Friday, August 31, 2012

Review of Wolf Heart by Michele Lee




















Description:

Being a werewolf didn't ruin Nika's life, but being forced to join a pack just might. And then, of course, there's a man: Maeul, the dark, sexy alpha whose blistering love for Nika might consume them both, if the pack doesn't tear them apart first.

Review:

Oh how I loved this book!  This was a story with heart.  I love when the story draws you in and makes you feel like you actually are the main character.  

The emotions in this book were intense and I found myself in tears more than once.  It was such an addicting story, I couldn't put it down for the life of me.  I was enraptured with it and breezed through the intense book in record time.

Nika was a great main character.  She progresses so much throughout the story, you couldn't help but admire her.  Maeul, Crystal and Cristos were also great supporting characters.  I felt for all of them as I tore through the pages.

The plot was so complex and well written.  I wondered what happened with each page that passed.  There were many twists and turns and the story was definitely a violent one.

I highly recommend this wolf of a read.  This is great for new adults, as there is violence and some adult content.  I have to give this awesome read five glittery stars!!!

Buy it here on Amazon

Buy it here on Barnes and Noble




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review of Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairy Tale by Liz Jasper




















Description:

From the award-winning author of the Underdead books...

Crimson has a strategy for surviving high school. Blend in. Don't cause trouble.
It works pretty well—until her sixteenth birthday when her long-lost father shows up and all hell breaks loose.
Literally.
It turns out that he is a demon king, which makes Crimson…a princess. Of Darkness.

Her castle is a sulfur-reeking cavern underground. Her Princess Training has nothing to do with tea and crumpets. Prince Charming isn't rushing in to save her. And, to top it off, she still has to go to high school.

She can't tell anyone the truth, not even her best friends. To survive, she will have to risk everything and use a cunning she didn't know she possessed. And even then there's no guarantee she or anyone she cares about will be alive tomorrow—for neither Hell nor high school comes with a manual.


Review:


Peeps, check this book out!  I have to admit it was highly original:)  I really enjoyed the storyline. 

I wasn't super excited that this wasn't a paranormal romance, but it held my interest.  I almost never read something without a romantic element to it, so this was an exception.

I enjoyed the main character Crimson and her name was very fitting given the situation.  The book showed her transformation but kept her morals in tact.  Brock was an interesting character as well.

This book is geared towards the teens/ high school aged group.  I would reccommend it as a great read.  I give this book four glittery stars just because it rocks!!

Buy it here on Amazon 

Buy it here on Barnes and Noble 








Wishlist Wednesday #10




Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.  This meme is hosted by Pen to Paper.



 Book: Insider

Author: Michalea Smeltzer

Release: September 7th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description:

Nothing will be the same for Sophie Beaumont. Now that she’s an Alpha she has to learn to be a leader. But unlike with Caeden, it doesn’t come naturally for her. Sophie doesn’t want to tell her friends how high to jump. She just wants to be normal.
Caeden and Sophie travel to Germany to meet with Sophie’s parents in the hopes of learning more about being mates and “why them?” But Sophie’s parents prove not to know much. Everything is just speculation. Then, the news of Peter Grimm’s murder sends the Williams’ pack into a tailspin. With Travis as Alpha what is he capable of? 

Sounds awesome right?  The first book, Outsider was spellbinding and I am so stoked to read this one:)  What did you wish for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review of Kept by Shawntelle Madison




















Description:

Fresh from defending her pack in battle, Natalya Stravinsky, a whip-smart werewolf with a lovable neurotic streak, wants a little rest and relaxation. Once an outcast, she’s now eager to rejoin the ranks of her New Jersey pack, and has even gotten a handle on her obsessive urge to hoard holiday ornaments. Yet Nat barely has time to revel in her progress before the next crisis comes howling at her door.

Nat’s father has suddenly gone missing, captured by the Russian werewolf mafia. And as Nat steps up to save her dad from a mob boss’s deadly game, two men step in to play another round for her heart: her gorgeous alpha ex-boyfriend, Thorn, and her new flame, the sweetly sensitive wizard Nick. With her life growing more harried by the minute, Nat must stay cool, calm, and collected . . . or else risk losing everything.
 
 

Review:

Oh Thorn, *sigh* you are so swoon worthy, and Nick, *awe* you are so sweet!  How will Nat choose between two such men?  Well I guess you will have to read Kept to find out...

The story picks up where Coveted left off and I was immediately swept away.  Coveted was such a great read and I expected nothing less of Kept.

Despite her flaws, Nat is such a strong and realistic character.  I love her quirks and flaws.  All the characters blended into a strongly woven story.

Just when I thought the book would tie up and end, the story picked back up with a rolling pace, leaving me breathless.  The book was action packed and full of twists.

Even though I have a soft spot for werewolves, this book was no exception.  I also enjoyed the other supernatural characters that were present.

