, because hers isn’t the only mind lurking in AuroroTech’s drives and networks. Somewhere, hidden in the code, a simulated ghost is watching her while the border between reality and replica unravels. The virtual danger is becoming all too real, and both versions of Persephone need to uncover the truth if either is going to have a chance to survive.
Five Star Review!
With all of new writers on the market, it is a challenge to find one who is equally thought provoking, cutting-edge and entertaining. Mr. Snyder proves he is all three with “Facsimile“. And…I loved it!
Facsimile” is the best of what sci-fi does; it pulls you in. This is a cautionary tale that may be closer than we believe. What makes his book a hit is his ability to make me feel as though I am privy to a frighteningly possible future.
I loved his use of character dialogue; Snyder has the gift/art of the natural flow of conversation between friends, as well as that between foes…I felt like a very lucky eavesdropper.
A fly on the wall 🙂
I don’t want to write much more, as my joy of this hidden treasure was the discovery of the world he created!
I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a long career for this talented author.
P.S. For the time being, I will have to be content with reading his book again!
About the Author
A geek and philosopher, Erin L. Snyder is the author of Facsimile and For Love of Children. Originally from Maine, he currently lives with his wife in New York City. Erin Snyder estimates that he spends 12 hours a day working, writing, reading, communicating, and relaxing in front of several computer screens.
More information, as well as excerpts and short stories, can be found at: www.erinlsnyder.com
Interested in learning more about sponsorship? Just click on this link for more information.
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Just use the slider at right of your screen below to scroll through a complete, updated list of free contemporary Kindle titles, and click on an icon like this one (at right) to read a free sample right here in your browser!Titles are sorted in reverse chronological order so you can easily see new freebies.
There are a number of different approaches we can take here, but they all come out the same way.
You could listen to what I have to say about the very talented novelist behind the Nick Bracco series, and I would tell you that Gary Ponzo is the real thing, a suspense novelist with full command of the tools of the trade.
You could listen to the literary gatekeepers who have honored this author’s work by twice nominating him for the prestigious Pushcart Prize for short fiction and showering him with other awards,
You could listen to your fellow Amazon readers, and the verdict there is the most stellar that I have seen for any fiction writer yet to participate in the Free Kindle Nation Shorts program. 31 readers have reviewed A Touch of Deceit. 25 have rated the novel with 5 stars and six with 4 stars. That is a pretty amazing testimonial.
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FBI agent Nick Bracco can’t stop a Kurdish terrorist from firing missiles at random homes across the country. The police can’t stand watch over every household, so Bracco recruits his cousin Tommy to help track down this terrorist. Tommy is in the Mafia. Oh yeah, it gets messy fast. As fast as you can turn the pages.
Winner of the Southwest Writers Award, Thriller category.
