Welcome to Day 12 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

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This post is shared from the blog of Author, PTL Perrin.  It was written by Author Nonnie Jules, and speaks volumes about the struggles that some are going through in relation to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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by Nonnie Jules

By Friday, I doubted that I would even be part of this event.  I’m sure many of you noticed that I kept moving others ahead of me and ahead of me, until I ran out of members to move – as I struggled with finding the time in my schedule to write something.  As of this morning, I had finally decided that I just wasn’t going to be able to participate, as again, I saw no opening in my schedule that would allow it.

Then, I got a phone call at 7:37 this evening from a friend, sharing that her relative had just attempted suicide due to his personal struggles since the arrival of COVID19.  He had lost his job, had received an eviction notice, and saw no clear path to anything remotely close to “better” while the Coronavirus lingered.  That conversation forced me to sit down at my desk just as soon as I hung up the phone.  What you will find below may not be that great, but it’s what my heart rolled out in the final hour.


And So, I Believed

We are living through what is possibly the most trying time in many of our lives.  We are a world on lock-down, and though there are those of us who are living a bit more comfortably than others during this pandemic, many in the world are suffering.

Some of us are not concerned with how our mortgages and car notes will get paid.  Some of us aren’t concerned with where our next meal will come from, or, if we’ll have to suffer through another night filled with tears streaming down the faces of our hungry children, along with our own tears of helplessness.

For those who suffer with mental illness, their situations are creating a new wave of crisis, as many who see no way out, are, out of fear and desperation, turning to suicide.

My heart breaks for these innocents in this war.


It’s quiet.
I’m afraid​. ​
I’ve been locked up inside for so long, I don’t know my nights from my days.

It’s lonely.
I’m scared.
There’s no place to hide, ​and ​no other place to go​, ​because it’s everywhere.

I need to make a run
​…​just out to the store
…but, I’m not even sure
…it’s safe to open my door.

It’s in the air ​we breathe​
​…​on everything that we touch
I never realized ​until now​
​…​I needed people so much​. ​

I’ve no medical insurance
…so, I mustn’t get sick​. ​
My stomach is growling​​​
​…​but, it will soon quit​. ​

I’ll just stay inside for now.

I do need my meds
…to kill the voices in my head.
They’ve never been this loud before.
A little knock at the door
…would really help right now.

It’s ​too ​quiet.
I’m ​so ​afraid.
I open my wallet and remember…
I haven’t even gotten paid.

What will I do?
​How will I survive?
I don’t even know if it’s worth staying alive.
And, what will I eat?
What about the heat?

I know that it’s summer
…and it’s supposed to be hot
…but​, ​this thing has me terrified
…all tied up in knots.
​So, I strangely shiver as if it is cold.
While parts of the world move, my life is on hold. ​

Under the covers
…the only place I feel safe.
Oh, how I wish
…to feel the sun on my face.

How will I ​cover​
…the rent that is due?
My landlord’s expecting
…to be paid at two.

Some understand
…but others not
My luck ran out
…with the landlord I got.

“I’ve got a family to feed – you’ve only got you.”
He does not ​see​ that only me has to eat, too.

I don’t have the rent, dear Lord.
What will I do?
Where will I go?
I need a sign
…because I just don’t know.

How long will this crisis last?
No one knows for sure.
I’m afraid​ of my thoughts​.
How much more can I endure?

I just don’t know.

My mind is racing
…it just won’t stop.
Please slow it down, Lord
…these thoughts are just not – to your liking.

I cover my mouth
A cough escapes.
​I d​rift over to the window
…and pull back the drapes.
Unlocking the locks
…one by one
I can hear the calling ​
​…​not a voice​, ​but a gun.

​No, too noisy, I think.

And what if I miss?
I’m already afraid to even consider this.

Now, it’s a voice – louder – more clear
Almost a shout – deep in my ear.
“Come closer to me.
Look, I’m down here.” 

Five stories below me
Cars rush​ing​ by
​I hear the voice again​
“​C’mon, you can fly.”

I look back over my shoulder
As my landlord knocks
Then I glance at the wall
…it’s straight two o’clock.

“Why are you hesitant? There’s only pain here for you.
There’s nobody to help, so, what will you do?
The world is on lockdown, but you can be free.
Do not wait another second; come and join me!
You see, I am free – down here.
And don’t forget, you can fly.”

And so, I believed.


