Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The First Chapter: Reversal of Fortune by F.M. Meredith

 

Title: REVERSAL OF FORTUNE

Author: F.M. Meredith
Publisher: 31 Months LLC
Pages: 190
Genre: Mystery

A fortune teller is murdered in the small beach town of Rocky Bluff, California. The RBPD’s investigation uncovers several suspects—all with motives and opportunity. But which one killed her?
The body of a suspect is discovered on the fortune teller’s property. Clearly, the two killings are related, but how? Who is responsible?

Meanwhile, the mayor’s daughter, Kayla, whose best friend is Detective Doug Milligan’s daughter, is upset because her mother’s sister wants her to leave Rocky Bluff to live with her in Los Angeles. Can her friends convince Kayla’s aunt to leave her there with her father?

Book Information

Release Date: April 8, 2022

Publisher: 31 Months LLC;

Soft Cover: ASIN: B09XLQCNZB; 190 pages; $12.99; E-Book, $2.99

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3EA50Eo

First Chapter:

“Dad, I need you right now.” Beth, Detective Doug Milligan’s daughter sounded desperate.

“What is it? Can’t it wait? I’m right in the middle of an….”

“No, Dad, it can’t wait. We found a dead woman.” He could hear another young voice in the background.

“Calm down. Who’s with you?”

“Kayla.”

Kayla Duval, the mayor’s daughter, was Beth’s best friend.

“Where are you?”

“You know that fortune teller or whatever she is…was? We’re at her place.” Beth’s words came out in a rapid stream. “The house on Valley Boulevard.”

Rocky Bluff P.D. had received several complaints about the so-called psychic or spiritualist, Bernadette Wolfort, and Doug had even gone to her home to interview her once. The complaints had been vague. Nothing really added up to a crime. If people were foolish enough to visit a fortune teller and pay her, they got what they deserved, didn’t they? He knew where to go. “You two stay put, and don’t touch anything.”

“We didn’t. I know better. We knocked, but when no one answered, we tried the door. It was unlocked, and we opened it. After all, Kayla was told to come here this morning. There she was, lying on the floor. We could tell she was dead.”

“I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

He’d no sooner finished the call when Doug and his partner, Detective Felix Zachary, were summoned to Chief Taylor’s office. She hadn’t given the reason for the meeting, but Doug guessed she wanted to discuss problems she was having with the Rocky Bluff City Council.

Fairly new to the department, Chief Chandra Taylor, Black and female, had proved to be a strong and steady leader. Seldom in uniform, she usually wore blouses, slacks, and tailored jackets. Today, the blouse was a bright print, much like the abstract paintings on her office walls.

Doug remained standing. “I’m sorry, Chief, but I have to go. My daughter, Beth, called a minute ago. She and Kayla have discovered a dead body.”

Chief Taylor didn’t comment but showed concern with her expression. Kayla, was the daughter of Mayor Devon Duval, whom Taylor’d been dating.

Felix, already seated, said, “I’d better come with you.”

“No, stay. I’ll give you both a call as soon as I find out what’s going on.”

Chief Taylor nodded. “Let me know as soon as possible. I’ll fill Zachary in on the department’s latest problem, and he can brief you. I don’t think it’s an emergency. However, I’d like both of your input.”

Though certainly curious about his boss’s reason for the meeting, a dead body, especially one found by his daughter, had first priority.

Driving an unmarked car, he used his emergency lights but not his siren to proceed swiftly down Valley Boulevard. Valley was the main street through the beach town of Rocky Bluff, where many businesses were located. The name of the town came from the bluff jutting high above the town itself. It held the large and expensive homes of the more well-to-do citizens.

The major, and older part of the city was built on a slope from Highway 101 flowing downward. It contained mostly small residential homes and a few apartment buildings. Closest to the ocean, a smaller road led to the entrance to the beach and a short row of six new condominiums.

A light fog had rolled in from the ocean, bringing with it the salty scent of the sea.

Doug drove past a lawyer’s office, the bank, the Mexican restaurant with the Chinese cafe upstairs, several older houses converted to offices and shops, one of them, the address he sought.

The small area in front of the tiny bungalow had been cemented and turned into a parking space, now empty. A white Acura RDX, with tinted windows and black tires, was parked beside the house on a gravel driveway. Doug guessed the car belonged to the fortune teller. The teenagers stood a few feet away from the simple cement porch. The bright blue front door gaped open.

His daughter had her blonde and purple hair in one thick braid that hung down to one side. He knew it was a school holiday, teacher’s institute or some such thing. It seemed odd for the middle of the week, especially since the schools had only recently resumed in-person classes.

Her friend Kayla’s hair appeared like a curly blonde halo. Racially mixed, she was strikingly beautiful. Despite the damp chill from the fog, both girls wore cut-off blue jeans and loose, colorful blouses and sandals. The pair never seemed to dress for the weather.

He parked the sedan next to the curb.

When he met Beth halfway, she threw her arms around him. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Before I go inside, tell me what brought you down here.”

Beth pointed toward Kayla, who joined them.

She took a deep breath. “I had an appointment, Detective Milligan. This is the second time I’ve visited Bernadette Wolfort. I’m trying to find out if I’ll have to move.”

Doug knew Kayla’s aunt had recently appeared in Kayla’s life and wanted the girl to move to Los Angeles to live with her.

“Okay, I get it. You came here for a consultation of some sort. Did this woman….” He thought for a moment trying to remember her name. “Wolfort, know you were coming?”

Kayla nodded. “I called her last night, and she said she could squeeze me in today before her first appointment. She told me the door would be unlocked.”

Doug took out his notebook. “What time did you make the call?”

“It was a little after eight. I called between TV shows.”

He jotted the information down. “I want you both to wait by my car while I take a look.”

The girls moved backward.

Doug stepped up to the open door. The medium-sized brass sign above the bell simply read “Bernadette Wolfort, Universal Life Counselor.” He peered inside. Except for the woman sprawled face down on the Oriental rug in the middle of the room, the space appeared to be much the same as when he’d visited her before. Horizontal blinds covered the windows, multicolored decorative hangings, embroidered with what Doug assumed were supposed to be uplifting messages, covered the walls. Instead of the usual movie set-up of a table and chairs for a fortune teller, the room was furnished like most living rooms with a comfortable couch and two large overstuffed chairs. Multiple candles in votive cups were crowded onto several small tables along with crystal balls of various shapes and sizes.

One large crystal ball lay on the floor near Bernadette Wolfort’s head. Crimson blood stained her long blonde hair.

He took out his phone, punched the number of the chief’s office, and identified himself. “We have a definite homicide. I’m calling Zachary now as well as the coroner’s office.”

“Thanks for letting me know.” Chief Taylor didn’t ask any questions. “I’ll wait for your report.”

He turned back to the girls. “Did you see anyone leaving as you arrived?”

Beth shook her head. “No, we really weren’t paying attention. We were deciding whether or not we wanted to go to the beach after Kayla’s appointment.”

“You’re going to have to stick around for a while. I need to ask you both more questions.”

An RBPD blue-and-white police car came into view. When it pulled to a stop behind the unmarked black sedan Doug had driven, he was surprised when Felix Zachary stepped out of the passenger side. The driver was Officer Gordon Butler, a longtime friend of Doug’s.

Zachary, with skin the shade of mahogany, was at least three inches taller than Doug’s 5’11”. He always made an imposing entrance. Dressed in snappy attire as usual, today a light gray-striped shirt tucked into creased gray slacks, and a lightweight darker gray sports jacket. He filled out his clothes. Not only was Felix a great partner, he’d been Doug’s friend since they both started working for the department.

“I had Butler bring me. Figured we could use him to keep back the curious.”

Officer Butler, in uniform, stood on the sidewalk beside the police car.

Zachary continued, “When we finally finish here, I’ll ride back with you.” He nodded toward the girls. “What’s the story here?”

“It seems the mayor’s daughter had an appointment with the victim. She and Beth are good friends, Beth accompanied her for support.”

“Did you go inside?”

“No, merely poked my head in to see what the girls reported to me. I’ve notified the coroner’s office. They’ll be here soon, I hope.” Located in Ventura, their response would take twenty minutes or more depending on traffic.

“Wasn’t the victim some kind of fortune teller?”

“A glorified one, at least in the manner she advertised herself. We’ve had some complaints about her, but no one has been willing to go to court. What they wanted was to get the money back they paid her but didn’t want anyone to know about it.” Doug shrugged. “In my opinion, they chose to spend their money on her services. Not getting their desired results isn’t enough for a lawsuit, or an arrest.”

“While we’re waiting, though I know you’ve asked them some questions, why don’t I talk to your daughter and you to her friend? Try to find out more about why they were here.”

“Good idea.” Perhaps Beth and Kayla might remember something more to mention when speaking with someone new.

About the Author


F. M. Meredith
, also known as Marilyn Meredith, has had 48 books published as well as two short stories, most are mysteries, but also a few Christian horror, a roman with supernatural elements, and a cookbook. She’s taught writing in many venues including for Writers Digest and many conferences. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra with her husband.

Her latest book is the mystery, Reversal of Fortune.

You can visit her website at http://fictionforyou.com/ or her blog at https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The First Chapter: The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith


Title: THE URBAN BOYS: DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES BOOK 1      
Author: K.N. Smith
Publisher: Two Petals Publishing
Pages: 340
Genre: Young Adult Action-Adventure, Young Adult Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Mystery/ Thriller

Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.

