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85% Super Bowl Sunday Price Cut! Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile By Nate Jackson

Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile

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Nate Jackson’s unvarnished and uncensored memoir of everyday life in the most popular sports league in America—and the most damaging to its players—the NFL. Drawing from his own experience, Jackson tells the little known story of the hundreds of everyday, “expendable” players whose lives are far different from their superstar colleagues.

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What Would Happen to Mankind Attempted to Engineer The Second Coming?
Save 50% on an epic story from Leonard Foglia & David Richards

The Surrogate, The Sudarium Trilogy – Book one

by Leonard Foglia, David Richards

4.7 stars – 22 Reviews
Or currently FREE for Amazon Prime Members Via the Kindle Lending Library
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
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–International bestselling trilogy explores an extreme case of religious fanaticism and the impact it has on the world.

The Sudarium, housed in Oviedo, Spain, is said to be the cloth that covered Jesus’ face after he died on the cross. Stained with what is thought to be the blood and phlegm of Jesus himself, it is rectangular in shape with a small, piece missing in the top, left corner. This missing piece of cloth spurred the entire storyline for The Sudarium Trilogy, by Leonard Foglia and David Richards.

“How could a neatly cut corner be lifted from such a renowned relic?,” Foglia says, “Who took it? And, more importantly, for what purpose?” “Everything in these books could actually come true,” Richards notes, “with the advancements in science, the burgeoning of the internet and the resurgence of fundamental religious sects. Just look around you.” Foglia adds, “The books are our hypothesis of what would happen if a fanatical religious group—believing that they were ordained by God—engineered the second coming.” While the duo had planned to stop with The Surrogate, their readers pleaded to find out what happened next. First published in Spain by Santillana Ediciones Generales under the title EL Sudario, the series continued with The Son and The Savior, which deal with the world-wide repercussions of such a experiment. The works have since appeared in Brazil, Poland, Russia and Mexico. In Mexico, where the work occupied the best-seller list for 10 weeks, the respected newspaper, LA REFORMA, wrote: “Little by little, Foglia and Richards reveal the strands that make up the conspiracy. For that, they succeed in joining the latest developments in genetic experimentation with the moral and religious implications that arise from such an undertaking. A great deal of what they imagine could already be carried out in our times, while other things could easily be a reality in the near future.

‘The Sudarium’ is a story that keeps the reader on the edge of his seat, even when he has turned the final page, because if some questions are answered in the course of the book, others continue to stick in the mind of whoever picks up this disturbing work.”

About The Authors

Leonard Foglia and David Richards have co-authored five novels, The Sudarium Trilogy: The Surrogate, The Son and The Savior, Face Down in the Park and 1 Ragged Ridge Road. Mr. Richards is also the author of Played out: The Jean Seberg Story and Mr. Foglia has directed many distinguished Broadway plays and operas. You can learn more about the authors on their website http://www.thesudarium.com/
(This is a sponsored post.)

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Although some massage therapists at the local spa give their clients a little something extra from time to time, Claire has always resisted the urge to dance the happy ending hula. That is, until her favorite client triggers a desire in her that she just can’t resist.Warning: Stroking (6,100 words) contains oral education, sauna sex speak, and oily encounters.


Exhibitionists seem to follow Annie wherever she goes, and she loves to watch them–anyone, anytime, anywhere. But when her new neighbor wants her roving eyes on him, she finds that voyeurism is best when it’s a two-way street.

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Janet hates her next door neighbor–specifically his loud lovemaking sessions that keep her up at night. But after a while, she actually becomes intrigued by him…and wants to find out exactly what’s going on in his bed.

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Alexandra plays hooky from work in the hopes of getting a little nookie from her plumber. And when this hot handyman pleasures her, it’s not just the bathroom pipes that are going to spring a leak.

Warning: Licking (5,500 words) contains analingus interruptus, tongue bathing, and sickly performances.


Although Paula loves her job at the perfume counter of the department store, she just can’t make ends meet. When her best friend makes a business proposition that she can’t refuse, Paula learns there’s much more to the love of fragrance than she ever imagined.

Warning: Inhaling (5,700 words) contains knowing noses, sexual sniffing, panty passion, and crimson cravings.

From the Author:

ADULTS ONLY PLEASE. Sensing Lust is a 27,800 word collection that contains sexually explicit material and adult language. This story is not appropriate for children and may be offensive to some readers.

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4.8 stars – 31 Reviews
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A disturbing vision of a future America, with an impact boosted by the startling authenticity of individual perspectives.
Collapse (New America-Book One)
by Richard Stephenson
4.2 stars - 527 reviews
Supports Us with Commissions Earned
Here's the set-up:
Over 11K paid downloads since July of 2012!
Finalist in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards!

BOOK ONE in the NEW AMERICA series.

What would it take for the United States to fall from within? In a not too distant future, America is put to the test. With the American people deep in The Second Great Depression and two of the most powerful hurricanes on record to contend with, the United States is in no condition to deal with hidden terrorists on its soil, maniacal politicians, and the most formidable military threat the world has seen since the Third Reich.  
This is the story of three men from three very different walks of life: Howard Beck, the world's richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome; Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict; and Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burned-out chief of police of a small Texas town. At first, they must overcome their own struggles and fight for their survival against impossible odds. In the end, the unlikely trio must band together to save their beloved country from COLLAPSE. 
Empires topple. Nations crumble. Civilization is fragile. In 2027, America will fall.
One Reviewer Notes:
Outstanding futuristic thriller... Mr. Stephenson grabs you - literally pulls you - directly into the novel and gets your pulse racing right into the heads of his character.
Michael Gallagher, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
About the Author
Richard Stephenson was born in 1975 in Denison, TX and spent his childhood in North Texas. In 1992, he graduated high school after only three years. He then pursued his degree at Oklahoma Christian University, once again accomplishing the task in three years. Richard then married his best friend before going off to basic training to be a military policeman with the US Army. With his new wife joining the adventure, they spent the next four years at Fort Polk, LA and had two children.

Just before his son turned five, Richard and his wife were told that their oldest child had Asperger Richard Stephenson was born in 1975 in Denison, TX and spent his childhood in North Texas. In 1992, he graduated high school after only three years. He then pursued his degree at Oklahoma Christian University, once again accomplishing the task in three years. Richard then married his best friend before going off to basic training to be a military policeman with the US Army. With his new wife joining the adventure, they spent the next four years at Fort Polk, LA and had two children. Just before his son turned five, Richard and his wife were told that their oldest child had Asperger's Syndrome. Nine years later, Richard's son would become the inspiration for the character of Howard Beck. After leaving the armed forces, Richard continued his law enforcement career in the federal sector and has been with the Department of Justice for thirteen years.
UK CUSTOMERS: Click on the title below to download
Collapse (New America-Book One)

 *  *  *

10 MORE FREEBIES – Just For Today!

Prices may change at any moment, so always check the price before you buy! This post is dated Sunday, February 2, 2014, and the titles mentioned here may remain free only until midnight PST tonight.