Click on the title or cover image below below to download the complete book to your Kindle or Kindle app for just $1.99
There was a time when Nick Bracco would walk down Gold Street late at night and young vandals would scatter. The law was present and the guilty took cover. West Baltimore was alive with crime, but Gold Street remained quarantined, reserved for the dirtiest of the dirty. That’s how Nick remembered it anyway. Before he left for the Bureau to fight terrorists. Now, the narrow corridor of row houses felt closer to him and the slender strip of buckled sidewalk echoed his footsteps like a sentry announcing his presence. It wasn’t his turf anymore. He was a foreigner. Nick scrutinized the landscape and searched for something out of place. The battered cars seemed right, the graffiti, even the shadows seemed to darken the proper corners. But something was missing. There were no lookouts on the concrete stairwells. The ubiquitous bass line of hip-hop was absent. The stillness reminded him of jungle birds falling silent in the prelude to danger. The only comfort came from the matching footsteps beside him. As usual, Matt McColm was by his side. They’d been partners for ten years and were approaching the point of finishing each other’s sentences. “You’re awfully quiet,” Matt said. “Did I mention that I don’t have a good feeling about this?” “Uh, huh.” Matt tightened his collar against the autumn chill and worked a piece of gum with his jaw. “That’s your theme song.” “Really? Don’t you ever get a bad feeling about a call?” “All the time.” “How come you never tell me?” “I’m going to feed the flames of paranoia?” They walked a little further in silence. It got darker with every step. The number of working streetlights dwindled. “Did you just call me paranoid?” Nick said. Matt looked straight ahead as he walked; his casual demeanor caused him to appear aloof, but Nick knew better. Even at half-mast, Matt’s eyes were alert and aware. “Maybe paranoid is too strong of a word,” Matt said. “I would hope so.” “More like Mother-henish.” “That’s better,” Nick said. “By the way, did you eat your broccoli tonight?” “Yes, Dear.” They strode further; low-lying clouds gave the night a claustrophobic feel. “This guy asked for you specifically?” Matt said. Nick nodded. “That bother you a little?” Matt asked. “No,” Nick said. “That bothers me a lot.” Up ahead, a parked car jostled. They both stopped. Neither of them spoke. They split up. By the book. Years of working together coming into play. Matt crouched and crept into the street. Nick stayed on the sidewalk and gave the car a wide berth. In seconds Matt became invisible. The car maintained a spastic rhythm. It was subtle, but Nick understood the familiar motion even before he flashed his penlight into the back seat and saw a pair of young eyes pop up through the grimy window. They were wide open and reacted like a jewel thief caught with a handful of pearls. The kid’s hair was disheveled and his shirt was half-off. His panting breath caused the inside of the window to fog up. He wasn’t alone. A pair of bare legs straddled his torso. From the other side of the vehicle, Matt emerged from the shadows and charged the car with his pistol out front. He was just a few yards away when Nick held up his hand and said, “No.” Matt stopped dead. He must’ve seen the grin on Nick’s face and realized the situation. He slowly holstered his Glock and took time to catch his breath. Nick heard the kid’s voice through the closed window. “I ain’t doing nuthin’, man.” Nick clicked off his penlight and slipped it back into his jacket. He smiled. “It may be nothing, but you sure worked up a sweat doing it.” When Matt fell back into step next to his partner, Nick said, “You seemed a little . . . uh, paranoid?” Matt returned to nonchalant mode. “Kids that young shouldn’t be doing the nasty out in the street.” “Consider their role models,” Nick said. “You can’t change the tide with an oar.” “Pardon me, Professor Bracco. Who said that one-Nietzsche?” “I just made it up.” “It sounded like it.” They slowed their pace until Nick stopped in front of an old brick building with a worn, green awning above the entrance. Nick gestured down a dark flight of stairs where a giant steel door stood menacingly secure. “There it is.” Matt nodded. “You bring me to all the best spots.” When he was certain of their solitude, Nick descended the stairs. Matt followed, keeping an eye on their rear. In the darkness, Nick barely made out Matt’s silhouette. “Listen,” Nick said, “it’ll be easier if we don’t have to use our creds, but let’s see how it