#Excerpt “Double Blind” by Sara Winokur

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Mystery Thriller
Date Published: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Anchor House Publishing
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A young boy disappears in the chill of North Iceland. Twenty years later, a mysterious poem lands on the desk of his twin sister Brynja, a forensic geneticist, and rekindles her hopes that her brother might be alive. As Brynja unravels the clues, more poems arrive, each bearing dire consequences for those who receive them: the guard of the medieval manuscript of Icelandic sagas that possibly has the answer to her burning question, the prime minister’s secretary, the local pastor.
Is the poet out to stop Brynja from finding her brother and shut down her access to the DNA database? Or is the verse maker simply a psychopath copycat killer?
Fighting the visual auras that have plagued her since childhood and now threaten everything she holds dear, Brynja must summon the strength to navigate the twisted labyrinth of the poet’s mind and confront the dark secret buried in her family’s past.
DOUBLE BLIND is a wild ride through the cultural landscape of Iceland, from rural farmsteads to icy fjords to the high-tech world of DNA forensics. This crime thriller packed with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
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EXCERPT

Eyjafjörður, North Iceland

April 1997

First Day of Summer

 

Lúkas was seven winters that day, the day he froze in time and memory.

It was mid-morning when the children pressed their noses to the window, Lúkas in his Thor superhero jammies and Brynja in princess-pink. Below, an icy wind howled off the fjord, battering the red and white flaps of the carnival tent—a giant, striped bird that had landed on the snowy patch of farmland below their house. The townspeople were gathered at the fair, huddled in their heavy, gray overcoats, their chatter frozen in white puffs. Their neighbors, hardy farmers in rough-knit sweaters, stomped their boots and greeted one another with a clap on the back.

The two—twins and inseparable—bundled into woolies and raced across the hall. Brynja begged their father Pabbi to let them go down to the fair.

“Too young, my little lambs,” he said. “Next year.” He kissed the tops of their heads and shuffled back to Mamma.

Brynja poked her head into the kitchen, though she knew she shouldn’t. Pabbi had just said no.

“Jónas?”

“Well, well, litla mín,” he said, flipping slices of blood sausage in the pan atop the stove.

“Breakfast will be ready soon.”

Brynja clasped her hands together. “Can Lúkas and I go to the carnival first? Please?

We’ll watch out for each other. I promise.”

The farm manager never said a lot, so she knew to be patient while he thought about it.

“You’ll have to ask your father.”

“I did.” Brynja turned and put her finger to her lips, daring Lúkas to stay quiet. She wasn’t lying. She did ask Pabbi.

“Okay, then, just for a bit. But keep an eye on each other.” Jónas shook his finger. “No pony rides or talking to strangers.”

Brynja grabbed Lúkas’s hand and ran to the entry. They hurried to throw on their winter coats, stuffed their stockinged feet into rubber boots, and quietly shut the door. Taking the long way around the house, they avoided Pabbi and Mamma’s  bedroom window.

Brynja held onto Lúkas as they tromped down the hill through snowdrifts piled high against the cliffs. They had to stop more than once to clear the snow from inside their boots.

Ducking under the carnival tent, they wandered among tables stacked with deep-fried kleinur and steaming pots of cocoa. They peeled off their icy-cold mittens and warmed their hands against the cups as they sipped the hot, sweet liquid. Nearby, the sizzle of grilled lamb mixing with the sulfur smell of manure made Brynja feel a little sick, but that didn’t stop her from burying her face in sticky, pink clouds of cotton candy.

They had their pictures taken. Brynja put the tiny photos into the silver locket that hung about her neck. They painted their faces green and white, looking like the elves that roamed the highlands. They played ring toss and fed the newborn lambs. Tractors rumbled. Accordions bellowed. Farmers raised their mugs and shouted, “Skál!” The old folks sang. A man tied balloons into monkeys and dogs. One popped in Lúkas’s hand when he held it too tight.

Circus music piping through speakers drew Brynja to the up-and-down, round-and-round, every-color-in-the-rainbow carousel. Mesmerized by the wild eyes and flowing manes of the painted horses, she pulled Lúkas from the tent and ran across the clearing in the field.

“Two tickets,” she said, digging deep for the krónur Jónas had tucked into her pocket.

Lúkas stomped his foot. “No. Jónas said not to go on any pony rides.”

“Come on,” Brynja pleaded, tugging his arm. “It’s a merry-go-round. Not a real horse.”

Lúkas folded his arms across his chest. “No.” “Please? We have to stay together.”

He shook his head.

“Okay, then, wait right here. I’ll only be a minute.” She pulled the red ribbon from her braid and handed it to Lúkas before giving him a quick hug. “Take this. And don’t worry. Wave to me and I will see you from the carousel.”

She climbed atop a painted pony. The merry-go-round jerked, then spun about, faster and faster, until the waves of her hair flew with the horse’s mane. Soaring above the crowd, she let go of the reins, lifted her face to the sun, and kissed the clear, blue sky.

With each exhilarating turn, Lúkas grew smaller and smaller, until, when the carousel slowed and the horses reared to a halt, he was nowhere to be seen.

~~~

About the Author

Sara Winokur is a geneticist and researcher who reinvented herself as an author. She writes historical fiction and cultural thrillers hoping to inform readers while they’re being entertained. 

 Sara has a Masters in Cytogenetics for cancer diagnosis and a Ph.D. for her work on Muscular Dystrophy, identifying mutations that cause disease. She is also a consultant at the University of California and an Associate Researcher at the Biological Chemistry School of Medicine at Irvine. She was part of the team that found the genes associated with Dwarfism and Huntington’s Disease.

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#Excerpt “Secrets in Paris” by Ann El-Nemr

 

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coverRomance
Date Published: February 12, 2020
Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.
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Marcia had to learn how to survive. To do so, she was introduced to the life of the escort service. After escaping that line of work, she decides to spend a year in Paris to rebuild her life. She meets Stephane, an heir to a wealthy family fortune and falls in love with him, but to her horror, she discovers that Stephane’s sister, Etienne, is engaged to marry Mason, a former dysfunctional client. Will he expose her past life? Or should she confess to Stephane and chance losing him to protect Etienne? Does all come to a crashing end?

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EXCERPT

Chapter 12

Marcia watched in terror, her eyes wide open, as Mason walked in and locked the door behind him. Her whole body shook from fright, as she had no idea what might happen if she couldn’t control the situation. She swallowed nervously and took a step backward. Mason stood at the door, blocking the exit. He looked around her place, then grinned and began walking toward her.

“Well, you are early. I wasn’t expecting you for at least an hour. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable while I get you a glass of wine, and then I’ll go upstairs and freshen up,” Marcia said, watching as he shook his head and pouted his lips. Stay calm. Smile. Don’t make him mad,” she kept telling herself.

“You look delicious just the way you are, darling. Where is your little friend?” Mason asked, taking a step forward again.

His eyes were all over her body. He was only about five feet away from her, and she could feel dampness crawling down her back.

“Oh, she just stepped out. She should return soon. How about a glass of wine to relax while we wait for her?” Marcia asked. She was lying, but she would do anything to keep him occupied until she could call Stephane again and tell him to come rescue her. Not waiting for his response, she turned around and walked to the small icebox in the kitchen. Opening the door, she grabbed the half-empty bottle of wine from the shelf. She reached in the cupboard and got out two wine glasses, then placed them on the countertop. The next thing she knew, his filthy hands were on the bare skin of her waist, his hands creeping up her blouse. A sense of loathing came over her, but she just giggled nervously and gently pushed his hand away.

“Let me pour you a glass of wine. Then I’ll freshen up and be right with you,” Marcia said as pleasantly as she could. She grabbed the glasses and the wine bottle and started walking toward the living room area.

“I don’t want any fucking wine. That’s not what I’m here for. If I wanted a drink, I’d go to the fucking bar,” Mason replied as he snatched the bottle and glasses from her.

He threw them on the table and reached for her once again, but Marcia took a step back, avoiding him like the plague. She unconsciously brought her hands up, anticipating what might happen. He frowned, and she noticed his anger rise even more. His face was turning pink, and he frowned angrily at her, his fists turning into balls.

“What’s the matter with you? You make me come here, and now you don’t want me? Come here, you bitch!” Mason said, irritated.

Marcia backed away, taking a step to her right. Oh my God! This was a huge mistake. How stupid of me to think I could ever outsmart or overpower this monster. I’m in big trouble, she thought. She kept her eyes glued to him, and suddenly he lunged forward to grab her. She quickly moved to the left, causing him to miss her, and he bumped into a wooden chair, knocking it over. He scowled at her furiously.

“You whore!” he shouted.

“Mason, stop! Please! You need to calm down. Just let me freshen up and put something nice on, and I’ll be right back,” Marcia said as she kept backing toward the bedroom stairs.

“You fucking bitch! You think you can play games with me, don’t you?” Mason screamed at her.

He rushed forward, and before she could say anything else or put her hands up in defense, she felt a blow hit her left eye, causing her whole body to crumble. Her head went backwards, her legs gave way, and she stumbled into the wall. She heard the breaking of glass as a picture on the wall fell to the floor. Closing her eyes momentarily from the pain, she tried to get her bearings.

“That will teach you not to fuck with me,” he said.

She looked up and she saw the stairway to her bedroom right in front of her. Gathered all of her strength, she swiftly started to climb the stairs, but when she was halfway up, she felt a hand grip her blouse from behind. She knew that if she didn’t react and do something, Mason would hit her again, so she turned around and kicked him hard while supporting herself with the bannister. Her foot hit his shoulder, and she heard him fall backwards down the stairs. She watched in horror from the top of the stairway as he winced in pain, then proceeded to get up.

“You little whore! I’m going to rearrange that pretty face of yours,” he said as he stared up at her with his beady eyes.

Marcia screamed and quickly ran to her bedroom, not looking back. She slammed the door and reached over to lock it, but he came plowing through the door, overpowering her strength. Shrieking loudly, she ran toward the bathroom, but she tripped on the ottoman, lost her balance, and fell on the edge of the bed.

In a second he was on top of her, pinning her down with his knees. His filthy hands tore her blouse. She lifted her hands up in defense, then hit him as hard as she could, but it didn’t seem to hurt him. He raised his fist and punched her one more time in the face. Pain radiated all throughout her head and body. She scratched and clawed at him, but he pinned her hands down. It seemed that the more she resisted, the more the blows came. He hit her in her ribs, and she realized that she didn’t have anything left in her.

Suddenly she heard Stephane’s voice on the intercom. She tried to scream, but nothing seemed to come out. All went black, and she lost consciousness.

 

Pain…so much pain everywhere. Oh my God, Marcia thought. She tried to open her eyes to see where she was, but her gaze was blurry. Pain shot through her side as she tried to sit up. The discomfort was too much, so she rested her head on the pillow again, not moving.

“Marcia! Marcia, can you hear me? It’s Stephane. You’re safe. You’re at the hospital,” she heard Stephane’s voice say in her head, and she felt a soft touch on her right hand.

She tried to speak, but her throat was parched. “Water,” she managed to whisper.

“Here, baby, just take small sips,” he said.

She opened her eyes a bit as she felt the straw on her lip. The water soothed her dry mouth.

“Where am I? What…” Marcia asked in a weak tone, unable to finish her sentence as she remembered Mason. Just the thought of that man made her nauseous. She moaned in pain as she tried to move her head. She couldn’t see Stephane, but felt him touch her arm lightly.

“You’re in the hospital,” he repeated quietly. “You’re going to be all right. I’m here, baby. No one is going to hurt you. I’m right beside you. Just rest. I’m not going anywhere.”

She could hear his voice breaking, and a feeling of relief swept over her as it finally sunk in that he was there, that he had come to save her. A soft knock at the door pulled her from her thoughts.

“Come in,” Stephane answered.

A middle-aged man came in and stood beside her bed, a chart in his hands.

“Bonsoir, my name is doctor Bourgeois. I’ll be taking care of you while you are here. I need to discuss a few things with Mademoiselle Philips. Would you mind stepping outside for a moment, Monsieur, so I can examine her?” the doctor asked.

“No problem. I’ll be right outside the door if you need me,” Stephane said to Marcia, squeezing her hand gently.

Marcia slightly opened her eyes and watched Stephane as he stood up. He nodded at the doctor, then stepped outside, closing the door behind him.

“How are you feeling, Mademoiselle Philips?” the doctor asked her in a thick French accent.

She squinted. Just the sound of his voice made her head throb, but she managed to say, “My head hurts.”

“Well, you are a very lucky woman. The x-rays that were taken when you arrived here show that no bones were broken from the blows you received. You do have a concussion and several contusions on your right eye and lower lip, but there’s nothing that won’t heal in time. We also did a series of blood tests and an ultrasound, and everything looks fine. The baby is all right.”

Her heart began to race, and she felt like she was going to faint.

“What? What baby? I’m not pregnant! You must have the wrong person,” Marcia said in disbelief. No! He made a mistake. He has the wrong person! That’s not me! A baby? she thought. She kept staring at him, waiting for him to tell her it was an error. He rechecked her paperwork.

“Mademoiselle, your blood test came back positive, and based on the ultrasound that was preformed upon your arrival, you are approximately six weeks pregnant,” the doctor said, reconfirming his findings.

Her mouth opened, but no words came out. She was shocked. Hoping he was wrong, she tried to remember her last menstrual cycle, but her mind wasn’t working. Her head pounded, and all she could do was nod at him.

“I will be keeping you overnight for observation, and if nothing arises, you will be free to go home tomorrow. I’ll advise the nurse to only give you a low dose of pain medicine because of the baby. Try to sleep. You need to rest for the baby. I will check on you in the morning,” the doctor said, then turned to leave.

When he was about to reach for the door handle, Marcia asked, “Doctor, who else knows about the baby?”

He turned to face her, answered, “Just you, Mademoiselle,” and gave her a smile.

“Doctor, could you not mention my pregnancy to anyone?” she asked.

“Absolutely, it is your decision. I will not say a word,” he answered, then proceeded to exit the room.

Marcia closed her eyes. She was flabbergasted. It was all too much to process at that moment. She heard footsteps enter the room again and knew it was Stephane. She didn’t want to look at him, afraid that she might burst out crying at any moment.

“Is everything okay?” he asked as he pushed a chair closer to the bed.

“Everything is fine. Why?” she answered quietly.

“You seem a little pale. Why don’t you sleep? I’ll be right here by your side when you wake up,” Stephane said, rubbing her arm.

All she could do was turn her face away from him and give him a slight nod.

* * *

