Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Infinite Completion by Michelle Dennis

Title: Infinite Completion
Author: Michelle Dennis
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Editor: Pedantic Punctuator
Cover Designer: Najla Quamber Designs
Pages: 240 pages
Abbie Bennet is a twenty year old bookworm who considers herself well-balanced and sensible. Her heart and intuition agree on most things and she has no intention of upsetting this for anyone. When she ventures out of her comfort zone to join her friends at a local bar, her balance is knocked way off course by a stranger who is everything her mother, and intuition, have warned her about. 

     Phillip takes Sarah’s hand and leads her through the crowd toward the bar.
     ‘So, I guess the lead singer is the band manager too? Abbie, go and ask him for his card,’ Ethan gestures at him, the man who made my knees turn to jelly.
     ‘Um, no, not me... you go,’ I shout quite loudly. I have a lump in my throat. I can’t talk to him.
   ‘You’re closer, just go and get a business card,’ Ethan says, as he turns his back to me and continues canoodling with Hannah. I sigh and turn to the bar. Here goes.
     ‘Um, excuse me!’ I say, as loudly as possible over the thumping of the music. He doesn’t seem to hear me. I touch him on the shoulder lightly. His skin is hot through the dampness of his t-shirt. I pull my hand back quickly when he turns.
     He smirks and shows his perfect white teeth. ‘It’s okay, I don’t bite,’ he shouts out over the music.
     I step back a little and he moves toward me.
     He bends toward my ear. ‘Do you wanna dance?’ he says loudly.
     Instinctively, I move back again, bumping up against another girl. ‘Oh, um, no thanks. Your friend said you may have a business card?’
     He lifts an eyebrow and continues standing way too close. He looks a little confused. I assume he doesn’t get turned down very often.
     He leans towards me again and says, ‘You might like it.’ I feel my cheeks burn and when I glance at him as I move away, I notice him looking at my neck.
     Stepping back, I clear my throat to make sure my voice works and shout over the music, ‘I don’t think so.’
     He moves closer again and I feel my heart jolt. ‘You looked like you were enjoying yourself before.’ He’s grinning and looking me over. ‘I promise to be gentle.’
     ‘I, well, no thanks, I’ve had enough for one night.’ Did I just say that? I sound like my mother.
     ‘Okay,’ he shrugs, ‘your call.’ He glances around and leans against the bar, his shirt stretching across his chest. ‘What can I do for you?’
     I must look a little confused or dazed, or something. I’m trying to place his very slight accent. Irish? But, he looks Greek. I gulp and try to sound calm. ‘My friends and I would like to book your band for a party.’ A smile plays on his lips and I can see he’s watching my mouth as I speak.
     ‘Sure, but I don’t have any business cards available.’ He turns away from me to ask the attractive girl behind the bar something and she quickly hands him a pen. I notice the gleam in her eye and feel an unexpected pang of jealously. Then he writes on a napkin and hands it to me. ‘Here’s my number.’
     ‘Er thanks...’ This is my comeback? Absolutely no grace and now he probably thinks he’s made my heart flutter.
     I push my way through the crowd and back to the safety of my friends. Shoving the napkin into Ethan’s shirt pocket, I try to look unflustered, because there’s no way I’m calling this guy.

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Author Bio:
Michelle Dennis lives in Perth, Western Australia; she has always loved reading and in the past few years this love has expanded into creating her own written words and worlds.
Michelle has a love of medieval and fantasy creatures, and her first book, Wolfbaene, revolved around this theme and brought the world of knights, castles and dragons to children around the world.
Michelle is a devoted wife and mother, and fits her writing schedule in around her busy lifestyle. She is currently working on a sequel to Wolfbaene, and when she's not in the world of dragons and other mythical beings, she can be found listening attentively to the other characters in her head, who are shouting for her attention because they want their own stories to be told.
Michelle shares her home with a very mature Dachshund named Phoebe Rose, a whole pile of cats who are under the impression they are the owners of Michelle's home, and one small rabbit who is under the impression he's a cat.



