Tag Archives: kindle
The quest for the revival of the Small Gods continues.
When shadows fall, the darkness comes…
A disgraced Goddess Mother wanders blind and alone, praying for her agony to end. When a helpful apostle finds her, could it truly be salvation, or does worse torment lie ahead?
A sister struggles to understand a prophecy that may not be meant for her while her brother fights for his life. If the firstborn child of the rightful king dies, will it spell the end for everyone?
Darkness and shadow creep across the land in the form of a fierce clay golem animated by its sculptor’s blood. It seeks a mythical creature whose sacrifice portends the return of ancient evil banished from the world long ago. With its return will come the fall of man.
As the game unfolds, the Small Gods watch from the sky, waiting for their time to come and their chance to rise again. They wait for the fall of shadows, the coming of the darkness.
They wait for night to descend.
This is the kind of epic fantasy that makes you feel as if you are part of the action. Find your escape in this story. This is a world the likes of which you cannot even imagine. No problem, Bruce Blake has already done that part for you. Honestly, you want this book. And you want it now, while it’s on this incredible deal.
What’s that? You don’t know if it’s for you?
Read an excerpt:
Am I ready to kill?
A cloud of swirling mist sighed out between Kuneprius’ lips, rising into the night to smear the glow of the winter moon. He watched it dissipate, then exhaled another long plume, blowing it out the way he’d seen the Brothers do when they smoked their pipes filled with sweetweed. Instead of swirling like the wreaths he’d watched them create, his breath came out a ragged column.
Kuneprius cocked his head toward the urgent sound, an apology teetering on the tip of his tongue. At the last instant, he remembered himself and said nothing, pressing himself flatter against the side of the hill. Fildrian lay less than ten man-lengths away, but the Brother’s black hood and robe hid him in the darkness; despite his proximity, empty loneliness ached in Kuneprius’ chest.
The lad grasped the short sword’s hilt tighter, testing its uncomfortable weight. Though he’d seen the seasons turn but twelve times, he’d trained with this very sword for six of them. The temple blacksmith formed it with him in mind, the grip molded to the shape of his fingers. Its length and weight had proved too much for him when he first held it, but he’d grown into it, its size ideal for a boy of his age. He shifted minutely, searching for comfort and understanding that the prospect of swinging the weapon to wound rather than in practice caused his unease, not the sword itself.
Will I be able to wield it when the time comes? Can I kill if I need to?
He’d never been sent on a hunt, so the sword’s edge hadn’t tasted blood other than his own when he got clumsy or distracted while sharpening the blade. He shifted his grip on the leather-wrapped hilt, hand slipping with the slickness of the sweat on his palm. For so many seasons, he’d trained for this moment; he knew he’d kill if the need arose.
I hope it doesn’t.
The rattle-clunk of wooden wheels on dirt track rolled along the shallow valley and up the hill to Kuneprius’ ears. Soon, he’d need wonder no more.
The apprentice angled his head to peer down the weed-clogged road, squinting as he attempted to pick out the wagons in the darkness. The lanterns hanging at the front of each, bobbing and swinging with the horses’ gaits, made it easy. He counted them silently.
One, two, three…four?
His heart lurched. Brother Fildrian had said to expect three—two carts and a covered wagon. Kuneprius’ gaze flickered to the spot where he expected to find the expedition leader’s dark shape, but he saw nothing. He glanced back to the track, the horse-drawn vehicles drawing closer and, in the glow of their lanterns, he counted two covered wagons.
A horse nickered and a high-pitched voice spoke words to calm the animal, their meaning lost in the rumble of the wheels, but the intent clear in their timbre. This must be the tone of a woman’s voice, the first he’d heard.
Kuneprius wiped his slick palm on the front of his coat, hand pressing against the hard, smooth surface of the leather chest piece hidden beneath. When he breathed in through his nose, he inhaled the tang of the oil used to keep it supple.
Brother Fildrian faced Kuneprius, his pale cheek a faint smudge beneath the dark hood. Moving precisely, carefully, the expedition leader stood and gestured for the apprentice to do the same. Kuneprius obeyed. Around them, cloth stirred against skin and sandals scuffed in frozen grass as the others rose, as well.
