Monday, September 30, 2019

PROMO: The Devil & Dayna Dalton

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Book 9: A Bulwark Anthology
Paranormal Romance
Date Published: September 30, 2019
Publisher: Chelshire, Inc.

Reporter Dayna Dalton’s reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother’s footsteps; never given a chance to prove she’s different. Dayna’s been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty.  He’s happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening.  Dayna is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character. Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?

*Contains Sexual Content*


Chapter 1

“I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.” Marilyn Monroe

The crisp, clear sunlight was not her friend. Dayna Dalton winced at the bright light that squeezed in through the slats of the venetian blind. She reached over and gave the cord a hard tug, sending the pint-sized bathroom into near darkness. Behind her, the shower head dripped with a steady plop, plop that reminded her of the exposé she did on water torture in Guantanamo Bay that never got published. It was deemed too harsh to print.

The Bulwark Advance preferred her to write…fluffy pieces. She sneered thinking of the crap on her computer, the half-written article about the elusive Easter Bunny that awaited its final edit. She hung her head in shame, thinking of what her sorority sisters from Georgetown would feel if they knew where Dangerous Dayna Dalton had ended up. There’d be hell to pay in the form of eternal humiliation.

Dayna twisted the faucet, her freckled knuckle turning bone white from the effort. It was no use; the leak continued relentlessly, driving a hole in her throbbing head. Oh, that last round of shots was totally not necessary.

No matter how hard she wrenched the faucet, the dribble continued. She thought she should ask her guest to fix it before he left. He was a plumber, after all. She was sick of this place. Dayna peered at her reflection in the mirror. She was sick of her life.

Skip Benson’s bearlike yawn turned into a growl from the bedroom. “Dayna.” His voice grated on her nerves.

Dayna rolled her kohl-smeared eyes.

“Dayna, come on back to bed.”

Dayna took a steadying breath and used both hands to grip the sink as if it were holding her up. What was she thinking last night? Skip Benson? How low could she go? A shudder ran through her lithe frame. That left only Trout Parker, and she could now report she had officially and irrevocably scraped the bottom of the barrel of Bulwark, Georgia.

She rubbed her forehead where a hammer banged against the inside of her skull.

Skip wailed for her to return to the warmth of the bed. Dayna wrinkled her nose, thinking about Skip’s performance, or rather what she remembered about it. Oh yeah, too many tequila shots will make anyone desirable, even stupid Skippy Benson.

She ran her fuzzy tongue over her dry teeth, fighting the urge to gag.

Skip Benson had never been on the football team, the basketball team…Hell, he’d never even made the chess team. He had been the school screw-up, and now he could brag that he and Dayna had…

Dayna turned away from the mirror with disgust, her cheeks flushing. She staggered to the doorway of the bedroom. Using the frame to hold herself erect, she shouted, “Get up!”

“Wha–?” Skip rose, the comforter bunched at his flabby waist, his chest bare and the pathetic tattoo of a red devil across the front of his right bicep.

Vague memories of kissing that image flitted through her foggy brain. Dayna picked up a pillow discarded on the floor during their frenzied arrival and threw it at his head.

“I said, get up and get out of here!”

Skip ducked, then slid off the bed, his behind exposed, another image of a werewolf on his left butt cheek. Dayna convulsed at a hazy memory of talking to that tattoo.

“You weren’t so eager to get rid of me last night.” Skip stood in all his naked glory, which wasn’t much.

“Ugh. I’m never drinking again,” Dayna muttered under her breath. “I said get dressed and get out of here.” A shoe sailed past Skip’s head.

Her unwanted guest scrambled to find his clothes. “Hey, cut it out, Dayna!” Skip was living up to his namesake as he struggled into his work pants, bouncing toward the door.

Dayna’s face split into a demonic smile that was known to strike fear in the hearts of single men everywhere. Here, she thought, was the elusive Easter Bunny. She watched Skip hop toward his escape as though he were in the Fourth of July potato sack race.

Dayna picked up a shirt that had been discarded on the floor and threw it at him. The garment appeared to have a life of its own and engulfed his head. Skip’s muffled cries were nearly smothered by the material. His hands tore at the shirt to no avail.

