Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mike Hartner - I, Angus

2. I, Angus by Mike Hartner (2016)
The Eternity Series Book 4
Length: 249 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 2 January 2017
Finished: 5 January 2017
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Dorothy at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 8 October 2016
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by. this author in the past.

Fourteen-year-old Angus Mackenzie had never really had any great ambition for his life. Growing up during a time when Scotland is being torn apart by dissension and civil strife, Angus is content to live his life quietly - taking care of himself and his family, and protecting them to the best of his ability. However, as war rages around him and he loses those he loves most, Angus grows increasingly more disillusioned by the state of his country. 

As a man of peace Angus has seen his share of death, and he is certain that the North has lost more men to the violence of war than it ever did to the ravages of Nature. Although he wants no part of such violence, it seems as if a peaceful existence and a loving family may not be a part the Grand Plan for Angus. Because the North needs a leader; someone who is able to build communities.

However, Angus Mackenzie must first undergo his own trials by fire. He must be tested, shaped and molded by his adversity. The person who emerges from this particular crucible will ultimately be a much stronger and much wiser man; someone who is held in the highest esteem and much beloved by those who know him. Angus Mackenzie will hit both highs and lows as he travels across the lands of England, Scotland and France, all before he meets the challenge of a new land.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I wasn't quite sure where the story would go from the previous book, as Angus Mackenzie wasn't actually a relative of Mary Crofter. However, I found that this book worked perfectly within the series; the plot was just as intriguing as the previous books and advanced the story along very well. I would give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Blast For Sword and Sorcery Series by Dylan Doose


Hello Everyone! I hope that you're all having a wonderful day today. I am delighted to welcome Dylan Doose, author of the dark fantasy series Sword and Sorcery to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Mr. Doose will be going on a Virtual Book Tour with Pump up Your Book! lasting through the beginning of January. This is also my twenty-eighth Book Blast post ever, but I still hope that I do The Sword and Sorcery Series by Dylan Doose justice.

About Fire and Sword:


Condemned to hang for their crimes, they'll march instead to perish as heroes, or live as free men.

A broken nation in need of a savior - ravaged by plague, decimated by dark magic, infiltrated by a foreign evil seeking to dominate from within. Three will rise to save the beleaguered land. But will they be enough?

A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!

Three men condemned to die: Aldous Weaver, a heretic monk turned sorcerer, imprisoned for accidentally incinerating the leader of his order. Kendrick the Cold, an infamous crusader turned fugitive, is a villain who knows he can never be a hero. Theron Ward, an aristocrat with a penchant for slaughtering monsters, and a legend in his own mind.

When the kingdom of Brynth is threatened by a far greater evil, the unlikely trio must make a choice - seek to escape this land that cries for their execution, or find the true heroes within themselves. And then, armed with fire and sword, march together against the forces of darkness. But can three such disparate warriors ever prevail?

**Fire and Sword received an Honorable Mention from Library Journal 2016 and a Shelf Unbound Magazine Notable 100 for 2015**

Don't miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling 'gritty, fast-paced and compelling' - get your copy of Fire and Sword today!

Purchase your copy:

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * IBooks * Kobo

About Catacombs of Time:


In a world where the Rata Plaga and ghouls feast on the dead, doctor Gaige De’Brouillard believes science, not magic, conquers all.

Even death is just an equation to be solved.

When De’Brouillard is called upon by the Lord Regent to cure a curse and save one of the damned, he must battle for his career, his faith in science, and even his life. In the darkest slums and deepest catacombs, the doctor finds himself staring death in the eye with no scientific solution at hand. Has the doctor finally come across a question that science cannot answer, and will he pay with his life?

Don't miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling 'visceral,' 'fantastic,' and 'intriguing' - get
your copy of Catacombs of Time today!

Purchase your copy:

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * IBooks * Kobo

About The Pyres:


Once again, three unlikely heroes must band together in a fiery conflict between gods and demons.

A country ravaged by civil war, now threatened with evil unleashed by rivers of blood. Three must rise again to save the beleaguered land and thwart a dark prophecy.

A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!

Theron Ward, Aldous Weaver and Kendrick the Cold must band together and fight again. This time, they are caught in the timeless clash of gods and demons, and led by the dark prophecy of dreams.

