MARK ILES ROARS WITH BOOK 3 IN SCIFI SERIES ‘DARKENING STARS’

Blog favorite Mark Iles is back with a new release ROAR OF LIONS that’s currently ranking in the top 10 on Amazon in several categories. As you would expect, he has a lot to say about that!

Hello, Mark.

Congrats on the new release. Is it true that you’re already at work on something new?

A bit. I’m a firm believer in not giving away your story, as when you do so the train of thought tends to drain away with the words. I will say that the new book is a mixture of science fiction, fantasy and horror – done in a new way for me. I like to think about what really scares people, why, and how to put that into a tale.

 

Let’s talk DARKENING STARS

To what extent do you think your own military experiences influenced the series?

To be honest, a surprising amount. For instance, the bit where my character shoves her rifle towards a non-commissioned officer’s mouth and pulls the trigger. I was attached to the commandos for a while back in the early 80’s, and was training with them on Dartmoor one dark and snowy night. I was asleep, totally exhausted when, simulating an attack, this guy who’d been picking on me threw a thunder flash in my direction, quite deliberately I’m sure. Damned thing went off right next to my head. I leapt up, cocked my rifle, thrust it towards his face and before I realised what I’d done pulled the trigger. All I’ll say it went off exceptionally close. It pure reflex believe me and luckily my magazine was full of blanks.

That was a long time ago and luckily the guy concerned took it remarkedly well. He even bought me a pint the next time we were ashore but he never picked on me again. You don’t forget stuff like that and it makes kinda interesting reading. Guess you’d get in all sorts of trouble for that sort of thing now.

 

Armchair enthusiasts spend a lot of time musing over first contact with aliens. Personally, I think they’re already here and have been for eons. What do you think would happen if contact was made?

I think first contact with an alien species is open to misinterpretation on so many levels. I was told once that one of the first English people to talk to Bedouins was shown a sheep’s eyeball to show it was freshly killed. Thinking it was some kind of ritual or honour the chap ate it. Consequently, for many years we believed it was tradition while they thought it was something we did. Whether it’s true or not, it still gives an indication of how things can so easily be misconstrued.

In J. Michael Straczynski’s marvellous Babylon 5, the Minbari approach humans for the first time with their gun ports open as a sign of respect. The humans took it as a sign they were preparing to fire and engaged them, and so the first war began.

In answer to your question the answer is yes, first contact has the potential for disaster.

ROAR OF LIONS is the third book in the series. Is a fourth coming up next? 

I would like to return to Selena’s journey, and have left openings for such. But in ‘Roar of Lions’ her story comes full circle. Due to illness it took me a long time to write, and I now have another project demanding to be written – one I’m truly excited about. The new book has already been started and there are so many avenues to explore. As Bilbo Baggins might say, I’m going on an adventure…

ROAR OF LIONS IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AS A FREE DOWNLOAD THROUGH NOVEMBER 3

GET IT HERE

SELENA DILLON IS BACK AND HER CRACK TEAM OF COMMANDOS ARE BEHIND HER

ROAR OF LIONS_eBook_optThe ForeRunners have destroyed one of Capulet’s cities, and the joint Lenar-Human search teams are needed to root out the enemy. But when the empathic Lenars refuse to work without Selena Dillon and her team of commandos, they soon find themselves back on Capulet in an uneasy alliance with the planetary administration and in a race against time to stop the enemy from destroying other cities.

Throughout the galaxy billions are dying as the war spreads. Despite her fear that the alien Manta and their allies will turn against them, Selena needs to truly unite the Alliance of Worlds and find a way to destroy the ForeRunners before it’s too late.

Selena knows there’s no more running, and that sooner or later there will be a final reckoning between herself and the queen. But even if they survive that long she needs to discover who will stand with her, and who against her, in this final confrontation with the tyrannical monarch.

 

Excerpt

Collecting Singh and Shadow, Selena found Baron waiting for them when they arrived. To her surprise, he was wearing the uniform of the Royal Bodyguard.

“Nice to meet you at last, Commander,” Baron said, saluting as he led the way. “A shame it’s under such circumstances. Like many here, I’ve followed your exploits. Tell me, is it true you once fed an enemy their own pets and didn’t tell them until they’d finished their meal?”