Stephane wiped a tear from his face with the back of his hand. He sat on the wood chair next to her bed, holding her fragile hand while she slept. One of her eyelids was so puffy that she barely could open it. Her lower lip was bruised, and she had a lump on her forehead. She looked completely helpless, but he knew she would be okay. He vowed to never leave her alone again. “What had happened to her? Who would want to hurt her? If he ever found out who did this to her was going to pay dearly,” he thought as he pursed his lips as anger then guilt of not being there to help her swept over him. He laid his head on the side of the bed and closed his eyes.

Hours passed, but he did not leave her side while she slept. Every time Marcia would stir in her bed, he would look up at her. Later he heard a gentle knock on the door, and someone slightly opened it. He lifted his head up and saw the gendarme he had spoken to earlier. The inspector motioned for him to step outside the room. Stephane didn’t want to leave her side, but he knew it would be better to talk in the corridor so they didn’t wake her up. He carefully let go of her hand and got up from his chair, walking to the door. When he stepped out, Inspector Poirier was a few feet down the hall, leaning against the wall. As Stephane approached him, he stood up straighter.

“I’m so sorry to disturb you, Monsieur LaRoche, but the doctor told me I could talk to her. If I’m going to catch who did this to her, I need to ask her a few questions about what happened. Has she mentioned anything to you?” Inspected Poirier asked.

“No, she hasn’t said anything. Do you have to question her now? Can’t you wait a bit? She just fell asleep,” Stephane said as he took a deep, annoyed breath. He kept his eyes on the inspector, hoping he would agree. Marcia didn’t need an interrogation now.

“I really have no choice. I’ll be as gentle as I can, but the longer I wait, the easier it will be for the suspect to elude us. It’s better to do it now. She might remember something if it’s still fresh in her mind,” Poirier told him, then took a step to the side to pass him.

Stephane did the same and blocked his path.

“Fine, but I’m not leaving her side,” Stephane said, frustrated.

The inspector nodded, and Stephane turned around and led the way to Marcia’s room. They entered quietly, and Stephane approached the right side of her bed. His stomach clenched. It was hard for him to keep his emotions in check when he saw her looking so feeble. He took her hand in his and rubbed the top of it with his thumb, never taking his eyes off of her.

“Marcia, sweetie, could you wake up? There a Gendarme who wants to talk to you,” he said, watching as she stirred a bit, her eyes fluttering open.

“This is Inspector Poirier from the Police Nationale,” Stephane said, motioning toward the man standing at the end of the bed.

“Miss Philips, I understand you are tired, but could you tell me what happened at your apartment? Can you describe the person who harmed you?” he asked, waiting to write down her answers in his notebook.

Stephane noticed her eyes become glassy, and she shook her head.

“I don’t know who it was,” she whispered as a tear fell.

“There was no sign of a break in. Did you let him in? Maybe it was a delivery man or a neighbor?” Poirier asked, continuing to question her.

Marcia just stared at him for a moment, then shook her head. “I must have…forgotten to lock my door.” Marcia said then turned her head away from him.

“Can you describe what he looked like or what he was wearing?”

“I don’t know. I don’t remember him. He was a big white man.” Marcia said without looking at the gendarme.

“What color was his hair? Any tattoos or scars you can remember?”

The inspector persisted. Marcia shrugged and shook her head.

“That’s enough for today. She needs to rest. You can talk to her when she feels better. Now, please leave,” Stephane said, intervening. He glared at the inspector as he raised his hand and wiped a tear from her cheek. It broke his heart to see her cry.

“Very well, but I will return. Keep in touch. Let me know if you recall anything at all,” the inspector said, placing one of his card on her side table. He put his notepad and pen back into his jacket pocket and walked out.

“I’m so sorry. I don’t remember,” Marcia said quietly.

“Don’t worry about it. It will be alright. Close your eyes and rest. I will be right here when you wake up. I love you,” Stephane said, a lump rising in his throat.

That son of bitch who did this is going to pay dearly, he thought as he watched her close her eyes and turn her face away from him.

~~~

About the Author
Ann El-Nemr has been writing for five years and this is her sixth novel. She resides in Shrewsbury, Mass. She loves to travel and explore new cities. She loves spending time with her friends and family. Her other published books are Betrayed, Forgiven, Lonesome Vagabond, The Pledge, and Blinded by Obsession. Ann El-Nemr can be reached on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, http://www.annelnemr.com or JCP Publishing Inc.
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Song Lyric Sunday | “Bad Boy/Having a Party” – Luther Vandross

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  “Birthday/Cake/Gift/Party/Surprise.

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Released in September of 1982, Luther Vandross’ sophomore album, Forever, for Always, for Love, was his second album to chart in the top 20 on the Billboard 200 and his second album to top the R&B Albums chart where it spent three weeks.

The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA, and earned Vandross his third nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male, but Marvin Gaye won for his song, Sexual Healing.

The first release from the album, Bad Boy /Having a Party, became a top five R&B hit which peaked to number-three on the Hot R&B Singles chart, and reached #55 on the Billboard Hot 100… and it became a party anthem that can still be heard at class reunions, wedding receptions, family reunions, Christmas parties and cookouts almost forty years later!

The song is about a teenage boy, grounded for staying out too late, who decides to sneak out of his home to attend the party of the year.

FUN FACTS:

  • The bridge samples the chorus from the Sam Cooke song Having a Party, but with new lyrics added to the end (“you can’t go”).
  • The song was featured during the opening credits of the 1990 film House Party.
  • Before he began a successful solo career, Vandross sang backing vocals for many top artists including Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Ben E. King, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, and Donna Summer, and for the bands Mandrill, Chic and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for FeliciaDenise.com.

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Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

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Bad Boy / Having a Party

he bad boy’s swingin’ (Ha, ha, ha, ha)
Oh Yeah (Do doobie, doobie, de, de)
Well alright, (Do doobie, doobie, de, de) oh yeah
(Yeah) Well alright, (Whoa, ey)
oh yeah (bad boy’s swingin’) (Do doobie, dwiddle, de, de)
Well alright, (Dwiddle, de, Dwiddle, de, Dwiddle, de)
oh yeah (Do, do, do, de, do, yeah)
Roll back the rug everybody, move all the tables and chairs
We’re gonna have us a good time tonight
Every time that we meet, we skip and we dip to the beat, yeah
What in the world could be better than getting together again
The last time we had a party, it ended when the sun came up
That’s why your mama told you that you couldn’t go out (stay in the house)
, Bad boy, gonna sneak out tonight, he’s gonna tip out her window
Cause he sure wants to go out and dance
Everyone’s here, let ’em all in (oh yeah),
the chandelier down stairs has fallen (Well alright)
I know its hard to resist, this is the party no one wanted to miss
If you don’t get home on the double (oh Yeah),
You’re going to be in trouble (Well alright)
I hope your mama don’t look in your room
Cause if she does she’ll be here soon
She’s gonna be mad, you?re a bad boy (boy)
You got in trouble
(boy),
Say goodbye to your friends
’cause it’s gonna be a while til you see them again
Oh, Bad boy, gonna sneak out tonight, he’s gonna tip out her window
Cause he sure wants to go out and dance
(ooo yeah)
Everybody swingin’ (the bad boy’s swingin), dancing to the music
On the radio-o-o
Havin’ a party, everybody swingin’ (he’s a bad boy swingin)
Dancin’ to the music on the radio-o-no-no-no (you can’t go)
Bad boy, (oooh, bad boy) he’s gotta sneak out tonight, gonna sneak out her window
Cause he sure wants to go out and dance
Everybody swingin’ (the bad boy’s swingin), dancing to the music
On the radio-o-o
Havin’ a party, everybody swingin’ (he’s a bad boy swingin)
Dancin’ to the music on the radio-o-no-no-no (you can’t go)
Ooh (ooh bad boy) he’s gonna sneak out tonight, he’s gonna tip out her window,
d-d-d-dip out her window,
diddle, diddle, de
dippity, dippity, de, de, de,
Yeah, yeah, yeah, o-o-oh, oh yeah
Bad Boy (oh bad boy) he’s gonna sneak out tonight, he’s gonna tip out her window,
d-d-d-dip out her window,
diddle, diddle, de
Compiled from Genius Lyrics, Google, Wikipedia, Songfacts.com, Lyric Find, and YouTube.
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