I highly recommend this book to all supernatural fans and paranormal romance lovers.  I give this book five glittery stars for its' fascinating storyline!  Read Coveted now and check Kept out for yourselves when it graces bookshelves on November 27, 2012!



Monday, August 27, 2012

Review of Coveted by Shawntelle Madison




















Description:


SOMETIMES WHAT YOU COVET IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP.

For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.

Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

Review:


I'm not sure where to start... I adored this book.  This was an incredibly riveting read.  My soft spot for all things werewolf aside, this was a must read.

The main character was so flawed and believable, you couldn't help but love her.  She is a mess, but trying to turn her life around.  Her illness has caused her to lose her place in the pack and now she is treated like an outsider, a weak link.

The supporting characters were well written and creative.  There were wizards, necromancers, zombies, succubi, goblins, warlocks and muses just to name a few of the many characters.  Of course, there were lots of werewolves as well.

Gosh, the plot was also good.  I was guessing until the very end, but enjoyed the entire story.  I wasn't so fond of the doomed romance with bad boy Thorn, but it worked.  Thorn is yummy. 

This was a fast paced read that I highly recommend for any adult paranormal fantasy lover.  Due to sexual situations and adult themes, it is not suitable for young adults.  The sequel Kept, will be out soon and I for one can't wait.  I give this fascinating read five glittery stars:)

Buy it here on Amazon 

Buy it here on Barnes and Noble 

 



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #7


Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews, that features books I've received/purchased/borrowed during the current week. 

Received for review:




































Bought:





















Free from Amazon:



















Dude, whatta you think?  There are some awesome books to add to my stacks this week! *squeal* What did ya'll stack your shelves with this week?



Friday, August 24, 2012

Five Questions with Michelle Monique Photos















 

Five Questions with Michelle Monique



1. How many book covers have you had published?   10

2. Do you do professional book publishers as well as indie book covers?   Yes, I do work for both.


3. If so, what are a few publishers you have worked with?   Young Reader's Penguin Group, Random House, f/64.


4. Tell me about your current projects?   I'm currently working on various vampire, werewolf, and fantasy novels for 6 different authors.


5. Where do you get your inspiration from?   Conceptually, I get inspired by movies and video games. I also like the dramatic colors, lighting, and angles employed by both genres. In the photography world my favorites are Dave Hill and  Alexia Sinclair.


If an author or publisher likes your work, how can they contact you?   Please email me at michellemoniquephotography@gmail.com





Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/michellemoniquephoto


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review of The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman




















Description:

A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B.

When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now.

Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love. The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on.


Review:

"The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on."

I wanted to read this book on that saying alone.  The story was one of the most unique stories I have ever read.  It took an everyday problem and made it an extraordinary one.  A young adult story based on jelly beans, come on you gotta read something like that.

This book is audience geared for a certain age group, high school students.  It was a little too young adult for me, but was fascinating none the less.  The story touches on things every high school student goes through.  Basically it touches on romance, friendship, college, school, and career choices for the future.

I enjoyed the tenacity of the main character, Poppy.  She was a firecracker and I loved the way she discovered new things.  The story was passionate and fresh.

The supporting characters were pretty good, especially Stratford.  He was the love interest and a very intriguing one.  The circumstances that bring the two characters together and weaves the story is great.

Overall, I enjoyed the read and highly recommend this to the young adult crowd.  I give this book four glittery stars for a great story and immense originality.

Buy it here on Amazon 




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #9





Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.  This meme is hosted by Pen to Paper.



 Book: Ceaseless

Author: Abbi Glines

Release:  September 18th





















Description:


Can he make her fall in love with him… again?

When Pagan Moore proved worthy of Death’s devotion, he was given the gift of getting to keep her.

But Dank was never promised that Pagan would keep him.

When a soul is created, so is its mate. In every lifetime those souls find each other. They complete the other’s destiny. It’s time for Pagan’s soul to choose if she truly wants an eternity at Death’s side or if she wants the mate created just for her.

Dank didn’t think he had to worry about her choice. He knew where her heart belonged. Until he realized that every kiss, every touch, every moment of their time together would be washed from her memories. He would have to win her heart all over again and prove to her soul that he was where she belonged.

If only her soul’s mate wasn’t right there standing in his way.



I am dying to read the next chapter in Dank and Pagan's story.  September can't come soon enough!



What could be a better read than this peeps? What did you wish for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of Deceiving the Witch Next Door by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez





















Description:

Storie Bell has a little secret—she’s a witch. But magic hasn’t exactly kept her life from being a complete mess—her love life is non-existent and the town thinks she’s a total nutter. Plus there’s her neighbor Reid Malone who runs hot one minute and cold the next.

Reid Malone can’t wait to escape Bloomington, Texas. Unfortunately, he’s stuck where he is unless he helps his father hide a very illegal secret. The only key to Reid’s freedom lies with the eccentric Storie…and he’ll do whatever it takes to get the information he needs from her.

