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From the Dragon Guard Series Arises a Saga Unlike Any Other…
Abandoned by their clans for centuries. Presumed dead. Forced to build a new clan, one designed by Destiny to embrace their differences. These seven women, Shifters of Power, will ascend from obscurity to battle enemies unlike any the world has ever known.
Join the journey of the Ladies of the Sky…Once You Take Flight, the World Will Never Look the Same Again.
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A throne lost.. Centuries of debt.. A new threat arises that not only jeopardizes her lost kingdom but also her heart. Sometimes vengeance isn’t vengeance once the heart is involved. Will Carmen have her Desired Revenge?
When an unimaginable evil rains down from the sky, fate demands action from the most unlikely place–a terminally ill woman. But even with a fierce warrior at her side, does a single dragon stand a chance at saving the world?
Seventeen-year-old Annie Rebarchek is thrilled when industrialist Houston Monroe hires her to look after his baby for the summer. But something’s not right. Monroe’s baby is weak and cries constantly. When Annie confronts Monroe about it, he goes into a rage and tells her to mind her own business. She tells her father but he thinks she’s exaggerating. Annie knows something is suspicious, but what? The next day she discovers something that makes her skin crawl. She nabs the baby and flees.
Now she’s on the run. Her only hope is exposing Monroe’s deadly evil before it’s too late—for her and the baby.
It was a pleasure to read Saving Baby by Gregg Bell.
Gregg never fails to amaze me with the scope of his imagination in the suspense novels he writes!
The plot of Saving Baby was quite different from his previous novels and I found it very intriguing. It truly made me stop and think! What would I do if I found out a baby was being neglected and abused by it’s father? Would I have the courage, even in my “over-the-hill” years to snag the little tyke and run? How would I have reacted at the ripe young age of seventeen?
The main characters are very well thought out and are strong opponents. The ancillary characters could have used more fleshing out to become real. Eli is someone I think would have added more depth to the story with his backstory since he ended up being crucial to the ending.
Annie managed to get in and out of a number of close calls, and that makes me wonder about the seventeen-year-olds of today. Would they have the knowledge and wherewithal to maneuver themselves through the challenges that Annie found herself in? I’m wondering if she shouldn’t have, perhaps, been a bit older with more life experience.
Overall, I was very happy with Saving Baby. It had enough suspense to keep me involved in the story. It had enough depth to have me asking questions of myself and about the world in general. That makes Saving Baby by Gregg Bell a great book in my library! Thank you, Gregg, for another exceptional novel!
I give Saving Baby by Gregg Bell five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee!
The baby was crying. Annie Rebarchek didn’t even know if it was a boy or a girl. This whole interview process was psyching her out. It was like something out of a spy novel—she’d had to follow all these instructions, do this and do that, just to get to the interview. It had seemed simple enough at first. Her father had just insisted she get a summer job. Having a substantial summer job would make her applications to top colleges that much more attractive, especially in today’s super-competitive environment. Annie had chafed at his demand—she wouldn’t have minded a firm request—but what could she do, she was only seventeen, and like her father always said, ‘If you live under my roof, you play by my rules.’
This baby kept crying. It was in a back room of the mansion somewhere. It might be on a different floor for all she knew. She wondered why nobody was comforting it, as it wasn’t a colicky cry. It was a sad, a very sad cry, a lament. Not like Annie was an expert but she knew what hurt sounded like. She was intimidated to say anything to this man, her potential boss, Houston Monroe, but the baby’s crying was making her so uncomfortable.
“So, Annie,” Monroe said with a smirk as he leaned back in his ergonomic recliner. “What makes you think you can handle such a large responsibility?”
“Because I’ve been babysitting since I was thirteen, and well, because I’ve always been a very responsible person.”
Monroe frowned. He was still handsome though, Annie thought, in his crisply white shirt and with his wavy, silver-ish hair. But oh, his baby crying.
“Annie, the position is not babysitting. It’s being a domestic assistant.”
“Let me stop you right there. I’m going to insist you call me Houston.”
Annie bit the inside of her cheek. Calling Houston Monroe, Phoenix’s billionaire environmentalist, by his first name was beyond her. But his baby crying was so sad. “Uh…”
“Houston.” He looked her sternly in the eye.
She had no choice. “Houston.”
“Houston, your baby is crying.”
Monroe tilted his head at her, to the left, to the right. “Did you notice hearing aids in either of these ears?”
She exhaled and shook her head.
“Thank you,” he said. “In other words, I can hear very well that Chase is crying, and let me assure you that Chase is fine, that he is in fact in optimal health. Now to return to my question. Are you prepared to handle the responsibilities of being a domestic assistant?”
Annie rolled back in her chair, forgetting it was on casters. Monroe’s office was ultra modern: a jade-green Lucite oval desk, a long-armed chrome extender lamp over it. “Yes. Very much so. But the baby crying—”
“I told you Chase is fine.”
“Houston. Forgive me, but I’m telling you, your baby needs something. It’s hurting.”
Monroe stretched his long fingers behind his head and laughed as if he’d never heard anything more outlandish. He looked around at the Ming vases on his teak wood bookcases, at the photos of Phoenix’s mayor and himself, of movie stars and himself, hanging on his office walls. His face grew severe. “Are you saying that you know what Chase needs better than I do?”
“No. Just that I know he needs something now.”
He glowered. “Chase is learning discipline.”
Annie gripped the arms of her chair, fingernails digging into the fine leather. Oh, he just wasn’t getting it. Behind Monroe, Phoenix’s city lights down in the valley were popping on like thousands of little starbursts. Annie was so frustrated with Monroe, but now she really wanted the job, because if she got it, she’d be able to comfort his baby. She gripped the chair even tighter.
“So you think you’re mature enough to handle the position?” Monroe stated more than asked as he perused her job application and then flipped it onto the desk. “I must say your grades and references are superb.”
Annie could barely hear him. All she could think about was comforting his poor baby who was wailing so sadly. “Can I see the baby?”
Monroe snorted a laugh. “Want to see if he passes inspection?”
She shook her head quickly. “No. I just love babies.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gregg Bell writes suspense. Suspense loaded with intrigue and excitement but lacking gratuitous violence, sex and profanity. Gregg likes reading books that entertain but also challenge him and would like to think he writes the same.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He’s done everything from selling puka shells on the beach in Florida to working for Sears in their corporate headquarters at Sears (now Willis) Tower. A lifelong Midwesterner, he lives in suburban Chicago. He’s a biking enthusiast, a photographer, and insists he would be a good golfer if only he could putt.
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How I Lost a Million Dollars on a Dating Service could be the title of this book but The Woman Behind the Smile is so much more than a “Catfish” story – a term used to refer to someone who creates a false online persona to reel someone into a romantic relationship. Many people are looking to online dating as a way to get back into real life after the death of a spouse, divorce or a failed relationship. We paint ourselves as the “perfect partner” with a profile that reflects our life’s story, or does it? In The Woman Behind the Smile, Debby shows how during much of her life she hid behind the mask of being the perfect wife, mother, Air Force Officer, banker, legal assistant and friend – until life was completely changed by “The Call.” The subsequent rebuilding of her life would include a journey only seen on Lifetime Movie Channel! Like Debby, we all have some hidden stories and like her, it’s now time for us to STAND UP in our power.
Debby Montgomery Johnson is a woman on a mission. In her book, “The Woman Behind the Smile” she shares her personal experience with a love that turned into betrayal and financial disaster and she removes the mask of shame and shows others how do to the same. Many of us have something, something we’re hiding, something we’re ashamed of, something that through no fault of our own or through our own making, something that we keep hidden and that, in turn, keeps us hidden, from each other and the world.
From Vermont and a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Debby is the President of Benfotiamine.Net, Inc, a vitamin supplement company that provides an alternative for the pain of neuropathy, a nerve disorder. (Benfotiamine.Net). Benfotiamine makes an extraordinary difference especially for diabetics and their families.
Her background is diverse, from working as a paralegal and bank branch manager to being a U.S. Air Force officer, serving as an Intelligence Officer at the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency and in Wiesbaden, Germany. Debby is just like you. A woman on a mission to live an authentic, joyful life as the Woman WITH the Smile rather than behind it.
