The Outlander…

5 Jun

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Jim Woods.

The Outlander by Jim Woods

Ever wish you could call back a promise you’ve made? David Stone, American, has adopted South Africa as his home and Marjie van der Leun as his lover. It’s an on-again, off-again affair, but during one of the on-again stages, David made a commitment which would come back to haunt him. In a reckless moment, David said he would kill for her. Now Marjie wants to call in that favor.

The arrangement involves a lot of money and once David is “in for a penny, he is in for a pound,” as the saying goes.

The plot thickens, Marjie is prosecuted for the murder and David thinks he has gotten away . . . until . . .

Excerpt:

Chapter One

David Stone seldom went to sleep at night without acknowledging he was perhaps the most fortunate bachelor on Earth. After college in California, he practically had fallen into his job, a well-paid management position, allowing him to return to the country of his birth, South Africa, a locale of which he held scant actual memory. Others’ recollections passed on to him, combined with old photographs, triggered false memories of a father he had never known. He knew now his father had been a professional hunter, a safari operator. It was rare for an American to hold such a position in this country and David treated the knowledge as a birthright of near royalty for himself. David had been on safari several times, enjoyed an impressive salary and social position, and all the female attention that money could buy. Life indeed was good; David Stone had everything to live for.

David stirred and groaned at the first summons from the distant kitchen telephone. At the second signal he tossed aside the light comforter and swung his long frame upright, legs dangling over the side of the king-size bed. By the third insistent chirp, he was awake enough to curse his boss in California, who refused to authorize the trivial expense of adding a second instrument for the bedroom of the company-leased condominium in Durban.

Alex Becker, absentee owner of PCI (Pty) Ltd, in addition to being cheap about minor expenses, also demanded the full attention of any employee who happened to be the object of his thoughts at any particular time. He reasoned with the nine-hour time differential between the United States west coast and South Africa, a call placed to South Africa during his local business hours stood a good chance of finding his area manager in bed instead of in the office or out on the road. He wouldn’t tolerate sleep-befuddled answers to his questions, so his scheme was to ensure David always had to be sufficiently awake to find the telephone at the other end of the house, and therefore be alert enough to reel off all the correct responses.

David once again resolved to put in the additional phone at his own expense, but knew that he wouldn’t, because Alex would raise Holy Hell about it when he commandeered the guest bedroom on his next unannounced visit. As much as he enjoyed thinking about crossing Alex, he knew that he would not. His position as almost total controller of the South Africa office provided him a very comfortable, even lavish, lifestyle he wouldn’t jeopardize. He was more or less fully functional when he snatched up the handset.

“Private Computers International,” he puffed into the instrument. “This is David Stone.”

The call had to be from Alex this time of night, David was certain, and his absentee employer demanded formal business telephone protocol. A clerk from the office who stayed late with David one evening, then on until morning, had been helpful in answering the telephone in order to let David continue his recovering slumber. Her pleasant and sensual hallo sounded anything but businesslike to Alex, and she was instantly dismissed from her job and David came perilously close to being yanked back to California. Since then, David’s guests were warned away from taking incoming calls and he was careful always to be professional on the telephone, no matter what the time of day or night.

“Dave? This is Marjie.”

The voice jolted him. She didn’t have to say Marjie Who. David remembered Marjie. When he first took the assignment in South Africa three years before, he’d taken stock of the local talent and identified Marjie as a sexy airhead. He was only half-right; she was sexy. She also was a very smart engineer who’d developed the power module allowing the PCI computer to work on the peculiar 50-cycle, 230-volt electricity produced and distributed by South Africa’s national electric power company, Eskom. Marjie worked for Eskom but, thanks to some expensive and persuasive encouragement from Alex Becker, her efforts had been instrumental in opening the Southern African market to PCI immediately after the post-apartheid government took over in 1994, when foreign investment in the country once again became an attractive proposition. PCI was able to beat the competition to the marketplace by several months, and still held onto that advantage.

David had been the recipient of a Masters fellowship sponsored by PCI, and his brilliant thesis on marketing opportunities in Third World countries won him the managerial assignment with PCI in South Africa. PCI joined with Eskom in a politically-motivated venture to bring technology to the underdeveloped nations of sub-Saharan Africa. Thereafter, at the local implementation level, David and Alex together coordinated closely with Marjie, a working threesome by day and, after hours, one or the other of them a playful pair with Margie, according to her fancy.

Marjie permitted both PCI-exec Alex and second-in-command David to court her, but she’d been promoted to an assignment to electrify the rural northern Transvaal a couple of years ago, and David had lost contact with her. Marjie’s departure apparently had been Alex’s reason for the abrupt decision to wrap up his personal control over the South Africa operation, ceremoniously turning it over to David and immediately returning to the company’s home base in California. Now Marjie was back in David’s life, and his groin ached pleasantly in remembrance of their times together . . . and Alex was not hovering nearby to claim a share of her.

“Marjie! How’ve you been? Where are you? What’s going on with you?” He wanted to say something clever and smooth, but felt tongue-tied and angry with himself because he couldn’t control his thoughts or his voice. What kind of schoolboy must she think I am? he wondered, but Marjie cut in with her assurances of how much she missed him. She explained that she had gone back to the family home in Cape Town for a while after her project in the north was finished. She had just returned to her own home in Pietersburg and wanted, no needed, to see him.

