The Chosen’s Cover is Here!!

**Post has been updated to reflect the NEW release date of 2.5.19**

So, I’ve been sitting on this beauty for a while, and it’s been killing me! But today, today I finally get to show her off!

Okay, so there are those who are mad at me for ending book two in the Knight’s Academy series on cliffhanger. I’m so sorry, but it had to be done. Anyway, the book you’ve been waiting for is *almost* here! Just another month to go! The ebook of The Chosen will drop on February 5, 2019!

But, today, I can finally show you the cover. Whoop whoop!

Ain’t she purty?

About The Chosen:

Still reeling from her grandmother’s death, Myka William’s has been chosen to rule her pack, but she isn’t sure she wants the job. It comes with an unwanted fiancé and vampires who are still hunting them down. Running away has always been her go-to answer, but Myka’s finally found what she’s been looking for—home. Running is no longer an option.

As the last female alpha in her pack, Myka isn’t allowed to follow her heart, and she has to fight a battle between her heart and head. Will Myka be able to have the happy ending she so desperately wants?

Along with help from vampires, hybrids, and werewolves she can trust, Myka must learn how to find a way out of her engagement, get the pack to take her seriously, and save her pack from the vicious vampires who want to use them for unspeakable things.

Being the chosen one isn’t as easy as it seems.

And if you haven’t read books one and two yet, what are you waiting for? Get them today! Just click on the photo below to be taken to Amazon. 🙂





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Things you probably won’t understand if you don’t live below the Mason-Dixon Line. #SouthernLiving

We’re a rare breed down here in the South. I’ll attest to that, but I’m proud to be Southern. I’m a self-proclaimed Southern belle, and though I’m a girly-girl, I don’t mind telling you like it is, which is definitely a nod to my Southern-raising.

But, as I watch TV shows set in the South and read books written by non-Southerns set in the South, I find it funny how they see us.

So, here’s a little about us, written from the perspective of a Mississippi girl proud of her Southern roots.

  • Our accents may be thick, but they’re authentic. Honey, you can’t fake this, no matter how good of an actor you are. that accent's fake
  • Mosquitoes are real, and they will eat you alive! I’ve seen mosquitoes out in February because honestly, it never really gets cold here. So, no, though it’s ideal to leave windows up and doors open, without screens on windows and doors, you’re fighting mosquitoes, flies, and red wasps. And if we’re able to even be blessed with days where we aren’t boiling alive and can open windows and doors, it’s only a day or two a year. So, air conditioning is our best friend.window
  • These Christmas movies set in the South, yeah, snow doesn’t happen down here, and if it does, it only lasts for a little while and freezes on the road after it melts so we can’t drive on it.  Don’t laugh at us for not knowing how to drive on ice either. Seriously, these back roads are no joke! They don’t get salted either, so it’s definitely not safe to hit black ice and go sliding around a sharp curve or fly down a steep hill.christmas truck
  • We speak in cliches and funny sayings such as “bigger fish to fry”, “bless your heart”, “up a creek without a paddle”, “so good it makes you wanna slap ya momma”, etc. But trust me on this. You don’t wanna slap your momma. She’ll slap you back down here!bless your heart
  • Speaking of mommas… Never, under any circumstances, do you test ya momma. Let me tell you. A Southern momma is a woman you don’t want to mess with. And we have mad respect for them. A Southern woman is a blessing. We love our mommas down here!thanks for letting me bother you for life
  • Sweet tea. There’s really no explanation for it except for the fact that you have to know the right amount of sugar to put in your sweet tea and how to make it the proper way. I’m not talking about iced tea. That’s a whole ‘nother thing completely, and it ain’t nearly as good as what we have down here. Down here, we drink sweet tea or coke (and that’s any flavor, any brand). everyone's addicted to sweet tea
  • Food, family, and friends are synonymous. If you’re friends and family, we will offer you food and welcome you into our home for coffee or sweet tea to go with it. family dinner
  • Don’t let our accents and cliched sayings scare you away, down here, you’re always welcome, and even though it might not be home, you’ll feel like it is! welcome home

 

HUGE eBook Black Friday sale!

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Hi, y’all!

I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving (if you celebrate). I’m still full from the food we had!