Please note: 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 even for US customers, prices may change at any time. Always check the price on Amazon before making a purchase.

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4.2 stars – 741 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
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Private Investigator Dani Ripper’s client list is nuttier than the Looney Tunes conga line, but she diligently solves one crazy case after another, waiting for a game-changer.  Enter Riley Freeman, 17-year-old honor student.

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Here’s the set-up:

Sixteen year old Arelia LaRue lives in New Orleans where the music is loud, voodoo queens inhabit every street corner, and the ghosts are alive and well. Despite her surroundings, all she wants is to help her Grand-mere Bea pay the rent and save up for college.

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4.2 stars – 644 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
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Jasmine Freeman’s world is about to tumble down around her and the one responsible for it is none other than her first love, Derek Titan. She hasn’t seen him in ten years, and they are both going to learn the truth of what happened back then.

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4.0 stars – 582 Reviews
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Sixteen year-old, Skyla Messenger is a dead girl walking.  When her newly remarried mother moves the family to Paragon Island, to a house that is rumored to be haunted, Skyla finds refuge in Logan Oliver, a boy who shares her unique ability to read minds. Skyla discovers Logan holds the answers to the questions she’s been looking for, but Logan’s reluctance to give her the knowledge she desires leaves her believing Logan has a few secrets of his own.

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4.4 stars – 7 Reviews
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TOILETRIVIA (Sports) is the only Sports trivia book that caters to your everyday bathroom needs. Questions on Sports are asked on three difficulty levels ranging from easy “One Roll of Toilet Paper” trivia, to questions so hard, you’ll need “Three Rolls of Toilet Paper” to get you through the chapter. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Golf, Tennis, Rules, Personalities … if you love it, it’s in this book!

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4.8 stars – 9 Reviews
Or currently FREE for Amazon Prime Members Via the Kindle Lending Library
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After three decades as a successful ear surgeon, William Wright, MD is bored beyond belief. He dabbles with retirement, but finds idleness infuriating. He has to do something. Then he sees an ad for a doctor’s position from the Colorado Department of Corrections at a supermax prison. Now that, he thinks, would be different. His wife has some thoughts on the matter too. She thinks her husband just lost his mind and is on a collision course with a prison shiv.

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4.5 stars – 457 Reviews
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Kelly was in deep trouble; her husband was a pastor and she his loyal first lady. Well she was…until she had an affair with Chris; the first elder of their church. And now she was pregnant with his child. Could she keep the secret from her husband and pretend that all was well? Or should she confess her private sin and let the chips fall where they may?

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New Sion

by Diana Green

4.9 stars – 8 Reviews
Or currently FREE for Amazon Prime Members Via the Kindle Lending Library
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Pretending to be a man isn’t easy. Finn Colville has pulled it off for years, but things get complicated when she falls for her new bounty hunting partner, Eamon Sullivan. On the planet New Sion, it’s against the law for a woman to wear pants and carry a gun, much less shoot people for a living. What will happen if Eamon discovers her secret?

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4.6 stars – 623 Reviews
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Or check out the Audible.com version of Tuesday’s Child (Psychic Visions)
in its Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged!
Here’s the set-up:
Shunned and ridiculed all her life for something she can’t control, Samantha Blair hides her psychic abilities and lives on the fringes of society. Against her will, however, she’s tapped into a killer–or rather, his victims. Each woman’s murder, blow-by-blow, ravages her mind until their death releases her back to her body. Sam knows she must go to the authorities, but will the rugged, no-nonsense detective in charge of tracking down the killer believe her?

*  *  *

4.2 stars – 273 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Or check out the Audible.com version of Lawful Escort (Eternal Bachelors Club #1)
in its Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged!
Here’s the set-up:
When Daniel has to travel to San Francisco and needs an escort for a social event, the beautiful Sabrina shows up on his doorstep. Little does he know that she’s not an escort. Their encounter quickly turns steamy until lies threaten to destroy their passionate affair.

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KND Freebies: The emotionally charged ON THE INSIDE by Kim Cano is featured in this morning’s Free Kindle Nation Shorts excerpt

4.9 stars out of 16 reviews!

“…women in prison — compelling and heartwrenching…”

A white-collar crime lands Kristen in prison and tests the love and trust of her family in this deeply moving story of love, loss, redemption and the possibility of forgiveness…

On The Inside

by Kim Cano

4.9 stars – 16 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

When Kristen is sentenced to seventeen years for committing a white collar crime, she’s forced to leave her husband and two sons behind.

Life in prison is a shock. She discovers that people aren’t always what they seem, love wears many faces, and friendship can make life worth living.

But as she struggles to survive on the inside, Kristen must face something even more frightening than her fellow inmates. . . herself.

5-star praise for On The Inside:

A powerful story of love, hardship, devotion, sorrow, and forgiveness
“…uplifting and poignant. You won’t want to miss this.”


“…the story of many women and their friendship, their relationships with their family, and their ability to gather their strength and accept their powerless realities…I devoured the book. You will too!”

an excerpt from

On The Inside

by Kim Cano


Copyright © 2014 by Kim Cano and published here with her permission

Chapter 1

Reaching for a stack of incoming mail, Lakeisha spotted a greeting card, obvious because of its telltale shape and colorful envelope. She opened it and the song “Happy Birthday” began playing. A brief smile formed on her face, and then she let out a sigh. She picked up her letter opener, then, with the skill of an artisan, pried the musical device out of the back of the card without ruining its cheerful appearance. After a quick scan of the card’s seams for drugs, Lakeisha put it back in its envelope and sealed it with a single piece of tape.

She felt awful defacing the gift, but it was procedure. Inmates with nothing but time on their hands were notorious for taking little things like batteries and wiring and turning them into something dangerous. Musical cards simply weren’t allowed.

Lakeisha had been in a hurry to make it to work, so she skipped breakfast. Luckily, Megan, the new prison psychologist, was just passing by with a box of donuts.

“Girl, how’d you know I’d be hungry?” Lakeisha asked.

“Because we’re on the same page. Pretty much need to be jacked up on sugar to make it through a day here, right?”

Lakeisha smiled in agreement at the tall brunette. “Ain’t that the truth.”

Megan popped the lid open so Lakeisha could make a selection. After pulling out a chocolate glazed, Lakeisha thanked her, then took an ample-sized bite of her donut. As she savored her meal she watched Megan walk away. She was a sweet kid and she kind of felt bad for her. Gossip was this was the only mental health position she was offered after her recent graduation.

“Guess we all gotta start somewhere,” she said out loud. Then she stared at her desk and had a sobering thought: the problem was sometimes you never left.