“Davie, do you remember when you . . .” she struggled for the words, “offered to eind die lewe of someone for me if I ever needed it? Well, I need to talk to you about that now. There’s twenty thousand in it for you. Can you come?”

Wheeew, he blew silently, and was quiet for just an instant too long. Marjie was necessarily fluent in English as the language of commerce and technology in South Africa as in most of the rest of the world, but in this very personal turmoil she reverted to her traditional language. She had used the Afrikaans, end the life. Murder someone!

“Daaave,” she came back impatiently, “didn’t you mean it?”
He remembered. When she found out he was keen on firearms, she pursued him with pleas to make her a shooter, and he enjoyed the attention. He instructed her in the use of several guns, from the FN-FAL battle rifle used by the South African military to his favorite personal handgun, the Browning Hi-Power nine-millimeter pistol. She was an eager pupil. The excitement of their shooting sessions carried over to the bedroom. Once, he teased that if she ever needed anyone removed, she had only to call on him. Her thrill at the prospect of him killing someone at her direction moved Marjie to even greater appreciation.

“Yes, I meant it,” he struggled to assure her. He’d lost her once. Now with the prospect of having her back, he wasn’t about to give her up again over some silly notion she harbored about killing someone. He had spent only a few weeks collectively in the United States over the past three years of being posted in South Africa and had become completely at ease with the local currency, rands. However, he still converted to dollars to know what prices were in real money. Twenty thousand rands was roughly five thousand dollars. “I can take care of that for you, but it’ll cost fifty thousand. Haven’t you heard about inflation?”

“Done!” she exulted. “I would have given you a hundred!”

Hey, she’s serious! What am I letting myself in for? “Just who am I supposed to kill?”

“I don’t want to talk about this kind of business on the phone. Let’s meet at the Carlton. I’ll drive in and get a suite where we can talk in private. Can you fly up tonight?”

Durban—almost six hundred kilometers from Johannesburg, he computed quickly; Margie’s base in Pietersburg about half that. “No, I’ll drive up in the morning. In fact, I’ll leave in three or four hours and be there in the early afternoon. I’ll get the hotel and call you at home and we can meet there later that evening. What’s your phone?”

Now it was her turn to hesitate. Clearly she wanted to control the venue, but eventually she gave her grudging approval to the plan. She stumbled over the telephone number as though having difficulty remembering it, then blurted out the four digits. As David wrote them down on his phone-side pad, he automatically added the area prefix for Pietersburg. “I’ll ring you up from the city,” he said hoarsely, and hung up.

No, he thought, I’ll ring you up right now! Then, halfway through dialing he slammed down the receiver. Sprinting to the bedroom, he pulled on the navy-blue sweatpants he’d laid out in preparation for his early-morning roadwork regimen—eight kilometers at a dedicated runner’s measured pace designed to cover the distance in an easy half-hour—then struggled into the matching pullover top emblazoned with Santa Clara in yellow script across the chest, and Broncos on the back He snatched his keys, change and handkerchief from the dresser-top valet and jammed them into the muff pocket, then pulled on his tackies, stuffed the hanging laces into the shoes against his bare feet and rushed to the carport. The Mercedes responded to the turn of the key and squealed down the drive, then onto the street that would take him over to Windemere Plaza and the public phone.

If I’m right, he thought, she will have to go to the post office to find a coin phone in Pietersburg. Having driven extensively over the past three years through the sparsely settled Transvaal Province in presenting PCI’s computer system to potential clients—the exception to spotty populations that characterized the rural province being the Johannesburg/Pretoria megaplex—he knew that the post offices in the smaller towns were the only places to find public telephones this time of night, and generally they were located in the seedier parts of downtown. David reasoned that Marjie would have to drive several minutes, perhaps even a quarter of an hour or more, to get from the upscale Ster Park neighborhood where she lived to the only post office in Pietersburg, and her return trip might give him enough time to verify she did not call from her personal telephone. As he wheeled into the plaza parking lot, he spied the lighted phone pod and was relieved to note that it was not in use. Another problem with the public telephones, as he and all the whites were aware, was the instruments were normally tied up by the blacks who did not have phones at home; they monopolized them for hours. This time of early morning, even the street-blacks were not hanging around the telephone. His first thought, since the cubicle was unoccupied, was he would find only the broken and frayed, dangling cable but he was relieved again when he found the instrument, to be in working order.

Using his crisp, white handkerchief, he dry-sanitized the assumed-to-be-contaminated receiver and mouthpiece with a couple of determined rubs, and then tossed the streaked cloth in the nearby wire trash bin. He dropped a two-rand piece in the coin slot and determinedly punched-in the regional code for Pietersburg and then the home number Marjie had given him. It rang on the other end three times before an answering machine responded in her purring voice. Okay, he reasoned, she did not call from her home. She’s making sure, as I suspected, no record of the call from her telephone could ever be traced to my number. I’ll have to be just as careful from my end.

The leisurely drive through the few blocks to his neighborhood gave him time to muse over just how he would stay a step ahead of the beautiful lady Marjie while also getting her into his bed. Back at the condominium, he dropped into that friendless bed still fully clothed, with Marjie, not at all so encumbered, the prime focus of his schemes and fantasies.