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of The Woman Behind the Smile by Debby Montgomery Johnson for the purpose of an honest review.
It was a pleasure to read The Woman Behind the Smilefor review. I admire Debby for being able to come forward and write about her experience with “catfishing“. I’m certain it is never easy to write about being scammed.
The Woman Behind the Smileis written very clearly and Debby shares many actual IM conversations between herself and “Eric” which let me feel as if I was the woman in this book, being hoodwinked by the man I thought I was preparing to spend the rest of my life with.
I’m glad Debby has been able to forgive Joseph and move forward with her life. I know, from personal experience of a different kind, that learning to trust and love again isn’t always easy. A strong faith in God is helpful to rebuilding a shattered life.
I would like to see Debby flesh this book out with more of how this “relationship” affected her daily life during the duration and the months immediately after the reveal. Giving the book more depth would have made the story more interesting to me.
I am pleased to offer The Woman Behind the Smile by Debby Montgomery Johnson four steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.
A BLIND GIRL’S TERRIFYING “GIFT” ALLOWS HER TO REGAIN HER EYESIGHT–BUT ONLY AS SHE FERRIES THE RECENTLY DECEASED INTO THE AFTERLIFE.
Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she’s a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.
But they’re both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.
While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.
Torn between doing her uncle’s bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.
An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena’s Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.
* Loreena’s Gift was recently named 1st place fiction in the 2016 Idaho Author Awards *
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest review.
It was my pleasure to read Loreena’s Gift by Colleen M. Story.
This is a very different type of story. Loreena’s “gift” is the ability to kill with the touch of her hands. My first thought was that no one would be able to control such a gift, and then we learn that Lorenna is blind. How would a blind woman be able to avoid touching people as part of her daily life.
I was surprised by the progression of events in Loreena’s Gift. From helping terminally ill parishioners to killing to save her brother’s life was a huge jump for me to make. It isn’t a plot that was had much of a surprise to me once her darling brother came back into Loreena’s life.
The descriptive writing was, however, some of the best I’ve had the opportunity to read. Ms. Story managed to put me in Loreena’s shoes with her words and phrases. It was very easy to close my eyes and imagine myself walking Loreena’s walk at times.
I am pleased to offer Loreena’s Gift by Colleen M. Story four steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.
When my father was in his sixties, his doctor suggested that he stop drinking coffee. He was experiencing some stomach upset, and the doctor thought all that coffee was bad for him.
For a long time, other doctors felt the same way—that coffee was something that most Americans enjoyed drinking, but that wasn’t especially good for us.
More recent studies, however, have turned that thinking around. Now we know that there are a number of things about coffee that are beneficial for our health.
Yes, coffee is acidic, and if you have a sensitive stomach, it probably is a good idea to back off. Barring that, however, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a cup or two. In fact, there are several reasons why you should indulge—and why coffee makes the perfect beverage to accompany your reading time.
Is It the Caffeine?
Studies have found that coffee can provide a number of health benefits, because of the good-for-you antioxidants in the beans, but also because of the caffeine.
We used to think that it was only the antioxidants that were helpful, but recent studies have found that in some cases, the caffeine is what creates the positive effects.
Coffee has been found to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s Disease (PD), for example, and researchers credit the caffeine for that. In animal studies, caffeine actually counteracted the symptoms of PD, and enhanced the effects of traditional treatments.
There have been a number of human studies, too. In 2000, researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 men and found that a higher coffee and caffeine intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of Parkinson’s.
The caffeine in coffee is also thought to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2010 analysis concluded that most studies support coffee’s ability to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. (Tea seems to help, too.)
A later 2011 animal study also showed that a component in coffee works with caffeine to increase a growth factor to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s.
What About the Antioxidants?
Would you be surprised to learn that coffee is the world’s number-one preferred source of antioxidants?
That’s what researchers found in 2005. “Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source,” says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D. “Nothing else comes close.”
Antioxidants are healthy nutrients that protect us from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health problems. Of course we also find them in other things like tea, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but according to this study, as a nation, we consume more coffee than any of these things.
The antioxidants in our favorite beverage have been found to help protect against a number of our most common modern diseases. These include:
Heart Disease: In a 2014 analysis of 36 studies, researchers found that coffee consumption was associated with a small reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. It took only about 1.5 cups a day to earn the protection. Other studies have suggested it may also help to reduce risk of stroke.
Cancer: Antioxidants, in general, are cancer fighters. Those in coffee have been found to potentially reduce risk of various types of cancer, including uterine and liver cancer. Earlier this year, a panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization concluded that regularly drinking coffee could protect against at least two types of cancer.
Type 2 Diabetes: If type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you may want to drink another cup of coffee. In 2014, a study led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public health concluded that people who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a period of 4 years had an 11 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes. In addition, those who decreased consumption of coffee by more than a cup a day increased their risk by 17 percent. Other studies have shown similar results, with coffee consumption linked to decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Dementia: Rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s are increasing. As mentioned above, drinking coffee may help, both because of the caffeine and the antioxidants. In 2010, researchers reported that most studies support coffee’s protective effects against cognitive decline. In one study, drinking 3-5 cups a day at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decrease of Alzheimer’s and dementia late in life. Researchers concluded that it could be because of the caffeine, or other factors like the antioxidants.
Feel Free to Enjoy a Hot Cup with Your Novel
In addition to all this good news, coffee may even help you life longer. That was the conclusion researchers made in one 2012 study. They looked at data that included about 400,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 71, and found that coffee consumption (caffeinated or decaffeinated) was associated with a lower risk of death overall.
So if you’re a reader who enjoys a nice hot cup of coffee with your novel, don’t feel guilty for a second. You’re doing something that’s good for you! Of course, if you experience stomach irritation, or if you find the caffeine keeps you awake at night, adjust your intake. But don’t feel you have to give it up.
Chuanhai Cao, et al. “Caffeine Synergizes with Another Coffee Component to Increase Plasma GCSF: Linkage to Cognitive Benefits in Alzheimer’s Mice,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 25(2), June 28, 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21422521.
“Coffee is number one source of antioxidants,” American Chemical Society, [Press Release], August 28, 2005, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-08/acs-cin081905.php.
Ding M. et al (2014) Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Circ, 129(6):643-59.
Neal D. Freedman, et al., “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” New England Journal of Medicine, May 17, 2012, 366:1891-1904, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1112010.
About the Author
Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives.
Mummy’s Little Angel is the first place winner of World’s Best Story!
About the Book
Joanne didn’t believe that her life could become worse than it already was. She had lost everybody and everything she had loved. She was alone. Surely she had suffered enough? The press had called her identical twins psychopaths. Her Maggie. Her Annie. But she still loved them, even though one of them had killed her husband, Jeff. Joanne believed that his murder had been an accident. How could one of her girls be a murderer? She knew them better than anybody else. They were good girls really.
She just had to prove it.
The brutal murder of her god-daughter Laura had never been solved. Items were missing when Laura’s remains had been discovered: clues that could lead to the capture of her killer. One of them was Laura’s doll … the doll that Joanne later discovered in her home. Joanne is facing the most horrific dilemma of her life. Has the wrong woman been imprisoned? Could her child have used such brutality against her best friend? Or could both women be innocent after all?
She needs to find somebody for her daughter to confide in; somebody she will trust. She needs a miracle. There is only one person who can help. He is compassionate and caring, with an amazing ability to gain the trust of the most difficult patients. He is Joanne’s only hope. He is Jonathan Davies.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy Mummy’s Little Angel by JW Lawson in exchange for an honest review.
This is a book I wish I had saved to read Halloween night! Ms. Lawson has written an utterly unimaginable novel that kept me reading on, trying to figure out “whodunit” and, more importantly to me, why!
The plot was very well thought out. It was filled with twists and turns that just didn’t let up, depending on which narrator was telling the story. The story was told from three separate points of view and it was very difficult to determine which, if any, was telling the truth.
Ah, the truth… Each narrator had a version of the truth that was believable, but could also be picked apart by digging further into the evidence that had been presented, or looking for additional evidence. The additional evidence wasn’t easily found and there was plenty of misdirection involved!
