Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and How I’m Getting There

I’ve been through some very dramatic life altering changes over the last six years; from learning that I’m a sexual submissive, leaving an emotionally & verbally abusive marriage (on both our parts), and learning that I’m strong enough to get through any obstacle. I agree; that whole quadriplegic/chemotherapy incident at 17 should’ve taught me that lesson. But, that’s a story for another time, my friends.
In 2011, I began a memoir for a class. It started out as a writing prompt and became a journey to heal from my childhood. My original work was from a place of anger, pain, and hatred. I’ll be honest and admit that there are still times when those are my feelings with regard to the situations. However, I realized if I’m ever going to achieve the thing that I want the most then I have to look at the past through other perspectives than my own.

As an adult survivor of childhood abuse, I have wanted nothing more than the unconditional of my parents since I was 16. During that time I was placed in foster care; eventually ending up in a group home, then returning to my parents when my quadriplegia occurred. All this time, I’ve felt like my mother never loved me; she chose my abusive father over me. Over the years, I’ve tried to talk to her about the things that occurred in the past.Her go-to answer, “You’re an adult; just get over it. You can’t go around blaming all of your problems on me.”

What my mother never understood is that I always blamed myself for the things that occurred when I was growing up. I knew that it was wrong for my father to beat me and that that wasn’t my fault. What I couldn’t understand was why my mother never loved me and my father stopped loving me. I’m beginning to understand that my experiences aren’t the entire picture of my childhood; my sister’s experiences aren’t the same as my own. We all had a role to play; sometimes by choice, but other times the roles were thrust upon us.

Since September 26, 2015, I’ve been getting to know my mother as a person, a woman, an entity outside of our relationship. In some ways, I’m re-learning how to love her. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved my mother. I loved her in the way a child learns to love a parent. To this day, my mother has no idea how much I’ve craved her affection. As children, we forget that our parents aren’t perfect. Well, I wanted her to live up to the ideals that I had of how a mother should behave.

I always knew my mom had the potential to be a good mother. She and my sister have always had a really close bond. When things started to go horribly wrong with my father and my relationship; I attempted to reach out to my mother. I wanted to create a connection. Unfortunately, no matter what I did she excluded me from it. I saw this as confirmation of my belief that she hated me. Recently, I learned that my mother didn’t think I really loved her.I learned that part of the reason my mother stayed married to my father is because of the interaction I had with that woman at church.When I was around 4 or 5, a woman came up to me at church and said that I looked like my mother. I responded that indeed I did NOT, and I was my “daddy’s girl”.

I have an eidetic memory~which is pretty much a fancy way of saying; when I go to recall a memory I literally see a picture of it in my mind. Normally, it’s a really great thing to have. I’m sure it’s what’s made learning all the languages I’ve studied easier. I also have Hyperthesmia~ which is the ability to recall almost every day of my life in near perfect detail, as well as public events that hold some personal significance to me. If the events are positive then no harm, no foul. If the memory involves being chased down and being beaten with a wooden Louisville Slugger bat; it sucks to be able to remember every detail of the event. It’s part of the reason it’s taken so long for me to heal.

I’ve always used this blog as a way to communicate openly and honestly about my life. I’ve always known that I’m not the only person who is facing this distasteful and arduous battle. I’m well versed in the tools of survival. I know there are teens out there in abusive situations, and adult survivors that are still on their own journey to find reconciliation, and love for themselves and their families. If I can be a voice for those who are still too afraid to speak, or a light for a soul that has lost their way, then I will have done something remarkable.
Over the next year,  plan to use this blog as a sounding board, a way to clear my head, re-write previous memoir materials, and of course, a place of support for others previously and currently trying to overcome abusive situations.

