*Promo w/excerpt* The Dreamer of Downing Street by Roberta L. Smith

Dreamer Cover Front Only Final300dpiTitle: The Dreamer of Downing Street

Author: Roberta L. Smith

Genre: Supernatural mystery, historical, romance

Date released: August 23, 2014

Length: 289 pages

Blurb: In 1944 Denver, twenty-six year-old Franklin Powell is doing what he does best, helping clients with his psychic gift. Then his brother causes the past to come crashing into the present and a memory Frank has kept buried since the age of six surfaces. Now his life is in an uproar. He must prove that what he remembers is true or his mother may spend the rest of her life in prison. But even if he succeeds, it appears there is a powerful someone behind the scenes who could care less if she is innocent. Why? Because of a seething hatred for Frank. To make matters worse, the woman he loves needs his help with a serious problem of her own—a problem that could get him killed. Frank can’t let that stop him. He dives right in and while his psychic gift doesn’t seem to be doing him any favors, it’s a good thing that a couple of newly-acquired ghosts appear to be on his side.

The Dreamer of Downing Street is the prequel to Roberta L. Smith’s Mickey McCoy series.

BUY LINKS: Amazon US and Amazon UK

Author bio:

Roberta L SmithRoberta Smith is a lifelong southern Californian born in Los Angeles who grew up with TV shows like The Twilight Zone and Leave It to Beaver. She always preferred stories with ghosts, monsters (Frankenstein) or the supernatural. As a kid, her hero was Boris Karloff. She’s written and published five novels, four of which are paranormal mysteries. Recently she teamed up with horror author Michael Raff to form Nevermore Enterprises and bring Horror Book Fest to the High Desert. She is an active member of the High Desert Branch of the California Writers Club and the Victor Valley Vettes Corvette Club.

Author links:



twitter: Roberta L Smith@bertabooks



Leadville, Colorado – 1924

I COULD FEEL Mother’s anxiety the moment she took my hand to pull me out of the canvas top touring car. I landed with a squishy sound as my boots hit the sloshy ground and I righted myself. The sight before me was forlorn to say the least: a couple of cabins―shacks really―a privy, shed and the hoist frame of a mine shaft no longer in use, all dusted with snow. It was spring, but just barely. And it was cold.

“You’ll be all right with the boy,” our driver called to my mother from his seat inside the car, arm outside the window, finger pointed. “Just remember what I told you. Call her Mrs. Tabor. She don’t like when people address her as Baby Doe. Show her respect. If she opens the door with a shotgun in her hand, just talk real nice. She guards the Matchless like a rabid dog and don’t trust people much. I ain’t sayin’ I blame her, just that’s how she be.”

Mother nodded and started toward one of the cabins, my hand in hers. I nearly cried out that she was hurting me, her grip was that tight. But I thought better of it. A tongue lashing would most likely result and that would be more painful. I stuck my free hand in the right-hand pocket of my coat and grabbed hold of one of the toy cars I kept there.

My heart beat rapidly. I was anxious, too. Not because of where we were or who we were about to meet. I was concerned for Mother because I’d never seen her in such a state. She paused for a moment and took several deep breaths as she stared at the small, one-room shack ahead of us. It cast a friendless feel out here on the hill amid the other wooden structures that were all part of the derelict mine. Constructed of planks that had weathered many winters, it wasn’t exactly ramshackle, but it was close. Not that I would have thought of that word at the time. I was six.

After a few more steps, my anxiety left me and the happiness I felt at being on a trip with Mother—just me, not my older brother Bobby nor my older sister Jane, just me—took hold. My siblings got most of Mother’s attention at home. With only me in tow, I would be foremost in her mind.

I looked at the front door of the cabin and “knowings” hopped into my head. Back then, that’s what I called the psychic thoughts that came to me. I knew we were about to meet an old woman who had been beautiful at one time. So beautiful that other people had been jealous. I knew that she was hated and that she lived alone.

I will just have a talk with that woman. So what if she’s peculiar, if they say she’s lost her marbles . . .

I glanced up at Mother. “Here, Mama,” I said, offering her a fistful of aggies and cat’s-eyes I kept stashed in my pocket along with the cars.

“What?” Her brows knit together as she looked at the contents of my hand.

“You said she lost her marbles. She can have these.” 

**REVIEW w/excerpt** Lunchtime Eavesdropper by Joanie Chevalier

lunchtime eavesdropperTitle: Lunchtime Eavesdropper

Author: Joanie Chevalier

Genre: Contemporary, psychological self-belief fiction

Release date: July 20th, 2015

Length: 40 pages

Blurb: Meet Marlee, a woman who lives a comfortable but simple life with her loving partner, the adorable Larry. She discovers that covertly listening in on other people’s conversations during lunch hour excites her and adds to her otherwise humble life. When she overhears unpleasant gossip about herself, she becomes obsessed with changing her personality and makes the bad decision to become someone she’s not. After her total makeover, Marlee suddenly finds herself basking in the attention of her co-workers and is ecstatic when she’s finally invited to sit at the “popular” table at work. But is a personality change really worth the price? Is being popular worth losing herself, possibly the love of her life and/or redefining her own definition of happiness?

Come and take part in Marlee’s life, even though it’s only for a short time, and experience her yearning to belong and be accepted for who she is. You may be surprised by the unexpected twist in her story.


Lunchtime Eavesdropper is a real ‘stay true to yourself’ kinda read. The psychological effects of overhearing people talk about yourself can take over even rational thoughts. And, this is how is affects Marlee. Although the comments are hurtful, she takes heed and begins to question herself, doubting who she really is.

It all became a bit of fun, changing her appearance, wanting to share some time with girlfriends and being able to talk with them. But, after a night out clubbing, she begins to think that she has taken things too far. She never really enjoyed these girls’ company anyway, so why start to now?

This novella explores the psychological effects that others can have on a person when expressing their personal opinion, or even the opinion that they believe others want to hear when they are trying to be popular and fit in.

Marlee loves Larry. He is the love of her life. He has always loved her for who she is and how she treats him, But, with changes that Marlee is making, it does begin to affect him too.

It isn’t all too serious as Marlee tells the reader in first person her most innermost thoughts. Some are quite flippant or amusing comments. And when she begins making some changes, during a shopping trip she gets a little excited when she finds a beautiful photo frame, but with the perfect, handsome guy she’s ever seen. She decides to buy it and later places it on her office desk, making out that the guy is in fact Larry!

With some surprises there are a few times when you will question what is really happening. There is a slight realisation towards the end of this short story that did make me smile, even though there is a more serious message. Is it really worth changing for other people? For the trouble and upset it can cause you and those around you? The story hints in places at having some criminal element, but the most powerful subject is Marlee’s psychological state and how she deals with her life – fantasy or otherwise!