Anyway, I have some exciting news for you! I wanted to tell you about a HUGE sale that is going on this weekend! There are over 150 titles available, and they are all either $.99 or FREE! There are also a long list of paperbacks for sale at incredibly discounted prices as well! And the good news is they are all clean reads! Be sure to go check out this amazing sale here.

You’ll find that Delivered by Angels: Entertaining Angels Book 2 is in this sale for $0.99 as well!

There is also an amazing giveaway going on! Grand Prize winner receives 20 paperbacks and the 2nd place winner gets 20 e-book titles, including Entertaining Angels Book 1, from the sale for free!

 

You can sign up for the giveaway here.

Giveaway runs from November 22nd until November 26th.

Grand prize open to US winners only. 2nd place prize is open Internationally.

2nd Place Winner Receives 20 E-books

Gather Round the Fables by Erika Matthews

The Case of the Tabloid Tattler by Perry Kirkpatrick AudioBook

The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Perry Kirkpatrick Audiobook

Coffee Shop Christmas Ebook by Ryana Lynn Miller

The Land of Cotton ebook by Ryana Lynn Miller

Entertaining Angels, Entertaining Angels Book 1 by Emerald Barnes

Secret’s Kept by Jennette Mbewe

The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue

Beyond Broken Pencils by Julie C. Gilbert

Ashlynn’s Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert

Soldier On by Vanessa Rasanen

Burning Rose by Hope Ann

Iced and Nailed by Avery Daniels

Imani Earns Her Cape by Bokerah Brumley

October by J. Grace Pennington

Disowned by Sarah Addison Fox

My Compass Home by Michaela Bush

Summer Shadows and Necessary Evil by Killarney Traynor

 

Grand Prize Winner Receives 20 Paperbacks

Mythical Doorways by Jenelle Schmidt

Faith is the Victory by Faith Blum

Kiera by Kate Willis

Because Anonymous Diana L. Sharples

After: Book One in The Neverway Chronicles by Savannah Jezowski

Specter: Book Two in The Neverway Chronicles by Savannah Jezowski

Leandra’s Enchanted Flute by Katy Huth Jones

Eagle Eyes by Tammy Lash

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

When Beauty Blooms by Victoria Lynn

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset by Sarah Ashwood

Iced and Nailed by Avery Daniels

There Was Always Laughter in Our House by Sarah Holman

Bridgers: A Parable (paperback) by Angie Thompson

Love Blind (paperback) by Angie Thompson

Code by Angie Thompson

Christmas Eve at the Backdoor by Rebekah Morris

The Seven Drawers by Kendra E. Ardnek

He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness by Sara Willoughby

 

 

Participating Authors

Kate Willis

Hope

C.B. Cook

Vincent Trigili

Malachi Cyr

J. Willis

Diana L. Sharples

Sarah Addison-Fox

Annie Douglass Lima

Marc Secchia

Katy Huth Jones

Savannah Jezowski

Kandi J Wyatt

Joan Lightning

Angela Watts

Ava Mallory

Sara Bourgeois

Jaye L. Knight

Sarah Ashwood

Killarney Traynor

Zanna Mackenzie

Valerie Howard

Bokerah Brumley

Kat Bellemore

Faith Blum

RJ Conte

Abigayle Claire

Tayla Alexandra

Kristen Iten

Emily Selby

Stephanie Damore

Erika Mathews

Frances Hoelsema

Grace Pennington

Rebekah A. Morris

Frankie Bow

Martha Fuller

Lena Karynn Tesla

Allison Tebo

Sarah Monzon

Victoria Lynn

Sonia Parin

T.I. Lowe

Lia London

Tammy Lash

maria grazia swan

Deany Ray

Paige Sleuth

Jenny Berlin

Annie Louise Twitchell

Jordaina Sydney Robinson

Kelsey Gietl

Kendra E. Ardnek

Frances Hoelsema

Stacy Juba

Laura Guenot

Michaela Bush

Tricia Mingerink

Hailey Rose

Ryana Lynn Miller

Angie Thompson

Nadine C. Keels

Kellyn Roth

Angie Thompson

Vanessa Rasanen

Julie C. Gilbert

Jennette MbewS. Johnson

Amy Williams

April Lynn Newell

Lauren Lynch

Lea Doue

Kelsey Bryant

Avery Daniels

Sarah Holman

R.M. Arch

Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Cathy Perkins

Laura Jackson

P.D. Workman

Emily Hinkle

Hannah Loviisa

Claire Banschbach

Rebekah Jones

Faith Potts

Sara Willoughby

Happy Halloween! The final post of 10 Days of Halloween and a look into Knight’s Academy Book Three

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Thank you all so much for hanging with us these 10 Days of Halloween! I hope you’ve found a book you want to pick up and read that will give you the creeps! And I want to thank all of our guests these past ten days for hanging out with us and sharing their scariest works! It’s been a pleasure.