To everyone reading this who might be struggling with thoughts in their head, that under normal circumstances wouldn’t make sense, yet, they seem to make sense in the moment, what you should always remember is that the devil is alive and well, and sometimes looks and sounds just like you and me. {And of course, he wants you to join him…in hell.}

Fight those voices that encourage you to harm yourself and others.

If you were not born a bird or created in the likeness of some type of aircraft, listen to ME – you cannot fly.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  Please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Jewel, written by Jan Sikes

The Blurb:

For almost eighteen years, Jewel has known little beyond hopelessness and hunger. Barely existing in a ramshackle cabin, on the edge of a Louisiana swamp with her little sister and their mother, she sees no way to stop the downward spiral. When her mother falls gravely ill, Jewel learns that her life is about to take a drastic turn. But will it lead to joy or more devastation?
Take a heart-warming journey with Jewel as she struggles to rise from the clutches of poverty and shame.

My Thoughts: 

A poignant tale that has, without a doubt, played out too many times in reality. An impoverished family that consists of a sickly mother and her two daughters, must come to terms with their reality.

In those days, before the safety net of social assistance, the painful choice was made by Jewel’s mother to send her daughters away, in hopes of a better life.

Jewel was ushered into an alien world of lavish parties and magnificent homes, but everything comes at a price. It’s impossible not to sympathize with this young woman because of her tragic circumstances, and youthful innocence.

An emotional connection with characters is the mark of an excellent book. No issues with that in Jewel. It’s a quick read that wraps up neatly, though it left me with the desire to learn one unanswered question.

I recommend Jewel for the reader who enjoys a short tale of dire straits, desperate measures, and uncertain endings.

Five Stars!

Jewel by Jan Sikes

Meet Jan: 

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Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, has been called a wordsmith by her peers.

She published four biographical fiction books about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love…True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

She also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

She has published a book of poetry and art and nine short stories.

She is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, and the Executive Council at Rave Writers’ Int’l Society of Authors. She is also a member of the Writer’s League of Texas and Authors Marketing Guild.

Connect with Jan and purchase her books: 

Amazon.com

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

She is also a member of Rave Reviews Book Club

 

Welcome to Day 5 of the “EMPTY SEATS” Blog Tour! @EmptySeatsNovel @4WillsPub #RRBC #Baseball

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During this tour, the author is giving away (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, (2) $5 Amazon Gift Cards, (2) e-book copies of EMPTY SEATS & (1) copy of the author’s acclaimed “SINGING ALONG WITH THE RADIO” CD which features many prominent folk music singers (a $15 value)! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below as well as leaving a comment on the author’s 4WillsPub tour page.  GOOD LUCK!

Day Five (Empty Seats)

The Minor League Life

Empty Seats provides a glimpse into the life of a minor-league baseball player in 1972.

But what’s changed in the 48 years since then?  Empty-Seats-by-Wanda-Adams-Fischer

Some minor-league players at the lower levels still stay in private homes, close to the ballparks where they play. They still travel by bus from game to game. Today’s buses are at least air-conditioned and some even have rest rooms on board.

What has not changed, however, is the grueling competition these young men face for very little money, on the outside chance that they may be good enough to play in the big leagues.

When a youngster starts playing baseball at an early age and is bitten by the “bug,” and starts to work even as a seven- or eight-year old, dreaming of the day when he will be able to step into the batter’s box or onto the pitching mound at his favorite Major League ballpark, a light may switch on in his head. By the time he’s in middle school, he can feel that he has talent, but it takes work. When other kids are playing video games, he’s out running on the school track or along the side of the road. He’s decided this is the game for him.

His parents or guardians know what he’s aiming for—the golden ring, the big kahuna, The Show—to make it into Major League Baseball. They know they’ll have to make sacrifices on his behalf. Maybe they’ll have to find personal coaches to tutor him in running, pitching, batting, base stealing. Maybe they’ll have to invest in one of the nationally known camps or baseball academies such as the Baseball Factory, which combine classroom sessions in strategy with on-field instruction.

By the time he’s in high school, he’ll try out for the varsity team, even as a freshman. If he has enough talent, and the varsity coach needs someone with his skills at a particular position, he’ll probably make it. If not, he’ll play on the junior varsity and on American Legion baseball or other amateur teams that won’t ruin his high school eligibility.

Baseball scouts may be lurking in the wings, watching what he and his teammates are doing. They’re searching for special players for the annual baseball players draft.