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Sealed in Blood by Jenna Fox

Title: Sealed in Blood
Author: Jenna Fox
Genre: Erotic/Suspense
Release Date: March 30, 2014
Word Count:  27K
Cover Artist:  3 Rusted Spoons
Publisher:  Fiction Vixen Publications
Determined to forget her ex-fiancΓ© and gather the remains of her betrayed heart, Charisma Claiborne scrapes together her hard earned pennies for a dream trip to Las Vegas.  On her first day in town, she has an accident with an eccentric casino owner.  Enthralled by his good looks, she falls into his bed for a steamy one night stand.
But Hunt Blackwater is more than a mysterious, gorgeous casino owner.  Rumors of a Native American curse and a string of inexplicable deaths follow in his wake - but the most terrifying is his ability to reach right into Charisma’s soul and make her want the things she’s convinced herself she can do without.
Unwilling to get in over her head, Charisma cuts her trip short and returns home, but trouble seems to follow her.  With remembered whispers of curses in her ears and the lingering smell of death in her nose, she wonders if she is his next victim.  Things go from puzzling to harrowing as Charisma comes face to face with the greatest betrayal she could ever imagine.

     Charisma swallowed hard, standing in front of the door to Hunt’s suite.  What lay behind it?  It was like he was opening the lid to Pandora’s Box.
     Hunt held her gaze, and took her purse when the door clicked open.  “I like being in charge of things.  You won’t have a problem with that.”
     The carnal rumble in his voice rekindled a fire deep inside of her that Charisma had thought was long dead.  She’d become so tired of the struggle to keep her life together; tired of trying to take care of herself and every situation in her single life.  How liberating it would be to surrender control to this man.
     “I don’t have a problem with it.” 
     Hunt held out his hand.  “You mentioned a shower.”
     He led her down a hallway to the bathroom.  Charisma was so nervous she hardly noticed the large, jetted tub.  Hunt took off his suit jacket and laid it on the vanity, opened the glass door to the shower and turned on the water.  He leaned in, relaxing his posture as he maintained firm eye contact.      “I think I’ll have you begin by undressing me.”
     The shower seemed to get louder with each passing second.  Charisma’s fingers shook as she struggled to undo each button on his shirt.  What was she doing?  She’d never been in a shower with a man before, nor had she undressed a man.
     He pulled the shirt off, throwing it on the double vanity.  Naked, he would be even more intimidating than, and as gorgeous, as a god.  His tanned chest was sprinkled with dark hair atop rippling abs.  Charisma’s pulse thudded inside her neck.  I’m really going to do this.
     “Now.  Take off your clothes.  All of them.”  His voice was sharp. 
     Charisma couldn’t look him in the eye, as she reached around to unzip her skirt. She allowed it to fall to the floor, but hesitated to unbutton her blouse.
     “The shirt comes off too.”
     Her fingers finally completed the task.  She stood, motionless, awaiting a look of disapproval on Hunt’s face as his eyes zeroed in on her curvaceous hips.
     “I don’t think you’re finished.  I still see panties and a bra.”
     Charisma’s face was flaming.  She reached around to unhook her bra, biting down on her bottom lip as her traitorous nipples told of her arousal.
     Hunt’s lips parted, and he lowered his voice.  “I can see your embarrassment.  You’re beautiful.”   She relaxed slightly as he ran his hand over her hip.  “You’re not to be ashamed.  Understood?”
     Charisma nodded, looking at the floor.
     “Miss Claiborne, look at me.”
     His eyes glittered as they roamed over her.  Her body responded in a warm flood, as he murmured his approval.
     Charisma trembled with desire, keenly aware of her pulse, as Hunt unzipped his pants, freeing his erection.  Her muscles clenched at his size.
     “You’re still blushing.  You see how hard I am for you, and you will not be ashamed.”
     Steam escaped as he opened the shower door.  She stepped into the hot stream, Hunt behind her.
     “Turn and face me.  On your knees.”

Author Bio:
Jenna Fox is a civilized hillbilly, mother, wife and multi published author of erotica residing in Eastern Tennessee. She enjoys reading and jotting down poetry in her spare time.  Besides juggling a busy family life, Fox reviews and critiques for other authors and crafts her own dark erotic tales. Stories always feature a mysterious alpha male with unexpected twists to shock the reader. She believes in HFN and HEA endings, although not always in a romantic or conventional way. 