If you missed them, be sure to find the 10 Days of Halloween category on the sidebar and check out the posts!

Though I don’t write, read, or watch anything scary, I do write about vampires and werewolves, and even demons in my Christian fiction.

But today, I’m going to talk about my vampires and werewolves in the Knight’s Academy series!

In honor of The Chosen, book three, coming out in January (if all goes well), I wanted to share some fun information about book three!

oooo

  • Life as Myka knows it will forever be changed because of the way book two ended. What she thought she had time to prepare for suddenly falls in her lap. And she doesn’t feel prepared at all for what life holds for her. I can’t divulge anymore info if you haven’t read book two. My lips are sealed. shh
  • Myka finds herself in a strange predicament, another love triangle. Just kidding, she loves one man but is forced be with another. But who is who and what is what? You’ll have to find out in book three!it isn't fair
  • Dragon, a vampire and Myka’s guard, is my favorite character, and he was honestly never supposed to be in the book to start with. #minorcharacterschangetheworldi love you
  • There’s a werewolf/vampire hybrid. shocked
  • Milo has moved on from the Brent/Myka drama.moving on.gif
  • There is some betrayal!traitor
  • And another death. time to die
  • And it all ends on the brink of war…

if you don't fight

That’s all I can say. I’ve probably said too much, but y’all, I’m so excited about book three! I’m even more excited about book four, which I’m currently writing.

intrigue

What are you most excited to see in the Knight’s Academy series?

 

10 Days of Halloween with Carol Riggs

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Today, Carol Riggs is joining us for the 9th day of 10 Days of Halloween! She’s sharing a little bit about her book Junction 2020 and the boogeyman! Ooooo….

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***

Hello! I’m Carol Riggs, and I like to read and write books with a twist of weird.

Most of my YA novels have a sense of mystery, maybe because I grew up reading Nancy Drew books. I also enjoy science fiction and fantasy elements, so I throw those in there too. THE LYING PLANET, my third published book, was born one night in 2010 as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep…and I thought I heard a noise out in the living room. Nothing was really there, but my mind started spinning scenarios about What If. I figured this could be the initial pivotal moment of a YA novel, the story about a teen lying in the darkness of his room, and hearing…something.

More recently, my JUNCTION 2020 series involves portal travel to a dimension built by my 5 main characters’ sweetest dreams and worst nightmares. It’s been loads of fun! From magical music rooms to awesome lighthouses, and vampire spiders to street gangs, the alternate-dimension landscapes challenge my characters like nothing else. Each book in the 5-part series is written from the viewpoint of one of the characters. Book 3 of JUNCTION 2020 is Lauren’s book, and is called SILENT SCREAM. Interestingly enough, it also involves a character lying in bed and hearing something creepy (do I detect a pattern here?).  

EXCERPT from Silent Scream, Chapter 3:  

Stray thoughts tumble through my head, blurring with images of me blowing on my steaming mug of hot chocolate and swinging my arm to throw snowballs. I’m drifting off into serious drowsiness, when I hear a distinct and prolonged metallic creak.

Blinking, I lift my head. What was that?

I heard it loud and clear. Is someone walking around, maybe Stefanie in the outer hall as she heads to the bathroom? Except the creak didn’t quite sound like a floorboard, and it didn’t sound like the noise came from the hall.

It sounded like it came from inside my room.

I sit up, breaking into a clammy sweat. Impossible. There’s no one in here except me. I’ve got to be imagining things.

Squinting around the moonlit semi-darkness of the room, I see the tall, solid-wood dresser against the wall, the motionless, thin curtains over the window. Across the room the closet is silent, but its door stands ajar a few inches.

Crap. Wasn’t that door shut before I got into bed?

Creak.

That’s the metallic noise I heard earlier, I’m sure of it. It’s the rasp of a squeaky hinge. And right as I’m watching, the closet door opens wider. Slowly, inching its way outward.