His fingers—Dayna looked closer, grimacing at the dirt under his nails, and watched his wrestling match with the clothing. She pushed him into her shabby living room, then out the door of her condo. Mrs. Sweetpea, an antonym for sure, watched in revulsion as Dayna shoved her guest out of her apartment.

Dayna lived in Shady Oaks, a rundown condominium community, where she reluctantly shared a front porch with her neighbor. The building was a connected row of apartments that bordered undeveloped land, as though a builder had left the project unfinished halfway through. It was hot real estate when they released the first phase, and half the town bought investment properties. Then the real estate bubble burst, and the whole thing came tumbling down.

Dayna had an inside scoop about what was really going on, but once again, the paper wouldn’t print it. The mayor had sold the land and gotten a back-end deal for it. He made a ton of dough and then skipped off to Colombia—the country, not Columbia, South Carolina. The builder had used inferior products, and once he went to jail for money laundering, the whole place went to seed. There was no one to call when things broke.

Dayna cast Mrs. Sweetpea a jaundiced eye, daring the nosy neighbor to say something about her guest. While the old crone might have appeared to be like the proverbial sweet grandmotherly type, Dayna knew her to be an ornery bitch with a sting as sharp as an angry wasp.

She hated her; had for years. Thelma Sweetpea had been her babysitter back in the day when she was a small child. Dayna’s mother had dropped her off at the old lady’s house for the first nine years of her life.

Dayna looked at Mrs. Sweetpea and shivered. The old woman had moved into the complex a year and a half ago, cutting up Dayna’s peace. What were the odds they’d end up living next door to each other? She was a mean old woman, and Dayna felt judged every time those beady eyes settled on her.

Dayna considered moving but was so underwater with her mortgage, she couldn’t think of selling. She was stuck at Shady Oaks, and she was stuck with the prying eyes of Thelma Sweetpea.

Mrs. Thelma Sweetpea took out her aggression with a broom and started to sweep as though the hounds of hell had just taken a shit there. Dayna fought the urge to say something. Speaking with Mrs. Sweetpea usually ended up in a hissing contest. Dayna’s compressed lips turned up just a bit with a smile at the result of this morning meeting. Mrs. Sweetpea was in a frenzy of spring cleaning, as if she could wipe the interlopers from reality.

The sky was overcast, and even though it was springtime, the air was decidedly chilly. A wave of cold air stole under Dayna’s shirt, making it billow out. She fought the urge to shiver. Her bare feet felt the shock of the freezing concrete. She’d be damned if she would show that old biddy any weakness, even if it was unseasonably cold.

Dayna looked up at the watery sky, searching for a glimpse of the sun. Global warming was playing havoc with Georgia’s weather. Either it was extremely hot when it was supposed to be cold or freezing when the time of year dictated heat. It didn’t rain anymore; it stormed with funnel clouds that touched down, ripping homes and trailers from their moorings.

Mrs. Sweetpea stopped her sweeping to look at Dayna, her lips pursed as if she’d eaten something sour. Dayna returned the stare, her eyes observing the wrinkled face, watching the older woman judge her half-naked form.

Dayna’s freckled shoulder peeked out from an oversized tee shirt. It was paired with her long, bare, coltish legs underneath. Dayna looked down and cursed when she realized she was wearing Skip’s tee. Glancing up, she realized he was struggling with her shirt from last night.
Watching her neighbor’s shocked face, Dayna ripped Skip’s shirt over her head and tossed it to him. He paused in his scuffle with her clothing to admire her perfect breasts.
“I don’t have to leave,” Skip said with a broad smile.

“Oh yes you do, and don’t come back here.” Dayna turned around, her shoulders straight. She paused to look at the older woman, who stood with her jaw hanging in shock.

“Have you no shame?” Thelma Sweetpea sputtered.

Dayna looked back at the gawking plumber, then her scandalized neighbor. She shrugged indifferently. “Apparently I have no shame at all.”

About the Author

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Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology.  Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Blog Tour: The Making of Daisy Hart

Contemporary Romance
Date Published:  March 2019

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Cassie Bowmont had what it took to succeed, at least that’s what she told herself. Hoping a change of pace and new scenery would get her creative juices flowing, she rented a beach cottage in the small town of Avenel where she could dip her pen into the steamy depths of adult romance. She didn’t need or want any distractions to thwart her progress, but she hadn’t counted on Chris Walker. After deciding that he would be a great muse for the hero in her book, she realized that a summer fling with him was just what the Book Gods ordered.    