"A captivating and poetic tale of mystery, fantasy, and reality tied together by action!" 5-stars, Lars Jackson, Amazon Customer

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.

"Brilliantly crafted and written!" - Megan King, Indie Book Reviewers

"An energetic adventure debut with stellar action sequences. Smith's writing is intelligent and often lyrical. Her exuberant prose never fails to dazzle." - Kirkus Media

"Author K.N. Smith uses her mastery of the written word to weave an entrancing, yet powerful tale of adventure that keeps you turning pages in an unquenchable desire to find out what happens next." - Publishers Daily Reviews

Book Information

Release Date: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Two Petals Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0989474757; 340 pages; $12.95; E-Book, $2.99

Available for Purchase in Paperback & Kindle at www.books2read.com/knsmith.

Chapter One

Twenty Years Later  

THE COMMUNITY OF DANVILLE HEIGHTS offers the scenic route to a carefully crafted universe.  Casts of shadows cool and soothe, beckoning the weary, comforting their plight. Explosions of color captivate, blanketing the land. A peaceful valley filled with families disinterested in city life, its combination of natural resources and quaint charm enchant those fortunate enough to dwell within.  

Nature expressed itself always, as seen in a swirling butterfly as it dipped toward a crimson landing pad. It meandered along clean streets where comfortable homes with large porches seemed to have been plucked from the pages of a country interiors magazine.  

Sunlight showered a dwelling with pale mint and  creamy white paint, warming the sun porch and a  shallow saucer of water left for visiting birds.  

The butterfly swooped to examine embellished  mailboxes, flapping its orange wings as though it were  clapping for the winner. One of the mailboxes read:  Parker Residence.  

A bike lay sideways in the yard.  

In this town, folks enjoy ripe tomatoes, fragrant  peaches, and loads of neighborly warmth. People were glad to see each other, or at least they understood the  politeness of saying hello. After all, a warm smile that’s  always on the menu is reassuring indeed. 

🙟 

Across the way, the morning sun seeped into the  bedroom of Kinsu Yamada, an athletic teenager named  after an uncle from Japan. I’m so tired. It’s time to get  up, but I’d rather be dreaming about what’s her name  from sixth period. The girl with the short hair. Dang,  what is her name anyway?  

Getting up now offered a downside, like chancing a  nap in the middle of class. Because his sore muscles  needed a stretch, the option of dreaming quickly  disappeared, so he reached for the headphones on his  nightstand.  

“Let’s see, how did that beat go?” He sifted through  rhythms floating in his mind, like the masterpiece he  had laid down yesterday. One, two, dat, boom. Yeah,  that’s it right there! Only the beat master could do that.  

He pushed the blankets aside, then reached across his bed. Where’s my tablet? He felt around until his fingers slid across cool metal. “In you go, headphones.” 

He fired up one of his own tracks. The pulse of the beat  brought him to life, but it wasn’t complete. New sounds  were destined to mingle with the melody. I love this  software. “Alright, FastBeats, let’s go.” 

Kinsu opened the dashboard. Black and white keys  made interesting noises. He wove drum and guitar  effects into his tracks, dragging and dropping them into  perfect position. Ooh, nice! 

With the track finished, a quick scroll through a beat making contest announcement boosted his confidence.  I’m sure I can win this one. When is it? A few weeks  from now? No problem. I got this! 

Time was moving. He plugged the headphones into  his phone. A shuffled playlist spilled into his ears.  Kinsu rolled out of bed to look outside. The beat throbbed in his head. A bird flew by the window as the  blinds sliced through the view of a picture-perfect  morning in Danville Heights.  

🙟 

A solid rocking chair made of real wood stood in the corner of the porch. It had beautiful grain and curves, just the way Mrs. Perkins remembered from her childhood. At seventy-five, she rocked almost daily, usually late at night, and like today, early in the morning before the sun peeked through sprawling trees.  

She moved across her porch to adjust the hanging  pots lined with moss, swaying in the soft wind. “Don’t  you look lovely?” Mrs. Perkins stroked the dark purple  geraniums, gifted to her by an acquaintance. “Such a  rare color. So beautiful.”  

She reached up to untangle a stubborn chain on one  of the pots, which had caused it to lean sideways. Much  better, she thought, after a few yanks.  

A quiet town near the small city of Sandry Lake,  Danville Heights was just the kind of place she liked.  Small community feel. Occasions to get to know  residents. Moments to find out their business. Just the  way she liked it.  

As she admired her flowers, something special met  the morning. When the sun had appeared, sparkling  dew evaporated from tall blades of grass, retracting the  moisture so refreshing to the blades. Drying out right  before her eyes, each blade had a story to tell emerging into the new day. So many stories. Much like the ones  Mrs. Perkins had in memory.  

She knew a lot about the history of Danville Heights.  But it was clear to her—some secrets were not to be  revealed. The trick? Imitating the blades’ mastery of  secrecy throughout the decades.

She gripped the arms of the rocking chair, lowering  herself, landing on a striped pillow. So comfortable. So  nice and quiet. 

She looked to the sky and smiled.  

The motion of the rocking chair was part of the  puzzle of the day’s awakening. Boys were slowly rolling  out of bed, and the coffee was on, the rich aroma  wafting through the houses. All of it made for a smooth  transition from night to day without interruption of normal events.  

🙟 

A few streets over, Chase Freeman, a junior at  Danville Heights High School, had fallen in love with his  pillow. But he could hear Diane, his older sister, moving  around the house. She had been raising him since their  single mother passed away two years ago from breast  cancer. They were doing their best to make it from  semester to semester.  

Diane was definitely in charge. She kept the house in  order doing what her mother would have done.  “Lasagna tonight, loaded baked potatoes tomorr—” She  saw her reflection in the computer monitor as she  zoomed around a corner. “Let me check my grades on  the portal.”  

She removed a small laundry basket from beneath her arm, setting it on the floor. With her knee on the  desk chair, she logged-in to her online college courses  to review the rankings. “B+? I was hoping for an A.” She  searched for the message icon and tapped the keys.  Dear Professor, I’d like to discuss this assignment during  office hours…  

As Chase entered his junior year, she gave her all to  keep him focused. A challenging job for a young  woman, but it appeared to be working so far.  

Chase loved to sleep, but it wasn’t meant to be this morning. If he was going to catch a ride with Diane, he  had to get up… now.  

With her grades reviewed, she was on the move.  Diane passed his room while putting away the  laundry. “Chase, you must not want a ride today.” She  could sense his fancy for feet dragging.  

Chase jumped to the floor, suspending his covers in  one hand. “Okay, okay, I’m up, see?” Tossing the  blankets aside, he grabbed a silver bat from the corner  of his room. Step up to the plate. He perfected his swing  in the mirror. Nothing can stop this player. One more  season after this year, then I’ll be an outfielder in  college. 

Diane was still in the hallway. “No, I don’t see anything. Get moving. I have to work at the café this  morning.”

Chase swung one more time. “I am up.”  

He bid farewell to his warm sanctuary. His deep  brown skin glistened in the sunlight. A banner above the door with a quote from Babe Ruth caught his eye— ‘Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.’ 

Often amused with her brother, Diane smiled as she gave her final warning, “You’d better be, or you’re  walking, mister.” 

🙟 

There was no sign of the sun in the not so distant  town of Sandry Lake. Considering the height of the east  side buildings which should have received a golden kiss  by now, this seemed odd.  

Didn’t the rooftops feel lonely awaiting the moment to greet the sun’s fresh rays?  

Usually, there was plenty of action on the road, but today the mood was low. A dark contrast to the bonds  being made in Danville Heights, where the sun  appeared to believe it had a multitude of friends on  which to rely for the next stretch of time. 

About the Author

K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. Her lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist and grind through action-adventure and urban fantasy in edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. has over twenty-five years’ experience in communications and creative design as an award-winning consultant. Reading is still her foremost hobby. K.N. inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits.

Her latest book is the YA Action Adventure/YA Thriller/Urban Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller DISCOVERY OF THE FIVE SENSES (The Urban Boys Book 1).

You can visit her website at www.KNSmith.com or connect with her on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Read A Chapter: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark

Title: THEY CALLED HIM MARVIN

Author: Roger Stark
Publisher: Silver Star Publishing
Pages: 333
Genre: Historical Romance / WWII / Family Saga

18-year-old Pvt Dean Sherman goes to church with a friend in Salt Lake City. He meets 16-year-old Connie that will become his wife. After Pearl Harbor Dean applies for pilot training and is accepted. Dean joins Connie's Mormon Church and they secretly become engaged.

By the time Dean has commissioned a pilot, Connie is 18 and they marry and are together for a year and a half before he ships out as an Airplane Commander of a B-29.  Connie is pregnant with their son, Marvin.

A Japanese family is introduced, the Kyoshis. She is an important member of the Community Council he is a builder of water guns used in fighting fires and is the neighborhood fire captain.  A son Reo will go off to war and train as a fighter pilot. 12-year-old Son Riku has a reappearing role in the story concerning the B-29's bombing of Japan. They also have 6-year-old twin sisters that are sent to Hiroshima early in the story for their safety. 

The crew of 44-69966 arrives in India after a month of flying. Letters start arriving for Connie. Discussion of the B-29s development of strategic purposes is explained.