Creak. Creeeaaaak.

The gap is now a spooky wedge of blackness that makes an instant lump form in the pit of my stomach.

Creak. The gap widens further yet. A foot and a half of sheer terror.

A hoarse breathing begins—and it’s not mine.

I clutch the quilt to my chest, paralyzed on the bed. My lungs forget how to work. Only my mind is whirling. It’s been nine long years, but I know exactly what’s behind that door. In this landscape, my nightmares have caught up with me at last.

It’s the Boogeyman.

He’s real. And he’s coming to get me.

More about Junction 2020:

It all started on New Year’s Eve, 2019. Despite being hearing impaired, Lauren Carnes was determined to go to Stefanie Anders’ party and celebrate the holiday like everyone else. But instead, she and four others got blasted through a portal into another dimension. They ended up with strange triangular marks branded on their forearms.

Worse yet, the whole thing happened again ten days later. Instead of a creepy landscape built by her new friend Mari’s dreams and nightmares, they fought to survive in a world built by Tony Rodriguez. In both of these alternate realities, ruthless black-cloaked Shifters tried to capture and exploit them as Mainworlders.

The third time is not a charm. Because on this journey, it’s Lauren’s fascinating—and dangerously silent—landscape everyone is stuck in.

Purchase your copy of Junction 2020!

For anyone who comments on this post, there will be a drawing for a giveaway. The winner will get the choice of an ebook or (if a U.S. winner) a signed paperback of THE LYING PLANET or a JUNCTION 2020 series book.

Carol Riggs author photo_head

About Carol Riggs:

Carol Riggs is an author of young adult fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

 

 

Follow Carol Riggs:

EMAIL: carolriggsauthor@gmail.com

WEBSITE:  http://www.carolriggs.com/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/CRiggsAuthor

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/CarolRiggsAuthor?sk=wall

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8055261.Carol_Riggs

BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carol-riggs

 

10 Days of Halloween with Tabitha Caplinger

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Let’s all give a warm welcome to someone who isn’t a stranger on this blog and who is a dear friend, a talented author, my online pastor, and did I mention a talented author? Tabitha writes one of my all time favorite series, The Chronicle of the Three, and I’m sad it’s over. But, such is life. All good things must come to an end! 😉 The TCO3 series is pretty much the cousin to my Entertaining Angels series (just kidding, sort of), and I think you guys would so love it!

***

From Tabitha:

Hi!! In honor of all things creepy and spooky I thought I’d share with you lovelies one of my favorite scenes from the final installment of The Chronicle of the Three Trilogy, Eden Sword.

In this little snippet, Zoe, Daniel and Maggie are doing one of their regular night patrols for demons who are ravaging their small town of Torch Creek. In the dead of a winter night the local playground takes on a darker visage.

 

***

Things seemed strange at night. During the daylight hours, even in winter, there was always some activity here. Joggers would be pounding the pavement of the small track that circled the perimeter. People walked their dogs. Children played on the colorful playground. Under this blanket of darkness, it was much more eerie. The wind rustled through dead branches, replacing the summer song of tree frogs and mockingbirds, and the rays of the moon created shadows of each limb as cracked lines along the ground. In the daytime, this place was nothing but life, but in the dark of December, it seemed like only death.

Zoe clenched her fists and squared her shoulders.  The smoldering battleground of her nightmares flashed like a slideshow through her mind. The shadowy grass of the park a reminder of that horrid landscape she couldn’t shake free of. She bit the inside of her cheek trying to regain her grip on reality.

“Is it windy enough for that to be happening?” Maggie asked, pointing toward a red and blue see-saw that was beginning to teeter back and forth, its hinges squeaking with the movement.

“No, it isn’t,” Daniel answered. Zoe saw that he already had a knife in his hand.

The low whistle of a slowly turning merry-go-round and the creaking of movement of the swing set created a creepy chorus which filled the silent night. The melody of customary hissing joined the arrangement, swirling in on an icy wind that drew goosebumps up Zoe’s arms and down her spine. She squatted to retrieve her dagger from its keep, rising back up with it gripped tightly, ready as the demons glared from their perches all over the small playground.

Zoe felt an arm brush hers as Maggie leaned close to her to ask, “When would be a good time to shoot one?”

“I’d prefer that you go right to rock formation.” Zoe’s eyes never left the ensemble that was now drooling ash from its many barred fangs. “Daniel, you take the swings on the left, I’ll take everything to the right. Maggie stay back and shoot anything that looks at you.” Zoe ordered then took the first step toward the see-saw but paused to give one last glance over her shoulder. “Oh, and Mags, don’t miss.”

To her relief, Maggie lifted her bow with steady hands. “Yeah. Got it chief.”

Zoe gave a nod to Daniel and the two charged at the shadows before them. Sulfur stung Zoe’s cold nose. The rustling of chains at the swing set and shrill shrieks signaled each demon’s demise. But Zoe didn’t dare turn to verify Daniel’s triumphs. She was focused on her own task. There were at least five shadows that she could see, and she was sure more had to be waiting in the darkness of nearby branches.  “Maggie keep your eyes open!” she yelled.

“I’d be afraid to close them!” came Maggie’s comforting response.

Zoe lunged at the first two shadows that had perched themselves on the teeter-totter. She stabbed her dagger into the first while drawing one of Lucas’s throwing knives and flung it at the other. As they dissolved, she turned toward the three that had dug their claws into the old wooden merry-go-round. She ran and leapt onto the turning wheel, tossing another knife into one’s forehead, and then thrust her lion blade into a second. The third reached out, planting its nails in her shoulder. She could feel the burn through her jacket but bit back the pain with a low growl. She spun around and drove her dagger into its hollow chest.

“Zoe!” She heard Maggie cry out as the shadow in front of her turned to ash and another jumped onto her back.

Zoe was pushed forward, falling onto the wood underneath her. She kicked and squirmed until she was able to roll. She shoved the demon off of her and onto the ground just as an arrow struck its abdomen. Relief was short lived as another shadow dropped from a high branch and landed on top of Zoe, pinning her shoulders down. The force of it knocked the dagger out of her hand. She strained her fingers but couldn’t quite reach it so she grabbed the demon’s wrists and pulled instead. She tore loose from its grip and then bucked up so that she could roll it off of her and switched positions so that she was now straddling the creature. She gripped its neck with her bare hands and it writhed underneath her, scratching at her arms and legs trying to break free.

“Zoe!” she heard Daniel yell.

“Zoe stop!” Maggie’s panicked scream got louder as she got closer.

Zoe felt pain seer through the skin of her hands where they choked the demon under her. Blood was trickling down her arms and soaked into her sleeves. She could feel the cotton material clinging to her and only then realized that there was no power flowing along with the blood in her veins. There was no light nor warmth emanating from her to kill the unholy vermin that still struggled against her. Zoe’s face pinched together and she quickly searched for her dagger with pained eyes. She reached one hand to grab it, wincing when her tender skin gripped its handle. Her muscles quivered as she plunged the blade into the shadow with a frustrated roar. She stabbed it again and again and again, oblivious to the fact that her knife was only hitting ash and wood until Daniel stopped her hand.

 

***

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The Chronicle of the Three Trilogy follows Zoe Andrews as she learns demons are real, the people she loves are at risk, and she is chosen to defeat a great evil. But fighting with swords might be a little easier than fighting the demons that begin to plague her mind and heart. Can she find the strength to withstand the darkness trying to destroy her before it destroys her world?

Buy the complete series today!

FullSizeRenderTabitha Caplinger is a wife, mom, youth pastor and author. She loves coffee, chocolate and takes her tv addiction very seriously. Besides writing about girls who slay demons she seeks to help all young women who struggle with who they are and what they are worth. She wants them to discover their identity and learn to live for their purpose on purpose (#LiveChosen). Above everything she uses her writing to show them that, like her characters, they are powerful, chosen, loved and never alone.

 

 

Follow Tabitha:

facebook.com/TabCaplinger

twitter.com/Tab_Caplinger

instagram.com/Tab_Caplinger

 

5 Day Kick Start to Living Chosen

 

If you’re interested in more #LiveChosen content from Tabitha be sure to go to her website, tabithacaplinger.com, and subscribe to her monthly newsletter. As a bonus you will get a FREE sample of The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline as well as be one of the first to receive her “5-day Kick Start to Living Chosen.”

 

10 Days of Halloween with Lee Roberts (again)

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Let’s welcome back Lee Roberts! If you remember, he was just here on Friday, but he’s sharing another book with us, Trouble Rising, and it has characters from his Elvis Blue book in it! (I hope you emailed him to get your free copy of Elvis Blue!) Check out this excerpt of Trouble Rising!

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***

Chapter 36

Elvis and Monk walked slowly along the thick stone walls of the basement, both of them engrossed in studying their instruments. Elvis paused at one point, and then moved on again with a sigh of frustration. It was difficult to tell in the semi-darkness, but Monk’s face wore the same dismal expression. He turned and looked at his partner on the other side of the room.

“What is going on here, Elvis? We were getting readings all over the place last week, and they seemed to be growing, like something really big was going to happen. But now it looks like everything is getting quiet again. It’s like all the energy is draining out of here, kind of fading away or something.”

“I know what you mean. I’m seeing the same thing.”

“So what’s going on? You think all of the new construction is shredding the electromagnetic fields or reducing them somehow? It’s like the energy that was here before is evaporating.”

“Who knows, man? That could be it. Or maybe it could be something simpler.”

“Like what?”

“Like maybe whatever paranormal thing was going on is over now or going away. Maybe the spirits are going dormant or moving on to somewhere else.”

“But we didn’t do anything. All we did was record stuff. We haven’t even made contact with any entities or done anything to eliminate them.”

Elvis shrugged.

“Maybe whatever was provoking them is gone now for some other reason. There are still a few more hot spots down here, especially back in that far corner of the basement. We should probably go check that area again.”

Suddenly, they froze in their tracks as several loud pops erupted from the casino above them. Elvis and Monk looked at each other. As they turned toward the stairs and listened, now they could hear the roaring wave of noises spreading upstairs. They heard people yelling and screaming, running in various directions away from something in widespread panic.

“There’s some heavy stuff going on up there, man,” Monk whispered. “What do you think it is?”

“Sounded like gun shots to me.”

“Gun shots? Do you think somebody is trying to rob the casino?”

Elvis shrugged. “Who knows? Do you want to go up there and find out?”

“Not me,” said Monk. “That’s where the hired help comes in. I’m calling Maria.”

He pulled out his walkie-talkie and keyed the mike.

“Maria? This is Monk and Elvis. You guys still in the van?”

A brief pause, and then two seconds later a garbled reply came back.

“We’re all still here, Monk. You want us to come down and relieve you guys on the investigation? Send in another team?”

Monk shook his head, but of course Maria could not see that over the radio. He keyed the button to respond.

“Just tell us what is going on up there. We’re hearing all kinds of loud noises from the casino. Elvis says he thought there were gun shots.”

“Gun shots? Dios mio! Let me look outside. We can’t see much sitting here in the van, you know. I’ll be right back.”

Elvis and Monk stared at each other. A minute later, Maria was back.

“Hey! It looks like there was some kind of big fight right outside the casino doors. Mr. Crockett is standing out there with some other people. And there are a whole bunch of security guys running around with pistols in their hands. We didn’t see what happened, but it looks pretty serious from here.”

“Okay. Tell Isaac and Derek to go in the casino and check it out. Me and Elvis are coming up there.”

“Roger that.”

Elvis and Monk grabbed their gear and started for the wide staircase leading up to the casino level. The boys were almost halfway up the steps when they saw Simon Cruz coming down in a rush dragging Candi by her hair. They flattened themselves against the wall to get out of the way. Cruz brushed past them with hardly a glance and continued on to the basement.

“That was something you don’t see every day,” said Elvis.

Monk keyed the walkie-talkie again.

“Maria? We have an update on the situation.”

“Too late, Isaac and Derek are already on their way inside.”

“Then you need to handle this yourself. Find Crockett or someone who looks like they are in charge and tell them we just saw Simon Cruz going down the basement stairs. And it looked like he was holding Candi Rios hostage.”

“Oh crap! I mean, roger that.”

Maria dropped her headphones and quickly jumped out of the van. Her body wasn’t really built for speed, but she ran as fast as she could toward the knot of people gathered near the front door. One of the guards turned and pointed his gun at her.

“Wait! Wait! I’m one of the good guys!” she yelled.

Rico stepped forward and intercepted her.

“You need to stay back out of the way, so you don’t get hurt. There are some bad people running around here.”

“But I need to tell Mr. Crockett something!”

“You can tell me, sweetheart. I’ll make sure that he gets the message.”

Maria looked at Rico, her eyes wide with fear.

“Tell him that Simon Cruz is in the basement, and he’s got Candi with him.”

Rico’s heart skipped a beat.

“Okay, then you wait here next to these guys with the guns. You’ll be safe here. I’ll take care of that problem myself.”

He spun around and ran for the front door. Candi was in trouble, and he was determined to rescue her, with or without a gun. Rico didn’t care if Cruz shot him a couple of times as long as he could get Candi away from him first. Then he would kill Simon with his bare hands.

But Simon had other plans.

Cruz had passed Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera coming through the bar. They would be hard on his heels. But he thought he could lose them down in the huge maze of partially finished construction. Maybe he could hide for a while or find some way to slip out a side door unseen. There was always a chance.

He pulled Candi along by her long hair as they twisted and weaved through the giant maze of material and debris. He could feel his heartbeat pounding in his chest. He needed to stop for a minute and think.

They moved deeper into the blackness of the catacombs, way back into the far corner of the subterranean level. Candi was getting really tired of Simon pulling her hair. She was already mad as a hornet and itching for a fight. She finally decided that she had had enough of this bullshit.

With a grunt of effort, Candi turned and yanked her long hair free. Simon looked at his empty hand in surprise, as if it had somehow betrayed him. He hesitated for a second and then lunged toward her again. She lashed out with both hands, punching and cursing in his face.

But Cruz ignored her. He managed to get his hands around Candi’s neck and began to tighten his grip, slowly cutting off her air and strangling her. She started to gasp for every breath, fighting for each molecule of precious oxygen. Simon was bigger and stronger, and she could not overcome that disadvantage.

The light began to fade from Candi’s eyes as life ebbed out of her body. Her few attempts to stop him now were too feeble to make any difference. It looked like this was the end.

Slowly, she reached up and touched the little necklace of yellow and aquamarine stones around her neck. Candi whispered a silent prayer and prepared herself to accept what was soon to come.

Suddenly, Simon screamed and jumped back like he had just been electrocuted. He stared at his open palms in disbelief. Candi collapsed on the floor in a heap, panting weakly, barely conscious.

A dark, swirling mist began to form in the air, taking shape out of the darkness. The cloud of mist surrounded Cruz and then seemed to come together in a big, massive shape. A huge black bear materialized right in front of Simon and reared up on its hind legs, spreading two giant paws that gleamed with long, razor-sharp claws.

Simon screamed again and snatched up the gun he had dropped. He began firing wildly at the image, terrified by what he saw. He continued to yell obscenities and move farther back into the corner until all the bullets were gone. Cruz staggered into the wall and then slid down to the ground, the gun now clicking on empty chambers.

Rico heard the shots and ran down the dark hallway hoping desperately for some miracle. He rounded the last corner and saw Candi lying on the floor. Instantly, he was at her side, checking her pulse. It was still there, but very faint.

He scooped Candi up in his arms and ran back toward the stairway, leaving Cruz sitting in the corner staring vacantly into space.

“Hang on,” he whispered. “Please hang on, babe. I’m going to get you out of here. Everything’s going to be all right.”

Rico hurried up the stairs carrying Candi’s limp body cradled in his arms. There were two men at the top of the stairs, and they stepped out of the way to let him pass by. Rico moved on. Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera glanced at each other and then descended slowly into the basement to find Simon Cruz.

About Trouble Rising:

New passions awaken old evils, and the construction of a modern hotel and casino on old tribal land has stirred up the restless spirit of a massacred Indian maiden. Candi Rios is a magnet for trouble and sensitivity to the supernatural compels her to seek out the answers to the perplexing mysteries that plague the new venture. As a smart young accountant, Candi struggles to sort out the complexities of the business while caught up in the emotional turmoil of the unseen forces at work. With Rico and her quirky friends, she investigates the strange deaths and disappearances in the area, uncovering evidence of money laundering, embezzlement, and murder. Others cross her path and make things difficult, including a psychotic personnel manager, Colombian drug dealers, Elvis Blue and the ghost hunters, and even Godzilla. Candi must figure it all out in order to put an end to the madness and avoid becoming the next victim.

Purchase your copy of Trouble Rising.