goes. I don’t want to say any more than I have to, and you say nothing at all. Just be the silent brute that you are. Capisce?” “Understood.” “If we get lucky, I’ll see a familiar face.” Nick raised his fist, hovered it in front of the door, then stopped to sniff the air. “You wearing aftershave?” “A little.” “You have a date after this?” “Uh huh.” “When?” “Midnight.” “Who makes a date with you at midnight?” “Veronica Post.” “First date?” “Yup.” “At midnight?” “She’s a waitress. She doesn’t get off until then.” In the murky darkness, Nick sighed. He turned to face the door and, just like a thousand times before, he said, “Ready?” He couldn’t see the response, but he heard Matt unfasten the flap to his holster. Matt was ready. Nick used his wedding band hand to pound on the metal door. He shifted his weight as they waited. Nick heard Matt chewing his gum. Nick said, “Midnight, huh?” A rectangular peephole slid open allowing just enough light through to see a dark face peering out. The face was so large the opening supported only enough room for one of his eyes. “Yeah?” the man grunted. Nick leaned close to the opening so the man could see his face. The opening quickly slid shut. They stood in the silence while Nick thought of his next move. “He seems like a nice fellow,” Matt said. The clang of locks unbolting was followed by the door squeaking open. It reminded Nick of an old horror movie. The large black man wore a large black shirt that hung over his jeans and covered enough space to hide a rocket launcher. The man ignored Nick and gave Matt the once over. Matt gave him the stone cold glare of a pissed-off FBI agent. No one did it better. Then the man turned his attention to Nick. His head was round and clean-shaven. His expressionless face seemed to be set in cement. Nick spread open his hands and raised his eyebrows. “Well?” The man’s face slowly softened, then worked its way into a full out smile. “Where the fuck you been, Bracco?” He engulfed Nick into a giant bear hug, momentarily lifting him off of his feet. Nick patted the beast a couple of times on the back and slid down to face him. “I can’t believe you still work here.” He gestured to Matt, “This here is Matt McColm. Matt, this is Truth.” Truth nodded to Matt, then slapped Nick on the shoulder. “Last time I saw you, you were still with the Western.” “It’s been a decade.” “Wow, seems like just yesterday you’d come in and drag Woody to G.A. meetings.” Nick grinned. He looked over the big man’s shoulder to the solid green door that Truth guarded. Beyond the fireproof frame was a large, unfinished basement filled with poker tables. This time of night the tables would be surrounded by chiropractors, strippers, tax accountants, firefighters and probably even a couple of cops from Nick’s old beat. A mixture of cigar and cigarette smoke would be lingering just below the fluorescents. “How’s the crowd?” Nick asked. “Not too bad. You want a seat?” Nick shook his head. “I’d scare them all off. You know I’m with the feds now?” Truth frowned. “You don’t come around for ten years and the first thing you think to do is insult me?” Nick stood silent and waited. “We may be compulsive gamblers,” Truth explained, “but we’re not illiterates. I read the story. Local boy makes good.” Nick held up a hand. “Hold on. Don’t believe everything you read in the rags.” “Since when is Newsweek a rag?” Nick shrugged. “Sometimes the legend exceeds the facts.” Truth waved a thick finger back and forth between the two agents. “He’s the partner. They called you two the Dynamic Duo or the A-Team or some shit.” Nick said nothing. Truth snapped his large fingers. “Dream Team. That’s it. I knew it was something like that. You two dug up some kind of terrorist cell planning to waste the Washington Monument. Isn’t that right?” He pointed to Nick. “According to the article, you the brains and he’s the muscle.” Matt stood stone-faced. “The way you say it,” Nick said. “It makes my partner here sound like a bimbo with large biceps. Look at him. Does he look like he pumps iron?” Truth examined Matt’s long, thin frame and shook his head. “Nope. So he must be good with a 9.” “Precisely. He’s the FBI’s sharp-shooting champ three years running.” Truth smiled. “You two aren’t here to raid the place, I know that much. They wouldn’t send that much talent for this old joint.” “Come on, Truth.” Nick said. “This is a landmark. My father used to play here. I’d rather see it turned into a museum first.” Truth’s smile transformed into something approaching concern. “And you’re not here to play poker either?” Nick shook his head. “Then it must be business.” Nick stood motionless and let the big man put it all together. Truth looked at Nick, but nodded toward Matt. “You wouldn’t bring the cowboy unless you felt a need for backup. Something I should know?” Nick thought about how much he should tell him. He trusted Truth as much as any civilian. “I’m not sure,” Nick said. “I need to see Ray Seville. Is he still playing?” “Seville? Yeah, he’s back there making his usual donations. What do you want with a weasel like him?” “He called the field office and left a message for me to meet him here.” Truth smiled. “The snitch strikes again.” “Maybe,” Nick said. Matt cleared his throat in a forced fashion. “Oh, yeah,” Nick said. “Matt’s in a bit of a hurry. He’s got a date tonight.” Truth engaged Matt’s hardened face again, only this time Matt threw in a wink. Truth smiled and held out his hand, “All right then, gents. Hand them over and I’ll get Ray for you.” Nick cringed. Matt glared at his partner. “You can’t be serious?” Truth didn’t budge. His palm remained open while his fingertips flexed impatiently. “Truth,” Nick said. “Is that really necessary?” Truth looked at Matt this time. In a tone that denoted overuse, he said, “A long time ago there was a shootout in the parlor. A couple of drunks got carried away during a tight hand. The drunks were Baltimore PD. Fortunately, they were more drunk than cops that night and neither one got hurt too bad. When one of their fellow officers was called to the scene, he came down hard. Even though the two drunk cops were his senior, he was someone everyone respected and they obeyed his commands. Back then he made a rule: if Lloyd’s was going to stay open it had to be firearm free. No exceptions. The Mayor, the Governor. No one.” Truth took his time to look back at Nick. “Do you remember who that cop was?” Nick nodded, reluctantly. “Me.” “Bingo,” Truth smiled. Nick fished the 9MM from his holster and handed it to Truth. He looked at Matt and said, “Sorry, I forgot.” Truth took Nick’s gun and shoved it into the abyss under his oversized tee shirt. He looked at Matt and kept his hand out. “It’s only out of respect that I don’t pat you down,” Truth said. “I trust Nick.” Matt moaned while removing his Glock. “Forgot, my ass.” “Relax, Truth has our back until we’re done here. Right Truth?” “Fifteen years,” Truth said. “No one’s got by me yet.” He gestured for them to follow and he stopped after only a few steps. He pointed to an open door and said, “Wait in there and I’ll get him for you.” Before entering the room, they watched Truth walk down the hall and open the green door. As he pulled the door shut behind him, a burst of cigar smoke escaped along the ceiling and crept toward the front door. Nick followed Matt into the small sitting room and remained standing. Matt eased onto a dingy green sofa, rested his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands together. The room was a windowless twelve by twelve with two corduroy sofas facing each other. Between the sofas was a carved up oak coffee table that wobbled without ever being touched. The only light came from a pair of bare fluorescent bulbs that hung from a cracked ceiling. “I’m just glad you didn’t agree to wear a blindfold,” Matt said. “We would have missed this beautiful decor.” “Calm down,” Nick said. “I wouldn’t want you to be uptight for Valerie.” “Veronica.” “Right.” Nick paced while Matt tapped his fingertips. Nick heard the green door open. Truth was followed by a wiry man with deep pockets under his eyes. He wore a baseball cap with the brim twisted to the side. Nick gestured for him to sit down. Truth said, “I’ll be right outside if you need me,” then pulled the door shut behind him. Ray Seville sank into the couch across from Matt and pulled a mangled pack of cigarettes from his jeans pocket. He flipped open a pack of matches and flicked one against the striker. He sucked the cigarette to life, then shook the match and pointed the extinguished stick at Matt. “Who’s he?” Matt glared. “He’s my partner,” Nick said. “I thought I left a message for you to come alone.” “He’s my partner. He goes where I go.” “Yeah, well, how do I know I can trust him?” “How do you know you can trust me?” Seville managed a meager grin. “Aw, come on. Me and you, we have history.” “History?” Nick said. “I arrested you half a dozen times working Gold Street.” Seville waved the back of his hand. “Yeah, but you was always straight with me. A lot of other cops were pure bullshit. Tell me one thing, then come at me from a different angle two minutes later.” Nick sighed. “Listen, Ray, I’m not with the Western anymore. You want to roll over on one of your buddies, I’ll call a shoe and get him to meet you somewhere safe. Not down here in the basement of Lloyd’s poker house.” Seville took another drag of his cigarette and looked past Nick at Matt still leaning forward, elbows on his knees, “What’s his problem?” “I told you, he’s my partner.” “Doesn’t he know how to speak?” “He’s just here to intimidate.” “Intimidate? Intimidate who?” The guy was a pure idiot. Nick wondered how Ray survived among the predators that prowled West Baltimore on a nightly basis. Nick glanced at his watch and said, “Ray, where are we going here?” Seville stared at the hardwood floor while the flimsy ash danced between his feet. “A couple of weeks ago I get a call from this guy asking me for a phony drivers license.” “How did he know to call you?” Nick asked. “I dunno. Maybe somebody told him. Stop being a cop for a second and listen.” Nick folded his arms. “Well, anyway, I meet him and get the info he wants me to use on the license. I usually ask some questions to see what I’m getting myself into, but this guy cuts me off before I can even start. I never been eye-fucked like that before.” Seville took another drag of his cigarette and pointed to Matt. “Is he like your trained monkey or what?” Nick stretched out his arm and held Matt back as he came out of his seat, then he admonished Ray with a stare that forced his attention back to the floorboards. Ray’s cigarette slowly shrank between his index and middle finger. “Shit, the guy was talking to me like I was a moron, telling me over and over where to make the drop. How long to wait. I look like I just fell off the turnip truck?” Nick let that one go. “He asked me everything under the sun, except if I know how to make a good dupe. I mean shit, the guy didn’t even haggle with my rate.” Ray dropped the ciga
Join the Treasure Hunters Club as they look to unlock the Secrets of the Magical Medallions….
But Reader Beware … Some Secrets Are Better Left Alone.
When Tommy Reed received a medallion from his famous treasure hunting uncle “Diamond” Jack Reed he didn’t think much of it.
Now an ancient evil is pursuing his every move and his treasure hunting club friends, Shannon McDougal, Jackson Miller and Chris Henderson are on the run.
They must unlock the secret to the medallion before evil can hunt them down.
From The Reviewers:
Finding treasure isn’t always a good omen. “The Secrets of the Magical Medallions” follows the treasure hunters club as they find powerful, magical medallions. They soon realize that when you find power, there is always someone out to take it, and the four kids in the club find evil hot on their tales. A fun adventure for younger readers, “The Secrets of the Magical Medallions” is a choice pick. —Midwest Book Review
The idea of an adventure that combines Hardy Boys Mysteries with Indiana Jones and National Treasure was the author’s inspiration to get reluctant readers to enjoy novels. Hooray for targeting this often overlooked audience! McCartney has mixed mystery and magic in a tale that reaches beyond the backyard. He wisely chose to create a slim volume; the 160 page book will be readily picked up by reluctant readers.–V.S. Grenier, Editor of Stories For Children Magazine
If you have kids who enjoy action-packed reads, they’re in for a wild ride with this first book in the Treasure Hunter Club series. The Secrets of the Magical Medallions has been called a mix of The Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones with a little piece of the movie, National Treasure, thrown in. I loved reading The Hardy Boys as a kid and the Indiana Jones movies were some of my favorites so I had high expectations for this book. To author, Sean McCarthy’s credit, he nails it here. This is an excellent adventure story. It’s really fast paced and will keep readers anxious to get to the next page. —Book Dads
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Prepare yourself for the totally unexpected — if there’s any way to do that — in today’s latest additions to our daily, freshly updated presentation of over 200 free contemporary titles in the Kindle Store….
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Melanie has a mean case of depression. But life only gets more complicated when Daddy returns from the dead – and moves in next door!
“I think it would make an awesome chick flick with someone like Hillary Swank or Sandra Bullock as Melanie.” –Limey
In Manifesting Daddy, Donna Butler explores death, rebirth and reinvention with a skillful blend of naughty humor, irreverence and compassion.
Melanie Brodie is suffering from one mean case of depression. She’d love to end it all, but she has kids to consider, even if, in her mind, they and everyone else in her lousy, stinking life would be better off without her. Her shrink- a young, Chinese grad student who looks and talks like a skater boy- and her best friend, Juniper, who looks and talks like she just stepped out of Woodstock- are both eager to help. Sure, Dr. Park might curse or call her “dude” every now and then, but the kid makes a lot of sense. And when Juniper proposes a Manifesting Daddy ceremony, Melanie knows the poor woman means well. But only Juniper would think they could actually connect with the spirit of Melanie’s dead father-reincarnated no less- and draw him back into her life so that he could cure her depression. Only Juniper would consider that a perfectly reasonable solution.
Melanie, a self-described pushover, goes along with it. As does Marisol, her other childhood friend, a sexy Latina who attends the ceremony just for the chance to bicker with Juniper- something she’s loved to do since they were kids. Weeks later, when someone moves into the vacant house next door, Melanie assumes it’s just coincidence that they own an antique desk that looks vaguely familiar. And later, when she meets that new neighbor and he literally picks her up when she’s down, it’s still too soon to make a connection. As her friendship with Austin grows, her marriage falls apart, and still she refuses to question the intensity of their relationship. Only later, when faced with a glimpse of her own mortality does she realize where she’s seen those eyes before.
If what Melanie suspects is true, all of the sanity and success she’s found, thanks to Austin, could go out the window. Because in coming back into her life, he’s come between not only her and her husband, but between her and Juniper too.
Five Star Review
The author is new, but there’s some really good writing in this book. Excellent characters. Very touching story. I think it would make an awesome chick flick with someone like Hillary Swank or Sandra Bullock as Melanie.
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Free Contemporary Titles in the Kindle Store
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Just use the slider at right of your screen below to scroll through a complete, updated list of free contemporary Kindle titles, and click on an icon like this one (at right) to read a free sample right here in your browser!Titles are sorted in reverse chronological order so you can easily see new freebies.
The late breaking news here at Kindle Nation is that at 9:24 am Eastern time (GMT-5) today we have officially reached 2,000 participants in the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey for the first time ever. This is our fifth survey since we began conducting them twice each year, and each survey’s participation level has surpassed its predecessors, but with this one the citizens of Kindle Nation have blown through the 2,000 mark with almost 48 hours left before the survey closes at midnight Hawaii time on Monday night, January 31.
Among other things, the survey results so far carry plenty of good news for indie authors and publishers. Here are some take-aways from a snapshot we took yesterday after the first 1,900 respondents.
Respondents continue to have strong positive feelings about bestselling authors (56% positive, 3% negative), but they don’t think much of the big agency model publishers (10% positive, 41% negative). Indeed, they have much more positive feelings, for instance, about:
Independent and emerging authors (52% positive, 1% negative)
Small independent publishers (35.5% positive, 4% negative)
Kindle Nation Daily (71% positive, 2% negative)
Influences such as electronic and print media reviews, bestseller lists, Oprah, or big bookstore displays in pointing readers to the books that they actually buy are in decline. Instead, respondents ranked the following, in order, as far more likely to influence them to buy books:
recommended or listed by Amazon.
recommended, listed, or excerpted on Kindle Nation.
reading a free excerpt, author interview, or other material on Kindle Nation or another source.
recommended by a friend, relative, or colleague.
Indie authors and indie publishers cannot survive without indie readers, and increasingly, readers are acting as if they are in charge when it comes to selecting the books they will read or acting as if they, the readers, are the final price-setting authorities:
89% of respondents identified with the statement, “I frequently choose to delay purchasing an ebook that I want to read if I believe that the price is too high.”
76% of respondents identified with the statement, “If publishers keep charging higher bestseller prices, I’ll buy more backlist or indie titles.”
And here, if you are interested, are links for our previous Kindle Nation Survey Results:
References to prices on this website refer to prices on the main Amazon.com website for US customers. Prices will vary for readers located outside the US, and prices for US customers may change at any time. Always check the price on Amazon before making a purchase.