In Japan Reo Kyoshi goes off to war and the Firebombing of Tokyo occurs. 15 Square miles burned down to the sidewalks. 100,000 casualties and a million people homeless. The Kyoshi survive the conflagration but lose their home.

Marvin is born. Dean returns to duty and his plane is transferred to the Marianna Islands in the Pacific. Some 67 love letters are exchanged between Dean and Connie.

Dean’s plane is shot down over Nagoya Japan, the crew is captured and sent to Tokai Army Headquarters. Connie keeps writing letters that cannot be delivered. She has no idea he is in a Japanese prison.

Prison conditions are horrible, beatings and interrogations constant. Connie receives the war department telegram listing Dean as MIA.

A sham trial is conducted the crew is found guilty and their sentence is carried out the next day.

Almost 50 years later, Dean comes to Connie in a dream/vision and confirms his love for her and that they will yet have a life together.

Book Information

Release Date: September 1, 2021

Publisher:  Silver Star Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0578855288; 333 pages; $17.43; E-Book, $2.99

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3BnQYnD

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3JsqVi1  

IndieBound: https://bit.ly/3BnQYnD

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3Lv4sD3

Chapter One

18 January 1941, The Story Begins

Stanley Carter started all this. 

He was just a kid, a student at South High in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

A Mormon boy, as many in the region are, and member of South’s ROTC program. In fact, the student commander of the Army ROTC at South. His duties occasionally took him to the Fort Douglas Army Base a couple of miles east of the city. 

Entry to the Base included the obligatory stop at the guard house, a box of a place parting the road at the Fort entrance. Bookended by road barriers normally open and standing at attention during the daylight hours, on foot visitors such as the bus riding Stanley Carter were invited to enter the building and make themselves known.

On this particular Saturday afternoon he presented his credentials to one Private Dean Harold Sherman, Military Policeman.

  Stan handed Dean his papers, with the greeting, “Hello Private 

Sherman how are you doing today.” 

The Army blouse complete with stark white name tags and chevrons of rank prominently displayed make such identifications easy.

Dean studied Stan’s papers and without looking up, asked, “So Stanley, are you heir to the Carter’s Little Liver Pills fortune?’

The question humored Stan, “That would be nice, but no such luck. I am just a high school kid with definitely not rich parents.”

“How about you Private Sherman?”

“Me? I am just a Montana ranch hand that came here for Basic Training and am now OJT with the Military Police.”

“Your new to these parts then?”

“Been here a couple of months.”

“Do you know anyone in Salt Lake?”

“Other than military buddies, not a soul.”

“Well you know me now.”

“Yeah, I guess I do know one person from Salt Lake now.”

Stan wandered off to fulfill his post duties but he couldn’t stop thinking about the affable Military Policeman. After completing his errands, Stan went looking for Dean and was glad to find him still on duty, shuffling papers in the guard house.

“So Dean, I have been thinking.” Stan said.

‘“You probably shouldn’t do too much of that.” kidded Dean.

 “Your right, it gets me in trouble all the time. Dean, I want to help you with your problem of not knowing any one in Salt Lake.”

“What exactly do you have in mind?”

“Tomorrow I am going to my girlfriends house, come with me, she would love to meet you and then you will know two people here.”

His Sunday, non-duty day, social calendar incredibly bare, Dean answered, “I could be talked into that.” 

“We are going to meet up at church and then go to her house.”

So there was that thing Mormon’s are known to do, veil an invitation to attend church so that it seems entirely harmless. 

By the end of church the following day, Dean would actually know three people from Salt Lake City. This because Stan’s girlfriend, Carol Woffinden, happened to be the best friend of Constance Avilla Baldwin, who also just happened to attend the same Waterloo Ward of the Mormon Church, who also didn’t have a boy friend, and who was also more than happy to make a visitor feel welcome.

Dean innocently walked into all of this. 

Mormons have a special interest in non Mormons, or Gentiles as they call them. You see, a Mormon is never far from, or without, his missionary zeal. If you’re not a Mormon and your going to hang out with a Mormon for very long, you’re going to get zealed.  For Dean Harold Sherman, it was to be a life altering dose of zealing.

The Backstory of the Main Players

12 March 1922 was back before. 

Back before he joined the Army or flew airplanes or fell in love with a girl named Constance. 

12 March 1922 was the day Dean Harold Sherman drew his first breath, kicking and screaming into consciousness as the newborn do. A man child, born to William Fred Sherman and Kathreen Williams Sherman in the city of Lewistown in the County of Fergus, in the state of Montana, USA. He was not born at home as his five siblings were, complications made the hospital a more prudent choice.

Soon enough he would see the Gilt Edge family ranch and soon enough realize his family of origin had issues and that life comes with challenges. But understand, the only misgivings he ever voiced about his start in the world was his middle name. The moniker came at the absolute insistence of his father, no discussion required, a common approach for Bill, so even though it met with healthy resistance from his mother, the name was given. 

Dean whole heartedly agreed with his mother.

Connie would tell their grandchildren, in an effort to help them understand the grandfather they never knew, that Dean often said,  “I am no more a “Harold” than I am a horse or a cow or a chicken, the “H” in Dean H. Sherman should stand for “Happy” that is a middle name I could live with.”

31 March 1925                                                                                     On this day Constance Avilla Baldwin, was born to a mother with the exact same name, Constance Avilla Baldwin who’s husband was Claude Leslie Baldwin in the City of Salt Lake, in the County of Salt Lake, in the State of Utah, USA. 

The doctor after the fact, no doubt went home from his shift thinking it was a typical delivery, but Constance was not a typical baby. She did not cry. At least she did not cry the way most babies cry.

She did make crying noises, but often they were like a gentle, haunting, tonal wail, delivered in sustained notes that approached the sound of an ancient saxophone. 

Dispersed in her wailings were occasional small musical interludes, several note melodic moments, often triads. She would start at the root of a chord and move to the third and then to the fifth, perfectly pitched. On rare occasions of extreme displeasure she would also add the seventh or the octave. 

This lead her mother to brag she was the “baby that came out singing.” Often she would add her prediction, “She is going to be an entertainer.” 

In truth, Mother was right. After coming out singing, Constance never stopped. She became a soprano in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and entertained in Community Theater venues throughout the Salt Lake Valley for much of her life.

28 June 1939

On this date, the Very Long Range (Heavy) Bomber, the B-29 Superfortress, was born in the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, in the State of Maryland, USA. The conception was a result of intensifying world hostilities and a modest effort of the American military to be prepared for what might be coming.  

This baby was a big one. Ninety nine feet long. Wingspan 141 feet, weight (empty) 65 tons. Notably she had thousands of miles of wire, over 55,000 parts and was held together by a million rivets. She was designed to do one thing, fly over an ocean and bomb an enemy.

It was a premature birth. 

The B-29 jumped a couple of engineering generations. Design never got all that far ahead of production. So blatant were the problems that the final step in producing a brand new B-29 became sending it to a modification center, in an effort to repair the many flaws actually flying the plane revealed.

The first deployment of B-29s was in the China-Burma-India Theater, five of the early arrivals fell out of the sky while doing no more than flying. No one realized they weren’t designed to fly in India’s 120 degree heat. Hundreds of other flaws were found in this same trial and error way, causing planes to be lost, and crews to be lost. 

Engine fires were a special problem. The fire suppression systems were simply inadequate and worked less than twenty percent of the time. Quite unfortunately, wings failed quickly, folding in half soon after an engine caught fire.

In the end, the B-29 obliterated Japan’s major cities, burning them down to the sidewalks by firebombing. The 29s blocked navigation in their harbors by mining, and forced the Japanese unconditional surrender by dropping two atomic bombs on it’s citizens.

Back to January 1941

Army life isn’t like normal life.

It can take some getting used to. 

However, every buck private thrown into a barracks full of shavetails quickly understands the normal goings on. It is a gaggle of Army man-boys, not quite soldiers, not long from their mothers’ apron strings, thrown together by luck of the draw, absent of reason, as is the Army way.  

For Dean Harold Sherman, age 18, lately of Gilt Edge, Montana, newly assigned to Fort Douglas, it was indeed a new building, new barracks mates, but with his history of military service, he realized it was also the same old, same old.  

Same old two story, wooden frame barracks, complete with Army green roof. Same old Army issue bunks, barely passable for sleeping, equipped with the same old foot lockers, veterans themselves of many soldier users. Same old pungent barracks fragrance, the stench of cleanliness that hangs in the place, the residue of a thousand soldiers mopping the Army tile floor. The same cream color walls colored by paint the Army must have bought by the trainload. The same old disappearance of self, absorbed by a 48 man organism, without a face and only the name of Company B. Personal privacy replaced with a dozen porcelain toilets, arrayed in the open, perfectly aligned and fastidiously cleaned awaiting the public conduct of personal business. 

Like every US Army barracks, the building was filled with the harvest of America’s families, one half of the nations most valuable commodity, the male members of the next generation.  These American boys were rowdy, reckless, full of wonder and curiosity.  They sought adventure, with bravado, patriotism, and testosterone.  They were volunteers to a man.  They came to the army in the years before World War II. They didn’t need to wait. Some were men of oversized destiny, charter members of the “Greatest Generation.”  

