Thursday, April 27, 2017

Within these pages you will find twenty-five short stories. You will find each different, each hopefully a pleasant little read. TAKE A ABREAK BY A. W. LAMBERT

Take A Break
A. W. Lambert

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1

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Within these pages you will find twenty-five short stories. You will find each different, each hopefully a pleasant little read. Some involve ghostly goings on, others a little detective work and still others are a tad goofy; just a little nonsense with something, hopefully, to raise a smile. When taking that welcome break, cup of tea or coffee in hand, this is a little book which can literally be dipped into at any point for a ten minute relaxing read.


Do you believe in ghosts? No? Well I don't blame you. No rational minded person would, would they?  And as a lifelong soldier, there was no one more rational than me.
Thirty years; boy soldier to Lieutenant Colonel. Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Iraq, I'd seen them all; life and death in the raw you might say. No room for wishy-washy thoughts of a life thereafter where I came from. No, it was enjoy life while you can because when your times up; it's up, isn't it? It's over. Finished, right?
Yeah, well…Maybe.
 When I retired my wife and I chose carefully. We had seen the rough side of life, now was the time for peace and quiet. And the public house in the little Norfolk village was just what we were looking for. It was in the perfect rural location and its projected takings, though nothing to write home about, when augmented by my military pension, would give us the comfortable retirement we had planned for so long.
My wife immediately joined the WI, helped out at the church and generally integrated into the local scene. I concentrated on running the pub and enjoying my retirement to the full; my evenings filled with the local characters and their stories, my spare time spent walking Buster the dog and exploring my new surroundings.
It was mid September; the 13th to be exact. I remember it well because it was my birthday and six months to the day since we'd taken over the pub. The evenings were beginning to draw in and there was a hint of a change in the air, a lessening of the sun's strength. But it was still warm and I'd been walking since closing the pub after the lunchtime session. So engrossed was I in my exploring that I walked much further, stayed out longer, than I had intended. Feeling a little weary, I settled to rest on a grassy bank, my back against a large oak. I relaxed in the warm afternoon sunshine, as Buster, head down, foraged relentlessly among the undergrowth, darting from one spot to the other, investigating every sound, every smell.
I have often asked myself since; did I doze, even rest my eyes for just a second? If I did I was unaware of doing so and yet suddenly he was there, standing over me, looking down, and smiling a sad, tired smile. He was young, no more than twenty or so and pale with soft, fair hair drifting over one eye. He wore a waist length, jerkin style, leather jacket and a scarf wound untidily around his neck. His trousers, a thick, dark worsted material, were tucked into heavy fur-lined boots. But what took my eye most of all was the nasty gash that ran from the hairline above his right temple to his chin. It was no longer bleeding; the blood thickly congealed and crusted, but I'd seen many wounds in my long military career and knew instantly that this young man needed medical attention and quick.
I scrambled to my feet, my mind racing; the jerkin, the heavy boots, it had to be a motorcycle accident. I instinctively reached toward him, offering support, but he moved back a pace; out of reach. I stood, arms still extended, uncertain. "Are you okay?"
He nodded, the sad smile persisting. I noticed his eyes, focused on a point just above my head. I had seen the signs before. Concussion.
"Yes, we're all okay," he said, his words soft and dreamlike. "It's Chalky. We're just waiting for Chalky."
"Chalky? Was he with you? Is he hurt too?"
His head turned, his eyes now scanning the woodland behind me. "No, Chalky got out before. There was only time for him. But we can't leave him. We have to wait." He frowned, his eyes narrowing as if he had seen something in the undergrowth. He gave a half wave of his hand and shuffled uncertainly toward the trees.
"Wait," I called after him. "You need to see a doctor." I pulled out my mobile and held it up for him to see. "I can make a call, get an ambulance."
He hesitated, looking back, shaking his head. "Don't worry, old sport," he said. "Just waiting for Chalky, that's all." He turned and in seconds was lost among the trees. Common sense urged me to go after him, bring him back and call for help, but an inner something held me back and I just stood staring stupidly at the spot where he had disappeared.
Feeling pressure against my leg, I glance down. For some reason Buster cowered at my feet, his ears flattened to his head.
That evening, behind the bar, the vision of the young man haunted my thoughts. Earlier, immediately after returning from my walk, I'd telephoned the local police and reported the accident. Remembering the young man's words, "we're all okay", I reported that, although I had only seen one person, there were probably more involved in the accident.
