New Release – Romantic, Edge of Your Seat Thriller by Sam Cheever

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Gabriella has been hunted all her life by a madman who knew of her unique abilities even before she did. She’d been abandoned by one parent, abused by another, and the feelings of being alone and unloved had almost made her welcome the vividly cruel world she found herself in.

Then she met Mike Stanton.

And she realized her world didn’t always have to be cold and lonely. She finally recognized that she might be worthy of someone else’s love. But there was a problem. Her past wouldn’t let her go. And she was in danger of dragging Mike and everyone else she cared about into Hell with her.

Mike didn’t understand the power of the heart until he met Gabby…a woman who hadn’t had nearly enough love in her twenty-four, hellish years on earth.

Then he was told to protect her.

And he fell hard and fast for the woman whose instincts and actions kept urging her to fly away, like the beautiful falcon he’d named her.

Can they find the love they both seek before an ugly past and an intensely cruel organization rips them apart? Or will the future they seek only bring them despair as factions they can’t control try to destroy the feelings they’re just learning to cherish?

5 stars

“Surviving Gabriella: “What a GREAT BOOK AND PHENOMINAL ENDING !!!”

“…the author takes you through such ups and downs every page has something that makes your heart beat overtime or makes you cry or even makes you scream!”

She watched him from the shadows. His big frame was backlit by the soft sunshine threading through the broken window. She should have been angry with him but she couldn’t quite get there. Instead, she found herself smiling as he grimaced, his gaze sliding around the detritus of a once useful space.

She’d learned long ago to overlook the filth, the destruction, the stench of age and death. But he didn’t have her background. Unlike her, Mike Stanton had grown up in a sane, upper middle class home with parents who’d loved him and had given him every advantage available to a family of their income and place in society. She didn’t begrudge him that childhood. Or the respectable stint as a Marine he’d been honorably discharged from a couple of years earlier.

He’d done his part for the government and she’d done hers. But her efforts were cloaked in shadow, buried under secrets and lies. Because if anyone knew…

She shook off the thought and gave herself up to the pleasure of looking at him for a moment. He was a big guy, well over six feet, with broad shoulders, narrow hips and big hands and feet. His long, long legs were encased in snug denim, which caressed his trim, muscular body like a lover. His feet were covered in heavy boots, scuffed from time and wear. She loved a man who could wear boots like they were a part of him.

He’d worn his golden hair long for a while, tucking it behind his ears or gathering it at the back of his neck when he needed to keep it out of his face. Though she wasn’t a fan of long hair on a man, thinking it made them look too feminine, Mike carried the look well. So well, in fact, that when he’d recently cut it so that it lay close to his head in soft waves, she’d been disappointed. He’d rocked the longer hair, reminding her a bit of a hero from the historical romance books she’d die if anybody knew she read.

She let her gaze rest, finally, on his handsome face. Chiseled perfection, from his broad forehead to his high cheekbones and dimpled chin. Mike was always clean-shaven, though she’d seen him once with a full beard, right after getting out of the Marines. It was the day he’d come to DeVitis Manor to apply for a security job. Even then, watching from a distance with her heart full of pain and longing, she’d been able to appreciate the lithe grace of the big man, who’d clearly spent a lot of time sneaking up on people and was very good at it.

A soft sigh left her and his head snapped up. The sound she’d made had been gentler than the touch of a butterfly wing on the air. But he’d somehow locked onto her location and turned, a grim smile showing straight, white teeth through the dimness. “Come on out, falcon. I know you’re there.”

She hesitated, glancing back toward the labyrinth of discarded refuse that cluttered the basement room. Maybe she could make it back upstairs, to the roof, and she could fly…

Heat suddenly infused her space and a large form pressed closer. Gabby gasped, back pedaling until she ran up against the mildewed wall behind her.

Mike placed a hand on either side, effectively boxing her in. “Hello, pretty falcon.”

She forced herself to lift her gaze and meet his eyes. They were lost in the darkness, with only a tiny spark of reflected light to let her know they were focused on her. “Why are you here?”

