Sunday, August 17, 2014

Deadly Dozen Book Bundle



 IT'S BIG! 
It's very, very big.

The DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle contains 12 complete mystery/thriller novels by award-winning and international bestselling authors: Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Catherine Astolfo, Alison Bruce, Melodie Campbell/Cynthia St-Pierre, Gloria Ferris, Donna Galanti, Kat Flannery, Jesse Giles Christiansen, Rosemary McCracken, Susan J. McLeod, C. S. Lakin and Linda Merlino.

  1. THE BRIDGEMAN by Catherine Astolfo
  2. DEADLY LEGACY by Alison Bruce
  3. A PURSE TO DIE FOR by Melodie Campbell & Cynthia St-Pierre
  4. CHEAT THE HANGMAN by Gloria Ferris
  5. A HUMAN ELEMENT by Donna Galanti
  6. LAKOTA HONOR by Kat Flannery
  7. PELICAN BAY by Jesse Giles Christiansen
  8. SAFE HARBOR by Rosemary McCracken
  9. SOUL AND SHADOW by Susan J. McLeod
  10. INNOCENT LITTLE CRIMES by C. S. Lakin
  11. ROOM OF TEARS by Linda Merlino
  12. DIVINE INTERVENTION by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

With an individual list price total of more than $45.00 and over 640 reviews collectively on Amazon.com, the DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle is a value-packed, rollercoaster thrill ride that takes you from amateur sleuth to detective to paranormal to ancient mysteries set in intriguing worlds and so much more.

 Readers say...

"I have to say that Catherine Astolfo is my favorite mystery author ever! I find it hard to find mysteries out there that combine both intriguing story lines and twists and turns that aren't expected with amazing characters and subplots that keep you hooked." (THE BRIDGEMAN)

"Alison Bruce has concocted a complex and very interesting plot and delivered it in a fast-paced story with well-developed and realistic characterization." (DEADLY LEGACY)

"The words seemed to leap off the page. A fun read with a kick-ass original ending. I didn't see it coming. Blew my guess of whodunit out of the water. If you read for plot, this is a great book."  (A PURSE TO DIE FOR)

"I completely immersed myself in this well-written book enjoying every minute. It was definitely deserving of being short-listed for the Crime Writers of Canada "Unhanged Arthur"." (CHEAT THE HANGMAN)

"I completely fell in love with this book. Donna Galanti gives life to her characters, they live and breath on these pages." (A HUMAN ELEMENT)

"Lakota Honor is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone that loves a good historical romance. It has just the right amount of mystery, adventure, and romance that makes for a highly entertaining read." (LAKOTA HONOR

"The tone and atmosphere gave me a haunting feeling about old secrets better left untouched. If you're looking for a different mystery, give this one a try. Recommended." (PELICAN BAY)

"Safe Harbor cracks open the mystery suspense genre with a twist, a female amateur detective solving crimes the new fashioned way with her skills as a seasoned financial adviser." (SAFE HARBOR)

"Soul And Shadow, by Susan J. McLeod, is a gem of a book, a treasure trove of enjoyment packed into a mere 124 pages. The story is compelling, mysterious and beautiful, yes, but the writing is also impressive." (SOUL AND SHADOW)

"A cross between Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" and William Golding's "The Lord fo the Flies," Ms. Lakin's story is a chilling account of what happens when you bully the wrong person." (INNOCENT LITTLE CRIMES)

"Her writing is musical and her characters are real, their stories linger long after the reader has turned the last page of the book." (ROOM OF TEARS)

"Finally, a Canadian novel by a Canadian author that captures Canadiana in its finest. Cheryl Kaye Tardif's most recent novel is comparative to Nora Roberts' "In Death" series that is penned under the pseudonym of 'J.D. Robb'." (DIVINE INTERVENTION)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Short from Alison Bruce

Hot Summer Night

On a hot summer's night
Would you offer your neck
To the wolf with the red roses?
Meatloaf

It was a hot summer night and the ride to Sheffield had produced an very unladylike sweat. Not sweat, I mentally corrected myself. "Horses sweat. Men perspire. Ladies glow." I was glowing in rivulets down my neck.

Mother, of course, was dry as a bone. She removed the scarf that kept her hair perfectly quaffed and tweaked the curls that had got loose. Everyone said that she didn't look old enough to be our mother. But then everyone wanted to stay in her good graces so she would play the piano when the band took a break.