A copy of Lunchtime Eavesdropper was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Lunchtime Eavesdropper is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker


Reluctantly, I returned the frame to the dusty shelf, swearing, almost sure that my bizarre behavior was probably because I’ve been depressed ever since The Tragic Event.  I felt ashamed and I walked away slowly and dejectedly from the shelf with the beautiful frame.  But when I reached the end of the aisle, I couldn’t help myself and made a quick u-turn causing my heel to squeak as it left a black skid mark on the linoleum.  When I returned to the framed photo, I snatched it up, like a metal claw inside a machine full of stuffed animals.  My hand was the claw and I had won the top prize: a beautiful sea shelled frame with a photo of a gorgeous male model, his deep brown eyes gazing at me with desire.

Author bio:

I was born in the L.A. area and our family moved up and down the West Coast for most of my childhood, finally settling in Washington State when I was about 12. After living many years in Washington State, where it is gray for 350 days of the year (might be an exaggeration but it’s close!), I finally decided I needed more vitamin D and made the decision to move to the San Francisco Bay area. I pay more taxes in California but I call it the “Sun/Fun Tax,” so it’s okay! Since I didn’t know anyone when I moved, I decided that I could write in (all) my spare time (besides working full-time). In addition to writing, I love being out in my yard creating color and camping in my teardrop trailer. I’m lucky that I have one fantastic boyfriend who loves traveling with me and I live with my son, an awkward teenage boy/man who does laundry when he can’t find anything clean to wear from his floor.

Author Links:

Twitter: @JoanieChevalier

Website: Joanie Chevalier, Author and Book Reviewer


Independent Author Network

Facebook: Author Joanie Chevalier

*Promo post w/excerpt* Hot Basque by Laurette Long

Hot Basque is the second novel of A French Summer by Laurette Long. The characters do cross over into book 2, however both novels can be read as stand-alones. I am looking forward to reviewing Hot Basque over the coming weeks, and I’m sure it will be a beautiful, scenic contemporary romance! A perfect holiday read!! (Please read below for an excerpt and author bio!) 🙂

COVER HOT BASQUETitle: Hot Basque: A French Summer Novel 2

Author: Laurette Long

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit

Release date: May 11th, 2015

Length: 341 pages

Blurb: Sit back with a glass of chilled rosé and let yourself be carried away to the white sands and pounding surf of the French Basque coast. What could be more relaxing? Find out what’s going on at the Villa Julia, where Caroline and her honey are enjoying the song of the crickets, the glow of the stars and happy romps in the boudoir. Caroline is also doing some matchmaking between best friend Jill and the hot Basque himself, Antoine, he of the smouldering eyes and perfect teeth. And Annabel the sister from hell, is miles away, no need to fret about her. What could be more idyllic? Not a cloud on the horizon…well, maybe it’s looking a bit black to the north, but nothing to worry about, surely??

Read on to see how, in Edinburgh, Jill is preparing her body for that nail-biting June encounter with the hot Basque:


Jill stepped out of the cubicle, tugging down her swimsuit, and came face to face with the full length mirror at the end of the ladies changing rooms. She barely repressed a gasp of sympathetic horror. Jesus if that’s what these aquagym folks looked like she was certainly going to get a boost to her ego. She turned round as casually as she could for a closer look at the poor freak behind her.

The changing room was empty.

She swung round in the direction of the mirror again, leaned forward, blinked, and leapt back. The freak was herself!

Surely she hadn’t looked like that when she tried on her swimming kit in the bathroom of her flat a couple of weeks ago? Of course, the mirror wasn’t full length, and it was one of those rather flattering ones, the same sort they had in expensive boutiques, the ones that persuaded you that your derrière had shrunk to Kylie Minogue proportions thanks to that cute little black number you’d just tried on, the one with the four-figure price tag.

She advanced cautiously, turned to the right, then to the left. She was positively bulging out of her Speedo swimsuit! She really had to cut down on the G and Ts. And the chocolate biscuits. She turned full face again. An alien with the head of a fly had been grafted on top of her shoulders. No wonder she’d had all that trouble in the changing room, pushing and shoving to get her thick mop inside the small slithery rubber cap that kept shooting off one side of her head as soon as she’d managed to tug it down on the other. A bit like one of those old fashioned diaphragm thingies that women used to wear for contraception. She’d actually come across one at the back of her own mother’s drawer, shock horror, all dried up and yellow with age. Well it would be, she supposed it had been a while since Kathleen O’Toole had been needing it. Five strapping boys and finally the hoped-for girl. Her mother had been forty-five when Jill was born and on the point of giving up. She supposed the diaphragm had been chucked into its box as soon as Kathleen had got out of hospital and told Jerry O’Toole that if he didn’t get the snip Kathleen was going home to her mother in Dublin. Forever.

And now here was Jill, no longer a cute baby but a hefty thirty-something, ready for her first aquagym class, wearing her mother’s old diaphragm on her head and a swimsuit two sizes too small. She tugged the Speedo up, then down, trying to cover her buttocks and her boobs. It became obvious she’d have to accept that one of those two areas was going to be on display. Better the buttocks, she decided, after all they’d be under water for most of the time whereas if her boobs were popping over the top she’d probably put the men off their stride.

Men…were there any men in the class? She suddenly realised there was no one else in the changing rooms, that was funny. Maybe there were no women in the class, just her and a group of hairy males all having the same problem trying to get their bits inside their Speedos. Did they have to wear the funny hats too? Perhaps there’d be some prime specimens, all sleek muscles and washboard abs, like that Florent what’s his name, the one in the Olympics with the cute dimples.

No Jill, enough of that, she told herself sternly. Antoine is waiting for you, in his wetsuit, with his smouldering eyes and sexual techniques known only to the Basque nation.

In spite of her Nordic hill walking and her sessions at the gym, she had decided that more drastic measures were needed if she was going to be the Belle of Biarritz in June. She needed toning, as well as developing her heart and lungs, which both seemed to be in pretty good shape, especially her lungs, she thought, yanking at her swimsuit again. Apparently aquagym was the answer. Lots of stretching and tightening up those flabby thighs and bingo wings, twirling those funny pink and blue foam thingies that looked like giant noodles. It would be fun! She’d rummaged round until she found her old swimsuit from college and popped into Aquasports R Us to look at swimming caps. The snotty young assistant had said no, the cap with devil’s horns would not go down well at an aquagymn class. These young ones, no sense of humour. Miss Snootyface had informed her that what she needed was a slippery scrap of rubber which was the only device tight enough to prevent the least drop of water getting onto her hair and ruining its colour. Did she by any chance want to stop being a red-head and opt for green hair the texture of a horse’s dinner? Of course she didn’t.

