Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Christian Snippets--'A Trail of Rose Petals'

Welcome to Friday! Today, I'm featuring 'A Trail of Rose Petals,' which is loosely based on the story of Hansel and Gretel. Enjoy!



~~~~~


Blurb: When Gretchen Blake saves famous lawyer Dean Hanselman from a bear in the Olympic National Forest, she's sure she'll never see him again. But her wealthy brother hires Dean to watch over Gretchen, since the press seems to consider them a couple. Gretchen just wants to take care of the family business, but Dean and her family have other ideas. Can Dean's college pact with his buddies save both families from superficial thoughts and material gain? The clock's ticking because Gretchen doesn't think it will.

~~~~~


Excerpt:

Just as the forest ranger's door opened about twenty feet away, Gretchen Blake heard a noise to the right of the building. A huge black bear ran toward her from way out in the woods at the same time a good-looking man exited the building, looking down at his cell phone.

Gretchen froze in place. "Bear!" she finally yelled.

The man glanced back as he pocketed his phone, and then ran toward Gretchen and grabbed her hand.

"Run!" he shouted, not letting go of her hand.

As they ran into the woods, the bear was on their heels, snorting and growling behind them.

She gasped for air, the cold in her head making her cough slightly. "Don't let me go. I don't want to be bear food!" Once she glanced back, the bear had narrowed the distance between them. It let out a fierce growl. Gretchen ran even faster, pulling the man with her. They must've run for another hundred yards before they came to a river.

Gretchen stopped short, shaking on the inside from the thought of the bear getting closer. She stared downward at the slight rapids, not sure she wanted to keep running. "That's cold water."

"It's either that or you'll be mauled." The man looked over his shoulder, and in one pull, dragged them both into the river. Fish hit her legs as she tried to move faster, the water getting deeper and deeper with her feet sticking in the murk at the bottom. She didn't want to think what was down there.

Considering she'd had a head cold for a few days, this was horrible. The cold water was getting deeper, and she lifted her chin in anticipation of going under water. Goosebumps covered her skin, but she had to survive.

"He's coming." The man pulled her farther into the water, up to her neck. "Swim for it!"

Gretchen wasn't a good swimmer, but took off for the other side of the river, which seemed to be very wide and deep.

The man swam ahead and crawled out of the other side. If he could do it, she could do this, swimming as fast as she could with her head under the cold water. When her hands hit rocks in front of her, she lifted her head and climbed out beside the man, the water dripping off her clothes and hair, giving her a chill. It was the worst possible combination with her cold, which wasn't getting any better.

She turned, staring at the other bank. "Where is he?"

"There," the man said, pointing.

And sure enough, the bear paced the other side of the river, looking as if he was ready to swim for it.

They ran farther into the woods, until the river was out of sight.

As soon as they stopped, Gretchen looked down over her clothes. "I'm soaked." She wrung out her long hair, feeling the slime cover her hand. "Yuck."

"Quit whining. At least we're not hurt." He turned away from her and headed farther into the forest. The day was overcast and threatened rain.

He didn't sound like a very nice man, but she had to state the obvious. "Shouldn't we head back over there? That should be the way back to the forest ranger's building."

The man stuck his hands in his front pockets and pulled it out. "I have a cell phone." He pushed a few buttons. "It's wet and dead."

Gretchen had nothing—not her purse or cell phone. No, that was back in her car. "I think we're stuck." She turned back toward the wide river. "Help! We need help!"

The man moved closer. "Lady. Quit it. You'll alert the bears to dinner if you don't be quiet. I'm sure we'll find a way back. Just follow me."

She was surprised at how nasty this man was, realizing she'd gotten stuck in the forest with a jerk. Of all the people to get lost with, it seemed to go with her bad luck.

She followed the man to the northwest, the opposite direction in which they'd come. It wasn't the way she'd go. Considering he didn't seem too happy with her, she kept her mouth shut. He probably knew the area better than she did—at least she hoped he did.

They walked for a long time, but she kept silent. This man, whoever he was, didn't seem like the type of person she wanted to get to know.

Instead of talking, she went into her own thoughts while shivering in the cool breeze of the Olympic National Forest, west of Puget Sound in the Seattle, Washington area.

Two days earlier, she'd cried all day, but now, she had to be tough to pick up the pieces. This was do or die out here in the wild, and no matter how much her heart felt empty, she had to concentrate on the here and now.

"We're lost," the man finally said, breaking the silence. "There has to be a way back to the ranger's station."

"Maybe there's another ranger's station that way?" she asked, pointing farther into the forest.

"Doubtful. We've been walking for a long time and I don't see any type of civilization."

"I should've left a trail," she muttered. "I'm sorry."

"A trail?"

She studied his drying short brown hair and blue eyes, realizing this man was very attractive, but had a temper. Nope, not her type, but he did look a little familiar.

"You know," she said. "A trail? Like they used in the story of Hansel and Gretel? Because of the mean stepmother, the father took them into the woods and they left a trail so they could find their way back."

"That would've been useful." He stopped walking and looked back toward where they'd come. "We might have to go back through the river, if we can find it."

She shivered, wrapped her arms across herself and rubbed her arms, trying to keep warm while he turned to watch her. She hated him watching her, wondering if he was some type of masher or something.

"You look really cold," he said. "I wish I had a jacket for you."

Like he was nice or chivalrous to do such a thing. No way. "I'll be fine."

"Yeah. You don't look fine. Your lips are blue, almost matching your eyes." He moved beside her and put his arm over her shoulder, rubbing her upper arm on the other side. "I think we're going to try your idea and hunt for another forest ranger's building on the other side of this forest, since we're close to the northern tip." He raked his eyes down over her. "You're skinny, too. I bet you're really cold."

"That's an understatement." Her teeth chattered so she closed her lips, trying to keep quiet. She didn't need him angry with her again.

"Let's hurry up, then. I don't want you dying of pneumonia because of a bear."

Pneumonia. The word made her so sad from what had happened, but she couldn't appear weak.

She tried to keep up with him as they walked in silence through the forest. It got darker and darker until finally, bright lightning filled the sky. A clap of thunder made Gretchen hold onto her ears. She was terrified, willing tears to stop before filling her eyes. The rain started as a trickle, making Gretchen lower her head to keep the water out of her eyes.

"Scared?" he asked.

"I'll survive."

Another thunderclap made her jump, and he moved closer to her. "If it's any consolation, I'm scared, too. Let's find some sort of shelter. Keep your eyes opened."

"Yes, sir."

The rain fell a bit harder.

"Are you afraid of me?" he asked, almost surprised.

"Yes, sir."

"Why?"

"You yelled at me. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I don't like being yelled at." She wanted to tell him who she was, that her family could make his life miserable if they wanted to, but this wasn't the time. So she kept her mouth shut.

The rain fell harder, pounding a steady beat while pouring through the leaves and branches onto Gretchen's head, the ground turning muddier.

"Let's find some place to get warm then we'll talk about this," he said. "I'm really sorry. I've never had anyone scared of me before." He chuckled. "That almost makes me laugh. Women usually have me on a pedestal, clamoring to go out with me."

She didn't see the humor. She was out in the rain with a stranger who terrified her, with no way out. This was a nightmare, and he was laughing, thinking about his status among women?

He pointed to a big rock with a few tree branches hanging overhead. "There. We can at least get dry over there."

She followed him to the rock and sat down, and then leaned up against it.

"You okay?" he asked, sitting beside her.

"Sure." She shivered, wishing she could just get dry. She pulled her knees up to her chest and put her filthy shoes on the muddy ground, wrapping her arms around her very wet pant legs.

"Someone will find us," he said. "I'm sure of it."

"How can you be so sure?"

His face turned annoyed. "Don't you know who I am?"

She shook her head, trying to keep her teeth from chattering.

"I'm Dean Hanselman."

Her mouth fell open. Sitting beside her was the most famous criminal lawyer in the United States—and a playboy trying to climb the corporate and social ladder. No wonder he looked a little familiar and he was angry. He got paid to be angry every day of his life.

~~~~~

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God bless you!
Eryn

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Mystery Mentions--Get Me Out of Africa

Welcome to Wednesday--Hump Day! Enjoy the excerpt of Get Me Out of Africa



***Book one of the Extreme Travel Series ***

Blurb: An African business trip for Kes Madrid turns out to be a lot more exciting when she and her sexy-but-engaged boss fall into the Zambezi river after their raft tips over. Landing on the Zimbabwe side has Kes terrified. She wants to go home, but her boss has other plans, putting them smack-dab in the middle of a coup. The nation's rebels and the CIA are ready to take the country away from the dictatorial leader and give it to the people. In the meantime, Kes' life will be put on the line as the most wanted in the nation, which is definitely not on her 'bucket list.'

~~~~~


Excerpt:
Certain I was about to die, I imagined the eulogist's speech at my funeral. "Kes Madrid was a wonderful employee, willing to go the extra mile to make her newspaper the best in all of Denver. A daring adventurist, who was somewhat insane if we're being honest, she met her final spirited demise while traveling on a white-water raft down the Zambezi River in Africa. Everyone knows the Zambezi is a death trap, but it's too late to warn her now. It's so typical of a redhead to do something stupid like that, but with her green eyes, it was inevitable for her to want the thrill of a ride."

Dressed in a black suit and a black top hat, the man clears his throat while my parents sob. "Oh, Edsel," my mother says. "You're so right about Kes. She was insane."

The man looks like an Edsel, kind of a dinosaur of a man.

He shakes his head, grimacing slightly as he speaks. "What a loss. We all knew and loved Kes for her laughter, her loving forgiveness of all who wronged her, and her love of fruitcake, keeping our church bake sale going for many years. All donations will be given to send the mummified fruitcakes to charities in the future."

The man in my head was crazy. I hated fruitcake and revenge was my middle name—not forgiveness. And Mom was the one who was nuts, not me.

I couldn't die now, thinking my eulogy might be wrong and doom my name to mummified fruitcake heaven.

No, this couldn't be the end of my life. This had to be just another chapter. Little did I know, not only was it a chapter, it was actually the beginning of my new life, one that would actually make me proud.

~~~~~


Popping back to the present, I faced the Zambezi River ahead, terror filling my brain at what I saw. "I don't like this. I want out!" The small gray raft crashed against the huge wave raging around us while I grabbed as many backpacks as I could, getting soaked in the meantime.

Why my boss insisted on all these backpacks was beyond me. I had only one, for one change of clothing and my cameras.

"What's the matter?" Mr. Hamilton, my blue-eyed, brown haired boss, faced me with his back to the upcoming waves, looking like this was a normal day at the office. His slight British accent didn't waiver one bit, so I wasn't sure if he was as terrified as I was. "This is a great adventure and you can write about it for weeks."

Maybe, but I wouldn't be the one writing it. It would be written for my funeral, from Edsel, the crazy eulogist with a sick fondness for fruitcake donations.

I had to raise my voice to be heard over the loud fierce white water. "I don't like adventures. I also don't like death or fruitcake. Make sure they know that at my funeral."

He shot me a confused look, but I ignored him. Instead, I eyed the land to my right, seeing no nasty African animal waiting to eat me. "Can't we just move over to the side and get out? I wonder if cabs come this far out to save people? I'd even tip the guy extra. If he does, I'll even treat for pizza later, but no fruitcake. I hate fruitcake and don't ever forget it."

"I don't think I'll forget that, but it's an odd request. Are you sure you're not on drugs or something?"

"No. I just want a nice funeral."

I rocked the raft to move toward the side, but Mr. Hamilton kept it solid, still shooting me a strange look. So I hated fruitcake. Sue me, buddy.

"Chicken," he said. "I thought you were tougher than that. You told me, over the past two weeks, you could get any article in this place and make my newspaper shine. What did you say again? 'It would be a 'must read' for everyone in the world.'"

"So I over-exaggerated a bit. I don't want to do this anymore. I really just want to live." Tears of fear teased my eyes. "Can't you see this is more than we can handle?"

An evil smirk covered his face. "Now you're scared? It's just the Zambezi River. I promise we won't die."

Just the Zambezi? Was he nuts? It was a huge deadly torrent of water with mean, dastardly animals just waiting to eat me.

I shot him a confused look, hoping he'd get it, but knew he wouldn't. I still had to try to convince him that death wasn't on my agenda. "No, you won't die. I'm lighter and could just be thrown overboard. Then I'd be eaten by who-knows-what." I let go of the raft tether on the side, and slapped a bug on my arm. "I'm probably going to die of mosquito bites anyway."

Thrown a bit to the left, I grabbed the tether as I lost my balance. Letting go was just a stupid move. Adding it to crazy Edsel's speech, I then knew I was officially becoming insane. Maybe I had malaria?

~~~~~


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Andie

Monday, August 26, 2013

Start Your Week With Romance--Featuring 'Kissin' in a Kilt'

Welcome to Monday! I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the second of the Scottish Football Romances, 'Kissin' in a Kilt.'




Blurb: Kelcie Roberts has finally found the spot in Scotland where she's certain Mary Queen of Scots' chalice is located. If she and her archeological team can dig it up, she'll change history and become famous, finally earning her a doctorate from back home in Minnesota. There's only one problem—the owner, famous soccer player and businessman Graham McGregor, is putting restrictions on the dig, making her play as if she's his girlfriend just to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Graham's mother doesn't like Kelcie because of a centuries old feud between their families, and Kelcie also can't tell anyone she's the daughter of a U.S. Senator who hates Europe. She just wants to get the chalice, but it seems as if the world has other plans for her, played out in the media while Graham worms his way into her heart.

~~~~~

Excerpt:

"Hey, Laddie! This here's me property!"

Kelcie Roberts spun toward the man running in her direction. Who was this guy? Maybe she was at the wrong house? No. She'd checked more than once and this was right. It was private property near Airdrie, Scotland.

Wait. His property? Was he Mr. McGinty? He didn't look like Mr. McGinty—this guy was too young. The closer the man got, she more she could make out his large blue eyes, brown hair, and slight dimples—more handsome than most of the models she'd dealt with in the past.

"Are you Mr. McGinty?" she asked. "If so, you sound much older than you look."

The man slowed and approached her, his hands going to his hips. "McGinty? No. Now get off me land. This is me home. I don't like trespassers."

Trespasser? She was far from it.

"But I talked with Mr. McGinty. He owns this land. I'm not a trespasser. My name's Kelcie Roberts. I traveled here from Minnesota and was promised I'd be allowed to conduct an archeological dig…" She looked downward and stamped her foot. "On this exact spot."

"Not in my yard, you don't." He moved her baseball cap upward slightly.

"Hey. Hands off, Buster!" She swatted his hand away and straightened her hat.

"You're a ginger woman? Ye look like a man with that hat and ponytail."

She glared at him right in the eyes, since he towered over her height by a few inches. Since she was about five foot ten, that made him around six feet. "Don't touch me or I'll call the cops."

"Don't get so regina," he said, in a flippant tone.

"Regina? Are you deaf? No, my name's Kelcie."

He rolled his blue eyes. "It's slang and means upset, kind of like maddy."

"My name's not Maddy, either. Are you trying to upset me or is it your natural personality?"

He blew out a sigh and pursed his lips. "I'll keep the slang to a minimum for your American brain." He assessed her hair, which seemed weird to her. "You're really tall for a woman. Do they feed you growth hormones over in the States?"

"I beg your pardon?" Her hands flew to her hips, narrowing her eyes as she moved toe-to-toe with him in a challenge. "Are you making fun of me?" She was ready to take him down.

"Women should be short and petite." He took a step back and raked his eyes down over her. "You look like an Amazon with no meat on her bones."

She'd never been described like that before, but it told her she'd managed to reach her goal of not being recognized. However, this man was downright rude and she had to put him in his place. Being almost six feet tall was no crime. "Are you serious? Do you always speak your mind to strangers?"

"If they're on my land without me permission, I do." He crossed his arms. "Why are you still here? I told you to get off me property."

"I was to meet Mr. McGinty, who promised to help me rope off the allotted amount of space, so we'd both agree on it. He checked to make sure there were no power lines or pipes in that area and gave me permission—"

"And shouldn't have."

"Stop interrupting me! I have permission—"

"It's not his permission to give." The man's mouth formed a scowl as he moved closer to her face. "Do ye know who I am?" His nose rose an inch into the air, showing his arrogance.

Her stomach fell in disappointment. "No, but Mr. McGinty promised me—"

"I'm the owner of this property. It's been in our family for generations, passed down from my grandmother on me mother's side. I didn't give you permission to do anything on me property." He turned and pointed to the metal marker from where she'd begun counting her twenty-six steps to find the spot she'd been waiting to uncover. "See that? That's got me mum's family name on it. This here's the old homestead and I intend for it to stay intact. This is me home and I don't want anyone messin' with me property while makin' lots of noise, either."

All the wind was forced from Kelcie's lungs, stunning her. "But you don't understand. I was promised. I have all the paperwork. I was given legal permission by the town as well as from Mr. McGinty." She reached into her overalls pocket and pulled out the contract, handing it over to him. "I even have the workers lined up to start early tomorrow morning. Mr. McGinty gave me two weeks to dig, and even though I know that's not enough time, I'm sure there's something here I can find from the original house that burned. He told me he owned this land."

"He doesn't anymore." As the man rubbed his chin, he looked up at the cloudless sky, not even glancing at the paperwork in his hand. "I did give McGinty permission to see fit as he wanted, because I've been out of town." The man lowered his gaze to her face, narrowing his eyes to a squint. "Me answer is no. I want you to leave me land. Not two weeks from now, but now." He shoved the contract back into her hand. "Or I'll call the constable and have him remove you."

Anger rose in her cheeks, certainly turning red. "Go ahead. I have a legal contract, Buster, and traveled here with permission." She waved the paper in her hand. "Even the constable knows about this."

"But I have power in this country. You're out of luck. I need this land so me team can walk over to the football field I just had installed. It was very expensive and I'm not about to jeopardize you hurting me home's curb appeal." He pointed toward her car. "Now be gone, woman. This is a manly home and you're not welcome."

Her mouth fell open in shock while her shoulders sagged in defeat. What a male chauvinist pig—and a Scottish one at that. She didn't have time to play these games. However, there was no talking sense to him, reminding her of her own evil brother.

~~~~~


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Have a great week!
Markee

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Christian Snippets...'All The Better to Love You With'

It's Friday!  Time for a fun Christian romance to read for the weekend.

This one is loosely based on 'Little Red Riding Hood.'



Blurb:

When spoiled and rich Mandy 'Red Riding' Hood is pulled over for grand theft auto, she's sure she can get Sheriff Brad Wolfe to forget she's driving Granny Peach's convertible so she can visit Granny Hood. But he won't relent and puts her in jail. Once her parents get to town, they kick her out of their lives. She has to actually work and live like the average person, learning that forgiveness is a tough lesson to learn.

~~~~~


Excerpt:

"Put your hands up!"

Was that a bullhorn? The cop's voice coming from behind Mandy Hood's car was extremely loud.

Why would he have followed her into her grandmother's driveway? And why did he have to yell, given she was parked? He could've just walked up and used his regular voice. Besides, it was a gorgeous April day, so shouldn't he be checking out the local donut shop or something?

She had to see what this guy looked like, so she glanced into the rearview mirror while flipping her long hair out of her eyes. The officer's car with the lights going sat behind the little red convertible she drove. Both of the cop's doors hung open with guns pointed toward her, peeking out between the car's body and the open door.

Guns. Seriously?

"I did nothing wrong," she yelled. "You made me speed and I couldn't pull over after I saw your lights and heard your siren. Those things are loud, as is your bullhorn. I should sue you for breaking my eardrums."

Always turn it around and blame someone else. That was Mandy's motto. It had worked in the past, so why not try it again.

Her cell phone rang. She leaned down and grabbed it from between the seats, checking the caller identification. A smile lifted her lips as she pressed talk and put it to her ear. "Oscar. You missed me, didn't you?" Her social life came first, not caring about the cops behind her. They certainly could wait.

"Absolutely, Babe," Oscar said. "Where are you? We're supposed to go out in an hour. You're not home and I need to know what to wear."

She glanced into the rearview mirror once more. "I don't think I'll be able to meet you tonight."

"What? We have a date."

"Hang up the phone and drop your keys on the ground," the bullhorn bellowed. "Get out of the car with your hands up. This is your last warning."

"What was that?" Oscar asked.

Mandy cleared her throat, her eyes darting to the rearview mirror once more. "Oh, I'm bringing Granny Hood a birthday present."

"Granny Hood? She lives west of Austin. You're there?"

"Yeah. I forgot to tell you I was coming out here. Granny's turning 72 today and I thought it would be nice to visit her. Lookie…gotta run. Some cop thinks I'm cute or something. I'll put him in his place. Now, for tonight, wear that cool blue polo shirt and those new jeans you just bought. You'll look great. Then find someone else to date. You have my permission."

"I do?" He sounded like a kid in a candy store. "Thank you, Red."

Red Riding Hood was her nickname, from her last name of Hood and her red hair.

"Tootles." She ended the call, watching the action in the rearview mirror. She put down her phone and unbuckled her seatbelt. Once she opened her door, she dropped the keys on the concrete driveway, raised her hands, and stood up, facing the cops. "What's going on?"

"Turn around!" the same male voice yelled, not using the bullhorn. He had a smooth southern accent, deep but sincere. She wondered if he was as handsome as his voice, suddenly knowing how she could get out of any ticket. She just had to flirt with this guy, once he came out from behind that door, and could get him to reconsider pulling in behind her…well, her other grandmother's car. Granny Peach lived near her parents' home in Dallas, while Granny Hood lived in this backward town of Angel Springs, west of Austin.

"I said, turn around!" the cop yelled. "Are ya deaf?"

Arrogance. She didn't like that one bit, handsome or not.

Her hands flew to her hips as she whipped her hair back from her face. "I'm not deaf. I'm thinking. Why would I turn around? Are y'all going to shoot me in the back or something? I'd rather be shot in the front so I can see it coming."

A chuckle.

They were definitely two men. But they were laughing at her?

~~~~~

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Have a wonderful week and God bless you!
Eryn

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Mystery Mentions--Justiceman

Welcome to a fun mysterious Wednesday. Today, we woke up to thunderstorms, a perfect setting for a mystery and/or a murder. LOL!

Today, I'm featuring 'Justiceman,' a funny, quirky mystery set in Nevada. Enjoy!



Blurb: Aspen Dove knows how to get what she wants from every man—until she meets her match in FBI Agent Evan Blaze. While trying to get a story for a doomed newspaper about a local vigilante killer named Justiceman, Aspen becomes the target of not only the mob, but a gang of vigilante bikers with temporary pony tattoos on their cheeks, a serial killer lacking a few brain cells, and Justiceman himself.

~~~~~


Excerpt:
I braced myself for impact. The hearse hit the guardrail, pushing me onto the rear glass wall with a thud while the coffin pressed against my back, flattening my falsies even more. At least I had padding.

When I thought it was safe, I took mental inventory of myself. Since I was fine, I stared out the front to make sure the hearse wasn't heading over the edge past the guardrail. Steam billowed into the air in the darkness of the moonlit night, but the car remained motionless.

"All I did was crawl out of the coffin and wave," I said to no one. "What did the driver think I was, a ghost or something?" I pushed the coffin away from me and shoved it against the side wall.

The back of the hearse flew open, making me stare into the moonlit countryside. No one was there except for the barrel of a handgun appearing at the edge of the door. "If you're alive, come out with your hands up." It was a nervous male voice, probably the driver. Considering we were in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada, on a warm June night, no one else was around. I wasn't deaf, but the adorable driver must have thought the dead couldn't hear from the way he yelled.

I moved a little bit closer to the door. "If I'm alive? What do you think?"

The adorable young driver with the dark slightly curly hair popped his head forward toward the open door, keeping his terrified-looking eyes on me.

I hiked up my breasts with my hands, then reached down into my size triple-D cup on the left side and removed a falsie. "I hate that part." I did the same on the right while the cutie with the gun moved in front of the open door, staring at my boobs with his mouth hanging open.

He blinked twice, probably reliving a childhood dream in his head. "You just removed—"

"Yep. Falsies. Get over it." I stuffed the pieces of covered foam into my tight shorts pocket and moved closer to him at to the back of the hearse. "I want to thank you for rescuing me." I thrust out my hand in a greeting.

The man lifted his mouth from where it had been hanging, but didn't shake my hand. As I dropped my arm in awkward embarrassment, he lowered his eyes to my breasts, to the coffin, and back to my breasts again. "Excuse me?" he said. "Rescuing you? But you weren't the dead guy in that box. Where is he?"


~~~~~

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Andie