But Reid’s holding something back. Something big. And if he’s not careful, he’ll find out exactly what happens when you try to deceive a witch…


Review:

This book was a sexy, spicy adult read.  It was a little slow at the start, but picked up halfway through the book.  I enjoyed the way the story came full circle. 

The characters were unique, but lacked depth.  Never the less, the author fleshed out the characters acceptably.  Storie, the heroine of the story is a witch, living in a human world.

The plot was enjoyable.  I liked the story and how it unraveled.  It was definitely a steamy love story.  Reid was a sexy cowboy with a slick reputation.  Lots of tension between Storie and Reid ensued.

Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it to adults due to the mature content.  I give this book three glittery stars! 

 

Buy it here on Amazon 

Buy it here on Barnes and Noble 



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Karice Bolton cover reveal!

*Covers by PhatPuppy Art ( http://phatpuppyart.com/ )*
























 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken (A Watchers Novella)  

by Karice Bolton

Expected Pub: December 2012

Prequel (The Watchers Trilogy)

A Watchers Novella


Ana and Athen are enjoying the quiet life as a couple with only the minor dark demon infraction to rectify. Cyril and Arie are enjoying the newfound simplicity too. Things are perfect – too perfect.

They soon realize that something far more sinister is taking place in their world, and they must do their best to stop the evil from spreading. Determined to figure out who is tampering with the mortals’ fate they are unable to recognize that it’s a trap, and one of their own is the target.

This is where it all begins.

  
























 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altered Souls (Book 2 of The Witch Avenue Series)

by Karice Bolton

Expected Pub: October 2012  

 

The realm of Altered Souls brings nothing but unrest, deceit, and pain forcing Triss to come face to face with heartbreak from her past. 
Facing a betrayal like never before, Triss questions everything she thought she knew about her family, coven, and abilities. 
With the help of Logan, she embarks on a journey enabling her to confront the dark side of magic and the person who controls it. Realizing Triss’s ancestors have been seduced for centuries by the dark side, Triss and Logan must ensure no more in their world fall victim to the realm of Altered Souls, even if that means ending the ones they love.   

Author Bio:

Karice Bolton

Karice Bolton is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy author living in the Pacific Northwest. All three books in The Watchers Trilogy are available now, Awakening, Legions, and Cataclysm. Lonely Souls, which is the first book in her new series Witch Avenue, was released in June 2012!

Karice married the love of her life who she met in high school, and she still can't get over how cute and funny he is. They have two English Bulldogs that are the cutest bullies in the world, and they use their cuteness to get what they want. Karice loves the snow and gravitates towards the stuff as often as possible! She enjoys skiing and tries really hard to snowboard, but often makes a nice little area to sit while everyone zips by on their board. She enjoys writing, and she also loves to read just about anything with print.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Author Spotlight: Too Many Cooks by Shirley Ann Wilder


