My sister was not with us. She was training with the Auxiliary Territorial Service. I had mixed feelings about this. I was proud of her, of course. She was off doing her bit for the war effort. I was envious. She was off, away from mother. Though for my sister, mother wasn't as big a problem. She was mother's darling. I was also nervous, not so much for her sake as mine. This was the first dance I'd be flying solo after two years of being her wing man in a village surrounded by airfields.

I patted my neck dry with my handkerchief before we went into the hall. Our first stop was the cloak room followed by a visit to the ladies so we could repair our make up. Powder blotted up the last of my "glow" and, if I do say so myself, with extra lipstick and liner, I was looking pretty good.

Mother made her entrance ahead of me and was quickly caught up in her social circle. Bunny found me soon after and bought me a gin and tonic at the bar.

"You look smashing!" he said. "Give us a twirl. You have a real talent with the needle, Jo."

I gave him a peck on the cheek. "And you're the best friend a girl could have."

"You aren't wrong there, sweetie. I have a tall, dark handsome fly-boy who wants to meet you. He's new to our squadron and I promised to introduce him to the most charming girl in the village."

I was immediately suspicious. Although the ratio of men to girls was such that I never lacked a dance partner, handsome pilots were actively sought after. Bunny was right, though. He was tall and quite good looking in boyish way. He was also American.

"Jack here is an ex-pat," Bunny explained. "He volunteer for the RAF while the rest of the Yanks were sitting on their thumbs."

"My mother is English," said Jack. "War bride from the war that was supposed to end all wars."

I liked him immediately.

"Wanna dance?"

I let Jack lead me to the floor. He really knew how to cut a rug and I was glowing again. At this point, I would have excused myself to powder my nose and remove my stockings. Silk was needed for parachutes so stockings were a precious commodity.  However, last dance, without my stockings to hold it in place, my roll-on rolled up and snapped my dance partner on the hand. I did not want that happening again. Besides, the band was playing a slow waltz and  Jack had his arm around me again.

It was a magic evening. I didn't dance with Jack again that first set, but he was always nearby when the music stopped. When the band took a break and my mother was persuaded (as she always was) to play a few songs on the piano, Jack suggested we take a walk in the fresh air.

"Look at that moon," said Jack.

I looked. It was full and partially covered with clouds. "Pretty."

"Pretty spooky," said Jack. "Have you ever noticed that the moon always looks like that in horror movies? If they show a moon like that in the sky, you know something weird is about to happen. A werewolf will howl. A ghost will flit across the moor..."

"If it's a werewolf movie, there has to be a full moon," I pointed out. "That's when the werewolf turns."

"Fair enough. But ghosts and goblins and mummies don't need a full moon. Vampires make sense though."

"Why's that?"

"Have you seen Dracula? Wolves and werewolves are the vampire's creatures of the night."

A neighbourhood dog howled. I shivered.

"Cold?"

"A little."

He took off his jacket and draped it over my shoulders, leaving his arm there. I suddenly felt much warmer.

"You like horror pics?"

"Love them." Jack leaned his head toward me. "Sometime I think it would be wonderful to have supernatural powers. Vampires have it made."

"They can't go out in the sun."

"But they have super reflexes and strength.They also can't be killed by bullets and they can turn into mist when in danger."

I could see the attraction that would be for a fighter pilot who's life expectancy was something I tried not to think about. I lifted my face to look at this lovely boy who I might never see again after tonight. Jack took that as an invitation to kiss me.

A few moments later, slightly breathless, I said, "I can see the attraction of being vampire, but I wouldn't want to give up G&Ts for blood."

"Not a problem."

Jack dipped his head and I lifted mine for another kiss, but he nuzzled my neck instead. It was lovely until I felt two sharp points against my skin.

"No!" I screeched and pushed him away. Turning so fast I almost lost my shoe, I ran back toward the hall. Jack was calling out to me, but I was too scared to stop and listen.

I dashed straight to the powder room and checked my neck in the mirror. No bite marks but there were two crescent shaped divots... fingernail marks.

Forcing myself to be calm, I powdered my nose and applied fresh lipstick. Later, when Jack found me and tried to explain, I laughed and told him I knew it was a joke all along. Silently, I hoped I'd never see him again.

And I didn't.

Pity.


This story is based on a true one told by my mother. However, I have no idea what happened to the fellow who pulled the trick on her, or even if he was a pilot. I trust he didn't die as a result of narrative causality.


Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, suspense and historical western romance novels.

 Alison can be found at:
www.alisonbruce.ca
www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books
and here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Short with Annamarie Bazi

Mackinaw Island Adventure

I didn’t want to go. Summer without friends would suck. Boredom would kill me for sure.

“But, Mom, there’s nothing to do on that forsaken island.”

“You’ll be going to visit your grandmother and I don’t want to hear another peep out of you.”

Those words sealed my fate that summer.

I’d never been to Mackinaw Island. Nothing Google couldn’t fix. A few searches later I learned the island was up in northern Michigan in Lake Huron and was a popular tourist attraction. Maybe I could create an interesting adventure for myself.

The dreary mist started the minute I got off the boat on the island and I sank into my grandmother’s open arms. When I pulled away I noticed gorgeous blue eyes staring at me.

“Granma,” I whispered. “Who is that boy?” But when she turned he had disappeared.

My mission: to find the guy and discover his story.

Grandma lived on a hill in a stunning Victorian home overlooking the clear blue waters of Huron. The island was amazing.

The cool breeze coming from the lake had me pulling on the sweatshirt I brought with me to make grandma happy.

“Pumpkin, it’s pretty chilly on the island,” she had said, sending me back up stairs to get a sweater.

In the storage room I found a brand new five-speed bike—corral, my favorite color.

A little tag hung from the handle bar. I pulled it off. It read: Enjoy the island, Grandma. How sweet! Mom had told me the best way to get around the island was biking. Rolling it out on the brick sidewalk, I hopped on, pedaling away. Not wanting to be in the center of town, where all the confusion and tourists hung out watching a few stores make fudge, I rolled the opposite way, finding myself on a quiet road next to sandy beaches. Stopping, I decided to sit on the white sand and contemplate the blue waters.

From out of nowhere, so it seemed, the guy I’d see when I arrived, stood to the side watching me. His eyes bluer than the ocean never left my face.

I stood and walked over, but as I got closer he seemed to float away. The distance between us was always the same. He never moved his feet. My heartbeat so hard he could hear it from where he stood. How could this be possible?

“Why are you doing this to me?”

I looked him over and took a step back. Just about then, I should have turned around and run. He didn’t have a solid form. No way. Ghosts don’t exist. Rubbing my eyes didn’t help.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m not here to hurt you.”

My eyes opened so wide they could have fallen out of their sockets.

He extended a hand.

Did he really think I would take it? Utterly crazy! Anyway, I was frozen in place. Never had I felt so much fear.

Those eyes, though, were so hypnotic I couldn’t look away. The blue streamed from his eyes to surround me in a surreal dim light. The sand disappeared, engulfed by a blue void. Nothing was left.

“Come, I won’t hurt you.” His lips never moved.

At last, I found my voice. It shook. “What…are…you?”

“Don’t worry about technicalities. Come with me.”

He moved closer and without realizing it, my hand was in his.

A gentle breeze swept my caramel hair away from my face.

“We’re moving!” I pivoted to grab a fist full of his shirt.

“Relax.”

When all the blue hue vanished, the sky had a lemony yellow tint to it, the trees, taller than any I’d ever seen, touched the sky with deep green leaves.

Nothing seemed real. “Where are we?”

“In my world.”

“I don’t understand.”

He looked at me with sad blue eyes. “In your world I’m invisible, but here I’m real, I can touch you.” And he did. He caressed my check with feather light fingers. A chill ran down my spine. “I’ve watched you for a while hoping to get a chance like this to show myself to you.”

I had no idea what to make of it. For all I knew I was in bed dreaming.

He took me in his embrace. Soft, warm lips caressed mine. His breath filled my nostrils with a spicy scent. One hand moved up and down my back, in slow motion.

When I opened my eyes, I was back on the beach, alone.

I never spoke of my encounter, believing that if I didn’t talk about it, it never really happened. Whenever I closed my eyes I still felt his lips on mime. It took me several days before courage urged me back to the beach. It was the first time I was alone since the first encounter. The beach looked safe that day, so I ventured to sit on the white sand once more. The water was blue and so clear. Not a wave disturbed the lake.

Movement caught my eye and, looking to the side, there he was once again, moving toward me.

Without a word he sat beside me and took my hand in his, kissing it.

“It’s amazing how you’ve never noticed me at school.”

“We go to the same school?”

“Godwin High.”

I turned away ashamed that popularity had turned me so blind.

His arm wrapped around my shoulder and I leaned my head against his chest, as my heart fluttered.

He tilted my chin upward, brushing my lips with his.

It wasn’t my first kiss, but it certainly made me feel different. Twisting in his arms, I brought mine around his neck. He pulled me on his lap.

The joy of our encounters lasted the whole summer

Pulling away he asked, “When we go back to school, will you still ignore me?”

My head still spun from making out. All I could do was stare and shake my head no.


Staring in the mirror, I liked what I saw. The new high-waisted shorts looked amazing with the sheer, flowy tops. Mom wouldn’t let me out of the house with it, so I wore a black cami underneath.

I arrived early on purpose and sat outside, waiting. Sure enough, those blue eyes appeared and he came toward me with a big smile.

Annamaria Bazzi spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.
 Blog: www.annamariabazzi.com

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Short with Liz Lindsay

Dog Daze Night


Summer - sultry, stifling, sweaty. That’s what my parents complained about that August. But I was fourteen and off to babysit and earn, maybe, five or six dollars. Money I could use to add to my 45 music collection or check out school supplies at Stedman’s. Have I dated myself enough?

The money not yet in my pocket, I’d it spent ten times over in my head during the drive to my babysitting destination. Somewhere new, a last minute request from friends of my parents- the Hutchins. But really out in the boonies. Not that I paid much attention to the scenery.

Mr. Hutchins drove his car up a long driveway. Gravel crunched underneath and crickets chirped frantically. The house loomed large, and isolated. I couldn’t see any neighbours and it backed right up to the dense woods behind.

“Sorry to tell you our air conditioning’s on the fritz, but we have lots of fans going. There’s always the chance of a good cross breeze through the windows.”

And now I noticed how the heavy, humid air cloaked me. I didn’t feel any breeze, just mosquitoes looking for a snack on my neck and arms. Well I’d only be watching TV, so how bad could it be.

Two children were in my care for the evening, a boy and girl, aged four and two. Both were already in bed and their fashion plate mother assured me they’d sleep through just about anything.

“There’s lemonade in the fridge and chips on the counter. Help yourself. We should be home no later than midnight. Oh and we’ve locked the dog in the basement. He sleeps there because it’s cooler for him.”

Then they were gone. I checked in on the little ones. Sheets had been kicked off, and their sweat soaked hair clung to their foreheads, but they didn’t stir.

I couldn’t ever remember feeling this hot at home and grew more uncomfortable with each step. The sweat rolled down my back and I wished I’d worn cooler clothes.

The TV beckoned and I grabbed a glass of ice cold lemonade and the bag of chips. I sure wasn’t crazy about the idea of the over large living room windows having no curtains. It wouldn’t be just the heat that kept the lights off while I babysat there.

TV channels were limited and I actually had to get up from the sofa to change the channels – imagine!

Daylight faded and soon the only illumination came from the TV’s glow. For some reason I didn’t feel like watching Outer Limits that night. My only other choice? The Lawrence Welk Show…and a one and a two….

The heat and gentle breeze from a fan across the room made me sleepy and I must have dozed off. Until I was startled awake by a dog’s bark.

Right, the dog. Supposed to be in the basement. Good , I wasn’t fond of dogs, and if it had been a large one I’d have been nervous. He barked a couple more times. I hoped the barking wouldn’t be ongoing for the rest of the evening.

It looked like I’d better hope again. The barking grew louder, and urgent.

I certainly wasn’t sleepy anymore. The barking put me on edge, but that was nothing compared to the thumping and banging that began to accompany it. All coming from the basement.

It freaked me out enough that I decided to call the police in case someone lurked on the property or tried to get in the house. That’s why dogs barked right?

I crept to the kitchen and lifted the receiver from the wall phone. Ready to dial the police when it hit me…I had no idea what address to provide. How could they ever find me? My parents were out for the evening – I was on my own. My unease grew into low level panic with each bark and bang from the basement. Then came the sudden high pitched yelp. And silence, no more barking and no more pounding.

The sweat down my back had turned to icicles If a threat had come to this house I had to be responsible for the tykes sleeping down the hall.

A fireplace poker seemed a good bet and I grasped it between slick palms as I inched my way down darkened steps to the unfinished basement. No dog- like noises at all, but the banging had resumed. Confirmation that someone had broken in and they’d obviously killed the dog.

I raised the poker over my head and found the light switch. As light flooded the basement I screamed at the apparition before me. The intruder also had a poker raised ready to strike. My knees were jelly and I almost laughed out loud when my brain finally realized it was my reflection I’d seen in the darkened window.

Relief was short lived, the banging started again off to my right. In an unlit corner I saw a huge sheet of plywood angled across the wall and held in place by a four-drawer metal filing cabinet. I watched in disbelief as the board slammed into the cabinet and bounced back. And again, and again.

The poker, now weighing a ton, stayed close to my side as I crept closer. I had no rational explanation for what was happening. The board was up to my chin in height and I had to strain to see over.

That’s when I saw it. Hopeful brown eyes, over a panting tongue at one end, and a feverishly wagging tale at the other. THIS is where they put the dog? I slumped to the floor and vowed never to babysit in the country again.



Liz Lindsay is one half of yet to be published author Jamie Tremain. Still working 9 – 5, this grandmother of four collaborates online with her writing partner, Pam Blance, and hopes they will be published in the near future.

Jamie Tremain Blog
Twitter @ElizabethLinds5
http://facebook.com/liz.lindsay



Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Short with Kevin Thornton

Toxic


“Where’s the victim’s wife?” said Inspector Sweeper.

“In the back room Sir,” said the Constable, “the one with all the windows.”

“The conservatory.”

“Aye, that’s what she called it as well. How did you know that Sir?” Then, “It’s back there past the room with all the books. The one with the body.”

Sweeper nearly told the Constable it was a library, then caught himself.

“Thank you Constable. I know where it is.” I should do, he thought. I just about grew up here.

He paused at the Library. The SOC techs were busy, as was the coroner Sam Hawthorne.

“Doctor Hawthorne,” he said. The coroner, kneeling, turned to face him, revealing a grumpy face that changed as he saw his old friend.

“Sweeps,” he said. “So you got this dog’s breakfast. Unlucky.” Sweeper didn’t tell him he’d asked for it, begged in fact.

“Do you have a cause of death Sam?”

“Nothing yet. On the face of it, it happened as she tells it. Her husband was working in here, collapsed and died. He’d been exhibiting flu-like symptoms for a couple of days or so, although it looks like he had a convulsion as he died. I’ll know more when I cut him open.”

“When you do that Sam, look for two things. The first is evidence of a puncture wound, and regardless of whether you find one or not do the fancy tests you have for all the exotic ways to die.”

Hawthorne looked at him quizzically. “So you think he was poisoned?”

Inspector Sweeper nodded. “I’d stake my career on it”.

The walk from the Library to the conservatory covered five yards and twenty years. He stepped through into the light and saw her, wan and almost translucent, like a daguerreotype sprite.

“Hello Greta,” he said.

“Hello Peter”, said Greta. “I wondered if they’d send you.”

He sat in the seat reserved for visitors, ever proper.

“What have you done this time,” he said.

“Done? Whatever could you mean?” she said. “You can’t think it was me?” But she was unconvincing, as if it was all a game she had tired of. Then, “Is this how it ends Peter? The chambermaid’s son has his revenge? We were never meant to be Peter. You know that.”

“I…” He nearly said the forbidden three words. I loved you, he thought. Then I hated you. And now? Now I’m finally going to get you.

He regrouped, marshalled his thoughts. “You never stopped did you? You just took a break for twenty years. How did you control the urges all that time Greta? Drugs, alcohol?” She recoiled slightly and he knew he’d hit the mark.

“There was always something evil in you Greta. Do you remember your kitten? Back when you were nine.”

“Tinkerbell,” said Greta.

“I watched you strangle her. You didn’t see me, I was standing behind the yew tree. You had her in your lap and you squeezed until her eyes popped, then you buried her in the rose garden. It was a silly spot. I moved it before Hinks the gardener dug her up. When I thought I still cared for you.”

She said nothing.

“And the frogs you dissected. Everyone gave you all the leeway in the world because you were so young. But I knew by then Greta, and I still know you. You cut those frogs up to watch them die.”

Still nothing from her. It was as if everything he said went unheard.

“Did you really use that Mercury to drive your Gran mad? I told the Earl but he wouldn’t believe me. And that arsenic you extracted? Was that for your Uncle? It was very convenient how he died, leaving the title to your Father.”

“But why the cyanide. Why did you do that? Why Greta? Why?”

“Because I could,” she said. “Because I could.”

And that was all he managed to get out of her. After all the years of knowing what she had done, those three words were the closest he would ever come to an explanation.

He could never actually prove that she had killed his mother. He’s been fourteen when he’d found her lying on the floor, the smell of almonds on her lips. Later he’d found the distillation and the evidence of the crushed peach pits.

No one would listen to the downstairs son of a servant accusing his friend, still a child herself, of murder. It had all been kept quiet and the new Earl, Greta’s father, had arranged for him to go away to boarding school in Ireland. He’d never returned to the Manor House. Until now.

As they waited Greta recovered what little of the composure she had lost. Sweeper did not.

“You think you’ve got away with it again,” he shouted at her, and her condescension hung like a veil of class in the confessional between them.

There was a discreet cough behind him. Hawthorne.

“Peter, you need to see this.”

He had a bag in his hand, clear plastic, filled with beans.

“There’s a laboratory downstairs, quite sophisticated.”

“It’s hers,” said Sweeper. “Her family have been scientists since Newton’s time.”

“Now I don’t yet know what these are,” said Hawthorne, “but there was evidence that they had been reduced to a powder and then a solution. I’ll check them at the lab.”

“There’s no need,” said Sweeper. “I recognize them. They’re the seeds of a Castor plant and when they’re properly prepared they make Ricin. That’s the poison the KGB used to kill people in the 60s.”

He turned to look at her and saw the realization on her face. “I’ve spent twenty years studying, Greta. I knew I could never get you for killing my Mother, but I was going to be ready for the next time your psychosis appeared.”

“You win Peter,” she said. He heard the crunch of the capsule between her teeth, and as she fell to the floor he once again smelled almonds.




A four time Arthur Ellis (Unhanged) Award Nominee, Kevin Thornton is a writer for the local Municipality, a columnist for the Fort McMurray Today and Your McMurray Magazine, a Director of the Crime Writers of Canada and a board Member of both the Northern Canada Collective Society for Writers and the Fort McMurray Public Library. He has never been known, willingly, to split an infinitve.

Further thoughts may be found at Theoldfortamusingfromtheoilsands.blogspot.com

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Short from Kat Flannery

Oh Brothers’

“Boys,” Mom said, “No big toys, one each.” Eyes narrowed, she pointed her long finger, “I’ll be checking.”

We knew Mom meant business. With a family of six, space was limited. The green station wagon with its wood paneling was stuffed with boxes of food, suitcases, and red plaid sleeping bags. The family was going to the lake.

The ride to the lake was no more than an hour or two, but to me it felt like forever. I’d sit in between my brothers. While my younger sister, Lori-Ann got to sit up front, the lucky one. For most of the trip, I’d ward off snakebites, Charlie horses, the repeat game, and of course, the disgusting spit bubble. My brothers, John and Joe had mastered this feat to perfection. I’d sit frozen as John held the bubble just inside his lips and teased me by inching closer and closer.

“AAAHHH,” I screamed, John’s drool almost touching my cheek.

“Do you want your Dad to stop this car?” Mom turned around and yelled.

The three of us shook our heads. A stopped car meant sore bums. We sat stiff while Mom’s evil eyes scanned our faces, looking for any hint of a smirk that showed our disrespect. Satisfied, with the straight faces, I watched relieved as Mom turned around and smiled sweetly at Dad. It was those times I really wondered if Mom was related to Mr. Hyde, she had a keen ability to change from sweet to psycho in a matter of seconds. A rare disease I thought, and worried that I might inherit it.

Forced to listen to Mom belt out all the songs on her Patsy Cline tape, I watched amused as John and Joe pretended to hang themselves with make-believe ropes, while they lip-synched to the songs. My gut ached from laughing, as they tried to mouth the words, often resorting to “Watermelon, watermelon” when they didn’t know them. By the time we reached the lake, we all knew, whether they wanted to or not, the lyrics to the entire cassette.

“Bring in your sleeping bags,” Mom said. A suitcase in each hand, she headed into the cabin.

After we’d thrown our sleeping bags onto our beds, we all filed into the kitchen and stood in a line at attention. In no way were they the Von Trapp family, much to Mom’s disappointment. But when Mom spoke, we listened.

“Boys, help put the groceries away,” Mom ordered, arms buried deep inside the green cooler. “Girls, unpack.” A block of cheese in one hand, she pointed at us with the other. “All of it gets done before you go outside to play!”

The kitchen erupted into chaos. The boys tossed boxes of Kraft dinner, like they were missiles, and Lori-Ann and I were under attack. A can of beans, flew back and forth between John and Joe, a game of hot potato ensued. I watched horrified when Joe reached for the hotdogs and threw them at John. Then John picked up a bag of marshmallows to throw back at Joe. The game got scarier by the minute as they tossed the three items back and forth. Lori-Ann and I started to inch further and further away form them not wanting any part of their game… when food crashed to the floor.

“That’s it,” Mom yelled. She pointed her finger to the door and in a tone that sounded reminiscent of a growl, lips barely moving, “Out.”

Everybody dropped whatever was in their hands and tiptoed to the door, covering their bums… just in case.

“Mission accomplished,” the boys whispered giving each other the thumbs up.

In our quest to flee, we switched to a game of Cowboys and Indians, running in between trees and shooting make-believe arrows and bullets. The Indians, my brothers, captured me and tied me to a tree.

“Let me go,” I yelled. My small feet kicked, as I tried to make contact with one of their shins.

Laughing, they taunted, “Cowboys don’t cry.”

“Yes they do,” I shouted back as tears streamed down my freckled face.

“John Wayne never cried,” Joe said thoughtfully. His arrow, a stick he found on the ground, rested on his chin.

“I’m not John Wayne,” I argued. I hated when they bullied me.

“Well, if you’re not John Wayne,” John held the arrow, a stick as well, from his bow an inch from my nose and gave me a menacing stare. “Then, who are you?” His black hair glistened in the light, a seagull feather stuck in it.

“Uh… I’m…” I stuttered. “I’m that girl who shoots everybody up.” My wrists sore from the too-tight rope.

“What girl?’ John asked, the arrow now pointed at my heart.

“You know the one in Dad’s favorite western movie… that girl.” I lied.

“There isn’t any girl that shoots everybody up in Dad’s movies.” Joe scoffed.

I wasn’t about to give in, I needed to get free, or I’d be tied to the tree all day. “Yes there is!” I glared at them.

John let off a loud war cry and they both started to dance around me. Their hands bounced in rhythm over their mouths, as they chanted, “Hi ya hi ya…”

“Please let me go,” I pleaded with them, as I tried not to cry. But they ignored me and continued to weave, sway, hop on one leg and lift their arms high above their heads while they danced.

“Maybe we can make it rain?” Joe’s face lit up at the prospect and they shouted louder. Their arms jerked up and down violently.

I shook my head and decided to lie…again, “I have to pee.”

This got their attention, and soon I was set free. But, like a glutton for punishment I retaliated with a kick to Joe’s shins, but before I could run away, Joe yelled, “Snake pit. Look out!” They pushed me to the ground and pinched my arms.

The game was over. I looked like a leopard with bright red spots. “I’m telling,” I cried and they scattered.

The sun had slowly disappeared behind the trees and I had avoided my brothers for most of the day, the red welts still visible on my skinny arms still hurt to touch them. Huddled around the campfire I had just gotten warm, when Joe dumped a whole glass of ice down my back. Cold and frigid, I bolted up like a rocket, and began to jump up and down, my brother’s laughter echoed throughout the campground. Mad and annoyed I had gotten the last of the ice out of my shirt and sat down in my lawn chair only to leap back up again. They had left three pinecones on my seat, to pinch my bottom.

“Grrrrr.” I stomped my foot frustrated.

An hour later I was still nestled around the campfire and watched through blurry eyes, as John and Joe walked over to their lawn chairs, carrying Cokes and big bags of sunflower seeds in their hands. Each took a huge handful of the seeds and popped them into their mouths, sucking the salt from them. John stood up first, his face red, then Joe. They looked at each other and turned to spit the tiny black seeds out all over the ground.

“My mouth,” John screeched, as his fingers raked his tongue.

Joe jumped from foot to foot. “Hot, hot, hot.” He coughed, gagged and spit again. Then both took off towards the cabin for water.

My blue blanket wrapped tightly around me, I snuggled deep inside my lawn chair. “Nothing beats Tabasco sauce,” I snickered.


Author note* These events happened every summer until I was 13, or until my brothers out grew their childish behavior, I’m not sure which happened first.



Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in the novels she writes. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. This is Kat’s third book and she is hard at work on her next.