At that moment, they were blind to their future greatness, to the tremendous challenges they would rise to meet.  Right now, however, they were mostly concerned with the present and if duty and time allowed, the consumption of alcohol and the meeting of girls.

Dean was well prepared for this world. 

He had come to the Army by way of the National Guard unit based in Lewistown, Montana. He joined up in November of 1938 at age 15. He participated in summer camps and week long winter tours until his high school graduation in 1940. In the fall of that year he enlisted in the Regular Army.

Dean liked the Army, but he sometimes missed Gilt Edge. Located in central Montana, it was more a ghost mining community than anything else.  Sitting like a boulder that rolled off the east edge of the Rockies and landed on the Great Plains, Gilt Edge is one of those places you don’t get to without some determined effort.

The large and bustling Sherman Ranch, run over an ex-gold mine, was at the end of a long meandering gravel road that forked off the tar road leading to Lewistown. The sprinkling of families that lived on the road were tough people. They had to be. Dean’s father was famous for stating that “the farther up the road you go the tougher people get.” Always making a point that the listener knew his ranch was the last one on the road.

Dean was born over in Lewistown, the Fergus County seat. He graduated from the County’s high school, where he was a bit of a track star, in the class of 1940. By all accounts he was handsome, as the Montana Shermans tend to be, and never very far from a grin. Slightly built at five foot ten and one hundred forty five pounds, he felt keenly eager to establish his place in the world.

He had an extraordinary maturity, no doubt in part derived from being the man of the house as his mother wandered through three marriages. He was elevated to part time confidant, parent and care giver forcing him to be “grown up” at a young age.

He held a great determination, of unknown origin, to live his life well.   A certain sense of foreordination abode in him, that he had been selected to experience an extraordinary life, that he had great “doings” inside of him.

In this assumption he was correct.  What he did not realize was that he only had 1575 days of life left. Fifty two and one half months, four years and some change.  

19 January 1941, The Meeting

Dean’s first visit to a Mormon church “left a mark.” 

Stan’s girlfriend, Carol, immediately asked her best friend Connie to join their threesome. Few men have been smitten as Dean Sherman was on that day. 

Those first few moments of introduction ventured toward the unearthly. Their initial eye contact held for them an intimacy neither had heretofore experienced. They didn’t feel like strangers, they felt an odd curiosity about one another, as if they had come upon some lost part of themselves.

Dean would later describe the moment saying it felt like time was suspended. That they busied themselves getting acquainted, conversing, laughing, celebrating their new friendship, in a very lengthy conversation that had the flavor of two old friends reuniting rather than two strangers in a chance first encounter. 

His recollection of the experience disputed the fact that there were no words spoken and the moment lasted but a few seconds.

In his days in Gilt Edge, Dean had a lot of girls that were friends. But he never had one he could describe in the one word, girlfriend. No one ever “clicked” for him. This particular Sunday, in this Church service, he felt himself “clicking” all over a girl that was a total stranger.

The church service was conducted by a gentleman who very much reminded Dean of his father and lead his mind back to Gilt Edge, wondering if Bill had gotten drunk last night. If he had, a very unpleasant day was likely in the offing.  He had quit calling William F. Sherman “Father” long ago, a few months after his mother married him for the second time. It was her third try at marriage, and none of them seemed to work out very well.  

He never could reconcile that. His mother was funny, warm, loving, all a son could hope for in a mother, but her choices in men fell to tragedy.  Her misguided loyalty and sense of duty kept her bound to relationships that did not deserve her effort. Maybe, she was just terrified of being alone, worried about how to provide for her children. It was beyond his understanding but it saddened him.

When Dean wasn’t being smitten by Connie he was being smitten by the sermon presented in the service. Delivered by a Brother Wilson, a man of unusually large stature, meticulously groomed, his penetrating eyes were near lethal even for those in the back of the chapel.

His message began, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” Dean liked that idea, he didn’t know much about God but liked that God might offer his support to his eventual marriage. 

”It is our most cherished earthly relationship.” He drove the point home by saying, “Like the Lord, we have been commanded to love our spouse with all our heart.”

This message was a new perspective, loving a spouse with all of one’s “heart.”  He had seen marriage and family done another way.  His father had married four times, twice to his mother, and his mother had married and divorced three times, creating a hodgepodge family dynamic full of hurt, uncertainty, distrust and many other things that fell short of the image this Brother was presenting. Dean had determined long before to do marriage differently than his parents. 

There had to be a better way.  

Perhaps this Brother Wilson knew the secret.

*   *   *

After services the evening followed Stan’s plan to go to Carol’s house, except after gaining permission from Carol, Dean invited Connie to join them. A pleasant evening of chatter and monopoly ended with Dean walking Connie the few Salt Lake City style blocks home. Home to a house at 467 Sherman Avenue. That was the beginning of a thousand jokes about how Dean Sherman found the love of his life on Sherman Avenue. 

Dean snuck in an invitation to an upcoming dance at South High that Carol had mentioned, just in case he  wanted to see Connie again. He did want to see Connie again, absolutely, he wanted to see her again, the fact of the matter being, he didn’t want to ever stop seeing her.

Spring 1941, A Romance Blooms

That was the beginning of several months of mostly double dating with Carol and Stan, going to school dances, and to the movies, and such. There were also some church parties, and quite often Dean would ring the door bell on Mutual night (Mormon mid-week youth services) so he could go with me to Mutual. Sometime he borrowed a car and picked Carol and I up after school and drove us home. (Connie’s family history.)

Dean became a very proficient car borrower. His MP work put him in contact with lots of cars and their owners. He especially liked the guys going on tdy or temporary duty assignment. If they weren’t taking their cars Dean offered to watch after and take care of their vehicle while they were gone. Who better than an officer of the law to protect one’s motorized investment.

The new relationship was not without problems. Connie’s parents were more than concerned that their very young daughter was dating a soldier. Connie understood and would sheepishly report, in the understatement of the month, “at that time service men had a rather bad reputation.”

Dean countered with an afternoon visit to the Baldwin household, not to see Connie, but to visit with Mother Baldwin. 

He visited … to get acquainted and try to assure mother that he was a nice fellow, and not to worry that her daughter was going out with a soldier. He wanted her and my father to know that he would take good care of me. 

Dean must have done a good job, but it probably didn’t hurt that Papa Baldwin had already had a dream in which he saw himself baptizing Dean into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.  

Connie’s third person description ends with:

 After that it was alright that she went with him.

1 June 1941, Mechanics School

Their first test of separation came seven months after they had started dating. Dean had signed up for Airplane Mechanic School and was ordered to Canute Field, Rental, Illinois. Dean came in the afternoon to Connie’s house to say his goodbyes. 

I wouldn’t kiss him goodbye. After a while Dean left and as I watched him walk up the street and disappear around the corner to catch the bus, all at once I knew I loved him and wished with all my heart I had given him that kiss.

Dean was a good and vigilant letter writer during his six months at Canute, keeping Connie up to date with his progress. One of the fringe benefits of mechanics school was that there were a lot of airplanes sitting around after the work day ended. One of the instructors was also a pilot and Dean charmed him into enough lessons that he became a proficient pilot. He racked up many hours of flying time “testing” the work of the mechanics in training. 

Dean was convinced the planes needed a lot of “testing.”

9 November 1941, The Return to SLC

Upon graduation from Airplane Mechanic School Dean returned to Salt Lake City, but now assigned to the Salt Lake Air Base. 

These were wonderful months for Dean and I. We went to school dances and the Tuesday night dances at the Coconut Grove. Coconut Grove was a huge beautiful romantic dance hall in downtown Salt Lake City, every Tuesday night was waltz night. Every other dance was a waltz, it was wonderful. We went to the movies often, and again he picked me up as often as possible after school, whenever he could borrow a car. We went uptown on the bus a lot of the times too. Dean was with our family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that year, there was a picnic in the canyon in the spring one afternoon, too.

6 December 1941, The Proposal

Across all lives, there are days and then there are DAYS. For Connie and Dean, 6 December 1941, was such a day. Of course it was the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the changes that would bring into their lives, but for this one more day, they were free of that reality. They set off on a quiet, intimate walk in Liberty Park.

This December Saturday, the weather Gods looked kindly on these young lovers. It was a windless, bright sunny day, surprisingly warm for Salt Lake. They wandered as they most often did, to the south end of the island in Liberty Park Pond, to a rock they considered their own private place to be together. 

To be together and alone.

And so it was fitting that young Dean Sherman slid down onto his right knee, took Connie’s hand and asked if she would please become his wife.

This turn of events startled Connie, it was beyond her expectations. And while she knew Dean wanted her to say yes, she could not. Not because she did not love him, she had realized that the day she refused to kiss him goodby on his way to mechanic school but because of her fear for her parents reaction. 

“Connie your much too young for such a commitment,” spoken firmly in her Mother’s voice was all that was going on in her sixteen year old brain. It was hard for her to argue with the point, love or no love, she knew she was still the age of a girl, not a woman.

Dean was persistent without being obnoxious. Over the coming weeks he continued to ask and on New Years Day, 1942 the negotiations were completed with Connie accepting a wrist watch as a secret engagement present.

December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor

The motivations for Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor were centered on gaining the resources and harbors found throughout the Pacific and Asian areas. Japan had already sent a million soldiers to invade China in 1937. They considered the British and American Navies the only deterrents to domination of the Pacific area.

They fully expected a “blue water war,” one conducted far from their homeland. A war waged by their Navy that relied heavily on their superior battleships and aircraft carriers that were weaponized with excellent pilots and planes of war. The initial goal of the attack on Pearl Harbor was to annihilate the American Navy threat. They came very close but not close enough.

Japan as a nation and as a people looked at life and war much differently than Americans. They had barely pulled themselves out of the feudal age, they disdained personal freedom and rising within the social classes. They were an obedient, compliant people. The Japanese were convinced that by way of being the Land of the Rising Sun they were blessed and favored above all other people of the earth, and that their Emperor, was blessed with communications from the Gods.

Add the development of an Army and Navy Command that was outside of civilian control, responsible only to the Emperor, a command free to make decisions based on military objectives without the input or considerations of parliament or the citizens of the nation and you get Pearl Harbor.

Ten hours after the surprise attack the Prime Minister of Japan, Tojo Hideki gave a national address carried over the radio throughout the nation:

I am resolved to dedicate myself, body and soul, to the country, and to set at ease the August mind of our sovereign. And I believe that everyone of you, my fellow countrymen, will not care for your life but gladly share in the honor to make of yourself His Majesty’s humble shield.

The key to victory lies in a “faith in victory.” For 2600 years since it was founded, our Empire has never known a defeat. This record alone is enough to produce a conviction in our ability to crush any enemy no matter how strong. Let us pledge ourselves that we will never stain our glorious history, but will go forward …

And so Japan went forward, racing towards their first defeat, blind to the destruction they were about to bring on themselves. Each citizen striving to be a home front soldier embracing their calling as a personal humble shield of the Emperor. And for those that would become soldiers, there was no greater honor, no greater achievement than giving your life honorably for this grand cause. With the contrary rule also true, there was no greater disgrace than surrender.

8 December 1941, War!

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

These famous words of President Roosevelt delivered to Congress and the American people the day after the Pearl Harbor attack are recognizable to nearly every American. They served as a preamble to the declaration of war with Japan.

If it was going to be a war of Gods, the Americans had their own ideas about just whose side Deity might be on: With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.

The Americans made a decision early on, that this war would only end with unconditional surrender, there would be no negotiations, no repeating the Armistice of World War I.

With the declaration, the Air Corp immediately needed pilots  and lowered the entrance to pilot training from college grads only to qualification by test. 

It was a test Dean passed easily.

28 December 1941, Baptism

A baptismal font is a strange place. Something like a bathing spa in a walk in closet. And when Dean descended down the tile steps wearing a baggy one piece baptismal gown that had been worn a hundred times before, by a hundred people making this commitment he reached to grab the hand of Papa Baldwin who was waiting for him in the water.

It was a simple ceremony and a straight forward commitment,  consummated by prayer and culminated by the act of being immersed in the water and brought forth a new person, raised from being buried as was the Christ.

Participation announced one’s commitment to take the name of  Christ upon themselves, there by to be numbered among His disciples, to live a life that reflected the fact that this disciple always remembered Him and earnestly strove to keep His commandments. 

It is not a one way promise. The ordinance creates a covenant with 

God. A covenant, in that if one keeps his sacred vows and lives by them, Heavenly Father promises the Holy Ghost, through, the ordinance of confirmation, as a constant companion.

It is a strange religion, these are peculiar people, but Dean began developing a belief, a personal testimony or witness, the very first Sunday when he went with Stan Carter to church and met Connie.

22 May 1942 to 6 February 1943, Becoming a Pilot

Making a pilot out of a soldier was no small thing. Lots of ground school, lots of flying, even more testing, and at the end of a training module, the regular failure of one third of the class of candidates. Instructors evaluated the surviving students and made recommendations for their next level of training.  Orders would be cut accordingly. 

  The heavily testosterone laden were herded into fighter pilot training. The cool headed tended to be “Big Plane” candidates.  It was solely at the digression of the Army.  No soldier input required.  Dean made no secret he was interested the the biggest of the big, the B-29. He could, however, only hope for that assignment.

 Dean’s training gauntlet was accomplished in a baby step tour of California. Pilot Preflight in Santa Anna, Pilot Primary in Tulare, Basic Pilot in Merced. It culminated in Douglas, Arizona with Pilot Advanced Training. The reward was his commission as an 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corp.

While at Merced, Dean had mailed Connie an engagement ring. Their intention to marry no longer needed to be kept secret, Connie was turning eighteen and coming of age. Their hope and plan was that upon his commission on 6 February, Dean would receive leave and he would hurry to Salt Lake to be married. Of course the Army Air Corp had other plans and Dean was immediately posted to Victorville Army Airbase in California.

The Army wanted him to help train bombardiers. AT-11s were the planes used in Bombardier training and Dean was assigned to be what was labelled an “approach pilot.” He flew the plane around while an instructor tried to train a new Bombardier. 

AT-11s were known as Twin Beeches in the civilian world. It was a rather long lived twin engine product of Beech Aircraft Corporation. It was a “tail dragger” and featured a unique twin tail fin configuration. The Army used them to train, navigators, bombardiers, gunners, and photo recon operators. They even served as light bombers in the China Burma India (CBI) Theater of the war.

Dean was granted leave without warning near the end of April 1943. Dean borrowed a car, called Connie to warn her to make what preparations she could and started driving up the future route of Interstate 15 to Salt Lake City.

30 April 1943, A Date in the Temple

30 April 1943, 2nd Lt Dean Harold Sherman married Constance Avilla Baldwin, who was one month older than eighteen in the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

It was the beginning of their eternal family unit.

They enjoyed a hastily arranged reception thrown together by Mother Baldwin on the 3rd of May and made their way back to California.

Dean had rented a cabin in Wrightwood, a mountain resort area in the San Bernardino Mountains for them. It was a community of summer homes that were largely being rented to service men and their wives during the war effort.

As lovely a place as Wrightwood was, we only lived there for five and one half weeks. On 14 June we moved to a motel in the small town of Adelanto, California right on the Mohave Desert. The reason for the move being that it was much closer to Victorville Air Base, and so much better for Dean. After sometimes having to fly into the wee hour of the night, it was too hard for Dean to stay awake on the long ride home through the canyon to Wrightwood, in the still borrowed car.

During the time in California Dean took me on several trips to Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Hollywood and Long Beach, to name a few of the places. He also took me to visit Uncle Paul Williams in Los Angeles (a brother to his mother.) On one of the visits to Hollywood, Dean bought a pair of swim-fins and he always had a great time swimming with them when we were at the lakes and seashore. He was an excellent swimmer.

Dean took me for a couple of rides in an AT-11 while stationed at Victorville. He frightened me to death almost when he put the airplane on automatic pilot and then walked to the back of the plane and sat down.

Dean was rather inclined to being adventurous and a bit of a dare devil at times. His Air Force buddies said he could fly so low he could go under the telephone wires, missing both them and the ground. Surely he didn’t really do that though.

About the Author

I am, by my admission, a reluctant writer. But some stories demand to be told. When we hear them, we must pick up our pen, lest we forget and the stories are lost.

Six years ago, in a quiet conversation with my friend Marvin, I learned the tragic story his father, a WW2 B-29 Airplane Commander, shot down over Nagoya, Japan just months before the end of the war.

The telling of the story that evening by this half orphan was so moving and full of emotion, it compelled me to ask if I could write the story. The result was They Called Him Marvin.

My life has been profoundly touched in so many ways by being part of documenting this sacred story. I pray that we never forget, as a people, the depth of sacrifice that was made by ordinary people like Marvin and his father and mother on our behalf.

My career as an addiction counselor (CDP) lead me to write “The Waterfall Concept; A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery,” and co-author “Reclaiming Your Addicted Brain.”

My next project is already underway, a memoir of growing in SW Washington called “Life on a Sorta Farm.” My wife of 49 years, Susan, and I still live in that area.

We raised seven children and have eleven grandchildren. We love to travel and see the sites and cultures of the world. I still get on my bicycle whenever I can.

You can visit Roger’s website at https://theycalledhimmarvin.com/ or connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Read A Chapter: Moon Deeds by Palmer Pickering

 

Title: MOON DEEDS: STAR CHILDREN SAGA BOOK ONE

Author: Palmer Pickering
Publisher: Mythology Press
Genre: Adult Fantasy/Science-Fiction

“The path to power is cloaked in shadows, so if you avoid all the shadows, you’ll never learn anything.”

It’s 2090: the last outpost of freedom is the moon, the best defense against technology is magic, and the only hope for humankind rests in the hands of the Star Children.

Twins Cassidy and Torr must save Earth from a ruthless enemy at a time when the only force more powerful than alien technology is magic. Moon Deeds launches the siblings’ journey across the galaxy, where they must learn their power as the Star Children, claim their shamanic heritage, and battle dark forces that threaten humankind.

The Star Children Saga follows Cassidy and Torr as they slowly awaken to their destiny as the twin Star Children, born every millennium to reconnect with the source of all life. They come to discover the sheer enormity of their task: to find our ancestors on a lost planet across the galaxy and save humanity from a spiraling descent into darkness. The powers they must wield to accomplish this task are truly frightening and put at risk everything they love.

Come along with twenty-year-old twins Cassidy and Torr, who inherited deeds to land parcels on the moon. They want to use their moon deeds to get off Earth and escape a brutal dictatorship. But first they must unlock their shaman powers.