TOO MANY COOKS

Copyright © Shirley Ann Wilder 2012

Chapter 1


Estelle Bennett hesitated at the door. It was slightly ajar, and the doctor was on the
phone. She’d obviously gotten dressed and walked over to his office faster than he’d
expected.
She waited out of politeness and debated if she should knock to announce her
presence; then the conversation riveted her in place and she couldn’t help but listen to
every word. Dr. Robert Taylor’s voice was not its usual deep, rich baritone. Estelle had
known the man for over twenty years and to her he was Dr. Bob, a friend as well as her
physician. She could tell he was fighting down emotion.
“You’re absolutely sure there’s no mistake? It’s leukemia for sure? Oh boy, this is
not good.”
She had come in for a follow-up appointment and to get the results of some tests the
physician had taken two weeks ago. She hadn’t been sick, just tired. Estelle leaned as
close to the crack in the door as she could get without bumping it open.
“She just went through an ordeal not long ago, so if you have no objections I’m not
going to tell her yet. God, I feel like the grim reaper. Well, we’ll get some meds started
and then I’ll break it to her. In some cases, I don’t think it’s unethical to delay delivering
a death sentence.”
It took Estelle a few minutes to recover after Dr. Taylor hung up. She raised her hand
and was just about to knock when he buzzed Nurse Marlow at reception.
“Betty, would you have Mrs. Bennett wait just a few minutes before bringing her to
my office? I’ve just gotten some terrible news, and I need time to compose myself before
I see her.”
Estelle’s heart was in her throat. Oh, God. That call was about me. I have a terrible
disease. Leukemia. She felt her body go from clammy to scorching hot. The urgency to
get out of there overwhelmed her. She wanted to run, to hide, to…
Dr. Bob had said he wasn’t going to tell her today? Well, too late. She already knew.
2
Panic commanded her feet to move, and they obeyed. She almost knocked Betty over
as she bolted down the hallway, through reception, and out the front door. She heard
someone calling her name but didn’t stop. She had to be alone.
She scarcely remembered getting in her car, but she must have, because she was
driving down the freeway toward home. Suddenly, though, she didn’t want to go there.
She took the next off-ramp and found herself in the area where her husband’s business
office had been. If there was ever a time she needed a drink, it was now. But it was only a
little past three in the afternoon. Still, what difference did it make if she broke her
cardinal rule of no drinks before five o’clock? It had to be five somewhere on the planet.
She pulled into a small strip mall and parked her car in one of the spaces while
thoughts of what might be in store for her bounced around in her head. I’ll probably have
to give up driving one of these days. Hope it’s not too soon. But, why not? The sooner it
comes, the sooner I’ll be reunited with Marty.
But, what about Alex? At twenty-nine, her only child was still floundering. He had
no clear direction and no real commitments.
Emotion welled up so Estelle pushed it down. She had cried enough, and she
certainly wasn’t going to break down in public. Leukemia. It wasn’t really an ugly name,
not for such an ugly disease. It sounded more like a houseplant. Oh, look how beautiful
my leukemias are! Have you ever seen such blooms?
She was dying though. From a disease that didn’t bloom, but instead drained the
body of all strength and vigor.
She pulled the car key out of the ignition and then sat for a few minutes. She’d have
her drink before phoning the doctor to explain her odd behavior. He’d said he was going
to start some meds. They’d probably have instructions stating, “Do not drink alcohol or
operate machinery.” She’d always been a stickler for rules, but since she hadn’t taken the
medicine yet, this could be her last drink—or two.
Estelle got out of the car, set the alarm, and walked to the entrance of Gaetano’s
Ristorante. She’d been by the small Italian restaurant a million times. She and Marty had
intended to go there for dinner but never had; it had been the wrong time or he was held
up at the office or it had been one of a thousand other excuses for not doing all the things
they’d said they would do one day and never did. Typical.
The minute the door closed behind her, scents of basil and garlic bread mixed with
the heavy aroma of pasta sauces and cheese, tantalizing her taste buds. Skipping lunch
hadn’t been a good idea, and now her mouth watered while involuntary growls escaped
her stomach. How could she eat after learning that she had so little time left on earth? But
if she didn’t eat, the glass of wine—or two—would go straight to her head.
She chose a small booth barely large enough for two, but she wasn’t a part of a
couple anymore so she had plenty of space. Scooting into the seat, she smoothed her skirt
over her legs. She’d worked hard at keeping her figure. She’d kept it all right, but for
3
what? For whom? Well, there had been plenty of interest from men, but many of them
were her friends’ husbands. She’d never felt comfortable around those particular couples
afterward. Did the wives know?
Think of this in a positive way, she commanded herself. At least I’ve been put on
notice and can get things in order. How many people get that chance?
She didn’t know exactly what the treatment would be, but she’d already decided that
she would save Alex the agony of watching the day-by-day dying again. They’d both
watched Marty struggle for life. The procedures had been painful, but he’d fought like a
tiger. The end had come well over a year ago though…and yet, when she let herself go
there, it still hurt.
It bothered her that Dr. Bob couldn’t tell her the truth about her condition. Did he
think she wasn’t woman enough to take it? True, she’d been to hell and back during
Marty’s illness, so it was logical that their old friend would want to protect her. Marty’s
death had been hard for him too. They’d been golfing buddies for years. Maybe this was
his way of dealing with it.
When Alex finds out, he’ll want to hover over me, she realized. I wonder if Dr. Bob
will tell him before he tells me. Could he do that? There had to be some ethical rule
stating that the patient is always told first. Wasn’t there?
She tried to remember if she’d been the first to know about Marty or if the news was
given to them both at the same time. Marty’s illness had been such a shock. She’d been in
a fog for weeks before she came to grips with it, and there were still time segments that
remained blocked from her memory.
That made up her mind: She was going to keep her condition a secret for as long as
she could. When the effects of the illness became obvious, then she would tell Alex.
There was no point in burdening him with this so soon after his father’s death.
Of course, she wouldn’t wait too long, but she needed to get a few specific things in
order. Would he want to move into her place? His townhouse was nice but not as large as
her house. On the other hand, he’d been away from home a lot and the upkeep of a home
the size of hers took considerable attention.
In spite of herself, she felt a lump settle in her throat. The inside of her nose began to
burn just like it always did when tears couldn’t be held back, so she reached for the bright
red napkin on the table in front of her. It had been folded in an intricate manner so that it
stood at attention.
A white apron with tomato splotches appeared at her side, and Estelle flinched.
“I’m sorry,” a rich, deep voice said. “I didn’t mean to startle you. May I get you
something? Iced tea, coffee?”
Estelle dabbed at her eyes, then turned to the man wearing the apron. He was fairly
tall, and he had beautiful dark hair accented with silver. His deep brown gaze met hers,
4
and she couldn’t remember when she’d ever seen such soulful eyes. His face held
concern.
“I could also offer you a glass of wine, if you’d prefer. A nice Chianti? Or something
white?”
“Yes, that would be wonderful.”
“Which?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve had quite a day and my head isn’t screwed on right I’m afraid. A
Chianti will be fine.” She needed something heartier than a white to bolster her courage.
The man didn’t move. When she looked up he averted his gaze then peered at her
with worry in his eyes. When he spoke Estelle detected a slight accent.
“Excuse me, I don’t mean to intrude, but…” He flushed. “Never mind. I’ll be right
back with your wine.”
***
Gaetano Lorenzo hurried to the bar and filled one clear glass with his very best
Chianti instead of the house brand. This was what his daughter always complained about,
really. She said he let his heart rule his head and thus gave away the profits. But, what
was wrong with being concerned? That poor lady back there was obviously in some kind
of distress. He couldn’t help it if he was just naturally curious about people. His
restaurant had been the meeting place for many lost souls, and he liked to think he’d
helped many of them find each other. He’d made them all a little happier. Too bad he
couldn’t work the same magic on his daughter. At the rate she was going, he’d be an old
man before he got to bounce a grandbaby on his knee.
Young women today. They wanted the big career and waited for marriage until they
were almost too old to have babies. Even if Gina fell in love, it could take years before
she settled down to matrimony and motherhood. Gaetano wanted that to happen sooner
than later. Mama mia, it was so much easier in the old country. The parents arranged
everything, and everyone was happy. Here in America, his daughter Gina couldn’t even
cook! Rosie was surely rolling in her grave.
He took the wine back to the table and set it down in front of the woman. She wasn’t
wearing a wedding band. Not that it was any of his concern, of course, because he
certainly never intended to remarry; this was just more of his curiosity. And there was
nothing wrong with playing cupid or being interested in people, no matter what Gina
said. Rosie had always been a people person too. They’d made quite a team.
Gaetano was so wrapped up in his thoughts he barely heard what the woman said.
“Sir? A menu, please.”
“Oh, forgive me. Yes, of course.” He fought back embarrassment. She must think I’m
crazy—or worse yet, incompetent.
5
He sprinted to the back of the room, took a menu from the stack on the counter, and
returned with a smile as he handed it over. At the same moment, his first dinner waitress
came through the door.
Good, he thought. Debbie could take over. For some reason this sad lady was making
him uneasy. He excused himself and retreated to the kitchen.
***
Estelle pondered the menu. It had been a while since she’d had any real appetite, but
just reading about these entrées stirred her taste buds. She took a sip of wine then
upended the glass and swallowed the contents in one gulp.
“Did you decide what you’d like?”
The little blonde waitress who’d come to take her order was so perky and cheerful
that it was all Estelle could do not to strangle her. Instead, she smiled. “I haven’t quite
made up my mind. How about bringing me another Chianti?”
“Sure.” The young woman took her empty glass.
Estelle looked around at the interior of the restaurant and admired the fact that real
plants and not plastic ones adorned the window boxes. The tables were covered with red
checkered cloths, and each featured a live centerpiece: a bright red carnation in a bud
vase. Before she’d finished her assessment of the room, a full glass of wine appeared.
Well, she grudgingly admitted, the service was good. That was important. When you
didn’t have a lot of time, you needed things done in a hurry. Or, should a person take
more time to savor each moment?
From speakers she hadn’t quite located, Placido Domingo’s beautiful tenor voice
filled the room. Estelle listened in silence. Ah, yes, it was his solo from…what? Suddenly
she couldn’t remember. That must be part of the illness. Loss of memory…and then how
much time to the end?
Damn it! It wasn’t fair. She didn’t deserve this. All her life she’d followed the rules,
and in the end none of that mattered. Because the end came, like it or not.
She turned in her seat to get the waitress’s attention; she had to go home and get
started on her plans. Forget dinner.
“Where is that girl?” she muttered.
“Your waitress is seating some customers, but I took it upon myself to make some
selections for you.”
The voice surprised her, but not as much as the fact that the man who’d seated her
was now standing at her table with a fully loaded tray over his head. He lowered the tray
and began placing dishes on the table.
“First, a little appetizer. Then salad. Then the entrée, it is one of my masterpieces.
Chicken Marsala. And a fresh bottle of wine.”
6
Estelle was speechless and then shocked as the gentleman sat down opposite her.
He’d lost the apron, but his eyes were still soulful and staring straight into her.
“Aren’t you the chef?” she asked. “When I saw you earlier you were wearing an
apron. I just assumed…”
“You were correct. I am one of the chefs.”
“Can you leave the kitchen like this?”
“Ah, but I am also the owner. Gaetano Lorenzo.” He leaned forward and pressed his
lips to her fingertips, his eyes twinkling with mischief. She offered her hand in return to
his greeting.
“I called in another chef,” he admitted, “so now I can have dinner with you.”
Once more Estelle was at a loss for words. She looked around to see who’d
witnessed this act of…whatever it was, and she saw that the restaurant had begun to fill
up. There was no longer just the one waitress but several, and all of them looked busy.
The shades at the windows were lowered, and candles were lighted at each table. She
must have zoned out listening to the opera.
“I l-like your music,” she stammered, hoping she didn’t sound as dumb as she felt.
“I’m glad. This selection is Placido Domingo’s aria from La Traviata. Not everyone
cares for classical. I think opera is something you must develop a love for.”
“Oh, yes, I believe that too. My late husband never took the time. After going alone
so often when he couldn’t get away I finally let my season tickets lapse.”
“What a shame. The opera was my wife’s passion, but we also got too busy. We
spent so many years getting the restaurant going… Ah, you know how it is.”
“Does your wife help out now?”
The minute the words were out of her mouth Estelle instinctively knew she’d put her
foot in it. Gaetano’s face fell.
“Oh, no. Like you, I am alone. I keep busy—” The man stopped abruptly. He waved
his arms in the air and unfurled his napkin. “What are we doing? Our food is getting cold.
Eat. Eat!” he scolded.
Estelle smiled and picked up her fork. She couldn’t recall when she had such a
handsome dinner partner. She squeezed her eyes and blinked, keeping tears at bay while
she tried to eat. She didn’t have much time left to enjoy meals with anyone, especially
someone as nice as this.
A short time later she was saying, “That was absolutely delicious, Gaetano, I can’t
believe I ate so much!” She really couldn’t.
“What are you saying? You eat like a bird.”
“Yeah, a big bird. I haven’t had much of an appetite for a while. It’s no fun cooking
for one.”
“I suppose not. But don’t you have any family who visit you?” He seemed genuinely
curious.
7
“I have a son, but I don’t want him to feel he has to look after me. Although, he does
enjoy a good meal. Here, let me show you his picture.”
The restaurateur pulled his wallet out of his hip pocket. “I also have just one child.
Let me show you my Gina.”
Estelle continued to flip through her bag, finally coming up with a small leather
photo case. “This is Alex. He’s twenty-nine and still running around the world taking
pictures.”
“Your son is a photographer?”
“Yes, I guess he makes a fair living with the magazine he works for, but it’s time he
settled down and got a real job. Stayed in one place. Got married and had a family.”
“Ah, I know exactly what you mean,” Gaetano said. “My Gina is big-shot attorney,
but she’s never home either. I spend all my time talking to her answering machine.”
They exchanged snapshots.
“Oh, my. Your daughter is very pretty,” Estelle realized. It made her think of
something else. “Can she cook as well as you?”
The restaurant owner stared intently at the photo of Alex, perhaps seeing a perfect
candidate for the beautiful Gina as Estelle had done with Gaetano’s daughter for her son.
He must have realized that her question was still hanging in mid-air, however, as he
spoke in a rush.
“Cook? Gina?” He laughed. Looking once more at the glossy print, he seemed
wistful. Maybe he was imagining a little boy or girl with Gina’s dark hair and Alex’s
green eyes and dimpled chin. That’s what Estelle was doing. But handing back the photo
Gaetano shook his head. “Oh, sure, she can cook up a storm, but she has so little time.”
“I think that’s the way it is with young people—always rushing,” Estelle agreed. A
big sigh escaped her lips. “I worry that he doesn’t eat properly. He, unlike your daughter,
can’t even boil water.”
Gaetano made a strange face. As if eager to change the subject, he nodded toward
Estelle’s photo and said, “I think he has your eyes, and maybe your smile?” He handed it
back to her.
“Perhaps. I just wish I could be around when he finally settles down. That’s not
going to happen.”
Gaetano seemed amused. “What are you talking about? He’s not that old. He will
find some lovely lady and pop the question, and you’ll be a grand-mama before you
know it.”
Estelle could no longer hold it in; the tears she’d swallowed came rushing back in a
deluge.