Her work is born from real life experiences, an overactive imagination and a consuming caffeine addiction.  Sometimes she finds herself writing sex scenes on fast food napkins and store receipts while waiting in traffic, but she’s always guilty of keeping her mind in the gutter.  Fox is a listener of hard rock music and a watcher of classic slasher films. In short, she’s a writer, a storyteller, able to make a boo-boo all better with just one kiss and a proud, world class expert at screwing up recipes and scaring away closet monsters.  She believes in ghosts and God and is absolutely convinced chocolate soothes the savage beast.


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Desperate Trails by Mila A Ballentine

Title: Desperate Trails
Author: Mila A Ballentine
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Romance
Release Date: October 21, 2014

***Advisory: Desperate Trails does not contain any graphic sexual content but due to the subject matter the suggested audience is 18 +***
If the opportunity arose, Drew Tanner would probably trade places with just about anyone. He wasn’t a stranger to misery, but he had an unquenchable need for acceptance that spanned his entire childhood leading up to the present. Throughout that time, he saw how elusive and fickle the nature of love could be, and experienced unyielding misfortunes until a newfound friend made those hellish moments somehow bearable.

Despite his new friendship, things at home continue to deteriorate, making it difficult for him to cope with the situation, let alone breathe. But, an opportune moment arises out of his suffering that will potentially change the course of the life he’s known and he’ll have to decide if he wants to continue living this way or choose a new path, a decision that could change his life forever. Whatever he decides, Drew’s life is about to change, and there is no guarantee that his life will change for the better.

Author Bio:
Mila A. Ballentine is an award winning, best-selling mystery writer who enjoys writing Historical, Crime, Paranormal, and Science Fiction mysteries for a general audience. When she is not writing, Mila enjoys learning about other cultures, traveling, and doing anything that allows her to put her creative energy to use.


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Release Day Blitz: Ashes to Sparks by Jeanine Binder

Title: Ashes to Sparks
Author: Jeanine Binder
Genre: Romance
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Word Count: 50,065
Editor: Juli's Elite Editing
Cover Design: Phycel Designs
Fire alarms, car accidents, and wildfires.  Those used to be the biggest things Ryan had to worry about.  Not what he was going to have to say to a judge in order to be able to see his own daughter more than once a month.  The politics of divorce only served to spin up his temper and make him a cold-hearted bastard to his fellow firefighters, his friends, and even his family.
In the middle of all of this drama, Ryan found a friend.   A friendship which exploded in his mind once he found out she was a widow; her husband having been killed while deployed in the Middle East.  Ryan felt like Lindsay was a living piece of his soul.
Can Lindsay hold him together through the trials of having his daughter abducted?   Can she show Ryan that love is what binds people together, especially during a time of strife, showing him the way to happiness?

     His cell phone rang at ten minutes to eleven that evening. “Jeffries,” he said answering it.
     He couldn’t understand the person on the other end. They were intermittently yelling and crying – all he knew was it was Wendy’s voice on the phone. So he waited patiently for her to finish whatever fit she was having at that moment. It was normal for her to just scream and yell on the phone, not making a lot of sense until she thought she had said what she wanted. He could live a long life without her constant drama scenes.
     “You done?” he asked, when the voice was quiet.
     “Yes,” she said. “I want you to bring Kristen home to me tonight.”
    “She’s sound asleep and it’s eleven o’clock,” he countered. “I’ll drop her off at school in the morning.”
     “I’ll call the police. I’ll tell them you kidnapped her.”
     The threat didn’t even faze him. “Go right ahead, Wendy. I’ll have Kristen’s school come and testify that you continually neglect to pick her up after school. It’s starting to become a habit with you. What the hell is that all about?”
     “Fine,” she said, a huffy tone in her voice and ignoring his question. “You’re an asshole, Ryan.”
     She hung up the phone and Ryan smiled to himself, knowing he had won this battle, small that it was. He leaned his head back against the couch, closing his eyes against a raging headache. Never again, he said to himself. I will never let a woman in my life again. Just not worth it. Ryan was thirty-three, six-foot-five, two-hundred-twenty pounds, with red hair and green eyes – not like he had issues with women admiring the way he looked. He’d catch women watching him all the time; he just wasn’t ready to jump into anything after all of the chaos he’d gone through with Wendy. It would take a very special woman to change his mind. He liked being able to do as he pleased without having to worry about any repercussions.

Author Bio:
Jeanine Binder grew up in a small town in California on the outskirts of Palm Springs, where the Hollywood celebrities liked to vacation. After thirty years, she packed up, moved to Arkansas where she still lives today. Her hobbies include her writing, reading good books, and seeing exotic places (loves to go on cruises).
Writing has always been a passion and hoping the next twenty years will bring many enjoyable books for others to read.


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The Celtic Fan by Deanndra Hall

Title: The Celtic Fan
Author: Deanndra Hall
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 12, 2014
It's a number one bestseller on every list. It's a love story for the ages. And it's a mystery.
At least its author is. Nick Roberts has never been seen. He doesn't do interviews. He doesn't answer fan mail. He doesn't do late-night talk shows, or book signings, or conferences. No one knows who he is. Everyone's looking for him; websites have been set up offering rewards for finding him.
Four old friends plan their annual road trip. It's been a toss-up every year, with each being different (and some not so good). But this year Russ's idea is to find Nick Roberts. With an address stolen from the accounting files of the publishing house, the four friends set out to find the elusive Roberts and make names for themselves. And as three begin to get distracted - Russ by women, Michael by liquor, and Jim by porn or who knows what - only one stays the course: Steve Riley, a journalist from Knoxville, is determined to find Roberts and land the story of the century.
His dedication to his mission is complicated by a deluge, a flash flood, and an obviously incorrect address. But as time has its way, Steve begins to wonder if his trip will be successful in any other ways. And if his suspicions are correct, what will he do?
Even more unsettling is the real question: If he finds Nick Roberts, will he tell?
Set in the foothills of the beautiful Smokey Mountains, The Celtic Fan is two stories - the story of a journalist following his biggest story ever, and of a wounded soldier and the girl with whom he falls in love post-World War II. Throughout the pages, Bill and Claire's tragic tale winds its way through Steve's story, a story he never thought he'd tell.

     “Reaching for my right hand, she placed it gently but firmly above her left breast, and held it there with a warm, velvety hand. I could feel her heart throbbing, almost hear its rhythm. “You’re already in here, Steve Riley,” she said calmly, her voice as light and soft as angel’s wings. “But where am I?”      Her eyes searched my face, looking for an indication of my inclination, any clue of how I’d respond.
     “It’s been six years, Diana,” I whispered into her hair. I struggled, my mind trying to collect the words I needed to say, to say them the right way, to mean them when I said them. “Do you really want me to be the one? Are you sure it should be me? Are you really ready?”  
     I remember pulling her close again, lightly kissing her eyelids, her cheeks, her lips. If I’d held my hand a half inch above any area on her body, I’m sure a current would’ve passed between us that could power all of Ashville. Her hair was everywhere, as was mine, and she trembled slightly in my arms as I stroked the mass of blond waves. I looked down at the length of our bodies intertwined, appreciating the beauty of her white skin against my darkness. Several strands of our hair lay together on my chest, and I couldn’t help but make a mental snapshot of the moment, the shiny blond and the glossy dark brown hair wrapped and twisted into one strand, our legs and bodies fused into a solid oneness. I twirled the hair together, as though that would keep us locked in each other’s arms permanently.  
     As erotic as the night had been, there had been no hesitation, no embarrassment, not a single apology, and there had been nothing dirty or vulgar or obscene about it. It was incredible, but it was also more than wild animal sex, and we both knew it. I kissed her shoulder, then drew her arm out and kissed down the inside of its length. That’s when I noticed it for the first time, her arm turned just the right direction in the candlelight. On the inside of her left wrist was a tattoo of a tiny Celtic fan. 
     We were like two fifteen-year-olds, exploring each other’s bodies, acting as if we alone had discovered the oldest pleasure known to man, were the only ones to realize that penises and vaginas fit together. There was a wonderment, a sparkle to it all, and even after all the women I’d been with, I felt as though Diana had stolen my virginity, as though she was the very first woman with whom I’d ever become one.” 

The Writing of The Celtic Fan…
     In the summer of 2000, my then-teenage daughter took a trip to Europe with a high school group. She hadn’t been gone twenty-four hours before I had an idea. I’d been writing for years, but I’d never been able to work up the nerve to write a book. So I set out to do just that. 
     I began writing and, as I did, the words began to pour out of my fingertips. They were so passionate and lovely that I couldn’t stop. I wrote in a frenzy because I knew that once my daughter walked back into the house, I’d go back into “full-time mom mode” and that would be it – it would never be finished. 
     I wrote. I wrote for three nights and four days. Without sleeping. Barely eating. Only occasionally getting up to go to the bathroom or stretch. Writing was all I did. And I finished it the day before she was set to return. Late that evening, after a nap, I opened the file and read through it. I’d assumed that, considering the way in which it was put down, it would be a four door, brass-plated disaster, and I was shocked to find that it was both clear and beautiful. Then I closed the file, caught up all of the things I was supposed to do while she was gone, picked her up from the airport, and never looked at it again. 
     In the next five years I devoted an enormous amount of time to writing, but I never went back to the book. 
     Time passed. I’d stored the files on three and one-half inch floppies. Somewhere along the line, I had one of those hideous Zip drives, and they got moved around to those cartridges too. 
Several years and three computers later, to my horror, I found that the files were gone. I looked everywhere, scoured old floppy disks, searched through old hard drives. Nothing. They had vanished, lost in the technological shuffle. 
     Oddly enough, in mid-October 2013, over thirteen years after I’d first written this book, I was telling my partner about it. I’d never even mentioned it to him before, and after I explained the plot, I lamented, “It was really, really good. I wish I still had it.” 
     And then, on Halloween night – Samhain to me – he was recounting his trip to our ancient county courthouse that day and telling me about a clock crashing down from the wall, almost hitting a lady passing by. He said one of the security guards commented, “Yeah, we’ve had lots of poltergeist activity today.” We laughed about it. 
     But as I went to bed, I had a sudden thought: I’d bought a brand-new external hard drive, and it occurred to me that, although I backed up my files every night, I’d never checked to see if they really were backed up. I went back to my computer to check and found that they had not transferred, and my heart froze. I had to back them up. What if lightning struck? I’d lose everything I’d been working on, including several completed manuscripts. So I manually copied files, then opened the external hard drive to check and see if they were really there. I went to the search bar and typed in “writing.” 
     Up popped dozens of files, things I couldn’t identify. I stared at them in disgust, wondering what junk they could possibly be and where they could’ve possibly come from. I opened one that seemed particularly odd, and gasped. 
     There they were. The book; four books, in fact. All of the short stories. All of the poetry. Everything I’d wondered about, looked for, lost – all on a brand-new external hard drive. 
     To this very moment, I still have no clue how they got there. No one was more surprised than I, and I began to cry to the extent that my partner came to see what was wrong. I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t make sense, and yet there they were. I made note of where they were located, closed the files, shut down the computer for the night, and went to bed, barely able to sleep. 
     It was with shaking hands and a racing heart that I opened the file for The Celtic Fan the next morning and had the distinct, unimaginable joy of seeing these words intact and as beautiful as they were initially, a full thirteen years since their original writing. 

Get The Celtic Fan for FREE on Amazon

Author Bio:
For as long as I can remember, I've been a writer . . .
 and it has served me well. I wrote for local publications, wrote marketing and advertising materials, wrote for academic publications, and eventually grew jaded with the writing profession as I often watched others take credit for my hard work. I retreated into the world of 3-D art in the fiber and textile mediums and hid out in a world of colors and textures. But, truth is, there was always a story or two in my head. It wasn't until Nikki and I met in my imagination that I decided it was time to let those stories out, and I'm glad I did. My readers now get to enjoy the fruits of my imagination and, believe me, it runs wild!
On the personal side, I've been happily married to my lover and best friend for over thirty years, and I have two wonderful adult kids who've blessed me with two excellent choices of life partners. When I'm not writing, I'm playing with my three crazy little dogs, hiking in a local recreation area, kayaking, working out at the gym, tending my herbs, cooking, or doing some kind of research.
But I'd really rather be writing!

EMAIL: DeanndraHall@gmail.com

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Restraint by Erica Chilson

Title: Restraint
Author: Erica Chilson
Series: Mistress & Master of Restraint #1
Genre: Erotica, BDSM
Release Date: February 14, 2015
I am Katya Waters.
A survivor of violence.
I fought death and won.
So why do I feel so dead inside?

Katya Waters is a small-town girl, mentally unprepared to deal with her deep, dark past. While walking in her sanctuary, her innocence was torn from her in the most brutal fashion- run to the ground as if she were an animal by a pack of vicious Hunters. After they wounded her spirit, they left her for dead.

How does one overcome a debilitating, tragic event? By strength, perseverance, and an unrelenting will to survive.

Out of desire, Katya no longer wanted to be the hunted. She hungered to be the hunter.

Finally taking her life into her own hands, Katya reached for what she’d earned, for the respect every human being so rightfully deserves.

By moving to a new city for the job of her dreams, Katya unwittingly brought her past nightmares to life, slowly drawing the repressed, dark memories into the light. With a deep desire to explore her true nature, Katya entered the BDSM Club, Restraint; never realizing there would be no escape from her secrets within the club’s walls. Katya’s entire existence turned into a living, breathing, never-ending therapy session from Hell.

The Boss pulled Katya into a thrilling game of Kat & Mouse as a way to force Katya to accept the truth of her past. Follow Katya’s heartbreaking journey as she connected the mystery of her past with her thrilling present.

… As long as I have a tomorrow, I can endure today.

     My feet pound the ground with such force it reverberates up my legs and trails up my spine. The sharp snap of twigs breaking under the impact echoes in my ears, along with the deafening tattoo of my panicked heart. My terror-filled breath saws out my lips, exhale clouding the air across my face as I run–
     Run for my life.
     A looming pine tree is a taunting, solid barrier, directly in my path of escape. Precious life-saving seconds are lost as I veer around the tree, or else risk smacking headlong into it. Upheaved from the ground, gnarled roots catch my toes and upend my balance. I catch my fall with outstretched palms upon the pine-needle-laden ground, bruising and tearing my flesh. With a forceful lunge, I propel myself forward to gain momentum.
     Droplets of blood nourish the soil from deep cuts welling on my hands. Branches slash my cheeks and thorny vines snag my skin and clothing, almost as if they are offering aid to my hunters. My mind is clear of all thought, except for the inborn flight reflex of someone desperate to survive.
     Self-preservation forces my muscles to maintain their wild run, even as my body protests the movement with bloody and bruised, burning limbs. My hands instinctively rise and fall, protecting me from the brutal violence of nature.
     Four hunters stalk me as if I were a wounded animal– their prey. They gain on me steadily, even if their visages are blurry to my tear-stung eyes. With rapid movements too quick for me to register, they converge, charging me from different directions– herding me, running me to ground as a pack.
     Territorial rage explodes through the simmering fear in my blood. As their target, not only am I being assaulted, my sanctuary is being violated right alongside me. I’ve hiked this wooded lakeside trail since I was a child. When I was small, I’d venture out farther, creating a larger boundary of my own backyard. As an adult, the lake and the wooded trail surrounding it, are my home. We’re being invaded, and I’m powerless to stop it.
     I know every dip, curve, and incline of the landscape. Up until just moments ago, this was where I went to clear my mind and seek solitude. Childlike dreams of the future were forged here, right alongside the adult decision of what my college major would be. My bubble of safety, the trust I have in my land to protect me, and the courage I have to protect it in return, bursts on the whims of ruthless men.
     Now, I run for my life, hoping my lifelong knowledge of the landscape will pull me through to the other side– safety.
     In tune, somehow connected as pack animals, they hunt in perfect synchronization: breathing in harmony, legs moving with the same graceful fluidity, intuitively knowing where to head me off to push me towards their partners and propel me to their destination.
     If it weren’t me versus them, I may have found their symmetry breathtakingly beautiful.
     I speed up on the descent down a steep ravine, drawing me closer to the lake and its imminent comfort. My sneakers skid on soft dirt, pebbles rolling me, making it nearly impossible to stay upright. I catch my fall several times by sightlessly grabbing for roots and branches. Thorns jab into my flesh with my hold, only to tear my skin as I pull away. I acknowledge no pain from my wounded palms as they rapidly beat with the pounding of my heart. Falling backwards, head hitting a rock with a great, jarring force, I fear I’ll be rendered unconscious, unable to protect myself. Inertia has other plans for me, causing me to slide down the embankment on my rear while I regain my senses. By the time I reach the bottom, my shorts are shredded by the earth and damp from the blood seeping from the resulting wounds.
     Rolling to a stop, I crawl to all fours. In shock, I barely wince as the jagged edges of river rock and the grit of ballast from the long-ago railroad bed embed into my knees and palms. I try to right myself on stable ground, but my energy is waning. Agile footfalls catch my notice, driving fear and adrenaline to flood my system, fortifying my survival instincts. With a deep, pain-filled keen, I propel myself to my feet, and take off towards safety.
     They allow me no rest as they close in from all sides, like the shadow of darkness creeping across the land every sunset– sure and swift, and unavoidable. They try to pull me off course by rerouting me with their movements. Driving me like an animal, they prove their adept hunting skills by forcing me off the hiking trail. Separating me from any other hikers we may encounter, from the safety of the known, I’m now parallel to the path, going away from it at an abrupt angle. The one in charge is wordlessly maneuvering me to his destination, and I am powerless to stop it.
     The primal, animalistic side of my brain already recognizes its capture. I can see it playing out in my mind’s eye: the four hunters felling my body, tearing into me like lions on a fresh kill, stripping my dignity away along with the last vestiges of my cherished innocence. My system floods with adrenaline. A vicious quaking rocks my entire body, slowing my pace. I shiver in the cold of impending doom, even as my body erupts with a feverish sweat.
     My logical brain, the part of me that holds self-preservation above all else, overpowers my fears. From my depths, I scream, “I will not give up! Never surrender!” I will fight to my very death just so I can wear my pride as a badge of honor in the afterlife. Furiously, my mind spins escape routes and defense plans as I am led, pushed, and driven by the unit.
     My only salvation is the lake. If I can get to the water, I can swim to safety. Like the trail, I know everything about the lake: the inlets, the currents, and the boat-tied docks. As a balm to my soul, I can feel the caress of its chilled water welcoming me into its promise of safety and comfort. The tree canopy overhead casts rays of light for my path. The crystalline waters glisten invitingly, beckoning me towards its secure embrace.
     Half in the now, half inside my fantasy of escape, I’m taken aback when the leader comes into sharp focus just off to my right. I stumble when I see the fierce expression on his face, the look of triumph as he gains on his prize.
     “It won’t be long, boys,” his smug voice projects, filling the woods with his victory. The shrill cadence of his voice sounds like broken glass to my sensitive ears.
     In a futile dance of survival, I go left, and then right. Left, and then right, panting wildly as I look for a hole in their defenses. My injured foot slips on a patch of moss, situating the leader within easy reach of my bleeding arms. In a pitiful, last ditch effort, I veer to the left, away from his grasp, only to miscalculate the trajectory of the other hunters.
     Arms enclose me from the side. Startled, yet not surprised by the inevitable, I close my eyes in defeat. “I’m so sorry,” a young, somber voice whispers softly against my hair.  

Author Bio:
Erica Chilson does not write in the 3rd person, wanting her readers to be her characters. Therefore, writing a bio about herself, is uncomfortable in the extreme. 

Born, raised, and here to stay, the Wicked Writer is a stump-jumper, a ridge-runner. Hailing from North Central Pennsylvania, directly on the New York State border; she loves the changes in seasons, the humid air, all the mountainous forest, and the gloomy atmosphere. 

Introverted, but not socially awkward, Erica prides herself on thinking first and filtering her speech. There are days she doesn’t speak at all. If it wasn’t for the fact that she lives with her parents, giving her a sense of reality, she would be a hermit, where the delivery man finds her months after expiration. 

Reading was an escape, a way to leave a not-so pleasant reality behind. Reading lent Erica the courage she gathered from the characters between the pages to long for a different life. Writing was an instrument of change, evolving Erica into the woman she is today- a better, more mature, more at peace thinker. 

Erica has a wicked mind, one she pours out into her creations. Her filter doesn’t allow all of it to erupt, much to her relief. Sarcastic, with a very dark, perverse sense of humor, Erica puts a bit of herself into every character she writes.


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