"Oi, what's this then?" I was snapped back to the present by the sharp retort. Old Len Bartlett, the pub's oldest and most faithful regular, stood before me, his pint pot extended. "I asked for mild. You know I always have mild. This isn't mild, it's bitter."
I took the pot from him. "Sorry Len," I apologized. Things on my mind," I emptied the pot, refilled it with his favourite and handed it back.
Len supped at the fresh liquid and smacked his lips, satisfied. "That's more like it. So what's the problem then?"
I related the story of my encounter with the young man. Slowly, as the tale unfolded, a smile spread across the old man's face. "And you reported it to the police?" he said, when I had finished.
I nodded. "Strange though, they said they'd had no reports of any accidents in the area."
Len pursed his lips. '"Sright, 'Cause there weren't none."
"You're privileged, lad," he said with conspiratorial wink. Us that know, us old'ns don't talk about it, but looks like today you met one of the Romeo Victor crew."
"The what?"
"The Romeo Victor crew."
I studied the old boy across the bar. "What the hell are you talking about, Len?"
He took another long draught from the pot before answering. "I think it's time for you to meet our Arthur," he said finally.
The following day, after the lunchtime session, I closed the pub and followed Len to a tiny cottage on the outskirts of the village. A woman who I guess was in her late fifties answered our knock. She ushered us through to a tiny sitting room at the back of the cottage.
"Dad," she said, as we entered, "You've got visitors."
The old man was sitting in a high backed, winged armchair facing the window looking directly down the garden and out across open fields beyond. Despite his obvious age, he had a full head of pure white hair, a broad smile and eyes that sparkled mischievously.
Len dropped into a chair opposite the old man. He grinned up at me. "I'd like you to meet our Arthur," he said. "Arthur White." He turned back to the old man. "Arthur, this is our new publican," he said. "Yesterday he was out walking and guess what?"
The old man turned his twinkling eyes toward me. He chuckled happily. "Met the boys, did you?"
"Sorry?" Confused I turned to Len for an explanation.
"Just the one, Arthur" Len said, his eyes still on the old man. "The blonde lad."
"Ah, that'll be the Skipper. Must be getting impatient."
"I'm not surprised," Len laughed. "They've waited long enough."
Totally mystified, I looked from one old man to the other.
Old Arthur pointed to a hard backed chair, motioning me to sit alongside him, waiting for me to settle before raising a bony finger and pointed to a spot in the sky above the distant field.
"We'd made it to about there," he said. "Pretty shot up, we were; only the two engines at full power. But old Romeo Victor was a wonderful Kite and the skipper had nursed her all the way; we were nearly home." His arm dropped back into his lap and he was silent for a moment, memories flooding back. "But then," he continued finally, his voice little more than a whisper. "The damn rudder decided to fall off." He shook his head. "Even a Lancaster can't fly without a rudder."
As they held mine, old Arthur's eyes, just for that moment, lost the mischievous sparkle and became deep, dark pools of sadness. I felt myself drawn to that day, that perilous moment. "So what happened…? How did you…?"
"The skipper ordered us out," the old man continued. "I was the first to go and as I left, Romeo Victor went into a violent spin." He heaved a heavy sigh. "They never stood a chance. Twenty-one missions," he muttered, almost to himself. "Same crew, twenty-one missions. Brothers, we were. Always together. Always." His voice had dropped to a whisper. "But it all went wrong that day, lad. You see, they went without me. They didn't mean to, couldn't help themselves, but they did. They went without me."
We've been here for three years now and we couldn't be happier, every year better than the last. It's winter now and as I stand looking out of the window, a roaring fire in the grate, the surrounding fields, covered with a light dusting of snow, look as beautiful as ever.
Earlier this year, September the 12th it was, I remember it well because it was the day before my birthday. It was also the day that Arthur "Chalky" White died. He was ninety-two and as they lowered him into the ground I was there at the graveside. As the coffin came to rest something tugged my eyes sideways, toward a raised hillock beyond the adjacent field. Bathed in the red glow of a softening September sunset lounged a small group of young men. My heart skipped and I looked around at the other mourners. Nobody else was looking that way. Most had their heads bowed, listening to the vicar's last words. But they were there, honestly, I can assure you, all six of them. They were too far away for me to see the expressions on their faces, but I would have wagered anything that they were all smiling. Well they would be, wouldn't they? They had waited for their comrade for a very long time and now all seven would be together again. And I'm sure wherever they went from there they would stay that way.   
No, I'm like you; I don't believe in ghosts either. When your time's up it's up, finished, right?
Yeah, well like I said…Maybe.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In this romantic adventure, a newspaper reporter with a penchant for flashy shoes uncovers an explosive story that could shatter lives and defuse her budding love with a soft-spoken bomb tech. CHASING THE LEGACY BY GENIE GABRIEL