Fighting to clear his head of drowsiness just half an hour ago, he found now he could not sleep. He stripped off the jogging clothes, ran the shower hot while he shaved, then lunged into the revitalizing spray and steam. In the kitchen, he switched the automatic coffee pot from his normal wake-up time to ON, and watched gratefully as the life-giving drip started almost instantly. Then he wet-tracked across the gray stone-textured tile to the bedroom. As he draped the towel across a maroon-upholstered chair he wondered, what does one wear when negotiating a hit contract?

After two cups of coffee, brewed to his still American taste—South Africa offered many culinary pleasures, but the provincials simply could not make decent coffee—and half a box of Baker’s Tennis Biscuits, one of those off-the-shelf culinary pleasures—he dressed for the drive to Johannesburg.

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JimWoods.html#OutlanderExc

http://www.amazon.com/Outlander-Jim-Woods-ebook/dp/B00IUXDB46/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1401980335&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlander+jim+woods

Oxwagon..

4 Jun

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Jim Woods

Oxwagon by Jim Woods

The story opens with a very strange cargo for an oxwagon driver—the comatose body of a woman whose passage is paid by a man fearing for his life. When the driver takes on the load, he also takes on unexpected adventure for everyone involved on the long and perilous overland trip.

Excerpt:

“Are you sure she’s alive? She looks dead to me and I don’t transport dead bodies for any price. For that matter I don’t take passengers either, so we have nothing to discuss. No deal.”

“Verdoem, man. Cover her back up; I don’t even want to look at her again. I’ve got to get rid of this woman. She’s driving me crazy and she tried to kill me.”

“Then why didn’t you just kill her? If she tried to kill you, you’d be justified. Unless, of course, she had reason to. But actually, I don’t want to know. I’m just not taking her on this trek.”

“Man, you’re in the transport business, and this is cargo I need transported. Why can’t you take my business? I’ll pay to have her transported to Fort Salisbury. Tell me, what are your rates?”

“But I do not take passengers, much less a woman. This is hard country. We barely survive it ourselves, what with the rains, the mud and the fever. And we lose oxen on every trek, if not to the lions, then to their exertion of pulling too much weight over bad country. Their strong hearts simply fail, or they break a leg and we have to shoot them. And when they get tired and cranky they fight among themselves. That’s why we take along extra teams of the animals. We lose too many on a trek. Don’t you understand? This trek is too hard as it is. No passengers to make it even worse!”

“Verdoem, Clayworth, this woman is not fit to be called a passenger. She’s freight, pure and simple. And if she does not survive the trip, I don’t care. Dump her off just by the side of the road as you would any other damaged freight. So, tell me. What is your rate to Fort Salisbury?”

“See here, now, Hannes. You know my rates very well. They’re the same as any other transporter’s. This won’t do you any good, but Johannesburg to Fort Salisbury is a three-leg trek. The first leg is from Johannesburg to Palachwe; the next is to Bulawayo; and the final leg is on to Fort Salisbury. My rates are twenty-five shillings per hundredweight, per leg. That’s seventy-five shillings. Man, you could buy her a salted horse for that if she wanted to go to Fort Salisbury and she could join a train on her own.”

“I never said she wanted to go to Fort Salisbury. I want her as far away as I can put her and Fort Salisbury fills that bill. Look, I know she’s swaarly, more than a hundredweight. I’ll double your price. One hundred and fifty shillings, a shilling for every pound, to take her with you all the way to Fort Salisbury. Dump her off there and she’ll never find her way back here again. What do you say?”

“I say no, just as I’ve been trying to tell you. No passengers. Passengers have to eat and the trip takes twenty to thirty weeks and that’s if we have fair weather. That’s a lot of extra food to carry or find along the way. A man could be useful on a long trek, but not a woman. A man can stand night watch. He can chop firewood. He can wade the mud to pull the trek-oxes through. A woman. Bah! On a wagon trek she’s good for one thing and one thing only. And not good at all when my partner and I would share her. No. I won’t do it. Take her away. I have to inspan and get on my way. Sunlight is a wasting.”

“Now see here, Clayworth. I’ll pay you triple. Two hundred and twenty-five shillings to take this problem off my hands and the load off my mind. What do you say?”

Jerrick Clayworth, grim and tight-lipped, forced himself to hold back lashing out again to the Afrikaner, Hannes Crouse. He considered the offer of two hundred and twenty-five shillings, more than eleven pounds, more than enough to pay for a replacement ox when he lost one, as he was sure to do somewhere, sometime on this trek. And if the woman died along the way, or went on her own way once they were a few days out of Johannesburg, then so much the better. But is she really alive? Jerrick lifted the woven-reed lid from the deep and sturdy woven grass basket once again for a confirming examination. The woman was dressed in man’s breeches and boots, with a shirt top that was male as well. She made no sound. He bent low to inspect her, noting no bleeding wounds, but more importantly no smell of death about her; an earthy odor but certainly not dead.

“How did she get in this condition? What’s the matter with her? Why is she unconscious and how long has she been this way?”

“She’s just knocked out for a while. She’ll come around.”

“What did you give her?”

“I got the potion from a sangoma. I don’t actually know what’s in it.”