Before moving onto the next piece of mail Lakeisha removed a napkin from her top drawer and carefully wiped her hands. As she pulled the letter out a photograph spilled onto her desk, a glossy shot of an out of shape, heavily tattooed naked white man.

Lakeisha shook her head in disgust, then mumbled, “I didn’t need to see that while I was eating.”

Not only was it gross, X-rated photos weren’t allowed. Now she had to set it aside and fill out an “unauthorized” form. “Always something,” she muttered. After completing the form, Lakeisha proceeded to scan every fold and seam for drugs. Seeing none she put the letter back in its envelope and set it aside.

Prisoners knew she had the right to read everything they wrote. Sometimes folks on the outside were aware of this too, but Lakeisha didn’t have time to read all the mail. Her job was to process it and make sure it was free of contraband. With five hundred pieces going through her hands each day, and a thousand during the holidays, she didn’t have time to read every word.

But there was some correspondence Lakeisha never missed, a few prisoners whose stories she followed closely. As she learned the details of their lives, through the incoming and outgoing mail, it was like a soap opera. With each letter, she was always left wondering what would happen next.

Long ago Lakeisha had learned not to get close to any of the inmates, to keep her distance. She wasn’t allowed to show any form of favoritism. That was against the rules, so she kept her little mail soap operas a secret. The inmates’ stories were just a little indulgence to make her job more bearable. Plus, even though she knew they were criminals, some having committed truly despicable acts, they were still people. They had dreams once. And as she delivered the mail to them each day, she often wondered what those dreams looked like. How different were those dreams today?

After a short bathroom break Lakeisha moved onto the second pile of incoming mail. The return address on one envelope in particular caught her attention.

It was from Kristen’s husband Jeremy, the one who hadn’t written or visited in three long years, even though she wrote him every week without fail. Lakeisha always read Kristen’s correspondence. Anxious to see what he had to say, she ripped open the envelope.


I’ve been getting your letters. I haven’t written back because every time I try it always comes out the same way, with me cursing at you, so I give up and toss the pen and paper aside.

My sister suggested I just write what I feel, no matter what it is. That some communication is better than nothing. So, based on her advice, I’m going to say what I’ve been dying to say for a long time.

You’ve ruined my life Kristen, in every way a life can be ruined. And worse, you’ve hurt the kids. They’re suffering without their mother. All because for you it was never enough. You always had to have more. Even if it meant stealing to get it.

I’ve lost a lot of friends because of what happened, and some good clients will no longer work with me. Because of that and a bad economy and trying to survive on a single income, now the house is gone. I had to rent a small, two bedroom apartment, and am sleeping on an airbed in the family room that I blow up each night and deflate each morning. I do that so the kids can each have their own bedroom, so they won’t feel like anything in their lives changed.

But who am I kidding. Your goddamn mugshot was in the newspaper. People contacted me and asked, “Is that your wife?”

Ryan and Toby were bullied at school once the story spread too. They still struggle to sleep at night and their grades have suffered.

As if that weren’t enough, finding that shit on the computer after you were arrested, when I stood by your side after you got fired. That hurt the most. I hung in there through the drinking, then came to grips that you committed white collar crime. But I drew the line when I discovered you cheating behind my back.

Seriously, why the fuck do you continue to write me?


Lakeisha slowly refolded the letter and put it back in its envelope. She felt bad for Jeremy and the kids. Their side of the story was heartbreaking. But she also had a soft spot for Kristen, a model prisoner who seemed to be a genuinely nice human being.

Delivering the mail was usually something that made Lakeisha happy, as she knew it often was the only bright spot in a prisoner’s day. She dreaded today’s trip.

When quitting time came and Megan stopped by to say goodnight, Lakeisha was relieved. Maybe Kristen had taken the news better than expected. She assumed Megan would’ve had to make room in her schedule to handle an inmate’s nervous breakdown.


Kristen was thrilled to receive a letter from Jeremy. Once she tore it open and read it though, her spirit deflated.

She had put him through a lot. He had stayed by her side, dealing with her constant drama. Like the night Toby and Ryan had noticed her stumbling out the front door holding car keys in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. Fearful she might drive off and kill someone or hurt herself, Ryan ran out and tried to take the keys from her but she pushed him to the ground. When he landed he’d smacked his hand hard on a stone garden gnome and cried out in pain.

Toby saw blood on his older brother’s hand and grabbed the phone to call 911. He’d tried his best to speak to the operator but his mom was making such a ruckus in the background he could barely hear. Instead of helping her son up she was screaming expletives at the top of her lungs. Then she whipped the bottle of wine at the side of the house, staining the white stucco red and sending glass shards flying everywhere. The grand finale was when the cops showed up and she began mouthing off to them just as Jeremy pulled in from a long day at work.

Of course, she didn’t remember any of this at all. But her family sure did. And they never let her forget it.

They’d been keen to bring up the pasta incident too. Jeremy kept texting her asking where she was, saying that the kids were hungry and wanted to eat. He’d worked all day and made dinner but everyone was waiting for her to return before eating. When Kristen eventually showed up she was wasted. She stumbled into the house and to the kitchen table. After she sat down her face fell into her dinner plate.

With unusual calm Ryan rose and wiped spaghetti noodles and sauce off his mom’s cheeks as Jeremy held her limp body. Then they carried her off to bed and made sure to position her on her side in case she vomited in her sleep.

There had been many nights like that one. Most of which Kristen only learned about in embarrassed retrospect. When she first started stealing, she hadn’t been drinking much, but then the stress of keeping secrets and telling lies led her to drink more and more each day. That’s how she finally got caught. She took it too far, lost focus in her alcoholic haze, and her scheme unraveled.

Even then Jeremy had stayed. He said they’d figure out how to fix things. He thought they could find a way to raise money to pay back what she’d stolen. He’d been under the impression it was eighty thousand dollars, a large sum but not impossible to obtain. Maybe they could sell the house and use the equity. Maybe it didn’t have to go to court.

The truth came out after the arrest. Kristen had stolen almost half a million dollars from her employer, a family-run construction company, over the course of five years. She’d been their controller.

Jeremy and his sons had watched as the police arrested Kristen. The neighbors had seen it too, but turned their eyes away, not wanting to get involved. After Jeremy had come to grips with losing his wife of twenty years, and the betrayal of being lied to about the actual dollar amount taken, he found the emails.

“Where you been baby?” the man had written. “I miss you.”

Kristen responded, “I’m stuck here with you know who. Wish I could be in your arms. I’ll see you soon.”

Tears filled Jeremy’s eyes as he read the emails. It was clear he’d been a greater fool than he first thought.

After taking a long walk around the block, Jeremy decided to contact the police. Maybe this boyfriend knew where the majority of the money was, because he couldn’t figure out where a sum that large could have gone.

And he didn’t want to think about it anymore. All he wanted was for her to be out of his mind and heart forever.