Chasing the Legacy
Genie Gabriel

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1

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In this romantic adventure, a newspaper reporter with a penchant for flashy shoes uncovers an explosive story that could shatter lives and defuse her budding love with a soft-spoken bomb tech.


"Mind if I join you?"

Layla turned at the sound of Grady's voice. "Your house."

"I haven't lived here in awhile but, yeah, still home." He eased onto the settee beside Layla with a sigh, a different kind of smoky smell lingering on his clothes--that of explosions and destructive fires.

"You were a hero tonight."

"Just doing my job, like a lot of others who are still in town."

"What happened?"

"The initial theory is a guy who sold a baby to a wealthy couple didn't like his money-making scheme cut off. So he planted dynamite in the buildings in Halo for revenge."

Layla shivered. "Pretty over-the-top for one baby."

"I'm sure there's more to it." Grady covered a yawn.

Silence settled between them, and soon Layla heard Grady's gentle, even breathing. He had fallen asleep. With tousled hair and smudges of soot on his face from the fires, he seemed more like a little boy than a man who sought out explosives for a living.

Soon Tallie appeared with a quilt over her arm. She tucked it around Grady and kissed his cheek. Always the mom and, again, Layla felt a pang of envy.

"May I bring you a blanket?"

Layla shook her head. "I'm going inside in a few minutes."

But she didn't. When the sun peeked over the eastern horizon, she had cuddled up against Grady and burrowed under his blanket.

His arm stretched along the back of the settee over her shoulders and he smiled shyly at her. "I won't tell your pop if you don't tell my mom."

Her belly did a funny little somersault as a grin formed on her face. "It's a deal."

He kneaded the muscles in his neck. "I need to get back to town."

Then he stood and tucked the blanket around her, much as Tallie had done for him earlier. "Welcome home, Layla."

Her breathing quickened as he leaned close to her. Was he going to kiss her? Was she going to let him?

Senior Detective Tim O’Neil and his partner are soon embroiled in a serial killer case. The killer has a twisted and tormented mind, and seems to enjoy the torturous hell he puts his victims through. SYDNEY SIDER BY SUSAN DOWNHAM

Title: Sydney Sider
Author: Susan Downham
ISBN: 978-1-62420-146-2

Genre: Crime
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4

Senior Detective Tim O’Neil and his partner are soon embroiled in a serial killer case. The killer has a twisted and tormented mind, and seems to enjoy the torturous hell he puts his victims through. He is the complete embodiment of evil. As the bodies begin to stack up, The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the serial killer case, naming the killer, the Slaughter Man. The newspaper‘s powerful owners show how they manipulate the news to suit their own needs and fellow reporters show their own desires for career advancement. When the identity of the killer is discovered and the police descend on the killer’s home, O’Neil wants to take him alive. He feels apathy for the killer, knowing the hell his mother had put him through has shaped him into the skilled killer he has become.


