FBI Agent Joseph Trammell retires to a beachfront home on a Georgia island.
Six months later, PI Red Farlow finds him dying in a pool of blood. Someone shot him four times. Five shell casings litter the floor. Drops of blood lead out of the house and onto East Beach on St. Simons Island. Red sets out to find out who killed Joe Trammell and why.
Did the local drug and arms smuggler hire a hit? And who caught the fifth bullet?
Farlow wades into the murky water of intrigue, conflicting love affairs, and danger as he tracks down the killer. It’s not exactly a relaxing day at the beach.
East Beach, Red Farlow Mysteries, Book Three
Red Farlow resisted following his wife, Leigh, to bed. He’d slept fitfully of late. Instead, he walked to his front porch overlooking the beach and St. Simons Sound.
He sat and listened to the water and waves, cloaked in a fog teased by a gentle winter breeze.
The mist had drifted in earlier that evening and thickened into a likeness comparable to Brunswick stew. The cloud blanketed Red’s neighborhood.
His nostrils flared. A southwesterly wind ushered in the rotten egg stink from the paper mills on the mainland.
A freighter hauling across St. Simons Sound to Brunswick’s port sounded its foghorn. Red watched as the ghostly hulk cruised past. Gulls danced in the breeze over the beach’s surf line. All was right with the world. Or was it?
Red looked down at his cell phone. How did I miss a call? He noticed the time— half past midnight.
He listened to the voice message.
“Red, ah…Tram. Now!”
The short, clipped message alarmed. Red’s friend was a talker by nature. He recalled Joseph Trammell’s older brother relating how he burst forth from their mother’s womb, chatting up a storm. Tram didn’t deny that. He just grinned upon hearing the story.
At times as a federal agent, Tram faced predicaments that would dent anyone’s proclivity toward conversation.
Red considered what the trouble might be as he went in to tell Leigh he was going out. He put on a windbreaker, walked through the mist to his truck, and drove up the road to Tram’s house.
He parked on the street and walked to the front door, which stood half-open. A lone lamp glowed in the living room and an upstairs hall light sprayed the stairwell with its softness. He stepped into the house, down the hall by the stairs, and to the brightest lit room—the kitchen.
Joseph Trammell sprawled, barely alive, in a pool of his blood on the floor. Red kneeled over and cupped the back of his friend’s head and shoulders.
Tram’s eyes fought hard to open.
“Red,” he managed to utter.
“Yeah, man. It’s me,” Red said. “Tram, help will be on the way soon.” Red dialed for an ambulance.
The former FBI agent fought for breath. He managed to say, “Key West.” Tram tried to heave more air, but the rattle denied it. His eyelids opened and shut several times.
It was the last time Red saw his old boss and friend he called Tram. Someone put four bullets in him. Looking at Tram on the floor, the private investigator feared the EMTs could do little to save him.
Joseph Trammell exhaled a final faint whoosh of breath, and his head slumped to one side. He died.
That was too bad. Red loved the guy. Damned.
Tram retired from the FBI late the previous summer and moved into a house on St. Simons Island’s East Beach.
Red and his wife Leigh had passed the house on the road a dozen times. They walked by it on the beachfront that many or more. The night Red got the call, he finally went inside the cottage.
It’s not that they weren’t welcome. Tram had invited them to visit his house twice. Both times they had conflicts and couldn’t make it, so Red was long overdue in dropping by to see him and his pride in homeownership. He and Leigh did manage to meet Tram once for dinner at a restaurant on the island.
The sad part about not having visited Tram’s new house was Red had a home a mile away in St. Simons Island’s Village on the Georgia coast.
Busy lives got in the way. Leigh had her psychotherapy practice on Chippewa Square in Savannah. They went to Europe for three weeks that autumn. On and on the reasons mounted. But Red knew he should have visited Tram as soon as he moved in on that hot day in August. He didn’t.
Red looked around the kitchen and concentrated on everything in a quick view.
A large pool of blood under his friend. Five shots fired, as indicated by the collection of brass casings on the floor five feet from Tram’s body. He’d taken four bullets. Someone else got the fifth. A trail of blood drops speckled the floor.
Red saw no gun but noted a butcher knife on the kitchen counter near the sink.
He remained still, not wanting to disturb the evidence there—someone who was bleeding escaped out the back. Anyone could see that much. Small puddles of blood found three to four feet apart led from the kitchen to the porch, out the screen door, and onto the sand of East Beach.
Red took out his cell phone and shot a dozen photos of the scene. When a siren sounded a few blocks away, he gingerly stepped out of the kitchen and left through the front door. While waiting on the small patch of grass, he watched as a lone woman approached the house from down the street. A couple walked up the road that dead-ended into Tram’s property.
Minutes later, an ambulance pulled onto the short pebble driveway, followed by a county police car. Two EMTs ran to the house. Red directed them and the cops to the kitchen.
The hubbub began.
Other neighbors appeared. Two more cops arrived and started asking questions of everyone there. An officer talked to one woman—the early arrival—who said she lived several cottages down. Red wondered what the cops would learn from her and the others.
In the middle of the night, gunshots tended to raise alarms, particularly in high- end neighborhoods with million-dollar beachfront houses. Of course, many were vacation homes and unoccupied much of the time. Still, there were plenty of full- timers on the stretch of East Beach.
Red walked back into the house. As the ambulance guy and woman examined Tram’s body, two sheriff’s officers came in and started asking questions. Soon, a county homicide detective appeared in a sedan. Red spoke to him, explaining that after Tram’s voice message, he came over and found his friend dying on the kitchen floor.
Red saw no need to tell them what Tram uttered in his last moments. No one asked.
About the Author
W.F. Ranew is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and communication executive. He started his journalism career covering sports, police, and city council meetings at his hometown newspaper, The Quitman Free Press. He also worked as a reporter and editor for several regional dailies: The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, The Florida Times-Union, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ranew has written two previous novels: Schoolhouse Man and Candyman’s Sorrow. He lives with his wife in Atlanta and St. Simons Island, Ga.