A ruthless warlord, the Dog Eater, rises out of the rivers of blood from civil war. As friend and foe reach out from futures past, the three will see a city of white stone turn black with ash...and the only way forward is through the fire. One thing is certain, none of them will ever be the same. And one will be transformed in ways he never dreamed. Dare the three depend on the blood ties of the past to carry them through this terrible night?

Don't miss the next thrilling installment in the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling 'gritty, fast-paced and compelling' - get your copy of The Pyres today!

Purchase your copy:

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * IBooks * Kobo

Meet Dylan Doose


Writer. Sculptor. Bad fitness advice. In between writing books, award winning fantasy author Dylan Doose fills his not-so-busy schedule with martial arts, mountain biking, paddle surfing, weight lifting, and of course HBO, PS4 and increasing the size of his beloved personal library. Dylan’s Fire and Sword received an honorable mention from Library Journal in 2016 and was a Shelf Unbound Notable 100 for 2015.

Connect and Socialize with Dylan!

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Fire and Sword Excerpt:

The thing left a trail of thick black blood and green pus. More a stream than a trail, if Theron Ward, hunter of monsters, wanted to be precise. It was wounded and wounded horribly, but not dead.

Grimmshire was not the only town ruined by the plague. As far as Theron knew, the whole country had a piece of it. The rats came with those terrible black boils. Rats larger than dogs. In the beginning, they came in swarms. Now they appeared alone or in small roving packs, as if a once powerful tether that bound the group had been weakened.

Four years ago, they had come and spewed their filth into the town. Two days was all it had taken until half the town was crawling and squealing with the rats, puking up pus and bursting black boils. The other half of the town became the swarm’s feast.

Those who didn’t turn simply couldn’t. The priests said that only the sinners turned, that the pious were protected from the plague. Theron doubted that, for he was not a pious man and he knew a thing or two about sin - sins of the flesh mostly - and he had been exposed to enough plague to wipe out a city.

Yet he had not turned.

Theron suspected something more sinister than nature, or the work of gods and devils to be the villainy incarnate that had unleashed such wickedness upon the land. He suspected something more human, or slightly more than human. Unpopular opinion, but his opinion nonetheless.

It was midday, but it was dark in the ruined town. The clouds shrouded the sun, gray and threatening, but not a drop of rain. The once green pastures were yellow as far as the eye could see. Once this had been a bustling, happy little town. Now there were just the colors of pus and piss and ash all around, beneath those suffocating gray clouds.

There came a rustling sound from the chapel, the one building in the town not entirely burned to the ground. It had been painted white when it was built, and painted black with soot and ash when death had come to its town. The stained glass windows were shattered, shards of the vibrant panes scattered round in the dirt and the yellow grass.

Theron burst through the door. His skin crawled at the sight of the wounded thing within the chapel; they always made his skin crawl, though he had killed over a hundred. He could kill over a thousand and still his skin would crawl.

Theron was a beast hunter, had been for nearly a decade, but the rats had always disturbed him the most, more than any creature or demon. What made the things so terrible was not the giant, rotting buckteeth that burst from the mouth. It was not the boils or the tufts of matted fur. Not the long tail or the brutish muscles, not the naked, sagging female breasts or the male parts dangling, filthy and crusted.

It was the eyes, for the eyes remained entirely human. And so, Theron was certain that a human being was still left in there, with no control over what it had become and begging for its torment to end.

This one had been a woman once, perhaps a mother, a lover, a sister, a daughter. For a dreadful moment he pictured his own sister taking the form of the wretched thing before him.

May you read well and often

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee - Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW

22. Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW by Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee (2016)
Length: 343 pages 
Genre: Non-Fiction 
Started: 18 November 2016
Finished: 21 December 2016
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Samantha at Roger Charlie for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 October 2016
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee are new authors for me.

Having spent the past three and a half years in the Navy, Lieutenant Robert Wideman was looking forward to returning to America after completing his tour of duty during the Vietnam War. The recent newlywed had big plans and dreams for his future, and was determined to put them into practice as soon as he came back home. With only twenty-seven days left in his tour of duty - on what should have been just another routine bombing run for him - Lieutenant Robert Wideman's plane is shot down and he crashes in a secluded village somewhere in North Vietnam. The date is May 6th, 1967.