A rollicking yet poignant adventure in the not too distant future, when we have colonized the moon and nearly lost Earth to a dictatorship. Only the shamans remain free, plus the lucky ones who escaped to the moon.

Join the adventure! An addictive space opera, science-fantasy series.

Book Information

Release Date: May 25, 2019

Publisher: Mythology Press

Soft Cover: ISBN: ‎ 978-1732568808; 598 pages; $21.99; E-Book, $.99; Audiobook, FREE.

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt13Js_M-P4

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3uKWq2o

Barnes & Noble:  https://bit.ly/3rQteFx

Chapter One

Star Song

West San Jose, California, Western Free States, planet Earth

July 8, 2090

Cassidy stood in the backyard, staring up at the sky and listening to the music of the stars. The Shaman’s Shield of gray clouds loomed far overhead, covering the sky in a thick, impenetrable roof, and casting a gloomy pall over everything. Ever since the Shaman’s Shield had appeared three years ago, she had not seen the stars nor heard their music. But today the thin, ethereal strains wove through the neighborhood noise. The music was faint, but it was there.

It had been louder when she was a child, before Grandma Leann had shielded her. Cassidy had thought everyone could hear the music, a constant background noise of such poignant sweetness that sometimes it was painful to listen to. But she had realized over time that others did not hear it. Or perhaps they heard it subconsciously, or in their dreams, because sometimes she heard an echo of it when musicians played their instruments or choirs sang. Cassidy had tried to replicate the sound, studying violin as a child, then piano, but neither instrument captured the elusive tones.

The only one who understood was her twin brother, Torr. They had shared a room as children, and she used to sing to him.

“I recognize that song,” he had said one time in the middle of the night. She had been sitting up in bed humming the tune that was streaming through her head. Torr had awoken from a deep sleep and sat upright, staring at her. “I heard it in my dream.”

“You heard me humming,” she corrected him.

“No,” Torr said stubbornly. “The golden people were singing to me. Their song said you and I have to find them. We have to follow their voices.” Torr closed his eyes and sang the melody more truly than she ever had, picking out parts of the multi-layered harmony she had never captured before. And he added something resembling words that she did not understand, but which made her cry.

In the morning he had remembered the dream, but he could not remember the song. For days afterwards he had tried to get her to sing it back to him, but she could not get the melody quite right, and she did not know the strange language. Then when Grandma Leann laid the blanket of silence over her, the song stopped. As time passed, Cassidy forgot the tune she had always hummed. She could only recall hints of it, like wisps of clouds that slipped away as she tried to grab them.

Now the sky was singing to her again. The melody came to her, carried on the wind as though from a distant mountaintop. She was filled with joy to hear it, though the song was more mournful than she recalled. She still could not understand the words, but she remembered what Torr had told her that night in their attic bedroom, that the two of them had to follow the golden people’s voices and find them. She did not know who they were, or where they were, but they were still out there singing to her. Calling to her. Waiting.

About the Author

Palmer Pickering has been writing fiction since she was eight. She received her BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University, with concentrations in Religion and Race Relations.

She currently works in Silicon Valley in the gaming industry and high tech. In addition, Palmer holds a certificate in Chinese Acupressure, is a certified solar panel installer, and studied Tibetan Buddhism with the 14th Dalai Lama.

She lives and writes in the magical redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.

Her latest book is the scifi fantasy for adults, Moon Deeds: Star Children Saga Book One.

You can visit her website at www.MythologyPress.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Read a Chapter: Riftsiders: Unlawful Possession by Paul A. Destefano

 

Title: RIFTSIDERS: UNLAWFUL POSSESSION

Author: Paul A. Destefano
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Pages: 292
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

BOOK BLURB:

Enrique Marin wants a quiet life after the death of his wife. Just one problem stands in the way–he’s possessed by the misanthropic English demon, Tzazin. A violent night under demonic influence accidentally leads Enrique to love, and it’s anything but quiet. Shy, autistic yoga instructor Elle thought allowing herself to be possessed by the very-not-shy sex demon Key would help her find love. She finds Enrique, but she didn’t count on coping with the anti-demon bigotry of society. Fate–and AA meetings for the possessed–brings them together, but hostile forces, demonic and human, fight to keep them apart. It might cost them everything to keep their love alive.

“DeStefano weaves a masterful tale of mystery using threads of horror, humor, and heat-filled romance. Teeming with snarky demons and one swoon-worthy hero, this is the perfect story for anyone who loves the supernatural.” – Author BB Swann

“He has always worn his love for SF, Fantasy & Horror on his sleeve. This is Dark Fantasy written with an immense knowledge of the genre, and it shows.” –  Patrick Kennedy, host of The Literate Nerds Podcast

“The writing – it is amazing … it feels as if I was reading a Brandon Sanderson novel or a Patrick Rothfuss book.” –  Battlecast Reviews

“Paul has a wonderful way of bringing a world alive so that you feel you can reach out and touch it.” – Jamie Jolly, Shadowborne Games

Book Information

Release Date: April 18, 2022

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1509241231; 292 pages; $16.99; E-Book, $4.99

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3HZpkPE

CHAPTER ONE

Enrique approached the church feeling more like a lost tourist from the Dominican Republic than someone on national watchlists. Peering up at the untended vines coating the wall, he ran a hand through his short black hair. He glanced back at the street and then followed Ebbs down the stairs to the basement side entrance.

“I don’t even think he’s a real priest,” came the familiar British tones in the back of Enrique’s mind. “He’s not wearing a collar. This is bollocks. He can’t teach you anything about controlling me you don’t already know, and I’m certainly not going to listen to some pudgy little unshaven monk or whatever he is. Don’t go in.”

Enrique stopped halfway down the cracked steps and bent, turning his back to Ebbs to tie a shoe that wasn’t untied. Ebbs waited by the door, gently humming to himself.

“Shut up, Taz,” Enrique said, barely above a whisper. “If you would behave in the first place, we wouldn’t have to be here.”

“Still bollocks,” Taz said.

Enrique stood and wiped his hands on his jeans before descending. At the base of the stairway, he stomped his work boot into the puddle that reflected a third figure only he could see pacing behind them.

Ebbs fished for keys in the pocket of his beaten brown leather jacket. He unlocked a door barely held together by decades of flaking paint. It swung open smoothly and silently. Stepping aside, he extended a hand and indicated Enrique should enter before him.

Enrique didn’t move.

“It’s a safe place,” Ebbs said, scratching the mottled gray of his unshaven neck.

Enrique had heard that before.

“Sometimes, that first step through the doorway is the hardest.”

Enrique looked to the source of the voice, a silhouette up the hallway that nearly reached the ceiling.

“I’m Dante Serrano,” the deep calming voice continued. “I moderate the group. Father Clancy here told me you would be coming. Enrique, right?”

Dante’s head nearly grazed the hanging fluorescents as he approached, extending a massive hand in greeting. Enrique nodded and stepped in, trying not to stare too obviously at Dante’s dark eyes, nearly a foot above his own.

“Tell you what,” Dante said with a bright grin. “I’ll answer your questions first, make you more comfortable. Come on, follow me. The answer to your first question, seven-foot one. Second question, no, I never played pro, got some bum knees. You know everyone sees a black man a head and shoulders over them, and they think, damn, that guy shoot some hoops. What you don’t hear is how much a damn problem it can be being so tall. Sure—never need a step stool, get to help all the shorter folk reach that top shelf in the grocery store. I’m not saying there are no perks. I’m saying there’s sometimes a hidden price. Considering where you are, I’m guessing you know that all too well.”

“You mean considering what I am?” Enrique said, following the giant man through a doorway.

Dante turned, shaking his shaved head. “No, man, no. Who you are. You got a problem? Okay. But that does not define you. A man is a lot of things—a plumber, a mechanic, a husband, a father. But you are never less a person before that. You are always you. Good man. Bad man. That’s not my job to tell you. But you. No matter what your problem. You are a who. Never a what. Just because a taxi picks up a bad passenger, that does not make that taxi’s a bad taxi. You get me?”

“Actually, you’re a pretty awful taxi,” Taz said.

“I get you,” Enrique said, shrugging and looking around. He stepped into the center of the circle of empty chairs in the small room. Beyond a table of coffee and doughnuts, a young woman with long blonde hair over a tight-fitting outfit standing with her head down and her hands clasped by her waist. She pushed dark glasses farther up the bridge of her nose but didn’t speak. Enrique looked to the ceiling.The lights were no brighter where she stood, and certainly not bright enough to warrant sunglasses.

“Well, hello, hello, what do we have here?” Taz said. “Perhaps this group isn’t complete bollocks after all.”

“That’s Elle,” Dante said softly. “Yoga teacher. She’s one of our members. She’s on the autism spectrum and sometimes needs a little time to adjust to new people in the group. She’ll warm up to you.”

“Hi, Elle,” Enrique said with a small wave. “I’m Enrique.”

“The others will be by in just a few minutes,” Dante said, pouring coffee into a cardboard cup. “Just like Elle needs some time, we’d like to get to learn a bit about you. Me and our very own Father Clancy Ebbs to start. Just to, you know, get comfortable.”

“Ex-Father,” Ebbs interjected. “In Coena Domini.”

“Excommunicated,” Dante translated. “But still good enough for us. And still always Father to me.”

“And there are two of you,” Enrique pointed out. “In case I’m more than one can handle.”

Elle tilted her head in curiosity.

“Can never be too careful at first encounter,” Dante said. “Coffee? It’s actually pretty good. Here, give it a try and grab a chair. Any.”

Enrique pulled off his light jacket and hung it on the back of one of the folding chairs. He took the offered coffee and added a sugar cube from the table. If Dante weren’t in the room with him, he would be considered tall. Enrique sniffed the coffee, blew on it, and sat, one hand rubbing the worn knees of his jeans.

“Want one?” Father Ebbs asked, helping himself to a powdered doughnut.

Enrique shook his head.

“You a talker or a listener?” Dante asked, leaving one empty chair between them when he sat.

“Truthfully,” Enrique said, “I usually don’t shut up. But I’m not, I’m not really…”

“Not comfortable talking about your passenger? I get it,” Dante said with a nod.

“I don’t like it either,” Ebbs said.

“You?” Enrique asked, turning to the ex-priest. “I would have thought—”

“Occupational hazard,” Ebbs said.

“Father Ebbs got his passenger right around when the rift opened, Dante said. “He’s an early adopter.”

“No one had yet come to terms with…you know.” Ebbs brushed powdered sugar from his lips. “The whole ‘demons are coming to our world and are real’ thing. It was before anyone knew what was going on. It was an exorcism of one of the first. A little girl. I invited her in. My passenger, not the girl. She took the offer. Violastine. Viola. And, as a result, I got excommunicated from upstairs.”

“And you damned yourself,” Enrique finished.

Dante ran a hand over his bold head. “Father Ebbs’ passenger is—”

“Fucking horrible,” Ebbs said. “Mostly controlled. Mostly. But when she breaks free. Trust me, you don’t want to be around.”

Enrique tensed. “Yours is a separate manifest? Like actually separate from you?”

Ebbs nodded. “I swear, she’s controlled. She’s not out. Like every precaution in the book. Meds, prayer, you name it, I got her on tighter lockdown than mother superior’s knees.”

“My passenger is named Brogado,” Dante said and took a sip of coffee. “Bro is a physical manifest through me. When he pilots, I get strong as all hell, literally. But human bodies just aren’t supposed to do that. So, I blackout, and Bro does his thing. I wake up like a train hit me.”

“Your bum knees,” Enrique said, piecing it together.

“Broken by my own muscles,” Dante said.

“Does he talk to you?”

“We communicate but not quite in words. More like hunches and feelings. When he’s mad, I can tell.”

Enrique turned to Ebbs. “Does yours talk?”

“She would love it if I listened,” Ebbs said. “It’s more like a constant distant howling. I’ve learned to box that out. Elle’s passenger is an entwined riftsider. They both exist in the same space. I’m sure you’ll meet her, too.”

“Tell us a little about yours,” Dante said and took a slow sip of his coffee.

Enrique slumped backward in the seat, looking to the ceiling with a chuckle.

“Yes,” taunted the lilting British accent only Enrique heard. “Do tell about me.”

“Tzazin,” Enrique said, staring into his coffee. “My demon is Tzazin Auropolus. I call him Taz. He, well, he’s kind of like me in that sometimes he just doesn’t know when to shut up. When I look at my reflection, I can see him. Always following me just behind my shoulder. Glass reflection doesn’t always work. Sometimes it does, and he insists it’s due to how natural or man-made the material is. The science of the other side doesn’t always make sense to me.”

“Now tell them how startlingly handsome I am,” Taz whispered.

“He looks like a man with gray sandpaper skin. And his eyes are this weird sickly off-yellow.”

“That’s not even slightly flattering,” Taz complained.

“But he’s got some sort of knowledge tap. It’s like having a running connection to an internet search engine.”

“I’m an archivist, you human nimrod. Show some respect.”

“Oh, he’s telling me right now I should tell you he’s an archivist.”

“And when Taz pilots?” Dante asked.

“When Taz pilots, I blackout. And end up in jail. I was told I can be out on probation if I come here to learn to control him.”

“You make that sound so one-sided,” Taz said with a snicker. “Whose fingerprints were there? Certainly not mine.”

Enrique set his jaw and placed his coffee cup on the floor.

“Yo, ain’t no one told me we got a newbie.”

Enrique turned to see a young girl with dreadlocks step into the room biting into an apple and letting the juice flow down her chin.

“Enrique, the rude teen girl is my niece, Yesania,” Dante said with a slight smile and a gesture. “You bring enough for everyone?”

“You got your doughnuts,” Yesania pointed. “Star pitcher on the softball team has to keep in shape. Not poisoning my body with more of that shit than I have to. Oh, sorry for the language, Father. No offense. Hey, Elle.”

Elle looked up and brushed her long hair aside, smiling with a wave.

“None taken,” Ebbs said, reaching for another doughnut. “Especially since that means more for us who know what good food is.”

Yesania pulled out a chair, and it screeched across the floor. She sat directly in front of Enrique, throwing her hoodie to the ground and pushing dreadlocks from her face. She leaned forward and stared into Enrique’s eyes. “Go ahead. Show me who you got.”

“Yesania,” Dante said, putting his hand on her shoulder to ease her away.

“No, Unc,” she snapped, shrugging him off. “Show and tell. You ain’t here for some small-time imp. Show me.”

“You don’t want that.” Enrique slid his chair back.

“She wants it,” Taz said, clearly with a grin Enrique felt in the back of his mind.

“She doesn’t want that,” Enrique said.

“You show me yours; I’ll show you mine,” Yesania said in a teasing schoolgirl voice. “Lookie.”

Yesania held out her palm and blew across it as if blowing flower petals from her hand. The room filled with the smell of lilacs. A sparkling yellow dust scattered from her empty hand and hung in the air in a vaguely feminine shape that bowed politely.

“Meet Cali,” Yesania announced.

Enrique reached his hand out, curious. The sparkling dust extended what would be a hand and settled on his. It felt mildly electric and warm.

“Caliosandra,” the dust shape whispered in introduction, appearing to grow less dense.

Yesania panted and watched the dust form fall, shimmering specks vanishing before touching the floor.

“You okay?” Dante asked.

“Yeah, letting Cali out is tiring sometimes,” Yesania said. “Long day of practice. That’s kind of why I’m here. Can’t get completely rid of her unless I just go to sleep for a long time. She’s not the prize I originally thought.”

“She means die,” Taz said to Enrique.

“I know what she meant,” Enrique said.

“Oh, you got a full-time talker,” Yesania said with a smile. “Come on. I showed you mine. You got some sort of manifest?”

“You don’t want to do that,” Enrique said.

“Too scary? I can handle it.”

“Yesania, stop,” Dante said flatly.

“No, Unc, I don’t think I will. If I gotta be in this room, I want to know who’s in here with me. Show me.”

“If he’s not ready, Yesania,” Ebbs said.

“I am not staying if I don’t know who’s here,” Yesania insisted.

“Reveal me,” Taz said. “It’s only fair if I make myself known.”

Enrique looked to Dante for help.

“Your call,” Dante said. “At your own pace.”

“Taz isn’t a separate manifest like that was. Like Cali,” Enrique said. “It’s more like what Dante said.”

“Brogado,” Dante supplied.

“It’s not pleasant.”

Yesania stared into Enrique’s eyes. “I got this. Show me.”

“She asked for it,” Taz chided.

“You asked.” Enrique reached out and placed two fingers on the back of Yesania’s hand.

“Sweet motherfucker!” Yesania yelled, jumping away. She looked at her steaming hand. “What the hell was that shit?”

“That was Taz,” Enrique said simply.

Elle stepped back with one foot, either a fighting stance or a position to run from. Ebbs doughnut hit the floor where he was standing with a tiny powdered sugar explosion. He ran from the room, covering his face with his hands.

“You bleeding?” Dante asked Yesania, both watching Ebbs’ retreat.

Enrique looked out to the hallway. “What happened to Father Ebbs? Did I do something?”

“Blood is a bad thing around here. It triggers Ebbs’ passenger, Viola.” Dante examined his niece’s hand. “He ran out for everyone’s safety.”

“Sorry,” Enrique said. “I didn’t know. She shouldn’t be bleeding.”

“Yo,” Yesania said, rubbing her hand. “That felt like fire.”

“It’s not heat. It’s abrasion. That was just a buzz. If I held it there, it would take your skin off like a band sander. I try not to let him do that.”

“You sometimes fail,” Taz reminded.

Enrique shifted in his seat and glanced up to a round-faced Asian man in an EMT shirt standing in the doorway.

“We good?” the man called, holding a hand toward Ebbs to keep him in the hallway.

“We good, Corey. Ebbs can come back,” Dante said.

“Corey Oshi,” Dante announced, nodding to Ebbs as he cautiously closed the door behind him. “New guy is Enrique Marin.”

“Don’t shake his hand,” Yesania warned, still rubbing her own.

“It’s not like that,” Enrique said, shaking his head. “That’s only when I let him out to play or something goes wrong. Sorry, but you asked.”

“Oh, you got one that bites, huh?” Corey said, gingerly taking Enrique’s hand. “Mine’s more fun. Check it. You ever play two truths and a lie?”

“Yeah?” Enrique said, not sure where the question was headed.

“Go,” Corey said with a grin, sitting across from him. “Hit me with some facts, guy I never met.”