Selena gave him the once over. “No, but it’s an idea. Why, do you have any pets?”

He gave a half smile. “Ah, we’re far from enemies Commander, despite my uniform. I want this killer caught as much as you do. And no, I don’t have any pets, thankfully.”

Baron was a tall but slim man, his gray hair crewcut with a large balding area on his crown. He looked wrinkled and haggard, tired beyond belief. Yet his green eyes were kind and his voice soft.

She eyed his uniform. “You’re a member of the Royal Bodyguard. How come the colonel put you forward for this?”

“I believe that Her Majesty thought it a good idea and had a word. I can advise on protocol and other such matters.”

Putting her distrust to one side, they followed him, and passed through the military cordon and under the high white-stone arch into an alleyway that was so narrow daylight struggled against the gloom. The rough concrete buildings around them were obviously some of the first made by the colonists when they arrived, their ancient machines churning out concrete from native material to quickly provide the housing and protective walls needed for the settlers.

Shadowy doorways beckoned, boxes were piled against the walls, amidst occasional pools of water. Cats and rodents slipped through the gloom while rubbish scampered over the flagstones, driven by the soft breeze tainted with the stench of refuse.

“You look familiar somehow,” Selena said to Baron, after a while. “Do we know each other?”

His bottle-green eyes remained on hers. “No, but I was born on this world so we could easily have bumped into one another. We may even have mutual friends. You never know. I pop up in all kinds of places and work all hours, but when working exclusively for the queen I mostly do nights. I like the way the moons dance.”

Selena froze as he uttered the last phrase, recognising it as a rebel recognition code. Knowing the others will have noticed the phrase was slightly out of place, she just gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. At that moment, they stopped at a doorway and her eyes slid over the blood splattered wall and passageway. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“A citizen came through here late last night and found them. They’ve been eviscerated—gutted if you will. There’s not a single organ remaining, not even their brains or eyes.”

“There was just their bodies?”

“Aye Ma’am. They’ve been taken to the morgue. We’ve never had anything like this before, I think we’re a bit out of our depth.”

 

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS CLICK HERE 

Cull Cover

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Portrait optMark’s short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, Dream, New Moon, Haunts, Kalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Write to Fight, Escape Velocity, Auguries and Monk Punk. With over forty years’ experience in the martial arts and a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, he’s written features for the magazines Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, profwritingacademy.com and calmzone.net. He also runs a writer’s group for the British Science Fiction Association, along with The Scribe for Veterans with the help of The Royal British Legion.

His first full length work ‘Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo’, was published in Hong Kong, while he was based there with the Royal Navy for three years in 1985. His debut novel ‘A Pride of Lions’, Book I in The Darkening Stars, was published byA Pride of Lions Solstice in September 2013. Book II, ‘The Cull of Lions’, was published a year later. ‘Roar of Lions’ is the third book in the series.

Solstice have also published four novellas: ‘A Connoisseur of the Bizarre’, ‘Sally Jane’, ‘Nightshade’ and ‘Santa Claws is Coming’ – along with the short story compilation ‘Falling From Grace & Others’.

 

Buy Links

A Pride of Lions: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pride-Lions-Darkening-Stars/dp/149425445X/

The Cull of Lions: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cull-Lions-Darkening-Stars/dp/162526089X/

Roar of Lions:

Falling from Grace & Others: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Falling-Grace-Others-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00OYV3CHE/

 

Media Links

Amazon authors page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Iles/e/B004YZBP3I/

 

 

 

 

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Giveaway: Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire by Rachael Stapleton

Welcome back! Author Rachael Stapleton has been busy working on the next instalment in theTemple of Indra Series while at the same time promoting Book 2: Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. It’s my great honor to shine a light on her newest offer: A Free Kindle copy available from June 15-19. Read on…

CURSE BANNER 

 

Looking for a great FREE mystery? June 15th -19th

Grab your copy of Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Now. Free for Kindle. #mystery #timetravel #romance #freebooks

 

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

The Temple of Indra MYSTERY Series

By Rachael Stapleton

Genre: Mystery, Adventure, Time Travel Romance

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Date of Publication: February 3rd, 2015