Fildrian descended the hill deftly, traversing from one narrow tree trunk to the next, leaving Kuneprius to wait as the other Brothers followed. A thrill of fearful excitement stirred in his gut. He tightened his grip on the short sword’s hilt, licked his lips, and swallowed the excess of saliva flooding his mouth.
Tonight I become a Brother. Tonight I become a man.
When the last of the ten robed men passed him, Kuneprius followed, concentrating on the placement of his feet, moving with the stealth he’d learned from Fildrian during training. Truthfully, the racket made by the clatter of horses’ hooves and wheels on stones and dirt would have hidden the tuneless din should he break into song and dance a jig. He’d do neither, but the thought made him stifle a nervous chuckle.
Brother Fildrian arrived at the bottom of the hill and crouched in the tall weeds beside the cart track. The others arrayed themselves on either side of the leader and Kuneprius stopped well back, secreted behind a tree. He hefted the sword, ready to fulfill his role to catch any who got through his companions in an attempt to flee.
But which wagon contains our prize?
He shouldn’t concern himself—Fildrian knew. Twelve turns of the seasons before, the expedition leader had been involved in the raid which brought Kuneprius himself into the Fatherhood; one of many times he’d liberated male children from a Goddess’ caravan. If anyone knew the ways of the Mothers, Brother Fildrian did. Kuneprius passed the time by counting his heartbeats.
Eight. Nine. Ten.
The lead cart drew close enough for him to see the sleek lines of the horse pulling it. Beyond the animal, the lantern hanging beside the cart’s driver shone on her face, reflecting in the woman’s eyes and outlining her features in its warm glow. Kuneprius swallowed hard.
He didn’t expect a woman to be so different from men.
Her hair—the deep red-brown of a chestnut in the moonlight—hung well past her shoulders in a manner not permitted of a Brother. Many of the apprentices, like Kuneprius himself, wore their hair longer, but not so long as hers. Small nose, smooth skin, full lips. The sight of her caused a flutter in the lad’s gut he’d never experienced.
What’s wrong with me?
His inexplicably dry lips parted and his sandpaper tongue brushed their surface. As he gazed upon the woman—girl, really; she didn’t appear many turns older than Kuneprius—the stirring in his gut spread. It spilled into his chest, speeding his breath, and crept into his loins. His man-thing began to harden, the way it often was when he woke in the mornings, prepared to make his offering to the Small Gods. He glanced at his breeches, then back at the girl, who was closer now, and noticed gentle curves hidden beneath her smock. His confused feelings grew. He crossed his legs to hide his confusion, but doing so increased his discomfort.
The girl’s cart rumbled past the spot where Brother Fildrian and the others hid, and the men remained secreted in the tall grass, waiting. The wheels of the first covered wagon clattered past; the second drew even with them. Brother Fildrian raised his hand, signaling the attack party, and they sprang out of the weeds.
Horses whinnied, one of the drivers screamed—not a shriek of fear, but a signal, Kuneprius realized. At the sound of her call, two armed warriors of the Goddess burst out of the first covered wagon, four more out of the second, catching the Fatherhood’s raiders by surprise.
Kuneprius’ eyes widened as he watched the women pounce on his companions. Metal clanged against metal, horses pranced and neighed. A tall Goddess warrior with a shaved head knocked Brother Imir’s sword from his hand, then skewered him. She pulled her blade free and a gout of dark blood spilled from the young man’s gut before he slumped to the dirt.
Hand gripping his sword’s hilt tighter than it should, Kuneprius took one step toward the fight, then hesitated. In his head, he heard Fildrian’s instructions: guard the flank; let no one pass; do not desert your post. But did he foresee the women bearing weapons? Was this the way it always happened?
Kuneprius slid forward another step. A woman screamed and fell, a gash on her leg; Brother Xeoru swung his sword two-handed and split her skull. Kuneprius flinched and looked away, found the cart driver’s gaze upon him. She climbed out of her seat, pulled a long dagger from a fold in her smock.
Panicked, Kuneprius returned his attention to the fight and realized the other drivers had abandoned their seats, too. Weapons filled their hands as they stalked toward the skirmish. Their addition to the warriors of the Goddess evened the numbers, swung favor away from the Brothers and squarely to the middle.
Until an axe separated Brother Xeoru’s head from his shoulders and a spear poked a hole through Brother Ategar’s chest.