When Chris Walker spotted the small car on the shoulder of the road, his hero complex kicked in. Unable to ignore a damsel in distress, he pulled over to be a knight in a Ford F-150. He stomped through the flooded road and convinced Cassie to follow him to safety. After a goodbye wave in the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly, he figured he’d never see her again, but Fate had other plans. When their paths crossed once more, he paused long enough to notice the delight in her eyes, the playful smirk on her glossy lips, and the determination of her spirit. His heart stuttered. His brain flooded with need, and a crack penetrated the wall around his heart. 

They knew the summer was all they’d have but falling for each other was inevitable. The pleasure of lust somehow transformed into the contentment of love. When a jilted lover returns and sabotages their relationship, they must decide if they will be prisoners to the past or sail into their future.


I liked how easily the authors words flowed off the pages and into my head. You can tell she is a master storyteller and I liked that this was a Romance that had its own spin.

I loved the drama and sometimes craziness that was woven into this Romance. There are quite a few twists and turns that throw a wrench into the Romance, but I loved the ultimate power of their love.

About the Author

Karen Tjebben lives in central North Carolina with her wonderful husband, twin daughters, and two hamsters. When her girls left for kindergarten, Karen discovered that she needed to fill her days with something, and that was the beginning of her writing career. She loves to create worlds filled with unique characters that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and seeing the world through her daughters' eyes.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Blog Tour: Woke Up Dead

Fiction / Humor
Date Published: August 27, 2019

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Hope Allison McKinley died. Or, at least everyone thought she did. When she suddenly wakes up in the middle of her own funeral - to the shock of all her loved ones - that is just the beginning of her problems.

Reawakened, Hope now sees what everyone really thought of her. The casket is cheap, the flowers suck, and she’s wearing an outfit she wouldn’t be caught dead in! It’s her worst nightmare come true and all hell is about to break loose.

In Woke Up Dead, Hope is faced with the enormous task of putting her death behind her and rebuilding her life. Having to overcome being a YouTube sensation and being shunned by her family, she slowly comes to realize that this is going to be a long, difficult, frustrating road.

If you ever wondered what would happen if you Woke Up Dead, let Hope Allison McKinley walk you through the trials and tribulations in a story that will have you dying to read more.


This book is not long, its novella length, but I was quite surprised by everything Nadia Gilkes was able to put into it. It was fun and witty, and hilarious to boot. Such a well written piece of fiction that is a great quick read! The writing was superb and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Gilkes in the future! 

About the Author

I hate the idea of being kept in a box. I have always had a creative flair and delight in quilting, writing, and occasionally dusting off my flute. Over the past decade, I've served my clients and community as a family law attorney. I genuinely love serving, but being devoted to others can often leave one feeling drained and unfulfilled.

In 2019, a mind shift happened. I decided to unchain myself from my desk and nurture my need to create. I stopped living the life others expected of me and started chasing my dreams. In September of 2019, my first book, Woke Up Dead, will be available for purchase. It is an amusing, tongue-in-cheek novella about a young woman who wakes up at her own funeral, to the shock of those in attendance, and soon finds that getting back to life as normal is nearly impossible.

In my spare time, you can find me traveling, creating, attending concerts, and drinking my sorrows away after the latest Buffalo Bills loss. I also attend as many P!nk experiences as I possibly can. (She does not do concerts ... she creates bucket list experiences ...).

If you want to be the first to know what I'll do next, please follow me on social media and sign up for my mailing list and

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PROMO: The Cure for Stupidity

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Date Published: 6/12/19
Publisher: Peacock Proud Press

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Every day you’re driven nuts by the people around you making common sense errors and irrational decisions. Imagine what life would look like if you didn’t have to waste time and energy dealing with stubborn, clueless, argumentative, defensive, or apathetic coworkers! Thank goodness Eric Bailey translates decades of brain science research into every-day language, helping you break through common communication barriers that will improve every relationship in your life. Whether you work in the executive suite or on the front-line, this book will teach you how to cure the stupidity all around you.

About the Author

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Eric M. Bailey is the President of Bailey Strategic Innovation Group, one of the fastest-growing communication consulting firms in the United States. Eric has a diverse set of experiences that includes helping an NFL player pet a rhinoceros, doing barrel rolls in an F-16, and chatting with LL Cool J on the campus of Harvard University.

