Exciting times with Cloaked Press

Hello Gentle Readers.

I have been trying to keep my personal writing career separate from my publishing company, but I have to share this with all of you. Cloaked Press has launched its first short story collection, Fall Into Fantasy 2017.

fallintofantasy

This collection features 13 authors from all over the world, giving us their take on Fantasy and all of its subgenres we could cram into the pages. Details on the authors can be found on the Cloaked Press website.

There is a story of a dwarf who can “hear” precious gems, a bookstore that can transport you to another world, magic, fairies, love, deals with demons, and a good old fashioned zombie story. I hope you will all take a moment to check it out, grab a copy if it interests you, and leave a review if you read it. If you know anyone who might be interested in our fantasy collection, please share the link.

Also, while we are excited at Cloaked Press about the release of our first collection, it is also time to start working on our next, Spring Into SciFi 2018. Submissions are open for this collection, and all details can be found here.

We have an email list with monthly giveaways and a special flash fiction story that comes straight to your mailbox. You can join our newsletter on the Cloaked Press homepage.

I hope that you will take a moment to check out Cloaked Press and what we have to offer. Keep reading everyone.

Advertisements

Book Review – The Prisoner (Shifting Isles Book 1) by G.R. Lyons

theprisoner
The Prisoner
Shifting Isles Book
G.R. Lyons
5 Stars

 

It made me think, laugh, and cry…

Lyons has woven a magnificent tale of oppression and redemption, loss and love, despair and hope.

Benash is a member of the Hawk forces, and second in command of Sonekha prison. Weighed down by the utter sameness of his routine and duties, Benash dreams of more. His ‘sinful’ desires echoed in the words of one of the men he arrests, “Haven’t you ever just wanted to have a choice?”

As his unswerving loyalty to the Elder’s commands begins to crumble, he takes a fateful trip down the forbidden right fork of the forest trail he walks to the prison each day. This decision would set him down a path he never dreamed of before when his path crossed that of Vorena, a rebel trying to escape the isle of Tanas for a better life on Agoran.

This chance meeting will change the course of both of their lives.

Lyons weaves a seamless world that one finds easy to feel could truly exist, from realistic climate to a religious system as believable as any existing in our own world.

She made me think, laugh, and cry with this book and I highly recommend you pick this book up immediately.

“The Prisoner” on Amazon

My previous interview with this amazing author can be found HERE.

Meet The Author Monday – MJL Evans

This week’s featured author is MJL Evans.  As usual we will have my comments/questions in BLUE with MJL in GREEN.
megan bio

Thank you for stopping by MJL. Let’s jump right in and talk about your first forays into the literary world.
I was read to growing up and I listened to audiobooks, so I believe this encouraged to be an avid reader from a young age.

What genre excites you the most? Any other favorites? 
I really enjoy horror, fantasy, literary fiction, and erotica, Basically if it sounds interesting to me, I’ll read it.

Sounds pretty eclectic. What made you decide to start writing your own stories?
I’ve been writing stories from a very young age, they were my favourite homework assignments. I was inspired by what I read. Books like Alice in Wonderland, Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, and Little Women, they all fed my imagination.

Wonderful choices. Do you consider yourself a writer of a specific genre, or do you dabble in several?
Not really, I like dabbling. I mix genres in my stories. For example, No Quarter: Dominium is a mixture of historical fiction, romance, adventure, suspense and humour. LIfe isn’t just one genre, so my stories develop into whatever seems most natural.

Characters do tend to take on a life of their own sometimes. How did your publishing journey play out?
I became an Indie Author starting in 2013. At the time I hadn’t written in many years, it was always something I wanted to revisit. What pushed me back into writing was a routine surgery that went wrong and I almost bled to death (sounds melodramatic, I know!). But what it did was made me reevaluate what was important to me and I’ve been writing like hell ever since! 

Well, that is exciting. I’m glad you recovered to bring your stories to life. Do you have any other interests you’d like to share?
I am also a visual artist who dabbles in acrylics, oils and watercolours. Also, I read a lot and cater to my two senior cats, who spend a lot of their time trying to push their way onto my keyboard!

