Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday's Film Adaption: Fierce People by Dirk Wittenborn

A modern coming-of-age novel about a boy's struggle for survival in a lush and corrupting world that each day grows more seductive and more lethal.

New York's Lower East Side, 1978. Fifteen-year-old Finn Earl's mother, Liz, is a thirty-two-year-old masseuse with a taste for cocaine. When Liz's habit reaches its breaking point, she seeks sanctuary with one of her clients, aging billionaire Ogden C. Osborne. Less than twenty-four hours later, she and Finn have been dropped into a world more savage than anything in National Geographic, more cutthroat than anything New York's grimy downtown streets have to offer-the exclusive rural community of Vlyvalle, New Jersey.

In this golden playground for the super-rich, they find a new life and new friends amongst the decadent and beautiful denizens of Osborne's empire. Finn falls in love and grows up fast. He's living a twisted approximation of the American dream-and for a moment everything he wants is there for the taking.

But in Vlyvalle, social climbing is a blood sport. Even on what should be the happiest night of Finn's life-on an island in the middle of Osborne's private lake, naked and high with Osborne's bewitching granddaughter Maya-someone is watching him from the depths of the forest...and laughing. Soon, Finn is tangled in a web of secrets and betrayals so bizarre and so dangerous that getting out starts to look even harder than getting in.

`Oh, my God!'
When we lived in New York City, those three words out of my mother's mouth at 6.30 on a Saturday morning could only mean one of two things: either something had caught fire in the toaster oven again, or Mom had a new boyfriend.

`Oh, my God. Yesss!' I knew it wasn't the toaster oven.

We lived on Great Jones Street, between Lafayette and the Bowery, just across from the firehouse. It was June 1978. The block was a decade away from being trendy then. I was fifteen; my mother was thirty-three. I'll save you the math. Elizabeth Anne Earl, a.k.a. my mom, got pregnant two weeks into her first semester at the State College she attended after humiliating herself and her parents by not getting into Wellesley. My mother liked to say I was an accident. Don't worry: whenever she said it she would always gave me a hug — a kiss if she'd had a couple glasses of white wine — and add: `Best accident that ever happened to me.'

I stopped buying that when I was twelve. That's when my mother's father gave us twenty sessions of family therapy for Christmas instead of the trip to Kathmandu my mother had asked for. Grandpa was a semi-famous shrink. We'll get into that later. The point is, I was convinced then and am still now that my mother got pregnant on purpose. Why was I so certain she wanted me? She needed me. She wanted to run away, and was too scared to do it by herself. But such precociousinsights into my mother's rebellion did not make my own any easier.

* * * * *

My mother's bedroom was right next to mine. She slept on a secondhand foldout in a high-ceilinged space that tripled as our living room, kitchen, and her bedroom. An uninsulated wall was all that separated us.

The foldout squeaked three more times, then she gave a long, brittle groan that sounded like a board getting ready to break. I could tell she and whoever she was with were trying to be quiet. I tried to go back to sleep, but closing my eyes just made it easier for me to see what I was hearing.

I looked at the black-and-white photograph of her holding me when I was only a couple of weeks old. She was trying to be a beatnik, but she looked more like an immigrant from Ellis Island. Her boobs take up practically half the picture. She was big on breastfeeding.

The day that picture had been taken, my grandparents had driven to the city and begged her to move us back to the suburbs with them. They had already fixed up an apartment over their garage. They said it wasn't fair to me. She could go back to school. They gave her a thousand-dollar check just to think about it. My mother retells this story like it's a Norse saga, and always ends it the same way: `I thought about it just long enough for the check to clear, then called the Fun Killers up collect and told them, "Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm going to make it in New York."' If she'd ever actually made it in New York, I wouldn't have minded hearing her retelling stories like that to every new guy who came in the house. But then again if she'd made it, she wouldn't have had to tell them.

Mom had tried making it as a folk singer (she'd actually sang back-up for Phil Ochs at the Village Vanguard one night), a sandal-maker, and a painter — that was the year we moved in with a fairly famous abstract expressionist; when he threw a lit cigarette at me for walking on one of his wet canvases she moved out. If you look carefully you can see my footprints on a triptych that hangs on the second floor of the Museum of Modern Art. After that she had a go at being a real-estate agent, then a brief fling as a hat-maker before she found her true calling.