Snootyface had omitted to mention that it needed ten minutes and steel talons to snap the thing in place and that not only did it keep the bloody chlorine out, it also, in a reverse or perverse action that probably had something to do with thermodynamics, was so eye-wateringly tight that it forced every brain cell downwards to the chin area making the wearer resemble Benny Hill.

She became aware of a sudden loud, regular tick. The clock over the door said 12h40. Fast, obviously. The class started at 12h30. But in that case, a small voice inside her head told her, why was the ladies changing room empty except for her?

She was late for her first class. Sweat broke out. Perhaps she could just sneak in, slide into the pool without anyone seeing? She pushed open the door into the shower room, hurried along to the end.

Uh oh. She could hear the voice of the instructor going on about ‘drop that head down, feel its weight, now turn slowwwwly to the left, now slowwwwly to the right…’

They’d started. She’d probably get a belt with a rubber hose or something. She hurried out into the pool area, tottering down the wet steps, careful, don’t want to fall smack on your increasingly exposed buttocks now, do you Jillian Benedicta? There seemed to be rather a lot of people down there in the pool. She got to the bottom of the steps, was making her way as unobtrusively as possible to the water’s edge when a voice rang out:


What? Was someone talking to her? The class had come to a standstill in the water, all eyes were on Jill in her Speedo and her diaphragm. The instructor had turned, hands on hips. And what hips! Jill couldn’t help marvelling at those toned slender meercat items dropping down to equally toned slender thighs and going up to, well she didn’t have much in the boob department, but Jill supposed that was what you looked like if you were a sports fanatic.

Or maybe it was the lycra. Her eyes, fascinated, got stuck on the instructor’s outfit. Pure, poured-on lycra. You could even see, well, she didn’t want to linger on the bit between the instructor’s legs, frankly it left nothing to the imagination, she wondered how anyone could have the nerve–



Jill lifted one side of her diaphragm.

‘You obviously haven’t been through the showers. Your swimsuit–’ the instructor gave a little sneer ‘–is bone dry. Didn’t you read the instructions?’

‘Oh. Er. Sorry. Sorry. ’

Jill fled back up the steps, turned on the cold water and gave herself a vigorous soak adding a few loud gasps for authenticity.

This time when she ventured to the edge of the pool she was able to step delicately down the steps and join her fellow aquagym-ers.

They were obviously regulars. The warm-up had finished, they were all leaping up into the air like Icelandic geysers, arms rigid at the sides, pushing down the water with their flattened palms. Jill joined in, jumping as energetically as she could ‘and push that water and push that water…’ She felt a kick in the back of her leg, turned around. A senior citizen in a cap covered in fake roses was glaring at her. Where was her diaphragm? In fact there were quite a few non-diaphragm pieces of headgear, now she looked. She’d have been better in the devil’s horns. Rosebonnet was saying something, over the sound of splashing.

‘Forward! Move forward!’ she hissed, in between jumps.

‘Oh sorry,’

Jill realised her energetic leaps had been taking her towards the back of the pool. She waded forward, gave another leap, then realised the exercise had changed, now they were all swinging their upper body from left to right, arms extended. Was that a snigger she heard from Rosebonnet? A knobbly finger gave her a karate chop below the ribs but the woman next to her had already swung round the other way. They were feral, this lot. Jill hopped a bit further to the left, started swinging, feeling her waist muscles give a nice satisfying tug.

Ten minutes later she was definitely getting the hang of it. It was a bit tougher than she’d thought, she’d asked the girl at reception what sort of level she ought to start with, intermediate or advanced? But the receptionist had smiled sweetly and suggested that maybe she could try ‘Beginners’, she could always move up to Intermediate and Advanced once she saw how she got on.

Beginners! Jill had capitulated, with bad grace. Now, in the brief moments when they were relaxing and deep-breathing she had time to do a quick recce of her fellow aquagymers. They were all, with one exception, senior citizens. And all, with one exception, female. There was one ancient wheezing grandad at the back, with sagging breasts and a gold necklace. The only other person who looked to be remotely Jill’s age was at the front of the class, under the watchful eye of Lycra-woman, and was heavily pregnant.

‘OK, floats!’


A pink noodle hit her on the head, then a blue one, good job they were made of foam but still she’d sensed a certain hostility in the way they had been hurled in her direction by a wizened old prune of ninety.

‘Everyone on their backs, legs together, flex those feet, now to the count of eight, scissor those legs, keep your back straight, tummy up, feel those tummy muscles working.’

Oh they were working alright. By the time she’d done two sets of eight Jill was puffing and panting like a steam engine. Around her the grannies carried on, scissoring fit to cut a rug, flashing their false teeth at Lycra-woman.

‘That’s wonderful Gladys! Keep going! Excellent Phyllis, those legs are really straight.’

But if she’d thought the scissors thing was bad, by the time they got to the abdo curls Jill was sure she was going to die. Not only that, either she kept drifting into other people’s ‘space’ or they kept drifting into hers, causing a lot of collisions and submersions and hissed insults.

As the lesson finally drew to a close Jill watched them emerge slowly from the buoyant water, totter up the steps like newborns, arms and legs like sticks, and putter off to the showers like arthritic tortoises. She could scarcely believe this bunch of pathetic creatures were the same lot of beasts she’d spent the last forty minutes with, exchanging sly kicks and punches under the water. She was going to be black and blue tomorrow. And her stomach muscles were on fire.


She was hauling herself out of the water and up the steps when she felt a pinch on her bottom. A decided, deliberate, old-fashioned, good-handful-of-flesh pinch. She turned round, outraged, ready to sock this fighting gran right out of her rose-covered bonnet.

Grandad was grinning up at her, gap-toothed, gold chain glinting in his grey chest hairs.

‘Welcome to wor class, lassie. Fair got a wee stiffie on me just watching yer do them jumps!’

He gave a leer and a wink as she shot up the final steps and made for the showers. What could she do, report him for sexual harassment? He must be at least a hundred and four. He’d never make it to the police station.


Laurette LongLaurette was born in the UK, near Brontëland. Graduating from the University of Leicester with a degree in English, she taught in the USA, UK and France, where she now lives.

Her forays into fiction writing when she was seven reveal her literary influences and distinctive style. “The Phantom Ghost Girl of Raven Castle” begins: ‘Vicky Dare, the girl detective and her big Alsatian, Rex…’ then stops. The Ruined Cottage” is longer and also demonstrates she is equally at home with either first or third-person narrator: ‘…it was a favourite haunt of mine and I never grew tired of it.’ In the chilling tale “The adventures of Carlotta”, the heroine ‘…dashed to the door her face white with horror’ while, surprisingly, in “The Secret at the Ball” ‘…a secret compartment was revealed! There glittering lay the Lane jewels!’

(Yes, she is a hoarder, incapable of parting with childhood books and notebooks.)

Aged 10 she developed a passion for the theatre, and throughout her career wrote plays for students. “A Midsummer’s Nightmare”, where Shakespeare’s lovers get into time warps in the wood, meeting Dracula and Little Red Riding Hood, was a tricky favourite. Everyone wanted to play Dracula. She had to wield authority. (Those with pointed canines had an advantage). Later, unable to find a textbook suitable for adult ESL students, she wrote one. Beguiled by an admirable work of French literary criticism about American writers in Paris, she translated it. (“Paris in American Literature” by Jean Méral)

(As well as being a hoarder she has also been accused of being bossy and a dilettante.)

Recently the ghosts of Vicky Dare and Carlotta nudged her into a return to fiction. “Biarritz Passion”, a contemporary romance, was inspired by the Basque country and its magic. (Go see!) An Amazon fan, she attempted self-publishing. After wrestling with formatting rules and sweating during the on-line tax interview, she finally hit the ‘submit’ button in March 2014, thus proving that even non-techies can do it. (Hoarder, bossy, dilettante and getting better with computers).

In spite of distractions–good friends, good food, Monsieur Wonderful, and a project to transform a hill of brambles into a Mediterranean garden–Book Two in the French Summer Novel Series, “Hot Basque”, was finally finished in May this year. Ouf.





BIARRITZ PASSION (A French Summer, Novel 1)



Keep up with Laurette’s thoughts about books and writing on her blog ‘Get Passionate’:


where all comments are welcome.

*Promo post* A Jar of Dreams by Clarissa Cartharn

a jar of dreams top banner

Jarofdreams coverTitle: A Jar of Dreams

Author: Clarissa Cartharn

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release date: July 16th, 2015

Length: 258 pages

Blurb: When Eric Tanner, an assassin, is targeted to be murdered by his former employer, he seeks refuge in the house of a blind woman, Anne Mullen.

Eric knows how to live in silence. He’s done it all his life. So when he discovers Anne is blind and living on her own, he thinks this would be his perfect hideout.

But then he makes the mistake of his life. He forms an attachment to her. And for a man in his profession, such attachments are a weakness. Now, he must do everything he can to protect Anne from the world he’s come from.

Author bio

Clarissa Cartharn picture [466173]Clarissa Cartharn has always had a deep love for language. Her pursuit of it has led her to attain a BA majoring in English Language and Literature, sought a career in English teaching for six years before finally becoming a lawyer. But when she took up the pen, she realised what she was really desiring for was the cathartic release of her wild imaginations via writing.

Clarissa is interested in learning new languages and is currently on a quest on conquering Mandarin Chinese.


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YHNOZVQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25629216-a-jar-of-dreams

Website: http://clarissacartharn.wix.com/clarissacartharn

Reader Group: http://eepurl.com/btEKh1 

jar of dreams teaser



“Hey, Ricky!” shouted out an eighteen year old boy as he goose-stepped his basketball opponent. “This way! Come on, man!”

Eric dribbled the ball, darting a quick glance at Jamal. He made to dash with the ball towards the basketball hoop and then cunningly shot it over to Jamal. Cries mingled with cheers as Jamal raced over to shoot, skillfully dribbling the ball between and about him.

Eric took deep rapid breaths as he tiredly placed his hands on his hips, watching his friend take the glory of shooting yet another goal for the team. There was something about Jamal that told him he would get far from being just the poor homeboy playing on rugged community basketball courts.

His eyes caught sight of a girl across the courts. Her long golden curls fluttered in the breeze as she stood watching them from the other side of the street. He didn’t think he had ever seen her before. He smiled shyly. He would definitely have remembered her if he had. How could anyone forget those beautiful sharp features and blonde locks? She seemed a dream plucked out of a fairytale book. She didn’t belong to a city like Camden, New Jersey.

Even at a distance, he could feel her eyes peeled keenly on the boys playing on the courts. Who was she interested in? Jamal? A sudden pang of jealousy speared through his heart. It felt strange. He had never been jealous of his best friend. Not even when his school coach picked Jamal over him to play for their school team. Was he being too petty?

He wondered if he should go and talk to her. Perhaps, a conversation with her would heal the wound he felt inside of him. Perhaps, talking with her would lift her mysteriousness. Hell, he might even discover she is unlikeable and just another dumb, blonde chick with too much time to spend on herself and none at all for anyone else.

He threaded his fingers through his hair. Who was he kidding? He needed courage to speak to a girl like her. The way she looked, she could most possibly be the most popular chick in high school. And he, Eric Tanner, had yet to catch the eye of any popular girl at all. The only reason he had even scored dates with Bree Hadden and Diane Farnum was because their friend, Hayley Bradberry needed to double-date with Jamal.

“Hey! Did you see that?” Jamal swung an excited arm over his shoulders.

“What?” Eric asked, hesitantly breaking his gaze away from the girl.

“You didn’t see that?” Jamal said with disbelief. “That thing I did? On the hoops… like this.” He re-enacted his winning shot.

Eric nodded, glancing to and fro between Jamal and the girl. What if she never came back? I would never know. I should take my chance.

“Where are you, man? You ain’t even listenin’,” Jamal complained. “You okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.” He shook his head. He had to face it. He simply didn’t have it in him to strike a random conversation with a strange and beautiful girl. And if he asked Jamal to do the deed, there was likelihood he would lose her to him. Not that Jamal was to blame. Jamal just had that charisma he would probably never have.

“There’s something wrong, is there? Someone do something?” Jamal asked seriously, his brow frowning with concern.

“No, no, I just-” He stopped short, his eyes narrowing, focusing angrily on the three boys gathered around the girl.

“What is it, Ricky?” Jamal asked, noticing his sudden change. He turned to find out what had invoked that anger inside him. “Those boys?”

Eric didn’t answer, observing them closely. His feet moved involuntarily towards the girl. But when she fell to the pavement, he sprinted out of the court with Jamal racing after him.

“Eric, don’t get involved!” Jamal warned.

I already am. He pressed his lips tightly and closed in on the boys. “Hey, get away from her!” he screamed, his fists clenched together with rage.

They looked over at him and laughed.

“Stay out of our business, white boy,” one said with a nasty grin.

Eric glanced down at the girl whimpering on the craggy and dirty pavement and her humiliation incensed him. But they were three boys and he was just one. He needed to be smart.

“Leave her alone,” he said, raising his palms up in submission. “I don’t want any trouble. She’s just a girl. You don’t need to do this, man.”

“Is she your girl?”

“No,” he said cautiously.

“Well then, what are you so worked-up about? We’re just having some fun.”

“Yeah, fuck off,” said another. “It ain’t your business.”

He stepped forward stubbornly. “I’m not going anywhere. Leave her alone.”

“Oh, yeah yeah.” The leader smirked. “I get you. You’re trying to impress the girl. But, you see, I saw her first. So I get to play with her first.”