Kristen sat on her bunk, thinking of all she’d done and felt sick.

She was forty-five-years-old and had been sentenced to seventeen years in prison. She’d chosen “no restitution” because there was no money left to pay back. All that remained was a mountain of evidence in the form of a second set of books they’d found hidden in the ceiling tiles, and Italian owners who’d felt angered and betrayed by someone they’d once considered family.

She was lucky they hadn’t killed her.

The more she thought of it the more she wished they had. She’d been in prison for three years already and couldn’t figure out how she’d make it through. She would have been better off as alligator food in the Everglades. What was there left to live for?

After lights out the sound of Kristen’s anguished cries filled the quiet prison, a deep, guttural wail from the depths of her very being.

Chapter 2

The sound of hurried footsteps echoed and became louder as two prison guards approached Kristen’s cell. When the door swung open she cried out, “Nooooo! Leave me alone!”

“We can’t have you screaming at the top of your lungs,” one of the guards said. “You wanna cause a riot?”

“I want to be left alone!” Kristen shouted. “Go away!”

Clearly tired of her antics, the larger of the two corrections officers lurched forward and grabbed hold of her. Kristen thrashed around and wouldn’t cooperate so the second guard wrestled her to the ground and cuffed her.

“Let me go!” Kristen screamed. “I want to go home!”

“That ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. Get up. Let’s go!” the guard said as she yanked her.

Kristen was small but stubborn as a bull when she wanted to be, and she continued fighting them. She had to be dragged against her will.

Once at the infirmary the nurse on duty stuck a needle into Kristen’s arm, and soon her deep sobs and shudders were quieted. After she fell asleep, the guards removed her cuffs and dimmed the lights.

Kristen’s dreams were montage-like that evening, a jumble of childhood memories popping up in no particular order.

One was of the time she was a tree in the school play, doing her part to stand very still as the other cast members danced around her. Holiday music filled the air, and her eyes searched the audience for her parents, but didn’t find them.

Another was of the day she came home from school with an “A” on her book report, anxious to share the news. When she walked in she found her parents fighting; her mom screaming with slurred words and her dad storming off, slamming the bedroom door behind him.

The dreams were a subconscious trip down memory lane, where Kristen was reminded of how she wanted nothing more than to be noticed by her parents—to be loved by them—and having grown up never hearing the words spoken to her.

She woke to the sound of paper shuffling. She rolled onto her side and saw Megan.

Kristen rubbed her eyes. Her head throbbed like a jackhammer was pounding it from the inside. “Hi,” she said in a groggy tone.

“Good morning,” Megan replied. “I took the liberty of bringing breakfast in case you’re hungry.”

Kristen sat up, noticing her body felt sore all over. “Thank you.”

Kristen felt oddly comfortable around Megan. Maybe because she treated her like a human being, or like a patient at a high-priced therapist’s office. In Megan’s care, things seemed civilized, unlike the rest of the place.

“Heard you had a rough night,” Megan said.

Kristen stared at the floor, wanting to do anything but talk about what had happened. She took a bite of food. “You could say that,” she replied, while rubbing her head.

“Do you have a headache right now?”

“Do I ever.”

“Let me get you something to help take care of it.” Megan rose and reached into a nearby cabinet and handed Kristen two aspirin. “Probably best to eat a bit more first. They can be hard on the stomach.”

Kristen made eye contact with Megan. “Thanks.”

As Kristen munched on her tasteless prison breakfast and took a sip of black coffee, Megan busied herself with paperwork. Kristen knew her routine. She waited for you to speak first. Megan never pushed the conversation.

Exhausted, Kristen laid back down. “I got a letter from Jeremy,” she eventually said.

Megan nodded, a pragmatic expression on her face. “I see. That must have been a surprise. I know how much you hoped to hear from him.”

Kristen sighed. “Be careful what you wish for, right? Isn’t that the saying?”

“It is. So why don’t you tell me about the letter.”

Kristen crossed her hands on top of her abdomen and stared at the ceiling tile. “He read me the riot act. He didn’t hold back on anything he was feeling. For a guy who’s bad at writing letters he hit a home run on this one.”

“He’s finally talking to you. That was what you said you wanted.”

“Yeah. But not like this. He told me how angry he still is, even after all these years, and that I ruined their lives.”

Megan nodded, and looked to be waiting for Kristen to continue.

Kristen spoke the words she already knew were true. “I mean, I know I ruined their lives. I know I screwed up bad, but I had hoped with time they might come around.”

“They meaning Jeremy?”

“Jeremy, or the kids, somebody. I haven’t had a visitor since I’ve been here. Crack dealer low-lifes and prostitutes get visitors here, but I don’t. No one writes either.”

“What about Jeremy’s sister-in-law Olivia. I thought she wrote you?” Megan asked.

Kristen sighed. “Yes, she writes. And for that I’m grateful, of course, but I mean my family. I don’t get birthday cards, Christmas cards, nothing. It’s like I don’t exist.”

Megan leaned forward and held Kristen’s gaze. “People deal with things that are painful in different ways. Some have odd coping mechanisms. I know it’s hard.”

“Jeremy asked why I write him. Doesn’t he get that I love him? Why else would I write? He’s my husband.”

Megan opened her mouth to speak but Kristen spoke first. “And am I supposed to stop writing my kids just because he’s angry? They’re my kids too!”

Nodding, Megan said, “That’s true. They are your kids, and it doesn’t sound like he asked you to stop writing them. I guess all you can do is continue to reach out to them and hope they respond one day.”

Feeling defeated, Kristen repeated the words. “One day,” then went silent. She had already been here for years and was required to do at least eighty-five percent of her sentence. She should’ve listened to the public defender when he told her she needed a better lawyer to take on the hotshot attorneys he was up against. He suggested she call her parents and ask them for help. They had money, but she’d rather die than rely on them.

Grand theft in the first degree. She’d been given more time than some murderers. And there was nothing she could do about it. She was guilty. Sure, some time could be knocked off here and there for good behavior, but when it came down to it she’d have to survive another decade in prison.

An eternity.

When Kristen looked up she noticed Megan seemed concerned. That was her job, wasn’t it?

“I guess I’ll keep writing. I have nothing left to lose.”

“Sounds like a plan. And in the meantime I’ll see you again soon.”


Kristen slept the rest of the day. She was thankful to be alone for once, as her cellie had recently been released and she hadn’t yet been assigned a new one. Most of the women liked having a friend to chat with, someone to share their time with, but Kristen preferred solitude. In her life before, when friends and family gathered around, talking and telling stories, she would often disappear into herself. She would laugh and smile along with them, but it often seemed she was hovering around the edges of the conversation rather than interacting.