He moved and suddenly he was pressed against her from thighs to chest, his touch a drug that shot through her system like flame to gasoline. Gabby tried to press away from his delicious heat but she had nowhere to go. He lowered his head, the sweet warmth of his breath brushing her face as she turned her head away. She was terrified that if he kissed her she’d be lost. Helpless. His lips touched her ear, fracturing her control and turning her into a trembling mass desperate for escape. But he didn’t move away. His sexy lips parted and his whisper sent another ripple of awareness through her quivering form. “Don’t you remember, Gabby? You asked me to come.”

Get your copy:

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1546367551/?tag=wwwsamcheever-20

Digital: books2read.com/survivinggabriella

Bestselling Romantic Suspense Authors Give Books Away!

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You don’t have to sign up for a newsletter, give us your firstborn child, or wear a pink hat and dance under a full moon. We just want to share our work with you in the hopes you’ll try some of the other wonderful stuff we’ve written. So grab your books (…and some sustenance because you might not leave that chair until you’ve consumed all of these great books!) The only thing you have to lose is sleep. Yeah,  we fully intend to keep you awake reading our sizzling Romantic Suspense! And we’re not at all sorry about it! *grin*

Enjoy!

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Romantic New Thriller Suspense by Sam Cheever

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Praise for Pursuing Elena:

“This remarkable book will take you on a journey of pain, hope and LOVE from beginning to end.”

“…twists I never saw coming with a suspenseful story line that kept me on the edge of my seat.”

Get your copy now:books2read.com/u/4DA0zg

Excerpt:

Erik pulled Elena across the office and shoved her behind a heavy, burgundy velvet curtain, pushing in behind her just as the office door opened. Elena stiffened as he wrapped his arms around her waist and lowered his head, whispering. “Not a sound.”

She barely allowed herself to breathe. Every time she pulled air into her lungs, his clean, male scent entered her system and ran amok, creating a pool of need in her belly that was hard to ignore. Elena closed her eyes, her usual balls-to-the-wall style failing her as her body became almost painfully aware of every hard line of his tall, sexy frame pressed against her. She grew slowly cognizant of a sharp pain in her back, like something hard digging into her. She shifted slightly to get away from it and was punished with a big, warm hand spreading over her belly, pulling her more tightly against him.

Then another hardness started to bother her. She closed her eyes and prayed the guard would leave soon. Because Erik’s hand was making slow, deliberate circles over her belly and need was becoming a tight coil in her sexual core.

Beyond their velvet and lust prison, the guard’s footsteps were soft thumps on the thick carpet, his flashlight playing across the chaotic remnants of Phillip Osgood’s office. They could watch him move through the office from his reflection in the window glass. He was a short, roundish form with nondescript features, but he held a large flashlight in one hand and a radio crackled on his waistband.

Elena watched as the bright arc of light skimmed over the desk and stilled, the light illuminating the small drawer she’d laid on top.

She silently scolded herself for her carelessness. She’d assumed that, with all the other mess in the room, the guard wouldn’t even notice.

Judging by the movement of footsteps across the room…directly toward them…she’d been wrong. The radio crackled and a voice came over the line. “Everything okay, Ed? I was expecting you to check in five minutes ago.”

The flashlight swept the floor behind the desk, slithered over the chair Elena had shoved back, and danced inexorably toward the curtain where they hid.

Moving as slowly as she could with discovery breathing down their necks, Elena pulled her feet back and all but held her breath.

Erik’s hand slipped around to his back, where Elena had no doubt his gun was holstered.

The guard moved around the desk and stood looking down at the drawer. His labored breathing scraped through the silence, so close Elena expected to feel it on her face. He breathed with a wet, raspy kind of resonance which told Elena he was out of shape and that he was either a smoker or was coming down with a cold.

Either way she figured she could take him before he could report them to the voice on the other end of the radio. Her eyes on the guard’s form in the glass, she tightened her grip on her gun and then stopped, pulling air into her lungs and forcing herself to relax. She began to picture her attack in her mind.