“You’re such a nasty piece of work, Denzel,” Jamal said from behind Eric. “Does Denzel Washington know you fucking up his reputable name? He might sue you.”

“It ain’t my fault if my momma loves Denzel Washington.”

Jamal clicked his tongue. “Boy, Denzel, if you are as bad as this now, I hate to see you when you’re all grown up.”

Denzel clenched his teeth and made to charge at him.

“Hold on there,” Jamal warned, waving his phone at Denzel. “I just called the cops. They will be here anytime soon.”

“I don’t believe you,” the boy minced menacingly.

“It’s your choice.” Jamal shrugged nonchalantly.

Denzel shifted uneasily and with uncertainty.

“Jamal! Ricky! You guys okay?” one boy called out from the edge of the courts.

A group of young boys had gathered behind him, watching them intently.

“You sure you want to take on all of us?” Jamal sneered.

Denzel backed away. “I’ll see you again, white boy.” He waved his finger threateningly at Eric.

Eric watched him walk away before rushing over to the girl.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

The girl was sobbing, scrambling on her hands and knees.

“Hey, it’s fine now,” he said softly. “They’re gone now. Here.” He offered his hand to help her up but she continued to cry, crawling about the path.

He frowned curiously.

“What’s going on?” asked Jamal, watching the girl with as much inquisitiveness.

“Here, let me help you up.” Eric bent down and touched her back lightly.

She flailed her hands at him, and cowered from him. “Don’t touch me,” she growled. “Don’t touch me!”

Her face was directed at them, but her eyes weren’t focused, wandering aimlessly between him and Jamal.

Jamal crept low and waved his hands before her. She didn’t react.

“She can’t see,” he mouthed silently at Eric.

Eric glanced up at her deep blue eyes. He didn’t care that she was blind. She was beautiful. And her eyes were gorgeous. They were clear as the sea would be on a calm day. He wanted nothing more but to drown in them if he could.

“We are here to help you,” he said softly again. “Those boys who tried to hurt you… they’ve gone.”

“Who are you?” she asked with a tremble in her voice.

Eric paused. He was never easy at introductions. Especially when he was as attracted as he was now to her.

“I’m Jamal,” Jamal said quickly. “And this here… I mean, the guy sitting next to you…”

She let out a snort. “You know I’m blind.”

“Uh…,” Jamal hesitated.

“Is it okay if I touch you to help you up?” Eric asked. “What’s your name?”

“Anne… Anne Mullen.”

jar of dreams teaser 2

*Promo with excerpt* LINK by D.A. Karr

LINK, by D. A. Karr, is a sci-fi thriller set in the year 2800, in a future apocalyptic world. It is suspenseful, intriguing, and action filled. Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler fans will enjoy reading this book.


Author: D.A. Karr

Genre: Sci-Fi thriller

Release date: December 8th, 2014

Released by: Racehorse with Magic Shoes Digital Productions 

Length: 270 pages

Blurb: Space Time, 2800, Earth
As the Earth shifts on its axis, mankind is caught in a war of survival and time. Imprisoned in this time war, Captain John Garrick and the N.S.T.E.A. Phoenix becomes a pawn between technology, humans, and what’s left of civilization.

However, no amount of careful planning can prepare the time jumpers for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. As the N.S.T.E.A seals a deal to deliver time technology to the notorious outlaw, Menser, Garrick plots to undermine the N.S.T.E.A. Technology becomes the enemy and time an illusion as Phoenix’s crew prepares for the inevitable – a fight to the finish.

The future can be uncertain, then again, it could be the time jumpers last. Garrick doesn’t live by its rules, and he knows one thing is for sure: kill or be killed. Tick, tick, tick…timeliners never die. They never leave. 

Reviewed by Readers’ Favorite:

As the Earth shifts on its axis, all the continents either divided into small islands or converged into desert or ice. Humankind is caught in a war of survival and time. 

Captain John Garrick of the Phoenix ship is a time enforcer at the National Space Time Enforcement Agency. He discovers that the N.S.T.E.A has sealed a deal to deliver time technology to the notorious outlaw, Menser, in exchange for Charles Ramsey, the ousted ex-president of the United Sectors. 

Garrick plots to stop the deal from being carried out, and he and the Phoenix’s crew prepare for the inevitable fight. 

LINK has a classic sci-fi theme of good guys versus bad guys… If you’re a fan of Battlestar Galactica, LINK definitely has some of its great panache which makes it enjoyable.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Link-D-Karr/dp/150042014X/

About the Author:

D.A. Karr has been writing books and screenplays for the last ten years. Her experience and employment includes firefighting in the U.S. Forest Service, law enforcement, IT engineering, and several years with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center San Diego (SSC San Diego). She has a Master’s in software engineering.

D.A. Karr enjoys writing in a variety of genres including sci-fi, thriller-mystery, historical fiction, and screenplays. She is the author of several books including LINK, The Legend of Pendyne, and The Racehorse with Magic Shoes.

To learn more, go to http://www.racehorsewithmagicshoes.com/

Connect with D.A. Karr on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DAKarrRHWMS


Garrick and Farber were knocked off their feet, sending them rolling against the control panels. Hanging upside down, Garrick crawled along the panels on his hands and knees pulling himself up to reach the docking clamp releases. Farber slid against the jump-bridge when it skidded into the missile stacks.

Garrick shouted over the groaning and falling debris, “One docking clamp is still locked.  Get out of here!”

Farber desperately yelled, “I’m not leaving you!”

Farber crawled to the control panels, grabbing onto anything he could. Garrick grasped a piece of metal plating in one hand, and took a last swing at the clamp, while Farber beat the clamp with his fist.

Garrick shouted at A.L.I.S., “Link out!”

A.L.I.S. whirled around Garrick and Farber lifting them into her energy fields just when the AKasZ blew from the docking clamp. Imploding in a fire storm, a distortion rift tore a hole in space itself as a river of gas, and radiation streaked by in ribbons. A wave of energy engulfed the hull of the Phoenix, rocking it back and forth.

Fighting the pull of the wormhole, ships in the vicinity snapped their clamps, and were thrown around like toys, smashing against each other. Then the wormhole folded into itself, sucking the burning AKasZ with it, crushing it in its wake.

The rest of the fleet settled either on top of each other or against the perimeter fencing giving the appearance the shipyard was attacked by a round of RZaR Shadow missiles. The AKasZ was nowhere to be found.

Phoenix, stunned by the blast, drifted helplessly, sizzling, discharging energy from its hull. Several nearby N.S.T.E.A. gunships bore down on the wounded vessels with gun ports open. The gun towers swung their cannon torrents side to side, searching for the intruders.