Drop me a line if you have any questions….IMG_0143

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Red, White & Screwed by Holly Bush

Red, White & Screwed
By: Holly Bush
Releasing July 17th, 2014

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Blurb

Political strategist Glenda Nelson is having a meltdown. Her handpicked, very married Congressional candidate was just caught climbing out of the window of the Sleepytown Motel, and her philandering ex-husband seems to have the most to gain from the colossal scandal that follows. As Glenda attempts to salvage the campaign in a hotly contested race, conservative and liberal pundits pounce on the story to further their own agendas.Glenda’s love life is nonexistent to say the least, that is, until she meets handsome artist Chris Goodrich. Chris’s easy-going, carefree outlook on life couldn’t be more different than the 90-mph crazy train that is Glenda’s, but the more time she spends with him, the more she craves his calming presence, his sexy smile, and his steamy embraces. Is Chris worth taking a chance on?Between the pressure of full-blown spin control mode, rapidly declining job security, refereeing two teenagers, caring for aging parents, and spending hours on her therapist’s couch trying to get past her ex’s crushing betrayal, Glenda finds love and makes the long trek back to happy.

Link to Follow Tour:  http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/06/red-white-screwed-by-holly-bush.html 

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22589075-red-white-screwed 

Buy Links
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Red-White-Screwed-Holly-Bush-ebook/dp/B00LU2LLZA/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=holbusboo07-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=3NJWB26P4GZK2O5Q&creativeASIN=B00LU2LLZA 
B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-white-and-screwed-holly-bush/1119952197?ean=2940149766598 
Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/red-white-screwed 
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/red-white-screwed/id889657537?mt=11

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Author Info
Holly Bush writes historical romance set on the American Prairie, in Victorian England and recently released her first Contemporary Romance. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Connect with Holly at  http://www.hollybushbooks.com  and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.

Author Links
http://www.hollybushbooks.com/
https://twitter.com/hollybushbooks
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3378392.Holly_Bush
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Holly-Bush/247399131941435?focus_composer=true&ref_type=bookmark 

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card)
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Link to Rafflecopter Page,  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/NTIxYWM0YzhjYmFkNDc1MDkxYzA3ZDNmMjhhM2RjOjQwOA==/ 

No Apologies by Sybil Bartel

Book & Author details:

No Apologies by Sybil Bartel 
Published by: Carina Press (HQN)
Publication date: June 23rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:

Never apologize

Hard-edged rocker Graham Allen has it all. He’s flush with cash from playing bass in a band by night and restoring classic cars by day. And there are plenty of women willing to share his bed for a night, complication-free. Perfect, because if there’s anything he learned from his past, it was to never get attached—to anything. So when bartender Carly Sullivan flashes her innocent smile, Graham isn’t prepared for what happens next.

Never fall in love

Two rules, that’s all Graham has—never apologize and never fall in love. He knows Carly is everything he should avoid. Cheerful and sweet, she has “relationship” written all over her. But Graham can’t stay away from her probing questions and concerned blue eyes.

When Graham discovers Carly is hiding a crushing secret, he’s prepared to risk it all. Until in one single moment, everything changes and Graham’s past threatens to collide with his future. His life is crumbling down around him, and soon no apology in the world can save him.

He should’ve known to walk away.

91,000 words

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20926029-no-apologies?ac=1

Purchase

–Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I15VKWI/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00I15VKWI&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

–B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/no-apologies-sybil-bartel/1118327857?ean=9781426898532

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AUTHOR BIO

Sybil grew up in Northern California with her head in a book and her feet in the sand. She used to dream of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books about wistful summer days and first loves drew her into the world of storytelling. Her true literary love is the New Adult genre but really, any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful, makes her swoon.

Sybil now resides in Southern Florida and while she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, she still buries her toes in the sand. If she’s not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in her backyard, you can find her spending time with her handsomely tattooed husband, her brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer who stole her heart.

Author Links:

https://twitter.com/SybilBartel

http://sybilbartel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sybilbartelauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7893521.Sybil_Bartel

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Hidden Intenstions by Stacy Claflin

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Hidden Intentions by Stacy Claflin 
(The Transformed) 
Publication date: Summer 2014
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Synopsis:

Fun-loving Clara is keeping a dark and deadly secret from William, the love of her life.

Not because she wants to hide things from him, but because her story is so unbelievable he will probably think she’s crazy.

If she tells him, she could lose him. If she doesn’t tell him, she will.

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22081161-hidden-intentions

Purchase

–Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Intentions-Transformed-Standalone-Novel-ebook/dp/B00LDQB0OU/ref=la_B008AXCK1Q_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406561558&sr=1-7

–B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-intentions-stacy-claflin/1119882881?ean=9781498947145

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AUTHOR BIO

I love writing, reading, and watching most anything paranormal. My favorite shows include Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Pretty Little Liars, and Once Upon a Time.