A glide sideways, emerging from the curtain on the outside, away from Erik. She’d lift her gun and point it at the guard as she moved closer, demanding that he take his hand off his radio. Then with one, swift motion, she’d take the radio with her free hand and clock him over the head with the other.

The only fly in the ointment was Erik. And he was a big, damn fly. Because she knew he’d never let her risk a direct confrontation. He’d take a bullet himself before he allowed that. Her suspicions were confirmed as his arm around her waist tightened, snugging her up against him even as his other arm extended toward the edge of the heavy drape.

In the glass, the guard reached for his radio, pulled it free and lifted it toward his face.

The snap of controlled electricity broke the silence, the flashlight beam shot toward the ceiling and then slammed downward, and the guard jerked twice before falling, his radio flying out of his hand.

Erik stepped from behind the drape and reached out, snagging the radio with his right hand as he shoved the Taser back into his pants with the other. “Let’s go. The other guard will be here in about two minutes.”

They ran toward the outer office and ducked back through the glass doors. The up arrow beside the elevator down the hall lit up as they hit the stairwell at an all-out run. They sprinted down the stairs to the third floor. After checking the hallway to make sure it was empty, they emerged from the stairwell and tore down the hall to the office they’d originally breached. Elena stepped quickly through the window onto the ledge and started moving toward the front of the building. Erik emerged behind her. She could hear the soft scrape of his boots against the concrete.

A bright light came on below and an alarm sounded inside the building.

Elena forced herself not to panic as men with guns spilled from the front door and spread out around the grounds to the sound of shouted orders. She stopped and pressed back against the wall, just out of range of the security light that spread a golden cocoon over the front entrance.

Erik did the same, his broad chest heaving from the effort of running down the narrow ledge without falling.
She turned to him, shrugging slightly. “Oops.”

He shook his head but she noted the slight twitch of his wide mouth that told her he wasn’t totally unamused. “I don’t suppose you had a Plan B when you decided to do this?” he whispered.

She grinned, shaking her head. “I rarely need more than one plan.”

His brows lifted. “And yet…”

“This was your fault. If I’d been alone I’d have been fine.” The guilty memory of a misplaced desk drawer and chair swept through her mind but she pushed them aside. A soldier never second guessed her mission. The only option was to move forward and complete the operation.

Erik pulled something black from the waistband of his jeans and she frowned. Surely he wasn’t going to try to use the Taser from three floors up. Even if he hit one of the dozen men running around below them, they’d still have eleven guards with guns to deal with.

Elena tried to remember how many bullets she had left in her gun. Had she remembered to reload it before leaving home?

She jumped as Erik’s voice sounded next to her. “Intruders spotted on the south side of the building,” he said into the radio. “I repeat, intruders spotted running toward Elm Street on the south side of the building.”

He shoved the radio back into his jeans and jerked his head toward the corner. “Let’s move, DeVitis. There’s a piece of chocolate pie and a cup of coffee waiting for me at the diner down the street.”

Elena peered around the corner and saw that all but one guy had taken the bait and fled to the South side. It wouldn’t take them long to discover the ruse and they’d be back. She would have to take her chances with the one guy.

Slipping around the corner, Elena ran along the ledge, keeping an eye on the bulky guard standing on the outside edge of the light. The orange glow of a lit cigarette flaring into the night told Elena all she needed to know about the guy’s attention span. He was taking a break while his buddies chased down the bad guys.

She smiled, knowing his break was about to turn bad.

She quickly descended from the third floor, using the uneven bricks at the corner of the structure. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she crouched down, watching the guard as Erik slipped down behind her.

When Erik’s feet hit the ground he whistled softly and they tucked themselves into the shadows as the guard’s head jerked up, the cigarette bobbling between his lips.

Elena could envision cartoon bubbles above the man’s head as he considered what he should do next.

What’s this?

Who’s whistling at me?

Maybe I should investigate?

The guard’s head swiveled as if he were looking for someone else to do the job and then, when no cavalry appeared on the horizon, he reluctantly dropped his cigarette butt and ground it out before heading their way. The beefy guard held his pistol down by his side, his gaze narrowing as the shadows began to obscure his view of the ground around the base of the building.