Shirley Ann Wilder  Online:


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dancing with Death first chapter





















 

 

Dancing with Death

Death is coming and he’s coming for me

 

Chapter 1

The bell rang and I sighed in relief.  Mrs. Bickel was rushing to assign us homework as students hurried out of the classroom.  I picked up my books and headed for the door.  Halle met me there and we made our way down the hall to our lockers.
“Did you hear about Whitney Gladstone?  Everyone is saying she was murdered by some psycho.  He slit her throat and left her in the forest to rot.  A ranger found her and called the police,” Halle said.
“Yeah, it’s all over school.  When a cheerleader gets murdered, it is the talk of the town.  It’s just creepy to think of a murderer right here in our own town,” I replied.
“What do you think she was doing in the woods?  It was kind of late to be in those woods according to the official press release.”
“That is the million dollar question.  I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to enter those woods alone at night.  With all the supernatural rumors about those woods, you would think she knew to stay clear of them.  It just goes to further fuel those rumors now,” I said with mild aggravation.
Halle’s eyes brightened as she shut her locker and turned to me.  “What if she was some sort of ritual sacrifice?  Maybe some occult or a coven of witches did this to her?”
“Seriously Halles, you can’t actually believe those rumors.  There is no such thing as real witches.  If it was really an occult, the police would have shut it down long before now.  There have been quite a few murders in just the past two years in those woods.”
As quickly as she brought up the topic, she shut it down.  Halle was already onto more important things, like boys.  “Did you see the new guy?  He has a sexy tan and shaggy blond hair.  He is hot, but I can’t decide if I am going to go after him or not.”
“Yeah, I saw him briefly in Calculus.  He sits a few seats in front of me.  I am sure I can put in a good word for you if you want.”
“Mm, we will see.  Oh and there is a new librarian also.  He is sort of young for a librarian.  Gosh, he is probably only a few years older than we are.  I can’t wait to graduate from this stupid school.  College is going to be so awesome,” she said in between breaths.
“I have homeroom now, so I will check this new librarian out.  Anymore gossip you would like to share?” I asked knowing she always had more.
“Nina and Greg broke up.  According to Lucy Briggs, Greg cheated on Nina with Jesse Gordon.  Nina is crushed and didn’t even come to school today.”
“That’s kind of sad.  I like Nina.  Maybe we should stop by her house after school and make sure she is okay,” I suggested.
“Sure, but you promised we could hit the mall afterwards.  Daddy gave me my birthday money and I can’t wait to spend it.”
“I just got my monthly allowance so I’m in.  I need a new pair of shoes anyways.  I want to wear my new plaid skirt but I need a pair of tall boots to go with it,” I added.
The bell rang and our conversation was broken up.  I blew her an air kiss and headed into the library for homeroom.  I slinked in one minute late and found a seat at a table near the stacks.  To my luck, no one noticed and I opened my History book.  I was supposed to write a paper on local history and wasn’t quite sure which topic to pick.
Finding nothing in my book of interest, I made my way into the stacks and searched for the history section.  I finally found it just past the math section and began to peruse the titles.  It wasn’t long before Jackson strolled up beside me.  His dark brown hair was disheveled and he had a gleam in his glassy blue eyes.
“Okay, what are you up to?” I asked as I gave him a shoulder bump.
“Did you hear about Whitney Gladstone?”
“Are you kidding?  Halle made sure to bring me up to speed on all things gossip worthy.  It is a tragedy, but we weren’t even friends with her.”
“True, but there is a killer on the loose and the police think it is linked to the old murders bringing the total up to six.  That is wicked scary,” he said.
“How do you know that?”
“Terry Jones is in my Composition class and he told us he overheard his dad talking on the phone about it.  He is the Sherriff’s son and all.”
“I will concede that it is pretty creepy, but it still doesn’t affect us.  We never go out into those woods.  At least Halle and I don’t.  Tell me you are smarter than that,” I replied.
Just then, a man with tousled black hair and piercing brown eyes approached us and I stiffened.  He was the most gorgeous man I had ever laid eyes on.  I swallowed before I spit out my words.
“Hi, who are you?”
“Matt Geyer, the new school librarian.  Who do I have the pleasure of meeting?” he asked conversationally.
“This is Jackson and my name is Wendy,” I replied a little nervous suddenly.
“Nice to meet you Jackson and Wendy, it is getting a little loud in your corner of the library.  Can I help you find something perhaps?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
I admired his approach and decided to take him up on the offer just to spend the extra few moments with him.  I was mesmerized by this man I didn’t even know, just being in close proximity to him made my body hum.  I tried my best not to sound like a bloody idiot, and Jackson pardoned himself to return to the tables.
“I have to do a history paper on local history and I can’t seem to find an interesting topic.  Do you have any good ideas?”
“There are quite a few.  Lucky for you, Saint Louis is a city with rich history.  We are at the nations crossroads, you know,” he responded studiously.
“Hmm, I never thought about that.  It still isn’t interesting enough.  I want to do something big and splashy,” I said as I steadied my breathing.  I was trying to act cool but I was buzzing inside.  He was so sexy.  I was so going to have to tell Halle.
“Well, there is the Lemp Mansion and Brewery.  That is more of a tragedy but history none the less.  The Cahokia mounds are a good example of our earlier history.  Indians originally inhabited this area before we migrated west and settled here.”