Olivia had rightly noted that they’d grown closer through their letters than they were in the almost two decades before her incarceration. Kristen was hard to get to know. It’s not that she had lived a boring life. There were lots of interesting things about Kristen worthy of conversation. Like having lived in another country as a child. But Kristen acted as if these things were no big deal, playing down the events most people would have enjoyed hearing about.

Not only did she prefer to not talk about herself, she didn’t often look others in the eye. Kristen had a tendency to look away while chatting, focusing her attention elsewhere. It happened enough to be noticeable. No one spoke to her about it, of course, but it contributed to the general sense of disconnection. She kept people at bay and they weren’t able to truly get close to her.

She hadn’t even been close to the man she’d had an affair with. He just was someone who gave her attention when her world was crumbling and made her feel nice for a little while. A brief escape from the unforgiving reality she knew was on its way.

He never knew she stole money. She told him she had her own business. And at the rate she dropped cash, it must have looked to be a successful one. He also never knew she had a family that cared about her. She’d given him the impression she and her husband didn’t sleep in the same room anymore, that they only stayed together for the kids. Since he was much younger than Kristen, and she was insistent about her desire for him, he fell for it. He was naïve and liked to party. He enjoyed drinking and didn’t get on her case about doing it. And he complimented her all the time.

It was true her marriage to Jeremy was strained. But that was mostly on her. Her boozing and lies pressed a wedge between them that ate away at any romance. She’d only had the affair to feel loved again, to be touched before they locked her away for God knew how long.

The worst part was he wasn’t very good in bed. She’d risked it all for a roll in the hay, and this was the thing Jeremy couldn’t get over. Because of her affair, he wouldn’t have anything more to do with her.

Kristen wished she could go back in time and at least undo that last mistake. Would she still have her family in her life if she hadn’t done that? Would they at least be visiting her? She didn’t know. She just knew her life sucked and she had no one to blame but herself.

That evening Kristen chose to skip dinner and eat in her cell, making a meal out of her meager stash from Canteen. She munched on Doritos and warm Sprite. The soda would’ve tasted better cold. Once again, she was amazed at how much she took for granted from before.

Life was like that, she decided, you never knew what you had until it was gone.

Chapter 3

The next day at rec time Kristen sat alone on a bench. The women who usually hung out with her kept their distance. When someone freaked out and had to be hauled off to see Megan, it was like they had the plague for a while. No one wanted to go near that person for fear they’d catch the disease.

Kristen didn’t mind. She enjoyed the solitude outside too, inhaling the fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin. It reminded her of family trips to the beach; Ryan and Toby collecting shells and building sandcastles, the sound of pelicans chirping in the distance. She loved listening to the ocean surf while watching the white, puffy clouds drift overhead on their slow-motion journey through the heavens.

“Bitch, I said don’t touch me,” Lupe yelled.

Kristen squinted to see what was going on, lifting her hand to her forehead to block the sun.

Jess mouthed back. “I ain’t touchin’ you. I’m picking up my basketball and accidentally bumped you.”

Lupe, a young, attractive Mexican girl wasn’t to be messed with. Not because she was the toughest, but because she had clout. Her body was tattooed with gang symbols and her locker was filled with goodies from Canteen. She was a drug dealer on the outside and had no patience for Jess’ personality quirks.

“I’ll let you bump into me on accident, but you best be keeping your lesbian hands to yourself,” Lupe added.

Jess picked up her ball and gave Lupe a hard look, then spit on the ground before walking away. She looked pissed, but probably knew there was nothing she could do about it. She might be a tough girl who looked like a guy, but her only crime on the outside was beating another woman within an inch of her life because she found her in bed with her girlfriend. A domestic dispute gone bad.

Compared to Lupe she was peanuts. And she knew it.

“Ladies. I think you better take it easy,” one of the officers said.

The physical distance between Jess and Lupe grew as they dispersed, but the air between them remained thick with dislike. It surprised Kristen they’d never actually gotten into a fight, because she had gotten into one with Jess shortly after her arrival. She remembered it all too well.

After being sentenced and transferred, Kristen was petrified. Her time in the local jail was scary enough. That had been a musty place with cockroaches the size of salt shakers. To make matters worse, they flew! The walls had shit smeared on them. For the life of her, Kristen couldn’t figure out how that had happened. All she wanted was to go home. She had a beautiful three-bedroom townhome with a screened in porch and in-ground swimming pool. She’d cried to Jeremy on the phone to help her, but he couldn’t. She found it ironic that despite all the money she’d stolen, they didn’t have enough money to hire a decent attorney. Her parents, who had the means, didn’t offer to help.

Kristen quickly learned to exercise and build the muscles on her one hundred and ten pound frame. Looking like a model was great in the real world, not so good behind bars. She’d heard the phrase “gay for the stay” and made a decision that was not happening to her. She’d die first. The first year of pushups, running and sit-ups paid off. When she arrived at the women’s prison to serve the rest of her sentence, trouble was waiting for her.

Right off the bat Jess had gotten the idea Kristen was going to be hers. She’d even beaten the crap out of another girl who thought she had dibs. But to Jess’ surprise, Kristen wasn’t having any of it. Her repeated flirtations had fallen on deaf ears, until one day Jess decided to get aggressive and just take what she wanted.

Jess jumped Kristen from behind and in an instant was on top of her. She held her arms down and began salaciously licking her neck. “That’s what you been missing baby,” Jess whispered in her ear.

A surge of adrenaline coursed through Kristen, and like a Barbie doll with superpowers she threw Jess off her and leapt back to her feet. “Don’t you ever fucking touch me! Do you understand? I will kill you.”

Jess stood with her jaw hanging open. Kristen figured because she’d only committed a white-collar crime, Jess had pegged her as a pushover. Instead, she learned that Kristen had spunk. Jess looked more than a little self-conscious after she’d been so dramatically rejected.

“Why you gotta be so serious. I was just playing,” she said.

Terrified, but not letting it show, Kristen continued to stare her down in silence. Her resolution was made firm as Jess turned and finally walked away. The others regarded the newcomer, and Kristen could see something change in their eyes. It was like she’d attained a new level of respect.

She was one of them now.


Kristen watched the current episode with interest. She didn’t particularly advocate violence or enjoy fighting, but if she was honest with herself, she’d have liked nothing more than to see Lupe knock Jess flat on her ass.

It wouldn’t happen like that though. Lupe didn’t like to get her hands dirty. She didn’t have to. There were plenty of inmates who didn’t have much, who enjoyed the “gifts” she’d bestow on them from Canteen. Big, strong, hungry women could be a wonderful asset. They’d strangle someone for a candy bar or can of soda.

Kristen liked Lupe. They hadn’t spoken much but she just had a way about her. She wouldn’t mind having someone like her as a friend and on her side.

A buzzer rang signaling it was time to go back in. Perhaps she’d get to watch them brawl another time.