The characters were superbly written. I’ve always wondered how a writer manages to write so convincingly the psychopathic antagonist. In the instance of Mummy’s Little Angel by JW Lawson, Ms. Lawson had the added complication of the psychopathic character being an “identical” twin. How would the distinction between the two children have been overlooked by parents or other adults in their lives?
I must admit to being totally gobsmacked by Mummy’s Little Angel by JW Lawson! I couldn’t figure out the who without it being pointed out to me by Ms. Lawson. Well played, Ms. Lawson! Very well played!
I am pleased to offer Mummy’s Little Angel by JW Lawson five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.
Award Winning Author, JW Lawson is already gaining recognition for her writing talents in the US and world-wide. The second of a trilogy of sensational thrillers, Mummy’s Little Angelis the winner of the highly acclaimed Worlds Best Story competition and has also received some outstanding reviews from the professional team of judges in the competition. She is currently writing her third thriller, Crossroads which will be available in 2017 and the final book of the current series, Hush Little Baby will be available in 2018.
When a high-society call girl is murdered in her Georgetown home, investigators find two cameras hidden in the walls of her bedroom. One has its memory erased, presumably by the murderer. The second is connected to the Internet through an encrypted connection…and no-one knows who’s on the other end.
Special Agent Allison McNeil is asked by beleaguered FBI Director Clarence Mason to run an off-the-record investigation of the murder because of the murder’s similarity to a case she worked a year earlier. Allison knows the most direct path to apprehending the killer is to find the videos, but the rumors that the victim’s client list may have included Mason’s political enemies has her worried about the director’s motives. As she starts her investigation, she quickly discovers that she’s not the only one pursuing the videos. In fact, the most aggressive person racing against her might be the murderer himself.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhusin exchange for an honest review.
This is the right time of the year to curl up under a warm blanket and read a really intense thriller and Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhusis the perfect accompaniment to a cool, crisp fall night and a comfy reading chair!
Killer Pursuit is filled with twists and turns and seems to have stories inside the story. The plot is filled with surprises and it is very dark at times as it revolves around serial killers and blood-thirsty politics. When the two come together, the outcome is explosive!
Special Agent Allison McNeil is one impressive FBI agent. Mr. Gunhus has written his main protagonist with a great deal of mental fortitude and ability. Her ability to follow a serial killer through the evidence left to his demise is nothing short of amazing.
I am pleased to offer Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhusfive steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.
Allison McNeil tensed when she spotted the first shadow dart through the mist and take cover behind a tree. In the early-morning light it took her a while to pick out all six members of the Hostage Rescue Team approaching the cabin, but within a minute she could clearly see the tactical team converging on their target.
The small building stood on a rise, up from the swampy, flood-prone land around it. Wood-slated walls tilted precariously inward, twisting the windows into deformed rectangles. Moss and dead leaves covered the roof. The place smelled and looked like decay, well on its way to inevitable reclamation by the weeds and vines choking the cabin to a miserable death.
And, if Allison was right, the place deserved what it got. Hell, if she was right, she had half a mind to take a match to the place after everything was done.
She hunkered down behind a fallen tree, her head barely clearing the top to see the building and the team closing in. A trickle of sweat started at the base of her neck and went the length of her spine. She adjusted the Kevlar vest, under her light windbreaker emblazoned with large yellow letters. FBI. It felt ridiculous to wear the windbreaker when it was in the ’80s before daybreak with the Louisiana humidity hovering at about a thousand percent, but if it meant that the hotheads with assault rifles could more easily identify her as a friendly, then she was happy to have it.
Garret Morrison shifted his weight next to her, stretching out a leg and rubbing his knee. She gave him a sideways look.
“You all right?” she whispered.
He scowled at her. They both knew she didn’t give a damn about him. The comment was intended as a dig at the fifty-three-year-old Garret who prided himself on being in better shape than the agents beneath him. Even though he ran the Behavioral Analysis Unit, home of the FBI’s fabled profilers who spent more time in the heads of the criminals they chased than in the field, he required an aggressive physical program for his people. Everything about Morrison is a throwback to the old male-dominated Bureau. A slicked-back head of hair with just the right amount of grey to lend him gravitas without making him look old, a square jaw out of a mountaineering magazine, cold steel-blue eyes that seemed to look through people instead of at them. Unless they were trained on an attractive female, in which case his eyes gave their full attention to the area below the chin and above the waistline.
“Worry about yourself,” Garret grumbled. He turned to Doug Browning, a junior agent who followed Garret around like a little puppy. “Jesus, Doug. Not so close.”
Allison turned back to the cabin and raised her binoculars, not bothering to hide the smile on her lips. Garret was a legend in the Bureau for his work hunting America’s worst criminals, but Allison’s own legend had grown since her work on the Arnie Milhouse case a year earlier. While that case had given her credibility, she knew she was just as likely to be referred to as the woman who’d broken Garret Morrison’s nose when he’d made one too many unwanted advances while she was a trainee. And, while she wanted to be known for her work, she didn’t mind that piece of fame following her around.
“Alpha team in position,” said a voice through the small speaker in her ear. She noticed Garret put a finger to the side of his head and nod. He looked over at her.
“You better be right about this,” he whispered.
Allison shook her head. For all his brilliance—and, regardless of how she felt personally about him, she recognized that he was brilliant—Garret’s transparency could border on the inane. What he was really saying was that if the lunatic Allison’s research had tracked to this location wasn’t holed up in this backwoods cabin, if the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team had been activated and deployed for no reason, then the blame would drop on her like a bag of bricks. If Sam Kraw was in there, Allison knew it would be Garret standing in front of the cameras taking credit for the HRT mission and the capture of America’s most wanted fugitive.
She pushed the thought away. As long as they caught the bastard and ended his multi-year killing spree in the Southeast, she didn’t give a damn who got the credit.
Allison moved her binoculars. The tactical team was in place around the cabin, peering through scopes with infrared capabilities. If there was someone hiding in the shadows of a window or doorway, they wouldn’t be hiding for long.
On some signal unseen by Allison, the men began a steady, crouched advance to the building. She realized she was holding her breath so she blew out her air slowly between pinched lips.
“Relax, McNeil,” Garret muttered. “You’re making me nervous.”
The two members of the tactical squad approaching from the front reached the deck that wrapped around the front of the building. As they strode across it, the old wood floorboards groaned. The men froze. The seconds stretched out. Allison became suddenly aware of the hum of insects in the air around her. The dampness of her own skin. The sound of a bird calling in the distance. All of her senses were wired tight. An entire year of her life was wrapped up in the next few seconds. And if she’d got it wrong, Garret would have the ammo he’d been looking for to get her out of his unit once and for all. But she wasn’t worried about herself. What really bothered her was the chance that she had it right, that this was Kraw’s hideout, but that somehow they’d spooked him and he’d already slipped away. If that had happened, he’d be hundreds of miles away by tomorrow, scouting for his next victim as he traveled.
Movement in the cabin. Just a flutter. Like a bird trapped in a cage. Only her intuition told her it was more than a bird. It had been an arm. A human arm. Sam Kraw.
Based on the lack of movement from the tactical team, she realized no one else had seen it.
“I’ve got movement,” she whispered into her mic. “Window to the right of the front door. An arm.”
“I didn’t see anything,” Garret whispered.
Allison ignored him. The men around the cabin responded immediately, reorienting to the front door. Guns pointed at the window.
One of the men produced a miniram, a high impact, brute force breaching tool. Coordinating with his partner, he crouched next to the door while the other man readied a flash-bang grenade.
There was a pause, as if someone had pressed a button on a TV remote. Everyone was in place. The air seemed to still as if the world knew something was about to happen. Allison had her binoculars trained on the window where she’d seen the movement. If Kraw was inside, then the nightmare was almost over. She’d know in a few seconds whether that was the case or not.
But in that second, she saw the movement again.
Only this time, she knew something was wrong.
It was a man’s arm, she saw it clearly this time. But it was too stiff. The color was off. And, attached at the shoulder, she saw a coil of wire.
A mannequin arm on a spring.
Meant to make them think someone was inside.
It was a trap.
About the Author
Jeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.
After his experience with his son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and is active in child literacy issues. As a father of five, he leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Café in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.