Eric's unique style blends fact and emotion and finds ways to appeal to analytical thinkers, emotional feelers, and everyone in between. Eric has been featured on Huffington Post, Forbes, the Like a Real Boss Podcast and has helped leaders and teams across North America see common problems from new and different perspectives. Eric works with Google Inc., the US Air Force, Los Angeles County, Phoenix PD and many more.

Eric holds a Master's Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development from Saint Louis University and is a lifetime learner of human and organizational behavior. When not working or researching, you can find Eric and his wife, Jamie racing on their road bikes, being cheered on by their three children.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Teaser: Blood Branded

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(The Mix-Blood: Book One)
Young Adult, Coming of Age, Fantasy
Date Published: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Breezy Pages Publishing

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Defiance is paid in blood.

Their time is up. The crimsons are coming, marching on Hammerstone to crush the rebellious grays who renounce their rule. The graybacks have defied the ban that forbids trade or alliances with other races.

Frafnar understands intolerance better than most. Every season the grayback settlements send tribute to their oppressive orc cousins, and Hammerstone is no exception. After Frafnar is denied the opportunity to join the tribute guard because of his mixed heritage, he leaps at the chance to prove himself when his father’s signal horn is left behind.

Smoke rises in the distance. Frafnar must warn Hammerstone of the threat and comes to realize that his people are struggling with what he’s faced all his life. Now he must fight alongside those he loves—and hates—to protect his home.

Can Hammerstone withstand the siege, or will it become the final gravesite in a failed rebellion?

When the crimsons strike, always remember… strength in blood.

If you’re a fan of the epic or high fantasy genres, coming of age stories, or action-packed tales with haughty orcs and mysterious magic, then you’ll want to pick up Blood Branded.



“I have to win.”

The words pierced the chatter among the gathering, reaching Frafnar and echoing his own thoughts.

“I want to see a crimson!” another hollered.

“Better hope you’re not against me!” someone else shouted.

Then the energy of the group stilled as if everyone held their breath. Frafnar stood on the tips of his toes, but he still couldn’t see past the bobbing heads and shoulders of the other runts.

“Frafnar, son of Armastus.”

His elation was cut short by the groans of the group. The outbursts ceased when Trainer Groth roared for silence.

“His opponent will be…”

The gathering leaned forward.

“Bromh, son of—”

“No!” Bromh yelled from within the crowd. “I won’t be paired against the mix-blood.”

“Then you forfeit,” Groth said, already searching for the next contender.

“I never said—”

“Get over here,” Groth snapped. “Where’s Frafnar? Let him through.”

The circle of bodies parted enough that Frafnar squeezed between them, ignoring the sharp stares from the others. He kept his chin high and broke eye contact only as he passed the runts towering over him.

Trainer Groth and Bromh waited in the center of the ring.

“What’s the matter?” Frafnar taunted when he broke through the crowd. “Afraid you’ll lose?”

Bromh scoffed. “I’ll crush you in an instant, twig.”

Groth’s scowl deepened. Veins popped out of the tight flesh on his arms and neck.

“Fine,” Bromh stammered. “But everyone knows I should’ve had a real challenge,” he dared to add.

“Get into position.”

Frafnar met Bromh in the middle of the circle, a solid wood construction between them.

“Winner moves on to the finals,” Groth reiterated with a huff.

Frafnar mirrored Bromh by grasping the iron bar on the side of the wood platform with one hand and placing his elbow on the leather pad. Bromh glared over their clasped hands and squeezed so hard his knuckles paled. Maybe when he was younger, Frafnar might have cried out because of the pain. Today, Bromh would have to break his hand before he’d let go. When he won, they’d have no choice but to acknowledge him as an orc.

Trainer Groth balanced two thin strips of kindling on each side of their hands to ensure they started at his command. “Prepare,” he said. Then, after a suspense-filled moment, “Go.”

The audience erupted with noise, hollering as the strips fell over. Frafnar met Bromh’s strength with his own. He inched his opponent’s arm halfway down to the wood surface. The notion of a quick triumph crumbled when he heard Bromh snicker.

“That all you got, twig?”

About the Author

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J.A. Alexsoo lives in Ontario, Canada, and has forever been a fan of fantasy and science fiction. When not working on writing or imagining new adventures, she tours the lands with her two trusty canine companions. She’s the author of THE KNIGHT’S ORDER and her new book BLOOD BRANDED is scheduled to be released October 1st.

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Blog Tour: 13 Steps to the Cellar

Date Published: September 4, 2019
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

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Thirteen Steps to the Cellar. They were steep; they were narrow—but was a fall down them enough to have caused the twenty-seven deep lacerations to her aunt’s head? 

Callie Harris travels from her home in Alabama to her aunt’s former mansion in Maine to unravel the haunting forty-year-old mystery of Dr. Laverne Harris Doss’ brutal death.

Why wasn’t a murder weapon found? Was her uncle justly convicted of the killing? Was his mistress involved? Or was the murderer the bearded stranger rumored to have arrived by train that night?

In the charming town of Richmond, located on the banks of Maine’s historic Kennebec River, Callie uncovers the community’s darkest secrets—a botched police investigation, a betrayed widow’s lie, a dead woman’s blackmail, and a wealthy philanthropist’s shame. The web of intrigue extends far beyond her suspicions and its connection to her personal story pierces Callie to her core.


This book will make you want to cuddle up for a while and get lost in the story and mystery that Teresa Mathews has created. 

This novel really kept me on my toes as far as expecting the unexpected. 

There is a lot going on and a lot to understand since you are diving into a new world. I think that Mathews really managed to keep her readers up to speed by giving them just enough along the way without making them feel lost or bogged down with information. It really shined light on to the characters and mystery/story in general.

Don't miss this one! 

About the Author

TERESA MATHEWS is a graduate of The University of South Alabama.  She’s a member of the Mobile Writers Guild and serves on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association.

An avid gardener and artist, she has multiple book covers to her credit. Several years ago after visiting the site of her real-life aunt’s murder, Teresa discovered a third passion–storytelling. Although inspired by an actual tragedy, Thirteen Steps to the Cellar is fiction.

Raised on the Gulf Coast, Teresa, her husband, and son now live on a farm with a second home on the sparkling white sands of Fort Morgan, Alabama. This is her first novel.

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Teaser: The Devil & Dayna Dalton

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Book 9: A Bulwark Anthology
Paranormal Romance
Date Published: September 30, 2019
Publisher: Chelshire, Inc.

Reporter Dayna Dalton’s reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother’s footsteps; never given a chance to prove she’s different. Dayna’s been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty.  He’s happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening.  Dayna is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character. Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?

*Contains Sexual Content*


Chapter 4

“The devil is in the details.”

It was a steady beep that woke her. Dayna struggled to open her eyes. Her lids were heavy, as if they had been glued shut. She panicked for a minute, thinking she might have died and they had sealed her eyes. She lifted a hand to rub her face and felt the tug of something tethering her. She pulled, then moaned from the sharp pain near her elbow.

Brisk hands tucked her arm under a sheet next to her side. She turned to find Jenna Finnes adjusting an IV line.

Their eyes met, and Jenna said in a flat tone, “Don’t yank the IV out.” She walked over to a whiteboard, erased someone’s name, and printed her own, her face grim.

Dayna cleared her throat. Before she got any words out, Jenna spoke without turning around. “They brought you in last night. Minor abrasions. Sprained ankle, nothing serious.” She turned around, and her face held no warmth. “Whoever you were rolling around in the woods with left you there.”

“I wasn’t…” Dayna coughed. Her throat hurt when she spoke. Jenna poured her a cup of water.

“Whatever.” Clay’s wife shrugged. “You were out for a long time. There’s a bump on your head, but the CAT scan was negative.”

Dayna took the water with one hand. The other cautiously touched a tender bump on the side of her skull.

“When can I get out of here?” Dayna asked.

“They’re not going to let you drive home, not that your car is here anyway. The doctor will give you more information when he stops by.” Jenna walked toward the door.

“Jenna,” Dayna called after her, “who brought me in?”

“Sherry and Terence found you.” Jenna answered without looking at her.
Dayna could feel hatred emanating from the rigid stance of the nurse’s body and closed face. She could not stop herself from calling her name again. “Jenna?” Jenna turned, her eyes unfriendly. “How’s Clay doing?”
Jenna pulled open the door and left without another word.

Dayna let her head fall back on the pillows. For all that Jenna had a sterling reputation, she was no Florence Nightingale. The pillows were flat and water had spilled, making the coarse sheet both damp and uncomfortable. Jenna hadn’t even asked if she could bring Dayna something for her aching head.

Tears filled Dayna’s eyes and slid down the sides of her face. “Stop that damn self-pity,” she admonished herself.

Outside, the overcast sky cast a dark shadow over Bulwark. Wind whipped the branches of the trees. It didn’t take a forecaster to know a storm was brewing.

Dayna’s stomach rumbled noisily. The bedside table was just out of her reach. While her clothes and purse were nowhere to be seen, her phone lay on the surface of the table. It buzzed, the noise making Dayna jump, reminding her of every ache and bruise. She stretched, her sore muscles protesting. Her fingers spun the phone in a circle, the momentum forcing it to fall onto the side of the bed.

It was the editor of the paper, Howard Bresen.

“Yes?” Dayna picked up the phone.

“What happened to you?” Howard’s brusque voice demanded.

“Nothing. I saw a wolf and followed—”

“You tie one on again? No wolves in this part of Georgia. Everybody knows that, babe.”

Dayna hated when he called her that. She took a steadying breath and tried to keep the resentment from her voice. “I know what I saw.” Did she? She shivered, thinking of those strange pupils. Dayna opened her mouth to say something, then snapped it shut. She touched the tender spot on her head. She banged her head. That explained it, didn’t it?

“Yeah, you and half the population of Bulwark must be on LSD or something.”

“I don’t use drugs, Howard.”

“No matter, Dayna. I need an obit on JB Straton by tonight. It’s going on the front page. But if you’d rather argue with me, I can find someone else to do it.”

Dayna sat up, her head pounding, but she ignored it. The front page. “No, I want to write it. Can you send someone to pick me up? I have to get home.”

Howard growled that he didn’t have a staff of chauffeurs at his disposal. Then the phone grew quiet.

“Listen, babe, you didn’t see a wolf.”

“Howard, I know what I saw.” She paused, then finished, “I want to write a story about it.”

“I said you didn’t see a wolf. Got it?” Howard’s voice was stern.

If he was this way about the wolf, he’d go nuts if she mentioned the man with the blood-red eyes. For sure, that made no sense. It had to be a hallucination.

Dayna sat mute for a minute. When she opened her mouth, her boss added, “You want that front page or not? I won’t offer it to you again. No wolf. I want a nice tribute to a stand-up guy.” He mumbled something to someone in his office and said loudly, “Okay, I’m sending Lemuel. He’ll pick you up in an hour.”

“I have to get the doctor to release me,” she replied, her mind already forming the opening paragraph about JB Straton.

“You’ve got one hour!” He hung up the phone.

Dr. Kent entered the room as the phone went dead.

“I have a deadline,” she told him, her palm outstretched in an appeal.

Dr. Kent had kind eyes. He was new to the town and had a reputation for being both warm and friendly to everyone he met. He sat on the edge of the bed and patted her hand. “How do you feel?”

“I’d feel better in my own home,” Dayna said with an edge of impatience.

“Uh-huh,” he said, shining a light into her eyes. He rotated her head, asking if anything hurt.

“Just a little sore,” she assured him.

He lifted the covers, then picked up her ankle. He had gentle hands with long, elegant fingers. His touch was cool and efficient. It calmed her.

“It’s not broken. Stay off it for the rest of the day,” Dr. Kent said while he wrote notes on a chart. She noticed he was left-handed and watched his hand curl unnaturally with the pen as he wrote.

“You’re releasing me?” Dayna asked hopefully.

“Are you asking or demanding, Miss Dalton?” He smiled.

Dayna grinned back, and the room was decidedly toastier than when Nurse Jenna Finnes was there.

“I have to write an article about JB Straton.”

Dr. Kent’s face darkened. “He was a nice guy. Helped me out just a few days ago. I ran into some trouble when I was jogging.” Dr. Kent caught himself and changed the subject quickly. “Well, no matter. It’s not exactly a tragedy. He was old.”

“Isn’t all death a tragedy?” Dayna asked.

“No.” He shook his head. “Not really. When a person is old or infirm, sometimes it’s a blessing.”

“I can understand the age part, but the infirm?”

“When a person can’t be healed or they are incurable, it may be for the best. Sometimes they want to go, as if they’ve finished their use here.”

“I thought your job was about saving lives,” Dayna said.

Dr. Kent looked up, his blue eyes piercing. “I assure you, Miss Dalton, I do everything within my power to save lives. It’s not always up to me.”

“Then who is it up to?” Dayna asked, her chin tilted.

He looked at her as if weighing how to answer. “That’s something I wrestle with all the time. I think that when it’s someone’s time, it’s their time to go.”

The reporter came to life in Dayna’s head. “Where do you think they go?”

“Who knows? The Elysian Fields, Heaven...”

“Hell?” Dayna asked.

“I don’t believe in Hell,” he said, then added, “Sometimes I think hell is here.”

“Well, that’s profound.” Dayna reached for her bag to get a pen, realizing she had neither. She stopped moving and looked up at him. “What makes you say that?”

Dr. Kent looked out the window, his face distant. “Sometimes life is torment. I equate torment with hell.”

“Are you tormented?” Dayna asked softly, not wanting the moment to end.

Dr. Kent stood completely still, as if he was thinking of a way to answer. He shook his head as he looked at her. “No, I never said that.”

Dayna opened her mouth to ask another question, but he silenced her with a response.

“Stay off your foot for a few days.” He resumed writing notes on her chart. “You should be much better by tomorrow. If you have any vision issues or headaches”—he paused and added—” or strange thoughts, come back to the hospital immediately.”

He glanced out the window again, his eyes far away. Dayna looked in the direction of his gaze. He was staring, lost in thought, at the new diner that had opened recently. There was something going on here. She’d give her new Louis Vuitton bag to get to the bottom of that story. Now wasn’t the time, though. She needed that front page and to gain her boss’s trust to give her more leeway.

The blood-red eyes flashed in her mind, and she crushed the thoughts ruthlessly. She needed to get moving.

“Dr. Kent?” she prodded. “Can I leave now?”

He nodded absently. “Weather’s picking up. You know, I moved here because I hated the climate in New England.”

Well, that was strange, she thought. Neat change of subject. He was well skilled at diverting attention from things he didn’t want to discuss.

“Yes,” Dayna agreed, watching him. “We hardly had a summer last year.”

They both muttered, “Global warming,” at the same time. Dayna laughed. The doctor shrugged and moved to the door.

“Dr. Kent?”

He turned around.

“Has anyone said anything about seeing any wolves around town lately?”

“Wolves?” He shook his head.

“They’re extinct here. Why? Are you seeing wolves?” He looked at her closely.

“No, of course not. It’s just that there have been reports from several locals.”

“Bulwark has its share of crazies. I wouldn’t believe everything you hear,” Dr. Kent said as he left the room.

A different nurse arrived to unhook her IV. She handed Dayna a plastic bag containing her clothing and purse. Dayna dressed as quickly as her bruised body allowed. She opened the door to her room and walked into the hall.

Dayna walked furtively to the intensive care section at the end of the corridor. She waited until an orderly flashed his identification card to open the old wooden swinging doors. Trout Parker turned around and smiled at her when he let her follow him through the entrance.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” he told her, his voice low, his eyes raking her body. “Heard you went out with Skippy Benson.” He leered at her. “Maybe you want to go for a drink with me?”

Dayna shook her head. “Sorry, I’m kind of busy right now. I’m visiting an old friend,” Dayna finished with an edge of defensiveness in her reply.

Trout laughed and said slyly, “Sheriff Finnes is in the last room on the left.”

He pointed down the corridor and didn’t move. “You know he’s back with his wife, Dayna, but like I said”—he held his arms open wide, a wolfish grin on his face— “I’m available.”

“Yes, um...thanks, Trout. I’ll remember that.”

She felt his eyes follow her to the end of the corridor. That guy gave her a healthy dose of the creeps.

Dayna walked close to the wall. There was a window outside the room, and she could see Clay in the hospital bed. He was hooked up to machines, a bandage around his head. The bed was elevated, and Dayna could see he was awake. She touched the glass separating them.

The curtain that surrounded the bed twitched. Jenna walked in holding a cup of applesauce in one hand, a spoon in the other. Her cold eyes locked on Dayna, and with a sneer, she pulled the curtains across the window.

About the author:

 photo Brit Lunden_zpsrch5ipgt.jpg
Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology.  Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.

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