But wait—what about college? Shouldn’t he consider attending college and playing college ball?

I attended a session in 2006 during which Mike Lowell, the All-Star third baseman for the Red Sox, discussed his choice—if one can call it that—to forego being drafted and instead enter college. Here’s how he described it:

I was all excited about being drafted. I was just about turning handsprings. My father, who’d played ball in Cuba before defecting to the United States, turned to me and said something to the effect of, ‘Are you done?’ ‘What?’ I responded, ‘I’m going to play baseball!’ ‘Not until you go to college first.’ ‘College? What do you mean, college? I’m going to play baseball!’ He sat me down and explained to me that I needed to go to college because I needed to have something to fall back on. He told me that I’d become a better ballplayer because I’d get coaching from a college-level coach. He also said that I might get hurt playing ball and that I’d get stronger if I played at the college level. And he said that I’d have a career if I had a college degree. I, of course, thought he was crazy. I ran around the house slamming doors and finally agreed that I’d go to college first and then go back in the draft.

And you know what? He was right. I did become stronger, faster, and a better ballplayer. I would run into coaches along the way, and they’d say, ‘Hey, aren’t you Carl Lowell’s kid? He was a heck of a ballplayer in Cuba.’

That was my father, who sacrificed his own baseball career when he left Cuba, moved with his family to Puerto Rico and lived in a crowded two-bedroom flat until they could get to the mainland. He gave up baseball entirely and went to dental school. He became a dentist so that he could support his family and we could become whatever we wanted to be. He made those sacrifices so that I could be a baseball player. He knew what he was doing when he told me to go to college. He was so right. I was so wrong.

When asked by a young fan in the crowd what his own advice would be to youngsters who wanted to become professional baseball players, Mike Lowell said, “I’m not too fond of video games. If you want to play baseball, or any sport, on a higher level, you need to move. You need to play baseball, or ride your bike, or run, or be moving. That’s how you’ll get to be a better ballplayer. Video games make you lazy.”

He didn’t discuss how difficult minor-league life was on his early career. But many have reminisced about their troubles in the minors, and talked about how hard it is to be away from home, not having those who have sacrificed their whole lives and helped get them where they were.

Those are some of the issues my main characters—Jimmy, Bobby and Bud—deal with on a daily basis in Empty Seats. They’re far away from their respective homes, playing ball in Jamestown, New York, in an unfamiliar place, with people they’ve just met because fate landed them on the same Planet Baseball.

These are the issues you’ll find if you attend a minor-league baseball game and look into the dugout and see the faces of the young players. Some of them don’t speak English because they’re from Latin American countries. The universal language of baseball is spoken on the field but moving into a home with a local family and not speaking their language can be difficult.

Today’s minor-league teams are doing things that help players to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Most offer English as a second language classes for players and even some basic Spanish for the local family members.

Another part of their training is off the field, in learning to make personal appearances. Several years ago, I worked at a local physical rehabilitation hospital. We were replacing the roof and had to move patients to another area of the hospital during the day while the roofers were banging away. Our recreation therapy department decided to have certain special days to keep patients occupied, and we had a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” day, complete with hot dogs, popcorn, Cracker Jacks, and other baseball-appropriate snacks. We invited the local minor-league baseball team, the Valley Cats (affiliated with the Houston Astros), to send a player or two, in uniform, to the event. As part of their community outreach and training to meet fans, two players came and met patients in wheelchairs, signing tiny baseballs for them and playing baseball-themed games.

The patients loved this day; the sad part, however, is that neither player ever made it to the major leagues.

Getting back to low pay for minor-league players: They are paid so poorly that most have to work part-time during and after the season in order to be able to live. After the low-A and single-A levels, they no longer live with families, but rather, six or seven will get together and rent an apartment to save money. Those who are married face an even bigger dilemma, since they must find apartments to accommodate a couple and/or a family.

During the 2019 playoffs between the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers, Yankee fans taunted a Brewers pitcher who’d been called up prior to the playoffs. They yelled, “Uber! Uber! Uber!” at him to tease him about the part-time job he’d had in order to supplement his income. Most fans watching a Major League game wouldn’t think that a player in MLB would need to supplement his income, but someone who’d been in the minors for a long time might have to do just that. His pitching performance was mediocre, at best, during the playoffs, but he never denied that he had a part-time job.

Some private citizens believe in supporting minor leaguers so much that they sponsor efforts to sponsor individual players. One person I met via Twitter has sponsorships going for five players, where private people send about $150 per month to assist with living expenses via gift cards or cash while they’re playing in the minor leagues. With no baseball as of the writing of this blog, some of those minor leaguers are also facing immigration issues.

In the movie Bull Durham, Kevin Costner plays a catcher who’s seen many a phenom come and go. He’s stuck around the minors for perhaps too long when a kid with a blazing fast ball and a face like Kansas corn comes along (played by Tim Robbins). Costner not only has to mentor the kid on his pitching, but also has to advise him on how to talk to the press. When it becomes obvious that the Robbins character will be called up to the majors, and Costner still stays behind in the minors, Costner gives him his talking points on what to say to the media who surround him as they report the news.

Costner is, in many ways, the epitome of the person who hangs around minor-league baseball too long, hoping against hope that one day he, too, will get the call to The Show. He’s the guy characterized in folksinger Greg Brown’s song “Laughing River”:

Twenty years in the minor leagues–
Ain’t no place I didn’t go.
Well I gotta few hits,
But I never made the show.
And I could hang on for a few years,
Doin what I’ve done before.
I wanna hear the Laughing River,
Flowin’ right outside my door.

It’s the story of a man who’s held on for too long and finally realizes he has to go home, to where the Laughing River flows.

Perhaps it’s the story of some characters you’ll meet if you read Empty Seats—hanging on to their dreams too long instead of going home. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll surprise you. Or you’ll have to look forward to the sequel. 

Book Blurb

What Little Leaguer doesn’t dream of walking from the dugout onto a Major League baseball field, facing his long-time idol and striking his out? Empty Seats follows three different minor-league baseball pitchers as they follow their dreams to climb the ladder from minor- to major-league ball, while facing challenges along the way—not always on the baseball diamond. This coming-of-age novel takes on success and failure in unexpected ways. One reviewer calls this book “a tragic version of ‘The Sandlot.’”

(Winner of the 2019 New Apple Award and 2019 Independent Publishing Award)

Author Bio

Wanda Adams Fischer (2) (1)

 

Following a successful 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, Wanda Adams Fischer parlayed her love for baseball into her first novel, Empty Seats. She began writing poetry and short stories when she was in the second grade in her hometown of Weymouth, Massachusetts and has continued to write for more than six decades. In addition to her “day” job, she has been a folk music DJ on public radio for more than 40 years, including more than 37 at WAMC-FM, the Albany, New York-based National Public Radio affiliate. In 2019, Folk Alliance International inducted her into their Folk D-J Hall of Fame. A singer/songwriter in her own right, she’s produced one CD, “Singing Along with the Radio.” She’s also a competitive tennis player and has captained several United States Tennis Association senior teams that have secured berths at sectional and national events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston. She lives in Schenectady, NY, with her husband of 47 years, Bill, a retired family physician, whom she met at a coffeehouse in Boston in 1966; they have two grown children and six grandchildren.

Social Media Links

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon and Other Purchase Links

Book: Buy on Amazon

Audio book: Buy Audible Book

Buy on Barnes & Noble

wandafischer.com

Thank you for supporting this author and her tour.  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please drop in on the author’s 4WillsPub  tour page

If you’d like to schedule your own 4WillsPub blog tour to promote your book(s), you may do so by clicking HERE.

 

 

Review of Tiger House, by Wendy Scott

The Blurb:

Betrayed. Kidnapped.
Mistaken for a warrior; Jairus must survive the Emperor’s Games.
Disposed. Ostracized.
Tekagi seeks vengeance and power.
Farm boy versus sorceress.
An empire hinges on the outcome.

Thousands compete for the dragon banner, but in the end there can only be one winner.

The adjudicator thumped the scepter into the ground three times. “By the fates, the war dragons will not return until a new emperor wins the dragon scepter.”
The crowd parted as Tekagi threaded her way toward the funeral cart waiting by the main gate. Tiger pelts adorned the two caskets. Only emperors earned the right to be entombed within the Dragon Palace. The sons were relegated to less hallowed ground.
A few of her most treasured belongings were also piled on the cart. No longer an emperor’s daughter she was being cast out of the palace. A limp tiger tail trailed over the side of the cart. She ran the tips of her obsidian finger stalls along its striped length before tucking it beneath a tapestry.
She tapped her fan against the cart’s side and the driver flicked the horses’ reins into a funeral march. Head bowed, she followed a few paces behind, flanked by her two bodyguards. As she exited through the palace gates and headed to Tiger House she patted the snake bracelet on her forearm, and vowed, “I will reclaim my birthright. Let the Emperor Games begin.”

Tiger House: The First Chronicle of Jairus Tanner (The Chronicles of Jairus Tanner Book 1) by [Wendy Scott]

My Thoughts:

A well-constructed plot that has more twists and turns than a theme park waterslide. Tiger House serves up plenty of action. Imagery is this novel’s forte. Wendy Scott has a wide and colorful pallet of descriptions that say more than the average photo.

It was easy to connect with the characters emotionally, to cheer on the protagonists and to despise those evil Xjiangsuans.

The conclusion sets the stage for a second book and creates the anticipation of another exciting round of adventure.

The book would have earned a Five Star, but I found the first competition to be unoriginal, and for that it will be designated a Four Star.

I recommend Tiger House for those who enjoy High Fantasy and who look to the skies and wonder, “What If?”

About Wendy:

Wendy Scott

Wendy Scott has a New Zealand Certificate in Science (Chemistry), which allows her to dabble with fuming potions and strange substances, satisfying her inner witch.

Wendy writes fantasy and children’s novels, and short stories.

One of the creeds she lives by is to always – Live a life less ordinary!

Pen Names: Fantasy ~ Wendy Scott, Children’s ~ WJ Scott, (Romance/Paranormal) ~ Wendy Jayne

Connect with Wendy and purchase her works.

Blue Treat Award: RRBC KCT International Literary Book Awards 2017 & 2018.

Twitter:  @WendyJayneScott

Blog

RWISA

Amazon page

You can find Wendy’s books listed under the following categories in the RRBC Catalog:

Children’s Books

Education & Teaching

Paranormal, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Short Story

Teen & Young Adult

Wendy is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, check out her Author Page!

 

 

Review of A Ghost In The Kitchen, Three Ingredients – 2, by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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The Blurb:

A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients-2 continues the flapper adventures of Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip. It’s a 1920s “pantser” story and a culinary mystery. This time Pip’s pal Andy (from The Three Things Serial Story) returns. Granny Phanny is there too. She’s still trying to teach Pip to cook. Granny is in a lather because of the supernatural goings-on in her kitchen. There’s also one pos-i-lutely potent poltergeist! New adventures abound as Pip and Andy unravel an old mystery. It’s all spontaneously driven by “ingredients” sent by readers of the blog, Teagan’s Books. Jump into the jalopy and enjoy the ride. There’s no telling where we’ll go, but it will be the cat’s pajamas!

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this part humorous, part poignant tale of ghostly goings on that began in Granny Phanny’s kitchen, with the introduction of Maestro, the chef poltergeist. Pip and Andy have quite an adventure with all the ghostly characters they meet, and I love the link to food.

If you’re looking for a not-so-scary, but entertaining ghost story, I highly recommend this!

Five stars!

About Teagan:

Teagan

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy. There are no extremes in violence, sex, or profanity.

Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. http://www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

Purchase your copy and connect with Teagan:

Amazon.com

Blog

Pinterest

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Linkedin

 

Book Cover Reveal: The Reckoning Squad by S. Burke @pursoot#thriller

Today I have the privilege of participating in a cover reveal for a very talented author, Suzanne Burke.

I’ve read several of her books and have become a fan! The details on her new book, The Reckoning Squad, are given below. If you like what you read, please consider pre-ordering her book from the link provided at the end of this blog.

I’ll let Suzanne take it from here.

Hello, and welcome to the Cover Reveal of my New Psychological Thriller.

“The Reckoning Squad.”

 

the-reckoning-squad-cover-reveal-banner.

Available to Pre-Order NOW.

Release Date:  Monday FEBRUARY 24th, 2020.

Mystery>Psychological Thriller & Suspense >

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi

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BLURB:

The Reckoning Squad was the new name being whispered in the darkened corridors of the powerful in Washington. The name was whispered with awe, and the whispers grew louder.

Twenty people had been carefully vetted and recruited to undergo specialized training. Training engineered to break them utterly, intended to shatter everything they once believed themselves capable of surviving. Only the best of them made it through the twelve weeks of hell. They now formed a cohesive black-ops unit, known as The Reckoning Squad.

Their facility is breached, and the team’s numbers are decimated. The survivors know that they’re in a fight for their lives. They have been betrayed from within. Trust has now become a rare commodity. They want answers.

The betrayers don’t understand just what they’ve unleashed.

But they are about to find out.

The Reckoning Squad are coming, and they have just rewritten the rules.

Here’s an extract from the Prologue.

Prologue.

New York: November 8th, 2003.

Chastity Adams checked the time, ran a brush through her long blonde curls and hurriedly grabbed her school books. She shoved them into her backpack and slipped on her gloves. One quick look from her bedroom window was enough to tell her just how windy it was outside. The last of the fall leaves still clung bravely to the branches all the while knowing it was futile. The others swirled in small angry spirals across her backyard. She grabbed her coat, pulled on a beanie, and loosely draped a scarf across her shoulders. Chastity was unaware of how pretty she looked with her long curls falling in a soft curtain around her. Her mind was too busy to cloud it with vanity.

She suddenly recalled a decision she’d made yesterday.

Chastity hurried down the hallway to her brother Nathan’s room and knocked on the door.

Nathan stood looking down at her from his 6ft 3ins, rubbing his eyes and leaning on the wall. “What’s up, squirt?”

Chastity ignored the nickname, she’d be thirteen in a couple of days then she’d ask her big brother to quit using it, “I was just wondering if you had some gloves and maybe a beanie or scarf you don’t ever wear.”

“Why would you need them?”

Chastity flushed a deep shade of pink, “There’s this boy at school, he kinda always looks cold. He’s still wearing the same stuff he was wearing back in June. It’s way too cold now for shorts and a tee-shirt. So, I figured maybe his folks just didn’t have enough money to buy him some warmer stuff, you know? I mean he could have one of mine, but he already gets picked on enough and adding bright girl colored stuff would just make it worse.”

“You off on another one of your missions to save the world, squirt?”

“I’m not! But it just doesn’t seem right that some folks have too much and some folks never have enough. That’s all.”

Her brother looked at her closely and nodded. “Okay. I guess I have some stuff I don’t really need.”

His sister flung her arms around him. “You are the best brother ever! You wouldn’t maybe have an old hoodie as well?”

Nathan knew he’d lose an argument with his kid sister. He had never been able to deny her anything. And the little minx knew it.

His eyes followed her as she left the room with her donated bootie. He tried to shrug off the thought that his friends may start looking at his kid sister a little differently, and soon.

Then he grinned and was comforted by the knowledge that the squirt was capable of laying them out flat on the ground, courtesy of the karate lessons she’d undertaken since the age of five. If she didn’t dissuade them they’d have to come through him. That wasn’t about to happen. This whole big brother thing had suddenly altered in a way he hadn’t anticipated happening quite so soon.


Travis Wilson shivered as he stepped outside and hurriedly locked the front door behind him. The baggy shorts and tee-shirt he was wearing gave him no armor to fight off the cold November wind. He steeled himself to brace it, picked up his violin case and hurried to catch the school bus.

He climbed on and made his way quickly down to the back corner and grabbed the window seat. He spoke to no one and kept his eyes averted, but he couldn’t shut his ears off from hearing the nasty comments from the other kids that sat nearest to him. “You going away to a beach somewhere, freak? Don’t much like your choice of swimwear.”

The guy had secured himself a good laugh with that one.

Then the other comments started. Kids seemed to grow braver when they formed a pack. Travis knew they weren’t all cruel, not normally, but the need they had to belong trashed all over their distaste at what they were doing. Driven by the desire to be considered popular inspired them to be as cruel as they could be. Their words lacerated his already damaged soul and Travis felt his face darken with the shame of it. He didn’t respond either by word or action, knowing they’d soon become bored with their bullying of him and move their spiteful tongues on to some other kid they deemed to be weak and an easy target.

He looked out the window and sighed with relief when he spotted Chastity Adams and her best friends readying to climb onboard at the bus stop. Chastity was different from the rest of them. He always felt a little better about his day when she’d seek him out and give him a smile. He looked across at her then, just as she turned. He knew she had caught the wistful look on his face. She simply smiled across at him and turned back to her chattering best friends.

He caught the smile and burned it into his memory. He would remember it when the darkness descended again. It would help keep him warm.


Purchase The Reckoning Squad on Amazon.com

Again my grateful thanks to the generous folks sharing my Cover reveal with you today.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

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