One smaller fleet gunship flew up to Phoenix near the bridge section off the port wing and surveyed the damage. Its running lights signaled Phoenix for a status. Phoenix flashed back an answer. Then the gunship veered off. Phoenix powered up and silently moved to the edge of the perimeter surrounding the shipyard, waiting.


**BLOG TOUR** ~ I’ll Sing for my Dinner, by BR Kingslover (includes chapter 1 excerpt)

Blog Tour Banner I'll sing for

When Cecily Buchanan walks into the Roadhouse Bar and Grill and offers to sing for a meal, ex-Marine Jake McGarrity can’t say no. Some say Jake is too soft hearted for his own good. But letting  the waif with the cover girl face and the voice of an angel walk away would be more than he could stand. Cecily’s sweet nature, bubbly personality and obvious talent endear her to everyone she meets, and Jake soon knows his heart is lost. But Cecily has secrets and won’t talk about her past, one so dark that she has  nightmares and clutches a knife while she sleeps.
When those who are chasing her close in, she faces the decision of whether to run again, or to trust her life to the cowboy who has taught her the meaning of love.
Warning: This novel contains a dark subplot concerning previous abuse/rape.

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Teaser 1 I'll sing for

  Chapter 1
A pickup truck pulled up in front of the bar and stopped. It looked like Luke Sowers in the driver’s seat. The door on the other side opened, but I couldn’t see who got out. Then the truck pulled out again, the tires throwing gravel, and sped off.
What was left, standing in the parking lot, looked like a hippie. A girl, with a backpack and something else. She shouldered the pack, picked up what I now could see was a guitar case, and headed for the door. Apparently, she was a hitchhiker and he dropped her off at my place. Thanks, Luke.
Making her way through the door, she came straight toward me instead of taking a seat at one of the tables. The sign by the door said ‘Seat yourself,’ so I wondered what in the hell this was all about.
Stopping in front of me, she looked up into my face and asked in one of the most beautiful voices I’d ever heard, “May I speak to the owner, or the manager?”
The voice was a surprise, like a flower blooming in the desert. Her face was a shock. For all the grime, she was beautiful. Not pretty, but the kind of beauty you see on the covers of magazines. Long stringy greasy hair fell past her small breasts. She was thin, too thin, with a look in her gray eyes I hadn’t seen since coming back to the States, a combination of shell shock and hunger. The overall impression she projected was fragility. She came up to about my shoulder and I wasn’t sure she was old enough to be in a bar. What in the hell was she doing hitchhiking alone?
“I’m the owner, and the manager,” I replied. “I’m Jake McGarrity.”
“I’m Cecily,” she said. Turning, she looked around the room. The Roadhouse is a pretty typical bar with a bandstand at the end opposite the door and an area cleared for dancing. It was six-thirty in the evening, and we had two families with kids, about half a dozen couples, and two groups of four cowboys, all eating dinner. On a Wednesday night, that was pretty good. On a weekend, we did a lot better, and lunch was usually packed.
Turning back to me, she licked her lips and then said, “You have live music in here.” It was a statement, not a question. I nodded. The bandstand with the microphones and amplifiers made that pretty obvious.
“We have a band start at nine on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,” I said.
“Do you ever have live music for your dinner guests?”
I gestured to one of the speakers on the wall. “We use canned music.”
“Mr. McGarrity, I don’t have a red cent to my name, and I haven’t eaten in two days,” she said. “I’ll play for your guests in exchange for a meal.”
My God. The raw, naked hope in her face was almost too much for me. My eyes blurred a little bit. People tell me sometimes that I’m a soft touch. I figure that charity never hurts the giver. I was going to feed her. There was no way I was going to turn someone away after they approached me like that.
“What kind of music do you play?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I can play anything. For dinner music,” she gestured toward the customers sitting at the tables, “something soft and relaxing, loud enough to be noticed, but not so loud that people can’t carry on a conversation. People’s behavior is different with live music, you know.
They stay longer after they finish their meals and order more drinks.”
In addition to the beauty of her voice, her accent was cultured. This girl was raised with money, or at least well educated. And she hadn’t been on the streets long enough for her vocabulary to degenerate. She didn’t even speak like a normal kid.
I took a deep breath, and then she said in a rush, “Let me just play a couple of songs. Okay? Before you decide. Please? And then, if you don’t think it’s a good idea, I’ll go.”
Go where? Go out and stand beside the highway with her thumb out? Just the thought of her hitchhiking, getting in strangers’ cars and ending the night raped and dead in a ditch, scared the hell out of me. If I read about her in the newspaper tomorrow, I’d never be able to forgive myself.
Nodding, I said, “Let’s hear what you’ve got.” I pulled a menu out from under the bar and  pushed it across to her. “Give me your order, and you can play until your food is ready.”
Looking down the menu, she raised her head. “I don’t want you to think I’m taking advantage. Could I get the baked flounder and a salad? Is that too much?”
“What kind of dressing on your salad?” I answered.
“Oil and vinegar, or Italian. Something like that.”
“Put your backpack over there,” I said, pointing to a corner behind the bar and off to the side of the kitchen door.
She dropped the pack there, and as she passed me, I got a whiff of her. She and her clothes hadn’t been washed in far too long. Taking her guitar case up to the bandstand, she pulled out a beautiful Martin D45 with an electronic pickup. She could hock the guitar for enough money to get anywhere in the country, and eat well besides. The way she handled it, I had a feeling she’d starve to death before that happened.
Plugging into an amp, she checked the tuning on the guitar, flipped on the power, and hit a note. She turned the volume down, pulled a stool up to the edge of the bandstand and sat down.
I watched as she fitted finger picks on her right hand, and I wondered exactly what I was about to hear. All of her movements were efficient, practiced. She had played for audiences before, and she didn’t show a shred of nervousness.
I went and turned off the canned music and nodded to her. Most of my customers glanced her way, and some turned and watched her. Everyone was curious. I knew all these folks, and they were good people. Unless she sounded like a tortured cat, they would be polite.
And then she started to play. I recognized the tune immediately. Segovia, played on a steelstring guitar. As she promised, the music filled the room, but it was quiet enough that it wasn’t intrusive. I listened in astonishment as she flawlessly negotiated the complex piece of classical music. When she finished, she moved right into a Frank Sinatra tune, and from there a song off an old Mason Williams album. She hadn’t been bragging when she said she could play anything.
“You’re going to screw up your reputation as a hard-boiled ex-Marine,” Kathy said with a chuckle when she brought Cecily’s meal from the kitchen, startling me out of some kind of trance I had fallen into watching Cecily play.
“At least she’s paying for her meal,” Kathy continued. “Normally you just feed down-and-out vets who offer nothing but a hard-luck story.”
“I don’t have a need to impress people with what kind of hard-ass I am,” I told her. “Too many of the guys I knew like that got their asses shot off trying to be a hero.”
I waived Cecily over, and she came to the bar and perched on one of the barstools. She ate slowly, carefully chewing small bites. That about broke my heart. She was used to being hungry, and knew wolfing it down might cause her to be sick.
“Would you like something to drink besides water?” I asked.
She gave me a startled look, then looked at the taps and bottles lined up behind the bar. “A glass of white wine would be nice,” she said. “Do you pour a sauvignon blanc by the glass?”
Where in the hell did this girl come from? And what happened to her to put her in this kind of personal hell out on the Colorado plains? I poured her wine and set it down in front of her. She swirled the wine in the glass, smelled it, and took a sip. That earned me an even more startled look.
“Is this really what you normally pour as bar wine?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“It’s what I pour for dirty, starving hitchhikers who play Segovia on fine, vintage guitars,” I answered. The fact that she recognized the quality of the bottle I’d opened for her told me volumes as to how she used to live.
She blushed. “Thank you.”
“Do you sing?” I asked.
“Yes. Is it all right if I sing?”
“Do whatever you like. From what I’ve heard so far, you’ve got more than a meal coming if you want to keep playing. I’ll pay you fifty bucks to play until eight.”
More customers had come in, but none had left. When she walked back onto the stage, everyone quieted and looked toward her expectantly. She started picking an intricate tune that settled into Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right. She opened her mouth, and at the first note every other sound in the bar stopped. Even the noises in the kitchen stopped.
She sang in a strong, clear, pure mezzo-soprano, dropping into the contralto range on the tag line of each verse. Finishing the song, she immediately launched into Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning, sung soprano, and followed that with Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, her voice taking on a twang that would make any hillbilly proud.
On Chelsea Morning, she took the notes on the words ‘heard’ and ‘pipes’ so high that I nervously glanced at my glassware.
Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window
And the traffic wrote the words
It came ringing up like Christmas bells
And rapping up like pipes and drums
Her voice was flawless, with no reaching for notes, either on the high or low end of any register in which she chose to sing. I had never heard anything like it in my life.
Kathy, my assistant manager, took a glass of water up to the stage around the fourth song and set it next to her on the floor. Two songs later, one of the cowboys came over to the bar.
“Have you got a bowl or something, Jake? She should have a hat or something. You know, something people can put tips in.”
“Why don’t you loan her your hat, Mel?” I asked him with a grin.
“Hell, Jake, she probably wouldn’t want to touch the money after it sat in my sweat all night,” he said, grinning back at me. I had to admit, the battered lump of felt sitting on his head had seen better days.
I went back to the kitchen and got a bowl. When I handed it to him, he dropped a dollar in it, then walked back to his table. His friends also dropped money in the bowl, and he took it up and set it on the stage in front of her.
She smiled at him without missing a note. A thousand-watt smile that made him blush.
She played almost solid for over an hour, transitioning from folk to country, to gospel, to blues, even including a Billy Holiday song and a couple from Barbra Streisand. Her vocal range was incredible as she moved effortlessly from soprano to contralto. I don’t know how many people in a cowboy honky-tonk bar would recognize a classically-trained voice, but I did.
When she finished, I handed her fifty dollars and said, “If you want to come back, I’ll pay you a hundred dollars a night to play and sing between six and eight. Five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday.”
“As serious as a heart attack,” I said. “Do you know where you’re going to spend the night? There’s a motel just a block down. It’s not fancy, but it’s clean.”
Looking at the money in her hand, she said, “I can’t afford a motel. I have a sleeping bag. I’ll find a place to crash.” She glanced over her shoulder at the cowboys who started her tip collection. From what I’d seen, she did pretty well on tips. “Maybe someone will offer me a bed.”
That did it. I had seen women in Afghanistan who had fallen so far that they were willing to sell their body for a scrap to eat or a warm place to sleep. Every protective instinct I had leaped up and opened my mouth.
“You can stay at my place,” I said.
She looked at the tattoo on my forearm, then back up to my face. A smile crooked the corners of her mouth, but it didn’t change the sad look in her eyes. “I’ve never slept with a jarhead before.”
Shaking my head, I said, “That’s not what I’m offering. You can stay in my spare room. It has its own bath. And you can do some laundry.”
Looking down at herself, she murmured, “That would be nice.” Raising her eyes to my face, she seemed to study me. “Mr. McGarrity, you’re too nice for your own good. How do you know I’m not a drug addict that will cut your throat and clean you out before morning?”
“I don’t sleep that heavy,” I said. “I’ll take the chance. As for being too nice, I’m not. No one has ever taken advantage of me twice.”
I asked Kathy to cover the bar until I got back. Grabbing her backpack, I said, “Come on, I’ll take you over there.”
“Don’t you have to work?”
“I’ll drop you off and come back.”
We went out to my pickup and I dumped her pack in the back. She brought the guitar inside with her, settling it on the floor and holding the neck of the case between her legs.
“That’s a nice guitar,” I said.
“It was my twelfth birthday present.”
“It’s a D45, isn’t it? Rosewood?” I asked, referring to the guitar’s body.
The last time I’d seen an older D45 on sale of the quality she was playing, the shop was asking twelve thousand dollars. Someone had loved her to give that to a twelve year old.
“Do you play?” she asked. “You seem to know a lot about guitars.”
“Yes, but I’m light years away from your class. I have a D35 at home. My brother’s band is our standard house band. They’ll be playing tomorrow night.”
“Do you play with them?”
“Sometimes. He and I started the band in high school, and he kept it going when I joined the Marines.”
She nodded. We rode in silence for a while, then abruptly she said, “Mr. McGarrity, if anyone ever tells me that chivalry is dead, I’m going to send them to the Roadhouse Bar and Grill. It’s been a long time since anyone was this nice to me.”


BR Kingsolver is the author of the Telepathic Clans series (The Succubus Gift, Succubus Unleashed, Succubus Rising, and Succubus Ascendant) and Broken Dolls, a paranormal thriller as well as the contemporary romance Trust:  a truly modern romance, and the upcoming I’ll Sing for My Dinner. I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, among  writers, artists and weird Hispanic and Native American myths and folklore. 

I’ve lived all over the U.S. and earned a living doing everything from making silver and turquoise jewelry, to construction to computers. I currently live in Baltimore and Albuquerque.
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*Promo* Avenger Mine (The Kataran Series #2) by T. M. Slay

Avenger Mine is book 2 of the sci-fi fantasy series, The Kataran Series, following Guardian Mine. Written by T.M. Slay and published by Fantasy Publishing, this new series makes for a very promising one… “Step into fantasy and leave ordinary behind”!

Avenger Mine - 4 purpleTitle: Avenger Mine (The Kataran Series #2)

Author: T. M. Slay

Genre: Sci-fi, fantasy

Release date: March 16th, 2015

Released by: Fantasy Publishing

Length: 430 pages

Blurb: Jackson, The Avenger. Alone most of his life, people feared him more than appreciated his psychic abilities; abilities that had kept their race safe for more than three hundred years. No one understood the pain and the solitude that came with being a Mind Bender. He saves who he can, and kills those who try to stop him. His world is black and white. Simple. Until now.

Marilena has no one to turn to. Swept away from her home world as a child, she’s lived in hiding with her parents most of these years. And now, the enemies who forced their flight to Earth have come…and are searching for her. Dare she trust the Kataran Warrior who swears her enemies are his? Where has he been until now, and why is he so interested in her psychic ability?

Jackson has been fighting this war for most of his life, and has been an interrogator for even longer. Marilena is a skilled psychic too and understanding her position in this war is proving to be one of the most difficult missions of his career. Is Marilena working with the Skimtar? Jackson isn’t sure, but he intends to find out, and first he has to find a way into her mind…

About the Author:

Avenger Mine - 4 purple author picRaised all over the United States, I decided to settle back in my home state of Louisiana.  A large immediate family of 7 (5 children) and an extended family of well over 20, I never have far to look for inspiration.  With a love of reading instilled in my very DNA by both my grandmother and my mother, we have a combined library of well over 5,000 books.  Of course, that love of reading had to give way to a love of writing. 

Once my characters jump into my head, they won’t jump out until they make their way to the page.  It’s a glorious and annoying problem to have all at once.  I hope you’ll get to know them as well as I do in my Kataran Series, my Atlantean Series, and a few stand alone books, all to be published in short order!


Author website: http://www.tmslay.com/

Publisher website: http://www.fantasypublishingllc.com/

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Amazon Kindle Edition

Kobo ebook

Excerpt from Chapter 18

Standing in her room, Mala looked herself over in the full length mirror. Anxiety swirled in her chest, but it was time. If there ever was a time, it was now. Before her mother died, they had gone to a leather-smith, and with silver thread that Mala had pulled from the earth, she and her mother had made several garments. This had been one of them. Her dad had been a Guardian, and he was partial to black. Knowing that he would never see another Katara in his lifetime, he allowed her the luxury of wearing his colors, symbols, and weapons. As his only child, and one of their ancient days, her father tended to give her most of what she asked for. She strapped on his wrist cuffs and his knives.

The rest of her clothes weren’t traditional, but they had gotten used to making their own traditions after the first one hundred years. She wore a thin, black, long-sleeved shirt under a black leather vest. The lapels were painstakingly stitched with the symbols of her father and his father before him. It also fit tight, like a second skin. Katara females didn’t normally dress like this, but things had been changing on Xan even before the attack. The breathable, snug fabrics allowed for better movement. The pants were the same. Soft leather, worn from hundreds of years of wear. Mostly in private, for the Roma tribes were very fussy about such tight clothing. But it didn’t stop her from training with her father. Her boots, now they were all Mala. Black leather, of course, with a four inch heel, and a silver zipper up the inside of the leg, straps and buckles up the outside of her leg. Damn, they were sexy. Now her five foot ten inches would be a six foot two inches, and she could look that smug Katara straight in the eye.

It had been a long time since she dressed in this manner. But there was something about it. It was like coming home. A light brush of silver eye-shadow, matched the solid silver of her eyes. She knew they were different, that’s why she hadn’t even shown them to Jackson yet. His were the perfect Katara eyes. Hunter green shot through with stars of silver. Hers were just silver, even the pupil. They scared most people who saw her without her contacts. But tonight she would need all the edge she could get. She was going to be facing down some of the most well trained and feared Kataras ever. They had not only survived, but struck out in their own war. And Jackson led them. He had his own weaknesses, but she imagined they were nothing compared to his strengths.

Grabbing the thick bunch of silver strands in her hair, she braided them separately, leaving the rest of her black hair in a cascade of silk down her back. They were only collecting the team, if she had been expecting a war tonight, all of her hair would either be braided, or at least in a ponytail. Hair in the face, was not the way to fight a bunch of Skimtar who were trying to kill you. However, not looking might work too. Never having seen a Skimtar before, she might would rather be blind. God, what was she doing––thinking of fighting the Skimtar, war, and killing. It was crazy! She had officially lost her mind. Yup. She was headed for the loony bin. Only they would be really freaked out when she didn’t age for the next hundred years or so. Damn. Wasn’t there anywhere a crazy person could be committed in peace? Sighing at herself, she figured not. Might as well face this now.

One last look at herself in the mirror, and she hardly believed she was the woman staring back at her. She could have been her mother. Except the attitude. That was all her dad. She felt them, their presence in the air around her, expecting something else. She didn’t quite know what, but right now, it didn’t matter. Her curves were the full curves of a woman set on a tall body that made them look leaner than they actually were. Of course, all the black helped, but it was still nice to know she had this body hiding under the layers of conservative clothing. This look was not Roma. But it was Katara, at least the Katara she and her mother had created. And the two seemed to war within her.

But in this moment she could do nothing less than close the door to the Roma within her, and open the long closed door of the Katara instead. Instantly, The Universe responded to her. The air swirled around her like a small whirlwind, blowing her hair out and away from her shoulders. She took a deep breath as though for the first time, and colors jumped before her eyes––bright hues that she had never known existed in her modest bedroom. The elements glowed for her, called to her; she could feel the earth beneath her feet and its elation at her sudden awakening. It was a rebirth of some kind; The Universe within her was budding like a flower in the spring. Had she ever felt this before? Maybe, a long time ago, but never to this magnitude. Was it the effect of the Torta, or having Jackson so near? With one last, last glance at herself, she walked out of her room, knowing Jackson wouldn’t be long.

Maybe simply having another Katara around was some sort of trigger to the power within her. Electricity crawled up her arms, like ants over her skin, feather-light, but obvious in its arrival. Jackson. So, he had called his power too, and was waiting on her.

“I do not know that I want my men to see you looking like that.”

“Like what? A Katara? Isn’t that what you’ve been reminding me I am? How I should talk, think, dress, act?” She knew there was attitude in the swing of her hips. What could she say? She was feelin’ it. Another deep breath and the elements literally sang to her. She approached Jackson and his scent surrounded her; it had become an element all its own. Walking around him, she reached out, tracing the line of his shoulder with one hand, feeling their combined powers sizzling between her fingertips and his hardened body. She’d never felt so alive or emboldened. She wanted to rip open his deep purple tunic and rub her hands over his skin. Universe, she could imagine the rush of power that would come from actual skin to skin contact!

She watched a muscle in his jaw twitch when she ever-so-lightly ran a fingernail over the nape of his neck to cross over the hard expanse of the second shoulder. He actually growled. The sound emanating from somewhere deep inside.