That night Kristen thought about the past. The first time she stole it was just to cover a late car payment. She told herself she would pay it back. But she never did. Then it was Christmas and she hadn’t saved enough for gifts, so she took a little more. No one noticed, but she still convinced herself she’d pay everything back once she got caught up on bills.

During the holidays the owners weren’t as generous as they had been the prior year, but they still managed to take their annual vacation to Hawaii. Kristen was irked. They could easily afford to give her a larger bonus, but they didn’t. After that she decided she wouldn’t pay them back, and she continued to take more.

The rush of getting away with it made her feel alive. She’d been added to VIP lists at all her favorite stores at the mall and was treated with respect when she went shopping. The wine of the month club and trips to the spa for facials, Botox injections, and constant pampering were quickly adding up, and she had to create a second set of books to keep track of things.

She’d always enjoyed drinking, but now she was a connoisseur who ordered specialty wines and offered what she believed was particularly valuable feedback in return. Jeremy had expressed concern over how much she was consuming, but she assured him she had it under control. His concern conveniently abated after they bought the big screen TV he’d always wanted. How lucky she got a bonus and worked for such great employers he’d said.

Jeremy owned his own car detailing business and did the majority of the physical labor himself. Whenever he tried to hire someone to expand, customers would complain that they preferred his work to theirs. He was, after all, a perfectionist. So he kept his business small. When he came home he was exhausted. He was thankful that Kristen was so good with paperwork and bills and willing to handle the finances, because he didn’t like dealing with that stuff.

Kristen sat on her bunk and sighed. Jeremy was a good man. Not perfect. No one was, but he was good. He deserved to have been treated better.

After reaching for a sheet of notebook paper and a pen, she began writing him a letter.


I wish I could go back in time knowing what I know now and change things. I would have done everything differently. I never meant to hurt you or the kids. You’re my life. But I know that’s what I’ve done. I can never fully express how sorry I am.

You were a good husband. I hope one day you will forgive me. I pray when I get out you will give me another chance. Even if it’s just to be your friend. We’ll be old then. I’ll be almost sixty and you’ll be sixty-five. The kids will be adults.

I’m sad I am missing out on their lives. Will you please ask them to write me? I’m still their mother.



The next afternoon Lakeisha was going through the outgoing mail and saw the letter. After reading it and getting it ready for delivery she wondered what would happen. It seemed unlikely she’d end up getting her wish, but when a person was locked up for as long as she was it was good to have something to hope for.

This got her thinking about her own life. She’d majored in English and hoped to get a job in book publishing, as an editor or proofreader. She had been willing to start at the bottom as an intern and work her way up, do whatever it took, but after graduation she didn’t have any luck. She was passed over for every position she applied to. Reading prison mail wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind when she envisioned a literary career, but the pay was decent and the benefits were good. And since she and her husband were trying to get pregnant, she figured it was as good a day job as any.

But there was one thing Lakeisha didn’t like about her job: when women who’d been released committed another crime and got sent back to prison. A surprising number, fifty percent of offenders, ended up back in the slammer. The lure of the old lifestyle, combined with the very unlikely chance of getting a job, prompted many convicted felons to do something illegal in order to survive. It was a vicious cycle that no one seemed to know how to fix.

And there was always the issue of not being comfortable back on the outside. For better or worse, fellow inmates became a prisoner’s new family after their original one moved on. They felt safer in the presence of other inmates, where they knew their place in the small tight-knit society. Lakeisha had heard more than a few stories about women  purposely doing something wrong after release so they would be sent back. So they could go “home.”

She hated when that was the case. Lakeisha wished each one would leave empowered and start life anew, finding whatever it was they’d wanted to do or become and forging a path in that direction.

She hoped to never see any of them again.

Chapter 4

Jess arrived right on time for her appointment with Megan. No one dragged her there against her will, but it wasn’t something she looked forward to either. The only reason she kept going was because she knew someone who had luck with counseling and she hoped to get fixed too. Lord knew she had enough on her mind.

Seated in her chair instead of lying down, Jess hunched forward, with her hands balled together in her lap. She tried to relax, but it was difficult. She didn’t care for authority figures much.

“So why don’t you tell me what’s been going on? How are you feeling?” Megan asked.

Jess tsked and said, “I’m angry as usual.”

Megan paused. “Would you like to tell me why? What’s on your mind?”

Jess leaned back and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “It’s Rachel. She’s still with that woman.”

“You mean the woman you found her with?”


Jess gazed off into the distance, thinking about the day it happened. She’d come early home from work and found Rachel in bed with another woman. She saw red and grabbed the stranger by the hair. “You think you can touch my girlfriend and live!” she’d yelled.

Rachel stood naked screaming in the background as the sound of Jess’ fists repeatedly slammed into the young lady’s face. Blood frothed from her mouth and began spilling on the carpet along with several of her front teeth until she was knocked unconscious.

“It’s still causing you to feel anger?” Megan asked cautiously.

Jess returned to the present. “Uh huh,” she said. “I know I should let it go. Beating her up only guaranteed they’d end up staying together. It’s just at that moment. I couldn’t think straight, you know.”

Megan nodded, then cleared her throat. “I think the focus here is to learn how to control your anger before it turns to rage. I know that’s a challenge, but if we can figure that out your life will improve a lot.”

Jess uncrossed her arms and propped them on her knees, resting her head in her hands. Looking at the ground she said, “Rachel is gone and I’m here. How’s my life gonna get better?”

“Well if you can learn to better control your emotions, your interactions with others will improve. You may or may not get Rachel back, but when you get out you’ll be prepared to have a healthy relationship.”

Jess let out a deep sigh and ran her fingers through her short brown hair. She wasn’t ready to accept that she and Rachel might never have another chance. Already exhausted by their short visit, she glanced at Megan. “I guess you’re right. I just don’t know how to do that. I thought Rachel and I were good, you know. I never saw it coming.”

“She should have broken it off with you first. That’s true. But sometimes people don’t behave as they should, and we have to be prepared to deal with it in a manner that doesn’t negatively affect us. If, for instance, you had handled the situation by having an argument and storming off, which would be expected, it might be possible you could have worked things out later on. Or you might have thought about it some more and decided you didn’t really want to. But you don’t have that luxury now.”

“No shit. Tell me something I don’t know.”

There was a pause, and Megan started again. “How about this. Let me ask you a question. What attracts you to a person? How should they treat you?”

Jess shrugged. “Nice, I guess.”

“Be more specific. Describe nice.”

Jess concentrated then said, “I’d want to know they love me, and not just with their words. I’d want their actions to show it too.”

“What actions would you like to see?” Megan asked.

“Well, I’d like to have them do little things to make me happy and make me feel special. And I don’t want to have to chase after them.”

“And why do you feel you have to chase them?” Megan asked.

“I don’t know. It’s just how it’s always been. I want them so bad and I don’t have patience.”