For a space of heartbeats he forgot to count, Kuneprius watched, feet acting as though frozen to the ground. Blood spilled on the frosted dirt, painted the weeds beside the track the color of rust. One after another the fighters fell, Brothers and women alike, until three remained: Brother Fildrian; the tall, bald warrior woman; and the pretty cart driver.
The two Sisters stalked Fildrian, spinning him in a tight circle. One lunged, setting him off balance. He flailed and the tip of his sword caught the young one, opening a slash across her forearm. Kuneprius gasped. The girl dropped her dagger and clutched the wound, a pained expression creasing her smooth brow.
Finally, Kuneprius wrested control of his feet back from the grip of fear. He took a step toward the fray as Fildrian engaged the bald woman, his back turned toward the injured cart driver.
The warriors’ swords met, the clang of their blades reverberating in the chill night air. Kuneprius forced himself another pace, his sandal-clad feet whispering in the tall grass. His heart pulsed in his ears, loud and painful, distracting. He blinked hard to dispel the discomfort. When his eyes opened, the cart driver had retrieved a sword from the ground and crept up behind Brother Fildrian.
“Brother,” Kuneprius called, but his voice caught in his dry throat, cracked and fell to pieces.
Fildrian parried an attack from the warrior and lunged, running his blade through her gut. They stood frozen for a heartbeat, the two combatants staring into each other’s eyes as though sharing a final moment, a sliver of respect, then he wrenched his sword free with a twist. The woman’s knees buckled, spilling her to the ground. Fildrian turned, a smile on his lips.
And the cart driver slashed his throat.
Kuneprius rushed forward, realizing he’d waited too long. When he needed it most, his courage failed him, and now ten Brothers lay dead with no one to blame but him. He gritted his teeth and growled in the back of his throat as he raced for the girl, using anger to drown his fear.
She spun at the sound of his approach, Fildrian’s blood dripping from her borrowed blade. Kuneprius swung for her head, driving her back, and the girl’s feet tangled. She stumbled, heel catching on dead Brother Ategar’s arm, and she went to the ground.
Kuneprius growled again, the end of it fading to a squeak of sorrow and loss. The girl scrambled away, hands and feet digging furrows in the dirt track, but the bodies cluttering the road trapped her from getting far. The young lad caught up to her, put the point of his short sword to her throat. Staring up at him, she froze, the fear of death shining in her eyes.
He hesitated, blinked. A tear ran along his cheek and he sniffed back the snot threatening to spill out of his nose.
“You killed him.”
“Please,” the girl said. It surprised him she spoke the same language as he did, though he knew of no reason for her to speak any other. “Please.”
The point of the short sword wavered and Kuneprius struggled to keep it from drooping. The anger burning within him after watching Fildrian, Ategar, and the others die melted away, dissolved by the blue of her eyes, the smoothness of her pink cheeks. Kuneprius’ mind flashed away, wondering why Brothers were permitted only to spill their seed on the ground when such beauty existed in the world. An out-of-place sound brought him back to the moment.
They both heard it—a mewling from within the first covered wagon. The girl’s eyes flickered toward it; Kuneprius raised his head. The small sound grew—a whimper to a whine, then to the full-throated cry of a tiny mouth that reminded Kuneprius why he was there.
A yell broke from the girl’s lips and she swung the sword tainted with Fildrian’s blood. Her grip slipped, the weapon twisted. The flat of the blade bounced off the leather chest piece hidden beneath the apprentice’s robe.
Time stopped for an instant, the baby’s siren cry filling the night. They stared at each other, each knowing what must come next. Kuneprius gulped around a lump solidifying in his throat and leaned forward on his sword. The tip sank into the girl’s neck.
She gasped, coughed. Blood burbled over her lips, ran along her cheek and into her ear. Her eyes found the young lad’s, a last plea shining in them, quickly fading. He turned away, unable to gaze upon her sorrow.
When her body went limp, he released his grip on the sword and stumbled away to retch on the ground beside the covered wagon. The baby wailed, beseeching him to come to it, take care of it. Kuneprius knew he needed to do just that, but his heaving gut and clenching throat prevented him.