ASIN: B00SNAF018

Print Length: 215 pages

Word Count: 66, 400

Cover Artist: Rebecca Boyd

Book Description:

Sophia Marcil hasn’t escaped her destiny or the mad-man hunting her but she’s doing her best to evade both and making a life in Ireland with Cullen—the one person she can count on to pull her out of deep water. There’s just one problem, despite his connection, she hasn’t told him the truth of her time travel and her reality comes crashing down as he proposes with the very sapphire that’s cursed her. Before she knows it, she’s wandering the hallway of an old Victorian house in the body of her great aunt. Unfortunately, her nemesis has also reincarnated in 1920—as one of her family members and she struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves. When she fails and returns to her present-day life, she’s forced to confront the fact that her killer’s soul will always be tied to the sapphire and in every life she has, he will be resurrected as someone close to her. Her biggest question—who is he now? She doesn’t have to wonder for very long before she finds evidence that has her questioning everything she thought she knew.

Available at    Amazon   BN   CHAPTERS

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Dublin, Ireland

Today I would tell Cullen the truth. I swirled the champagne in my glass in an agitated fashion. I would not allow myself to be distracted. I looked down in early defeat and noticed the dark limp waves cascading past my shoulders. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t even get ready for a dinner party without being distracted. All that work curling it, and then Cullen had walked in, glimpsing my lacy black bra, and poof, my hair was flat again. Twirling a strand around my index finger, I attempted to bring it back to life. If only the jewels could work their magic on my hair.

I spotted Cullen a couple of feet away, making his way over to me. He looked handsome in his sport jacket and tailored shirt. His hair, a coppery red with streaks of blond that looked almost golden in the sunlight, was slicked back so the ends curled at his neck.

I should be over-the-moon happy right now. I was sipping Dom Pérignon in an elegant restaurant surrounded by rustic stone walls, as a soft and whimsical Irish fiddle played in the background in honor of our one-year anniversary. It wasn’t technically our anniversary. He had playfully called it that when he’d invited me out to dinner with his family, but what he’d meant was that it had been one year since we’d met. Since that ill-fated day on the Lerins Island, half a mile off shore from Cannes, when I’d rejected the marriage proposal of that egotistical lunatic Nicholas Bexx and endured his wrath. Lucky for me, Cullen had been looking up from the deck of his family’s yacht and had seen Nick push me off the cliff. Cullen dove in and pulled me to safety, and subsequently into his life.

It was hard to believe that in a full year I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth: that the fall had sent me to another time and place and into the body of a nineteenth-century princess. But what sane person would believe what had been only seconds underwater to them had been another lifetime to me? I was the owner of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. I had time traveled into my past life and uncovered my destiny—had done so repeatedly—and was always reborn, only to be murdered by the same obsessed spirit, again and again.

“Sophia, ye all right?” Cullen asked, appearing suddenly at my elbow.

“No,” I said automatically and pushed away the bothersome thoughts.

“Gah. It’s the restaurant. It’s too fancy, isn’t it? I said so, but ye know Móraí.”

“What? I love this place.” The room buzzed with mixed conversation. “I just didn’t hear what you said.”

“Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth. I asked if ye were all right and ye said no.”

“I’m fine. I’m just soaking in the atmosphere. It’s so romantic in here.”

That was the truth. The place was intimate. A combination of comfortable leather and floral high-backed chairs surrounded the long table, and almost all of them were now full with Cullen’s family.

“It is getting loud in here. I thought this was just dinner, but it looks like you rented out the whole restaurant. Will this place hold your entire family?”

“Like that’d matter. Loud-mouthed arses. Let’s skedaddle and we can celebrate alone.”

I laughed as Cullen pretended to boot one of his cousins in the rear.

His eyes met mine, and it was just like that first day in the hospital after I’d awoken from the fall. There was no denying the attraction and it wasn’t just pheromones. It was as if my soul recognized his, which was exactly why I needed to be honest about the curse. I was giving myself an ulcer and all for what? I knew he felt the same way. For heaven’s sake, I’d overheard him tell his brother of his dreams, and they sounded suspiciously familiar. There were other clues. He shared a birthmark with Graf Viktor Ferdinand of Württemberg, who’d rescued me on three separate occasions when I was the princess, and of course his ancestor had been the one to sell the Purple Delhi Sapphire to my family.