“Then how do you know she’ll come out of it?”

“The old teef told me she would, and if she don’t, I’ll wring that witch’s scrawny black neck and take back the two goats I paid her.”

“Well she don’t look dead, but if she does come out she’s going to get really messy in short order when her body starts to function again. We’ll have to get her out of that basket. I’ll spread a bullock hide to lay her on so she don’t piss or crap all over my goods when she wakes up.”

“Danke, Clayworth. Here, I’ll help you with her.”

“Not so fast. I’ll take the shillings first; otherwise she stays in the basket and goes home with you instead of on the trail with me.”

Grumbling, Hannes counted out two hundred and twenty-five silver shillings, and in so doing, emptied the bag. Jerrick noted and realized Hannes knew all along how much he would have to pay and was prepared with just the right amount. Hannes cupped the coins, returned them to the pouch and handed it over to Jerrick. Together the two men spread the hide over the crates and baskets, and stretched the still inert figure on it.

“Does she have a name?’

“I always called her Gertie. Gerta, I suppose?”

“And her surname? Hell, man if she dies on me I have to be able to burn a name on the crossed sticks. I couldn’t leave her for the animals.”

“Verdoem, man. Don’t bother to dig the ground for her. As far as I know even she doesn’t know her father’s name or even who he was. She’s just Gertie and the hyenas won’t check her pedigree.”

 

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JimWoods.html#OxwagonExc

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Oxwagon-Jim-Woods-ebook/dp/B00ENVXYXW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401893171&sr=8-1&keywords=Oxwagon

GSP Author of the Week: Jim Woods

3 Jun

This week we honor the memory of Jim Woods. 

Jim Woods, Author of So you Want to be An Author?

im Woods wrote novels and short stories, many of which stand alone, while others are assembled into collections, in worldwide milieus. He was a world traveler, having researched numerous exotic locales as settings for his stories. Much of his world travel was for big game hunting which, coupled with his background as editor with Petersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo and Guns magazines, frequently allowed him to bring firearms into play in his tales. Jim Woods passed away October 8, 2012; he lived and wrote in Tucson.

Please watch this space for releases from the author.

Callie’s Fate

29 May

Another release from Author of the Week Lee-Anne Graff Vinson.

Callie's Fate by Lee-Ann Graff Vinson

When Callie takes the red-eye home to surprise her husband for their anniversary, she finds the surprise is on her. She watches as a blonde tart in six-inch heels teeters out from her home and toward a cherry-red Mustang, which is parked in her spot.

Enraged, Callie does the only thing she can do. She drives to her favorite coffee house, scrolls through divorce lawyers who claim to eat cheating husbands for breakfast, and cries. Her only consolation is Christian, a Marine, whom she befriended on a chat site almost a year earlier.

While waiting for her marriage to end, Callie agrees to finally meet Christian in person. She has always been a woman in control, but the mere touch of this man has her begging for more. Christian is only too happy to oblige, leaving Callie agreeing with the motto ‘The Few and The Proud’. She has never experienced a man who could make her see stars, but Christian does his duty, and does it well.

Unhappy circumstances bring them together. A week of sexual bliss makes it impossible for them to part, leaving them to wonder how they can, once again, test the hands of fate.

Excerpt:

Callie parked her car across the street from her house. Tears trickled down her cheeks, but she didn’t feel them. She was numb. Angry. Done. She had to hand it to him. Donald’s taste in women had improved since the first time she’d caught him cheating. The blonde, in her six-inch, cherry-red heels, clicked merrily across the driveway to her car. The Mustang was noticeably the same shade of slut as her shoes and was parked contemptuously in Callie’s spot. She scowled as the tart shimmied herself into the car. Her mini skirt was wrinkled and tight. She probably didn’t even take it off.

 

Callie had just arrived home from a five-day pharmaceutical conference where she’d been working twelve-hour days promoting one of her company’s new drugs. Exhausted, she’d caught the red-eye to make it back on time. Today was their fourteenth wedding anniversary, and she wanted to surprise her husband with a day of wine tours and food samplings she’d booked online while she was away. This was the second time the surprise had been on her.

When he’d done it the first time, she couldn’t believe the man she’d entrusted her heart to would hurt her in such a deceitful manner. She’d married him because he was safe. He definitely was not the partying type. He never stayed out late with the boys, and he’d always come home right after work. He was, well . . . boring. He was the one man she’d thought she didn’t have to worry about. Although they didn’t share the same interests—she loved the outdoors, running and biking and he was happy in front of the television drinking a few beers—she loved him and he loved her. Or at least he told her he did.

Back then she’d had an overwhelming sense of failure and guilt, thinking his affair was somehow her fault. Her job took her away quite a bit and when she was home, she worked such long hours they rarely had time for a quickie, let alone what he would call “substantial” sex.

She stared at the car backing out of her driveway. She didn’t have those same feelings of guilt, heartache and complete devastation as before. Only anger and emptiness remained. After eighteen months of counseling and thousands down the drain, this was what they’d accomplished? Well, not again. No more lies. No more wasted money. This time she was done for good.

Her first instinct was to throw open the front door and wipe that smirk off his face with a baseball bat, screaming every obscenity she could think of. She wanted to cause him extreme pain. It’s our stupid anniversary!