Bent at the waist and breathing hard, he leaned against the wagon wheel. Sweat and snot and tears dripped from his nose and cheeks, the droplets pattering on the frozen dirt the same way as the blood of the Brothers as they lost their lives.
I should have aided them.
He coughed and spat bitter chunks of spew, wished for water to wash the horrid flavor off his tongue. The baby’s crying continued, assaulting his ears and rattling in his head until he could bear it no longer. With a shuddering breath, he forced himself upright and dragged his aching body to the back of the wagon.
Kuneprius pushed the flap aside a crack and peeked inside.
The babe lay on the wagon’s floor, a blanket tucked under its chin. Alone.
He clambered up, arms and legs exhausted as though he’d crawled here from the temple. On his second attempt, he struggled his way in and flopped on the deck beside the child. The baby ceased bellowing, eyes wide with wonder finding him. A few seconds passed as Kuneprius stared at the child’s tear-stained cheeks, its plump lips, and thin wisps of hair, then the wailing began anew.
Kuneprius wrestled himself to his knees and pulled the blanket off the baby, revealing a cloth wrapped around its groin and tied on either side. He fumbled with the knots, his numb fingers slipping until one knot came undone. If it wasn’t the right child, Fildrian and the others had sacrificed themselves for nothing. The thought weighing on him, Kuneprius hesitated a half-dozen heartbeats before pulling the diaper aside.
The stink of the baby’s soiled cloth made him gag. He raised his arm to cover his nose and undid the other knot. Beneath, he saw the baby’s tiny man-thing, and Kuneprius breathed a sigh of relief.
The Brothers were dead, but he’d accomplished what they’d come for: the babe was his.
Kuneprius attempted slinging each Brother over their saddle, intending to lash them in place and return them to the temple for burial, but they proved too heavy for him. He struggled Brother Fildrian up, the effort leaving him drained and panting, and worried that, if he took the time to do the same for the others, he’d be discovered. So it was the young Kuneprius rode through the gates of Teva Stavoklis with a child in his arms, four horses on leads, and a dead man lashed to a saddle.
Brothers and priests were already gathered in the square, though the leading edge of sunrise had just grazed the horizon. The sky perched on the cusp of the earth was crimson as the blood he’d seen spilled; the Small Gods swam in the ocean of darkness above that, waiting to surrender to the light of day.
Hands took control of Kuneprius’ steed, offered him help out of the saddle. He accepted, his sore and weary backside sliding off the smooth leather. When his feet hit the ground, his knees threatened to buckle, and another hand grabbed him by the elbow, helped him keep his feet. He glanced from one man to the next, realizing he knew each of them, but not recognizing any. A priest with his face hidden by a drooping cowl stepped forward and Kuneprius extended his arms, ready to hand over the child. The priest didn’t take the babe. Instead, he led the apprentice away from the throng of Brothers occupied with unlashing Fildrian from the saddle.
Three priests followed as the man led Kuneprius on a winding journey through the streets, past stone abodes and empty fountains, to a low building with no windows. To those unfamiliar, it appeared more storehouse than place of worship.
They crossed the threshold, as Kuneprius did every morning to pray for the return of the Small Gods, but didn’t stop to kneel on one of the threadbare prayer carpets. The hooded priest led him through the sanctuary room to a wide, stout door at the back, where they paused.
Kuneprius’ head spun and his belly churned, though his body had taken steps to ensure nothing remained inside it during his return. The scent of melting fat hung thick in the sanctuary room, given off by the squat tallow candles flickering and hissing on stands in each corner. For an instant, he thought his stomach might rebel again at their odor, but he forgot his beleaguered gut when the priest raised his hand and rapped on the door.
The baby, who’d been miraculously sleeping, shifted in Kuneprius’ arms, as though sensing the lad’s discomfort. He’d often wondered what lay hidden behind the short, wide door but now, as he stood on the precipice of finding out, he decided he’d prefer not to know. Unfortunately, the choice didn’t belong to him.
“Enter,” a voice within said, and a shiver ran along Kuneprius’ spine.
The priest pushed the portal open. Beyond, the chamber appeared similar to the sanctuary room, except much smaller. Bundles of herbs hung from spikes driven into the beams supporting the ceiling and thin tapers flickered in the corners. A table sat in the center of the room, a roll of yellowed parchment atop it. Beside it knelt Kristeus, the high priest.