Cullen bent his head toward me, his lips brushing mine, but at the last moment I turned my cheek.

“Cullen, your grandmother has arrived with your parents and she’s staring at us. It’s probably this dress.”

“Well now, she can be after findin’ her own frock, can’t she? ’Cause ye look bloody deadly in that one.”

He playfully tugged at the clasp centered between my breasts. He’d been the one to choose this low-slung, emerald-green dress. He said it reminded him of a shamrock, but I knew he really liked it because it provided a pretty little peek-a-boo if I moved just the right way. Truthfully, it was a little racy for this evening, but you only lived once. Well, maybe some people did.

His mother, Lucille, rushed across the polished wooden floor, playfully elbowing him out of the way in order to hug me.

“Ye best be behavin’ yerself, boy.”

She was a fine-boned woman with beautiful brown eyes and curly auburn hair. When they stood side by side it was easy to see he took after her with his ruddy locks, and lucky for him because she had great genes. His father—orDa, as they called him—wasn’t too bad himself. He had a charisma that both his sons carried.

“Sophia…”

My name was said in a strange, low whisper, and for a moment I froze as hands fell on my shoulders.

“Look at ye, lass.”

I smiled and turned to see Cullen’s brother with his dark, whiskey-colored eyes and raven’s-wing hair. A touch of gray at the temples made him look dignified. “Liam, I’m so glad to see you.” I hugged him back. He lived fairly close and was over for dinner at least twice a week.

“Aren’t ye a fine bit of stuff! For the life of me, I can’t be figurin’ why ye’re still with that gobdaw brother of mine.”

“Did ye hear that, Cullen?” One of the cousins, Ewan, called out. “Liam’s after ye’re wan.”

“Go ’way from her ye bloody jealous maggot, always after me scooter growin’ up too,” Cullen called back.

“Oh, here we go,” I said, preparing myself for their playful banter, most of which was lost on me.

Liam drew me in for a kiss on the cheek and lowered his voice, practically whispering into my ear. “I saw ye first.”

I smiled at the harmless peck. They were always teasing, although I couldn’t help but think sometimes Liam took it too far, especially for a priest. He let go and looked back at Cullen, who finished hugging his aunt on the other side of the table and strutted toward us.

“Hold tight. I’m on my way to rescue ye, luv.”

“No rescue necessary,” Liam said, grinning. “I’m a man of the cloth.”

“Bit of a holy joe is more like it,” Cullen slung back.

Ewan, the youngest of the three, jumped to his feet and pretended to step between them. Both Cullen and Liam gave their cousin a friendly shove, then gave each other a loving pat on the back as they hugged.

Cullen turned to me. “Ye sure ye’re all right, luv?”

“I’m perfect,” I said, finally beginning to relax. I’d made up my mind. I was going to tell him tonight, come hell or high water.

“Brilliant.” He kissed my forehead, his lips soft and warm on my skin. “I’ll miss ye next week. Ye gonna keep busy?” He fiddled nervously with his jacket pocket. It wasn’t like Cullen to fiddle; I gave his hand a squeeze. He was traveling to London tomorrow on business. He would only be gone four days, but he was never home long before he had to jet off again.

“I thought maybe I’d go to that fundraiser—see if one of your cousins wanted to tag along—and of course the bridal shower is the next day.” Maybe that was why he was so jittery. He knew I didn’t like being without him, and he’d mentioned once or twice the guilt he felt over leaving.

Someone clinked their fork off a glass and the musical tinkling made me look up.

“O’Kelley Clan, can I get yer attention up here for a moment?” Da called.

A champagne bottle opened with a satisfying pop.

“If ye haven’t noticed already, there’s a bit of the bubbly being passed about, so set aside the whiskey and grab one.”

The table quieted and we took our seats.

“I’d like to propose a toast to the lovely lass sitting at Cullen’s side.” Da raised his glass, and all eyes turned to me.

“Here here,” Cullen said. “To my Sophia.”

My glass clinked against his. “What’s going on?” I whispered.

He’d switched out my glass as the tray went by and now gave me his best I-have-no-idea look, extending an arm around my shoulders and pulling me in tight.

“T’was a year ago today she fell into our lives from Sainte Marguerite Island—or perhaps it was the sky, ’cause surely that one there’s an angel.”

“Quit stealin’ his lines, John,” Lucille chided smartly before he could go on.

The room roared with laughter.

“Aw sure look it. I did, didn’t I? Sorry, Son. Well then here’s another stolen line while I’m at it: to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear. Not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a darn sight more sincere! Anyway, Cullen, don’t run away now.”

“Yea, thanks, Da!”

The laughter faded as Cullen pushed his chair back and stood, pulling me gently to stand with him.

“Not sure how to follow that up, but how about: to passionate people, beautiful futures, and lovely lasses who fall from the heavens,” he said, knocking glasses with me. Clinks echoed all around, and I smiled as he set his flute down.

Then he lowered to one knee.

He grinned up at me—so charming and gorgeous. His green eyes, as always, were mesmerizing. They had flecks of gold in them that clung to the edges and danced in the center, like they were on fire. My heart beat so loudly in my ears that it almost drowned out the “awws” and “oohs.”

“Ye’re already mine, lass, in every way possible and I am yers, but I want the world to know,” he said, taking my free hand. Someone took the glass of champagne from the other one, as I was shaking so badly. The black velvet box squeaked open, and his aunts gasped in unison, as if on cue.

“Will ye make me the happiest man in Ireland, Aevil, and join our O’Kelley Clan?” He kissed my fingers as I stared down at him.

The marble-sized rock in the box swirled, and doubled in front of my eyes. Deep purple amethyst with a thin frame of diamonds, set in pink gold and accentuated with a slender shank and crescent details.

I looked past the ring, into his eyes, and found him still staring directly at me. He’d removed the ring from the box and was holding it out, ready to place it on my finger.

He cleared his throat. “It was my great-great-great-grandmother’s and I thought ye might appreciate it, since ye were so intrigued with her portrait.”

I nodded, trying to smile through the confusion, but my head swam with random bursts of chatter, the fiddle, and all the thoughts flooding me at once, mostly that Cullen had just proposed to me with the missing Purple Delhi Sapphire ring. A bead of sweat ran down the side of my cheek as the ring touched the tip of my finger.

Cullen’s face began to distort. A shimmery haze had fallen over the room as if the desert were closing in. The vibration from the ring traveled up my arm, and the room began to shift and blur at the edges. Another room, a darker room, was coming into focus. I could still hear Cullen’s aunt ordering someone to get me a glass of water.

There was something I should remember. Water. Rochus said water was necessary to ease the pain of time travel. Maybe this was what it felt like without. I tried to blink away the heat, tried to stop myself from going, but I couldn’t. The edges of the room were burning away fast now, like a Polaroid scorched by flames. I could hear the trickling of the fountain in the corner. I ran for it, or at least I intended to, but it was too late.

 

Reviews:

“Ms. Stapleton’s, The Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire, is extraordinary! She brings us the story of Sophia Marcil, a quiet librarian, who has found love in this life but is haunted by and trying to break the trail of destruction and death that has haunted her through many lives. If you want a great mystery, enjoy the idea of time travel and/or like a wonderful romance – do not hesitate to delve into this one.” — Book Me Mel Paranormal Romance and Authors that Rock

 

“Plenty of twists, a sprinkle of humor and a whodunit with a surprising ending, Curse reminds me of great old story telling, but with a fresh and vital voice.” —Author A.B. Funkhauser

“Just barely surfacing from her dangerous travel into the 1800’s…Sophia has become part of a lethal adventure in the 1920’s. She is haunted by the same curse—the never-broken, deadly hunt for the possession of the Purple Delhi Sapphire, which has been plaguing her lifetimes over…Rachael writes in a way that is intriguing enough to keep the pages turning. Each scene segues into the next with new information, new conflicts, new prospects, new possibilities, new theories, and new revelations…In Rachael’s storytelling, there is never a dull moment. Her imagination is one of her greatest strengths as a writer.” —Lacey Crowe Best Book Reviews and Edits

 

“Twists, turns, great characters, and time travel … what’s not to love! This was a fantastic read! Can’t wait for book 3!” —Author Marissa Campbell

 

Book One Trailer: http://goo.gl/6vtX2r

Book Two Trailer: http://youtu.be/VCeG9eA09Fg

 

About the Author: Rachel Stapleton lives in a Second Empire Victorian with her husband and two children in Ontario, Canada and enjoys writing in the comforts of aged wood and arched dormers. She is the author of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire and is currently working on the third and most likely final book in the Temple of Indra series.

Website: www.RachaelStapleton.com

Blog: http://RachaelStapleton.blogspot.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Rachael-Stapleton/137831156290570

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RaquelleJaxson

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7271862.Rachael_Stapleton

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Stapleton/e/B00IE9W804

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RachaelStapleton/posts

Buy Links:

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Paperback

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Kindle

The Temple of Indra’s Jewel Paperback

The Temple of Indra’s Jewel Kindle

SHYLA WOLFF BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY

wolfThe blog welcomes author Shyla Wolff to spotlight her upcoming release SHADOWED PASSAGE and highlight her GIVEAWAY currently running from May 11 to June 7. Shyla is a new friend, kind enough to feature me on her blog not once, but twice as part of my tour. I wish this talented artist the very best.

–ABF

ROSES signature

THE BOOK

shyla book

Tariffs paid on an ill-fated decision can last a lifetime. 

A young boy—tossed an impossible situation by his psychopathic uncle, father or sister, he must kill one for the other to survive.

Two decades later, Dylan has developed his psychic talents, trained by the military, learned the skills necessary to locate the family he’d abandoned as a child and kill the devil himself, Roth. On the day he’s discharged, his ex-boss offers assistance in locating his sisters, demanding help with one more mission in exchange.

Tori, a young woman weeks away from graduating with her Psych doctorate, is torn from her stable life and thrust into a world of espionage, warriors, and unexplainable phenomenon. The man she loves, Major Clannahan, attaches her to the unit charged with locating a terrorist cell. Dylan, leading the unit, draws her like no other. Yet the darkness buried in his soul will test her skills and patience beyond anything she’s ever known.

Kiera and Kyley, identical twins challenged by the extremes of evil yet remain pure of heart, both bound to their man with a love withstanding the tests of time and tragedy.  One a warrior, the other with a warrior’s heart, each wield formidable psychic talents, sought after by a psychopath and terrorist bent on destroying the country.

A group of psychic warriors, dedicated to fighting evil in the shadows, locating and helping others develop their paranormal talents without splintering society’s tenacious perception of reality.

These are the extraordinary people living among us, protecting and preserving our way of life. Courage and honor, duty and strength of will cansustain us for only so long. Eventually, we must find our own path forward, learning to open our hearts to love even as we risk the ultimate pain.

 LINKS

Amazon pre-order

http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Passage-Anath-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00XFRFAXM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431260019&sr=8-1&keywords=shadowed+passage

Shyla facebook

https://www.facebook.com/shyla.wolff

Shyla blog

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

Twitter

@wolff_Shyla

https://twitter.com/wolff_shyla

 Shyla website

http://shylawolff.com/

EXCERPT

“The choice is yours, boy, but understand—not deciding is making a decision. Do it before I make the decision for you. Only difference is, I won’t kill one, I’ll kill them both. Father or sister. You have allthe power.” 

Roth kept his tone calm and gentle. The evil coiled tightly within warmed his soul. He fancied the boy killing his father, silently rooting for the infant to survive. He could have lots of fun with her over the coming years. 

The boy’s father would die either way. He’d bound and beaten him just for fun.

“Daddy? What do I do?” Tears streamed down Dylan’s face, sobs racked his entire nine-year-old battered frame. His gaze slid from his father to his baby sister, now held by Roth. When he looked back at his dad’s bruised and bloodied face, he cried harder. His dad’s eyes were swollen almost shut. 

The gun shook uncontrollably in the boy’s small hand. “Daddy?”

Boredom shadowed his mind as the excitement of the climax dimmed with the child’s indecisiveness. His gaze wandered out the window above the kitchen sink. 

In the back yard, a massive, wooden play structure stood, complete with swings, tunnels, overhead ladder, and a slide. How extravagant for just two children, one still an infant. His sister always belabored the little things. Shame she’s not present to witness this. He would’ve found this even more amusing. 

The blond haired infant cradled roughly in his left arm actually cooed at him. Disgusting. If he kept this thing, he’d have to hire a nanny. Still, the thought of it growing up with half the powers his sister enjoyed years ago made the brat worth the trouble…If she survived today. He sighed.

* * * *

“Dylan, son, it’s okay. You’re going to be all right. Look at me. Remember how we played catch this morning? When you think of me, you’ll remember how we played ball today. Okay, son?”

What else could he say in this horrific situation? His own psychotic brother-in-law was forcing Dylan to commit the most heinous act imaginable, choose between patricide and sororicide. Roth had always been the canary in the crazy mind but even Devon hadn’t seen this coming.

Awww, isn’t this touching?” Roth muttered, no doubt weary of his twisted game. “What a little wimp. I’m growing tired of your indecision, boy. I think I’ll just slice this little bitch’s throat. After all, she’d probably just grow up to be a carbon copy of her mother, stubborn and willful. Wouldn’t want more of that in the world, would we?” 

Noooo, please. Please don’t hurt her! She’s just a baby.” Facing where he knew his son to be by the sound of his sobbing stifled his thoughts. “Son, I know this is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but you must. Please. It’s all right. I love you more than anything.” 

Dylan retched, fumbling and almost dropping the Glock 9mm pistol. It probably felt like the heaviest thing he’d ever held, certainly his first time holding a gun. 

His small frame trembled, tears streamed from his eyes, hair matted to his face. Red, swollen tissue marred the right side of his face, the result of Roth’s cold temper. The kitchen table supported his slight weight as he leaned one forearm on its edge.

“Roth, please don’t do this. He’s just a boy. Be the sniveling coward you’ve always been. Do it yourself.” Articulation was slurred through split and bloody lips. His tongue slipped between the gap of two missing teeth. 

Though partially open, his right eye refused to focus properly. Warm, wet liquid traced a path down his face. Gravity would always trump decency. Blood splattered his clothes. Patches of gray clouded the edges of his vision. Unconsciousness lumbered near. The drumming in his head kept pace with his rapid-fire pulse. No child should ever see his father this way, unable to protect his family. Even if his son survived Roth, which he began to doubt, he’d be scarred for life.

“Oh, Devon, Devon, Devon. You just don’t get it, do you? I’m not a coward,” Roth admonished. “I have no qualms about ending any of your lives. Watch, let me demonstrate.” His patronizing voice oozed in the air like oil spreading over water to corrupt with its filth. Roth pulled the six-inch blade from its sheath at his waist and held it to the baby’s throat, who lay cuddled in the crook of his left arm.

“No, don’t. You bastard!” Devon strained at the rope binding his hands behind his back. “Dylan, listen. Take the family crest ring off my finger. Go ahead, son, take it. It’s yours. It’s our coat of arms.” Twisting sideways forced the bonds to cut his wrists as he removed the ring from fingers slick with blood. 

When his son took it, he realized these would be his last words to his boy. “Put it in your pocket, you can get a chain for it until you’re grown. That ring is a symbol of your strength, son, a symbol of your commitment to do whatever’s necessary to protect your family. Remember this, Dylan.” Dear God, he’ll have nightmares the rest of his life…if he survives. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Of the many lessons life seems intent on throwing her way; the most important one Shyla’s learned is to take the time to enjoy family and friends. The flux and flow of changes aren’t something to fight, but adapt to with the best of your ability. One day’s heartbreak is often followed by another day’s triumph. The only barricades remaining are the ones we refuse to navigate. She hopes you’ve enjoyed this story. Shyla’s website, ShylaWolff.com, will be updated as Dylan’s journey continues.

NOTE: My apologies to Shyla and viewers for displaying Rafflecopter script. Haven’t figured out how to translate it directly into my blog. Just click the URL and you’re in –ABF

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