Cats and keyboards, a pretty common foil to getting any writing done. Now you’re situation is a bit different than my previous featured authors, as you have a partner. Can you tell us about that?
I like writing my own stories, however, I’ve found that having a co-author is a great way to challenge my story ideas. We don’t always agree and sometimes I want to throw a thesaurus at his head, but it keeps the story-line fresh and ultimately makes the story better.

Great perspective MJL. I’m glad you stopped by and chatted with us today. If anyone would like to find more information, or buy one of MJL’s books, you can find her at all the links below.

Website
Facebook

Twitter @noquarterseries
Twitter @artistmjlevans
Instagram mjlevans

Wenches_Volume 1.jpg

And for any authors looking to be our featured author of the week, you can get details and sign up HERE.

Meet The Author Monday – Claire Buss

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have Claire Buss, whose dystopian debut, “The Gaia Effect” was launched in December of 2016. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Claire will be in GREEN.

gaiaeffect

Thanks for stopping in to chat with me today, Claire. Congratulations on your first novel. I wish you all the best with it. I understand you are a voracious reader. When did that love affair start for you?
I can’t remember not ever being a reader. It’s not something anyone in my family really does but I think being an only child until my late teens meant that I found adventure and friends in books. I devoured all the usual childhood classics especially things like the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Swallows & Amazons. I tore through the Redwall series by Brian Jacques and with my library card clutched in hand began to explore the sci fi and fantasy section of my library starting off with writers like Greg Bear & Piers Anthony. I had read classics like Dickens, Thackery & Shakespeare before I started secondary school and my English Lit teacher used to let me read my own books within the open set book as he knew that a) I’d already read it and b) I could answer intelligently about it. I still read as much as I possibly can, I’m a member of a real life and online bookclub as well as being a very healthy Goodreads member. I review everything I’ve read and I’m shooting for a goal of 100 books this year. So far I’ve clocked 12. I’m currently reading From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming, Lock In by John Scalzi, Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie, Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, Burmese Days by George Orwell, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe and LOTR by Tolkein with my little boy at bedtime. I love reading new stories, experiencing twists, happy moments, loss, meeting new characters, gasping out loud at events and I even like it when a book makes me cry my eyes out. You could say they are a passion of mine.

Very eclectic To Be Read pile there. What genre excites you the most?
Favourite genre to read is Sci Fi & Fantasy especially as that has such a huge umbrella and is spilling over into contemporary fiction which is fantastic. I also quite like a historical novel from time to time but I will read anything.

A kindred spirit. When I saw the description of your debut novel I had a feeling we had a lot in common. What brought you across the line from avid reader to writer?
I wrote a lot as a child, even ripping off LOTR as I’m sure many fantasy writers have. Then life got in the way and I stopped. In 2014 I walked past my library and noticed a poster about a writing workshop they were holding, I tried to get a place but it was full. Then about a week later I got an email saying I had a place at a second, overspill event due to the popularity of the course. One of the things the library was using the course for was to promote a writing competition called Pen to Print. I entered in 2015 and came second with my novel The Gaia Effect and part of the prize was to have your book published by New Generation Publishing. That happened in December 2016 and now I am currently editing a second book. Writing makes me happy and frustrates me and scares me but I love it.

I think you are right, fantasy authors all owe so much to Tolkein. He was a master of world creation. What an amazing way to get started with that workshop turning into a publishing contract. Dystopian is a popular sub-genre right now, is this something you are sticking with? Do you see yourself branching out?
Not yet – my first book is dystopian, post apocalyptic and sort of sci-fi ish but only because it’s set 200 yrs in the future with some advanced technologies. My second book, The Rose Thief, is humourous fantasy. I have also started working on a book about my book club and a short story collection called Tales from Suburbia. I’m currently flexing my creative muscles and dabbling at will.

So, we know you got your start with the contest at your local library, but tell us about your journey and where you are headed.
My novel The Gaia Effect is self published via New Generation Publishing. The Rose Thief will probably be e-booked using KDP I expect although I will go through the literary agent hoopla because you never know right? I did have some very positive no thank-yous for TGE. I blog regularly and have done for about five years and I’ve just started branching out into playwriting – just short ten minute plays atm but I am working on a one-act play currently.

Quite the repertoire of talents you are cultivating. When you aren’t pursuing your many projects, what do you do?
I am a stay-at-home mum looking after my hubby who is a policeman, our little boy (3.5) and step-kids at the weekend. My hobbies include reading, baking, occasionally running when the baking gets too much, watching sci fi/fantasy TV shows & movies, and crosstitching.

Sounds like you have enough to keep you busy even without writing. I do want to take a moment to ask you to pass along my thanks to your husband for his service as a police officer. I am a big supporter of those who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. I know you had another story you wanted to share with my readers, so I will let you get to it.
I got really scared when my first 10-min play got recorded and added to YouTube because I based the characters on people I knew. I suddenly thought what if they notice, come after me and lynch me??? Then I realised that I am the only person who knows who my characters are based on and provided I don’t do a like-for-like comparison no-one will ever be the wiser. So now I get to kill off anyone I don’t like – brilliant! But seriously, as a writer I can only base my stories around things I either know about or can imagine and that will always be based on and affected by the people in my life and their adventures so I’ll never be stuck for an idea.

That is one of the greatest perks of being a writer, getting to exact revenge on anyone through fiction. Probably safer and easier than any of the alternatives. Thank you again for stopping by Claire. If anyone wants to get more information on Claire and her varied projects, which I highly recommend, you can find her at the following links.

Website
Facebook
Twitter @grasshopper2407
Goodreads

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Launching Cloaked Press

Today, my Gentle Readers, I began the process to launch my own publishing company, Cloaked Press. You can see my Kickstarter project by Clicking Here

My goal with Cloaked Press is to publish two short story collections a year by collaborating with other authors. The Fall edition will be focused on Fantasy. Be it Epic or Urban, High or Paranormal; I love them all. For the Sprung Edition the focus is on Science Fiction: AI, space exploration, aliens, and technological warfare in cyberspace. 

My goal is ambitious but completely doable with your help. Share the link, tell your friends, and if you are so inclined, pledge a donation to the project. 

Thank you so much for all your support of my blog and I hope to bring you even more great stories and content in the future. 

Meet The Author Mondays – K. C. Blackbyrn

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have self published Fantasy author, K. C. Blackbyrn, who released her first book, “Stirring Power“, late last year with the paperback going live early this year. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and KC will be in GREEN.

StirringPower.jpg
KC, thank you for stopping by to visit with us today. Exciting times for you with the launch of your first book. What brought you to the literary world?
I was dedicated to the outdoors as a child, but then my mother sat me down and gave me a book to read. It was a fantasy book (I believe, as I was too young to remember properly). Ever since then, I read so much that I had glasses by age nine and the local library felt like my personal lounge. I’ve been reading libraries ever since (until I became a writer, that is).

Reading libraries huh? Never seems to be enough time for reading in my opinion. What’s your favorite genre?
Fantasy with a little romance mixed in has always been the genre that gets my brain gears going. Lately though, I bounce between fact, romance, and fantasy.

Fantasy is my favorite as well. I don’t mind a little mushy stuff. Haha. Is there a specific event that brought you across from reading the stories of others to writing your own?
I had been an avid reader for a few years at this point. I fell into a slump where I couldn’t find any books that interested me right away. I began to search the library lists and my search keywords became more and more elaborate until finally I decided I would write down on a word document what I really wanted to see in a story. That became a story itself.

That’s a good way to get started. Stirring Power is clearly a fantasy novel. Is this your passion or are their other works stirring around in your head?
I consider myself a fantasy novelist right at this moment because at this moment I’m devoting 100% of myself to fantasy stories. However, in the future there are some novels I would like to write that are in the romance and the thriller genres.

With your first book launched, what can you tell us about your journey to the world of being a published author?
I’m still a fledgling author so I believe my journey thus far is similar to most beginning self-publishers. Once my story was finished I tried to teach myself to market my book to agents. Having failed a few times I did some research and realized that self-publishing would allow for more freedom and so decided that was the path I wanted instead.

Self publishing does seem to be the wave of the future. The big publishing houses don’t seem to want anything but the same old big names. What interests do you have outside of reading and writing?
When not writing, I have a passion for martial arts. I currently practice Kung Fu, but have a previous black belt in Karate. Other than that, I have many “smaller” hobbies like crochet and taking walks, but my day job takes up a lot of my time so I usually have to put those smaller activities aside.

It’s always good to have a balance. I have heard that martial arts teach a lot about self discipline and perseverance, both traits handy for an author. Did you have anything funny you wanted to share with my readers before you go?
Something you might not know about me is that I have a horrible sense of direction. I’ve lived in the Seattle city for five years and I still need to look up directions to get where I’m going.

Thankfully in this digital age we have a map and gps system readily available on about any modern phone. Good luck with your book launch. It looks like one I will have to add to my ever growing To Be Read pile.

For anyone looking to find out more about KC and keep tabs on her progress with Book 2 in her series, you can locate her at the following links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Beginnings, Family Heritage Volume 1 – Free Chapter 1

Here is Chapter 1 of my book. If you like it you can pick it up on Kindle or paperback.

Amazon Link http://goo.gl/0X5kYc

Chapter 1

James Michael Keller, are you still in bed?” Sally called as she started up the stairs with a basket of towels for the bathroom her two children shared. A few strands of her auburn hair had come loose from her very utilitarian ponytail and she brushed them back with a hand as thin as the rest of her. It must be where her kids get their lean frames from, as their father had been a broad shouldered man. Connie, her daughter, was up and off already to meet a group of girls for cheerleader practice. Her son however, hadn’t stirred since turning in early the night before. She had been growing increasingly concerned over the past two weeks as Mike seemed to withdraw even more while he fought off periodic but severe headaches. They had started mild in the beginning; popping an aspirin would take care of it with no problems. After two weeks though, the headaches were getting worse.

She turned the corner into his room and found him buried under his blankets with the pillow over his head. He had described one of them as the slightest sound being like standing next to a concert speaker and dim light like staring into the sun. Concern etched her face and clouded her brown eyes to see him like this. She drew his light blue curtains tight, the rush of air causing her auburn hair to flutter, but it barely helped shade his room. The rest of his room showed signs of clutter, odd for her oldest, with piles of clothes and books scattered all over the room. To a mother’s trained eyes, it was a clear sign. To this particular mother, it sent her mind to darker thoughts she had hoped she would never have to contemplate.

Why so loud?” she heard her eldest child mutter as he emerged from beneath the blankets. Through squinted eyes he took a couple sips from a glass of water she had left on the little wooden end table when she had brought him a dose of aspirin last night. Each excursion from under the pillow to retrieve the glass felt to Mike like mentally preparing himself to enter a firing range. ‘Not that Mike is overly tanned, but he is looking paler than usual this morning,’ Sally thought to herself. What she had been able to catch of his expression was haggard, pain marring his features. That too made her think back to her childhood and what she had witnessed.

Shaking off her dark thoughts, she stepped over closer to her son. “Put some clothes on, we are going to the clinic downtown to see if they can figure out what is going on,” she whispered, patting what would have been his shoulder as he retreated back into the darkness under his heavy comforter with a sigh. She then left him to get ready while she put the towels away. By the time she was halfway done she could hear him stumbling around. ‘Good,’ she thought, ‘maybe it isn’t what my brother fears it is after all. My poor baby.’

The first challenge for Mike was actually getting dressed with his eyes pressed shut, moving about like a blind man. Knowing he had left a t shirt and a pair of blue jeans on the chair next to his desk, Mike groped his way in that direction. His hands connected with the fabric and he pulled the familiar items over his body. Retrieving his glasses from the nightstand proved only slightly more difficult. As he opened his dark brown eyes slightly, he flinched and closed them before taking a deep breath. Luckily he had slept in his socks and just had to slip on his tennis shoes before he could declare himself ready to face the outside world. He ran his fingers through his stringy dark brown hair and sighed again. He glanced at the mess in his room and knew he needed to straighten up. Clutter always bothered Mike, and his room was starting to look decidedly like his little sister’s.

Concentrating on feeling his way down the hall toward the stairs with his hands and feet, Mike found that the headache subsided slightly the more he focused on his other senses. By the time he reached the end of the hall he was able to crack his eyes open to momentarily navigate the stairs. Upon reaching the bottom of the staircase he almost felt normal and gave a small cheer before the headache slammed back into place just as hard as before. The sudden reappearance of the pain nearly sent him to his knees, but he clutched the banister for all he was worth, while he got his breathing under control. The only witness to his brief respite and near fall was the multitude of family pictures that lined the hallway and staircase. Mike found himself staring at a picture of his grandfather with his mother and uncle. It seemed like his grandfather was staring encouragement at him from the dark frame.

Mike stumbled towards the garage where his mother was already cranking up the car. The whole drive in was an experience in torture for Mike as he kept his eyes pressed firmly shut behind his thick glasses; shielding his eyes with hands to prevent even the little bit of light that shined on the back of his eyelids. Squinting his eyes open barely enough to walk without tripping over his feet; Mike cautiously made it into the office. For once when his mother hovered close by, keeping a hand on his arm, he didn’t feel embarrassed and was grateful for her assistance. He was also grateful she didn’t say anything till they were inside and then only whispered their names to the nurse, asking quietly if she thought they could be seen right away.

The sterile off-white walls of the clinic, with its harsh fluorescent lighting, were no better than the outside world or his room. The nurse on duty took one look at the pair of them and ushered Mike and his mother into a smaller room while she went to track down the doctor, dimming the lights on her way out. She could tell by the concern etched on Sally’s face that this was a mother who was greatly worried. Mothers like that can be known to overreact sometimes when their children were in pain. The nurse knew that ‘mother bear instinct’ well herself. She whispered that it would just be a moment for the doctor to finish up another patient.

Soon enough a balding, older man came into the room, and having been warned of the condition of the patient, whispered quietly that his name was Dr. Miller. Dr. Miller wasted no time getting to the bottom of the situation as he saw it. The nurse had said that the way Mike was holding his head it looked very much like the migraines she herself experienced from time to time.

So, let’s take a look and see what we can see, shall we?” whispers Dr. Miller, retrieving a small pen flashlight and motioning for Mike to move his hands from his face. After checking for pupil dilation Dr. Miller quickly scribbled some notes on Mike’s chart. He then pressed his fingers around Mike’s temples and forehead, checking for any swelling or a fever. “OK, so, what would you rate your pain as and where does it seem to be located specifically?”

I would say it is at least an eight doctor,” Mike whispered in response, thinking over the second part of the Doctor’s question. “It seems like it is right behind my eyes and lower forehead. Like a jackhammer is going off, but it’s just the pressure, no sound.”

Nodding, Dr. Miller made a few more notes on his chart. “Is there any family history of hypertension, sinus infections, or migraines? I know my nurse said you looked how she feels when she gets hers, but I have to rule out all other options as well.”

My brother got them for a while when he was in his teens,” Sally spoke up quietly, the worry in her voice touching her brown eyes. “I think it might be a pattern in my side of the family, but my husband never mentioned suffering from anything of the sort before he passed away some years ago.”

My condolences Mrs. Keller,” Dr. Miller said softly before turning back to his notes. “I think we will try a more targeted type of pain medication designed for migraines. If this works, we will leave it alone but if it doesn’t help, we will test for everything else. Will be just a moment while I write up a prescription and get you a sample from the pharmacy here in the building.” He patted Mike on the shoulder softly and then went to the pharmacy the clinic had and retrieved a small white pill and a glass of water for his patient. He encouraged Mike to finish the whole glass of water to ward off any dehydration, while he wrote the full prescription. Lastly, Dr. Miller left the two Keller’s alone while he went to get the paperwork filed and move on to his next patient.

Sally turned to her son, concern marring her face and causing her forehead to wrinkle. “At least it sounds like we have something to help,” she whispered, wrapping an arm around her son’s shoulders. She kissed the stringy brown hair on the top of his head like she used to do when he was a kid. Normally Mike would pull away when she did this, but for once it felt good to be comforted by his mother. The headaches had felt like his head was going to split in two from the pain. Mike took strength from his mother’s comforting, as he knew he was going to have to face the sun outside for them to get to the corner drugstore for the rest of his prescription. He had only taken the pill a few minutes ago, but it already seemed to be better. Perhaps it was knowing that someone was doing something to really help him that was making him feel like the headache was already subsiding. Bracing himself, Mike stood and walked back out to the car with his mother.

Not quite two hours after leaving home, they were standing in the pharmacy down the block with a prescription for migraines. The pill Mike had taken at the clinic had really started to work while the pharmacist was making up the bottle to take home, giving Mike a much needed sense of relief. He was finally able to open his eyes without pain for only the second time all day. With a warning not to take them any more often than was prescribed, the man handed the little paper bag over to Mike’s mother. Able to function more or less normally by the time they got home, Mike grew excited about the prospects of a Saturday night not spent locked away in the dark.

With his mother’s blessing he grabbed his cell from his room and made a quick call to his best friend Darrell, who revealed that everyone was gathering at Tony’s, as was the usual. Darrell said that he would pick Mike up around six. Unbeknownst to Mike, his typical night out would become very far from typical. Mike spent the rest of the afternoon reading for his English Literature class and then about five started getting ready for Darrell to arrive at six.

What’s up man?” Mike asked, sliding into the shotgun seat at five after when his friend Darrell pulled into the drive. In the pocket of his blue jeans was a small plastic bag with a pill in it in case the headache started to come back. Thankfully things were still blessedly peaceful with the wrecking crew that had been working in his head earlier. Mike pulled his seat belt around and buckled in before turning to look at his friend.

Same old shit just a different day,” his pale friend laughed, throwing the car in reverse and backing out of the driveway. Darrell barely glanced over his shoulders to make sure no one was coming from either direction, his shaggy black hair swinging back and forth with the motion. “I thought you were down for the count, though. What changed?” Darrell was giving Mike a sidelong glance filled with concern. Darrell had seen firsthand the pain that his friend had been experiencing but was very glad to see a measure of improvement from the day before at school.

Mom dragged me to that walk-in clinic downtown,” Mike replied patting the pocket of his faded blue jeans. “I got a prescription for something to combat the migraines. At least, that is what they think they are. All I know is that I don’t want to give myself a frontal lobotomy with a power drill from the pain anymore.” Mike’s hand rested on his pocket where the pill was contained, almost as if the near contact could make the pain stay away.

Fun fun,” Darrell said casually as he steered towards Main Street. Tony’s was a combination restaurant and pool hall that catered to the young and old alike. Mostly serving burgers and fries along with soda or beer by the pitcher; it was just about the only decent place to hang out in the city for teenagers. A typical Friday or Saturday night was filled with greasy food and a few friendly games of pool while the jukebox cranked out the current Top 40 hits.

The two friends got about halfway across town when a sudden spike of pain shot through Mike’s temples, causing him to close his eyes reflexively. His flinch caused Darrell to take his eyes off the road to glance concernedly in his friend’s direction. With his eyes closed, Mike saw them entering the intersection just as two cars came barreling through on the cross street; drag racing from the looks of it. The first belonged to the school’s star quarterback, Kevin Robinson. From the bird’s eye perspective he had, Mike saw the car, a custom Mustang you couldn’t mistake, plow into the passenger side door of Darrell’s beat-up white Cutlass. It was so surreal that Mike only vaguely noticed he could see clearly their high school logo on the ball cap Kevin had covering his short cropped dark blonde hair. A mild panic attack set in as he thought it had already happened and this was some sort of ‘out of body experience’. Fearing that he was dead or dying, Mike could barely breathe.

Stop the car, NOW!” yelled Mike as his eyes snapped open and he saw the intersection rapidly approaching. Without thinking he slammed his foot down as if he was hitting a brake pedal of his own and the car started to lurch as it fought to slow down. Mike pushed both hands against the dash to stop from falling forward, the seat belt starting to tighten. He felt a tingling sensation in his foot, but he was too panicked to focus on that at the moment as he watched his friend react to his warning.

Instinctively Darrell slammed on the brakes and the car skidded to a stop just before passing into the green light intersection. To the blaring of a horn behind them from someone who almost hit them in the rear end, Darrell followed where Mike was looking ahead. The horn blower stopped as they saw what the two friends did, which was two cars rip through from the cross street regardless of their light being red. Kevin’s black Mustang must have been a mere two or three feet from the front of Darrell’s car as he went by doing some obscene speed. A shiny two door red sports car neither of them recognized was in the farther lane and right on Kevin’s right rear quarter-panel; trying to gain ground. The cross street, while it came into the middle of town, originated in the outskirts of the county, an area known for its late night parties and drag racing. Normally they don’t come all the way into town, but Kevin and his opponent must have not been paying attention.

Son of a bitch. That was close,” Darrell muttered, clearly shaken. He ran the fingers of one hand through his not quite shoulder length hair while the other was white knuckled to the steering wheel. He cautiously eased forward into the intersection and they continued on their way. Mike had ridden passenger with Darrell driving ever since his friend had gotten his license last year, and never had Darrell been the poster child for safe driving. He was always forgetting to use his signal, or pushing five or ten miles over the speed limit even on city streets. The rest of the drive across town however, he kept it under the speed limit and never failed to alert others of his intention to change lanes farther in advance than was recommended. It was as if he was shooting a safety video for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

______________________________________________

Sally dialed her brother’s cell phone as soon as the dial tone clicked through. She was watching from the window as her only son left with his friend Darrell for a night at the local hangout. While glad that he was going out, she really wished Darrell would be more careful when he drove. She watched as her son’s friend barely paused before backing into the street. He never really pays as much attention as he should, she thinks, lost in thought a moment, before realizing that her brother has picked up.

Sally, is that you?” James was asking for the third or fourth time. He hardly spoke to his niece and nephew except around their birthdays or holidays, so he assumed it was his sister calling him. No one seemed to be on the line however. “Mike, Connie? Did one of you call me by mistake?” For a moment concern gripped him and he squinted his eyes, wishing he could ‘see’ who was there like his father had described from time to time being able to do.

James,” Sally said, realizing he had picked up. “I just wanted to tell you that I took Mike to the doctor this morning. They gave him a prescription for something to combat his migraines. I know you think it is this whole family legacy thing, but the doctor seemed sure it was migraines.”

Sally,” James said, only a little exasperation slipping into his voice. He had told his sister some of the information he had received in the form of a letter he found from their father, but not all of it. The main point was that the family tradition would continue with her son, Michael. “You know what our father wrote. That Mike was going to continue our tradition because I cannot have children of my own. I know you don’t want him to be a part of this world, but I do not think there is any choice in it for any of us.” He brushed his free hand through his close cropped dark hair.

I still hope the both of you are wrong,” Sally spat back, before recovering her composure. “I know it isn’t your fault James. I know you are just trying to be supportive. But this thing in our family has already taken our father and my husband. It drove mom to senility well before her time because she learned too much. Why does this have to happen to my baby?”

I wish I could take it away from him Sis, I really do,” James spoke calmly. His family’s special gifts had been costly this last generation. “We just have to trust that dad knew what he was doing when he said I would have to be ready to guide Michael when he was ready. I have made all the preparations I can on this end. Another week or two and everything will fall into place and I will call him up and ask him to come spend the summer with me. After that, he has his own decisions to make.”

I know,” Sally nearly whispered. “Thanks James, for taking care of him. Give Jenny my love OK? I gotta go get started on something for Connie and I to eat for dinner. She should be home shortly from her day with the girls on the team.”

Take it easy Sally,” James said as he hung up the phone, looking across the room at his wife. “Sally sends her love. She is worried about Mike.”

I know hun,” Jenny says to her husband as she finishes cutting up some fresh fruit they picked up that afternoon. “I know she is worried, but we will take good care of our nephew. I am so excited to have him come to visit.” Her green eyes shined with excitement.

I know,” James replied, smiling at his wife’s enthusiasm. He walked up behind her and, after pushing her long brunette locks out of the way, planted a kiss on her neck. “I am going to take a walk. I’ll be back in time for dinner”

Their lack of children had been a heavy burden initially, but through her volunteer work with the local youth, she had a lot of nieces and nephews to call her Aunt Jenny. Their nephew coming to visit would be the closest thing to having a child in the house they have ever had though. Timing it so that his office assistant would be taking maternity leave during the summer Michael turned eighteen had been difficult to say the least. At least that family would have children of their own, a dream he will never get to experience. He hugged his wife briefly before heading out the back door to take a walk through the woods around their property.