His deepest fear is realized when he is captured and held as a Prisoner of War for the next six years. Although Robert endured the sort of treatment that makes people question humanity, physical torture was never his biggest problem. During his six years spent in captivity, Robert experienced first hand the pain that is orchestrated by other people: shocking instances of 'Man's inhumanity to Man', as well as the truthfulness behind Jean-Paul Sartre's words: 'Hell is other people.' 

Unexpected Prisoner by Robert Wideman and Cara Lopez Lee chronicles a POW's struggle with both enemies and comrades alike; his mistreatment by Vietnamese interrogators and his various dealings with American commanders. Robert Wideman's poignant and heartbreaking memoir further chronicles his personal struggle to maintain a firm hold on his dreams for the future in the face of such prolonged trauma. Ultimately, Robert must find a way to survive and to maintain a solid hold on the memories of his past life, his faltering dreams of the future, as well as his own personal sense of himself as a person.

I must admit that while I learned quite a lot about the Vietnam War in school, I was slightly surprised to learn just how much more of a vicious reputation the South Vietnamese soldiers had than the North Vietnamese. I realize that the Viet Cong - as the South Vietnamese allies of the North - had rightfully earned such a horrific reputation for brutality; but while the North Vietnamese soldiers were considered the enemy, they also seemed slightly less brutal in their treatment of prisoners of war.

In my opinion, this was a thoroughly thoughtful memoir and I truly felt for Mr. Wideman and everything he went through during his captivity. I also understand how hard it must have been for him to come back home and have to adjust to civilian life. To be perfectly honest, I found the story to be extraordinarily poignant and thought-provoking. Although I spent more time reading this book than I probably would have preferred, I would definitely give this book a solid A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Introducing Christmas Magic 1959: A Short Story From my Childhood by Kathryn Meyer Griffith!

I'm delighted to tell you all that Kathryn Meyer Griffith has recently released a wonderful short story and with the holiday season in full swing, she has decided to offer Christmas Magic 1959: A Short Story From my Childhood for free everywhere through Christmas! I would certainly advise you to grab your own copy while you can!

Meet Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. But I’d already begun writing novels at 21, over forty-two years ago now, and have had twenty (ten romantic horror, two horror novels, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and three murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press; and I’ve self-published my last five novels with Amazon Kindle Direct and my dinosaur novels are my best-sellers.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-six years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha and Cleo, and live cat Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for my horror novel The Last Vampire - Revised Author’s Edition ~ 2014 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for my thriller novel Dinosaur Lake.

Connect and Socialize with Kathryn!



Christmas Magic 1959: A Short Story From my Childhood by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (2016)
Length: 19 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon and Smashwords!

Christmas Magic 1959: A Short Story From my Childhood Blurb: 

Have you ever wondered what a writer’s early years were like and how it affected their future writing and the stories they would tell later in their lives? Have you ever wondered what their childhood Christmases, their early holidays, were like?

Well, wonder no longer. This story is about one of my most cherished childhood Christmases...in 1959 when I was nine years old. After my beloved musician/singer/songwriter brother Jim passed away in 2015 from cancer I felt an intense need to write this short story about that special Christmas Eve I shared with him, my other siblings, mother, father and grandparents, and put it out there for everyone to read as a tribute to him and my family. 

This is my story, part of my childhood, and some of my fondest memories. Note: in the late 1970’s I did a series of illustrated (by me, because I’m an artist, too) short stories for my local newspaper and I’ve used one of my old article drawings from that newspaper from 1977 for the first page of this short story.

May you read well and often

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Reading Wrap-up For November at Emeraldfire's Bookmark


Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.

Anyway, I started out November with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from authors, Paperback Swap and Amazon.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:


Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America's First Witch Hanging by Beth M. Caruso

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- Christmas Magic 1959: A Short Story From my Childhood by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 345
Grade Range: A+! 

So, there you go! The reading month that was November. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Beth M. Caruso - One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America's First Witch Hanging

21. One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America's First Witch Hanging by Beth M. Caruso (2015)
Length: 345 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Started: 17 October 2016
Finished: 23 November 2016
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Dorothy at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 17 October 2016
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Beth M. Caruso is a new author for me.