For the last two years my mother had been making it as a masseuse. I was embarrassed to walk with her when she pushed her big black folding massage table on rollers around the city. Her clients said she had healing hands. Who knows? I stopped letting her give me foot rubs when she turned pro. The therapist told her it was a healthy way for an adolescent boy to establish boundaries. Oh yeah, and right now she was making it with ... The first time the toilet flushed, I knew it was her: no footsteps. Besides knowing which floorboards squeaked, Mom always walked on tiptoes when she was in her underwear — or was she naked? It made me nervous thinking about my mother that way.

I rolled over on my stomach with a flop. A copy of Club International slipped out from its hiding place between the box-spring and the mattress of my single bed. The centerfold sprawled open eighteen inches from my nose. May's Club Girl lay stretched out in all her pink glory, reaching up to me. The toilet flushed again. This time it was him. The floorboards squeaked so loud as he made his way back to my mother's bed you would have thought he was walking on an accordion.

Actually, he played the guitar — at least there was a guitar case and a pair of red, hightop sneakers inside the front door. It was my turn to tiptoe to the bathroom. My mother's overnight guests had gotten younger, and been musically inclined of late. I'd heard an English accent as I flushed the toilet and snuck back to bed.

I don't want to give the wrong impression. It wasn't like my mother had a new guy over every other night. Actually, it had been almost two months — a relatively long season without rain for her. And she never dated anybody she massaged professionally. Except for the Scientologist; even she admitted he was a mistake.

I wasn't crazy about hearing some English guy asking my mother in the first light of day. `Hey, luv, got any Vaseline about for Mr Johnson?' But everybody who was my age and lived in a loft in the late seventies knew their mom did it. (They were doing it again now.) Especially if they didn't have dads.

My father was a photo of a blond man with deep-set eyes and a broken nose that sat in a chipped dime-store frame on a bookshelf next to my little-league trophy. He looks uncomfortable in the rumpled seersucker suit he's wearing. His name was Fox Blanchard. He's actually kind of a famous anthropologist. There's an article he wrote in a copy of Natural History I keep hidden under my mattress with my beat-off magazines.

He was guest-lecturer to my mother's freshman Intro to Anthro 101 course. I was conceived a few hours after he gave a lecture on the Yanomamö — the Fierce People. They're this really weird tribe of South American Indians that live in the most remote corner of Amazonia, along the border of Venezuela and Brazil, that had never seen a white person who owned a TV and all until my dad showed up.

`First contact' is what the anthropologists call it. And besides being cool, it's really scary on account of they shot poisoned arrows tipped with curare and snorted hallucinogenic drugs every morning of their lives. And instead of shaking hands to say `Hello', they hit each other with clubs and give each other rabbit punches to the kidneys. And when you have something they want they don't beat around the bush. They come right out and tell you: `If you don't give me your peanut butter, your wife of your machete, I'll chop your thumbs off and shit in your hammock.' They call the Yanomamö `the Fierce People' because basically, they're the meanest people on the planet. Or, at least, that's what I thought then.

Anyway, the point is, Dad was back in South America when he found out my mother was pregnant. It wasn't a one-night stand. They dated a bunch and talked all the time on the telephone while he was on lecture tour that fall. He came to see us once. After I was born but I was too little to remember. My mother said they talked about him leaving his wife, but she said it was `complicated'.

My grandfather, being a psychologist, tried to put a more understanding spin on it: `Your father's field work is expensive ...'

A point which my grandmother further clarified: `His wife has the money, dear.'

When I was little, I used to think my father loved the Yanomamö more than Mom and me. Once I started reading about the Fierce People, I knew that was bullshit. I mean, he had to like us more than them: after a big meal, the women hide the leftovers in their vaginas; and everybody has green mucus running out of their noses from snorting enebbe all day. If you think I'm exaggerating, look it up. No, in my view of things it wasn't the Yanomamö's or my father's fault. It was money.

Though I had never met my father, I had read every article he'd ever written on the Yanomamö, and every book in the public library that referred to the tribe. I was prepared to answer any question he might ask me. I was ready to impress the absolute stranger I called Dad. You see, after much pleading I had persuaded my mother to write Mr Fox Blanchard about his progeny's budding interest in anthropology. And to our surprise and his credit, Dad had called immediately upon receiving the letter, and invited me to spend this July and August with him and the Yanomamö on the banks of the Orinoco River. He had made a point of saying his rich-bitch wife was looking forward to getting to know me. And he even offered to send the ticket. My mother had insisted money wasn't the issue; which, of course, we both knew was bullshit, because my grandparents were coming over for lunch to talk about whether they'd spring for the ticket.

If it weren't for the Yanomamö I would have gotten out of bed and barged in on my mother and the Englishman. Driven him and his fucking Johnson from her bed with embarrassment and reduced her to tears with guilt. I was good at stuff like that. Once I ambushed one of my mother's barefoot suitors with thumbtacks on the way back to the foldout, but that's another story.

The point is, I needed Mom to come through for me that day. Besides, even though I've made her out to be a total fuck-up, she could be great. I mean, when I was little, she'd laugh at cartoons with me for hours. Come on, how many kids can honestly say their moms were happy debating whether Space Ghost could beat up Speed Racer? Of course, it helped that she was high.

But the drugs were like the sex back then — everybody's mom was doing it in `78. I don't know when cocaine became an ingredient in our lives. A year, year and a half ago, about the same time she started bringing home wads of cash from the McBurn Institute. That was this ritzy private hospital on the Upper East Side. There was this old jillionaire who had cancer who handed her three hundred bucks every time she gave him a backrub. He's the one that told her she had healing hands. Whatever. She never snorted it in front of me. I pretended not to notice she was always sniffling when she came out of the bathroom. It was all pretty obvious. I mean, last Thanksgiving a white rock the size of a lentil fell out of her nose and landed in the gravy lake right in the middle of her mashed potatoes. I guess no one was watching but me.

It wasn't like cocaine was a constant problem. In fact, to be perfectly honest, sometimes blow had a downright positive effect on my mother. I'd come home from school and suddenly find her baking Christmas cookies, or dyeing Easter eggs, or making a yuletide wreath with dried roses and a glue gun. Doing one of those projects moms who read Family Circle do. OK, sometimes it was weird, her getting all Christmassy in the middle of July, but the point is, she made an effort. And she definitely was better at Parent-Teacher night when her nose was running. If she hadn't talked to Mr Kraus, my wedge-headed gym teacher, for forty-five minutes about winning second place in the Mr Staten Island beauty contest, no way that muscle-bound steroid freak would have passed me in PE.

`Oh, my God!' My mother's toaster oven was on fire again. She groaned, `Fuck me,' as the foldout slammed against the wall. I tried to distract myself by thinking about the Yanomamö. I tried to blot out what passed for passion next door out of my mind by rereading the Natural History article the father I'd never met had written about people I'd never seen. But a photo he'd taken of a topless, fourteen-year-old rain-forest chick with torpedo tits, naked save for her tattoos and the quills that pierced her cheeks — looking oh-so Stone Age punk — just made me horny for the pierced runaways of St Mark's I was too shy to talk to, much less hit on. I grabbed the hairless Club Girl from my bedroom floor and tried to imagine what it would be like to have her touch my nakedness, but ended up remembering a winter's evening when my mother was hurrying to get ready for the Parent—Teacher night where she talked Mr Kraus out of flunking me. Mom called to me from the bathroom to bring her the bottle of shampoo she had left in a grocery bag on the kitchen table. I closed my eyes when I passed it into her in the shower, but taking it from my hand, she snagged the shower curtain. The curtain and the rod holding it fell like a sail lowered in a gale. The shower sprayed in my face. My mother jumped back with a start and slipped. Grabbing hold of the hot-water faucet to keep from falling on her ass scalded her butt so badly that she leapt from the shower and into my arms with a yelp ... Believe me, the first time you hold a naked woman in your arms, you don't want it to be your mom.

It all happened so fast. I kept my eyes shut and, as God is my witness, I wouldn't even have been tempted to look if she hadn't started to laugh. (I have always been a sucker for laughter.) She giggled like a girl, not a mom. Doubled over in mirth, her breasts pushed together in a cleavage worthy of Penthouse, a dollop of soapsuds in her pubic hair, I guess it was funny. I was too startled by my mom's nakedness to see the humor in the situation.

Uncertain whether it was my mom, the centerfold, or the Yanomamö maiden with the d-cup giving me a hard-on, I felt worse than guilty.

My mom and the Englishman were giggling now. I knew they weren't laughing at me, but that didn't make me feel any better. I felt like I was the butt of a colossal, cross-cultural inside joke. The Yanomamö; the Fierce People chick with her coy smile and sharpened stick; the glossy Club foldout grinning like a village idiot as she sucked a Sugar Daddy and spread her legs for a gynecological exam; my mother, lubed up for the guitar-playing Englishman; they all seemed to be in on the same gag, everyone got it but me. You see, to add to all of my other problems that morning, I was the only virgin in my class I knew besides Slurpee — and he had an excuse: one of his legs was eight inches shorter than the other. And he slurped.

I felt better when I heard the Englishman pick up his guitar and clomp down the stairs. I went to the window and watched him go out the front door. He wore leather pants and his hair was cut in a shag. As he hailed a cab, he turned, looked up at our floor and waved. Christ, what a moron. Couldn't he see I was giving him the finger?

In a few minutes, there was a knock on my door.

`You want to come out and have some breakfast with me, lambie?' My mother only called me `lambie' when I was sick or she was happy.

`No!' I knew she was trying to be nice, I just didn't feel nice.

`Come on, Finn.' That was my name.

`No!' I threw one of my skin mags at the door to let her know that I meant it. Or, was I hoping that she would take the challenge, throw the door open, and see the other women in my life?

`I'll make you pancakes ...'

`Screw your pancakes.' I knew we didn't have any milk, anyway.

`Finn?' She opened the door. She didn't even see the open skin mag at her feet. Her cheeks were flushed with beard-burn. She looked more like a mom and less like a pet in her old terrycloth bathrobe. Her hands shook ever so slightly as she lit her first cigarette.

`I thought you quit smoking.' I didn't want to fight, but I couldn't resist.

`And I have.' She opened my window and threw the cigarette out. `Are you mad at me?'

`No.' Like I said, I didn't want to fight.

`Do you love me?'

`Yes.' It was sweet and spooky how a lie my mother wanted to hear could light her up inside. Like a candle in a jack-o'-lantern, it made her seem hollow.

When 16-year-old Finn is caught buying cocaine for his junkie but well intentioned mother Liz, his plans of spending the summer away from NYC with his anthropologist father studying the Ishkanani in the jungle are abruptly changed. In an attempt to get both of their lives back on track, Liz moves the two of them out to a cottage on the country estate of her sugar daddy, Mr. Osborne. Finn immediately makes his way into the 'tribe' of wealthy country clubbers that inhabit his new home.

Release Date: April 24, 2005 (Tribeca)
April 28, 2006 (Canada)
September 30, 2007 (United States)
Release Time: 111 minutes

Donald Sutherland as Ogden C. Osbourne
Diane Lane as Liz Earl
Anton Yelchin as Finn Earl
Chris Evans as Bryce Langley
Kristen Stewart as Maya Langley
Paz de la Huerta as Jilly
Blu Mankuma as Detective Gates
Elizabeth Perkins as Mrs. Langley
Christopher Shyer as Dr. Richard "Dick" Leffler
Garry Chalk as McCallum
Ryan McDonald as Ian
Dexter Bell as Marcus Gates
Kaleigh Day as Paige
Aaron Brooks as Giacomo
Teach Grant as Dwayne
Dirk Wittenborn as Fox Blanchard
Eddie Rosales as Iskanani shaman
Will Lyman as Voice of documentary narrator



Author Bio:
DIRK WITTENBORN is a novelist (Fierce People, Pharmakon), screenwriter and the Emmy-nominated producer of the HBO documentary, Born Rich. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter and summers on the wrong side of the tracks in East Hampton, NY.



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Till Death Us Do Part by Cristina Slough

Title: Till Death Us Do Part
Author: Cristina Slough
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: December 29, 2015

The fateful day Mimi Marcus has dreaded begins with a phone call…

The wife of a U.S. Marine, Mimi spent countless nights worried that her husband Joel would fall in the line of duty. He had fought valiantly and served his country with honor. That’s exactly what they tell her when they deliver the news—Joel was taken by the enemy in Afghanistan. Her husband is dead.

In desperate need of closure, Mimi travels to the one place Joel still has ties—The Marcus Ranch in Texas, inherited by his handsome younger brother Austin.

New beginnings are only an illusion…

The closer Mimi grows to the Marcus family, the more she considers it home. But when suspicions of Joel’s past surface, Austin refuses to disclose family secrets—even to his brother’s widow. It’s only by accident she uncovers evidence of Joel’s tainted past. Devastated by his lies and betrayal, she slowly opens up to Austin, and together they unfold layers of pain and grief.

Mimi is sure she’ll never love again, but is Austin the man to prove her wrong? Then the unthinkable happens…

Just as Mimi finds new hope in a future with Austin, Joel returns home from war. Enraged, traumatized, and teetering on the edge of insanity, Joel confesses to a history of deception, revealing yet another secret—this one too terrible to forgive.

In an awful twist of fate, Joel proves marriage vows are made to be honored.

No matter what.

She took the palm of her hand and wiped her face. “You don’t mean that.” She paused and looked at him. “Do you?”

“Yes, this is so fucked up Mimi. You don’t belong to me. You belong to him.”

“But…God, Austin, I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking or feeling.”

“I don’t care. The truth is, I got caught up in everything with you. I felt sorry for you; I pitied you.”

“Austin stop,” she cried “You don’t mean that.”

“Mimi, I do. The truth is. You were my final up-yours to my dear brother.”

“You’re lying.”

He took his hands out of his jean pockets and placed them on her sunken shoulders and looked firmly into her eyes. “Yes I do. Everything I told you about loving you was a lie. And this, what we had was nothing but revenge. Joel played it well, the son of a bitch. He even cheated death. Now get your goddam bags packed and get the hell out of my life.”

She jolted back, falling out of his grip.

Austin stood in silence after the hard slap connected across his left check; it caught his lip, making it bleed. She turned on her heel and ran away, her long hair flowing in the breeze behind her.

He stood there for a second, but it seemed like an hour. He walked a little, and then for the first time in his adult life, he cried.

The digital clock read 2 am. He gazed out of the window. The sky was tar-black, the large clouds gathered fast and furiously. Soon, the gentle specs of rain flicked against the window. As it grew heavier, the tarmac on the car-park soon turned into a black river. He saw a man quicken his pace and slip into a beaten old truck. He opened the door, letting the rain fall on him, drenching through his clothes. He moved out into the stormy weather, needing to wash away the hurt that lay inside him.

He remembered having this feeling once before, after the death of his father. It was then that the divide between him and his brother had become even greater. It had torn them apart, ripping them at the seams. Austin had stolen Joel’s father, and now he was taking his wife. He had no control over the first time, but he swore that he wouldn’t let Austin win this time.

Blood pounded in his ears; he was still at war, but this time with himself.

Author Bio:
Novelist, movie addict, and animal lover, Cristina Slough is the author of Till Death Us Do Part, her debut novel.

Cristina has always been a bookworm, rarely seen without a pen and paper in her hand, she loves delving into a literacy fictional world of her own.

At the age of 11, her junior school teacher told her mother that she would be wasting her life if she didn’t become an author. Throughout her teenage years and beyond, her parents spurred her on to keep writing. She later began a career in commercial real estate, working in London’s West End, a corporate bubble where she was unable to fuel her passion to write.

It was on her Californian honeymoon in 2012 that the bug to write was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. After visiting Yosemite National Park she was inspired by the natural beauty of the land that surrounded her. Holding a special place in her heart, Yosemite would later be written into her debut novel.

She finally gave up the ‘big smoke’ when her son, Lucas, was born in October 2013.

When Lucas was a newborn, Cristina was told to sleep when the baby sleeps. She never could. There was a calling inside her to write. After getting to grips with her new role as a mother, she began working a psychological thriller, but she couldn’t fully connect to the characters she created. She ditched the manuscript and started Till Death Us Do Part (Limitless Publishing, 2015).

Cristina is married to Adam, who runs a successful business; together they share their Bedfordshire home with their son, crazy white German Shepherd and three spoiled cats. They can be found trekking through woodlands, or around the many shops Cristina loves to explore. As a family, they love to travel frequently, the United States being a firm favorite.



Brought to you by: 

Risky Dance Series by Monika Summerville

Series: Risky Dance
Author: Monika Summerville
Genre: Adult Romance, Mild BDSM
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand
Cover Design: Christine Kirchoff

A Risky Dance #1
Riley Frost is an attorney. He played in the BDSM community as a Dom and liked to be in control. He'd never found a woman with a sense of adventure and passion, until one night when he walked into a bar and... Sophie Pantagen is the vice-president of her father's company, Pantagen Industries. For the past ten years she's spent a couple evenings a month having one-offs with men whose names she never new. That was until one night in a bar when Riley and Sophie find each other at a time when both are looking for something. They're not sure what it is they want, but think they may have found it. Sophie's father is a cut-throat business man and when he thinks Sophie tells company secrets he comes after her with vengeance. Pantagen Industries begins to fall apart. Sophie is fired from her position and threatened by her father with an Edgar Allen Poe nightmare result.

A Lost Dance #2
Turner Black works for a group in Seattle that helps find people who were separated from loved ones for one reason or another. He’s hired to find the half-sister of a man, Stewart Tarver. Their shared father has passed away and left the half-sister part of a large inheritance.

Turner finds Rae Smith. She works as a stripper at a dance club in Tracy, California. She always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but the death of her mother took that dream away and Rae started to strip when she turned eighteen years of age. From one club to another, she is happy to just survive.

Turner and Rae are drawn to each other and, although the sex is great, she isn’t big on commitments and doesn’t want to deal with the inheritance game. And someone tries to kill her and then kidnaps her for sale to a slave trader in Hong Kong. Will she be able to trust Turner?

A Risky Dance #1
Riley Frost walked through the front door at Fellow’s Bar and Grill and, Ben, the bartender, waved. He nodded and sat down on a barstool at the end. The room wasn’t overly crowed and there were enough women in the place that he thought he’d come out on top. He hoped to find a nice curvy woman to curl up with for the night. The noise and laughter helped bring his tension down a notch. 

Ben walked to his end and set a glass of Loch Lomand single-malt-whiskey in front of him. It was Riley’s favorite and the bar kept it stocked for him.

“My headache thanks you, Ben.” He accepted the glass.

“Steven should be back from a break shortly, Mr. Frost. Care for a game of chess?” the bartender asked. “It would give me a chance to win back some of my losses from last month.”

“Perhaps. I’m a little on the prowl tonight. Is it too late to get a pulled pork sandwich or something?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Riley nodded, picked up his glass and a newspaper off the end of the bar, and walked over to an empty table. 

Ben came out from behind the bar. “We can do the sandwich. Chef wants to know if you want coleslaw, chips, or fries?”

“Chips are fine. There’s no need to heat up the fryer.”

“Good.” Ben smiled and went back to the kitchen.

Riley read through the headlines on the front page of the paper and then heard the front door open. A woman about five-foot-ten walked in and went straight to the bar. He did a double take and found it hard to take his eyes off of her.

She wore an emerald green, mini-tank dress that had lace in all the right places. It hugged her hips tightly and when she turned to the bar, he saw it had no back. The sides were cut low under her arms and the curve of her breasts showed just enough. Her long, brown hair would slide side to side when she moved and he thought he saw a scar on the middle of her back. Her legs alone caused Riley’s cock to stir and he thought he may have found his catch for the night.

An older man with dark-graying hair walked up to her. Riley almost started to crack up laughing. The guy wore his hair in a fluffy 80s style cut and had a walrus mustache. The woman smiled and spoke with him. The man put his hand on her arm and she peeled it off and shook her head.

“Woo...turn down, dude. Things are looking very good,” Riley said to himself, and took a sip of his whiskey.

Ben brought his sandwich over and set the plate down on the table. Riley stopped him from leaving.

“The woman at the bar, dead center, with the green dress and brown hair, what can you tell me?”

The bartender looked over his shoulder and nodded. “She is gorgeous, but I think she may be a professional.”

“Really?” Riley felt a bit surprised. She looked too classy to be a hooker. 

“I don’t know it for a fact, but she comes in here every other week or so and never leaves alone.”

“Good, her drink’s on me, Ben.” He’d never seen her before and he spent a lot of time at Fellow’s.

“I’ll see to it. She’s a single-malt woman. May I give her some of the Lomand?”

“Very good idea.” Riley nodded and started to eat his food.

He saw Ben walk behind the bar and prepare the drink. The woman still spoke to the 80s throw back. The bartender put the drink in front of her and pointed toward Riley. She looked over her shoulder just as he slid a potato chip into his mouth. Her eyebrow arched and she turned back to Ben and pushed the glass back at him. They exchanged a few words and the woman picked up the drink and walked toward Riley.

She set the glass down and leaned over with her hand on the table. Riley had a perfect view of the tops of her breasts and he almost lost his breath.

“I don’t accept drinks from strangers, but thank you.” She straightened up.

“Why don’t you have a seat? I’m Riley Frost, now we’re not strangers anymore.”

She stared at him for a moment with Caramel colored eyes and then turned back to the bar. He admired her rear and his cock became hard as a rock, it wanted her so much. She is mine, he thought. 

As she slid onto a stool, she motioned for Ben to bring another drink.

The other man sat next to her and continued to make his moves. He tried to put his hand on her thigh and she moved it.

Riley stood, finished his drink, and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. He took a bill out and picked up the full glass of whiskey she’d left on his table. On her left side, he moved between her and Mr. Walrus Mustache, to crowd the guy away from her. Riley put the cold glass against her bare back.

She sat up, leaned into his hand, and looked at him over her shoulder. Riley didn’t look back, but flagged Ben. He handed the bartender a one-hundred dollar bill and then leaned toward the woman.

He moved his lips to a millimeter from hers and whispered, “The Loch Lomand is a thousand times better than that swill you’ve got. Have a lovely evening.” He brushed his lips over hers and let his hand slide over her breast as he set the drink in front of her. Her nipple felt hard as a bullet. He smiled and started toward the door.

Oh yeah, I give her less than five minutes. She’s mine, he thought. He went out the door, turned left and stood at the corner of the building.

A Lucky Dance #2
Turner found her performance one of the best he’d seen and this trip turned out to be worth it. She definitely could be the Rae he’d searched for. He could see the little girl who held the stuffed rabbit from the old picture. 

He showed his investigators badge to the bartender and explained that he needed to speak to her. The owner came out and asked him why. All Turner told the man was that her brother looked for her due to a death in the family.

After about a half hour, she came out from behind the stage. Her hair was tied up in a Scrunchy and she wore tight jeans with a pale blue cable knit sweater. Instead of the three inch spiked heels she had on a pair of flat tennis-shoes. 

She walked up to the bar alone and sat on a stool two down from him. “Jake told me why you’re here. I think you may have me confused with someone else. I don’t have a brother.”

“My name is Turner Black and I’ve been hired by your half-brother, Stewart Tarver, to find you, Miss Sibley.” He looked at her as she leaned over the counter and snagged a bottle of vodka and a shot glass. She really was gorgeous and he admired her ass as she moved back down to the stool. Her eyes were a light carmel color and she had a little sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose.

“The name is Smith, not whatever you just said.” She took a sip from the shot glass.

Turner took the old picture out of his pocket. She looked at it. He watched her and saw her eyes squint. It was a dead giveaway and he’d learned how to read people over the years.

When she sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly, he knew she remembered that photo.

“According to your half-brother, this picture was one of the few times you met him and your father.” He knew by the look in her eyes it was familiar.

She pushed it back at him. “I’m sorry, Mr. Black. It’s not ringing any bells.”

This goddamn woman is stubborn, Turner thought. 
When Rae looked at the picture she saw a little girl with a stuffed rabbit in one hand and an older boy stood next to her and held her other hand. That stupid rabbit was the only thing she had left of her mother and would never give it away.

“I think it does ring bells, Miss Sibley.”
“Smith, as I said. I’m Rae Smith.”

“Your father passed away about a year ago and your half-brother’s looked for you since.”

“Mr. Black, I never met my father or any brother. I’m an only child. My mother died when I was twelve. I’ve been on my own ever since. She never said anything to me about a brother.” She swallowed the vodka and put the lid back onto the bottle.

“Miss Smith, I know your history.”

“You know nothing about me.” She slid off the stool and started back to the dressing room. Grabbing her jacket and bag, she walked out the back door of the building, rounded a corner and there stood Mr. Black by a dark grey Toyota Prius. Good gas mileage, she thought, arched her eyebrow and started to walk past him.

“Miss Smith, could I give you a ride home?”

“No thanks,” she said and kept moving down the sidewalk.

The engine started in the car and she realized he followed her. When she got to the corner, she stopped and looked at him.

“So, you’re a stalker and all that other story was bullshit?” She bent at the waist and looked at him through the window.

“No, I’m not a stalker. Can I buy you some coffee? There is more to explain.”

She started across the street and as he motored through, she turned left and headed another direction. Her apartment was only a few blocks away, but if she cut through the alley, she could go in the back way. He wouldn’t be able to follow her.

She saw a light flash in the corner of her eye and looked over her shoulder. Her pace picked up and the alley turned about one-hundred feet away.

“Look, what do you have to lose? You’d be able to finally open that dance school you always wanted,” he shouted from the car window.

Rae stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him. There wasn’t any way possible he could know what she wanted.

A Flame Dance #3(Release Date: February 29, 2016)
“How did you fair, Jarrah?” Rae asked.

“The kid beat me twenty out of thirty games.” He looked over his shoulder. “I have some information.”

Grace followed them out of the room and down a hallway toward the offices. He stopped and lowered his voice. “His name is Jonah Sullivan and he’s eleven years old. He has a brother named Jacob who’s fourteen. They were dumped at a park and ride in Reno by their mother and after they lived on the street for a few days met some guy named Feathertop who brought them to Sacramento.”

“Unbelievable, the kids been with us for six weeks and all we knew was his nickname.” Rae shook her head.

“This guy Feathertop gives them the nicknames and insists they use them always.”

“I’ve heard of that guy. He’s sort of like Fagin in Oliver Twist. He promises them food, safety and in exchange they’re taught to pick pockets, steel purses and I’ve even heard they’ve robbed some houses,” Grace said.

“I was over in Sacramento this morning and think I may have seen his crew. We were protecting the singer Veronda and I don’t know how many worked the crowd, but they were good.”

“Let me see what I can find out about Jonah Sullivan.” Rae looked toward her office.

“It’s sad. I mean, to be dumped by your mom and then his brother brought him here and told him to wait until he came back. Poor kid.” Hejazi shook his head. 

Grace now found she admired this man’s heart. He felt for Kit.

“Turner will be here to pick me up around five-thirty, oh and Grace will be joining us.” Rae grinned.

She wanted to crawl into the carpet and hide. When she looked at Hejazi, he smiled.

“Great, I won’t be a third wheel,” he said.

Grace stared at his dark eyes and realized she couldn’t determine what color they were. They were either black or dark brown, but they mesmerized her and when she became aware that he stared back, she blushed.

“Rae, could I ride with you and Mr. Black?” she asked.

“You could ride with me. I don’t know my way around here and you can direct me,” Hejazi said before Rae could answer.

Grace smiled. “Sounds good.”

“I should go find a place to stay the night. How about I meet you out front at five o’clock?”
“That’s fine.”
Hejazi found a Holiday Inn and booked the room for the next five days. He wanted to spend some more time with that kid, Jonah, and see if he could find out more about Feathertop. He also wanted to get to know Grace McKay.

With his connections to the military and feds he could easily find out about her, but decided he’d rather get the low down direct from the source.

It was over fifteen years since he’d been with his last girlfriend. On his first tour of duty, when he’d gone home to Chicago for two weeks leave, his girl, Marissa, acted strange when they met back up. After a couple of days, she’d told him that she’d fallen in love with an insurance salesman. The news kicked him in the balls and he’d decided to put his time and energy into the Marine Corps’ and starting his security group. He never wanted to feel his heart tear in half again.

Fifteen years passed with a blink of an eye and this coming October he’d turn forty years old. He’d gotten to a point where he could monitor the business from wherever he decided to live. The men in his group could handle the job professionally and didn’t need him to be present all the time.

Grace McKay was a beautiful woman and ex-military which gave them something in common. Her height caught his attention, too. His six-foot-five build made it difficult to date smaller women, not that he dated. The fleeting thought that he wouldn’t have to bend at the waist to kiss Grace made him smile while he shaved. Their bodies might even fit together nice and snug, too.

He looked at himself in the mirror. “You’re putting your cart way before your horse, asshole. She’s probably married,” he said to his reflection. “Or she’s involved with someone and you won’t have a chance. You have work to do in a month and don’t need the aggravation.”

Author Bio:
Monika Summerville is an avid reader, loves good tense movies, and works hard on her writing. She lives in Western Washington State with her four cats, Agamemnon, Tazmania, Jasper and Jericho. 

She has written A Risky Dance and A Lost Dance for Siren BookStrand. The third book - A Flame Dance - will be out spring 2016.


A Risky Dance #1

A Lucky Dance #2

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