As much as physically beating him appealed to her, she needed to hit him harder, in a way that made complete recovery impossible. No, violence wasn’t the answer. Her next move needed to be one that would hurt him as much as he’d killed their marriage. She needed professional help. It was time to consult with the people who knew him best––The Law Offices of Divorce-A-Cheating-Ass.

Callie started her car and gunned it down the street. She expertly cut off Donald’s newest ride, eliciting quite a resentful honk from her, which she quite happily returned with the full length of her middle finger. She sped down the street and away from her beloved home.

The Starbucks parking lot was almost empty as she maneuvered her shiny, silver Chrysler 200 into a lonely spot. She popped her trunk and got out. She always bloated on long flights and her black suede platform heels were beginning to pinch. She tugged at the ruffled skirt she typically wore on business trips, which was now cutting into her waist. She was about to grab her jeans and sneakers from her suitcase to change into, when she heard the vocal admiration of a passing, very well-built, fetching, young male cyclist. She decided against comfort and tossed the items back in. Damn right, I’m sexy.

At thirty-seven, Callie still had a great figure. She wasn’t statuesque, but her legs were muscular, giving the illusion of length. Her waist was narrow. So was her chest, but nothing a Victoria’s Secret push-up couldn’t cure—and she wore it well. Her blonde hair was long and straight, fanning out across her shoulders to mid-back. However, her eyes were what gave Callie her power. The large cobalt orbs could stop men at twenty paces. A flutter of the eyelashes followed by an intent gaze could get her anything she wanted. She used her power well; it had gained many large contracts for her company.

She pulled out her laptop bag and closed her trunk. It was going to take a lot of research to find the perfect attorney who would represent her in the courtroom. Donald wasn’t going to get away with it this time. The son-of-a-bitch!

She found a table and took out her laptop, then stood in line to order while she waited for it to boot up. Now, what type of coffee does a day like today require? When it was her turn to order, Callie spoke with no emotion. “May I please have an I-just-caught-my-loser-of-a-husband-cheating-with-a-whore-and-I’m-going-to-take-him-to-the-cleaners grande, skinny, extra-hot, caramel macchiato?”

The barista stared at her for a brief moment before replying “Of course, and how about we just go ahead and make that a venti at no extra charge?”

The wink she gave Callie was one of a woman familiar with her kind of day, and Callie knew she’d chosen her sanctuary well.

Coffee in hand, she sat down in front of her laptop and sighed. She shook her head as she searched through the myriad of divorce attorneys. How did she get here again? How did she not see this coming?

Tramp-happy Donald was currently between jobs, as he liked to tell anyone who cared to ask. A plumber by trade, they’d met when the pipe in her en suite bathroom burst one Sunday afternoon. She’d called the first company listed in the yellow pages and paid an arm and a leg for the repair, but thoroughly enjoyed the view as she waited for it to be fixed. Donald’s well-rounded, firm, plumber-butt definitely drew her away from her laptop, and she was thrilled when he’d asked for her number. However, his idea of a stellar evening included darts and drinks at his favorite pub, which was where he took her on their first date. And the next five. She’d always dreamed she would find a man who was kind, loving and, of course, fabulously sexy. Instead, she’d found Donald. He drew her in with winks and compliments. He held mystical powers when it came to bullshit, which he opened up like a clogged drain when he was with her. They used to talk a lot back then. She was attracted to his easy-going confidence. She was comfortable in his company and satisfied in his bed. Now, Callie realized he’d played her. She was merely his meal ticket with the option of sex.

Callie had never had a long-term, serious relationship before she met Donald. Her drive to climb the proverbial ladder had kept her from having time to socialize outside of work. Somehow, this man had wrenched his way into her heart. She’d allowed him into her life, her home . . . and now she was paying for him to plumb someone else’s pipes.

“Idiot,” she said.

 

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Lee-AnnGraffVinson.html#CallieExc

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Callies-Fate-Lee-Ann-Graff-Vinson-ebook/dp/B005NWRJYK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401382681&sr=8-2&keywords=Callie%27s+Fate

CalliCae’s Fate…..

29 May

Another release from Author of the Week Lee-Anne Graff Vinson.

Callie's Fate by Lee-Ann Graff Vinson

When Callie takes the red-eye home to surprise her husband for their anniversary, she finds the surprise is on her. She watches as a blonde tart in six-inch heels teeters out from her home and toward a cherry-red Mustang, which is parked in her spot.

Enraged, Callie does the only thing she can do. She drives to her favorite coffee house, scrolls through divorce lawyers who claim to eat cheating husbands for breakfast, and cries. Her only consolation is Christian, a Marine, whom she befriended on a chat site almost a year earlier.

While waiting for her marriage to end, Callie agrees to finally meet Christian in person. She has always been a woman in control, but the mere touch of this man has her begging for more. Christian is only too happy to oblige, leaving Callie agreeing with the motto ‘The Few and The Proud’. She has never experienced a man who could make her see stars, but Christian does his duty, and does it well.

Unhappy circumstances bring them together. A week of sexual bliss makes it impossible for them to part, leaving them to wonder how they can, once again, test the hands of fate.

Excerpt:

Callie parked her car across the street from her house. Tears trickled down her cheeks, but she didn’t feel them. She was numb. Angry. Done. She had to hand it to him. Donald’s taste in women had improved since the first time she’d caught him cheating. The blonde, in her six-inch, cherry-red heels, clicked merrily across the driveway to her car. The Mustang was noticeably the same shade of slut as her shoes and was parked contemptuously in Callie’s spot. She scowled as the tart shimmied herself into the car. Her mini skirt was wrinkled and tight. She probably didn’t even take it off.

Callie had just arrived home from a five-day pharmaceutical conference where she’d been working twelve-hour days promoting one of her company’s new drugs. Exhausted, she’d caught the red-eye to make it back on time. Today was their fourteenth wedding anniversary, and she wanted to surprise her husband with a day of wine tours and food samplings she’d booked online while she was away. This was the second time the surprise had been on her.

When he’d done it the first time, she couldn’t believe the man she’d entrusted her heart to would hurt her in such a deceitful manner. She’d married him because he was safe. He definitely was not the partying type. He never stayed out late with the boys, and he’d always come home right after work. He was, well . . . boring. He was the one man she’d thought she didn’t have to worry about. Although they didn’t share the same interests—she loved the outdoors, running and biking and he was happy in front of the television drinking a few beers—she loved him and he loved her. Or at least he told her he did.

Back then she’d had an overwhelming sense of failure and guilt, thinking his affair was somehow her fault. Her job took her away quite a bit and when she was home, she worked such long hours they rarely had time for a quickie, let alone what he would call “substantial” sex.

She stared at the car backing out of her driveway. She didn’t have those same feelings of guilt, heartache and complete devastation as before. Only anger and emptiness remained. After eighteen months of counseling and thousands down the drain, this was what they’d accomplished? Well, not again. No more lies. No more wasted money. This time she was done for good.

Her first instinct was to throw open the front door and wipe that smirk off his face with a baseball bat, screaming every obscenity she could think of. She wanted to cause him extreme pain. It’s our stupid anniversary!

As much as physically beating him appealed to her, she needed to hit him harder, in a way that made complete recovery impossible. No, violence wasn’t the answer. Her next move needed to be one that would hurt him as much as he’d killed their marriage. She needed professional help. It was time to consult with the people who knew him best––The Law Offices of Divorce-A-Cheating-Ass.

Callie started her car and gunned it down the street. She expertly cut off Donald’s newest ride, eliciting quite a resentful honk from her, which she quite happily returned with the full length of her middle finger. She sped down the street and away from her beloved home.

The Starbucks parking lot was almost empty as she maneuvered her shiny, silver Chrysler 200 into a lonely spot. She popped her trunk and got out. She always bloated on long flights and her black suede platform heels were beginning to pinch. She tugged at the ruffled skirt she typically wore on business trips, which was now cutting into her waist. She was about to grab her jeans and sneakers from her suitcase to change into, when she heard the vocal admiration of a passing, very well-built, fetching, young male cyclist. She decided against comfort and tossed the items back in. Damn right, I’m sexy.

At thirty-seven, Callie still had a great figure. She wasn’t statuesque, but her legs were muscular, giving the illusion of length. Her waist was narrow. So was her chest, but nothing a Victoria’s Secret push-up couldn’t cure—and she wore it well. Her blonde hair was long and straight, fanning out across her shoulders to mid-back. However, her eyes were what gave Callie her power. The large cobalt orbs could stop men at twenty paces. A flutter of the eyelashes followed by an intent gaze could get her anything she wanted. She used her power well; it had gained many large contracts for her company.

She pulled out her laptop bag and closed her trunk. It was going to take a lot of research to find the perfect attorney who would represent her in the courtroom. Donald wasn’t going to get away with it this time. The son-of-a-bitch!

She found a table and took out her laptop, then stood in line to order while she waited for it to boot up. Now, what type of coffee does a day like today require? When it was her turn to order, Callie spoke with no emotion. “May I please have an I-just-caught-my-loser-of-a-husband-cheating-with-a-whore-and-I’m-going-to-take-him-to-the-cleaners grande, skinny, extra-hot, caramel macchiato?”

The barista stared at her for a brief moment before replying “Of course, and how about we just go ahead and make that a venti at no extra charge?”

The wink she gave Callie was one of a woman familiar with her kind of day, and Callie knew she’d chosen her sanctuary well.

Coffee in hand, she sat down in front of her laptop and sighed. She shook her head as she searched through the myriad of divorce attorneys. How did she get here again? How did she not see this coming?

Tramp-happy Donald was currently between jobs, as he liked to tell anyone who cared to ask. A plumber by trade, they’d met when the pipe in her en suite bathroom burst one Sunday afternoon. She’d called the first company listed in the yellow pages and paid an arm and a leg for the repair, but thoroughly enjoyed the view as she waited for it to be fixed. Donald’s well-rounded, firm, plumber-butt definitely drew her away from her laptop, and she was thrilled when he’d asked for her number. However, his idea of a stellar evening included darts and drinks at his favorite pub, which was where he took her on their first date. And the next five. She’d always dreamed she would find a man who was kind, loving and, of course, fabulously sexy. Instead, she’d found Donald. He drew her in with winks and compliments. He held mystical powers when it came to bullshit, which he opened up like a clogged drain when he was with her. They used to talk a lot back then. She was attracted to his easy-going confidence. She was comfortable in his company and satisfied in his bed. Now, Callie realized he’d played her. She was merely his meal ticket with the option of sex.

Callie had never had a long-term, serious relationship before she met Donald. Her drive to climb the proverbial ladder had kept her from having time to socialize outside of work. Somehow, this man had wrenched his way into her heart. She’d allowed him into her life, her home . . . and now she was paying for him to plumb someone else’s pipes.

“Idiot,” she said.

 

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Lee-AnnGraffVinson.html#CallieExc

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Callies-Fate-Lee-Ann-Graff-Vinson-ebook/dp/B005NWRJYK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401382681&sr=8-2&keywords=Callie%27s+Fate

Love’s Trust…

28 May

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Lee-Ann Graff Vinson.

Love's Trust by Lee-Ann Graff Vinson

Daphne Lambert left the comforts of home to spend three months living a soldier’s life in Iraq. A reporter for the Boston Globe, Daphne patrolled along side some of the Army’s finest. When their troop triggered a planted IED, Daphne never expected to find true love in the arms of her savior. A man who, she would later find out, was the intended target of the bomb.

Sergeant John Ramos was a well-respected leader of his platoon. A routine search for IED’s ended up in the death of two good soldiers, and the loss of a leg for John. One year later, John finds himself the target of a court martial and the only person he can turn to for help is the woman he saved, the woman he loves.

Excerpt:

 Daphne threw the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway. She could see her now ex-boyfriend, Mike, yelling at her, but the driving rain drowned out the possibility of hearing his scathing comments as it thundered down on the canvas roof of her Mercedes.
    Daphne would have laughed at the comical nature of Mike’s actions if it hadn’t been for the last six months of crap she had taken from this man. Another relationship bites the dust, and along with it another chance at happily-ever-after ground out like a spent cigarette. The possibility of finding a man who would treat her with the respect, hell even the common courtesy she deserved, seemed non-existent. As the car reached the edge of the driveway, Daphne turned the wheel and took one last look at Mike, standing there in his boxer shorts, giving her the finger. She felt dead inside. She focused on the road ahead and drove away from the promise of love.
    Daphne wondered how she had ended up here again, how she always ended up here. She’d worked hard and won scholarships to put herself through university, graduating from Harvard with a degree in journalism. Daphne was smart and successful, so why could she not seem to find a man who appreciated her instead of always belittling her efforts? She shook her head as she drove along Pine Street, very thankful now that she hadn’t given up her apartment downtown when Mike had told her to. That had caused yet another argument but Daphne was not about to let go of her rent controlled, fully furnished apartment a mere two blocks away from her job as a reporter for The Boston Globe. No man was going to dictate where she lived or what she did again. Ever.
    Daphne pulled into her designated parking spot at the newspaper. She turned off the engine and dropped her head back against the leather seat. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the glitter of the parking lot lamplight reflecting off her stall nameplate in the downpour. Her boss had tacked a metal replica of a purple heart to it to remind her how close she had come to losing it all on her last assignment.
    Daphne had been a slave to reporting the military political injustices of the world for the past eight years. She loved her job, which included travel to many war-torn areas. She’d seen the devastation caused by years of bullets and brutality. Her most recent trip to Iraq was one she’d steeled herself for. This time, instead of simply observing, Daphne got the chance to become part of the troops, and live the life of the American soldier. The assignment was one of the most difficult she’d ever taken, and she’d found that studying up on a topic and actually living it were two different things. She’d seen the terror on the faces of small children when the MRAP vehicle she was in rumbled along the dirt roadway through their village. Daphne had witnessed the missing limbs and scarred flesh of the civilian Iraqi men, women and children as she walked the dirt roads looking for (Improvised Explosive Devices or IED’s) with her assigned platoon. She was shown pictures of the enlisted friends of her troop members who no longer walked alongside them, but would never be forgotten. She saw first-hand the pain and suffering caused by militant war-mongers and it sickened her.
    In her three months in Iraq, Daphne had gotten to know the soldiers very well. She’d watched as four young, vibrant, enthusiastic recruits became despondent shells of their former selves dealing with their injuries and the pain of being knocked down so early in their military career. In their eyes, the stigma of failing their country was worse than the injuries. The minds of soldiers were directed to giving their all for their country, and being sent home alive but crippled left them with a feeling of inadequacy almost unbearable to behold.
    Daphne also remembered Sergeant John Romero, a well-respected leader amongst the men and women in his platoon, and the man who saved her when their patrol had triggered an IED. John lost his leg getting Daphne to the safety of the following MRAP vehicle. Two soldiers lost their lives on a day that was supposed to be a routine sweep. It continued to haunt Daphne that the IED wasn’t found when Sergeant Romero walked over it with his bomb detector. She wanted to do a follow-up story delving into the equipment failure rates of the military, but decided against it. She didn’t want to cause John any further angst over an incident he blamed himself for. John was thorough in his job. He never made errors. The day the explosion took the lives of his platoon members, his friends, he shut down. Daphne had tried to get him help, tried to make him keep the appointment with the psychologist the Army set up for him, but he refused.
    John and Daphne were close, as close as the Army allowed without a reprimand. They drank many bottles of water together and shared a lifetime of memories in those months. Daphne was impressed by this quiet leader of men, who gave his all for his country and his platoon. He was the type of man you never forgot. Honorable. Courageous. Worthy.
    Shortly after her return, Daphne wrote an award-winning article about her time in Iraq. It was an in-depth piece compiled from hours of interviews Daphne had conducted with the soldiers while they were in the field. It was her way of trying to help them heal. Once the piece was done, Daphne lost touch with the four wounded soldiers she flew back with after the accident, as well as with John. He’d told her that he needed to get away, needed to make sense of things. Daphne let him go, but her heart broke the day they said goodbye.
    Still sitting in the car, Daphne closed her eyes and thought about one of the first nights she and John were on duty together. It was shortly after she had been trained to use the M9 9mm pistol. There was no way Daphne was going to be the weak link in this platoon. If she was going to live the life of a soldier, she needed to be trained as a soldier. Given the time constraints, she worked harder than she ever had at anything in her life. She was not going to let her platoon down. It paid off, she was a damn good shot with her weapon, even Lieutenant Jekholf was impressed.
    John led Daphne around the perimeter of the camp, on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. John had stopped to speak with one of his platoon members who had a few questions about the next days mission. Daphne thought she spotted movement behind one of the buildings. She did not want to interrupt them if it was nothing so, armed with her M9 and ready to shoot, Daphne walked in the direction of the possible intruder. She knew she was a decent shot and she momentarily got a little excited about the possibility of showing off her newfound talent. Daphne was close to rounding the corner of the building when common sense kicked in. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. The thought of coming face to face with the enemy scared the hell out of her. Sweat trickled down her back. She needed to pull it together and fast.
    There was no way she was going to allow herself to lose it here. If mere kids could handle the stress of this type of situation, so could she. Daphne rounded the corner and could hear some rustling coming from a small shack that held sandbags. Before she could take aim, she was pressed roughly against the wall of the building and told to be quiet. Daphne’s heart was racing before, now it damn near exploded in fear. Her mouth was scared shut. She recognized the voice to be John’s and prayed that her stupid decision to go off alone wasn’t going to get them killed. John’s movements were quick and efficient. His gun was drawn and pointed as he silently made his way across open ground, and stood to the side of the doorway.
    John nudged the door open further, using the tip of one boot to keep his hands free and on his weapon. Lighting was minimal in this area. Daphne felt her pupils dilating to compensate, almost willing herself to see something before it was too late. The shape was fast as it shot out past John’s boot. Daphne held a scream in her throat as she pulled her weapon to cover him. John took aim and shot. In less than a second, the form lay limp on the ground. Men and women came running from all directions with their weapons drawn.
    Daphne was shaking and unable to move. Her hands trembled from the tight grasp on her weapon still aimed in the direction of the lifeless body. She stared at her platoon members now gathered around it, hearing a few of them laugh. She watched as someone patted John on the back before turning away and walking back to the camp. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. They were laughing. Someone was dead, and they were laughing. Daphne felt the heat as it rose within her. Her anger forced her shaking limbs to close the distance between her and the rest of her team. 

 

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Lee-AnnGraffVinson.html#LovesTrustExc

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Trust-Lee-Ann-Graff-Vinson-ebook/dp/B004UN6AJI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401297349&sr=8-1&keywords=Love%27s+Trust+lee-ann+graff+vinson

GSP Author of the Week: Lee-Ann Graff Vinson

27 May

Congratulations to GSP Author of the Week: Lee-Ann Graff Vinson

Lee-Ann Graff Vinson, author of Georgia's Smile

Of herself Lee-Ann says: ” Thirty-nine years and two children later, my life finally came back to my passion—writing. Every author knows it is passion, perseverance and a thick skin that breeds success. Hell, that is what breeds success in every walk of life. Success to me is the completion of a rather good piece of writing, if I do say so myself. Luck is the ability to have it published for everyone else to read.
     So, to hurry along my passion of becoming successfully lucky, I entered into the Winghill School of Writing, joined various writing groups, and follow diligently the advice Writer’s Digest sends to my email box almost daily. It is safe to say that the pipe dream of becoming a professional writer is no longer just that. I have worked in various fields in my life, some fulfilling, some not. But, as you know, a career is not what makes you. It is the full aspect of family, friends, loved ones and work that give you your joy or edge. All gave me insight into the way in which the world, and the people in it, revolve. Now that I am, dare I say, older, I am able to look at these “experiences” and channel them into a therapy like no other—writing. 
     Life is full of mysterious, romantic, hurtful, joyous, painful encounters. What would the world be without its pain and suffering or its ecstatic happiness? Real life occurrences are what make us who we are. They also make up the majority of my writing style. I can create fantasy and spiritual as well. Let’s face it, life without a little fantasy now and then can seem quite daunting, and we are all spiritual creatures, whether we like it or not. What intrigues me most is the ability of the human mind and heart to overcome.
So, here I sit in my suburban home office, watching all the trials and tribulations of life, and living some of them, forever in hope of creating the next best-seller. Until then, I am enjoying all the bumps and rejections I receive along this journey and am a firm believer in “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”

Learn more about Lee-Ann here:
   BLOG 
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   FACEBOOK

Watch this space for releases from the author.

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