I’ve been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my story telling would get me into trouble when I would try to convince others that my stories were real.

When I’m not busy writing, I spend time with my family. I also run a home preschool and educate my kids from home.

You can learn more about my current and upcoming books at StacyClaflin.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Author Links:

http://stacyclaflin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/stacy.claflin.author

https://twitter.com/growwithstacy

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6591338.Stacy_Claflin

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He was the youngest of our family to become a lawyer, but he was persecuted because he often took on clients who were accused of being witches. It was rumored that as a young man, before he met Anna, he had been in love with one of them. Some said he never truly got over her and that was why he—” William froze, staring at a picture.
“Go on.
Williams pulse quickened as he stared at the image. He had never noticed it before, but in the family picture, someone was hiding in the background, in between some trees. She appeared to be staring at the familyand she looked just like Clara.
“Son?
He shook his head, and mindlessly rattled off more facts about the pictures. He couldnt take his eyes off the girl that looked just like his girlfriend. If he didnt know better, he would think that girl could have actually been her. Throw on two hundred year old clothing, take off the modern makeup, and it really could have been her.
No one had ever noticed that girl in the picture before. William wasnt even sure how he was able to see it then. But now that he could see it, he couldnt take his eyes off her. All those years he had looked at the albums, how had he missed it?
Sally came in and announced dinner, and Williams dad took the album and put it back on his shelf. William couldnt stop thinking about the picture. He tried to convince himself that he was imagining it, but the image was burned into his mind, and he couldnt deny what was there.
Obviously, it was impossible for the girl to have been Clara. Could it have been one of her past relatives? How strange that her relative would be in the same picture as one of his.

Featured

Black Widow Witch by A. J. Locke

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Title: Black Widow Witch
Author: A. J. Locke
Release Date: 5/15/2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy

A deadly curse, a deadly assassin, and one shot to save everyone she loves…

Malachi Erami can’t fall in love. After she’s caught with Knave, the witch Queen’s favorite lover, she’s cursed to savagely butcher any man she falls for. Exiled to live among humans, Malachi runs a bar that serves magic-laced drinks, but since her curse labels her high risk, she’s also closely monitored. Julian Vira is her latest babysitter, but he’s also the first man since Knave that she’s been attracted to. Good-looking and nonjudgmental of her horrible curse? Yeah, he’s hard to resist.

  But when Malachi finds a body behind her bar, she knows she’s in trouble. If the Witches Control Council gets wind of it, she’ll be accused of murder and sent to her death. And when her friends start getting framed for murder, she realizes she’s not the only target. Malachi and Julian dig into the evidence to clear her name, but the closer they get to answers, the closer the curse comes to taking over. So when Malachi uncovers a plot to kill the witch Queen, she finds herself suddenly recruited into service, with the promise of having her curse lifted and a reunion with Knave as well. But if she fails, Knave will die. And she and Julian might not live long enough to see that happen.

Excerpt: Chapter One

Today was the anniversary of the worst day of my life, and I’d been trying to forget about it by consuming a vast amount of booze. The fact that I owned a bar greatly helped with that endeavor, and the fact that I was drunk was an accomplishment, since witches weren’t easily susceptible to alcohol. Humans were onto something with this whole drinking-to-forget-one’s-crappy-life thing.
Behind the bar, I poured a shot for an eager customer. Amaretto, Southern Comfort peach liqueur, and sweet-and-sour mix went into the glass, then I held my hand over the drink and let a stream of purple magic, the same color as my eyes, flow into it. The drink glowed purple for a few seconds, then I handed it to the customer, who drank it with no hesitation. After slamming the glass down, he grabbed the tipsy woman who’d been hanging on him and gave her a sloppy kiss, then led her out of the bar. I smiled and shook my head. The magic I’d put into the shot, aptly named Piece of Ass, would ensure they didn’t leave the bedroom tonight.

Somewhere in the room I heard riotous laughter, and above that the voice eliciting that laughter. Xiune was having a good night for a change and wasn’t holed up in my office. Though since she was just a head inside a clear acrylic box, it was understandable that sometimes all she wanted to do was hide.

“Malachi, darling!” Xiune called. “Seven handsome young men have requested the Challenge!” I smiled slyly. I loved administering the Challenge.

“It’s time for the Seven Deadly Sins Challenge!” I announced, filling up eight shot glasses with vodka, one of which I downed. “Which sin will it be and what will its victim do?” People shouted their guesses while I sent tendrils of magic into the shots. My magic sparked like tiny bolts of lightning, and like the shot I had just made, the liquid briefly glowed purple. I focused on one of the glasses and started whispering a spell, channeling the essence of one of the seven deadly sins through my body. For a brief moment, my body became flushed with a feeling of ravenous desire, then it flowed out of me into the shot glass. I felt rather charged and wondered if this had been the right sin to choose tonight. But hey, I was drunk, and I kind of wanted to see someone suffer. Misery loves company right?

I levitated the shot glasses onto a tray and sauntered over to the table where Xiune was entertaining the men who thought they were up for the Challenge. With her flawless complexion, golden eyes, and vibrant red hair, Xiune didn’t need a body to be beautiful. I’d known her when she had one though, and if she’d been sitting there in all her glory, she’d have every man kneeling at her feet. Her allure was only heightened by the fact that she was a bodiless beauty who used her magic to float herself around in a box. The box wasn’t necessary for Xiune to move around, but she felt safer inside it when she was out in public. That way if a witch hater spat on her, she’d have a shield. It also prevented those on the other end of the spectrum, people who were fascinated by witches, from getting too close. I set the shot glasses down and motioned for the men to stand around the table. They looked like your typical college fare: unkempt hair, sagging pants, and some sort of ironic or sports themed T-shirt. High-fives and shit talking all around.

“Now boys,” I said, leaning forward on my forearms, giving my cleavage time to shine. “Are you sure you’re ready for this? One of you is moments away from experiencing a sin you may or may not enjoy.” They assured me they were man enough to handle any sin, and I smiled. The fun thing about the Challenge was that everyone handled it differently. One man caught with gluttony had run across the street to McDonalds, spent over a hundred dollars on food, then sat on the floor and gorged himself. A woman under the same gluttony spell had tried to eat her friend’s purse.

“Let’s hope it’s lust and let’s hope it’s me,” one of the men said, winking at me. He stood a couple of inches over six feet, had brown hair and a lanky physique. If he started spending time at the gym, maybe his lame come-ons would give him more luck getting laid.

“Honey, I would eat you up,” I said with a slow smile. Normally I would never have said such a line, but all the alcohol I had consumed was speaking for me. He probably had no idea how true those words were though, because his smile never wavered. However, for a moment after I spoke, I saw another face in place of his, and it cut through my drunken haze like a knife. I gasped, and he must have thought that was a sign he had a chance with me, because his smile became more lascivious. Lucky for him, he did nothing for me.

“Malachi, let’s get this show going.” Xiune slid her box over to nudge me, and I shook my head and turned back to the waiting crowd.

“All right, it’s about to go down!” I yelled. “For anyone who hasn’t witnessed the Challenge before, I’ll explain how it works. One of these shot glasses is infused with the essence of one of the seven deadly sins, and the recipient will be overcome with that sin for the next half hour, while the others will experience the most euphoric feeling they’ve ever experienced from a shot of alcohol.” I motioned for the men to pick up a glass, and Mister Flirtatious had one more wink for me.

“Gentlemen, take your shot of sin!” They took their shots to the head. When they slammed their glasses down, every eye in the room was on them. After about twenty seconds, one of the men—not Winky—suddenly gasped, whipped his head around, and bolted from among his friends to accost a mildly attractive woman standing nearby.

“Fuck me! Fuck me, please!” He shook her by the upper arms while she stared at him, mortified, as his friends tried to pry him off her. I brayed with laughter, as did Xiune and everyone else in the bar.

“Oh god, I’m so horny. Someone please, fuck me!” He struggled against his laughing friends, trying to reach any female in sight, with his erection leading the way. Lust had been the winner tonight, and for the next thirty minutes this poor sap would be lusting after every woman he saw, whether she was twenty-eight or eighty-two. He even lurched toward Xiune, but she floated out of the way. Xiune was one sexy head in a box and had a mouth she could work wonders with. She often came out of her box to work those wonders on any willing man. There were more than you’d think.