In his twelve turns as an apprentice, Kuneprius had never laid eyes on the man or even heard of the door being opened. Seasons of wondering if someone truly lived behind the door had come to an end.
He hesitated in the doorway, gaping and waiting for the priest who’d led him there to enter, but he didn’t. A moment passed, expectation hanging in the air, before one of the other hooded priests behind Kuneprius laid his hand on the lad’s back and ushered him across the threshold.
The door clunked closed and the apprentice turned to find the others had left him alone with the high priest. The baby wriggled in his arms, then settled. Kuneprius gulped.
“This is the babe?”
Kuneprius knew the hooded figure spoke the words, but they seemed to float down to his ears from the ceiling. Before answering, his eyes flickered around the barren room, noting the lack of honey pot or personal items—only herbs, tapers, table, scroll, high priest.
The hood moved minutely, as though the invisible head inside nodded.
“And the others are dead? Killed by the women?”
The words dropped on Kuneprius flat and monotone, except the last: women. It came out twisted and skewed, spat more than spoken. Kuneprius’ throat tightened with the urge to sob, forcing him to nod rather than attempt speaking. A dozen heartbeats passed and he thought the high priest might not have seen the gesture.
“Yes,” he said, his tone quiet.
Kristeus tilted his head back, revealing a chin and mouth, but nothing further. Lips pale to the point of transparency moved, the yellow teeth behind them clicking together twice before he spoke again.
“Bring him to me.”
The High Priest held out his arms, the sleeves of his robe falling away as he extended his hands. Skin as pallid as his lips; nails long, curved, yellowed, and cracked. Kuneprius hesitated. The baby stirred again, squeaked in his sleep.
Kristeus gestured with his fingers and Kuneprius found his feet carrying him the short distance to the middle of the room, despite not having asked them to do so. He passed the baby into the High Priest’s hands and the child’s eyelids fluttered open. Kristeus regarded the babe for a moment, then lay him on the floor and bowed his head, words whispering from within the hood. Kuneprius resisted the urge to fidget.
Time crawled. The apprentice glanced away from the child, saw the herbs hung on the spikes were fresh, the floor swept, the walls free of soot from the tapers’ greasy smoke.
Someone comes in here.
The baby gurgled and the air in the room grew warmer on the lad’s skin. Kuneprius snapped his gaze back to the High Priest and found the man looking at him instead of the baby. He shivered despite the rising temperature.
“You have done well, apprentice. I have seen the coming of this child and you have done what needed to be done to make it so. Henceforth, you are Brother Kuneprius.”
The boy’s eyes widened and a flutter of pride pushed aside the nausea gripping his midsection. Never had an apprentice been named Brother before reaching their fourteenth turn. Eight seasons yet remained before Kuneprius reached that age. He thought it must be expected of him to respond, so he parted his lips to thank the High Priest, but Kristeus raised a hand, stopping him before he spoke.
“You will no longer be part of the liberating expeditions.” He slipped his hands under the baby, his long nails scraping on the wooden floor. “From this time forward, you have a much more important role to fulfill.”
Kristeus picked the babe off the floor, held him up as though examining a ripe melon rather than gazing on a living thing. Kuneprius wondered if the High Priest viewed everything in this manner, but put the thought from his mind. The air in the room prickled against his skin, standing the short hairs on the back of his neck on end. His sight wavered and, for an instant, he saw flames raining from the sky, trees burning, a river boiling. The hallucination disappeared as quickly as it came.
“Henceforth, you will be caretaker to the child,” Kristeus said, raising the baby into the air. “For you have brought to me Vesisdenperos, the sculptor. The one born to ensure the return of the Small Gods.”
The sweat on Kuneprius’ brow went cold.
Both books are available for purchase now. One click will take you there.
(mark it in your calendars)
“Trust me, he says. You’ll be safe with me, he says.”
Amelie Watts is sick and tired of being treated like a child. She might be willowy and delicate, but she has strength of the kind that doesn’t show on the outside. Plus, she learned all she needed to know so she could cope on her own. Now, if only her big brother would finally release her inheritance! She would fly to the Bahamas and kiss the backwater she grew up in goodbye.
Jason Watts is fed up with picking up the pieces of his little sister’s life. If only she would grow up already and learn to live life without stabilizers! Her latest idea is insane, and bound to be her most enormous failure to date. But how to make her understand?
Enter Rob Tyson, incorrigible bachelor and Jason’s best friend. For a laugh, they make a bet. Two people, a hastily acquired boat, and a tropical paradise. What could possibly go wrong?
And because I love you very very much, here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite. Jason took Rob along to rescue Amelie from a dubious tattoo parlor, and they were almost too late.
Rob watched as Amelie launched herself at her brother, oblivious of her nakedness or any danger to which she may be exposing herself. He took two strides toward them, then stopped, hesitating. What now? Should he simply grab her and pull her away? She didn’t have a stitch of clothing on. How would she react to his hands on her body? More to the point, how would Jason react to his best friend brazenly manhandling his sister?
Amelie took that decision out of his hands when she collapsed to the floor. Her knees buckled and she slid slowly down, deflated, like a punctured balloon.
He rushed to help Jason then, sliding an arm behind her back and pulling her face around with his free hand to look at her eyes.
It only took a glance at her pupils to work it out.
Jason nodded in agreement. “Still think I’m overreacting?”
Rob didn’t bother answering. “She’s not completely out yet. We need to get it out of her system quick.”
“We need salt and warm water.”
“Not enough time. Can you think of something else?”
“Just trigger her gag reflex.”
Rob frowned. “I’ll hold her up.” He shifted his grip so Amelie was in a better position, making sure he didn’t touch her in any inappropriate places. Still, he was all man, and the ugly duckling he used to know had transformed into a swan over the last ten years. There was no escaping the heat coursing through his body when he propped her naked, plump behind against his leg and bent her over his arm, holding her mass of chestnut hair back with his other hand.
When she was done, Jason grabbed some paper off the roll used to cover the tattooist’s cot and wrapped it as best he could around his sister. She fought and mumbled incoherent slurred words at the discomfort, but soon passed out. Rob hoisted her up in his arms and followed Jason back out to the car.
He sat in the back with Amelie on his lap, his eyes skimming over her body, as Jason drove back almost as fast as before. The paper roll couldn’t disguise the curvature of her hip, the curl of her calf, her slender ankles… Lips pressed together, Rob stared at her child-like face, wondering what he would do if she’d been his sister, instead of Jason’s. What was she thinking of? Why would she be so careless about her own safety? Did she enjoy getting in trouble? Did she expect, perhaps, that her brother would swoop in and rescue her every time?
No matter how pretty she was, or how delectable her body had become – and he was definitely not staring at the shape her nipple rings etched into the paper covering – if she’d been his sister he would have bent her across his knees and tanned that pert behind until it glowed. This princess syndrome she seemed to indulge in had to be stopped before it got out of control. One day her prince charming would fail to appear, and then what? Knocking sense into her by whatever means necessary, now, would be the best course of action, for her own good.
Rob carried Amelie into the house and laid her carefully in her bed, then stood back as Jason ripped the paper from around her and pulled a sheet over her naked body. Again, he didn’t look at her nipples, so he couldn’t explain how he’d noticed the ring on the left had flipped up and over the top, begging to be straightened, and he most certainly hadn’t caught a glimpse of the ice blue stone of her clit dangle, the exact same color as her eyes.
He turned and walked out the door before he failed to notice more things about Amelie that made his blood heat up and race around his body. She was no more than a spoilt brat who needed firm handling if she was going to make it past her twenty-second birthday alive.
This is book two of four standalones in this collection. Genre: romantic suspense. Not Juliet (novella length of 40,000 words approximately) is out now and retailing at 99 cents. Trial Run (full novel at over 60,000 words) is set at $1.99. It also contains bonus material not available anywhere else. Those hawt and juicy cut scenes will stay exclusive to the Trial Run e-book and paperback. Next on the list and this year’s NaNoWriMo project is book three, Safe Haven, which should be ready for release before Christmas. Wish me luck.
Ben Stone is a scientific genius.His determination is driven by a genetic disease that tears through his family and which snatched his father away years before.He will forsake anything to find the cure and save his own son from the same fate.Then that day arrives and NEMREC, a serum that can restructure and recode DNA is conceived.He feels that it might be the best day of his life, and that he has found the cure that will save his son from an unimaginable future.But when he returns to the laboratory to continue his work, he discovers that everything has disappeared, nothing left but an empty office with no trace of NEMREC. His dreams for the future are shattered.He assumes that it must have been stolen, but begins to worry when he can’t reach his wife or use his identity card.It seems that things couldn’t get any worse for Ben Stone, until he tries to leave the laboratory and only narrowly avoids being shot.He manages to escape, but finds himself as the central axis of an unthinkable conspiracy, one which hides dark and ugly secrets.He has to find a way to survive and save his family, but how is he supposed to do so when he is already dead?
Excerpt – part of chapter one
Sixteen eyes gazed back at him, twelve of them through heavy rimmed glasses. They stood there silently waiting for him to speak whilst clutching their plastic cups, shuffling first left, then right. Graham was still holding his pipette, his fingers poised and willing, trained for nothing but repetition and tedium. Even in a moment of glory Ben could see that he was desperate to get back to his workspace. Alan was pulling up a stool, rubbing the base of his back like a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy who had reached her daily limit. Ami stood behind them, her open lipped smile full of reassurance, and she was staring at Ben as if they were the only people in the room. Right now he was the centre of the world. He was the centre of Ami’s world. It felt good to have her approval.
Phil finished pouring the cheap champagne into his own crumpled cup before tipping the remainder of the bottle, which seemed to constitute little more than froth, into Ben’s. He stood nonchalantly at Ben’s side ready for the celebratory cheer, the empty bottle swinging low. As he nodded to Ben to speak, a quick come on, we’re waiting, a bizarre image of Phil crept into Ben’s mind. He visualised a young Cambridge University student with smooth wrinkleless eyes, but behind the same thick rimmed lenses that he wore today. The imagined face was youthful, yet was still topped with a balding scalp, only partially covered by the long hairs that had been left to grow from just above his left ear. So ingrained was the image of the aged Phil, it was impossible to conceive a true and faithful representation of the young genius that he must surely have once been. It was like he had always been old.
“Well, it has been a long four years,” Ben began, pausing for breath after almost every word. It was hard to concentrate over the distracting sound of his wine as it fizzed about in his cup, and the whirring of the air conditioning rattling along above him. His eyes were tired and gritty from the dry atmosphere. It was seven thirty at night and he had been here for over twelve hours already today. He had known by late morning that today would be the day. When the first results came back, he knew it had worked. As he gazed out from behind his own glasses to see them all waiting for him to say something momentous, all he really wanted to do was knock back his bitter and overly carbonated fizz and get out to the bar with Mark.
The truth was that he didn’t know what to say to them. He felt an uncontrollable need to find something meaningful and poignant to say; to mark the life changing occasion with something that would never be forgotten. He had to find something inspiring. Something that would cause each of the scientists before him to regale their families with the story, who would in turn tell the tale to their friends, before soon enough the story would travel with the same inertia as a meteor through space. He felt the weight of all great men before him who had stood on the same precipice of achievement, isolated in the solitary moment before the world learns what has been accomplished. All that kept coming to his mind were the fuzzy static heavy words of Neil Armstrong as they were beamed back from the moon all those years ago. People still spoke about that moment, even kids like Ben who were born years after the event. It was impossible to forget the significance of that first footstep. There was no person in the world that would forget that name, that moment, or those words. His success today may not have the same intergalactic stretch from one celestial body to the next, and would perhaps be more quietly celebrated, but he felt the same sense of weightlessness. This moment was the joy. This moment was his, just before the curtains are drawn to reveal the expectant audience. Stood there in his lab coat and shoe covers in front of a sea of tired faces, he felt as overwhelmed and excited, he imagined, as the first man to step foot on the moon.
“We have done it together. This is our success, and it will change the world. Raise your glasses.” Ben held up his plastic cup, and a series of hands rose up before him, including Graham who had finally relinquished his pipette to the bench.
“Here’s to us. And here is to NEMREC. We did it.” They all nodded their heads, their plastic cups in the air in muted celebration before knocking the liquid back. He saw a couple of smiles, and several of them patted their nearest colleague on the shoulder, in a display of professional appreciation and admiration. If he could have done so without automatically assuming an air of inflated self importance, he would have patted each of them on the back himself, and thanked them for their individual efforts. Instead he settled on a submissive handshake with each, as the formal line of scientists disintegrated into a casual crowd. He wanted to emphasise the joint effort today. He knew in the whirlwind of media attention and fervent celebration that would surely ensue in the days to come that it would not be his team appearing on the television. Nor would it be them who would be whisked away, by business class no doubt, to the next conference for genetic research that he was certain he had read was going to be a six day stint in Dubai. It would be Ben Stone. Revolutionary Scientist. The one that cured genetic disease. He rolled his self-awarded title around in his head enjoying the way it sounded and getting drunk not on the alcoholic drink, but the dizzy heights of accomplishment. It sounded good. Seeing that during his momentary lapse into daydream the rest of the team were either finishing up at their work benches or had already discarded their lab coats and were back in their own clothes, he took a step towards his own office.
“Don’t forget, drinks at Simpson’s tonight,” he called, as he saw a couple of them nod in enthusiasm. Ami nodded too. “Eight thirty, I’ll be there.” He turned and opened the door to his office, and sat down into the green leather chair. It was always darker in here, although in theory there were the same number of lights as the main laboratory. He knew because he had counted them last winter when one day he could barely see to read at his own desk, and he had indeed established that based on an equivalent floor space in the main laboratory, there were four recessed lights, just as there were above his desk. The trouble in here was that there were so many papers and so many books that the light literally got sucked into the heaving mass of a lifetime of research. Every surface had been utilised to hold some item of importance, including the uncomfortable looking couch that had on occasion formed an impromptu bed when he realised that the time to catch the last train home had passed him by. It lined the only wall that wasn’t covered by a bookcase that stretched all the way up to the ceiling. He had read every page of every book in here. He had spent the majority of his life either huddled over a test tube, or with his head buried in a book. He established his life’s path from the very first day that he learned of his family’s unfortunate trait. It was the day that his mother had sat him down when he was fourteen and explained the basis for his father’s mood swings and how they would likely get worse, until one day when they might not be able to recognise the man they knew anymore. Until then, Ben had been happy to play the role of a teenager. He offered up no complaint when passing his time casually with his friends, racing his BMX around the park across the purpose built ramps to perfect his bunny hop bar spin trick. But the day that she sat him down to talk, that changed everything.
I was born in the town of Warwic in 1981. It is a small historical town in the heart of England, and I was the fifth child born into a family of boys. I developed a huge interest in the written world from a young age, and with more than a little help from Roald Dahl found quite the taste for anything gross and gory. Home now is Limassol, a city on the southern Mediterranean shores of Cyprus. Winters are spent in the mountains, summers are spent at the beach, and pretty much all hours between are sat at a computer where I am writing the next novel, or reading somebody else’s.
The Super Spies’ latest adventure is the third in the series. It centres around Sarah’s need to find her parents, and the dangers of a large corporation whose main focus is not ethics.
As a concept, it was very good. A great lesson in life for the teens, with emphasis on being self-reliant, yet unafraid to rally friends around them when the need arises, with an additional helping of watching out of ulterior motives in the corporate world, where money is paramount in 99% of cases.
I liked the descriptions and the pace was astounding. Far more adventurous, and much faster-flowing action than in the first two books.
The characters were as good as we were accustomed to, and Sarah develops an interest in newcomer Alex, whose presence warms her heart. I can see how the next book might shift into preparing our Super Spy to cope with relationships in a more mature way.
Dialogue flows naturally, people’s reactions are true to form, and the storyline pulls almost perfectly together. I would have liked to see more about Sara’s mother, for example – who features, but isn’t accorded much input – and I would have liked to see a few loose threads tidied up at the end. But I’m sure the Super Spies’ story is not yet complete, and I am looking forward to reading their next adventure.
Like books one and two in the series, I genuinely enjoyed reading The Super Spies and the Pied Piper. I think it makes excellent reading for young adults and even younger teens. A good buy, recommended. 4.5 stars for an almost perfect novel with high educational value and good moral standards.
Have a look at this wonderful giveaway from Patti Roberts – Supporting Indie Authors all the way!
All you have to do is share, and you’ll be entered in the draw. Easy-peasy! Click the link and leave your contact