The Devil & Dayna Dalton

 

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Book 9: A Bulwark Anthology
Paranormal Romance
Date Published: September 30, 2019
Publisher: Chelshire, Inc.
Reporter Dayna Dalton’s reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother’s footsteps; never given a chance to prove she’s different. Dayna’s been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty.  He’s happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening.  Dayna is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character. Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?
*Contains Sexual Content*
Excerpt
Chapter 1
“I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.” Marilyn Monroe
The crisp, clear sunlight was not her friend. Dayna Dalton winced at the bright light that squeezed in through the slats of the venetian blind. She reached over and gave the cord a hard tug, sending the pint-sized bathroom into near darkness. Behind her, the shower head dripped with a steady plop, plop that reminded her of the exposé she did on water torture in Guantanamo Bay that never got published. It was deemed too harsh to print.
The Bulwark Advance preferred her to write…fluffy pieces. She sneered thinking of the crap on her computer, the half-written article about the elusive Easter Bunny that awaited its final edit. She hung her head in shame, thinking of what her sorority sisters from Georgetown would feel if they knew where Dangerous Dayna Dalton had ended up. There’d be hell to pay in the form of eternal humiliation.
Dayna twisted the faucet, her freckled knuckle turning bone white from the effort. It was no use; the leak continued relentlessly, driving a hole in her throbbing head. Oh, that last round of shots was totally not necessary.
No matter how hard she wrenched the faucet, the dribble continued. She thought she should ask her guest to fix it before he left. He was a plumber, after all. She was sick of this place. Dayna peered at her reflection in the mirror. She was sick of her life.
Skip Benson’s bearlike yawn turned into a growl from the bedroom. “Dayna.” His voice grated on her nerves.
Dayna rolled her kohl-smeared eyes.
“Dayna, come on back to bed.”
Dayna took a steadying breath and used both hands to grip the sink as if it were holding her up. What was she thinking last night? Skip Benson? How low could she go? A shudder ran through her lithe frame. That left only Trout Parker, and she could now report she had officially and irrevocably scraped the bottom of the barrel of Bulwark, Georgia.
She rubbed her forehead where a hammer banged against the inside of her skull.
Skip wailed for her to return to the warmth of the bed. Dayna wrinkled her nose, thinking about Skip’s performance, or rather what she remembered about it. Oh yeah, too many tequila shots will make anyone desirable, even stupid Skippy Benson.
She ran her fuzzy tongue over her dry teeth, fighting the urge to gag.
Skip Benson had never been on the football team, the basketball team…Hell, he’d never even made the chess team. He had been the school screw-up, and now he could brag that he and Dayna had…
Dayna turned away from the mirror with disgust, her cheeks flushing. She staggered to the doorway of the bedroom. Using the frame to hold herself erect, she shouted, “Get up!”
“Wha–?” Skip rose, the comforter bunched at his flabby waist, his chest bare and the pathetic tattoo of a red devil across the front of his right bicep.
Vague memories of kissing that image flitted through her foggy brain. Dayna picked up a pillow discarded on the floor during their frenzied arrival and threw it at his head.
“I said, get up and get out of here!”
Skip ducked, then slid off the bed, his behind exposed, another image of a werewolf on his left butt cheek. Dayna convulsed at a hazy memory of talking to that tattoo.
“You weren’t so eager to get rid of me last night.” Skip stood in all his naked glory, which wasn’t much.
“Ugh. I’m never drinking again,” Dayna muttered under her breath. “I said get dressed and get out of here.” A shoe sailed past Skip’s head.
Her unwanted guest scrambled to find his clothes. “Hey, cut it out, Dayna!” Skip was living up to his namesake as he struggled into his work pants, bouncing toward the door.
Dayna’s face split into a demonic smile that was known to strike fear in the hearts of single men everywhere. Here, she thought, was the elusive Easter Bunny. She watched Skip hop toward his escape as though he were in the Fourth of July potato sack race.