He stopped a few feet away as if he sensed they were there and, as he reached for his radio, Erik shot him with the Taser. Elena and Erik pulled the guard’s twitching form into the bushes and took off running toward the fence. If they were really lucky Elena’s makeshift ladder would still be in place.

If not, well, Elena would have to use her yummy assistant as a ladder.

A not altogether unpleasant option.

Get your copy now! books2read.com/u/4DA0zg

 

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Have you read Book 1 in the exciting La Fortuna DeVitis series? It’s only $0.99 now:

revealingnicola-300 Nicola is just minding her own business, out for a fun night with her friends, when a man with a bedroom voice and deliciously broad shoulders decides she’s someone she isn’t. A heartbeat later, before she even has a chance to make sense of being called by another woman’s name, she finds herself flung over one of those broad shoulders and thrown into an existence that includes a lot of running for her life, dodging bullets, and realizing she’s the victim of a lifetime’s worth of secrets.

Franco has a very difficult job. He’s supposed to protect a strong willed heiress from the conspiracy that has plagued her entire life. Unfortunately, in pursuit of that goal, he accidentally grabs the wrong person. A woman whose feisty nature and insistence that she’s not his heiress have him on edge and off his game.

With menace nipping constantly at their heels, bullets flying and bodies showing up all over the place, Franco and Nicola must quickly put aside their differences and forge an alliance to stop the shadowy group which pursues them. But circumstances might build something much greater than an alliance between them, as distrust turns to affection and need transforms into something neither one of them is prepared to ignore.

Get your copy today! books2read.com/u/m0z1Al

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IMG_7837_120x180USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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Sam Cheever has a Sizzling new Romantic Thriller!

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My name is Nicola. And I don’t know who I am anymore.

I’ve been thrown into a whirlwind of lies and danger. My entire existence is a deceit. Even the illusion of safety has been torn from me, leaving me raw and functioning on pure adrenaline. It seems I can trust only one person. A man…whose forest green gaze makes my already upside down world wobble a little on its axis.

This is my story. It’s a story of hate and greed and violence. But it’s also a story of love and hope and fighting for what you believe in. I can’t let the war I find myself in define me. Or I’ll be no better than the shadowy figures who are trying to take us down.”

5-stars

“If you love thrillers with strong women who know how to stand up for themselves, with hot bodyguards and secrets to unveil then look no further. You will be happily entertained.”

A hand wrapped around her arm and she was tugged backward, hitting the firm heat of a wide chest. She tried to pull away, thinking she was dealing with another overzealous flirt. “Back off, buddy.” She jerked her elbow backward, earning herself a very satisfying grunt of pain. But the hand on her arm didn’t let go.
Hot breath bathed her ear. “Real funny, Elena. Now stop screwing around and come with me. You know it’s dangerous for you to be in here.”

She frowned, realizing he’d mistaken her for someone else. Nici turned her head and slid her gaze up, inhaling a quick rush of air as she got her first look at him.

His skin looked golden under the lights, his wide, square jaw taut with anger as he glared down at her. His eyes were a shade of forest green she’d never seen before, the lashes framing them thick and black. The lights played over his inky black hair, dancing along the glossy waves where it was longer at the top and dimming where he’d shaved it close on the sides.

He was huge, probably six foot five or six, with wide shoulders and massive arms. The hand on her upper arm easily encircled it, with long, dense fingers. He wore a round-necked shirt that glowed white under the spinning lights and lovingly hugged his pecs. The shirt was tucked neatly into a pair of dark denim jeans which looked painted on. A brown leather jacket covered the shirt and Nici wondered what he was hiding underneath it. It was way too warm, both outside and in, for leather.

Nici’s mouth watered as she stared up at him and she almost forgot to yank her arm away.

She remembered a beat later, when he tried to drag her toward the door. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you. Let go of me.”

“Elena…”

She stomped on his toes and ground down, feeling the soft leather dent as she put all her weight onto his foot.

“Son of a…” Quick as a wink he wrapped a muscular arm around her waist and hauled her off her feet, throwing her over his shoulder. She gave a little scream, tugging frantically on her short skirt in an attempt to cover her butt.

“Put me down you Neanderthal.”

“I’m taking you home and your father can deal with you.”

She kneed him in the belly and her bruised kneecaps screamed as she hit the unforgiving surface. “Ouch!”
She could almost feel him smile. “Serves you right.”

A man in a shiny suit circled around Nici and stepped in front of her abductor. The man carrying her toward the door barely hesitated as the manager held up a hand. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to…”

“Mr. DeVitis appreciates your concern for his daughter but you need to step out of my way.”

Nici squirmed, pounding on his back. “This man is abducting me, do something!”

The manager blinked, his mouth opening and closing before he finally frowned, inclining his head. “Give Mr. DeVitis my regards.”

Her abductor didn’t bother to respond. He started toward the door, bodies magically moving out of his way as they neared the exit. As the door opened to admit a loud group of happy partiers, Nici’s head came up and she searched the crowd for her friends. Nobody. They hadn’t even seen her get abducted. Dammit!
“Well looky here. Such a pretty little ass…” A moist hand caressed her buttock and, like a cobra, her abductor struck, a big fist smashing into the young drunk’s face and sending him to the floor like a large sack of potatoes.

“Learn some respect, punk,” her abductor said on a growl before plunging them outside into the warm night air.

She barked out a shocked laugh. “You’re telling him to respect me? That’s rich.”

He didn’t even hesitate, his long strides took them quickly toward the street and he finally lowered her to the ground. She immediately went after him, fists flashing and elbows flying. She used every trick she’d learned in hours of self-defense classes but he seemed to anticipate all of them, easily shutting her down.
When he had both of her fists trapped in one of his big hands, a black eyebrow lifted in irritation, Nici tried the last trick in her arsenal. She went perfectly still, deliberately softening her muscles.

To her supreme annoyance, he grinned, pushing her toward the car. “Not gonna work, Elena.”

The door opened behind her and her abductor gave the dark suited man who’d opened it a smile. “Thanks, Mike.”

The doorman had longish blond hair, a square jaw and piercing gray eyes. “My pleasure. So, Elena, love the new hair style.”

Nici gave him a glare and then, hoping to catch them off guard, let all her weight drop to her heels and sagged downward, her hand tightening around the handle of her purse. She really wished she could get to the gun she carried in a hidden side pocket, but there was no way he’d give her that much time. So she did the next best thing. She screamed, launching herself off her toes and swinging the bag toward his head.

Her grabbed her arm with one hand, tugging the purse easily from her grasp, and shoved her backward with the other.

She hit a soft leather seat and slid, hands scrabbling for purchase even as she skidded toward the far side of the car.

His hand snaked out and grabbed her ankle before her head connected with the door and, in the same move, he shoved in behind her, lifting her legs to rest across his lap. “Let’s go, Mike. Gordon’s anxious to hear that she’s okay.”

His gaze flashing with humor, the man he’d called Mike quietly closed the door and walked around the car, sliding behind the wheel. A moment later the engine of the long, black limousine rumbled to life and it glided away from the curb.

 

BUY LINKS:

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Sea to Sky Books: http://www.seatoskybooks.com/978-1-63587-971-1-revealing-nicola

Fun New Romantic Suspense by Sam Cheever – Aloha Honeybun

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In a battle between evil and Honeybun, tall red and sexy will always win.

Alfric and Pleasance are getting married on the romantic and beautiful island of O’ahu! Or are they? Violence in the rainforest has a way of upsetting even the best laid plans. And when that violence comes a little too close to home…the brothers might need to exchange their lei for a slightly more deadly form of body ornament. Invasion, war and centuries of the best and worst nature can hand them…Hawaii’s overcome it all. But the people of the beautiful islands have never experienced the Honeybuns. That’s a whole new kind of natural event!

5 stars

Reader review: “Sam Cheever’s ability to create an exciting, page-turning, action, mystery and suspense romance is second to none. This book immediately draws you in and you will be totally captivated until the last page.

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If they stood very still, the sounds of the rainforest were like a soundtrack. Nature’s music swelled and faded around them, filled with the chorus of life that throbbed just beneath the surface everywhere they walked. It would have been easy to lose the song in the chaos of astounding visuals, but Alf Honeybun was determined to not only hear its magical tune, but to infuse it into his cells. Never to be forgotten.

“This probably isn’t the first jungle-type place you’ve been in,” Pleasance said with a grin.

“No. But it feels like the first. I never really experienced the last one, what with all the shooting and blood curdling screams of agony.”

They stood at the top of a rocky bluff, looking out over the dense green of an O’ahu rainforest. Behind them, the narrow path they’d hiked to gain the top wound back down, an unwelcome reminder that they couldn’t stay there forever.

“It’s so impossibly beautiful up here.” Pleasance frowned. “I should have brought my sketch book.”

Alf wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, nuzzling her thick fall of black hair. She smelled like the fresh flowers in her lei. Since they’d arrived on the island, he’d bought her a new one every morning. Once they were married and went back home, Alf was determined to have a lei made up for every anniversary. To bring back a taste of the pre-wedding honeymoon they’d been enjoying. “We’ll come back tomorrow. You can draw for as long as you want.”

She turned as he kissed her cheek. “What will you do while I sketch?”

“Navel gaze. I suspect there are many mysteries and conundrums in my navel. I’ve never had time to consider them all. It’ll be cathartic.”

She laughed, a throaty sound that made Alf’s body tighten with need. “So much drama in something so small.”

He winced. “Ouch! Be careful what you’re callin’ small, woman.”

She leaned into him, sliding her long fingers through his auburn hair. He’d let it grow over the last weeks and found himself enjoying the change. For one thing, Pleasance ran her fingers through it more often, and, coupled with the sand, sun and beauty of Hawaii, it made him free and happy in a way he hadn’t been since he was a kid.

The thoughts flitted through Alf’s mind in a flash. But all reflection disappeared as Pleasance’s soft lips found his. Heat flared from the spot where they touched and spiraled downward, swamping him with instant need. Alf wrapped himself around her and deepened the kiss, letting his tongue slide through to tangle with hers.

Pleasance’s soft body molded to his. Her delectable scent encompassed him, driving desire a notch higher. When she made a soft sound of pleasure, need flashed into lust like a spark to a flame. Alf pressed her backward, intending to ease her down onto the blanket and transform their kiss into something much deeper.

He never got the chance. In the distance, a blood curdling scream disturbed the natural peace, ripping them brutally from the moment.

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Aloha-Honeybun-Heat-Book-ebook/dp/B01FIQ5IWA

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ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-alohahoneybun-2037592-153.html

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/aloha-honeybun/id1113428035?mt=11

Smart Alex – Elegant Mystery Fiction with Sweet Romance

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A killer finds himself behind the curvy on getting what he wants.

Matthew Smart has lost his Assistant, Cameron, in a brutal killing. Devastated, Matthew has to find out who murdered his employee while interviewing potential replacements. Strangely, the applicants all seem to be blowing off their interviews. So when a bold, softly curved beauty named Alexis McFadden shows up in his office looking to fill the position, he’s tempted to hire her just because she’s the only one who wants the job, although he doesn’t believe she’s a good fit. Lucky for Alex, a tricky new case convinces Matthew that he can really use her help. But what if Alex is smart enough to get herself hired against all odds, while in the eyes of a cold-blooded killer, she’s too smart by half?

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A8R1KXK/?tag=wwwsamcheever-20

Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Smart-Alex-Investigations-Inc-Book-ebook/dp/B01A8R1KXK/?tag=wwwsamcheev0d-20

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New Release — Hoaley War by Declan Sands

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Sometimes the past rises up to bite you in the butt, and you never see it coming!

Adam and the gang are rehabbing an old church when they come across a tunnel they believe might have been part of the historic underground railroad. The two corpses they find lying in the tunnel transform the event from one of historical significance to recent tragedy. The investigation for how the two recently murdered people got into that tunnel leads Adam and the gang through a hair-raising series of events that will affect them for a long time, in ways they could never have imagined. Will Adam’s nosiness finally cause irreparable harm to one of the gang? Or will they rise above the tragedies they uncover, and come together in love and forgiveness, becoming all the stronger for it?

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“And you punched a hole in this wall, why?”

The man holding the sledge hammer looked sheepish as he stepped back, resting the head of the big tool on the pile of fractured concrete by his feet. “The wall was moist. I just tapped it to see if it was solid.”

Adam scanned a look over the six foot five inch tall three hundred twenty pound ex-linebacker. “Tapped it, huh?”

An embarrassed grin spread across the man’s wide face. “Sorry, boss.”

Adam shook his head. He examined the hole more carefully. “This is just filler. No wonder it fell apart. He held out his hand. Give me that sledgehammer.” Taking the heavy tool, he hit the edge of the six inch wide hole with it. Moist concrete filler crumbled to the ground, opening another six inches next to the original hole. A thin, metal mesh showed through the hole. Adam hit it again.

Twenty minutes later he had a hole barely wider than a man and four feet tall. Blackness yawned away from the opening and the sour stench of mildew wafted out on the stale air. “What the hell is this?” Adam asked rhetorically.

Sandy Bradley frowned, ducking down to peer into the hole with Adam. “Looks like they walled off part of the basement.”

Adam frowned. “Father Paria didn’t say anything about a walled off section. I’m a little surprised since he would have liked the room to be bigger anyway.”

The two men peered into the darkness for another minute. Adam glanced at Sandy. “Run out to my truck and get my lantern, will you?”

The big man nodded and left, leaving Adam standing before the pitch black hole wondering at the disgusting smell emanating from it. He figured there must be an underground spring beneath the foundation and it had probably been seeping up into the space for years. Which would explain why somebody, at some point in the past, had walled it up.

A faint clanging sound bounced through the space, pinging off the unseen walls of the formerly closed off area. Adam blinked, wondering where the sound was coming from. He stuck his head into the opening and, after a moment’s hesitation, stepped through.

Adam stood perfectly still for a moment but didn’t hear anything else. He figured he’d probably been hearing his crew outside gathering their tools after returning from lunch. Sound carried strangely in the ancient church. He’d even considered, once or twice late at night, that the place might be haunted by the spirits of old parishioners.

Cool, moist air lifted Adam’s hair and he grimaced at the foul stench. He squinted, trying to see something…anything…in the dank space. There was a total absence of light that was disconcerting. Even still, with the moist chill seeping into his bones and making him shiver, Adam couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching him.

Air whispered past again. He turned his head and jolted as something chirped.

“Rats,” he murmured with disgust. If they left the room exposed, he’d have to get an exterminator in. Maybe he should just wall it off again and pretend they hadn’t found it.

“No!”

Adam jumped, taking a step forward at the distant shout. “Is somebody in here?”

Silence throbbed in response.

He took another step and his foot bumped something. Hissing ensued and definite scurrying sounds. Adam turned and started out. He’d seen too many horror movies starring rats and had no intention of giving them a chance to nibble on him.

Heavy footsteps sounded on the steps beyond the room they were renovating and, a moment later Sandy strode into view. The lantern Adam had requested swung from his thick fingers. “Maddy’s here,” he informed Adam.

“Good. She can help me decide if we want to wall this thing back off.” Adam turned the lantern on. “Right at this moment I’m inclined to just pretend we never saw it.”

Adam lifted the lantern and its bright, cleansing light painted damp rock walls and a dirt floor. The wind sloughing through the void beyond the reach of the illuminating arc whistled past again, carrying a rotten meat stench with it. “Ugh. It smells like the rats have been bringing their treasures back to this roo…”

He stopped, his mouth hanging open. His pulse spiked and panic slipped along his spine. He wanted to turn and run but his feet were glued to the spot in horror.

Sandy moved up behind him, his bulk warm and reassuring. Until he screamed like a girl and turned tail to run.

Adam didn’t take long following him out.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Declan Sands writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Declan is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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