First loves are never forgotten. Ever. Certainly not for Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. His first-kiss, sixth-grade love, Emily, who he has not seen since grammar school, is sliding toward divorce in the artsy Gulf Coast town of Fairhope, Alabama. Longly Investigations has been charged with looking into the finances involved. When Emily doesn’t appear for their nervously anticipated meeting, Pancake’s radar goes on high alert. Her body, along with that of Jason; one of two guys she has been dating is found murdered, execution-style, Pancake calls in Jake, Nicole, and Ray.
Who would have done this? Could it be the soon-to-be ex, who has an ironclad alibi; the other guy Emily was seeing–jealousy being a motive for harm; or do the drugs found in Jason’s pocket indicate a drug-related hit? That world yields a host of suspects. As they peel back the layers of this idyllic community, dark secrets come to light and convoluted motives and methods of murder are revealed.
Perfect for fans of Carl Hiaasen and Janet Evanovich.
B. Love, an author who focuses on African American romance, urban romance, and non-fiction genres, is celebrating five years as a published author on November 5th, 2020. Often called the ‘Prolific Pen Pusher,’ B. Love has achieved much in just five years as a published author. She has released more than 110 award-winning novels that have received both critical acclaim as well as financial success. To mark her five years of successful novel-writing, the author is set to release five new books.
Her upcoming titles to be released on November 5th promise to entertain, empower, and enlighten.
B. Love has been writing ever since she was 12, and her stories stand apart from regular love stories in that they focus on self-growth, self-awareness, compassion, and gratitude. Her stories have more to do with transforming the life and approach of the reader, rather than providing them with merely a gripping plot. With a sizable fan following in all parts of the world, her stories are characterized by compelling content that explores the many colors of human emotions such as love, passion, and devotion to life.
B. Love’s books focus on encouraging inner growth and elicit deep inner exploration in her readers. She focuses on continuous learning and self-reflection and encourages her readers to take the same path to unravel a beautiful life that each one of us are bestowed with.
In addition to writing, B. Love is a writing coach, editor, publishing sage and consultant, and has founded a publishing company that helps talented authors publish books. She also provides mentoring for new authors and guidance to current authors as well as story ideas and summaries for those who need inspiration to start writing. Her company has helped publish more than 300 books by about 50 authors.
Mira is a troubled soul living in the sphere of toxicity. With heartbreak and rejection being too heavy of a cocktail to continuously digest, she turns to drug use in order to dull her reality. Unfortunately, her spiral leads to homelessness and a need for rescue. Desperate for cash, she finesses her way into an underground casino. Taken in by the action, it’s clear this is a place she doesn’t belong. However, a meeting with a powerful man causes her to lose her potential marks and gain a path to healing that just may let her heart tag along.
Smoke is suave and charismatic, and he knows his business. As the owner of an underground casino, his eyes and ears are always open. Dollars don’t get played or paid without him knowing about it. Faces become familiar after first glance. When a woman, less made up and more run down, enters his establishment, Smoke instantly recognizes her as out of place. Yet, there’s something about her that draws him in. He wants to care for her… help her reclaim her light. If only the task was that simple.
Will Smoke and Mira find themselves in the mirrors of each other? Or will the truth of circumstances fade the promises of the future?
Oakland was once the baby sister kept under her brother’s thumb. Now, she’s a woman determined to take care of herself, and that includes licking her own wounds. Fresh off of heartbreak, she’s sure being alone couldn’t get any worse… until she finds herself in jeopardy of losing her job. Reflexes would have her call her big brother to save her, yet she reminds herself that she wanted this independence and she must fight to keep it. Entering a competition with a fellow journalist looks like a plausible solution. However, the nature of the competition, steeped in pretend dates and getting-to-know you questions, puts a lot more than her employment on the line.
Azriel is mighty with words. A talented journalist, he’s no stranger to proving himself. When he’s offered an opportunity to enter a challenge to showcase what he’s made of and stamp his name on the magazine industry, he confidently accepts. His competition not only matches his savvy, but her allure is enough to make the world stop moving. In a romantic whirlwind dubbed as research, he finds discovering her truths shifts his perspectives and steadies his heart. However, with his career on the line, love may have to be left out of the credits.
Will Azriel and Oakland let their hearts narrate the future? Or are they both sentenced to a life without love?
After the success of Oakland and Azriel’s articles, Sammy decides it’s time to take the world by storm again. This time, he puts Pryer and Deacon on opposing sides.
No stranger to pleasure, Pryer lives the life of a sensuous woman who goes after everything she desires. Her biggest belief when it comes to men is that they can’t handle a woman who knows what she wants and how to take control in the bedroom. Having built a large following and huge success giving tips and tricks to women looking to spice up their love lives, Pryer gladly accepts the challenge given by Sammy… but her confidence wavers slightly when she realizes who she’s up against.
Deacon has the ability to convince a woman to do anything he desires. His straightforward, charming demeanor has preceded him within the industry. Because of his reputation of having no shortage in bed partners, he’s Sammy’s first pick to prove that women can be persuaded to do just about anything after hearing the right words from the right man. There’s no doubt in Deacon’s mind that he can make his competition submit to his rule… until he learns his competition is Pryer.
After yearning for Pryer for years, Deacon finally has the opportunity to make her his. Unfortunately, securing her heart means jeopardizing his role as head journalist. If he loses this competition, Deacon’s pride won’t be the only thing taking a hit – his pockets will too. Will he risk it all for love, or will he prove that it is only a need when you decide to make it one?
*Please note: These characters were first introduced in Love is the Byline: Oakland and Azriel*
B. Love is an award-winning, bestselling author of over 110 titles in the African American romance, urban romance, and nonfiction genres. In just five years, Love has accomplished more than anyone her age, which led to her being aptly called the Prolific Pen Pusher.
Love is a self-love and womanhood maven. Since age 12, she has been spreading life-changing content that helps cultivate growth, self-awareness, compassion, and gratitude. Love has readers from all over the world, all of which she has challenged to explore the many facets of love, passion, and life through her riveting books.
Every captivating word and plot in Love’s portfolio is geared towards empowering, enlightening, and entertaining whoever chances upon her writing. Because of this burning desire to catalyze others’ growth through continuous learning and self-reflection, Love founded her publishing company, earning the title of Ambassador of Black Love stories, where she helped publish over 300 enthralling books for over 50 talented authors.
When she’s not writing, Love utilizes her company as a platform that provides expert services and resources for both self-published and traditional authors, helping them to hone their craft and carve their path in the industry.
To learn more about B. Love and her books, visit http://www.authorblove.net or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using her official handle @authorblove.
Sorry to already disappoint you, but I’m not the person you think I am.
My charming uniform and seductive smile have caused nothing but trouble, and my not-so-honourable reputation, which I used to be so proud of, has kept me away from the one person I wanted to spend the rest of my life baking cookies for; my sweet, beautiful, slightly crazy Miss White.
I guess now I need to tell the whole story.
At forty years old, following years of self-sabotage, I’ve suddenly found myself admitting that I know absolutely nothing. Maybe my friend Niall was right when he told me to accept the process and just grow up. And now it’s too late; I’ll never be able to keep her close to me. All that’s left to do is watch helplessly – but deservedly – as my world comes tumbling down around me.
The only thing stopping Shae from living her best life is the fact that she’s dying.
Together with her social media followers, popular travel vlogger Shae hides her illness from the world and lives every day like it’s her last. Her picture perfect life is only missing one thing—love, because for Shae, it’s not better to have loved and lost—it’s better not to love at all.
Emmett knows all about loss—he had it all until the death of his wife sent his life spinning out of control. It took him three years to pull himself together, trading ball diamonds for the strawberry patch and sweet corn fields of the family farm but now it’s time for him to take another chance at love.
After Emmett escorts Shae down the aisle at his sister’s wedding, he falls hard. One glimpse of her fun-filled life and Emmett knows he’s ready to be a part of it.
As they spend more time together, Shae fights against her feelings. How can she let him love her when it’s only going to lead to more heartache? But it’s hard to keep her distance, especially when Emmet is fighting for her heart.
Is love the one thing Shae can’t live without?
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me is the first book of the Don’t Sweet Romance series, a picture-perfect tale of first love, second chances, and living your best life. Fall in love with Shae and Emmett today.
Warrior’s aren’t born, they are forged from the harsh experiences that shape them as they strive to defend what is sacred and true. And geniuses aren’t born either—or are they? Courtney Ramm would know, as she’s one of 229 offspring born from the controversial “Genius Sperm Bank”, a genetic experiment that existed in the 1980s and ‘90s. With a predisposition for “genius”, Courtney found herself driven toward success. Following her passion for dance, by the age of eight she was studying at the renowned School of American Ballet and soon thereafter, performing on New York’s greatest stages. At twenty-five years old, she acted upon a strong inner calling to start her own dance company—in Hawaii.
Moving across the globe from the concrete jungle of Manhattan to the tropical jungle in Hawaii, Courtney brought along her endless to-do lists and a strong determination to succeed. But one thing was missing from the picture-perfect life she had imagined: a perfect husband.
When she first locked eyes with Marcus at a spiritual gathering, she sensed something was off in the uncanny intensity of his stare. But she dove into a relationship anyway, not grasping the graveness and outright danger of the decision.
Eris Rising is a story of breaking deep karmic patterns, grappling with the calling of destiny, and changing long-held karma into mission. With the powerful feminine warrior spirit of Eris as inspiration, this memoir shows how it’s possible to move forward after life-altering “mistakes”, and recover the true “genius” within.
About the Author
Born and raised in the heart of New York City, Courtney Ramm has followed her passion for dance since childhood, which led to a career as a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She’s directed dance schools, performed, and taught all over the world, from Singapore to Thailand to Manhattan.
With her Master’s degree in Dance Education, Courtney has led wellness retreats in Hawaii, focusing on empowerment and transformation. Courtney is the founder and artistic director of RammDance, a non-profit dedicated to keeping the legacy of modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan alive. She blends her love of dance with holistic healing, and is a certified Pilates instructor, Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic consultant, Theta healer, Master Detox Chef, and Reiki practitioner.
Alongside her focused training and career in dance, writing has always been one of Courtney’s passions. She knew she would write a book—although she never imagined her memoir would take such a twisted turn.
Courtney is a full-time single mama to two toddlers. Eris Rising is her first book.
As one of the top investigative journalists in the nation, Elle Jameson has a knack for uncovering the truth. So when a promising lead points to corruption on a German military base, Elle anticipates a straightforward assignment. But then she stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy beyond anything she’s faced before, and her scrutiny does not go unnoticed. She knows too much, and she can’t be allowed to live. With no idea where to turn for help, she does the only thing she can: she runs.
The guardians, an elite team of undercover agents, have one job: safeguard those under their protection. As a new guardian, Nolan has just received his first solo assignment to help a young woman who just survived an assassination attempt. Within minutes of making contact with the beautiful journalist, however, their location is discovered. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse spanning the globe as the two work to stay ahead of a determined assassin. Nolan fights to buy Elle time to complete her investigation, and what she discovers is a plot that threatens the very fabric of America. In a desperate race against evil, Nolan and Elle are the only ones who can prevent global catastrophe.
Genre: Romantic Suspense Published by: Covenant Communications Publication Date: October 2020 Number of Pages: 296 ISBN: 9781524412487 Series:Guardian #4 Purchase Links:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
Elle weaved her way through the Saturday crowd at the street market, listening to the various conversations flowing around her. Since arriving in Germany three weeks ago, she had looked forward to exploring the local scenery and visiting the cities near her new assignment. If only today she had time to enjoy the environment . . . and the shops.
A brisk wind whipped through Elle’s long, blonde hair. A few autumn leaves drifted onto the sidewalk. She tugged her overcoat tighter around her, then stuffed her hands in her pockets to protect them against the chill, not bothering to put her gloves on.
She passed various customers, picking up on snippets of their conversations.
Two women discussed what kind of fish to buy for dinner, and an older couple looked over a variety of apples at the fruit stand. At the neighboring booth, a handful of tourists chatted in English as they debated whether some glassware would make it safely home to Canada.
Elle wished she could worry about such trivialities, but she doubted that would happen anytime soon.
Something was wrong with the latest reports on the new drone project. She was sure of it.
When her uncle had sent her undercover as an army lieutenant, she had expected to find some evidence of misappropriation of funds or missing supplies, but uncovering a possible unauthorized access to highly sensitive material lifted her investigative senses to a new level. This wasn’t a story to be written. If her suspicions were right, this was espionage.
For three weeks now, she had set aside her true identity of investigative journalist and had acted under her alias of Lieutenant Elaina Martin to send her suspicions up the chain of command. Unfortunately, no one wanted to listen to a lowly lieutenant in a sea of colonels, especially when that lieutenant was a bean counter. She really needed to talk to her uncle about promoting her the next time he sent her undercover as an officer. Of course, no one would believe she was a colonel at twenty-seven, so she supposed her age was going to handicap her for a while longer.
Her assignment to Germany was supposed to be her opportunity to take a break from high-profile cases for a while, a chance to rest and recover from nearly six months of undercover work in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, her first day on the job, she had stumbled across an anomaly that, despite weeks of research, she still couldn’t explain.
When she tried to discuss the problem with her commanding officer, she had been told the program supervisor had everything under control. Colonel Doyle’s assurances didn’t change the facts. Someone without clearance had accessed the developmental software for the new unmanned aircraft prototype, a prototype that could fly undetected by radar. She didn’t need to be an aeronautical engineer to know that the software in the wrong hands could be deadly.
With no one in her unit taking her concerns seriously, she had reached out to the only person she’d known outside her unit whom she could trust with classified information: her sister Abby.
If Abby couldn’t figure out what was going on, Elle didn’t know who could.
The woman had a knack for seeing what other people missed. Elle should know.
Had it not been for Abby, the theft of weapons at Edwards Air Force Base would have put Elle before a court martial instead of the corporal who had tried to frame her.
The incident had opened Elle’s eyes to what she really wanted to do with her life. Abby had spent her years since college protecting their country by keeping secrets, and Elle wanted to protect their freedoms by revealing the secrets that, when kept, could create their own kind of danger, so she’d been working as an investigative journalist ever since.
Elle reached the designated café and stepped inside. Most of the round tables were occupied, the seats positioned so the customers could look out the wide window and watch the world go by. Deeper inside the restaurant, Abby waited for her at a table in the far corner.
Elle weaved her way past several waiters until she reached her sister. When Abby stood, Elle gave her a hug. “Abby, thanks for meeting me.”
“You said it was important. From what you sent me, I think it is.”
Elle sat beside Abby, then reached into her oversized purse to retrieve a file folder. “I brought you documentation.”
Abby took the folder and opened it in front of her. “What am I looking at?”
“The download logs for the new drone software.”
Elle scooted her chair closer and pointed at the area of concern. “According to command, this software is still in the final testing stage. The only people who should be accessing the files are the programmers.”
She tapped on a list of the approved personnel. “Kamile Frost, Dennis Cleveland, and Lance Finney are all listed over here.”
“Then who is this?” Abby asked, pointing to the three access codes used during the night shift.
“That’s what I want to know. Whoever it is only downloads the updates after everyone else is gone for the day.”
“Talk about suspicious.”
“I thought so too.”
A waiter approached with a carafe of water, slices of lemon floating inside.
He filled both of their glasses. “Have you had time to look over the menu?”
Elle opened hers, quickly narrowing the options to what she could eat without triggering her allergies to citrus, tomatoes, and pork. After they both gave their orders and the waiter left, Elle pulled a water bottle from her purse and took a sip.
“I see you still come prepared.”
“Yeah. It’s such a pain that so many restaurants serve their water with lemon.”
Elle didn’t know how Abby had escaped all the food allergies in the family, while Elle appeared to have received a double dose.
Abby sipped her water and tapped her finger on the file folder. “I assume you brought your concerns to the attention of your CO.”
“Colonel Doyle didn’t seem the least bit interested in my concerns.”
“Did he have an explanation?”
“No. He just said the program manager would have said something if there were a problem. Apparently, everyone up the chain of command agrees with Colonel Doyle because no one seems concerned that a top-secret program might have been jeopardized,” Elle said.
“And no one told you who else is accessing it?”
“No. I thought with your resources, you could figure it out.”
“That’s easy enough. When I get back to the office, I’ll look up the access code and see who it belongs to.” Abby lifted her glass and took another long swallow. “I can’t guarantee I can tell you the name.”
“I realize you can’t share classified information, but you would at least be able to tell if this person is cleared on the project.”
“I can do that,” Abby said. “I’m not sure I’ll find anything beyond what the project supervisor would have noticed.”
“Maybe not, but after what happened at Edwards, I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
“The theft of those weapons wasn’t your fault. Adams created such a good paper trail, no one could have been expected to know it wasn’t real.”
“The auditor did.”
“An auditor who has thirty years of experience and was specifically looking for potential thefts,” Abby countered. “Besides, if it was something you should have caught in your ordinary course of business, he wouldn’t have made a point of clearing you.”
“But I sensed something wasn’t right. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.”
“Which is why we’re sitting here now.”
Elle shrugged. “I’m sorry if I seem paranoid.”
“Not paranoid. Cautious,” Abby corrected. “There’s a difference.”
“Whatever you call it, I appreciate your help.” Elle took another sip from her water bottle.
Abby cleared her throat. “How have you liked being stationed here in Germany?”
“It’s been good. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to practice speaking German much since so many people here speak English, but the language has come back faster than I’d expected.”
“I figured it would. You were speaking like a native when we lived here as kids.” Abby cleared her throat again and tugged at her scarf.
“So were you. I never realized how much we learned while Dad was stationed in Stuttgart.”
Abby opened her mouth to respond but, instead, coughed several times.
She reached for her water glass and took a swallow.
Elle leaned forward in her seat. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Sorry, I have this tickle in my throat,” Abby said, promptly coughing again. “Must be the change in the weather. I got a cold last fall too.”
“I’ve been wondering how anyone survives the winters here.”
“You’re about to find out . . .” Abby’s words trailed off into another fit of coughs, then her face turned red, a panicked expression dominating her features.
“Abby!” Elle pushed out of her chair and circled to pat her sister on the back.
Even though Abby hadn’t eaten anything, her hands went to her throat as though she were choking.
The waiter was at their side in an instant and pulled Abby out of her chair to start the Heimlich maneuver.
“She hasn’t eaten anything. I think she’s having an allergic reaction.” Elle fumbled through her purse for her EpiPen. She flipped off the safety cap, pressed the tip to Abby’s thigh, and pushed the button to trigger the injection.
Almost immediately, Abby took a gasping breath.
“Here.” The waiter thrust a glass of water toward Abby. “Take a sip.”
“No.” Elle pushed the glass away and knelt beside Abby’s chair. “Are you okay?”
Abby opened her mouth to speak only to begin another coughing fit.
Elle turned to the waiter. “Something’s wrong. Call an ambulance.”
A waitress approached, her phone in hand. “I already called. The ambulance will be here any minute.”
The waiter picked up the carafe from the table and refilled Abby’s glass. As soon as there was a break in the coughing, he offered the glass of water again.
“Are you sure you don’t want to give her something to drink?”
“Not until we figure out what caused this.”
Again, Abby tried to take a deep breath, but this time, her body trembled before being taken over by a seizure.
“Help me move her onto the floor.” Elle gripped Abby under her arms while the waiter helped ease her onto the carpet. Elle moved the closest chairs out of the way and knelt beside Abby.
“I’ll check on the ambulance,” the waiter said.
Elle sensed rather than saw the waiter head for the door. Helpless to do anything but wait, Elle fought for calm. “Hang on, Abby. Help is on the way.”
The words were barely out of her mouth before two ambulance attendants rushed through the door. Elle stood to give them room to work.
“What happened?” the paramedic asked in German.
“I don’t know,” Elle said, automatically responding in his language. “She started coughing and acting like she couldn’t breathe. I injected her with my EpiPen, and she got better for a few seconds. Then it started again. She started her seizure about a minute ago.”
Both paramedics knelt beside Abby, evaluating her.
“Does she have any known allergies?”
“No, and she was fine when I got here,” Elle said. “When she couldn’t breathe, the EpiPen was the only thing I could think of.”
Abby’s face paled, and her body stilled.
“I’ve lost her pulse,” one paramedic said.
Elle stepped back and watched the paramedics begin CPR and start Abby on oxygen. Adrenaline still pumping through her, Elle lowered herself into her chair. Minutes stretched out, the paramedics continuing the CPR, trading places every few minutes. They spoke with someone on the phone, the voices blurring with the background noise of the crowd who had been cleared out of the restaurant.
Tears flowed freely down Elle’s cheeks. She stood with her arms tightly folded, unable to do anything but watch and pray. She didn’t know how much time had passed when one paramedic tapped the other on the shoulder and shook his head. The paramedic not working on Abby sat beside Elle to confirm that the unbelievable had become the inevitable.
The one performing CPR gave one more chest compression and leaned back on his heels. His eyes lifted to meet Elle’s. “I’m sorry.”
“No.” The word escaped in a whisper. It couldn’t be. Elle stared at her sister’s lifeless body, waiting for any sign that she had misunderstood. Her heartbeat echoed in her head as though beating inside a deep tunnel.
“I’m so sorry.” The second paramedic put his hand on Elle’s arm.
Grief crashed over her, new tears forming. Her sister was gone. She was really gone.
“Can I get you something to drink? Maybe a glass of water?”
Elle shook her head, and her gaze swept over the table. Her water glass wasn’t there. Why that detail mattered at such a time, Elle didn’t know. A quick scan of the table revealed her glass wasn’t the only thing missing. Abby’s glass, the water carafe, and the file outlining Elle’s suspicions were also missing.
Elle swiped at her tears. “What happened to the waiter who met you at the door?”
“No one met us when we arrived,” the paramedic said.
Suspicions cut through her grief and bloomed with a sense of panic. Her file was coded in a way that it wouldn’t jeopardize national security, but if the people behind the suspicious activity got ahold of it, they would know exactly where the evidence was that could identify them.
Elle swallowed hard and forced herself to push aside her emotions and look at Abby’s lifeless body. The only thing her sister had ingested since her arrival was the water their waiter had served them, water Elle herself would have drunk had it not contained lemon slices. She stood and took a step toward the door.
“I have to go.”
“But we need more information from you.”
“Her name is Abigail Bender, and I think she was poisoned.”
Excerpt from On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson. Copyright 2020 by Traci Hunter Abramson. Reproduced with permission from Traci Hunter Abramson. All rights reserved.
Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children’s teenage years. She has gone on to write more than twenty bestselling novels that have consistently been nominated as Whitney Award finalists and seven-time Whitney Award winner. When she’s not writing, Traci enjoys spending time with her husband and five children, preferably on a nice quiet beach somewhere. She also enjoys sports, travel, writing, and coaching high school swimming.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Traci Hunter Abramson. There will be TWO winners. ONE winner will receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of On the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on October 27, 2020 and runs through November 5, 2020. Void where prohibited.
Be enchanted. These handpicked tales of African deities and daemons, shamans and shape-shifters will keep you spellbound page after page.
by Emem Bassey
Sese vehemently rejects the mating heat to a non-warrior like Urua.
Suddenly, imbued with powers of a diviner, he stands as the only hope and defender of Abedeng people. Will Urua relinquish his hurt to save his mate? Will he submit to the bond call and take her back despite her betrayal?
by Lauri Kubuitsile
Things are happening in Lesedi’s life, unexplained things. Did her bi-friend Mmapula sneak into the hotel room and finally succeed in her long-threatened plan to make love to Lesedi? Or was it all a dream, a beautiful, sexy dream? When it happens again, though, Lesedi is sure she’s being visited by a supernatural being that has some insane skills in lovemaking. But is there something sinister going on?
RETURN TO LAGOS
by Michele Sims
From the looks of her, Winnie seems to have it all: fame, wealth, beauty, friends and a dashing and successful fiancé. It’s what is lying beneath the surface that drives Winnie’s life and career: the devastating loss of her family, the increasing demands of her career and the fact that she has to reveal all of this to her future husband, who also harbors a secret of his own.
SHE CALLED HIM GOD
by Obinna Obioma
Snatched of a father’s love at such a tender stage in life, Asari feels the betrayal of the gods. He leads a loveless, rigid and faithless life; until he unwittingly walks into the Sacred Circle of the same gods he holds in disdain and incurs their wrath.
Assuming the mortal form, Altheme sets out to make Asari fall in love. But the terrestrial realm is riddled with unforeseen challenges. Can love truly conquer all?
AVAILABLE TO BUY NOW
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When long-suffering daemon Leonidas is trapped in Besidas’ hotel, she is drawn into a world of curious and strange creatures. Stranded after a cruel attempt on his life, Leon has spent decades trying and failing to return home. Besi evokes emotions within him that he did not think were possible for his kind and for the first time he’s enjoying Earth. But can Leon protect Besi when a dangerous entity from Leon’s past comes for revenge?
FINDING LOVE IN BETRAYAL
by Fiske Nyirongo
A love story full of hope and seeing beyond differences.
Mbawemi is an heir to the throne in a kingdom of witches, wolves and hybrids. Hybrids are considered the lowest form of creature in the kingdom. In enters Sangwani, a hybrid king who is anything but what Sangwani thinks of hybrids. Can their love build bridges?
by Karo Oforofuo
Ajiri runs away from the river kingdom to avoid an arranged marriage and settles in the human world. But her relationship and sex life is lacking until she finds herself torn between two men. Will she give in to the suggestive stares from the handsome human, or cling to the blue man who haunts her dreams and unleashes erotic desires that make her yearn for more?
by Kiru Taye
In life, he loved her. In death, he craved her.
Somma is heartbroken when husband David is killed in a tragic accident. After a year she is struggling to move on, especially since she swears he haunts her dreams and does sexy stuff to her every night. When friends convince her to perform an exorcism, things take a turn she doesn’t expect.
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The tall, lanky man had grinned at her. “This isn’t strange, my friend. I’ve been following you since we were children, you just haven’t noticed.”
Sese had bristled, hating the burning urge in the pit of her stomach to hold him and smooth away his worries. “The sun has long since set, please go!”
Guilt had chewed her intestines when she’d seen the forlorn expression on his face. The urge to care had raged like a furnace within her, but she’d bitten her tongue, drawing blood in the process, to control it. He’d sighed heavily and turned onto the path leading to his home.
She sighed as she lay on her pallet, staring at the raffia roof of her hut. She should’ve been sleeping, but worry tarried in her heart. Urua had become insistent in the past seven days, the exact time the dreams had begun.
She wondered if he had dreams too, then shook her head. If Urua had the dreams she was having, he’d be more bothersome. It was as though a rope joined them now; she would leave home without informing her father of her whereabouts, yet, Urua would find her wherever she thought to hide.
Sese was afraid of what was happening. She didn’t want it—at least, not with him; what would Abedeng people say?
For many nights, she’d lain like this, afraid of sleep because he’d be waiting in her dreams to embrace her. She was weak in dream land, and the more she gave in to him there, the stronger the bond pulling them together became. She wasn’t sure Urua knew what he was doing, and she hoped it remained that way until the diviner hitched her with a worthy warrior in a fortnight.
In that time, she would avoid him as much as she could.
“Urua, you’re trying my patience.”
He reared back at her comment as though entirely shocked by it, even though she said the exact same thing every day, with the exact same expression—or lack of expression in her case.
“You called my name!” he enthused in suppressed excitement.
This caused her to groan in exasperation and resume her clipped pace on the narrow beaten path leading to the deserted area where the diviner dwelled in his tiny hut.
He rushed after her.
“I think me trying your patience is a good thing,” he expressed conversationally.
“How is that?” Sese asked before she could tighten her mouth and remain unresponsive as usual.
Urua grinned at her angry look because he knew she hated responding to him, especially after having ignored him for a better part of their lives.
“Well, you should be nicer to me. The gods might just hitch us tonight,” he proclaimed.
Sese stumbled, missing a step despite the dark path being slightly lit by a lone torch one of the maidens must have considerately left, tied to a low branch. She could walk these paths without light, so it wasn’t that she hit her feet. No, Urua’s words had shocked her down to her core.
They had caused a visceral reaction which she was taking as panic, and it had weakened her knees for a moment, causing her to stumble.
“See well, my heart!” he exclaimed, reaching out to steady her.
That same primeval reaction, this time shooting through her body as though she had been lanced by lightning, unearthed strange warmth from the pit of her stomach.
No, it couldn’t be.
She’d been fighting this for days. Did it mean the ntung leaf—rumoured to break unwanted bonds—she’d squeezed into her eyes and nose hadn’t worked after the fiery hurt she’d endured?
No, it had to be the boiled palm juice she’d imbibed at her grandfather’s hut. It wasn’t Urua’s words, either—everybody was used to him saying outrageous things like that to her, and they were used to her always ignoring him.
In their little settlement south of the great Niger river, females had always been more plentiful than males, and so, it was required that every twelve moons, the diviner would seek the face of the gods and hitch a woman to a man with the hope that they might mate and birth, at least, one male.
During her father’s birthing period, a lot of males had been born, but their numbers still couldn’t compare with that of the females. So, some of the females of her age would be hitched tonight to males that already had one or two women who had birthed males and were presently suckling them at their breasts.
It was believed that a male able to mate with two females, causing them to birth males, deserved a third female to carry his strong seed, though this practice only began because there were just not enough males in Abedeng.
The females were tender and nurturers while the males became warriors. But the strangest thing had happened—Urua had been birthed a male but had the lack of strength of a female, while Sese had been birthed a female but was as strong as the fiercest Abedeng warrior; a sacrilege.
The villagers began shrugging their shoulders at them as many twelve moons added to their age. Urua was older than her with three twelve moons, but he acted like a child, which was how females behaved, while she acted like a male.
Her mother had died on her eighth twelve moons while trying to birth another child. So, her father had been confused as to how to care for a female child with male abilities. The other children had refused to play with her—they had accepted Urua but rejected her. They told their mothers she didn’t know how to play, since her touch was too strong; they said she would never birth a child.
The diviner had called a gathering and explained to the village that her strength wasn’t strange since the gods had prophesied about females with male strengths in the past. He’d also explained that every male must not be warriors and that Urua had the divining gift, the reason why he didn’t have the male strength.
Males in Abedeng were known to be extremely tall with big, burly bodies bulging with strength. Urua was tall, but his body never developed with strength no matter how many times he joined in the ceremony of lifting stones which the males did every morning to increase their bulk.
Her father had allowed her to join him in the ceremony every morning when she had reached her ninth twelve moons and had taught her how to fight like a warrior; it was the only thing he knew to teach her, since the other females wouldn’t come near her strangeness enough to teach her female ways.
So, she had grown up a warrior. Her father had stopped her from the ceremony of lifting stones before she reached her twelfth twelve moons as her body had begun looking more like a male with rippling strength. He had worried that if she continued, no male would want to mate with her. But he had continued teaching her the warrior fights.
Sese had been avoided like a leper by males and females, well, except for her father and of course, the person she most wanted to avoid, Urua. In her fifteenth twelve moons, she had bested the third warrior in an unplanned fight. The third warrior had been disgracing Urua in front of their age group, abusing him for lacking strength like a female; his words and tone had angered her.
She had challenged him, and he had accepted. It had taken only three fight claps from the gathering to throw him on his back. She had learned well from her father who was the second warrior in his own age group.
The third warrior’s father had been incensed and had demanded that Sese be punished for disgracing a warrior three twelve moons older than her. Culture demanded that she forfeit any fights with her elders. But she couldn’t have—she had been filled with so much fury when she had seen the redness in Urua’s eyes, redness caused by the third warrior putting sand there.
She had been punished with seven days of pulling weed around the third warrior’s hut. It was a painful process to pull weed, since these had sharp edges that pierced the skin. She had not been allowed to use a tool, so she had pulled with her bare hands, bleeding the whole seven days.
The third warrior had hung around for three days, waiting for the humiliation of Sese sobbing for forgiveness, but that had never happened. On the fifth day, he had gone to his warrior group, a group Urua wasn’t a part of because of his weakness, and told them she was a witch, an abomination that the gods would never allow to birth a child.
People had started avoiding her more, but Urua had stuck to her like the gum from the mango tree. Despite her several rejections of him, he remained by her side every time he could. And then, every time he wasn’t supposed to.
He had taken to joining her father when he practiced the ceremony of lifting stones at the crack of dawn. It had taken her ten days to realize that in doing that, he bore the humiliation of not being able to lift the bigger stones; he bore her father’s mockery of his weakness just because he wanted to watch her learn the warrior fights from her father.
It annoyed her to no end that he wouldn’t just leave her alone. She was fine with the rejection of the village, though she worried she might never mate with a male since all the warriors, even of her age group, refused to mate with her. No one wanted a witch; no one cared for an abomination—everyone mated to birth children, and there was a possibility she might not be able to.
She should have been mated two twelve moons ago, but no warrior wanted her. Even the old warriors of her father’s age group shook their heads when she was pointed at in the mating line. And then the dreams had begun, and Urua had become even more clinging.
But tonight, the diviner had called a special gathering to hitch the next age group. Sese was going with the hope that a younger warrior might choose her, or the gods might force her on an unsuspecting one. She really needed to mate. She needed to feel like a woman, and only a warrior would make her feel that way by mating.
She was afraid she might not birth a child, but she wanted to experience the heat of mating that her mother had always spoken to her about before her death. She wanted to feel that heat with a warrior, not Urua.
“The gods wouldn’t be so cruel,” she spoke after snatching her arm away from his helping hands. Sese looked into the darkness as though she were facing the immortal ancestors believed to dwell beyond the brightness of burning torches. “The gods wouldn’t be so cruel to hitch me with you.”
Urua grabbed his chest as though he had just been lanced by a spear. For a moment, she thought he had been attacked from behind by an enemy, but then, he looked up with his smile, the one that created two deep indents in his cheeks; the one that made him almost as beautiful as the fairest maiden in Abedeng.
“You pierce my heart, sweet Sese,” he murmured.
When had his voice deepened to that gruffness that seemed to vibrate in her chest when he spoke? Even her father, second warrior of his age group and revered chieftain, didn’t have such deepness in his tone.
Sese took a step back. She wasn’t afraid of Urua—she could beat him in an unplanned fight, but she worried about the things she was noticing in him. Like the broadness of his chest, though it wasn’t as broad as the usual Abedeng warrior, but strangely, she liked it.
She took another step back; she shouldn’t like it. Urua was an apprentice to the diviner. He would never be hitched, since the present diviner wasn’t.
This shouldn’t be happening, she thought in panic. She’d taken the rumoured antidote; she couldn’t be experiencing the heat of mating her mother had explained towards Urua.
No, she silently screamed. It was a mistake. Mother had said that the mating heat was rare, and it only happened between two special people after so many uncountable twelve moons. The mating heat entailed a man and woman feeling undeniably drawn to each other without the selection of the diviner. Mother had explained it as sometimes being shameful, as the mates couldn’t stay away from each other.
She hadn’t felt the heat for any other warriors, no matter how many times her father had asked her; no matter how many times she’d tried by surreptitiously brushing her body against males when at gatherings—an act her mother had said triggered the heat. She had never felt it, though it didn’t mean she wanted to feel it with Urua.