Dayna picked up a shirt that had been discarded on the floor and threw it at him. The garment appeared to have a life of its own and engulfed his head. Skip’s muffled cries were nearly smothered by the material. His hands tore at the shirt to no avail.
His fingers—Dayna looked closer, grimacing at the dirt under his nails, and watched his wrestling match with the clothing. She pushed him into her shabby living room, then out the door of her condo. Mrs. Sweetpea, an antonym for sure, watched in revulsion as Dayna shoved her guest out of her apartment.
Dayna lived in Shady Oaks, a rundown condominium community, where she reluctantly shared a front porch with her neighbor. The building was a connected row of apartments that bordered undeveloped land, as though a builder had left the project unfinished halfway through. It was hot real estate when they released the first phase, and half the town bought investment properties. Then the real estate bubble burst, and the whole thing came tumbling down.
Dayna had an inside scoop about what was really going on, but once again, the paper wouldn’t print it. The mayor had sold the land and gotten a back-end deal for it. He made a ton of dough and then skipped off to Colombia—the country, not Columbia, South Carolina. The builder had used inferior products, and once he went to jail for money laundering, the whole place went to seed. There was no one to call when things broke.
Dayna cast Mrs. Sweetpea a jaundiced eye, daring the nosy neighbor to say something about her guest. While the old crone might have appeared to be like the proverbial sweet grandmotherly type, Dayna knew her to be an ornery bitch with a sting as sharp as an angry wasp.
She hated her; had for years. Thelma Sweetpea had been her babysitter back in the day when she was a small child. Dayna’s mother had dropped her off at the old lady’s house for the first nine years of her life.
Dayna looked at Mrs. Sweetpea and shivered. The old woman had moved into the complex a year and a half ago, cutting up Dayna’s peace. What were the odds they’d end up living next door to each other? She was a mean old woman, and Dayna felt judged every time those beady eyes settled on her.
Dayna considered moving but was so underwater with her mortgage, she couldn’t think of selling. She was stuck at Shady Oaks, and she was stuck with the prying eyes of Thelma Sweetpea.
Mrs. Thelma Sweetpea took out her aggression with a broom and started to sweep as though the hounds of hell had just taken a shit there. Dayna fought the urge to say something. Speaking with Mrs. Sweetpea usually ended up in a hissing contest. Dayna’s compressed lips turned up just a bit with a smile at the result of this morning meeting. Mrs. Sweetpea was in a frenzy of spring cleaning, as if she could wipe the interlopers from reality.
The sky was overcast, and even though it was springtime, the air was decidedly chilly. A wave of cold air stole under Dayna’s shirt, making it billow out. She fought the urge to shiver. Her bare feet felt the shock of the freezing concrete. She’d be damned if she would show that old biddy any weakness, even if it was unseasonably cold.
Dayna looked up at the watery sky, searching for a glimpse of the sun. Global warming was playing havoc with Georgia’s weather. Either it was extremely hot when it was supposed to be cold or freezing when the time of year dictated heat. It didn’t rain anymore; it stormed with funnel clouds that touched down, ripping homes and trailers from their moorings.
Mrs. Sweetpea stopped her sweeping to look at Dayna, her lips pursed as if she’d eaten something sour. Dayna returned the stare, her eyes observing the wrinkled face, watching the older woman judge her half-naked form.
Dayna’s freckled shoulder peeked out from an oversized tee shirt. It was paired with her long, bare, coltish legs underneath. Dayna looked down and cursed when she realized she was wearing Skip’s tee. Glancing up, she realized he was struggling with her shirt from last night.
Watching her neighbor’s shocked face, Dayna ripped Skip’s shirt over her head and tossed it to him. He paused in his scuffle with her clothing to admire her perfect breasts.
“I don’t have to leave,” Skip said with a broad smile.
“Oh yes you do, and don’t come back here.” Dayna turned around, her shoulders straight. She paused to look at the older woman, who stood with her jaw hanging in shock.
“Have you no shame?” Thelma Sweetpea sputtered.
Dayna looked back at the gawking plumber, then her scandalized neighbor. She shrugged indifferently. “Apparently I have no shame at all.”

 

About the Author

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Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology.  Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.
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Overlord

 

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Outcasts, Book 6
Sci-fi Romance
Published: September 2019
Publisher: Anything-but-Ordinary Books
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Determined to bring meaningful change to her people, Lady Eza of the Sarronti seeks out the leader of the Outcasts and proposes a daring alliance. She expects to negotiate with a barbarian. Instead, Overlord Kage Razel awakens longings that have nothing to do with the rebellion. He intrigues and attracts her, making her ache for the consuming passion she has only experienced in his arms. Yet Kage also frightens Eza. She senses secrets in him, portions of his being he will not share with anyone. There is no doubt Eza wants him, but can she trust this mysterious stranger, or will he use his unique abilities to gain control over her world?
Other Books in the Outcasts Series:
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Heretic
Outcasts, Book 1
Marauder
Outcasts, Book 2
Tracker
Outcasts, Book 3
Assassin
Outcasts Book 4
Warlord
Outcasts, Book 5
About the Author

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Cyndi has written about rock stars, vampires, and cat shifters, but she’s currently focused on outer space. Her stories are fun, fast-paced, and seriously hot. Her books have made the USA Today Top 100, and frequently land on Amazon Best Seller lists. She is currently working on the Shadowborn Rebellion, a spin-off series set in the Outcasts universe.
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Soul Matters

 

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Modern Science Confirming Ancient Wisdom – Healing at the Interface of Spirit and Matter
Spirituality, New Age
Date Published: February 2019
Publisher: Balboa Press
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Soul Matters presents Dr. Jeanne-Rachel Salomon’s research into the millennia-old shamanic healing modality of Soul Retrieval. During actual shamanic healing sessions, Dr. Salomon utilized QEEG Brain Mapping and DFM blood work to monitor the body-mind system of both the client and herself. The scientific results of her work allow her to conclude that the fundamentals of the shamanic healing method are aligned with quantum principals and that the phenomenon of soul leaving and soul returning happens on the quantum-level of existence. The results of her study confirm the relevance of quantum physics’ tenets of non-locality, tangled hierarchy and discontinuity inside shamanic healing.
About the Author

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Jeanne-Rachel Salomon, PhD studied anthropology and then quantum medicine, receiving her Doctorate and PhD in Natural Medicine (concentration on consciousness). She studied with indigenous shamans and Western healers and has twenty years of experience as a shamanic practitioner, focusing on soul retrieval for trauma resolution.

 

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The Assignments

 

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Thriller, Financial Thriller
Published: June 2019
Publisher: Booklocker
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Jonathan Black, the notorious Wall Street equity trader, runs his desk with an iron fist. Without warning, unpredictable events turn his world upside down. Following a “friendly” corporate merger, Blackie learns the desk he used to run is gone forever. The job he cherishes has yielded to computerized, algorithmic formulas. Adding salt to the wound, he must defend himself against charges of felony insider-trading, having made $2.5 million using non-public information. He is on the street, without a job and under the gun.
Agent Margaret Stark of the FBI’s white-collar crimes unit, known for her “take no prisoners” approach, investigates Blackie. Maggie is certain that, after many frustrating months trying to unlock an insider-trading ring, she has found the key. Blackie had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime. The reader learns of deep personal reasons fueling her desire to take him, and all like him, down.
A direct attempt, forcing him to come clean is a complete failure. Maggie must accept that Blackie is no ordinary felon. She adopts a more subtle approach. On the surface, she will offer him a chance to clear his name by working several stings, including insider trading, mortgage fraud, jury tampering and a Ponzi scheme, where Blackie is the bait. She calls them Assignments. In reality, she designs her projects to give her adversary the maximum opportunity to trip up. When Blackie initially resists the deal, Maggie uses a carrot and stick. She argues a court would look kindly on his cooperation. On the other hand, if he refuses, she vows to continue to use all her resources to take him down.
As the assignments progress, Maggie learns there is far more to this man than his hostile trading-desk persona. While searching for clues about the illegal trade, she discovers that he is hiding his past and leading a secret, second life, including an insatiable and unexplained need for money. The mystery of the man only intensifies her desire to uncover the truth. Concurrently, the target criminals behind each assignment grow progressively ruthless. The stings are thus, increasingly dangerous. Lives, including Blackie’s are at risk.
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 Excerpt
Chapter 1
I grimace when I see her anywhere near my trading desk.
“Good morning Blackie, how was your weekend?”
Deidra’s voice is pure as if she’s never screamed-out a single word in her life. She sashays across the room in
a blue business-like skirt with a white blouse and a scarf, as if ready to pose for one of those model magazines. Her
dark red nails match her lipstick. She must use a tanning machine. I can’t imagine how much time she spends on that
big jet-black hair. Most female traders I know put their hair in a ponytail at work.
That’s my point, she glams-up every day. It’s all wrong. Why spruce yourself to mud-wrestle? The traders sit
at identical, adjacent workstations. There is little space and no walls. Soon after the market opens at 9:30 a.m., it’s a
scene of messy hair, rolled-up sleeves and undone collars. No one gives a shit how you look. They all understand,
once they put their headset on and their butt in a chair they are to produce trades. When an order comes in, they
shout out the name and the size. By the end of a busy day, half of them are hoarse. There’s the constant hum and
heat from the equipment and the smell of too many bodies close together. After a while, they stand up to stretch; the
chairs kill your back. Don’t you dare miss a trade while you’re in the can. Somebody comes by with coffee and the
lunch cart.
I’m studying the three large LED monitors, each flashing arrows, symbols and headlines in white, red, green
and yellow, giving me valuable market insight.
That’s the only reason any of us are here.
She’s waiting for my response. I don’t acknowledge her. I’ll never understand why some people can’t figure
out what’s important. If this woman replaced her hair dryer with a computer screen and studied the overnight news
instead of filing her nails, she could get a jump on the competition. I wonder how many times I’ve told her that–
enough so I won’t again. That she’s standing next to me wasting time is a clear sign she’s out of touch.
I suspect Deidra and I are close to the same age. I’m thirty-two. Over the years, I’ve picked up wrinkles and
extra belly roll, because I sit all day. Yes, there are things called gyms. Once the market closes, I’ve no energy for
that; I am done like dinner, put a fork in me.
“Blackie?”
Does she think I didn’t hear her? She should know better than to come between my screens and me as I
prepare for the market opening.
I scowl at her.
“Deidra, one of us is working. See if you can figure out which one.”
My voice sounds like sandpaper compared to hers. She makes a feeble gasping noise and shuffles over to her
workstation, where she should have gone. Now, just because she’s a woman, don’t jump to conclusions. I will work
with anybody: female, male, white, black, if you’re green and from Mars, it’s the same. But, if you want to talk
when I’m on the desk it better be about a trade. Besides, I’m not a person you can just walk up to and flap your
gums for no reason. Don’t bother me with the weather, politics or what an over-paid professional athlete did or
didn’t do. I couldn’t care less how your night was or whether you got laid.
Understand this. We sit on a trading desk not at a birthday party. We’re here to help our clients buy and sell
stocks. What we do is cutthroat; the rest of Wall Street does the same thing. We fight for every single transaction.
When you miss one, that commission goes into someone else’s pocket. You can never get it back.
My former boss hired and trained me. Then, without warning, at forty-four years old he keeled over. This
business can take its toll. It sucked, but it got me promoted. He was a weak manager anyway and didn’t run the ship
as tight as he could. Soon after I was in charge, I fired two deadbeats and with Deidra, I’d have had a hat trick, but I
can’t touch the beauty queen. Every time I try, the Human Resources department–HR–says I have to train her and
give her a fair chance. I keep saying, “Impossible. You can’t teach a sense of urgency. We’d be doing her and us a
favor.” They keep saying, “Do it.”
The job requires you to read people, listen between the lines. When I speak with a customer, my view on the
market’s direction, a news flash, or the president’s latest tweet isn’t important. Only the client’s opinion is. I hear
their tone of voice. Do they sound unsure? I try to figure out which way they are leaning, never forgetting they are
all, always motivated by greed or fear. You can’t believe everything they say, because there’s more bullshit on Wall
Street than on a farm. Sometimes the customer is trying to screw you into doing a losing trade at the wrong price,
maybe to cover a mistake he made. If he has paid us lots of commissions, you let him.
Trading takes backbone. When the shit hits the fan, it’s more-often-than-not pointing at you.
My team doesn’t like me. Ask out of my earshot, and stand back. They will call me every name in the book,
which is fine. We aren’t here to make friends. They should thank me; I trained them. They’re now in a league with
the best traders on Wall Street.
My phone bank contains sixty clear plastic buttons, all direct lines. One lights; it’s our biggest client. It’s only
9:15 a.m., which is odd since trading hasn’t started yet. I punch it.
“Blackie here.”
“Blackie, it’s Rocky. We have a huge stock holding for sale. I wanted to show it to you first.”
About the Author

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While P.T. Dawkins writes about “crimes of deception,” his primary goal is to create characters the reader will remember long after the book is finished. He studied English at Dartmouth College, and is an active post-graduate learner including MBA and CFA degrees and creative writing training from acclaimed authors.
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The Cure for Stupidity

 

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Non-Fiction

Self-Help

Date Published: 6/12/19
Publisher: Peacock Proud Press
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Every day you’re driven nuts by the people around you making common sense errors and irrational decisions. Imagine what life would look like if you didn’t have to waste time and energy dealing with stubborn, clueless, argumentative, defensive, or apathetic coworkers! Thank goodness Eric Bailey translates decades of brain science research into every-day language, helping you break through common communication barriers that will improve every relationship in your life. Whether you work in the executive suite or on the front-line, this book will teach you how to cure the stupidity all around you.
About the Author

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Eric M. Bailey is the President of Bailey Strategic Innovation Group, one of the fastest-growing communication consulting firms in the United States. Eric has a diverse set of experiences that includes helping an NFL player pet a rhinoceros, doing barrel rolls in an F-16, and chatting with LL Cool J on the campus of Harvard University.
Eric’s unique style blends fact and emotion and finds ways to appeal to analytical thinkers, emotional feelers, and everyone in between. Eric has been featured on Huffington Post, Forbes, the Like a Real Boss Podcast and has helped leaders and teams across North America see common problems from new and different perspectives. Eric works with Google Inc., the US Air Force, Los Angeles County, Phoenix PD and many more.
Eric holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Saint Louis University and is a lifetime learner of human and organizational behavior. When not working or researching, you can find Eric and his wife, Jamie racing on their road bikes, being cheered on by their three children.
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Blood Branded

 

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(The Mix-Blood: Book One)
Young Adult, Coming of Age, Fantasy
Date Published: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Breezy Pages Publishing
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Defiance is paid in blood.
Their time is up. The crimsons are coming, marching on Hammerstone to crush the rebellious grays who renounce their rule. The graybacks have defied the ban that forbids trade or alliances with other races.
Frafnar understands intolerance better than most. Every season the grayback settlements send tribute to their oppressive orc cousins, and Hammerstone is no exception. After Frafnar is denied the opportunity to join the tribute guard because of his mixed heritage, he leaps at the chance to prove himself when his father’s signal horn is left behind.
Smoke rises in the distance. Frafnar must warn Hammerstone of the threat and comes to realize that his people are struggling with what he’s faced all his life. Now he must fight alongside those he loves—and hates—to protect his home.
Can Hammerstone withstand the siege, or will it become the final gravesite in a failed rebellion?
When the crimsons strike, always remember… strength in blood.
If you’re a fan of the epic or high fantasy genres, coming of age stories, or action-packed tales with haughty orcs and mysterious magic, then you’ll want to pick up Blood Branded.
Excerpt
Mix-Blood
“I have to win.”
The words pierced the chatter among the gathering, reaching Frafnar and echoing his own thoughts.
“I want to see a crimson!” another hollered.
“Better hope you’re not against me!” someone else shouted.
Then the energy of the group stilled as if everyone held their breath. Frafnar stood on the tips of his toes, but he still couldn’t see past the bobbing heads and shoulders of the other runts.
“Frafnar, son of Armastus.”
His elation was cut short by the groans of the group. The outbursts ceased when Trainer Groth roared for silence.
“His opponent will be…”
The gathering leaned forward.
“Bromh, son of—”
“No!” Bromh yelled from within the crowd. “I won’t be paired against the mix-blood.”
“Then you forfeit,” Groth said, already searching for the next contender.
“I never said—”
“Get over here,” Groth snapped. “Where’s Frafnar? Let him through.”
The circle of bodies parted enough that Frafnar squeezed between them, ignoring the sharp stares from the others. He kept his chin high and broke eye contact only as he passed the runts towering over him.
Trainer Groth and Bromh waited in the center of the ring.
“What’s the matter?” Frafnar taunted when he broke through the crowd. “Afraid you’ll lose?”
Bromh scoffed. “I’ll crush you in an instant, twig.”
Groth’s scowl deepened. Veins popped out of the tight flesh on his arms and neck.
“Fine,” Bromh stammered. “But everyone knows I should’ve had a real challenge,” he dared to add.
“Get into position.”
Frafnar met Bromh in the middle of the circle, a solid wood construction between them.
“Winner moves on to the finals,” Groth reiterated with a huff.
Frafnar mirrored Bromh by grasping the iron bar on the side of the wood platform with one hand and placing his elbow on the leather pad. Bromh glared over their clasped hands and squeezed so hard his knuckles paled. Maybe when he was younger, Frafnar might have cried out because of the pain. Today, Bromh would have to break his hand before he’d let go. When he won, they’d have no choice but to acknowledge him as an orc.
Trainer Groth balanced two thin strips of kindling on each side of their hands to ensure they started at his command. “Prepare,” he said. Then, after a suspense-filled moment, “Go.”
The audience erupted with noise, hollering as the strips fell over. Frafnar met Bromh’s strength with his own. He inched his opponent’s arm halfway down to the wood surface. The notion of a quick triumph crumbled when he heard Bromh snicker.
“That all you got, twig?”
About the Author

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J.A. Alexsoo lives in Ontario, Canada, and has forever been a fan of fantasy and science fiction. When not working on writing or imagining new adventures, she tours the lands with her two trusty canine companions. She’s the author of THE KNIGHT’S ORDER and her new book BLOOD BRANDED is scheduled to be released October 1st.

 

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Guardian of Angel

 

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Book 2 of the Father of Contention series
Science Fiction and Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Date Published: July 29, 2019
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When evil finds a way, man becomes beast.
In the small town of Thunder Bay, 2002, Angelika Juris becomes unexpectedly linked to her guardian angel, Gavin, after a suspicious near-death experience. While trying to figure out the complicated nature of their connection, they uncover a plot so disturbing, it threatens to shift the delicate balance between life and death and eradicate the precious human gift of free will.
When her sister goes missing, Angelika must search the unforgiving terrain of the Rocky Mountains, with her guardian angel as her guide. But they find more than just her sister—a   familiar face, Renner Scholz—and a secret lab teeming with his ongoing, unhindered experiments, including the most powerful of his offspring—the triplets.
Now, Angelika must find a way to free her sister from her evil captors, along with a newfound love interest—Anthony—Renner’s only normal son. Will they be able to thwart Renner’s malevolent schemes and escape with their lives, or will they suffer the same fate as so many of his previous victims?
Chapter 1
Tomas – 1984
Tomas Scholz sits upon a throne beside his father above the stones
of fire. Surrounded by splendour, he bursts with pride as all bow
down and honour them, bestowing gifts of great riches: precious
gems and stones—sardius, topaz, diamond and onyx—silver and
gold, and the rarest of artifacts collected from all over the many
realms. This destiny, although not yet achieved, awaits him after
this world has passed away, or so the shadow has promised.
In time. He must be patient.
A three-toed woodpecker, normally a quiet, shy, little bird,
hammers out a tune on a nearby dead spruce, redirecting Tomas’
thoughts away from his daydreams and back to the matter at hand.
Carrying the device with painstaking care, he reaches a clearing
in the mountains. This flat fold of land has been carefully selected
for the job, unchartered territory, a place no man has previously
travelled. The device is light despite its enormous potential for
destruction, light enough for his nine-year-old hands to carry.
The wind swells in unpredictable gusts sending uprooted weeds
and debris to tumble across the dry landscape. It is not ideal
weather to test out his experiment, on the contrary, but he is
impatient, insistent. If it were anyone else attempting this feat
they would be prudently dissuaded, encouraged to wait for more
opportune conditions. The summer had been a dry one, and the
arid conditions mixed with the gales of wind are a recipe for
disaster.
But Tomas is not like other children. His abilities are powerful
enough to defy even the wind.
Besides, Tomas is too excited to see how it finally works, unable
to wait a moment longer. Adrenaline almost palpable as he flits and
floats across the glade despite his clubbed foot, preparing for the
initial trial of the weapon he has designed and built all by himself.
He is a genius. Wisdom doesn’t grow on trees; it is inherited.
Or prepared in a lab. Both methods are responsible in Tomas’ case.
Born of Renner’s sperm, he has inherited the genes for brilliance,
but his earthly father further manipulated Tomas’ genetic structure
to enhance his potential for genius. In this Renner has been
successful.
Just a child, Tomas is already capable of recombinant DNA
technology and minor medical procedures. Always the perfect
pupil. Always eager to learn more. Technology and inventing
advanced weaponry are his preferred hobbies, skills that come
to him naturally, and had he been allowed to go out in public to
submit these innovations for patenting, he would earn millions,
perhaps billions. But they are billionaires and have no need for
more money. And he is not ready to go out in public, to be exposed
to the world—the world not ready for him yet. For Tomas’ talents
don’t stop there.
Surpassing his higher level of intelligence are his supernatural
abilities, having both fathers to thank for this gift. By the shadow
entering Renner’s body that fateful night in the abandoned chapel,
his DNA changed, which was then passed on to his offspring.
These changes increased the development of DMT produced by
the pineal gland and the subsequent presentation of supernatural
abilities, the like of which have never been seen in humans.
Renner had also manipulated Tomas’ genes, splicing them with
favourable animalistic traits to increase his special abilities. The
final product is a boy who has powers that are both profound and
intense. Unrestrained. In this Renner has also been successful.
Tomas is a telepath, able to read other people’s thoughts
and desires with great ease. Most impressive are his telekinetic
capabilities, able to teleport any object, from the size of a grain of
sand all the way up to a massive Gothic castle to any location he
so desires. Able to transport his own body.
But impressive though this is, Tomas is not perfect. None of
them are. Flaws remain in Renner’s recombinant DNA techniques,
glitches he still struggles to correct with each series of experiments.
There is always an element of trial and error when it comes to
experimenting in new unexplored areas, but he has faith he will
overcome these limitations and the supernatural abilities that all
the offspring display prove he is on the right track.
Tomas is the most handsome of them all if you could call
him handsome. Hair, worn long and unruly. Taller than most
nine-year-olds, he is more muscular as well but not a giant like
some of his brothers. He prefers to wear mostly jogging pants,
jeans, T-shirts, and sweaters for there is no need to dress up here.
No one to impress. His eyes are as black as pitch and empty. Dead
embers.
Born with a cleft palate, Tomas underwent corrective surgery
as a young baby, but Renner being untrained in cosmetic
procedures, the repair didn’t go as well as planned. Tomas can
feed and communicate much better than he would have without
the surgical procedure, but a resultant lisp when speaking words
that contain the letter s has Tomas training extensively to articulate
his words. The lisp now more of an extended, exaggerated s sound.
The speech impediment isn’t as bothersome as the thickened scar
tissue between his nose and upper lip. Tomas plans on visiting
a real cosmetic surgeon who will correct the botched effort his
father performed and eliminate the scar—when he is older, when
he is permitted to venture out into the real world. He also has a
clubbed right foot that gives him a mild limp. These deformities
are considered minor compared to his brothers’. So, he has little
to complain about, this he knows.
His brothers, on the other hand, have not fared as well. The
flaws in Renner’s experiments far more evident. The deformities
more intensive, requiring massive reconstruction, the likes of
which do not yet exist. Tomas is already working diligently on
this limitation, inventing his own brand of prosthetics that will
help the remainder of his triplet brothers—his womb-mates—and
other siblings to help them be more aesthetically pleasing to the
eye or at least less abhorrent while simultaneously helping them
to channel their own gifts. Augment them.
But again, in time.
Tomas’ preparations slowly come to completion. He lopes
across the field through tussock grasses and stunted shrubbery to
the location he has deemed most beneficial for his test. He stops
amidst a patch of denser grasses and wildflowers, adjacent to a
stand of tiny gnarled aspens. Mounds of rhododendron underbrush
proudly display their yellow and white puff ball-shaped flowers
tinged with pink and lavender.
Soon their beauty will be extinguished.
The sound of a river rushing at highs speeds can be detected from
this vantage point, an important proponent for this experiment to
function smoothly.
He looks over to see if the shadow—his other father, the one
that matters most—is watching, desiring his praise. A moment of
insecurity?
But, the moment of weakness is short-lived. As soon as Tomas
senses approval, he commences, extending his right arm towards
the surrounding rhododendron mounds and dry grasses. Clumsily,
he fastens the contraption to his extended right wrist with plastic
straps and buckles. The weapon, a flame thrower, is like no other.
It is controlled by Tomas’ mind alone, lacking buttons or switches,
with nothing to turn it on or off, no dials to increase or decrease
its power, except by his mind’s will.
Abruptly he stops, eyes fastening on the shadow as the sound of
a woman’s scream pierces his mind. The sound is heard through
his gift, although the actual source is not much further than their
location, yet still safely out of harm’s way. Their eyes make contact,
full of mutual understanding. It is Milena, once more in the throes
of labour.
“It will be a boy,” he tells the shadow.
“Yes, yes, I know,” the shadow responds.
They are all boys, so it is a natural conclusion. However, Tomas
knows this on another level, knows it for a fact as the baby’s
thoughts can already be heard, although he is not yet born. “He
is different,” Tomas adds, before returning to his task without
further explanation.
A shiny, black crow bursts out of the shrubbery and furiously
flaps its wings, escaping barely in time, somehow anticipating
the fire that will quickly follow. Tomas telepathically transmits
a message to the weapon to eject a far-reaching rope of flame
from its tip, and the contraption immediately obliges, bathing the
mountain glade in fire. He slowly spins in a circle creating a ring
of fire around him, the flames dancing and rising as if in adoration
and worship. The intense orange from the fire’s light is reflected
in his black eyes as if tiny flames have been sparked from within
the lifeless black embers.
“It works!” he exclaims. “Father, can you see it?”
The flames continue to rise.
And rise. And rise higher still, the flames licking and lapping at
Tomas’ face and body and limbs. Searing, melting, binding. Until
flame and skin become one.
About the Author

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Lanie Mores enjoys travelling to alternate realities, often found with her head buried in a book, binge watching Netflix, or playing video games. Although fantasy and science fiction are her obsession, she enjoys most forms of literature, and has been writing poetry since she was a wee bairn.
She has worn many hats throughout her life: cashier, medical records secretary, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, personal trainer, and most importantly, mom. Her son is the moon of her life, her sun and stars, and she would do anything for him…destroy Terminators sent from a future realm, deflect an Unforgivable curse with her motherly love, and travel through the Upside Down to find him, even if she had to face the Demogorgon himself.
Inspired to write by Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, Jean M. Auel and Margaret Atwood, she has big shoes to fill, but has always been a huge dreamer and has the determination to aim higher than the stars. GUARDIAN OF ANGEL is the second novel she has written and published, book 2 in the FATHER OF CONTENTION series.
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