“Um, okay,” Enrique said. “I was born in the Dominican Republic. That’s one. I carve and install wood for millwork. Wait, that one doesn’t count, I’m still wearing my work shirt; you could just read that. Instead, let’s go with I collect vinyl records. And my mom makes the best mac and cheese in the world.”

“Harry, talk to me,” Corey called. He waited briefly, nodding several times. “Last one’s a lie. Boom!”

Enrique laughed. “Yeah, my mom’s mac was crap. That was pretty cool.”

“Hariememnon—Harry for short—extends his greetings and welcomes you to the group,” Corey said after a pause. “My folks were killed in a construction accident. Crane fell. Left me kind of alone and weak, and Harry moved in.”

“Same, but mine was my wife, Sofia,” Enrique said, silencing the room.

“Operative word: was,” Taz said.

“Condolences.” Ebbs placed a firm hand on Enrique’s shoulder.

“Thanks, Father.” Enrique forced a fake smile. “It was years ago.”

“Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt,” Ebbs said.

“Yeah,” Enrique said. “I’ve been kind of dating, but yeah.”

Elle suddenly stepped to the circle of chairs, looking Enrique up and down. “This a funeral or possession support group? Had we known we had a new guy, we would have baked a cake. Nah, that’s bullshit, neither of us can cook. Believe us, we tried.”

“Enrique, this is Elle and her passenger Key,” Dante said, over-pronouncing the word Elle.

“This rather nice bod might be Elle, but we share the attic,” she said with a wide smile, sliding easily into a seat. She removed her glasses, revealing large expressive eyes with irises of unnatural metallic green. Her long blonde hair landed on bare shoulders over a black, well-shaped tank top and form-fitting dark blue yoga pants, but Enrique didn’t look away from the captivating eyes.

“I’m Key,” she said, slightly tilting her head, scanning Enrique head to toe. “It’s short for Keostapholese. And you’re the new tall, rugged, and yummy that sits next to me in session.”

“Let Elle speak,” Dante said, somewhere between a suggestion and an order.

She closed her eyes and swallowed before looking to the floor. She spoke next in a much softer tone and continued to stare at the ground.

“I’m Elle. Not short for anything.”

“Dude, she’s hot,” Taz said.

“I’m Enrique.” He extended his hand.

“She won’t shake it,” Yesania said. “She’s autistic.”

“Elle may be on the spectrum,” Dante explained further. “Key, not so much.”

Elle turned, not lifting her head, and looked to Dante through locks of blonde hanging over her eyes, raising one hand with a middle finger held high.

“That would be Key,” Dante said with a sigh. “I’ve been trying to get them to identify separately.”

“No, that was from both of us,” Elle said with a grin. “With love. Confused yet, Enrique? See, Elle is fearless, but not with people. People are terrifying. Key, on the other hand, is not so good at keeping quiet and doesn’t get this whole morals thing you humans get caught up on. Life, death, sex, whatever. Together, we share this body. So, when you talk to us, use a plural noun as you would with a transgender friend. Both here, all the time. Sometimes we’re more one than the other. But it’s us. Like twins. Partner, not passenger. Sorry we didn’t say anything earlier. Elle wanted to try stepping up to you alone but needed help. The whole square jawed five o’clock shadow thing intimidates her. Needed a bit of a nudge. Now here we both are.”

“So,” started Enrique. “If you’re Elle and Key in there at once, why don’t you have everyone call you Elkie?”

She leaned back in her chair and looked to each of the others. “Yeah, guys, if this is all about acceptance and adjustment, how come you don’t call me Elkie?”

Dante’s brow furrowed. Yesania and Corey exchanged shrugs.

“Didn’t think of it?” Ebbs said.

After Dante gently moderated a ninety-minute discussion about media bias against the possessed and what they could do to change people’s perceptions, they set about grabbing more coffee and doughnuts from the table.

“You said, or rather, your shirt says you do commercial millwork,” Corey said, reaching in front of Enrique for a doughnut. “I happen to be a carpenter.”

“Carpenter EMT?” Enrique asked.

“Sue me, I have a few hobbies.”

“Which is the hobby—the EMT, or the carpenter?”

“That depends on whether I have a commission or I’m on a call. Whatever I’m doing is the important stuff. Commit to love what you do, right?”

“Well—” Enrique paused for a moment. “What I love is actual sculpture. Form work. Organic flow. I’ve sold three big pieces and a handful of carved masks. But what pays the bills is millwork in government buildings.”

“My thing is furniture,” Corey said and nodded. “Chests. Tables. I like lathing the legs. You know, that trying to make everything even and right. You take a two-by of oak and you give it that nice shape, make them all good and even. We should do some together. Get some ornamental hand carving added to my stuff. We can make decent bread, you know. Guessing you go oak and maple a lot.”

“Wenge and tiger when I can afford it,” Enrique said wistfully.

Elkie sidled between them to reach the coffee pot with a sideways glance and a smirk.

“What?” Corey asked.

“Oh, nothing,” she said, waving him off. “Just kind of interesting a new guy shows up and you immediately have to compare wood.”

Corey rolled his eyes. “That’s Key for you.”

“Tell me how your wife died,” Elkie said, turning her back to Corey.

“Seriously?” Corey asked. “That’s how you start a conversation? A dick joke and ask him how his wife died?”

Her strange metallic eyes sparkled. “Demon, remember?”

“Don’t worry. It’s fine,” Enrique said. “I actually kind of like the candor.”

“I thought someone said you were supposed to let Elle drive,” Corey said, gesturing to Dante across the room.

“Yeah, whatever,” Elkie said. “You eat all those doughnuts and don’t gain weight. You like that, don’t you?”

“Harry takes care of that,” Corey shrugged. “Housing him burns a lot of calories. Never need to take your yoga classes.”

“And Elle is not comfortable talking to strangers,” Elkie said. “So, she thought letting me forward to talk to the cute guy was a good idea. Riftsiders provide certain advantages. Her call, not mine. She wants us to appear polite.”

“Asking about his dead wife on your first unmoderated interaction isn’t usually considered polite,” Corey said. He then stopped and tilted his head, listening. “But Harry says you actually are trying to be nice. Not the smoothest move, though.”

“See,” Elkie said. “Probably not doing anything to fix it but noted.”

“Car crash,” Enrique said. “It’s okay, seriously. No reason to dance around it. She was coming home late. Worked at a nursing home. Never made it to dinner. Seven years ago.”

“Has it been that long?” Taz mumbled in his mind. “Seems so much more recent.”

“Condolences,” Elkie said flatly. “See, we can be nice.”

“Harry says Elle just told you to say that,” Corey said.

“If you would stop separating us like that, maybe the nice Mr. Enrique would simply notice how charming we are. How long were you guys married?”

“You’re seriously going to grill him like this?” Corey protested.

“It’s okay, I promise,” Enrique said, still watching the strange beetle shell reflections of her eyes. “Four years.”

“And that’s how you took on your passenger, Zach?” she said.

“Zach?” Taz shouted loud enough to make Enrique flinch. “Did this mingebag just call me Zach?”

“Taz,” he corrected, “And you just pissed him off.”

Elkie and Corey each took a quick step back.

“No, it’s safe,” Enrique said quickly. “I’m on Abyzone. Keeps him calm. I do it whenever I go out someplace new.”

“You mean keeps me weak,” Taz corrected.

Dante coughed and the room lights flicked off and on. He stood by the door and coughed again, gesturing to the hallway. “My, oh my, would you look at the time. Next week, guys. They need the room. You know how it goes.”

Corey grabbed another doughnut, heading toward the door mumbling, “For Harry.”

“Who’s up for a walk?” Elkie said. “The park across the street?”

Corey nodded. “Yeah sure.”

“We kinda meant new guy, but okay,” Elkie said.

“You weren’t specific.”

Elkie’s mouth trembled. She turned her metallic eyes to the floor. “We were being nice. Of course, you’re invited, too.” Her voice was decidedly softer.

Corey gave Enrique a knowing glance and nod. “Thanks, Elle.”

“Why not?” Enrique said. “I’ve got nothing else to go to. I can hang with some new friends. Let’s go for a walk. Just the six of us.”

“Harry thinks you’re funny,” Corey said, stepping with them to the hall. “But I think the jury is still out on that one.”

About the Author

Paul A. DeStefano and his wife live on Long Island, NY, with a strange menagerie that includes a dog, a few cats, sugar gliders, a bearded dragon, and several grown children that have not left.

After graduating from Hofstra University with a split degree in English and Acting, he worked in the board gaming and roleplaying industry for decades, including officially licensed projects for Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. He did not win the Origins Award for Best Miniatures Rules in 2004 and has forgotten that bitter defeat. When not playing and working on games, he is sometimes found touring internationally, giving lectures on worldbuilding and character design.

Being a professional full-time blacksmith for several years made him realize how much less painful it was to go back to writing. He’s been lucky enough to hold the Top Humor Writer badge at Medium multiple times and has had his work narrated by James Cosmo (Lord Mormont from Game of Thrones) on multimillion-dollar Kickstarter projects.

It is also worth noting that having never taken any bassoon lessons, he still cannot play one.

His latest book is the urban fantasy/paranormal romance novel, RIFTSIDERS: UNLAWFUL POSSESSION.

Visit his website at www.PaulADeStefano.com or connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoodreads and Instagram.