But a touch from him, just one helping hand, and heat had unfurled in her stomach like a coiled snake angrily rousing from slumber. That’s what she’d been avoiding the past fortnight, and it was happening now, just when she was close to, hopefully, being hitched by the diviner?
Sese shook her head, refusing the possibility. She straightened her height; a foot shorter than Urua, she noticed. Her heart instantly jumped in elation, but she stomped it down and widened the distance between them.
“You look strange, my heart. What is it?” he asked with concern.
Why wouldn’t he stop calling her his heart? The look on his beautiful face surged the heaviest warmth from her stomach, pushing at the walls of her chest to burst free.
She tightened her hand on her staff and silently fought to hold up the walls of her chest. Sese realized that distancing herself from him reduced the force of the heat. She took three more steps from him, not minding that Urua looked at her strangely.
Silently, she prayed he not feel the heat or the connection. The farther she was from him, the better chance of ending this night wrapped around a worthy warrior who would surely give her a male child.
Even his voice was alluring. She could feel the warmth pooling and tingling in between her thighs. Oh, gods, it was exactly as her mother had said it would be. She had said she would know instantly who her fated mate was, but she didn’t want to know it was Urua. She would never be normal if she mated with Urua. The village would avoid them and any children they birthed … if they birthed children.
They were the only abominations in Abedeng, and she knew they would only birth strange children if they mated. If she accepted the bond call, she would be stuck with Urua all her life, dependent on him, unable to be without him.
And if a mate died, Mother had explained that the unbearable pain usually made the living mate take his or her life. Sese didn’t appreciate the unbreakable link that came with being fated mates tied by an unseen bond. She rather preferred being physically paired with a warrior she wouldn’t be dependent on; with a warrior stronger and more ripped than her who would make her feel feminine, a warrior for whom she wouldn’t have the urge to kill herself if he died.
All that was lost as thoughts of mating with Urua became insistent, making her thighs tighten to stop the recent incessant tingling.
“By the gods, you’re sweating,” Urua noticed, his voice filled with confused concern as he hurried towards her, intending to grant help, which would mean touching her.
Sese shook her head and bolted down the path as though chased by the eleventh enemy of the gods.
The hunt is on…
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Event planner Julia Fernández is in Chicago for an internship that she
hopes to turn into a full-time job. She’s ready to live on her own, out from
under her familia’s expectations that she take over their catering business
in Puerto Rico and away from their year-round baseball fever thanks to her
three ball-playing brothers. Ex-MLB pitcher Ben Thomas knows what it’s like
to have different dreams than your family intends for you, but since his
injury-caused early retirement, he’s been struggling to find the sense of
family baseball once brought him. When he volunteers as the emcee for
Julia’s big holiday fundraiser for a local youth center, he finally begins
to find a sense of purpose working with the kids and alongside Julia.
She’s focused on organizing the best holiday event the youth center has ever seen, not on romance. But Ben…he’s got a game plan for them that includes both.
Holiday Home Run was previously released as part of the holiday anthology A
SEASON TO CELEBRATE.
About the Author
Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today Best-Selling author & 2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Her books have earned Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly & Booklist, hit the top 5 on Barnes & Noble’s Top 100 Book Bestseller list, & notched Amazon #1 Bestseller status. Her latest release, Island Affair, made it onto O, The Oprah Magazine’s “28 of the Best Beach Reads of Summer 2020” list. Priscilla earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and currently serves as adjunct faculty in the program while also teaching the online class “Romance Writing” for ed2go. She’s a self-professed romance genre junkie, who’s also a sports fan, beach lover, Zumba aficionado, and hammock nap connoisseur. Follow her at prisoliveras.com and on social media via @prisoliveras and https://www.facebook.com/prisoliveras.
While working independently as a pre-med student at Cleary University, the soon-to-be physician, Mary Austin, discovers a remarkable, non-toxic drug that could offer tremendous hope to cancer patients. Her work is headed for publication in a top medical journal until a drug company begins negotiations with her bosses from which she is mysteriously excluded.
Amid egregious sexual harassment, Mary’s materials are blatantly sabotaged.
As death threats follow and her work becomes impossible, she is accepted at
Whitehead College of Medicine despite evidence that her bosses tampered with
her application process. After becoming a pediatrics resident, she shares
her story with her beloved mentor, Dr. Daniel Taylor, who allows her to
temporarily leave her residency training to reproduce the work. Her joy
turns to sorrow and then determination when she learns that Dr. Taylor is
battling terminal pancreatic cancer. Even as a chain of events prompts the
sabotage of Mary’s drug stock and leaves her seemingly without any choice
but to permanently leave academic medicine, the story of her drug is not
In this novel inspired by a true story, after a young cancer researcher
discovers a breakthrough drug that could change chemotherapy, the drug
industry suppresses the breakthrough and transforms her life and career
Camera Aversion, Redux
It certainly came as news that I would, very much against my will, feature in that film [featuring Dr. Taylor] as I presented my patients that morning—and after a sleepless night and with no makeup on, because Murphy’s Law is never not in effect.
I ran around telling the other residents that we were apparently going to be filmed during rounds, and that we had to hurry it up.
“Oh, crap!” said one of the other female residents. “I have to put makeup on!”
“Well, how do you think I feel?” I asked her, laughing ruefully. Besides looking awful, I had twelve complex cases to present on zero hours of sleep. That my hair resembled a haystack in form as well as color that particular morning was the least of my concerns.
I wound up giving one of the best performances I’d ever given in rounds, presenting every single case without missing a beat. I made all the appropriate teaching points for the students and fielded every question they asked without dropping even one. I don’t even know how the hell I got through it all except that it was for him.
Well, that and I drank a shedload of caffeine. But that only served to kickstart my faltering brain; my heart was already in it all the way for him.
About the Author
Mary Austin is the pseudonym for a physician who, in order to publicize a
suppressed discovery in cancer research, had to sacrifice first her academic
career, then a career as a board-certified pediatrician, and then her
personal safety. She would do it again.