The phone beeped as they entered the bedroom and Peter checked it. Elise sent a short message of ‘Love you too, leaving now.’ "She is just leaving work now, Anna, so she should be home by twelve fifteen." Peter undressed and climbed into bed.
"Good, honey, that gives you half an hour to make love to me."
"I'm on a timer am I?" He laughed.
Anna climbed on top. "Yes, husband, you are on a timer." They both laughed.
After a few frantic minutes, Peter stopped moving.
"Hey you, what's wrong?"
"Shush." He put his finger to his lips. "I thought I heard Elise's footsteps but she couldn't have gotten home so quickly." They both turned to the clock. It was only midnight.
"Are you sure you heard something?"
Peter put his hand under the bed and felt for his trusty old baseball bat. He nodded. "Yes I heard something." He too sat on the bed then they both heard a floor board creek out near the kitchen. Anna grabbed her husband's arm and held it tight.
"Oh god, honey, I heard that." Peter was straight out of bed.
"You ring the police, Anna," he told her.
"Where are you going?"
Peter picked up his trusty old baseball bat, and turned to Anna, his face creased and his heart thumping hard inside his chest. "I'll go and have a look." He disappeared out the doorway, tip-toeing out of the room with the baseball bat in hand.
Peter stood by his bedroom door listening to Anna on the phone and to the sounds of the house. He shook his head as he tried to clear a buzzing noise that was sending alarm bells through his body. He concentrated. There was nothing. He heard Anna whispering, barely audible, but nothing else. He held on to the bat, resting it on his foot. Butt naked and feeling cold, he was about to turn back into his bedroom and get dressed before investigating further when he heard the blood chilling sound of a loose floor board near the end of the kitchen counter groan.
He knew the exact floor board. He'd promised Anna several times to get it fixed, but it never bothered him like it did her. Now when the house was so quiet, it took on such an eerie sound.
Peter pulled the bat up to shoulder height, ready to take a swing. He took three small steps down the hallway, the carpet soft underfoot. He listened again. There was no sound but he knew someone was there. They weren't alone in the house. He took a backward glance at his bedroom, where his Anna was still on the phone and wondered what could be taking so long.
Then he took another two steps forward, his hands getting sweaty and his heart racing. His mind went to other crimes in the area. He knew of a man out west who woke up to find two men empting his house of every major electrical item and loading them onto a small truck. The burglars didn't know the house was occupied, and they panicked, killing the man by hitting him over the head with a microwave. He wished whoever it was would just run out the front door, with Peter chasing him out into the street then returning indoors to wait for the police.
He preferred that idea, confronting anyone even with his baseball bat in hand. He took another step forward and that was when he saw him. Peter swung his bat, but it connected with the wall and not with the man whose eyes drilled into him.
A fist came towards him. He ducked but not quick enough. He felt his head whip to the left, then another punch came, right into his kidney. He cried out, trying to pull himself up, leaning on the bat. He stood and faced the man, trying to make sense of what was going on, but he couldn't. The man watched him get to his feet. Peter was wondering what he was waiting for. Every breathe he took racked his body with a wave of nausea. He swung his bat straight at the man's face, and watched as the bat hit the wall. The knife came from under him, slicing into his ribs. Peter screamed out, as the knife was yanked out of his piggy white flesh and he grabbed at the wall to steady himself and then the knife came in again, this time through his stomach. He grabbed on to the blade, tried to pull it out, to stop the pain, but the man leaned into him and held him as he dropped to the floor. He pulled the knife out again, tearing the flesh apart.
Then he turned his head towards his bedroom door, his hand on the hole ripped into his guts. He screamed at Anna to run, but nothing came out. He saw her running towards him, his white T-shirt too big on her tiny naked body. She met his eyes. He screamed again. Blood spurted out towards Anna, like a huge spew. He put his hand to his mouth, to wipe it away. Dizzy and confused, he watched Anna fall on him and then scream and the knife gouged her back, slicing into her spinal cord, then twisting and being dragged back out. Peter felt Anna's warm blood seep over him, and he knew it was too late. He noticed the hallway slipping away. He closed his eyes, willing it to be over. His short breathes were agonizing, tearing at him. Then he felt hands on the cheeks of his arse. It brought him back for a moment. Shook him back to where he was and what was going on. He tried to get onto all fours, he had to fight. He pushed himself up, onto his knees, the weight of Anna slipping but still weighing him down. A voice called out to him.
"What's wrong, Peter, come on get up, before I really fuck you," the voice teased him but spurred him on. Peter was on all fours, the man he knew was behind him. He wanted to say something, to scream or yell, or make some noise, but his mouth was full of blood.
Then he felt his cheeks pulled open. He felt the rubbery grip on his arse and clenched and a pain he knew he would never be able to explain. He felt the knife rip him wide open, he felt the warm stickiness down his thighs, and he felt the knife twist inside him. He closed his eyes, concentrating on something good, something joyful. He saw the sun shining, the beach, the boys running into the water, Elise in her mother's arms, just a tiny baby, and him watching them all and knowing it was the happiest day of his life. He was holding on but only just, his breaths so shallow and the world around him fading so quickly. He blinked his eyes trying to hold on, seeing his baby girl in her mother's arms, hearing the boys laugh, but as he took his last breath he heard her voice call out, "Hi Mum and Dad, I am home safe and sound."