“Those are great ideas.  Do you have any books on them?  I would love to do a little more research and then decide.”
“Sure, I will get them for you.  Just meet me up at the desk and I will scan your school id,” he said before turning away and searching the shelf for the titles.
I wasted no time shooting Jackson a look and then headed towards the front desk.  His backside looked just as good as his front side I happened to observe.  I couldn’t help but notice all the girls swiveling to gawk at the new librarian as he headed towards the front desk, books in hand.
“Alright Wendy, I just need your ID and we can finish this up.”
“Here,” I said as I slid it across the counter in front of him.
He scanned the plastic ID and I slipped it back into my pocket.  Then he proceeded to scan the books and stamp the check-out cards.  When he was finished, he slid the books over and smiled.
“It was a pleasure to meet you Wendy.”
I met his eyes and a chill coursed through me.  I shook it off and smiled back at the hot librarian.  Then I returned to my table to read what he had given me. 
The first book was on the Lemp Mansion and Brewery.  It went into detail as to why it is one of the most haunted places in America.  It is recorded that one of the members of the Lemp family shot his dog and then himself in the house.  There were a total of three suicides by the Lemp family recorded in history.  The story sent a wave of unease as I read it.  I looked up and the new librarian gave me another smile before turning away.
I shut the book of murder and opened the one on the Cahokia Mounds.   The book said it was an ancient city and the largest one in the United States.  It was a site rich in archeology.  It was said to be created around 600 CE.  I was deep into the book and its history when I felt like someone was watching me.
I looked up only to find the librarian with his back turned to me.  Then I turned to see Jackson engrossed in his own homework.  Puzzled, I scanned the room and found no one.  The only discovery I had made was that I spotted the new guy in this class with me as well.  He was surfer sexy but not overtly.  I had to admit that he was cute. 
At that moment, he looked up and his eyes met mine.  My cheeks flushed and I quickly looked away.  I didn’t know what was with me today.  First it was the librarian and now the new guy.  I had to get my mind out of the gutter and focus on my project.
Finally, I decided to do my presentation on the Lemp Brewery.  It was one of the most important breweries in St. Louis and the murders were just additional shock value.  My paper would rock when I read it aloud to the class.  I returned the book on Cahokia mounds to the librarian, Matt Geyer.  Relief washed over me as the bell rang and I was able to make a quick escape.
Luckily classes were over and Halle was waiting for me by our lockers.  Her blond hair was a stark contrast to my brown hair.  After tossing my hair into a ponytail, I shoved my books into my messenger bag. Before I said anything, I shut my locker with finality.  I was looking forward to going shopping and clearing my head.
“Hey girl, how was homeroom?” Halle asked.
“It was interesting, and exhausting.”
“That sounds ominous.  I expect a full report as soon as we get the heck out of this place.  It is never too early to leave school.  I would have left after first hour if they would’ve let me.”
“Yeah, right Halles.  If you left right after first hour, you wouldn’t have anything to gossip about,” I joked.
“Very true,” she laughed.
“I volunteered to bring Nina her homework today.  We can stop by really quickly and just make sure she is alright.  She and Greg were together for an entire year.  That has got to hurt.”
“It’s cool; I know Nina is your friend and all.  Afterwards though, we are hitting the mall.  I already told Jackson we were busy doing girl stuff and wouldn’t be able to chill today,” Halle replied.
When we reached my silver tinted car, I tossed my bag in the back seat and slid into the driver’s seat.  Halle joined me in the passenger seat and I put the top down.  The engine thrummed to life and I flipped my IPod on to my favorite playlist.
I tore out of the school parking lot and headed towards Nina’s house.  “This song is killer,” Halle said.
“I know, it totally rocks and it is a great reprieve from my obscure day.”
“Obscure really?  Okay smarty, what happened? Please dish and don’t leave anything out.”
“I was late by one minute to study hall first off.  Then Jackson and I got caught talking in the stacks by the new librarian.  He is so unbelievably hot.  Then the librarian helped me find a topic for my history paper.  After that I proceeded to lock eyes with the new guy, and it felt kind of intense.  I was a bundle of nerves by the time the bell rang,” I said in rapid succession.
“Okay, back up.  Did you just say you have the hots for the librarian, you naughty girl!”
“Yeah, but he is completely off limits.  I am still in high school and he is a faculty member.  That is about ten kinds of wrong.”
“That’s what makes it so hot Wendy.  I wish I could have been there to see that,” Halle remarked.
“Focus, what is the new guy’s name?  I can’t keep calling him new guy forever.”
“I heard that it was Brandt Summers.  It is fitting, actually.  I want to call dibs, but if you have some sort of connection with him then I will back off.”
“I don’t know what it is.  I flushed and looked away.  I am really lame,” I pouted.
“We are here, so let’s tamp down on the gossip around Nina.  She is having a hard time and doesn’t need to be overloaded by us,” I added.
“Yeah, yeah but let’s hurry.”
Nina lived in a two story house just south of the highway in an exclusive subdivision.  She was privileged and knew it.  One of her two new sports cars sat in the driveway and we headed up the walk.  I used the brass knocker and took a step back to wait.
It was strange, but no one answered.  I knocked harder this time and stepped back once again.  My brows furrowed when no one answered yet again.  I turned to Halle only to see her patience wearing thin.
“Fine, I will leave her work on the porch and we can go.”
“Amen, I am in serious need of some shopping,” Halle said.

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