Megan paused. “And what do you think would happen if you didn’t chase the next person, if you let things unfold at a natural pace? What if you treated them the way you want to be treated? Do you think they would like that?”

Jess smiled, exposing her crooked teeth and her face lit up. “Yeah. I think they would.”

“And what happens if they make you upset?” Megan asked.

Jess grinned. She knew the answer to this one. They’d been discussing it the last few visits. “I take a deep breath and count to ten.”

“Right on,” Megan said, then high-fived her.

Jess kept smiling. These psych visits weren’t so terrible after all, she thought.


Dinner was another forgettable meal. As Kristen accepted her “mystery meat,” mashed potatoes and soggy green beans, she thought about all the nice dinners she’d eaten before. Jeremy had been a great cook, the “grill master” as he liked to be called, but they’d eat out a few times per week too. Not always someplace fancy, although she had fond memories of those evenings.

There was a Brazilian restaurant she liked near the house, and she’d always order a grilled meat dish called churrasco and a glass of Pinot noir. Or maybe it was bottle of Pinot. Either way, she would give anything to have a bite of steak right now. Her sister-in-law, Olivia, had never told her where she’d gone out to eat, editing that part out from her letters so as not to make Kristen feel bad. But when Kristen repeatedly asked what restaurants she’d frequented, Olivia finally obliged.

The silly details of a “you pick two” combo at Panera or a dark chocolate raspberry shake from Godiva meant a lot to Kristen. They reminded her that life was still good somewhere and gave her hope that one day she might have a chance to live in the real world again. Unlike the fifty percent who screwed up, either by accident or on purpose, there was no chance she would follow in their shoes. She couldn’t wait to leave prison and go home.

“How much stretchin’ you gotta do to work this shit off?” a fellow inmate Kristen hardly knew asked, then sat down next to her.

“I don’t know if it’s possible to rid one’s system of this toxic poison,” Kristen replied. “You’d probably need an herbal cleanse.”

Her new friend looked confused. “I don’t know what you talking about girl.”

Kristen raised an eyebrow. “You know, from the health food store.”

Her dinner mate laughed. “The health food store, yoga. That ain’t my thing. Seen you doin’ it out on the yard though. Why you like it so much?”

Kristen paused. “Actually I do Pilates. It strengthens the muscles and stretches them at the same time. When I’m done it’s almost like I’ve had a massage. Then I still like to run and lift some weights.”

“All right. I feel ya. Maybe tomorrow I’ll come by and you can show me how to do it?”

Perking up Kristen replied, “Sure. I’d love to.”

On her way back to her cell Kristen thought back to her Pilates class, her spinning class, the kettlebells workouts. The studio she used to go to was tranquil and clean, in a nice part of town. Everyone who attended was polished and fit. She could recreate a fitness routine here maybe, but polished wasn’t ever going to happen.

The following day on the yard the young woman showed up to work out with Kristen. Another girl joined in too and she showed them some beginner Pilates moves. They started with a Spine Stretch Forward and moved on to the Saw and the Mermaid. A little bit of a challenge without a mat, but they were tough girls. They’d manage.

Kristen saw Jess playing basketball nearby. She seemed to be watching their small group laughing and having fun. She and Jess hadn’t spoken since “the incident,” and although it looked like Jess was interested in joining them, she continued shooting hoops.

Maybe if she hadn’t been such an ass they could have been friends.


The next morning Lakeisha was tired when she arrived at work. She and her husband had enjoyed a date night and then decided to watch a scary movie. Unfazed, he passed out in the middle of it, but poor Lakeisha was terrified. Like a small child, she wanted him to wake up and walk her to the bathroom. Instead, she did the brave thing and headed there by herself. But it had been a fitful sleep and now at her desk the exhaustion set in. She hoped to plow through all her incoming and outgoing and just make it through the day.

As she sorted outgoing, she was surprised to see a letter from Jess. She didn’t usually write people.


Just wanted to say hi. And to tell you I’m sorry about what happened. I lost it, you know. I shouldn’t have done that to her. It was wrong.

What you did to me was wrong too. I treated you well and gave you everything I had. If there was something missing that you wanted all you had to do was ask and I would’ve done everything in my power to give it to you. If I wasn’t able to make you happy, you could’ve told me. You could’ve let me know. You didn’t have to go behind my back like that.

I’m not blaming you for what happened. That was me, unable to control my rage. I’m just saying it didn’t even have to get that far if you had been honest with me. You could’ve done that.

Anyway, I’m not one for writing. Just wanted to say that. Heard you two are still together. Hope you’re happy and things work out.



Folding the letter back up and putting it in its envelope, Lakeisha felt noticeably more awake. She hadn’t cared for Jess much, but the letter had given her a better appreciation for what took place on both sides of the fence. It was just another reason she indulged in her stories. Better than watching her favorite old soap opera, As the World Turns. Sadly, after a long run that show had been cancelled. This one would continue for as long as she was employed here.

At quitting time Megan stopped by.

“What plans does Ms. Megan have for tonight?” Lakeisha asked.

“Oh, you know. A little of this. A little of that.”

“So no date then. What happened to what’s his name?”

Megan shrugged. “He’s around. He’s just too needy. I have a lot of work to do, even when I get home. Research.”

Lakeisha laughed and shook her head. Megan devoted so much of her time to helping others she forgot to have a life herself.

Chapter 5

A few weeks later there was buzz over visitations. The hot looking guy in the photo Lupe kept over her bed—her boyfriend—had come to visit. According to the others who’d had visitors that day, his picture didn’t do him justice. Word spread and by dinnertime Lupe had gone from a powerful figure to something of a celebrity. If she wasn’t a criminal she’d make a great movie star, with paparazzi trailing her every move.

Kristen brought her tray of food over to Lupe’s table and sat opposite her. They didn’t eat together often, but Lupe didn’t seem to have a problem with the attention. And since not much happened in their world, it would likely continue for weeks, with the story growing and expanding. It wouldn’t be long before rumors of them enjoying conjugal visits passed through the halls. Of course that would be untrue, but embellishments weren’t frowned upon – they were welcomed. Everyone would have loved to have been in Lupe’s shoes. Well, almost everyone.

“Someone is having a great day,” Kristen said to Lupe.

“You heard, huh.”

“Who hasn’t.” Kristen smiled.

Lupe visibly puffed up. “Yeah. It’s been a while since he’s come to see me. Writes all the time, telling me how much he misses me, what he’s gonna do to me when I get home.”

Kristen had pushed those thoughts from her mind long ago. There was no point in entertaining them while she had forever to make it through, but the mention sparked an instinctive interest. “I’ll bet you can’t wait to get back to him. The girls are saying he’s an Enrique Iglesias look-alike.”

“He’s better looking than that, but he’s no singer. Can’t hold a tune to save his life.”