“Right sin, wrong guy, right?” brown-haired dude said to me.

I rolled my eyes. “You and your friends will have your hands full for the next half hour. I suggest you hold on to him real good and don’t be surprised if he turns to one of you when it starts to look like he won’t be getting any women.”

He laughed and pulled out his cell phone. “I’ll call his girlfriend, though she’ll probably be too pissed at him for doing this to alleviate his lust.” He left the bar to make the call, while the other five continued to hold on to their friend, laughing like they’d never experienced anything so hilarious in their lives. Some of the more mischievous or drunk women teased the guy by parading in front of him and doing dirty little stripper moves. Only his friends’ hold stopped him from tackling one of them and trying to rip her clothes off.

I wasn’t afraid of things getting out of hand because I could break the spell any time I wanted. There was always a point where things stopped being amusing and started getting annoying. I left them and headed back behind the bar, while Xiune found another table of people to entertain. She was a wonderful songstress, and soon her melodic voice filled the bar as I went back to making magicked drinks. I glanced at my watch, noting that it was almost midnight, which meant the day was almost over. That didn’t actually mean anything though. The day passing didn’t mean I would forget the curse that was hanging over my life.

“Hey, Malachi, can you pass me a knife?”

“Knave?” I quickly turned to the busboy, James, who was bent over a box behind the bar.
“No, I said knife,” he said. My throat was suddenly tight, but I reached under the bar, got a knife, and handed it to him. I stood back and ran my hands through my short black curls, blowing out a slow breath as I tried to rein in my reaction to thinking I had heard the name Knave. That was the name attached to the face I did not like to think about, but no amount of alcohol and rowdy college boys taking the Challenge could truly put him from my mind. I didn’t want to see Knave’s face, didn’t want to think about the hard muscles my hands used to slide over, following the planes of his body to his waist and not stopping until I touched something that arched his back and made him whisper my name. I didn’t want to think about the nights we’d spent wrapped in each other’s arms, feeling our hearts beating against each other. But of course, since his name crossed my lips, he was all I could think about.

Falling in love with Knave was why I was cursed. And I could only blame myself. I should have known better than to take someone else’s lover to my bed. Especially if the woman crossed was a witch queen who was powerful, sadistic, and known to curse people just for sneezing out of place.
“Malachi? Excuse me, Malachi?” I blinked and brought myself out of my thoughts, turning to see that one of the other busboys, Dan, was trying to get my attention. He held a box of empty liquor bottles and needed me to move so he could pass. I shuffled out of the way, but thinking of Knave and my curse, along with all the beer and shots I’d drunk tonight, made me feel slightly unstable. Suddenly, the rowdiness in my bar wasn’t fun; it was obnoxious, and I wanted to get away from it. I headed through the door Dan had passed through, into the hallway that led to my office and the Dumpster out back. Halfway down the hallway, I heard a crash, followed by a scream. I ran through the back door, taking in several things at once that left me rooted to the spot. One, the revolting stench that went far beyond what our single Dumpster could give off. Two, Dan standing rigidly a few feet away with broken bottles scattered at his feet. And three, the thing that had caused him to drop the bottles and scream. Behind the Dumpster was a dead body.

Buy Links:
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Black-Widow-Witch-A-J-Locke-ebook/dp/B00KD43GUY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1400235454&sr=8-3&keywords=black+widow+witch
All Romance E-books http:// www.allromanceebooks.com/product-blackwidowwitch-1515482-140.html
Barnes & Noble http:// www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119529212?ean=2940149353361
Kobo http:// store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/black-widow-witch

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Authors Bio:
A.J. Locke is an author and artist, originally from Trinidad, now residing in New York City. Black Widow Witch is her second published novel, and other than writing she enjoys reading, drawing, painting, graphic design, and watching too much television.

Blog:  http://iqurae.blogspot.com/
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/pages/AJ-Locke/522250584507699
Twitter:   http:// twitter.com/maqueripe
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643885-black-widow-witch

Other books:

Affairs of the Dead http:// www.amazon.com/Affairs-of-the-Dead-ebook/dp/B00CF0OWAW/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366379644&sr=1-6&keywords=affairs+of+the+dead
Elemental Inferno http:// www.amazon.com/Elemental-Inferno-A-J-Locke-ebook/dp/B00GWO0Z26/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385425858&sr=8-1&keywords=elemental+inferno

First Time

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I’m feeling a little nervous today, but I’m also excited. I’m going to a party tonight, and I’ve been told I can cross off some of my bucket list items, lol. I really enjoy spending time with the couple that I’ll be staying with for the next few days.
I brought my walker with me this time; even though I know they couldn’t care less whether I am using it or not, I am still really self-conscious about it. I’d love to be able to say that I’ve gotten past the negative comments my ex made about my having Multiple Sclerosis, or basically isolating me in the house over the last few years. Unfortunately, I haven’t…I feel a little sting when someone stares at me while I’m using my walker.
I just realized that I won’t be able to take it, since another couple will be riding with us to the party. Honestly, I don’t use it if I’m just walking around my house. Plus, I’m sure that J. will help me get around if I need it.
J & K, are always very caring & will help with different positions to make sure I’m comfortable. One thing about having balance issues, is that it can be somewhat limiting when it comes to positions that I feel comfortable trying. For example, I don’t really like to be on top because it makes me nervous I might fall somehow, or even worse get a muscle spasm in my legs. Aside from being painful, it would be somewhat embarrassing to have an orgasm & then end up curled into a ball. The weather has been changing the last few days, it’s unseasonably cold. As a result my legs feel like they’re on fire (well at least the portion by my ass, anyway). If they continue to burn, that means I will most likely need to apply some Real Time Pain cream.
I don’t usually use topical meds, but ever since my friend sent me a sample packet, I’ve been using it when the pain becomes unbearable. Thankfully, it smells good. Can you imagine how akward it would be to go to a party smelling like Bengay? I’m pretty sure that would decrease my chances of having fun, and who goes to a party if they can’t have any fun?

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Hold Still by Lisa Regan

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SYNOPSIS of HOLD STILL by LISA REGAN
After saving her three-year-old daughter from a car-jacking, off-duty police detective Jocelyn Rush ends up in the ER.  The last person she expects to run into is Anita Grant, former prostitute and an old acquaintance from Jocelyn’s days on patrol.  In spite of her obvious injuries—mutilated hands and feet—Anita refuses to talk about what happened. Reluctantly, Jocelyn backs off, and Anita’s case goes to Philadelphia’s Special Victims Unit.
Before long, Jocelyn is pulled into the SVU’s investigation.  Anita is finally ready to talk, but only to Jocelyn. Her story is harrowing, even to a seasoned veteran like Jocelyn. Working with SVU, Jocelyn’s investigation unearths a series of similar crimes going back four years.  Three men are preying on local prostitutes, viciously assaulting and mutilating them. 
The police apprehend two of the suspects, but the third eludes capture. As the hunt for the most sadistic of the three intensifies, and his crimes escalate, Jocelyn and her colleagues have precious few leads.  Then a monster from Jocelyn’s past resurfaces.  She doesn’t want to be reminded of the terrible secret that destroyed her family nearly twenty years earlier, but the man offers her a lead that could crack Anita’s case. 
To solve it, Jocelyn must connect her past with her present—before a sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.

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CHAPTER 1

October 4th
Secrets and lies—even the most innocent of lives spring from secrets and lies. Jocelyn Rush’s blood froze in her veins when three-year-old Olivia asked, “Mommy, do I have a daddy?”
Jocelyn was grateful to be driving. Olivia couldn’t see her face from her car seat in the back. She couldn’t see the pallor and the hollow look that came over Jocelyn’s features. To buy time, Jocelyn said, “What did you say, baby?”
She glanced in the rearview mirror. Olivia’s gaze was turned toward the scenery passing by. Her eyelids were heavy, drifting closed and snapping back open every few seconds. Jocelyn was surprised she wasn’t already asleep. They had spent the entire day at Smith Playground where the two of them had slid down the giant wooden slide so many times, Jocelyn’s ass hurt. Olivia called it “The Whee” because Jocelyn yelled, “Whee!” every time they slid down.
With its indoor playrooms and extensive outdoor playground for children of all ages, Smith was one of Olivia’s favorite places to go on Jocelyn’s days off. Jocelyn liked it too because it was free. She worked full-time as a detective for the Philadelphia Police Department, but raising a child alone was costly. She had to cut corners where she could and free was always good.
“Do I have a daddy?” Olivia inquired again.
“Everyone has a daddy,” Jocelyn mumbled.
From the day Jocelyn had taken Olivia in, she’d known there would be questions about Olivia’s parentage. Why hadn’t Jocelyn’s sister, Camille, been able to raise her own daughter? Who was Olivia’s father? Why couldn’t she meet him—ever? Jocelyn hadn’t expected the questions to start so soon. She thought she’d have more time. She had imagined a teenager—or a tween, at least—demanding to know who her real parents were. She had envisioned a child old enough to understand violence and junkies. Jocelyn was lucky that no one ever questioned whether or not she was Olivia’s mother. Jocelyn and Camille both favored their mother; and Olivia—with her poker-straight brown hair, wide chestnut eyes, and straight nose—could pass as either one of their daughters.
“Raquel has a daddy,” Olivia said. “He’s a ‘older.” 
“A Soldier,” Jocelyn corrected.
“Soldier,” Olivia tried.
“That’s right, Raquel’s daddy is far away in Afghanistan.”
“Aftercan?”
Jocelyn said the word a few more times, far better prepared to answer questions about war in a foreign country than Olivia’s father. But Olivia’s attention had already waned, sleep finally claiming her. At that moment, Jocelyn felt the tightness in her throat ease as Olivia’s eyelids drooped.
Skirting the edge of Fairmount Park, Jocelyn took 33rd Street to Ridge Avenue. Three-story, brick row houses with mansard roofs and dormer windows sat opposite the park, many of which were burnt out or boarded up. Some had sagging porches and trash-lined sidewalks. The turrets and columns had long lost their aesthetic appeal. The larger homes gave way to two-story row houses with bay windows, most of which were painted in shades of brown and deep red. She passed Mt. Vernon Cemetery and drove down West Hunting Park Avenue, home to a slew of mammoth industrial buildings. Long abandoned, the broken glass in their windows was like fangs glinting at her as she passed. The streets narrowed as she drove down Germantown Avenue, but the houses and businesses looked no less desperate as she approached the Nicetown Tioga section of the city. She was grateful that the rumble of cobblestones and old trolley tracks beneath her tires did not awaken Olivia. Foliage closed in from both sides of the street as Jocelyn drew closer to the neighborhood where the mother of her best friend, Inez lived. Inez worked patrol in the 35th District. Her mother, Martina provided daycare for Olivia and Inez’s four-year-old daughter, Raquel, while Jocelyn and Inez worked.
Jocelyn lived in the Roxborough section of the city, but she had to stop at Martina’s house to pick up the treasured blanket that Olivia had left there the day before. They had only discovered it was missing last night. Olivia had thrown the tantrum to end all tantrums before finally falling asleep in Jocelyn’s arms on a wave of hiccupping sobs. There were a few tense moments when Jocelyn almost broke down and called Martina to see if she could pick up the blanket, but she stood her ground. People forgot things, left them behind. Olivia would have to learn that sooner or later. A night without her blanky would not kill her—and it hadn’t. Still, Jocelyn wasn’t about to go another night without it. Raquel was spending the day with her paternal grandparents. With no children to watch, Martina had gone to Atlantic City for the day, but she had promised to leave Olivia’s blanky in a plastic bag between her screen and front doors.
Chew Avenue was a busy street with wide single lanes of traffic in each direction and cars parallel-parked bumper to bumper on either side. As usual there wasn’t a parking spot within a three-block radius. Jocelyn pulled over and double-parked with her hazard lights flashing. Cars zipped around her vehicle without so much as a beep. In Philadelphia, double-parking was the norm. The blinkers were an added courtesy which most double-parkers didn’t even bother to use.
Jocelyn glanced at the house. The screen door was cracked just a little; and there was a flash of a plastic, yellow Shop Rite bag peeking out. She peered back at Olivia and paused a long moment to see if Olivia would wake up now that the car had stopped moving. But the snoring continued unabated. Jocelyn turned away from Olivia, catching her own smile in the rearview mirror. Just looking at Olivia made her grin. Most of the time, she didn’t realize she was doing it. It amazed her that this tiny person could be such a powerhouse of joy.
Unless she doesn’t have her blanket, Jocelyn thought wryly.
Jocelyn took a quick look up and down the street, gauging how long it would take her to sprint to Martina’s door and back. It shouldn’t take more than ten seconds. As a rule, she never left Olivia alone in the car—not even when she was paying for gas—but the door was only twenty feet away. It would be faster to run for it than to unfasten Olivia’s seat belt and carry her to and fro.
Jocelyn slipped her seat belt off and got out, closing the door softly behind her. She sprinted up the steps and snatched the bag from between the doors. As she turned back to her car, she saw the figure, just a blur in her periphery. Then her Ford Explorer drove off down Chew Avenue with Olivia in the back seat.
Jocelyn leapt off the steps and ran into the street.
“Olivia!” she screamed.
She had never run so fast, and was only vaguely aware of the other cars whizzing past, beeping and swerving to avoid her, expletives rolling out of the mouths of passing motorists. The Explorer made the first right onto North 21st Street and Jocelyn followed, arms and legs pumping, feet slapping the pavement, her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She reached for her gun but quickly remembered she didn’t have it. It was her day off.
“Dammit.” 
She was losing ground as the Explorer turned right onto Conlyn and out of her sight.
“Olivia!”
Every muscle in her body strained and screamed, her lungs burning. She turned the corner and almost wept with relief. The Explorer was stopped behind someone who had double-parked in the middle of the street. There wasn’t enough room for it to pass. The other car’s blinkers were on, the driver nowhere to be seen. For once, Philadelphia’s narrow side streets were a blessing instead of a curse.
Breathing heavily, Jocelyn approached the Explorer from the drivers’ side and opened the door. She didn’t look; instead she grabbed and grabbed until she had a handful of clothing. She pulled a skinny, punk kid—maybe nineteen or twenty—out of the car by his collar.
His face was pimpled with a patchy five o’clock shadow. His white-blond hair was greasy, a shock of it falling across his coal-dark eyes as he glared at her. “Hey, what the fuck are you—”
The whole world went silent. Jocelyn knew the kid was speaking, but she couldn’t hear anything. Her field of vision narrowed to his face. And when he met her eyes, for a brief, fleeting second, he looked afraid. Then Jocelyn hit him. She hit him again and again. He fought back, but his ineffectual punches glanced off her body; no match for her rage. By the time she was done, she had a few bruises and her right wrist throbbed, but she didn’t remember the particulars. She only remembered hitting him until he lay at her feet, unmoving. Her vehicle had rolled forward a few feet, bumping the rear of the car that was double-parked. A few people had come out of their homes. They stood on the pavement and on porches, staring open-mouthed.
Jocelyn’s hearing returned slowly. Her labored breath was deafening. She left the kid on the ground and pulled open the back door of the Explorer. There sat Olivia in her car seat, face flushed with sleep. Her little round face was relaxed, her mouth open. A strand of brown hair stuck to one of her cheeks. She sighed softly in her sleep, one tiny hand clutching Lulu, the pink beanie bear that accompanied them everywhere.
“Oh God,” Jocelyn gasped. She put her Explorer in park and then sat in the back, weeping uncontrollably. She dialed 911 on her cell phone.
“911. Where’s your emergency?”
Sobbing.
“Miss? Where’s your emergency?”
“Philadelphia. I want to report a carjacking.”

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BIO:
Lisa Regan is a crime fiction author.  Her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards 2013.  It was runner-up for Best Novel.  It was also a Digital Book Today Best of 2013 ebook selection.  In December 2013, Finding Claire Fletcher and her second novel, Aberration were #1 Amazon bestsellers in the Kidnapping and Serial Killers categories, respectively.
Lisa is a member of Sisters In Crime.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. 

ONLINE LINKS:
· Website –  http://www.lisaregan.com 
· Blog –  http://www.lisalregan.blogspot.com 
· Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Regan/189735444395923
· Twitter – @lisalregan
· Goodreads –  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6443334.Lisa_Regan

Buy Now
Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Still-Lisa-Regan-ebook/dp/B00J2BHONO/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398016036&sr=1-3&keywords=Hold+Still
B&N  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hold-still-lisa-regan/1118931695?ean=9781495206801

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