Young Alice Ashbey was born into the Tinker family of Berkshire, England in 1615. As a distant cousin to the Tinkers, Alice soon came to see her cousins more as adopted brothers and sisters. Orphaned at the age of ten, she also soon discovers that she has inherited her mother's talent for intuitive insights. With the deaths of the patriarch of the Tinker family - as well as of the eldest son and namesake, Robert - within a few weeks of each other, the Tinkers find themselves at a heartrending crossroads.

Deciding to leave England for the promise of the New World, first one and then more members of the Tinker family begin to make plans to settle in America. Alice - now a lovely young woman of twenty - hopes to stay with the only family she has ever known and everyone that she dearly loves. Yet sadly, her wish is not to be, as she stubbornly remains unmarried and seemingly indifferent to all potential suitors. The frustrated matriarch of the Tinker family, Mary, subsequently secures a position for Alice as a housemaid and nanny with an affluent family who is also sailing to America.

So it was that in 1635, Alice Ashbey reluctantly set sail from her home in England for the colony of strict religious dissenters in the Massachusetts Bay. She had made such a treacherous journey filled with the hope that she would be reunited with the Tinker family again, after the family had resettled themselves. Despite her initial misgivings, Alice is astonished by her first sight of the rich American wilderness and its inhabitants. She subsequently begins to appreciate the beauty of her new home.

However, Alice's first impressions of the New England colonies are not all good. Eventually settling in Windsor, Connecticut, Alice soon learns to use her own healing abilities and strong intuition to help those around her. She even learns to open her heart to the possibilities of a love of her own. However, she also encounters the suspicions and blinding fears of Puritan leaders which inevitably collide and set the stage for America's very first witch hanging - her own - on May 26th, 1647.

Although it was this horrendous event as well as Alice's strong ties to her beloved family which eventually influenced Connecticut's Governor John Winthrop, Jr. to put a halt to any further witchcraft hangings in the New England settlement; such horror could never be truly eradicated even in much later years.

Paradoxically, forty-five after Alice's death - her strong familial bonds were again used to further enflame witchcraft hysteria. This time, the influential Puritan minister and prolific author Cotton Mather, used his knowledge of Alice's tragic story as the secret impetus behind the writing of his dangerous and destructive commentary in support of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Alice's strong family ties - as much as the painful memories of the tragedies which resulted in the accusation of witchcraft being leveled against her - served only as a cautionary tale for the righteous to always remain vigilant in their neverending battle against the minions of evil.

In my opinion, Alice Young was such an extraordinary young woman and her story was remarkably  poignant. Actually, while I knew all about the Salem witch trials in 1692, I had never actually heard of any previous trials before that time. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really realize that there were any other outbreaks of witchcraft hysteria before 1692, although I knew that the hysteria spread elsewhere around New England after that time.

Actually, I enjoyed this story very much. In my opinion, the time period was well-researched and the characters and story were sympathetically written. I was drawn into Ms. Caruso's writing from the first few pages and would certainly give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Blast For The Crush Saga Box Set by Chrissy Peebles


Hello Everyone! I hope that you're all having a wonderful day today. I'm so glad to welcome Chrissy Peebles author of The Crush Saga Box Set, to Emeraldfire's Bookmark. Ms. Peebles is currently on a Book Blast tour with I'm a Reader, Not a Writer, and lasting for the next three days. This is also my twenty-seventh Book Blast post ever, but I still hope that I do The Crush Saga Box Set by Chrissy Peebles justice.

The author is also doing an awesome giveaway - she is giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card/Paypal Cash to one lucky winner at the end of her Book Blast. Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and I wish you all the very best of good luck in taking part!

About The Crush Saga Box Set:



I was born to die…But to defy fate is to control your own destiny.

Moving to Big Bear Lake was supposed to be a fresh start, but when Taylor Sparks is thrown into a supernatural world, her reality comes crashing down around her when she finds out she’s a KEY player in a dangerous game created 1,000 years ago that will give the witches and werewolves the upper hand against the vampires. Blood will be spilled and secrets will be revealed in this action-packed thrill ride and paranormal romance.

Will Taylor dive into a paranormal world she knows nothing about to be with the one her heart can’t live without?

Or will her life spiral out of control when she learns her blood is needed, just the serum necessary to lift an ancient curse from a group of supernatural beings and give the witches back their magic?

Werewolves will serve as her guardians and protect her until the first full moon of the new year, the night of her sacrifice…

Will she accept her destiny?

Or will she refuse to let evil swallow her up?

Praise For The Crush Saga Box Set:

This was a fantastic box set with magic, action, mystery, twists and turns, vampires, werewolves, witches, and gargoyles. Each book gets better and better and takes you deeper into the mystery!

Book 1 is about Taylor moving to Big Bear Lake and learning it’s a supernatural place and that her crush is something more. Book 2 gets deep! And this is when all hell breaks loose! Taylor is tossed into the supernatural world. She thought she was observing it from the outside, but little does she know that she’s a major player! And she didn’t even know it!

She comes from an ancient line of witches and is supposed to be sacrificed in The Millennium Ceremony. She’s stubborn and fights her supernatural enemy with everything she has. I loved how tough she becomes. There’s a paranormal battle raging and I loved every page. This is one of my favorite paranormal romances ever!

The Crush Saga Box Set Book Trailer:



Purchase your copy:


Meet Chrissy Peebles

Chrissy Peebles has always loved reading and writing fantasy from the earliest age she can remember. She lives in a busy city with her husband, two children, and one cat (Shadow) and three dogs. (Sparkles, Rosie, and Jack) Chrissy also loves to snap photos as her favorite hobby.

Connect and Socialize with Chrissy!


Book Blast Giveaway of $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends December 2, 2016.

Terms and Conditions:

  • Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash.
  • Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. 
  • The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
  • This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified.
  • The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I am a Reader, Not a Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

ENTER TO WIN!


  a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Crush Saga Box Set Excerpt:


Grabbing my purse, I hurried out of the car and locked the doors. Just as I started to walk up the driveway, I felt the cold steel of a muzzle against my neck. My heart hammered against my ribs.

“One sound, and you’re dead,” a harsh, male voice said.


I froze in panic as somebody slipped a black blindfold over my eyes, then gagged me. A man duct-taped my mouth, while another tied my ankles, legs, and wrists with rope. He hoisted me over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and horror ripped through me. Help! I’m being kidnapped! my brain yelled, but I dare not cry out for fear of what they would do to me. I did try to fight back, at least to some degree, but I was tied and gagged and could do little about being manhandled.

“Put her in the trunk!” a man yelled.

As I fought, I was thrown, neck-first, into the trunk of a car, and my mind began to race. This can’t be happening! I tried to call out for my parents. If only they could hear me. If only I could scream, maybe Max would bark, and Mom or Dad would come to the door. If only…

Tires screeched, and the vehicle took off down the street. The smell of gasoline made me gag. I tried to kick and scream, but it was tight quarters, and I was still all tied up. I cringed at their muffled voices, wondering what they wanted from me.

“I’m tellin’ ya,” one of the guys said, “we oughtta just kill her now.”


My skin crawled at his nonchalance.

“He’s right,” the other said. “Just do it, right here, right now. We’ve outsmarted her protectors, but for how long? We need to do it swiftly and quickly, before they return.”


“You know the rules,” a low voice hissed. “If we just kill her, they’ll have the legal right to choose another, and we’ll be right back at square one again. We’ve gotta do this by the book.”


“I agree,” a woman said. “We need to stop the Millennium ceremony from happening.”


“I don’t want to kill her,” another woman said. “She’s just…an innocent victim in all this. It isn’t right.”


“If we don’t kill her, they’ll win,” another said. “They’ll gain the upper hand when she gives them what they need.”

“Our enemy will stop at nothing to destroy us,” another said tensely. “Killing her will keep them from becoming more powerful than they already are.”


“It will bring them to their knees!” another shouted.


Great, I thought. A case of mistaken identity is the last thing I need. By their talk, I assumed that killing me was some way to get back at their rivals, though I had no idea who those rivals were. The mafia? Some kind of…street gang? I had absolutely no idea, but I desperately wanted to tell them who I really was, to let them know they obviously had me confused me with somebody else. Maybe if I explain that, they’ll let me go. After all, I hadn’t seen their faces, so I wasn’t a threat. Then it dawned on me: Jesse had just revealed his identity to me. Maybe his clan wants to kill me because I know too much. I wanted to scream at them and tell them, to assure them that I’d never reveal Jesse’s identity, that I’d take his deep, dark secret to the grave with me. Jesse meant everything to me, and I would never betray his trust like that; unfortunately, my captors didn’t give me a chance to explain that to them. I wasn’t completely sure if it was vampires that had me. But they had heard me messing with my ropes and that took Immortal hearing. No human could hear that over the sound of the engine, the radio, and voices talking.


We drove down the lonely stretch of road, and I didn’t hear one car pass by. I considered trying to pop the trunk open so I could jump for freedom. I figured the car was going about eighty, but I figured it’d be easier to heal from a broken neck than a bullet to the head. The rope bindings cut into my skin and began to sting and burn. I wiggled my numbing hands, trying to find some relief, when a man yelled back at me.


“Stop it!” he said. “Or else I’ll kill you right here.”


I shivered at his voice, then obeyed his commands. There was no way he could have seen me no way he could have heard me picking at the ropes. I contemplated how they were going to kill me. It had to be a contract hit, but I wondered why there were so many of them there just to take out a defenseless woman. I also wondered how they could be so heartless.
The vehicle stopped, and my stomach dropped when I heard the doors swing open. This is it, I thought. My time has come. When footsteps approached, I held my breath. The trunk popped open, and strong arms lifted me out and set me down on a hard surface, maybe concrete or asphalt. My legs were wobbly, but one of the men steadied me and untied my ankles. Jerk, I sarcastically seethed. The cold night air hit and my hair blew around. I tried to see through the blindfold, but all I could see was darkness.

A man shoved me forward. “Walk!”

I let out a trembling breath and stumbled to the edge of the hard surface, then felt my shoes sink in grass and damp earth. As I carefully walked forward, a towering fern brushed softly across my face. I took tiny steps because my imagination was in overdrive; I couldn’t help picturing all those pirate films I’d seen of people walking off the plank, and I knew there were a lot of cliffs around. The man behind me kept pushing and shoving, making me go faster than my hesitant feet wanted to carry me, forcing me to trip over what I assumed to be a very long log. Twigs snapped and crunched underfoot. An owl hooted, and crickets chirped. The smell of wet moss, damp dirt, and decaying leaves mingled with the scent of pines, wafting up my nostrils; any other time, the aroma 
would have been beautiful. My heart lurched. I was sure they were leading me to some isolated location for my execution, a place where no one would ever find me, and that thought sent droplets of nervous perspiration rolling down my face, perhaps mingled with tears.

I refused, however, to go quietly. I couldn’t do much to fight them off, but I wanted to make it harder on them. They’ll have to carry my corpse, because I’m not gonna walk out to the middle of nowhere and shovel my own grave. I’m not doing their dirty work for them! I took a huge step to the left, and then bolted.


Strong arms caught me within seconds, and I flailed and thrashed like a gazelle in a lion’s grasp.

“If we don’t keep movin’, we’re not gonna make it to the designated spot on time,” a man said.


“Maybe I oughtta just snap her like a twig, right here, right now,” said a deep-voiced man.


I screamed through my gag at the thought that the guy wanted to rush my demise.


“No!” another said. “She must be sacrificed at midnight.”


Sacrificed?


Trembling with fear, I thrashed even harder in the guy’s grasp. I suddenly realized that my abduction had nothing to do with a mafia hit, vampires, or a street gang initiation; rather, I was in the hands of some strange cult. I could barely breath, terrorized by fear.


“How much farther?” a man asked.


“We’re here,” another answered.


At that point, I was gasping for breath at the thought of being sacrificed in some weird ritual. I recalled what Fred had said about witches and realized it wasn’t so farfetched of a theory. My heart had never raced so hard. The man held me tight in his grasp, and I tried to fight, but he was so strong, and I was no match for him. My feet suddenly left the ground as he picked me up and carried me. I turned and twisted in his grasp, to no avail. He gently set me down on a cold slab of concrete and forced me to lie down, and I’d never been so terrified in my entire life.

Fingers gripped my ankles and wrists as the rope was tightened around me, securing me to a cold slab. It didn’t make sense to me that they left my blindfold on and my gag in, since they were clearly going to kill me anyway. For all I knew, maybe they thought it was more humane to kill me that way. Perhaps they want to spare me the misery of watching the dagger pierce my heart. I listened intently as they shuffled around, and then I struggled in my bindings.


May you read well and often