Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, July 13, 2020

Guest Post - Carrie Stuart Parks RELATIVE SILENCE



Good morning, my bookish peeps! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that you got some reading in while enjoying your weekend activities. I am pleased to welcome today's guest, an award-winning author and internationally known forensic artist, Carrie Stuart Parks to The Book Diva's Reads. Many authors have to combine hours of research into an unknown area of expertise to write stories about an unknown subject, but Ms. Parks is a forensic artist that combines her unique background in that area with her writing for some wonderful scenarios. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you Carrie Stuart Parks, author of Relative Silence



What If? and Forensic Art
by Carrie Stuart Parks


Like most authors, I start out with two simple words, what if? What if my character has her dog bring home a human skull? (The Bones Will Speak.) What if my character lies about her training as a forensic artist and stumbles upon a secret from World War Two? (Formula of Deception.) What if my character has the face of her long-dead daughter age-progressed and becomes convinced she's actually alive? (Relative Silence.) What might set my what if questions in a different direction from most authors is that the what if usually includes forensics. Specifically forensic art. As a forensic artist myself, I know the field intimately, and I know the many applications of this skill. 

Before I go on, let me define forensic art. It's any art used in law enforcement or legal proceedings. This includes composite drawings from witness descriptions, measuring and recording crime scenes, and doing the courtroom sketching for television or print media. Any image enhancement such as adding or removing beards and glasses, drawing video surveillance images, or age progression falls under the forensic art umbrella. Facial reconstruction, either two-dimensional (drawing) or three dimensional (clay) over a skull for identification would be considered forensic art. Even preparing charts and exhibits for court is a form of forensic art.

Because the field is so exciting and varied, I try to shine a spotlight on one particular area in each of my novels. In Relative Silence, I wanted to present child age progression. I first heard of this in 1986 at a forensic art symposium in New Orleans. Two men had sketched the face of some missing children that had led to their recovery. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, founded just a year earlier by John and Revé Walsh and other child advocates, was in its infancy. Although most of America had heard of Etan Patz (abducted in 1979) and Adam Walsh (abducted in 1981), this was the first I'd heard of a way in which I could use my art skills to help children. Thirty-three years later, I was able to write about it in my novel.

I still teach and practice forensic art, and as each case crosses my drafting table, I now look at the possibilities for a storyline. What if . . ?


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Guest Post: Rachael Tamayo - CARNAL KNOWLEDGE



Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and is staying safe and cool! One of the many things I love about having a book blog is learning about new-to-me authors and books. I'm constantly adding new books to my TBR list, which has well-over 3500 titles on it now. Today I'm excited to introduce you to Rachael Tamayo, an Amazon best-selling and award-winning author as today's guest. I hope you'll take a few minutes to enjoy Ms. Tamayo's words of wisdom about underrated authors, learn a bit more about her latest book, Carnal Knowledge, follow the blog tour, and, I hope, add this book to your TBR list as I have. Thank you, Ms. Tamayo, for stopping by today and visiting with us. I'll now turn the blog over to you.




 Hidden Diamonds by Rachael Tamayo


We all have a stack of our favorites, don't we? The big guns like James Patterson, Stephen King, Nora Roberts… just to name a few. However, what about those smaller names? The book you stumbled on and bought even though you never heard of them and it just totally blew you away? That happens to me too. So, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite obscure, underrated authors.  

Tatenda Creed, author of the Lost Angels series. I don't much read paranormal, but back when I started taking my writing seriously, I stumbled upon this author on a writer's website. I read these books and I was totally blown away. Hands down, this is the best paranormal series I have ever read. I was scrambling for the next book. Simply amazing. If you liked Twilight, I can almost promise that you will like this one even more.  

Cynthia Austin, author of the Pendant series. This was another series that I read in a matter of days. I lived and breathed these books once I picked them up and devoured all three of them in little more than a week. She's since put out a couple more romantic thrillers, and I read everything she's written. She's a hidden diamond that you won't be sorry you dug out.  

Genevieve Raas, author of the Spindlewood Trilogy. Many of us love a good retelling of an old fairy tale, don't we? This author's version of Rumpelstiltskin was simply fantastic. I fell hard and fast for Rumpelstiltskin's character and simply ate it up. So well done, I was left reaching for more. Now that there are on audiobook, they are on the top of my reading list once again. 

Isabella Adams, author of the Markos Mysteries and the Elon fantasy series. I admit that I haven't gotten to all these books yet as I struggle to find time to sit with a paperback. I "read" audiobooks now. But I have read several of her books. However, that being said, this author stands out as one of the best mystery writers that you haven't been reading. Comparable to Patricia Cornwell, if you love her books, then add this author to your reading list. 

Now, there are literally millions of authors who have yet to be discovered. So as an author myself, I challenge you to tell me your favorite undiscovered author.  As a writer, I devour books as often as I can. I create them, I read them, and I'm always looking for more. There is nothing more exciting than finding a new and simply outstanding new story to lose yourself in. My personal favorite is thrillers, but as you can see from the list above, I dabble in many different genres when I search for books. I would love to hear your favorites.

About me:  I'm a mother of two and wife of sixteen years. I live in Houston, Texas, and I am an award-winning, bestselling author. I'm the author of the bestselling psychological thriller, Break my Bones, and its much-anticipated stand-alone sequel, Carnal Knowledge.  I also love to hear from my fans, so please visit me at www.RachaelTamayowrites.com  

Sunday, June 28, 2020

2020 Book 231: PARTY OF TWO by Jasmine Guillory

Party of Two, Wedding Date Series #5, by Jasmine Guillory 
ISBN: 9780593100813 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780593100820 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780593100837 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593214534 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0842XN95M (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B081Y3TT9C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 23, 2020 
Publisher: Berkley Books




A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe's mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can't resist--it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble--not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max's high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?






Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Audiobooks  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo     |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook




Jasmine Guillory has returned with book five in the "Wedding Date Series" with Party of Two. If you read The Wedding Date, then you'll probably remember the brief appearance of Olivia Monroe, sister to Alexa. Then Olivia was working in New York, but she's now returned to California and is the process of setting up her own law firm with her good friend, Ellie Spencer. Olivia isn't exactly averse to starting a relationship, but her intention is to focus on building her new law firm. Her plans change when she meets the smart and attractive Max, who turns out to be Senator Maxwell Stewart Powell III. Not only is Max one of the youngest senators in Congress he's also one of the "hottest" bachelors. Olivia isn't exactly poor, but she is somewhat conservative and has a tendency to think, okay over-think most decisions, especially those that may impact her professional career. She's learned to curb her impulses and not always say the first thing that comes to mind and that's exactly what Max seems to do, even if it sometimes gets him into some trouble he always finds a way to come through untarnished. Olivia and Max are true opposites and initially take their relationship very slow, but then once they realize they're "in love" the decision is made to "go public." Olivia is somewhat hesitant about what this may mean for a White man dating a Black woman but she's willing to give their relationship a chance. Until Max puts Olivia in a bad position by bringing up something from her past at a public event without her foreknowledge or permission. For Olivia, this is one blow too many from their relationship and she's simply not sure if she can handle Max's impulsive nature. Can opposites attract and if so, can they stay together for the long haul? Will true love reign supreme or is it truly over for Olivia and Max?

It seems a bit strange, but for those of you that are unaware, June is Migraine Awareness Month and this month I've had more than my usual number of severe migraine days. Yes, I get a migraine headache every day, but I can usually push through them, but this month I've spent at least half of the month in bed with the lights off, phone ringer off, and no reading. You know it's bad when I'm not reading folks. So I was a bit late to the party in reading my review copy of Party of Two (yes, I know that's an incredibly bad pun and yes it was intended). If you've been following my blog for any time now (and I hope you have), then you'll know that I've read and loved all of the previous books written by Ms. Guillory. Each time, I think there's no way they can get any better, but amazingly they do. Each book pulls me and I read them in one day, often in one sitting and it was no different with Party of Two. I read it yesterday evening without any food/beverage breaks or other interruptions. I enjoyed the developing relationship between Olivia and Max in addition to the conflicts that arose. I enjoyed Olivia's friendships in her new hometown, as well as getting reacquainted with Alexa and Drew. And FYI, there is a HEA but you'll need to read the book to find how the problems are resolved and how they arrive at their happy-ever-after. Seriously, if you've read any of the previous books in this series The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, and Royal Holiday, then you'll want to grab a copy of Party of Two as soon as possible. If you haven't read The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, or Royal Holiday and you're a romance reader you are seriously missing out on a fantastic series. Take a long weekend or your staycation and read all five books, you can thank me later. For this reader, migraine headaches permitting, I plan to spend the next weekend re-reading the entire series. 

Happy Reading y'all! đź’•


(NOTE: To give you an idea about how serious I am about this series and author, last summer I drove over 210 miles one-way from WV to OH to see the author and get my copies of her books signed. And I took my then 84-y.o. mother along with me. My mom decided she had to read the books after the discussion in the bookstore and she's now hooked on this series as well. So don't just take my word on it that this series is great, take the word of an almost 86-y.o. woman that's a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother!)



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, June 19, 2020

Book Spotlight: LOVE INSIDE THE SILENCE by AL Long






Love Inside the Silence

by A.L. Long

Genre: Romantic Suspense




Everything can change in a split second, before you can take your next breath.

Willow Parker had everything going for her, a future she dreamed of ever since she was a little girl would soon to become reality.

It's funny how things can change in a split second, at the drop of a hat. I, for one, never thought that I would be a victim of those crazy idioms, but unfortunately, no one can predict what the future will bring or what will happen from one minute to the next. For me, my fate was decided five years ago. It was an unforeseen tragedy, one that no one deserved, especially me. How was I to know that changing my daily routine would have an outcome that would leave me in silence for the rest of my adult life?

One thing I didn't count on was facing the man who changed my life forever.


**Only .99 cents!!**









A.L. Long is an award-winning author, recipient of the Independent Press Award and the NYC Big Book Award. A.L. Long is also the recipient of the National Indie Excellence Award.

My love for writing began several years ago after an early retirement from a demanding job that I loved, but also hated because it consumed so much of my time. Now, I am able to focus my time on what I love. Writing romance has been a life long dream and to actually say that I am a published author is beyond what I would have ever expected.

Even though some may say I have a little naughtiness in my books, I look at it as an added bonus for my readers. After all, what is a romance book without a little spice?

When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with friends either at home or out on the town. Mostly, I enjoy a relaxing night at home where I can enjoy a glass of wine in the company of a good book.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads





An eBook copy of Love Inside the Silence along with a $50 gift card

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
  



Thursday, June 18, 2020

Book Showcase: TOOTH FOR TOOTH by JK Franko

Tooth for Tooth

by JK Franko

on Tour June 1 - July 31, 2020




Synopsis:

Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko


What would YOU do?



What would you do if you got away with murder? Would you stop there? Could you?

Susie and Roy thought that they committed the perfect crime.

Their planning was meticulous. Their execution flawless.

But, there is always a loose end, isn't there? Always a singing bone.

Now, while enemies multiply and suspicions abound, their perfect world begins to crumble.

The hunters have become the hunted.

IN THIS BLISTERINGLY RELENTLESS SEQUEL TO HIS DEBUT SHOCKER, EYE FOR EYE, J.K. FRANKO TAKES READERS ON A BREATHTAKING JOURNEY OF CAT AND MOUSE



Book Details:


Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Legal
Published by:Talion Publishing
Publication Date: April 4th 2020
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781999318819
Series: Talion Series, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads




Read an excerpt:

[NOTE: Contains Mild Profanity]



PROLOGUE



Before meeting Susie and Roy, I had never met a murderer. But then, I had also never lied to the police or destroyed evidence. I had never seen the inside of a jail cell. And I had most certainly never been complicit in a homicide.

I have to reluctantly admit that I am a better person for the experience. I now appreciate that murderers really are just regular people like you and me. Indeed, I have come to consider Susie and Roy more than mere patients... they are friends. And I think back on our time together with nostalgia—fondness, even.

This did not happen overnight. It was a process.

What would you do if you found out that your neighbor was a murderer? Would you double-check that you'd locked your doors every night? Keep an eye out for strange comings and goings? Would you ultimately put your house up for sale, not disclosing what you knew about the folks next door to potential buyers?

For most people, being in the proximity of a killer is neither pleasant nor desirable.

Imagine how I felt about having not one but two as-yet-undetected murderers as my patients. Sitting with each of them for hours every week. Trying to guide them toward more moderate conflict resolution techniques. And failing.

Well, I'm here to tell you that despite the complexities inherent in that situation, I found my path to inner peace and happiness.

I know. I may have said elsewhere that, as a psychologist, I'm not a big believer in "happily ever after." But my thinking has evolved.

I've come to believe more in choices—in the power of decision. This is the key nugget of wisdom I have taken away from this whole mess: We are not what happens to us. We are what we choose.

And I am pleased to report, for the first time in years, that I can finally say I am happy.

You have to understand that my unhappiness was not due to lack of trying. Chalk it up to naivetĂ©—but, at first, it was difficult to process everything Susie and Roy told me and still be happy.

It's hard to put a positive spin on murder.

Selfishly, I was overwhelmed by the fear that they might turn on me. They had shared everything about their crimes with me in meticulous detail. It was manifestly apparent that I was the weak link. The one person who could bring them down.

I was not just a loose end.

I was the loose end.

And, though I tried, I could not initially find peace under these circumstances. But, as I said earlier, happiness is a choice. And it was a choice that I made which finally ended my torment and brought me to a place where I could be at peace—even though everything ended tragically: my relationship with Susie and Roy, their marriage, the whole mess.

For you to understand the rest of my journey with Susie and Roy, I must share with you something that happened years ago at an ostensibly happy event. I say 'ostensibly' because it was a wonderful night for almost everyone concerned.

There were two people at that event who figure in this story—in my story.

The first is Sandra Bissette. For her, the night in question was the beginning of what would become a successful career in politics and law.

For the other, Billy Applegate, the night would end in tragedy.

PART ONE


Billy Applegate


1974


Everybody loves a party.

And there's nothing quite like an election night party. What makes an election night celebration different?

The guest of honor. You see, all parties—birthdays, anniversaries, wakes—feature a guest of honor. But an election night party is a completely different animal because it isn't about any one person or couple. It's not even about the candidates.

At an election night party, the guests of honor are the attendees.

The people who gather to watch election results together are all of one mind. Of one spirit. They are like pack animals, all focused on the same outcome. They all share the same heroes and the same enemies.

If their candidates win, they all win. And a "win" means real-world changes for them—tax breaks, preferential government spending, judicial appointments—and money in their pockets.

Now, that's a party.

This particular election night party took place in Maryland in 1974. To be precise—because I can be—this party was held on the night of the 1974 midterm elections, on Tuesday, November 5th.

It was a good year for Democrats.

This was the first national election after Watergate. Nixon's resignation had severely damaged the Republicans' chances in the election. Gerald Ford was just three months into his presidency, having taken over from Richard Nixon a few months earlier. And, of course, having pardoned Nixon in September, Ford had destroyed his own hopes for re-election and added to the national animus against Republicans.

This election night party took place in a spacious colonial-style home decorated in red, white, and blue, with American flags hanging from the windows and banisters. It featured a spacious living and dining area. The kitchen was large and well-equipped. There was a generous backyard with a comfortable deck and a terrace around the pool. All four bedrooms—aside from one guest bedroom—were upstairs.

There was even a "pin the tail on the donkey" game set up near the bar, for those with a sense of humor. No one actually played.

This house belonged to Dan and Annette Applegate, two proud and active members of the Democratic Party in Maryland.

Dan's family had always been active in politics. His grandfather had been a state representative. His father had served as a county judge for most of his career. Dan—born Daniel Parsons Applegate IV—was the fourth generation of Applegates admitted to the Maryland bar. While he would never actually serve in public office, he understood the value of political contacts and actively cultivated them.

This party was part of that effort.

Dan was dressed in a three-piece, tan wool suit, a white Brooks Brothers shirt, and a burgundy silk tie. The lapels and tie were wide, and the shirt collar oversized—all very fashionable at the time. Annette wore a slim, gold-belted, navy blue flare-leg pantsuit with a pale blue silk blouse and a pair of simple gold earrings. Apropos for the gathering, and it went quite nicely with all the flags, she'd decided.

Their twelve-year-old son, Billy Applegate, was in dark green overalls with a white shirt and blue Keds. A handsome boy, Billy had inherited his mother's cornflower blue eyes and his father's thick sandy blond hair, which he wore in a neatly trimmed surfer cut.

Billy was an only child. His parents doted on him, as did his grandparents since he was the only grandchild in both families. Even so, Billy was a good boy and knew to stay out of the way when his parents had guests, though he stayed close enough to be in the mix and see what was going on. He was at the age where he still enjoyed watching the grown-ups. Spying on them. In fact, he was familiar with many of the faces that night from other events of this kind. It was a small community.

Tonight, Tuesday night, the guests were arriving early, many coming over straight after work before polling places even closed.

It was going to be a long night.

The band played. Alcohol flowed. Anticipation and excitement were in the air at the prospect of big Democrat wins. And, after everything Nixon had put the nation through, how could voters not want a change?

In the living room, a handsome mahogany console TV with a big twenty-five-inch-diagonal color screen announced results as they came in. Dan was loitering by the avocado green Trimline rotary phone, mounted on the kitchen wall, that rang periodically with live information. The spring-coiled, twelve-foot receiver cord allowed him to pace anxiously as he fielded calls from the few Democrats charged with providing up-to-the-minute results from county polling.

Remember, this was back in the days before computerized voting machines. Back then, voters travelled to their precinct's designated polling station and used a machine to punch holes in their ballot. These were then collected and transported to a central counting center where the ballots were put through a counting machine which tabulated the results that were then released to the public.

Dan relayed results to his guests, with each ring of the phone bringing more good news. More cheering and more drinking.

It was a good year to be a Democrat.

At the peak of festivities, there were over 250 guests in and around the property, to the point where the party overflowed onto the street, which was not a problem. No one was going to complain, as most of the neighbors were in attendance. And these were all good white folk. The police were kind enough to block off both ends of the street and make sure that those who'd had too much to drink made it home safely.

Inside, the house was a political orgy. Supporters rubbed elbows with candidates. Candidates rubbed elbows with incumbents. Incumbents rubbed elbows with donors. And lobbyists rubbed elbows with everyone except each other.

There were a number of judges in attendance. Several city council members hovered by the buffet, and a few state representatives were sprinkled through the crowd.

It was into this whirlwind of excitement that Sandra Bissette arrived.

At a time when men still ran everything in politics, Sandra hoped to make a name for herself. The fact that she was a Yale-graduated lawyer didn't hurt, nor did the fact that she had both the figure and the looks of Jackie Kennedy.

Sandra was the daughter of lifelong Democrats, and her father happened to be the county sheriff. Although Sandra was not part of the elite set in Maryland, she was making her way. She was two years into working as an associate at a top law firm after having done a couple of high-level summer internships in D.C.

That night, Sandra was primarily interested in meeting two people: one was Annette Applegate. Although Sandra knew that both Dan and Annette were active in the Maryland Democratic Party, Dan was known to be a snob—his career consisted of riding on his family's coattails. Annette was universally recognized as the nicer of the two. Annette knew everyone, and everyone loved Annette. It was with her that Sandra was hoping to build a connection.

The second person who Sandra had added to her charm offensive for the evening was Harrison Kraft—another young Yale lawyer who, unlike her, was connected in all the right ways. Having graduated a few years ahead of her from law school, Harrison was running for state representative. He checked all the right boxes— family pedigree, education, professional credentials. There was no doubt the man was going places. Sandra had heard good things about him as a person and was interested in seeing for herself.

It was a little after 9:00 p.m.—Dan had just announced the results from Precinct Four in Montgomery County when Sandra saw an opening. Annette was by the buffet chatting with Howard Patrick, an older lobbyist—handsy, and a bit of a bore. Sandra straightened her back, raised her chin, and approached.

"Hello Howard," she said with a big smile.

"Sandra! Hello, my dear. Don't you look beautiful tonight?" "Why, thank you, Howard. Ever the charmer," she said, allowing him to kiss her hand.

"Have you met our hostess, Annette Applegate?"

As Sandra turned to greet Annette, she noticed that the woman was looking past her, over her shoulder.

"Um, excuse me, young man!" Annette said, eyebrows raised and pearly white teeth dazzling.

Sandra turned and followed Annette's gaze to a young boy in green overalls filching shrimp from the buffet. She guessed he was just shy of being a teenager.

"Aw, crap," said Billy as he chewed.

"Come here, you," Annette said, narrowing her eyes in mock disapproval.

The boy hesitated as he took in the young woman, the fat old man, and his mother, who stood waiting for him expectantly with her hands on her hips. He'd never seen the young woman before. She was new.

Unconsciously, he slowly moved to return the three shrimp in his sticky hand to the platter.

"With the shrimp, silly," his mother said, shaking her head. Billy moved toward her, chewing rapidly so he could stuff the other shrimp into his mouth.

Howard put his hand against the small of Sandra's back, a little too low, and harrumphed to her under his breath, "Better seen, not heard. That's how it used to be."

Sandra tried to smile and fought the instinct to pull away.

Howard's breath smelled of scotch and cigarettes.

Annette overheard, but ignored the old lobbyist's comment.

"I suppose I don't need to ask if you've had dinner? I left meatloaf for you in the kitchen."

"I know. But, Mom, these shrimp are amazing."

"And the meatballs?" asked Annette, looking over Billy toward the platter on the buffet.

Billy blushed. "Those, too."

"Well, it's getting a bit late for you," Annette said, ruffling her son's fair hair and then kissing him on the forehead, making him squirm. "Finish up the shrimp and get to bed."

"What about Dad?" Billy asked, looking around. Annette's face darkened, and she sighed. "I'll send him up for a goodnight kiss. But you come along now, young man." She put her hands on her son's shoulders and steered him towards the stairs. "Excuse me for a moment," she said over her shoulder.

Shit, thought Sandra as she twisted politely away, getting the old lobbyist's hand off her lower back as he struck up a conversation. While she tried to focus on what he was saying, it was all she could do not to stare at the green thing wedged in between the man's tar-stained teeth.

It took her ten minutes to extricate herself from Howard, thanks to Alan Watts—a wiry man who was only modestly more interesting. His family ran a small chain of grocery stores. Alan had asked her out a while back, and though she'd declined, he still had hopes—she could tell.

After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Sandra fell back on "old reliable" with a forced smile. "Excuse me, gentlemen… ladies' room."

Once she was sure she had escaped, she continued to work the room. About half an hour later, as she accepted another glass of white wine from a passing waiter, she felt a hand pressing low on the small of her back.

Oh fuck, not again.

"Yes, Howard?" She turned, fake smile firmly in place, to find Annette Applegate standing behind her.

"Gotcha!" laughed Annette.

Sandra laughed, both from relief and from delight at the inside joke made by the woman to whom she'd hoped to ingratiate herself.

This is going to be a great night.

While Sandra and Annette chatted amiably, many other members of the party were well beyond civility.

The drinking had begun five hours earlier, but there was more than just alcohol flowing. Other substances were being abused. It was all very discreet, of course. Most were partaking solely for recreational purposes, but a few were ingesting more heavily. Beyond alcohol and drugs—and most hazardous of all, given that it was infecting everyone to some degree and was in ample supply—was the potent and dangerous combination of two psychological stimulants, victory and power.

You see, politics doesn't attract only "normal" people. As in every part of society, there is a spectrum. And politics, too, has its outliers. The smug and the superior. The arrogant and the snide. And the sociopaths.

Victory and power are dangerous to all, but more so to the sociopath.

Do not consume alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking...

For these select few, the alcohol, drugs, and victory combined with power was toxic. It created a euphoria that knew no rules.

No limits.

No fear.

* * *

Upstairs, Billy had fallen asleep with the soothing press of his mother's goodnight kiss still fresh on his cheek.

A small nightlight plugged into a wall socket illuminated his bedroom, casting a warm glow on a baseball snuggled in a catcher's mitt that lay in a corner next to a wooden Adirondack baseball bat.

On one end of his small dresser sat a model airplane—a Douglas A-20 Havoc that he'd built with his grandfather. It was a replica of the plane Gramps had flown during World War II. The model was flanked by a teddy bear that Billy claimed he'd outgrown but refused to give away. The other end of the dresser was reserved for the little boy's current prized possession—Rock'em Sock'em Robots. A gift from his parents for his birthday.

The room was quiet, the party sounds muffled.

Suddenly, the door opened, spilling light into the little boy's room along with the blare of music and the chaotic chatter of voices. Then, just as quickly, the door shut, returning the room to calm semi-darkness.

Billy was groggy and didn't try to open his eyes. Instead, he just spoke out loud. "Dad?"

He felt the bed sag as his father sat next to him in a cloud smelling of alcohol and cigars.

Then he felt dry lips on his forehead. The kiss made him smile sleepily.

A hand stroked his head and his hair as Billy snuggled into his pillow and drifted back to sleep.

Suddenly, the same hand that had been stroking his hair gently clamped over his mouth. It was a man's hand, but it was soft. Clammy. It was not his father's....

Billy tried to sit up, but the hand squeezed harder, the man leaning into him, pushing him down and pinning him to the bed as a second hand groped at him, pulling away his sheets.

Billy didn't know what to do. He was terrified. He opened his eyes, but with just the little nightlight on, he couldn't see anything other than the vague shape of the form pressing down on him. He could smell booze and food on the man's warm breath.

Tears came as the vise over Billy's mouth forced him to suck air noisily through his nose as the groping continued—searching, finding, fondling, stroking, then reaching, penetrating, sending a hot shard of searing pain through his body. Inside.

He tried to fight, but couldn't. The hands were too strong. The body too heavy. He felt sick. The stench of cigars, food, and alcohol on fetid breath was nauseating. And he was scared. Terrified. In pain.

Bile rose in Billy's throat. But the hand over his mouth prevented him from vomiting. He gagged, then swallowed everything back down.

His body began to convulse.

To thrash.

As it did, the second hand stopped.

The man's weight eased on top of his body, no longer pinning him down. The hand over his mouth loosened slightly, and Billy felt the other stroking his hair. He wanted to move, but he was paralyzed with fear.

The  whole ordeal lasted minutes, but it felt like hours.

Then the presence leaned over and whispered, "Sleep. Sleep.

You were dreaming. Go back to sleep."

The weight lifted from the bed, and as it did, the hand fell away from Billy's mouth, leaving him shivering in the aftermath.

The door opened, first slightly. Through the crack, the man looked out into the hall as the babble of music and voices invaded the bedroom. Then the door swung fully open, and as it did, Billy saw the man clearly in the light from the hallway. The image burned itself into his memory. The image of a stranger whose identity he would eventually learn.

The door closed and the crowd cheered as the band started playing—"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet."

And Billy Applegate cried himself into a fitful sleep.

***


Excerpt from Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko.  Copyright © 2020 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.




Author Bio:



JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren't compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, Eye for Eye became his first published novel.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.


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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be six (6) winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko (print) and two (2) winners will each win Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko (eBook). The giveaway begins on June 1, 2020, and runs through August 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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