Kristen giggled. “How much longer do you have?” she asked, then took a bite of food.

“Six months.”

Kristen was glad for Lupe, but inside her heart was breaking. She had an eternity left in comparison. She hid her sorrow by holding a smile in place. “That’s great. I’m so happy for you,” she said.

“You’re gonna make it too. Keep your chin up,” Lupe replied. Her compassionate words took Kristen by surprise. Lupe wasn’t known for saying such things.

Tears filled Kristen’s eyes but she willed them to stop.

Lupe must have noticed the glassy cast. “I know just what you need. Chocolate. You like Snickers?”

Kristen smiled again. “I love Snickers.”

“Good. I’ll get you one of mine and give it to you later.”

With that said, Lupe got up and walked away, her legacy continuing. Everywhere she went she was larger than life. Magnanimous. Combined with her beauty Kristen could see why she had such a gorgeous boyfriend. She’d almost have to.

Later on that day, while munching on the delicious candy bar, mail arrived.

“Something for you,” Lakeisha said to Kristen.

Kristen reached for the envelope and said thanks.

It was from Olivia.


Hey. How have you been? Crazy busy here. Cocoa had some tooth problems again, so she’s off to the cat doctor. I’m afraid to find out how much that’s going to cost… Yikes!

Heard my brother finally wrote you, and that he expressed himself with flair. FYI – he read it to me first and asked my opinion. I told him whatever he had to say was appropriate to write. He kept looking for my input, but you know me. I don’t want to put words in someone’s mouth.

Are you doing okay? I worry about you.

Hey, remember that time we were all at the restaurant and those guys were making vulgar gestures at you? How could you forget, right? Anyway, we were just talking about that again. Laughing about how low-key Bob always is, and how he shocked us by standing up and confronting them. I’ll never forget him yelling across the room, asking them to please keep their ridiculous expressions to themselves, and saying that we were a family out to eat and want to be left alone. When they looked stunned and tried to play innocent, he said “Really? Do you think she’s just going to get up and walk away from her family and take off with you? Why don’t you mind your own business and eat your fucking dinner!”

I’m dying of laughter all over again as I write this. That was so out of character for him. I swear, that story never gets old. And how about the waitress? I don’t think she found it amusing. If I’m not mistaken she quickly handed us our check and gave us “the look.”

Speaking of Bob, he’s been really busy at work lately. He’s here now though and says hello. Cocoa says meow. I’ve read a couple good books recently and have seen a few good movies. I’ll order you a book from Amazon and have it sent. I know how you like to read. And stay in shape. Can you do a few sit-ups for me? I’ve been so lazy lately. Maybe in the future you could be a personal trainer. You never know.

Spoke to my brother recently. He said Ryan is dating someone. Sounds serious. Can you believe it? I guess you can. I have a vague recollection of being seventeen once. Toby is into skateboarding and playing the guitar. He still has one left of the seven. They sold the others on Craigslist to raise some cash for bills.

Anyway, Jeremy is still pissed. He’s got a right to his feelings. What’s weird is he says he’s not going to read your letters anymore but then when we talk on the phone he tells me what you wrote. I don’t understand him. Then again, he is a man, right? We’ll never know what they’re really thinking.

Okay chica, I better run. Dishes are calling me. I try to pretend I don’t speak their language but it hasn’t worked yet.

Love ya,


Kristen set the letter aside. The restaurant tale was a perennial family favorite. It made her smile. She could remember it like it was yesterday. It saddened her to hear Toby only had one guitar left though, as she’d bought him so many. But she supposed when it came down to it he really only needed one. She was glad he was practicing. Toby was almost a child prodigy. She hoped something more would come of it since it was his dream.

It didn’t surprise Kirsten that Ryan had a serious girlfriend at such a young age. He’d never been one to hang out in large groups and tended to surround himself with only a handful of close friends. Kristen smiled as she remembered their movie watching times. He would sit through chick flicks with her and seemed to actually like them. Maybe he bought into the romance the way women who watched them did. Or maybe he just wanted to create the kind of relationship he never saw at home. Hey, if he could, Kristen thought, more power to him. She wanted nothing but the best for her oldest son.

Kristen sat and pondered what Olivia had said about Jeremy, that he was still reading her letters even though he said he wouldn’t. She couldn’t stop writing him if she wanted to, and even though he was pissed, he seemed incapable of completely ignoring her. Perhaps, she thought, it was like a phantom limb. Once an appendage was removed you still felt the sensation of it being there.

Maybe they had the same kind of connection.

… Continued…

Download the entire book now to continue reading on Kindle!

by Kim Cano
4.9 stars – 16 reviews!
Kindle Price: $2.99

If you like fast-moving thrillers in the vein of the Jason Bourne movies and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, then you’ll love The Hard Swim by Keith Dixon – $2.99 on Kindle

13 Rave Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

FEBRUARY 1942: The Struma, a broken-down steamer, explodes and sinks in the Black Sea, drowning 768 Rumanian Jews fleeing the Nazis and heading for Palestine, and safety.

JUNE 1944: Thirty-one SAS soldiers are captured behind enemy lines and are forced to dig their own graves before being shot and buried in a forest in the heart of France.

SEVENTY YEARS LATER: A young woman is attacked in the grounds of Edinburgh Zoo – the attacker seeking the document that might link these two wartime events.

Private Investigator Sam Dyke rescues the woman, Chantal Bressette, and embarks on a quest to find out why the document she carries is being sought by a high-ranking Government official and his team of ex-Army thugs.
They follow a series of clues that lead them eventually to an isolated village in central France, tracked by the thugs and government minister Gideon Blake, who becomes obsessed with uncovering what the document reveals because he believes it implicates his family in an obscene war-crime.

The Hard Swim is the third in Keith Dixon’s series of Sam Dyke Investigations.

If you like fast-moving thrillers in the vein of The Day of the Jackal, the Jason Bourne movies and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, then you’ll love The Hard Swim.

Here’s what reviewers have said:

‘The Hard Swim is deftly plotted and an engaging read, weaving together stories from the Second World War with those set in the present. The plotting is so well done that Dixon keeps the reader guessing. Every detail that is set-up earlier on in the novel has a pay-off later on in the story. Keith Dixon’s prose is fluent and assured and he has that knack of making the writing look easy…. ‘

‘It would have been typical of the genre, and much simpler for the author, to have made Sam’s chief antagonist, appropriately named Connell Steele, an inscrutable psychopath. Dixon, to his credit, makes him a far more complex personality, a professional assassin who is losing the ability to hide from his own doubts behind his avowed commitment to the military virtues of patriotism and honor.’

‘If you like intricately woven plots, in-your-face action and a straightforward, no holds barred hero, you’ll need to get this book – and if you haven’t read the first two Sam Dyke adventures, you will.’

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample of The Hard Swim by Keith Dixon: