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Kindle eBook of the Day: Romantic comedy was never so full of life and laughs as in L.C. Evans’ WE INTERRUPT THIS DATE – 28 5-Star Reviews and Just 99 Cents on Kindle!

Since her divorce a year ago, Susan Caraway has gone through the motions of life. Now she is finally coming out of her shell. Just when she decides on a makeover and a new career, her family members decide she’s crisis central.

First there’s her sister DeLorean who has come back from California with a baby, a designer dog, and no prospects for child support or a job. As soon as DeLorean settles in at Susan’s home, Susan’s son Christian returns from college trailing what Susan’s mama refers to as “an androgynous little tart.”

Then there’s Mama herself, a southern lady who wrote the book on bossy. A secret from Mama’s past threatens to unravel her own peace. But not before Mama hurts her ankle and has to move into Susan’s home with her babies—two Chihuahuas with attitude. Susan would like to start her new job as a ghost tour operator.

She would like to renew her relationship with Jack Maxwell, a man from her past. But Jack isn’t going to stand in line behind her needy family.

From the reviewers:

A very southern and entertaining book that I couldn’t put down!–World Traveler

We Interrupt this Date is a tale of love, family, and one woman’s redemption as she tries to take back control over her own life – by taking a “Time out” from her free-loading family.  Highly recommended for fun and a thrill ride as Susan tries to save her own life! –Lila L. Pinord

A Wonderful, Light-hearted Read.  With that off my chest now, the short and sweet on this book. It’s simply delightful. The author gives her readers a look into the days of the life of Susan Caraway and it’s cast of characters, that when you read them have you grinning from ear to ear.–D.G. Gass

L.C. Evans loves to write. She grew up in Florida and now lives in North Carolina with her husband Bob and their three or four Chihuahuas. Occasionally there is a sighting around their home of a certain neurotic cat that may or may not be a part of the Evans household. Ms. Evans loves to hear from fans. Visit her at: http://www.lcevans.comL.C. Evans began her writing career with short stories and essays before branching out into novel writing. More than a hundred of her stories and humorous essays have been published in such magazines as Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Woman’s World, Horse Illustrated, and Ladies Circle among many others. Over the years Ms. Evans has won awards in writing contests and has kept busy honing her craft by taking writing courses and attending writing seminars. She was recently a featured presenter at the Carolinas Writers Conference in Wadesboro, North Carolina. After traditional publication of Talented Horsewoman, the first of her Leigh McRae horse mystery novels, Ms. Evans decided to take control of her career by trying her hand at indie publishing.

“All this means,” she says, “is that I pay for my own editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting, and all the other publishing expenses. However, I also get complete control over my books, and that means I can keep the price low. Readers on a budget will still have access to my books. I care deeply about all of my readers and I take great joy in the many fan letters readers send me.”

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample:


Michelle Black’s Novel “SOLOMON SPRING” is Featured in Today’s Brand New Free Kindle Nation Short Excerpt

Kindle Nation fave Michelle Black recently re-acquired rights to Solomon Spring, a novel of which she says “it was the most widely reviewed and critically acclaimed of any of my novels and it marked the first time I veered into the historical mystery genre.”
Many of our readers will recall that we visited with Michelle last summer and shared an excerpt from her novel An Uncommon Enemy, which also featured Eden Murdoch as its heroine. 
As I wrote back then:
As some Kindle Nation readers are aware, I get to read a lot of great fiction and call it part of my job. I try to be as genre-agnostic as possible, because I know that my readers’ tastes — your tastes — are pretty diverse. But in addition to the fact that I love to be able to recommend a terrific read to all of you, I also make a point of trying to find books that particular individuals will really love. And tomorrow afternoon, when Betty and I arrive at the cottage in Vermont that we have rented for a week, I’m going to hand her one of our Kindles and recommend just one novel to her: Michelle Black’s An Uncommon Enemy.
  
If I weren’t for my efforts to be genre-agnostic, I probably would not have gotten hooked on this novel. But the fact is that it can’t be pigeon-holed in a genre; it’s just a great story, well told, with totally unexpected, astonishingly well-imagined characters.
The excerpt we shared from An Uncommon Enemy last August definitely struck a chord with our readers, and of course it is still available here in our Kindle Nation archive. So of course we are equally proud to publish her 10,000-word Free Kindle Nation Short today, so readers can meet, or meet again with, an author we admire greatly.
Solomon Spring

Solomon Spring  
(Eden Murdoch Mysteries of the Victorian West)

by Michelle Black
Kindle Edition

List Price: $2.99

Buy Now

  
The healing powers of the Solomon Spring hold no miracle cure for murder…
*A child custody battle turns deadly
on a windswept winter prairie in 1878;
*a man begins a quixotic search for lost love
in an effort to mend his
shattered life;
*a sacred Native American shrine is about to be defiled, but not if one determined woman can stop it.
These three seemingly unrelated stories come together at the Solomon Spring, a natural wonder held sacred for its legendary healing properties. Eden Murdoch returns there seeking solace, but she is soon on a collision course, not only with those who would bottle and sell the sacred waters, but also with her own turbulent past.
 Among the rave reviews: 

“Eden Murdoch, the central figure in Michelle Black’s second book set among the Cheyennes in Kansas in the 1870s, is one of those premature modernists who give life to so many fine historical mystery series–for example, Laurie R. King’s stories about Mary Russell.  There’s a well-drawn murder plot, a credible and touching love story, and an homage not only to contemporary feminism but also to the civil disobedience taught by Henry David Thoreau”.–Chicago Tribune

“Credible and engaging characters, particularly the fearless and feisty heroine, Eden Murdoch, together with a well-paced, suspenseful plot, make for a fine historical adventure yarn in this sequel to Black’s An Uncommon Enemy.”–Publishers Weekly

“The strong characters, the vivid details of life in the West in the late 1800s, and an engaging plot combine to make this an absorbing historical mystery.”-Booklist

An Excerpt from
Solomon Spring  

A Novel of Suspense from the Victorian West  

Featuring Eden Murdoch

by Michelle Black 

 
Chapter One
January 1879
Hays City, Kansas
The pale winter sun cast milk shadows on the brick floor of Brad Randall’s jail cell. He had opened the wooden shutter to gain some fresh air. The draft was bracing cold, but at least offered a respite from the stale atmosphere of the coffin-like room that confined him. The remnants of dried urine and vomit from previous tenants seemed to live in the mortar between the bricks and endured despite weekly moppings.
Unfortunately, opening the shutter let in the unwelcome sounds from outside as well-the sawing and the hammering, the occasional shout of one workman to another. He did not need a reminder of what they were building-a gallows.
He ran his finger inside his collar to feel the tender flesh of his throat. What would it feel like? Would the drop through the trap door break his neck and kill him instantly? Or would he linger and jerk and slowly strangle while the hungry eyes of the onlookers watched with a mixture of horror and perverse pleasure?
How long would it take? How long before he slid into the peaceful void of oblivion, free from the burdens of thought and memory?
He had witnessed only a single public execution in his life. He had been working for the War Department in Washington City in the summer of 1865 when the conspirators to the Lincoln assassination were hung. Some of his office cohorts had received coveted passes to the event from General Winfield Hancock and invited him to come with them to see the hanging after lunch. He would regret eating so much that noon.
He had been twenty-one years old and curious. The July sun broiled the crowd of two hundred as they watched the prisoners, three men and one woman, bound at the wrists, knees, and ankles before hoods and then nooses were pulled over their heads. One of the condemned men complained about the adjustment of his noose. Randall and his young friends had made rude jokes at this ironic turn.
Their high spirits melted in the noonday heat when the platform finally dropped. They watched one prisoner jerk and fight for five full minutes before his body went still. His bound knees drew up nearly to his chest again and again, then his whole body quaked and shuddered. Five long minutes. It seemed like an hour. Had the man been conscious all that time or did his body alone instinctively fight against its fate?
Another of the hanged men pissed himself. Randall grimaced at this embarrassing reminder of the frailties and limitations of the human vessel.
The date of Brad Randall’s execution was set for noon the following Saturday. They chose a Saturday so that parents could bring their children to watch. No doubt the children would think they were attending a carnival or county fair. Entertainment of any fashion brought a welcome respite from the monotony and ceaseless labor of a prairie homestead. Vendors would probably stroll through such crowds plying the eager onlookers with refreshments and trinkets. Randall wondered if those children would be meaningfully improved by the lurid spectacle of his death.
He needed to write a letter to his own child. Four times he picked up the pen and four times he set it down again in frustration. He had to tell his son something. He could not let his only legacy to the boy be newspaper clippings. Frontier journalism was so tawdry-reporters seldom drew a line between fact, speculation, and editorial opinion.
But how could he explain to an eight-year-old boy with mere words on paper that he stood at this fearful precipice because of his love for a woman, a woman who was not his son’s mother? How could he possibly make the boy, whom he loved so dearly, understand the impossible complexities that added up to a single human life, his life?
His thoughts traveled back to the first day of September last, barely five months ago. It now seemed like another lifetime. The events of that day had set in motion much of what had brought him to this sorry pass.
* * *
September 1, 1878, Washington, D.C.
He had never once worried about the dangers of returning home from a business trip a day early, unannounced. He had heard the familiar jokes about such incidents, but had never stopped to consider that the jests might have been born of true-life experiences. As it turned out, he arrived only half a day early, but that was enough.
He had taken the evening train out of New York and fully intended to be in his own bed by midnight, but for the unplanned delay caused by the derailment of another train. The hours it took to clear the tracks caused him to arrive in Washington City at five in the morning.
He emerged from the dirty gloom of the railway station to savor the deliciously cool predawn air that heralded the coming of autumn. At this hour, even bustling New Jersey Avenue was comparatively tranquil. The inviting freshness of the breezes, as well as the fact that he carried only a small valise, convinced him to walk the sixteen blocks to his home, a comfortable townhouse located just north of Lafayette Square that his wife had inherited from her late father. How surprised Amanda and little Brad Jr. would be to have him arrive in time for breakfast when they did not expect him until supper.
He would not venture to his office at the Department of the Interior until noon to allow himself time to bathe and shave and rest up from the hot and exhausting night in the uncomfortable coach.
When he rounded the corner of his street he noticed a hansom cab sitting directly at the base of his front steps. His pace quickened. He feared the doctor had been summoned to his residence. Only six months had elapsed since the tragic death of his little daughter and the thought that some illness or accident might befall Brad Jr., his eight-year-old son and namesake, constantly tormented him.
Randall paused when he saw his front door open and the figure of a man emerge holding his hat in his hand and his top coat folded over his arm.
“Goodbye, my darling,” said the man in a cheerful voice that Randall instantly recognized to be that of Clarkson, his young assistant at the Bureau.
Clarkson leaned back in the door and kissed Amanda Randall on the lips, then turned and dashed, practically skipped, down the stone steps and disappeared into the waiting cab. The horse’s hooves made a loud clopping noise against the paving stones that echoed in the morning silence. With a pulse pounding louder in his ears than the clatter of the retreating horses, he glanced up to his doorstep to see his wife, attired in her dressing gown, gaily wave as the hack withdrew from sight, then turn and shut the door.
Randall dropped his valise onto the sidewalk and drew several deep breaths. Though only thirty-four years of age, he thought he might actually suffer a heart seizure and fall over dead, just as his father-in-law had done three years earlier in their parlor after consuming a large Thanksgiving dinner.
He leaned against a lamppost for support and realized he was perspiring despite the morning chill.
A passing dairy wagon startled Brad when it pulled up.
“Are you all right, Mr. Randall?” called the milkman as he jumped down from the driver’s seat and rounded his wagon to collect his milk tray.
He did not know the man’s name and so was mildly surprised to be addressed by his. He had to remind himself that, as a public figure often quoted in the newspapers, he was frequently recognized in the streets of the nation’s capital.
He drew himself up with a facade of recovered dignity. “Just fine, thank you.”
“Coming or going?” asked the milkman cheerily. He apparently planned to accompany Randall up the steps as he made his morning delivery.
Randall glanced uncertainly at his door. It seemed to retain a shadow of the image of his wife kissing his young assistant, Clarkson.
“Going.” He forced a polite smile and reversed his steps, heading now to his office. He would arrive there by at least seven and avoid seeing any of his staff, most particularly Clarkson. He would shut himself in his office and try to sort out his thoughts.
By the time he reached the large and imposing Doric edifice of the Patent Office on G Street which housed the Department of the Interior, clouds had gathered to spoil the fine morning. Thunder rumbled overhead and Randall took refuge under the eave of the entranceway just before the rain commenced. He hurried down the corridor and passed only a cleaning man sweeping the marble floor. The man courteously nodded in acknowledgement and was surprised that the young commissioner rushed by without his usual greeting.
Brad found the atmosphere in his office stale and stifling from his three days’ absence. He struggled to open one of the two operable windows that bracketed the large view window behind his desk. The dampness in the air had swelled the window frame, but with enough yanking, tapping, and cursing, the sash finally yielded.
The rush of cool air bathed his flushed face. The fresh smell of the morning rain mixed with the dust on the windowsill and created an unpleasantly musty odor. He sat down in his upholstered chair and surveyed his surroundings dispassionately.
His was a large and well-furnished office, befitting a man of his importance: Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The very title itself resonated consequence with its cadence of prepositions. The work had consumed him in recent months, offering him much-needed solace after the death of little Sarah.
Had his obsession with his career caused his wife to stray?
Damn it all! He would not blame himself for this. The fault was hers and no one else’s. How would he proceed?
A divorce?
The word made him shudder. Being an important man in this grand office carried with it not only a certain privilege, but also an unpleasant loss of privacy. The esteemed Commissioner of Indian Affairs suing his wife for divorce on grounds of adultery and naming as correspondent his own assistant-the press would dance with the story. His enemies in the War Department would feast on it.
He had barely been able to tolerate the news stories on his daughter’s death. It galled him to read them, no matter how solemnly and compassionately written, in the news section of the papers rather than the usual obituary listings.
Now to face this…this hideous and unseemly scandal. How could he shield his little son from it?
What if he did nothing and pretended ignorance?  Could he go on living with Amanda?
Before he could fully digest this line of thought the little clock on his desk chimed 7:45. The sound of his subordinates arriving at their posts now distracted him.
With a cold stab of pain, he recognized Clarkson’s voice calling hello to their shared secretary, Mrs. Post. The icy sting melted instantly into fury. He rose from his desk, strode across the large office and peered out his door. Clarkson was no where to be seen, but plump Mrs. Post glanced up inquiringly from her pile of mail.
“Please send Mr. Clarkson in to see me at once,” he barked.
“Yes, sir. Uhm…is everything all right, Mr. Randall?”
“Yes, fine.” He closed the door before anyone else could see him. He realized from the look on Mrs. Post’s concerned face that he must appear a fright. He had not combed his hair, had not shaved, his clothes were rumpled from a night spent sitting on a miserably hot, stalled train. He must seem very far from the dapper and well-groomed young gentleman who usually occupied this grand office.
The moment he sat down, Clarkson rushed in, smiling, then looked slightly confused as he glanced at his superior’s disheveled appearance.
“Close the door behind you,” Randall said.
The young man did as he was told, then took a seat in one of the two chairs that faced the desk. “We didn’t expect you back so soon, sir.”
“No, I’m certain you didn’t.” He studied Clarkson’s slender, blandly handsome face. His slight build and medium height made him no physical match for his superior, who at six-four, towered over nearly all his associates. A decade earlier, Brad would have gladly looked forward to smashing in the impudent usurper’s face. At this stage in his life, however, he felt a violent outburst beneath his dignity, especially when he forced himself to image the newspaper headlines such an incident would spawn.
Clarkson smiled nervously under his supervisor’s scrutiny. Randall had previously liked the intelligent and witty young man. He was a Harvard graduate and had a fine career in public service to look forward to. Until now.
“Where was it you were born and raised, Clarkson? I don’t recall it.”
“A small town in western Ohio, sir. So small I doubt you’ve heard of it.”
“Well, urgent family business requires you return there immediately. At least, that is what you will tell everyone as you empty your desk and pack up your belongings.”
Clarkson frowned. Did guilt color the apprehension in his face? “I don’t understand-“
“I saw you leaving my house this morning. I saw you kissing my wife.”
Clarkson paled. “Oh, dear God. It’s…it’s not what you think.”
“It’s exactly what I think and we both know it.”
The young man’s Adam’s apple bobbed several times. Randall wondered what Amanda saw in him. He always thought Clarkson’s manner a trifle effeminate, though he had to admit that he was a popular figure with the ladies at social gatherings. He recalled seeing Clarkson surrounded by women on more than one occasion, and now that he thought about it, all those women clamoring for his attention had two things in common-all were married and all were a number of years Clarkson’s senior.
“I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry. We never meant to hurt you.”
“Don’t say ‘we’!” Randall shouted, breaking his promise to himself that he would not lose his composure. “Don’t ever speak of my wife and yourself as a couple!”
“No, sir. I’m sorry, sir.”
“In my own house! In front of my son!”
“Oh, no. Bradley Jr. was staying with your sister.”
Hearing Clarkson speak so glibly about his family caused Randall to grasp the edges of his desk as he fought the urge to attack his young associate.
Clarkson wet his lips and asked in a contrite whisper, “What are you going to do to me?”
“You deserve to be horsewhipped.” He was tempted to say, You deserve to spend the rest of your life with her. The wretched pair of you deserve each other. Instead, he said, “I’m firing you. Wasn’t that clear?”
“Yes.”
“Now, get out.”
Clarkson rose unsteadily.
“Wait.” A troubling new thought occurred to him. “Who else knows about this…this outrage?”
“No one, sir.” Clarkson’s tone turned groveling. “We-I mean, I-have been most discreet. I would never…I’m a gentleman, sir.”
“I don’t think a gentleman would seduce his employer’s wife.”
“No, sir. You’re right. There is no excuse-“
“No, there is no excuse. Now get out.”
Clarkson scurried for the door, but paused with his hand on the brass knob. He turned back, though he could not bring himself to make eye contact with the man he had so grievously wronged. “I cannot leave unless I have some assurance that Mrs. Randall will come to no harm on my account.”
This minute act of chivalry served to further enrage Brad with its implication. Only by forcing himself to imagine those awful newspaper headlines, did he resist the urge to grab the young betrayer’s skinny throat.
“It is none of your business, Clarkson, but I think you know that I am not a violent man.” His voice issued as cold as iron, his words seemed to clank.
“You must not think your wife cruel or wanton, sir. She was just lonely and I was a friend to her. I suppose we simply let our friendship go too far-“
“Get out of my sight!”
Clarkson was gone before the words stopped echoing in the large office. Randall hurried to the door and tersely advised Mrs. Post he was not to be disturbed by anyone, except, of course, the Secretary of the Interior. He then closed the door, turned the key in the lock, and returned to his desk. He watched the rain slap his windows and blur the view. He dropped back down into his chair as though his body weighed a thousand pounds and buried his face in his arms upon his large, cluttered desk.
He had not cried often in his life. He did not like the sensations it produced. Soon he wiped his face with his handkerchief and blew his nose.
He stared at the stack of correspondence that had accumulated during his absence. With little interest, he began to sort it into piles of various importance. He did not bother to read any of it until he came to the letter he had been expecting from the Secretary of the Interior.
The fact that their offices were situated only two floors apart in the same building and yet they felt the need to communicate only by written post spoke loudly to the professional difficulties between them. If their relations grew any more strained, Randall knew he would be looking for employment along with Clarkson.
After reading the contents of Secretary Carl Schurz’s letter, he grew furious, though he had not expected a different reply. Schurz had outlined the reasons for his disagreement with the Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Mr. Randall, on the subject of the relocation of the Northern Cheyenne tribe.
When the Northern Cheyennes surrendered at Fort Robinson in 1877, they were persuaded to relocate to the Indian Territory and live with their southern brethren. They had reluctantly agreed when promised the right to return to their homelands in the north if the relocation failed. The Secretary did not now feel inclined to acknowledge this promise in light of his insistence that the Bureau stay on budget for the next fiscal year.
The fact that the Cheyennes were starving, were not allowed to leave the reservation to hunt, were not given the promised rations, and were dying from malaria for which no quinine was made available apparently meant nothing to the esteemed Secretary. But, by God, they were on budget.
“Damn him and every bureaucrat in Washington City,” Randall said through gritted teeth as he shoved all his papers off his desk. Nothing in the Bureau had gone well since the convoluted election of ’76. Though he had been one of the few political appointments to survive the shameful scandals of the Grant administration, his future now looked as cloudy as the Washington sky.
He grabbed his file on the Northern Cheyenne situation and marched directly for the Secretary’s office.
“Is Mr. Schurz expecting you, Mr. Randall?” asked the small, mouse-like clerk whose desk sat in the receiving area of the Secretary’s large complex of offices.
“No, he is not.”
“I’m afraid that-”
Randall stormed past the clerk and entered his superior’s office unannounced.
“What’s this?” Schurz looked up from his desk, startled and irritated.
“What gives you the authority to condemn people to death?”
“Sit down, Randall, if you please.”
“I don’t feel like sitting.”
“Should I summon the security guards, sir?” asked the little clerk, peeking in.
“Leave us,” Schurz ordered and, more unflappable than his assistant, sat back in his chair. “I suppose this involves some damned Indian problem.”
“Given that I am the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, I suppose you are right.”
“No need for sarcasm, Randall. What’s the trouble?”
“Precisely why do you seek to undermine my decisions and policies in the matter of the relocation of the Northern Cheyennes-“
Schurz raised a hand to silence him. “I am your superior and I will have the final say in all matters involving this Department.”
“Allow me to read from a letter I received from a Lt. Lawton at Fort Reno,” Randall pressed on. “They-that is, the Northern Cheyennes-are not getting the supplies to prevent starvation. Many of their women and children are sick for want of food. The beef I saw given them was of very poor quality and would not have been considered merchantable for any use. On the subject of medical care, Lawton reports: The post surgeon frequently locks up his office because he has no quinine to administer to the Indians and does not wish them to continue to call upon him-“
Schurz interrupted, “Randall, you know that our appropriations are not sufficient to cover the stipulations of the various treaties-“
“Treaties whose terms we dictated and forced them to accept.”
“For God’s sake, man, lower your voice. Had your Bureau exercised the necessary economies-“
“These people are starving! I cannot manufacture food from stone.”
“Commissioner Randall, your job is to carry out my will. We have not seen eye-to-eye on virtually any policies since I took office. I am struggling to find a reason not to ask for your resignation.” He paused for a brief moment to sigh. “Bradley, sit down.”
Randall grudgingly did so. He studied the small, fifty-year-old man, an emigrant from Germany who had served in the U.S. Senate prior to his appointment. His passion was forestry, one of the many diverse spheres of the Interior Department’s wide purview. That the interests of the many sub-agencies frequently conflicted with the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not make Randall’s job any easier.
“Bradley, I have endeavored to make allowances for your-how shall I describe it?-acts of insubordination in these recent months.” Though Schurz had lived in the United States since his youth, his speech still bore the halting cadence of his native land. “I know that you and your dear wife suffered a lamentable tragedy, but at some point, my patience with you must expire. I would never tolerate such behavior from any of my other department heads. You, however, are the hardest working, most dedicated man on my staff. I would not easily lose you, despite our many differences of opinion.”
Randall shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He did not enjoy references made to his daughter’s death. He could not govern his present emotions well enough to formulate a reply to his superior. He knew well enough that Schurz, for all his immediate praise, did not personally like him owing to an altercation on the secretary’s very first day in office.
When Schurz was appointed to the cabinet by the newly elected President Hayes, he devised a test that all potential men in his employ had to take.
Randall had thought it impossibly demeaning to take a test like some schoolboy to retain his job when his own record of accomplishments as the youngest-ever Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and later Commissioner in the Bureau, should have spoken instead. He unfortunately voiced this opinion in the presence of not only the secretary, but members of the press as well.
The newly-appointed secretary had publicly opined that Randall was afraid to take the test. With gritted teeth, Randall sat for the detested exam and, as though for spite, scored higher than every other appointee by a large margin, forcing Schurz to keep him on his staff to save face.
Schurz pulled off the little pince-nez spectacles that clipped to the bridge of his nose.
“Bradley, you are a very bright young man with an excellent career ahead of you. I hate to see you throw it all away over some misplaced sentimentality for a few Indians. I want you to carefully consider your position here. If you choose to come to this office tomorrow morning with an apology and renewed resolve to carry out the policies of this department, that is to say, my policies, then I will reconsider your future on my staff.”
Randall stood up and for several seconds thought over what had just transpired as the Secretary pretended attention to his paperwork. Without a word, he returned to his own office, moving slowly, as in a dream.
Once safely ensconced, Randall resumed his vigil at his desk with his large chair turned to face the view window. The rain had stopped and the sun had returned; the afternoon air was stifling.
He idly watched the workers who labored to construct a new wing for the office building across the street that housed the Department of Education. The site hummed with activity as the laborers swarmed about, laying brick, carrying hod, over and over in endless repetition. Most were Irish immigrants, potato famine refugees.
How simple their lives must be, he mused. Go to work, do your job-a strenuous job, to be sure, but one without much ponderous thought-then return to your home each night to eat and sleep, perhaps make love to your wife, then rise tomorrow and begin it all again.
And what would he do tomorrow? Apologize…and betray his principles? Or resign?
Mrs. Post tapped on his door and poked her head in. “Mr. Randall? The afternoon mail has arrived. I’ve opened it for you.”
He did not turn to receive her, but continued to gaze out the window, transfixed by the workers building the new wing.
“Mrs. Post, have you ever felt shipwrecked?”
She placed the mail on his desk. “Excuse me?”
“Did you ever feel as though your life were shipwrecked and you were left alone in the ocean, clinging to a piece of wreckage, with no rescue in sight? Just floating out there, no ships on the horizon, no tropical paradise beckoning. The question would arise, How long would you hang on? At what point would you simply let go?”
“Are you feeling all right, Mr. Randall? You’ve looked tired all day.”
When he failed to answer, she quietly withdrew. He thought about the teaching posts he had been offered by several universities after his treatise on the Cheyenne language and culture had been published two years earlier. He wondered where he had filed those letters and began to look for them when he heard a commotion outside his door.
“I need to speak with Captain Randall,” came a man’s voice.
Randall winced at the title “Captain.” He knew that many used it as a sign of respect, but he preferred not to be reminded of his days in the military.
“I’m sorry, sir,” replied the redoubtable Mrs. Post. “He is very busy. Perhaps if you would make an appointment and come back tomorrow.”
Randall smiled at Mrs. Post’s placid ability to handle every situation. A fifty-year-old widow, she had been employed in the Bureau longer than anyone. She had been hired during the War years when the government was forced to hire women to fill the clerical posts vacated by the men who returned to their homes in nearby Virginia to join the ranks of the Confederacy.
“I need to catch a four o’clock train,” said the visitor. “I was so hoping to meet the Captain and speak with him in person.”
“Perhaps one of the Commissioner’s assistants could help you, sir.”
“No, the matter concerns a woman of Captain Randall’s acquaintance of some years ago. When he served on the frontier under General Custer. He is really the only one….”
Randall listened more intently now. He was curious about the man’s reference, though still not anxious to receive him.
“If you could but inform Captain Randall that I come seeking information about a woman named Eden Murdoch, I’m sure that he would make time to see me.”
Eden Murdoch! He had not heard that name spoken in nearly a decade and yet not a day had gone by in all those years that he had not thought of her.
Randall rushed to the door and opened it to see a young Army officer, a major in the infantry by his uniform, standing before Mrs. Post.
“Come in at once, Major.”
 

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Powered by our magical Kindle free book tool, here are this morning’s latest additions to our 750+ Kindle Free Book listings, including a free ticket just for today to discover Lynn Osterkamp’s Cleo & Tyler Mysteries….


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Robert the Bruce is in love with Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of an adherent of the ruthless Longshanks, King of England. In order to marry her and not give up his chances of someday becoming King of Scots, Robert must abandon his rebel ways and bide his time as Longshanks’ vassal

The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy) 
by N. Gemini Sasson
4.4 stars – 16 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled 
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

“Robert the Bruce is split between the crown and love, [and] must compete with not only his family’s rivals in Scotland, but the clan of the King of England. The Crown in the Heather is a riveting read for fans of medieval intrigue fiction.

–Midwest Book Review



Here’s the set-up: 
 

In 1290, Scotland is without a king. Two families – the Bruces and the Balliols – vie for the throne.

Robert the Bruce is in love with Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of an adherent of the ruthless Longshanks, King of England. In order to marry her and not give up his chances of someday becoming King of Scots, Robert must abandon his rebel ways and bide his time as Longshanks’ vassal.

But Edward, Longshanks’ heir, doesn’t trust the opportunistic Scotsman and vows to one day destroy him. While quietly plotting his rebellion, Robert is betrayed by one of his own and must flee Longshanks’ vengeance.

Aided by the unlikely brilliance of the soft-spoken young nobleman, James Douglas, Robert battles for his throne. Victory, though, is never certain and Robert soon learns that keeping his crown may mean giving up that which he loves most-his beloved Elizabeth.


One Reviewer Notes:


The Crown in Heather by N. Gemini Sasson is an outstanding read and the author should be widely praised for her portrayal of a turbulent time in Scotland’s history. The detailed research is richly woven into a magnificent story that blends seamlessly between the facts as we know them and authoritative fiction… Do yourself a favour and buy this book. It is a keeper for me on my Kindle and one I will also buy in paperback.

–Anne Whitfield, Author


About the Author

N. Gemini Sasson is the author of The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy) Book l, Worth Dying For (The Bruce Trilogy)Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer. She holds a M.S. in Biology from Wright State University where she ran cross country on athletic scholarship. She has worked as an aquatic toxicologist, an environmental engineer, a teacher and a track and cross country coach. A longtime breeder of Australian Shepherds, her articles on bobtail genetics have been translated into seven languages. Book II, and

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Nothing sane travels the starway. Today it brings disaster.In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendants to survive in a harsh universe. This is the second book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.Revenge is on Craze’s mind. He...
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With so many great resources on the web available for SMEs it's difficult to find the marketing solutions that will work. Sarah-Jane White has collated the best ones in this ebook for you to use as a guide, inspirational tool and if you just do one of the tips, once a week, you should increase your...
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Diagnostic errancy is devastating for individuals with rare diseases and their families. To understand her son’s differences, Mother Lioness relentlessly travels the African savannah. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Medical secretary, Sonia Goerger has been welcoming and meeting with numerous patients...
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Merlin, the Little Feline
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"You know you've read a wonderful story when you can't stop smiling afterwards. Your Love Is Mine is such a great start to the Maine Sullivans!" 5 starsFlynn Stewart, an award-winning screenwriter, seems to have the perfect Hollywood life. Until his dark past comes crashing back when he learns his...
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Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding: In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6“I have for years felt the need of a book to put in the hands of those beginning the Christian life that would tell them just how to...
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Finally, achieve the splits without spending money on expensive leg stretching machines or cables! + BONUS stretching video tutorial included!Finally discover how to do the splits painlessly and without spending any money on expensive coaches, leg stretching machines, or even on stretching cables!...
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 The most dangerous woman in Europe meets the greatest danger of all: love.Miss Marian Halcombe thrilled the world In Wilkie Collins' Victorian best-seller THE WOMAN IN WHITE.In this sensational sequel, Marian uses all the wits and wiles she learned then to save her husband Theo Camlet from charges...
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PROTECTED. WORSHIPPED. HIS.If the past has taught me anything, it’s that the safest place for me is in Blade’s arms. Our souls are two pieces of the same scarred and fragile puzzle. We got our happily ever after, and attempting to cut him out of my life is something I will never do again.Or so I...
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"An affecting love story of two strangers finding each other at exactly the right moment." - Kirkus ReviewsThe tormented guitarist. The fearless security guard. The kiss that’s seen globally. The razor blade that threatens to end everything.Billy Nestor has everything he’s always wanted: a band...
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Our Kindle eBook of the Day is a story of loss, love, survival, and redemption: Robyn Bradley’s FORGOTTEN APRIL – 4.8 stars from 12 straight rave reviews, just 99 cents on Kindle, and here’s a free sample!

Here’s the set-up for Robyn Bradley’s Forgotten April, just 99 Cents On Kindle:
For April Sullivan-LaMonica, the last ten years have been hell: her husband and young son were killed in a car accident, and soon after, her mom descended into the darkness of Alzheimer’s. So when broadcast journalist Maggie Prescott shows up claiming to be April’s half sister and tries to capture their reunion on film, April outwardly regards Maggie with much suspicion. In reality, she’s simply afraid to grow close to someone again, only to have that person leave–or worse.

Maggie, meanwhile, is battling her own demons: figuring out why her biological mother gave her up, facing a secret she’s kept from the one man she’s loved all her life, and giving herself permission to follow the dream she’s had since she was a child.

Separated by nearly two decades and radically different life paths, April and Maggie must decide if pursuing their sisterhood is worth it…or even possible.

A story of loss, love, survival, and redemption that speaks to anyone who’s experienced the pains–and riches–of an unexpected relationship.

From the reviewers:

Sweet, Sweet Serendipity.  I was hooked. Forgotten April was one of the more enjoyable books I have read recently and would make a terrific beach read. The book is written with each chapter being told from the viewpoint of a different character. Sometimes this can be confusing, but Robyn Bradley did a wonderful job of creating each character as an individual but weaving their individual stories into each others lives.–Roxy

Robyn Bradley is a great read. It captured my interest from the outset and I really enjoyed the way the author told the story from the perspective of a different character in each chapter.–Linda K. Komondy

This book was awesome. It was hard to put down. The character and story development are well thought out with many surprises along the way.–Seila Norwood

Robyn does an excellent job of keeping the reader glued as she goes from character to character from the point of view of each one. As a reader you wind up rooting for everyone in the story, and that’s a rarity. It’s a great read. –Don Kelley

Robyn Bradley is a Novelist Ninja and Short Story Seductress. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and won a short story award in 2007. Her work has appeared in FictionWeekly.com, Metal Scratches, The Breakwater Review, Writer’s Digest, and The MetroWest Daily News, among other places.
When she’s not writing or sleeping, Robyn enjoys watching Law & Order marathons, drinking margaritas, and determining how many degrees really separate her from George Clooney. Visit www.robynbradley.com to learn more.

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample


The Title Story from Gary Ponzo’s Collection, THE VIEW FROM ABOVE is Featured in Today’s FREE KINDLE NATION SHORT

Thousands of Kindle Nation readers have enjoyed Gary Ponzo’s first Nick Bracco novel, A Touch of Deceit, which has previously been excerpted as a Free Kindle Nation Short.  That was followed by A Touch Of Revenge,  reuniting FBI agent Bracco and his “connected” cousin as they go after terrorists.  
  
Today’s 4,000-word Free Kindle Nation Short introduces readers to another side of the gifted storyteller — he is also a consummate craftsman in the short story form.  The View From Above, the title story leading off the book of four short stories, takes you on a Mt. Everest adventure.
All four of the short stories collected in THE VIEW FROM ABOVE have been previously published in magazines and two were nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. Each one has a twist ending in the tradition of an O. Henry story. Some have labeled them similar to a Twilight Zone episode.
Ponzo is fast making a name for himself, as evidenced by this remark from self-publishing Wunderkind bestseller John Locke:
“Gary Ponzo’s thrillers are so powerful, the government should consider using them as a renewable source of energy.”
 
The View From Above 

The View From Above
by Gary Ponzo

  
 
 5.0 out of 5 stars – 2 Reviews
  

Kindle Price: 99 Cents
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

excerptA Brand New Free Kindle Nation Short:   

July 1, 2011  


 “The View From Above”   

The title story from Gary Ponzo’s collection
THE VIEW FROM ABOVE
 

by  Gary Ponzo

author of the Nick Bracco thrillers

Copyright © 2011 by Gary Ponzo and reprinted here with his permission.

          

     Each time the tent door unzipped, Stephanie Rogers held her breath.  Each time that it wasn’t her husband crouching through the opening, she blinked back a new set of tears.  There seemed to be no bottom to the well of emotion that surfaced with every worn face that plunged into the tent.
     “Andy’s fine,” Dr. Merton consoled her with his arm around her for warmth as much as comfort.  “He’s the best climber on the mountain, including the guides.”
     Stephanie forced a brave smile.  The conspicuous lack of conversation unnerved her.    Almost all of the twelve climbers huddled in the tent had reached the summit of Mt. Everest and rather than celebrate their accomplishments, they lay prone, sucking on oxygen canisters, or curled up in a ball as they rocked back and forth in their down jackets, sipping hot tea made from melted snow.  No one dared to remove their gloves for fear of seeing the frostbitten fingers they felt throbbing beneath them.  Their excitement subdued, beaten down by the unexpected storm that smacked the side of the mountain with minus eighty-degree punches and hurricane force snowfall that reduced visibility down to ten feet.  No one could summon the energy, nor could they enjoy their feat when there were three members of their expedition still missing.  Including Andy Rogers.
     The powerful gusts of wind terrorized the nylon walls of the tent and prompted several climbers to grab hold of the weakening tent-poles, keeping their backs to the sides of the shelter knowing their lives depended on it.  
     A bundled climber crawled into the tent, squirmed into the middle of the shelter, then collapsed face-down with a thud that shook the ground enough to jostle the tea kettle from its post.
     Stephanie’s heart raced while Dr. Merton and the lead guide rolled the climber over.  They pulled back his hood and pulled up his goggles.  Balls of ice the size of grapes matted his hair and eyebrows.  Dr. Merton felt for a pulse.  The guide placed both of his open hands on each side of the man’s face and yelled, “Dave!  Where’s Andy and Frank?”
     The climber moved his mouth like a baby wanting a bottle.  Dr. Merton stretched open the man’s eyelids and flashed a penlight across his eyes.  “He’s hypoxic.  Get him a canister of oxygen, and see if you can get him to sip some tea.”
     Stephanie brushed ice and snow from the man’s face, then felt his forehead, “He’s frozen to the bone.”  She lifted his head and placed her knee underneath him while the guide tilted a cup of warm tea into his mouth.
     “Drink up, Dave,” lead guide, Todd Trent, instructed while Dr. Merton slid a sleeping bag around his legs.
     Trent moved his eyes across the inside of the shelter and noted the condition of the remainder of his expedition, “Nobody leaves this tent without my permission,” he growled.  His eyes paused when they got to Stephanie, “Understand?”
     She knew what he meant.  No rescue attempt for her husband.  “I won’t let him die out there,” she informed him.
     “Stephanie,” he said, “when I left to search for climbers, I was no more than fifty feet from this tent and was completely lost.  It took me forty minutes and a lot of luck to find my way back.”
     Stephanie listened, undeterred.
     “The Sherpas saw Andy fall from The Hillary Step into a crevasse.  That’s two thousand vertical feet from here.  Unfortunately, there’s not enough oxygen to support a helicopter’s blades.  The only way up is to hike and that’s at least three hours away under ideal conditions.”  Trent seemed to realize his words were falling short of their target.  “I’m sorry, Stephanie, but if Andy is any more than a hundred feet from this very spot, he might as well be on the moon.”
     She understood the words that were coming from his mouth, but failed to register their gravity.  Rational thinking was a scarce commodity at twenty-six thousand feet.  The oxygen-depleted atmosphere at that height could reduce a climber’s brain to that of a six-year-old.  She leaned back against the rippling nylon wall, lost in thought.  She recalled the first time she’d ever seen her husband.  They were at a mutual friend’s wedding on the back lawn of a local resort back in Seattle.  Andy was easy to spot, he wore a brown and white ski sweater with khaki pants; which was exactly one suit and one tie less than every other man was wearing on that occasion. It was refreshingly clear to Stephanie that he kept his own agenda.  He was thin with a narrow jaw and high cheekbones that seemed to pull his mouth up into a perpetual smile.  Miles of running and hiking left his frame tightly wound, however, the thing that most impressed her about him was his blatant shyness.  Unconsciously, she returned his smile and he quickly looked away as if he was caught hiding Playboy Magazines under his mattress.
     She asked a girlfriend who the guy in the sweater was.  Her friend shrugged apathetically, “Oh, that’s Andy Rogers.  He’s some sort of mountain climber or something.  Kind of strange, I think.”
     “Why’s that?” Stephanie asked.
     “Well, do you remember Agnes Murdock from high school?”
     Stephanie nodded, recalling the chubby girl with the plain face.
     “Agnes was the bridesmaid for a good friend of mine who got married about six months ago.  You remember what she looked like back in school?”
     Again Stephanie nodded.
     “Well, she’d put on a tad bit more weight since then and was struggling to find a date to the wedding.  When Andy found out about it, he called her and asked her to go with him.”
     “Really?”
     “Really.  Everyone knew it was a ruse, but you couldn’t tell by the way Andy treated her.  He slow danced with her all night long.  She was beaming like she was just voted the prom queen.  She’s never been the same person ever since that night.  He’s a free spirit, Stephanie.  I’d stay away if I were you.  I mean look at him.  It’s a wedding for crying out loud and he’s wearing a sweater.”
     “Yeah,” Stephanie smiled, “look at him.”
     Her friend’s words proved to be true.  Andy Rogers wasn’t much interested in other people’s personal lives.  What they wore.  Who they slept with.  Later, after five blissful years of marriage, Stephanie came home one night with the juiciest tidbit of gossip she’d ever heard.  Her sixty-year-old married boss was sleeping with his twenty-one-year old secretary.  “Isn’t that outrageous?” she asked him.
     Andy shrugged, pulling on a pair of white socks, about to go on a run. “I guess,” he said with a perfunctory nod.
     Playfully, she threw his running shoes at him, “You’re just no fun to gossip with.”
     “I’m sorry, Steph,” he said.  “Try it again, I promise I’ll act surprised.”
     She told him again with even more zeal than before.  He stood up, smiled and said, “Oh well, sounds like two people in love.  Gotta go.”
     She jumped on him, dragged him to the floor, and they laughed and kissed and laughed some more.  He never did make his run that night.
     Stephanie snapped back from her dream world when she heard Trent unzip the tent door.  He stuck his head out, then pulled it back in like a frightened turtle.  He looked at Stephanie and shook his head with a dour expression. 
     Stephanie grabbed a nearby radio and once again pleaded into the mouthpiece, “Andy, are you out there?”
     Just like the last transmission and all the other transmissions for the past hour and a half, there was no response. 
     “It could be that his batteries have gone dead,” a considerate member of the team suggested.
     Her eyes puffed up and released newfound tears.  Tears from a life she’d lose without him.  Tears from the time she’d spend wondering what their future would have held had she put her foot down and said no.  No, you may not go to the top of the world.  No, you may not realize a dream that you’ve kept hidden from me, because it’s your nature to cage your thoughts and dispense them with the careful attention of a birdfeeder squeezing an eyedropper of medicine into the open beak of a frail and wanting baby bird.  No, you may not comfort and care for me with ceaseless devotion for five short years only to dissolve into the open spaces of the Himalayas. 
     She was about to press down the button to talk into the radio when a familiar voice scratched its way across the air waves, “Steph?”
     “Andy!”
     “I’m here, Sweetie.”
     “Where are you, Andy?” she strained for control.
     “I’m up here.”
      Stephanie laughed nervously, along with some climbers who were now huddled around her.  His presence, even over a walkie-talkie, breathed life into the hurting team.  Trent said, “Ask him what he sees.”
     Stephanie groped the transmitter with trembling fingers, “Andy, what do you see?”
     There was an uncomfortable silence, then finally they heard, “Steph, to be honest, I can’t see a thing.  It’s all white and I . . .well I . . .”
     “What, Andy?  You what?”
     “I can sense a presence.  Steph, I’m sure of it.  I can’t hear anything, I can’t see anything, but . . .well . . .I’m not alone.  I wish I could explain.”
     The guide shook his head discouragingly, “He’s losing it.  He’s delirious.”  He cupped his hands around the radio while it stayed in Stephanie’s hands and leaned down into it, “Andy, hang in there.  I’ll put a team together and get to you as soon as the storm breaks.”
     Dr. Merton shook his head, “He couldn’t possibly survive that long.  Not a chance.  You’d be risking more lives for a futile cause.”  He looked over at Stephanie.  “I’m sorry, Darling, he can’t possibly be helped.  All you can do is hope he can move downhill.”
     There was another long pause which caused Stephanie more concern, “Andy?  Are you there?”
     “I’m here.”
     “Honey, hang on, please.”
     “I don’t think you understand, Steph,” Andy replied.  “I feel I’m being guided somehow.”
     From the far corner of the tent came a small gasp.  A pair of Sherpas, local mountaineers whose villages had been scattered across the landscape of the Himalayan mountain for centuries, were both wide-eyed and mumbling, “Jomagangla, Jomagangla.”
     Stephanie turned and searched Trent’s face for an answer.  He squinted with a discomforting expression.  “There’s an old Tibetan legend that claims somewhere near the summit of Mt. Everest is an Angel who guides climber’s souls through the doorway of Heaven.”
     “Jomagangla,” a Sherpa nodded in agreement.  “The Angel of Mercy.  That is who he senses.  Yes, he follow Jomagangla.  Take leap of faith.  He make it to Heaven.  His soul be safe.”
     Trent waved at the Sherpas with antipathy, “Forget about them, all Sherpas are superstitious.  Andy is simply snow blind.  What he needs is shelter.”
     “Andy,” Stephanie spoke into the radio, “how are your hands and feet?”
     “I’m not sure.”
     “Stay put,” she said.
     “SSStephanie?” Andy slurred.
     “Yes.”
            “No matter what happens, I need you to know something.”
            “What’s that?” she sniffled.
      “I love you with all of my heart.”
     “Don’t you dare give up on me, Andrew Rogers.  It’s not over yet,” she said, firm with fear.
     “Sweetheart?” Andy responded.
     “Yes.”
     “I can hear music.”
     “Music?”
     “Stephanie, is that you I hear coming?”
     “No, Andy.”
     “Are you sure?  I think I hear someone coming.”
     “Jomagangla,” a Sherpa offered.
     Trent grimaced, “We’re losing him.  Keep him talking.”
     “Andy,” she said, “keep moving your limbs.  Keep your blood circulating.”
     “It’s beautiful.”
     “Jomagangla,” the Sherpa repeated.  “Follow the music.  His soul lost.  Must follow music.”
     “Tell him to brace himself,” Trent insisted. 
     “No!” a Sherpa yelled.  “He not on Earth anymore.  His soul is lost.  Follow Jomagangla.”
     “Stephanie,” Andy said, “where are you?  How come I can’t see you?”
     “I’m here, Sweetheart.  I’m on the radio.”
     “What radio?”
     “What’s happening to my husband?” Stephanie asked no one in particular. 
     Dr. Merton rubbed his temples.  Trent looked away, pretending not to hear Andy’s struggle with reality.  One of the Sherpas worked his way over to Stephanie, crouched down in front of her and placed his hand on her shoulder.  “My uncle,” he said, “he great climber.  He make it to summit ten times.  With no oxygen.  One day he get caught in storm.  Worse than this.  He no make it back.  No one can find his body.”
     The Sherpa’s eyes shined while he spoke.  “One night my uncle come to me in my dreams.  He tell me where his body is.  I only fourteen but I tell father where my uncle is.  The next week, he climb mountain and find my uncle’s body, same spot I tell him.”
     Stephanie listened uneasily.
     “My uncle still come in my dreams.  I wake up always with smile.  One night he tell me about Jomagangla.  He tell me if I no make it while on mountain, my soul will stay lost unless I follow the music.  Andy no make it.  His soul lost.  Help him find peace.”
     The radio crackled and a faint voice called out, “Steph?  Is that you playing the music?”
     “No, Andy.  It’s not me.”  She looked over at Dr. Merton.  “What’s happening to him, Doc?”
     Dr. Merton shook his head bleakly, “Could be any number of altitude illnesses.”
     “Andy,” she called.  “Can you hear me?  Andy?”
     A static-filled transmission vibrated from the speaker, “I’m near some sort of ledge.  I can’t see the other side, but I feel I need to jump.  Am I losing it up here or what?”
     Stephanie looked intently into the Sherpa’s eyes.  He nodded his head.  “Yes.  Must take leap of faith.  Save his soul.”
     Trent gritted his teeth, “Don’t you dare tell him to do anything but stay put.  We can still get to him.”
     Andy said, “I think I need to jump now, Steph.”
     Dr. Merton sat quietly by himself.  He could tell by her stare that Stephanie wanted his opinion.  He looked up and shook his head with a blank stare.  “The earliest we could get to him is by morning.  No living thing could survive a night at twenty-eight thousand feet without shelter.”  He pointed to the door, “Especially not this night.”
     “He must jump,” the Sherpa insisted.  “Take leap of faith, yes.”
     “You mean a leap to his death,” the guide said.  “He’s obviously snow blind and delirious.  Tell him to stay put.”
     The tent was filled with climbers arguing the point.  “Tell him to jump,” one said.
     “You’re nuts.  He could be standing on the edge of Lhotse Face.  That two thousand feet straight down.”
     “Put him out of his misery,” one suggested.
     “He should dig a hole and wait out the storm.”    
     “No.  Must jump.  While there’s time.”
     “You’re crazy.”
     “My uncle.  He tell me.  He no lie.”
              Andy’s voice faded with every transmission, “Steph?”
     Stephanie lowered her head, closed her eyes tight, then pulled the radio to her mouth and shouted, “Andy, jump, Darling!  Follow the music.”
     “I’ll come find you, Steph.  I promise.”  Andy’s last words echoed inside of the small nylon tent. 
     The conversations ended abruptly.  The only sound left was the furious flapping of the tent.  Stephanie couldn’t be sure in her oxygen-deprived state, but she thought she saw the Sherpa wink at her.  She looked down at the walkie-talkie as if it were a smoking gun.  “What have I done?” she murmured.
     Dr. Merton rubbed her back while her eyes glazed over with an expression of someone who just let something very fragile slip through her fingers.  She waited in vain to hear Andy’s voice once again. 
     Finally, Trent poked his head outside the tent door and spied a lone headlamp flickering its way down the side of the mountain.  A crowd of climbers stretched their necks to catch a glimpse of the promising sight, allowing a conspicuous path for Stephanie to reach the front of the group.  A low undercurrent of encouragement developed momentum until it reached a crescendo of applause as it became apparent that the climber was taking a somewhat circuitous route to base camp.  Several members of the team stood outside and began banging pots and pans together to steer the climber home.  With only fifty yards to go Stephanie could tell that the climber was wearing a bright red jacket.  Not the color she was hoping for.
     A bearded man with an oxygen mask dangling from his chin lifted one foot at a time and plodded a serpentine path towards the tent.  Trent and another climber hustled out to greet the man.  He collapsed into the guide’s arms and the two of them dragged the man the remainder of the way to the tent.
     As soon as it was known to be Frank Saunders, one of Andy Rogers’ best friends and closest climbing companion, the cheering became subdued out of respect for Stephanie. She stared at Frank as if she didn’t trust her own eyes and any moment he would turn into Andy.  Dr. Merton opened a sleeping bag and created an area for him to lay inside the shelter.  Individually, each member of the team patted Frank on the shoulder or quietly gave a thumbs-up to support his arrival.  Frank dropped down and was instantly handed a cup of tea.  He leaned over and allowed the steam to rise and thaw his arctic face.  He conspicuously repelled Stephanie’s stare.  When his eyes finally made their way to her, he broke down.  With quivering lips he said, “I’m . . .I’m really sorry, Steph.”
     “About what?” she asked innocently.
     “About Andy.”
     “What about Andy?  Were you with him?”
     Frank nodded reluctantly.
     “Where?” Stephanie urged, “When?”
     Silently Frank gathered his thoughts.  “On The Hillary Step.  He fell.  Snapped his neck.  I’m so sorry.  He died before I could even get to him.”  The man sobbed, recalling the uninvited images that swam in his head.  “I sat with him for an hour.  I talked to him about life.  About why we do what we do.  I got sick to my stomach, but before I left I buried him in the snow.  I don’t know why.  I just did.”  Frank looked around at the bemused group listening to him and asked, “Was that wrong?”
     Everyone knew what Frank did was irrational, but of little consequence.  They all mumbled their approval as something they would have done under similar circumstances.
     Stephanie, however, was dripping with denial.  “How long ago did this happen?”
     Frank shrugged, puzzled by the question, “I don’t know, maybe four hours ago.”
     “You must be wrong because I just spoke to Andy on the radio not ten minutes ago,” she said.
     The Sherpa sitting next to her spoke up.  “I try to tell you.  You no speak to Andy.  You speak to his spirit.”
     Trent pointed his finger at the Sherpa, “You keep your beliefs to yourself.  Can’t you see what you’re doing to her?”
     “I’ve heard stranger stories about this mountain,” someone commented.
     “Leave the poor woman alone,” another added.
     Stephanie sat still, confused by the conversations surrounding her.  She held up the radio she used to talk to Andy with and showed it to Frank.  “It was him.  I know his voice.  Maybe you made a mistake.  Maybe you buried someone else by mistake.  Your mind can play games with you up there,” she pleaded.
     Frank nodded softly, still catching his breath.  He reached into the inside pocket of his down jacket and pulled out a small black radio.  He handed it to Stephanie.  On its side was inscribed the name, ‘Andy Rogers.’  “I took it with me when I left him in case my batteries went dead,” he said.  “He couldn’t possibly have contacted you.”
     Stephanie bit her lip, turned to the Sherpa, and dug her head into his shoulder while he comforted her with warm, gentle words.  She wept until her body, drained of all its energy, melted into the Sherpa’s lap.  The Sherpa slid her down onto her sleeping bag and watched while she evaporated into a deep, exhaustive sleep.  He leaned over, brushed her hair back and whispered, “Dream, sweet woman . . . Dream long and smile.”
The End


KND Kindle Free Book Alert, Friday, July 1: Kailin Gow’s novella SUMMER WISHES tops over FIFTEEN (15) BRAND NEW FREEBIES added to over 700 Free Titles, searchable by category! plus … a unique, captivating memoir that is somehow both horrifying and hysterically funny: Dina Kucera’s EVERYTHING I NEVER WANTED TO BE (Today’s Sponsor, $2.99)


Our readers will be hearing more soon from novelist Kailin Gow, so what better place to start than with her free novella that is included in this morning’s latest additions to our 700+ Kindle Free Book listings, powered by our magical Kindle free book tool….


But first, a word from … Today’s Sponsor

When a comedienne takes up her pen to expose the scourge of addiction in her family, she produces a unique, captivating memoir that is somehow both horrifying and hysterically funny…



Everything I Never Wanted to Be 
by Dina Kucera
4.8 stars – 19 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled 
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

“Dina Kucera has demonstrated amazing courage by writing this memoir about the effects of alcoholism and drug abuse on a family. Her background as a comedienne helps to soften the painful stories she shares in her honest and open point of view.

–Becky in CA



Here’s the set-up: 
 

Everything I Never Wanted to Be is the true story of a family’s battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Dina’s grandparents were alcoholics, her father was an alcoholic, she is an alcoholic and pill addict, and all three of her daughters struggle with alcohol and drug addiction–including her youngest daughter, who started using heroin at age fourteen. Dina’s household also includes her husband and his unemployed identical twin; a mother who has Parkinson’s Disease; a grandson who has cerebral palsy; and other people who drift in and out of the household depending on their employment situation or rehab status. 
On top of all that, Dina is trying to make it as a stand-up comic and author so she can quit her crumby job as a grocery store clerk. Through it all, Dina does her best to hold her family together, keep her faith, and maintain her sense of humor. Everything I Never Wanted to Be is an uplifting story that contains valuable lessons.

One Reviewer Notes:


“I have never read a funnier heartbreaking tale of a family’s struggles. It had me laughing my face off in one moment and crying in sympathy the next. I never knew that someone’s personal hell could be so hilariously told to me. I felt her pain, but as she says, if you can’t make a joke of it, you’ll never survive. If you’ve ever suffered from addiction or had a loved one suffer through it, this is definitely something you’ll want to pick up and read. It gave me so much insight on my own life as well as what some of my loved ones must be going through. I came away with a positive attitude and realized what Dina said is true. If you can’t laugh at yourself and look to the future with a positive attitude, you’ll never survive.

–Jessa Larsen


About the Author


Dina Kucera was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After completing a project to collect and identify fifty insects, she graduated from the ninth grade and left school for good. Her first job was a paper route, and she has worked as a maid, bartender, waitress, and grocery store checker. When it comes to awards, she was once nominated for a Girl Scout sugar cookie award, but she never actually received the award because her father decided to stop at a bar instead of going to the award ceremony. Dina waited on the curb outside, repeatedly saying to panhandlers, “Sorry. I don’t have any money. I’m seven.” Dina is married with three daughters, a stepson, and a grandson. She currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Click hereto download Everything I Never Wanted to Be (or a free sample) to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android-compatible, PC or Mac and start reading within 60 seconds!

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 The most dangerous woman in Europe meets the greatest danger of all: love.Miss Marian Halcombe thrilled the world In Wilkie Collins' Victorian best-seller THE WOMAN IN WHITE.In this sensational sequel, Marian uses all the wits and wiles she learned then to save her husband Theo Camlet from charges...
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PROTECTED. WORSHIPPED. HIS.If the past has taught me anything, it’s that the safest place for me is in Blade’s arms. Our souls are two pieces of the same scarred and fragile puzzle. We got our happily ever after, and attempting to cut him out of my life is something I will never do again.Or so I...
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"An affecting love story of two strangers finding each other at exactly the right moment." - Kirkus ReviewsThe tormented guitarist. The fearless security guard. The kiss that’s seen globally. The razor blade that threatens to end everything.Billy Nestor has everything he’s always wanted: a band...
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A ROCK AND ROLL NOVEL LIKE NO OTHERIt’s 1971. Jack Bernstein is a struggling young rock ’n’ roll manager in New York City. Instead of a fancy office in Manhattan, a flashy car and backstage passes, he operates out of a basement apartment in working-class Queens, driving a cranky eight-year-old...
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He’s roped in by a runaway bride!When Lucy Patterson shows up at the Buckskin Ranch with no groom, Matt Ramsey’s in a fix. Six years ago she gave him her heart. He sent her away. He was wrong for her then. He’s wrong for her now. But the years have fanned the flames...Saddle up for the...
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Kindle eBook of the Day: 4.6 Stars and Just $2.99 on Kindle – Jim Devitt’s thriller THE CARD Brings You Behind the Scenes of Pro Baseball in a Mystery That Will Keep You Guessing Until the Final Scene

Here’s the set-up for Jim Devitt’s THE CARD (A Van Stone Novel), just $2.99 on Kindle:

Van Stone has it all, the perfect family, great friends and the best job in the world. Then, his life falls apart. Thrust into a deadly plot masterminded by unknown enemies, Van is in a race against time to save those closest to him.

As The Card barrels forward, Van, armed with only his best friends, draws on his deductive powers and inner strength, to battle the corrupt forces. Set in Seattle, Washington, this fast paced mystery takes you behind-the-scenes in professional baseball. Full of unexpected twists and high stakes drama, this first in a series adventure will keep you guessing until the final scene.

As fresh as today’s headlines, Jim Devitt, in his debut novel, weaves a suspenseful ride that blows the lid off scientific advancement, in a story of breathtaking action and suspense.

From the reviewers:

An awesome young adult book that you can not put down!,–Sarah L.

An action-packed, full of twists and surprises, great read!  Ever wonder what a book by Clive Cussler would be like if Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino were teen-agers? Well I now know the answer, Van Stone and his side-kicks will take you on the same kind of ride I have only found in a Cussler novel. –Anthony Valente “Mountainstroh”

I would recommend this book for the Young Adult reader; it is fun and eventful, with suspense and action. Van Stone is a strong character, and has an amazing way of dealing with life. Devitt provides some great ballpark background as he delivers the goods. –TicToc

Jim Devitt has written an interesting mystery. The readers learns about the inner workings of a baseball clubhouse and also something of the biotechnology industry along with the mystery. This book is recommended for mystery lovers but will also appeal to sports fans. –Sandra Kirkland

Jim Devitt spent eight years working behind the scenes in a Major League clubhouse. After his time in professional baseball, Jim graduated from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, and then continued on to complete his Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.

He has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed research papers and presented at conferences throughout the country.
He currently lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Melissa and their son, Gavin.

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample: