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Posts tagged ‘Suspense’

Tatia’s Tattoo – Read Chapter 4 Here!

For the next few weeks I will be sharing the first several chapters Tatia’s Tattoo. Links to previous chapters are at the end of this post. Following is Chapter 4. Chapter 5 will be posted on Sunday.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

CHAPTER 4: WELCOME TO CAMP

Tatia inched down the aisle of the MD-88 behind a tangle of arms, legs, and luggage wheels as the late-boarding passengers vied for limited overhead bin space. Her nose told her that at least one of her fellow passengers had opted for a heavy spritz of cologne in lieu of a shower, and she was grateful when she realized she was passing rather than sitting by the offender. The aroma of brewing coffee soon overpowered the unpleasant smell as Tatia moved back toward the galley. Her travel agent usually arranged seats closer to the front of the plane, but apparently the Dallas-Ft. Worth area was a popular destination this time of year. Thankfully, though, her seat was by the window on the two-seat side of the plane so she would only disrupt one person if she needed to move around during the flight.

By some miracle, Tatia found a vacant spot where her suitcase fit with a minimum of shoving, and she slid into 29E just as the stewardess began to encourage the stragglers to take their seats. Her traveling companion for the next two and a half hours was already plugged into the tunes she had stored on her phone, so Tatia pulled out her notebook before sliding her shoulder bag under the seat in front of her.

She had received the resource notebook the second time she went to Royal Children’s Camp, that time as Deborah Grochowsky’s staff assistant. The neatly typed pages, organized into sections by printed dividers, belied the emotions behind the words – words that attempted to prepare the volunteer camp workers for the intensity of the feelings they would experience as they encountered innocent victims of childhood abuse and sought to impact their lives with the love and acceptance they wanted and needed.

When she opened the purple vinyl cover, her eyes fell on the two index cards in the inside pocket. After her first year as a counselor instead of a staff assistant or teen helper, Tatia was allowed to forego the training weekend with the understanding that she would review the notebook on her own. Each spring, she received any material revisions along with two cards, one for each girl she would fall in love with during their week together. The cards contained scant information – first name, age, and pertinent information. Notations might include *New, *Bed Wetter, *Runner, or *Night Terrors, and almost all of them included *Meds. This year, both her girls were on medications, and one was new, but neither had other issues. One was eleven years old, and the other was twelve. She preferred to work with the older girls, always hoping she might create life-changing moments and somehow save them from making the mistakes she had made.

She whispered a prayer for the two precious children whose lives had been reduced to words on cards, praying that by this time next week they would both know how special they were to God and to her. She thought about Monday when each child would step off the bus, timidly looking around for an unfamiliar face and a welcome sign with his or her name, indicating that, at least for the next five days, she belonged. She smiled as she thought of the signs she had made over the years, signs on neon-colored poster board lettered with sparkly letters cut from sheets of adhesive foam, all supported on stir sticks from the paint store.

These silly signs represented so much to these who had so little, and that’s why the entire staff jumped around like crazy people as the buses approached, yelling and waving signs, anxious to see the fearful expressions melt into relieved smiles as the thought registered, Oh, that’s my name! That’s also why she was flying in a day earlier than absolutely necessary – so she could spend a couple of hours in the middle of piles of art supplies, cutting out sparkly letters.

Tatia thought back to the summer Ms. Dunham had arranged for her to go to camp. The day they left, she and her foster siblings were so excited and full of chatter that even Josie’s threats of making them stay home if they didn’t settle down couldn’t dampen their spirits. However, as soon they climbed aboard the bus and confronted a sea of tense, wide-eyed faces, their smiles faded, and they froze in place until Tatia pushed them all toward the back where they squeezed together onto two seats across the aisle from each other.

By the time they reached the camp, the younger ones were whimpering and begging to go home. Then, they noticed a commotion in front of them as the other children crowded close to the windows in spite of admonitions from the adult riders to stay seated.

“Look! Look!” they shouted excitedly as they pointed and pressed their noses to the glass.

Curious, Tatia and her crew moved to the right side of the bus and craned their necks to see what had sparked life into everyone. What they saw was a large group of people from teens on up, all smiling and jumping, waving their arms or signs, laughing and shouting. The signs had names in large letters, and some of the letters were sparkly.

“Look! Shelby! That’s my name!!” shouted one excited little girl.

“Yes, campers,” said one of the adults. She had given up trying to keep them in their seats, and she seemed as excited as the people outside. “All this excitement is for you, to welcome you to camp. As soon as the bus stops, gather up anything you brought on the bus with you. When you get off the bus, there will be camp grandparents, aunts, and uncles to help you look for a sign with your name. The person who is holding that sign will be your counselor for the week. Your counselor will take you to lunch and then help you find the rest of your luggage. Welcome to Royal Children’s Camp. Get ready to have fun!”

As she finished speaking, the bus lurched to a halt, gently tossing everyone against the seat in front of them. No one seemed to mind, though, as the sense of excitement spread. Tatia herded her little group toward the door, making sure nothing had been left behind. She was halfway down the aisle when she felt a tug on her shorts. She turned to see her youngest charge, looking scared and smearing tears across her cheeks with the backs of her hands.

“Tatia,” she wailed. “how will I find my name? I can’t read.”

“It’s okay,” Tatia said, kneeling beside her and picking up the ragged, stained blanket she had dropped on the floor. “I’ll help you.”

“How about I help her,” she heard someone say. “And how about you go find your counselor and start having a good time.”

Tatia looked up into a pair of twinkling gray eyes that were so full of life and joy that she couldn’t help smiling back. “Well, that’s very nice, but…”

“I know. Your mom told you to watch out for the little ones, right?”

“Yeah.”

“But that’s not your job this week. Your job is to be a kid and have fun.”

“But you’re a kid,” she said, still a little bit unsure.

“Well, yeah, but I’m sixteen, and I’m one of the teen helpers. My name is Jesse. See. It says so right here,” he said, showing her the badge he wore on a lanyard around his neck. Then, he smiled and held out his hand. Reassured by his easy-going manner and the small heart and cross tattoo on the inside of his forearm, she took his hand, and he pulled her to her feet.

“Thanks. My name’s Tatia, and this is Kaley.”

“Hi, Kaley,” he said, squatting down by the five-year-old who, by this time, had her thumb in her mouth and the corner of her blanket lying against the side of her face. “I’m Jesse, and I can read. Can I help you find your name while Tatia goes and finds hers?”

Kaley stared at him silently for a few seconds before nodding and putting her free hand in his.

“Do you have anything on the bus besides your blanket,” he asked her. She continued to stare at him seriously as she slowly shook her head. “Okay, let’s go,” he said as he led her toward the front of the bus. After a few steps he stopped and looked back at Tatia. “The counselors for the older kids are over there,” he said pointing past the driver. “Have a great week. See ya’ around.”

By the time she did a final check to be sure she wasn’t leaving anything, Jesse and Kaley were gone. She smiled to herself, thinking that she liked his eyes and his smile. He was almost as cute at Eric.

# # #

Want to read more? Buy the complete book on Amazon in either digital or paperback.

Preface and Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

Blessings,

Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo – Read Chapter 3 Here!

For the next few weeks I will be sharing the first several chapters Tatia’s Tattoo. Links to previous chapters are at the end of this post. Following is Chapter 3. Chapter 4 will be posted on Thursday.

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CHAPTER 3: CONVERSATIONS WITH AN ANGEL AND A BIKER

“Are you sad?” said a little voice.

It took Tatia a minute to realize that the voice wasn’t in her head but was coming from Angel who was standing in front of her, staring up into her face. She smiled at Angel, wiping away the wetness from her cheeks.

“No, sweetheart. I was thinking about a time when I was sad, but I’m happy now.”

“Me, too!” said Angel, rocking from one foot to the other. “I’m going on an airplane to see my grandma.”

“I’ll bet she’s happy about that, too,” said Tatia.

“Yeah. Are you going to see your grandma and make her happy?”

“No, sweetie. My grandma is with Jesus now, and I’m sure she’s happy there.”

“Yeah, Jesus makes people happy. I gotta go now.” Angel turned toward where her parents were sitting.

As Angel skipped away, Tatia thought about her grandmother. She did the right thing and took Tatia into her home – she always did the right thing – but she never grew to love her granddaughter. Maybe it was because her heart was broken over the loss of her only son, or maybe she was filled with the guilt of her daughter-in-law’s suicide. Regardless of the reason, she rarely spoke to Tatia or even looked at her. She stopped going to church and eventually withdrew into the safety of her bedroom where she surrounded herself with photo albums and memories.

One day a neighbor dropped a bag of groceries on the way from the car to the house. A careless grocery clerk had put a half-gallon of orange juice in the same sack with a bag of cereal. The heavy juice landed on the cereal, and the bag burst, scattering toasted O’s across the driveway and the lawn. The frustrated homeowner hurried into the house and returned with a broom and dustpan, hoping to sweep up the mess before she had a mass of ants to deal with. She was shocked when she saw a dirty and unkempt five-year-old girl kneeling on the driveway, stuffing handfuls of cereal into her mouth as fast as she could.

The neighbor brought Tatia inside and sat her down at the table with a real bowl of cereal, a piece of toast, and a glass of milk. Then she began making phone calls. Within hours Grandma had been taken away in an ambulance, and since she had no other living relatives, Tatia became a ward of the State, one more homeless child in the foster system.

Tatia’s phone simultaneously vibrated and chimed, jarring her out of the past. She looked up, surprised at the crowd that was now packed into the waiting area and the line that was beginning to form in front of the tunnel entrance. Then, she looked down at her phone and smiled at Jesse’s latest text.

Are you there yet?

Still at the gate, she typed.

Better get going, Girl. I’m halfway there!

Ha! That ancient hog probably isn’t out of Ohio yet.

Did you pack your boots?

No room. Wearing them. Should be in sandals. You better have a good reason!

Maybe. Maybe not! You’ll see!

Tatia had been ignoring the annoying announcements of the gate agent, but the words “Boarding all rows” finally caught her attention.

Final boarding call. Gotta go! she typed quickly.

See you Sunday!

She flashed him an emoticon smile, set her phone on silent, and stuffed it into her pocket. She felt it vibrate as she handed her boarding pass to the agent. She rolled her bag down the jetway, and when she stopped behind the line of people waiting to board, she pulled her phone out and glanced at the screen. The little round face blowing a heart-shaped kiss made her own heart skip a beat, but she shook her head as if shooing away a buzzing pest. If only she had met Jesse before she met Eric, she thought. Setting her phone on airplane mode, she slipped it into her shoulder bag and tried to shift her thoughts from Jesse to the two pre-teen girls who were waiting for her in Texas.

# # #

Want to read more? Buy the complete book on Amazon in either digital or paperback.

Read Preface and Chapter 1 | Chapter 2

Blessings,

Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo – Read the Preface and Chapter 1 Here!

For the next few weeks I will be sharing the first several chapters Tatia’s Tattoo. Following is the Preface and Chapter 1. Chapter 2 will appear on Thursday.

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 PREFACE: THE NIGHTMARE

Tatia couldn’t breathe. She could feel his weight on her chest, his hot breath on her face – and pain – she felt hot, searing pain running up the center of her body. Then, he rolled off of her, and she could breathe again, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to. If she could hold her breath long enough, maybe she could go where Mama and Daddy went, to their Father’s house. Suddenly, he grabbed her by the shoulder and jerked her off the bed into a standing position.

“Go clean yourself up. My friend will be here in fifteen minutes. Stop your bawling and freshen your make-up. You look like hell.”

He turned to the bed to straighten the rumpled sheets. When he caught sight of the fresh bloodstains, he threw his hands in the air in exasperation.

“Was this really your first time?”

The only reply from the bathroom was the sound of running water and soft sniffling.

“I could have charged twice as much,” he yelled.

Tatia woke with start as her alarm clock freed her from the nightmare she had re-lived for more than a decade. She turned off the alarm and slipped to her knees beside the bed, asking God to take away the horror of the dream and to replace it with His light. Basking in the love she felt in response to her prayer, she rose and picked up her partially packed suitcase from the floor. She placed it on the bed, ready for last-minutes toiletries, and headed for the shower. She had a plane to catch and girls to rescue.

CHAPTER 1: OFF TO CAMP

Tatia heard a car horn emit two quick beeps, and she knew her ride to the airport had arrived. She stepped out onto the balcony of her second-floor apartment and waved to the gray-haired man who stood beside the open door of an almost brand-new Lexus.

“Hi, Henry,” she called, waving and smiling as he looked up. “I’ll be down in two minutes.”

“No hurry, Miss,” he said, returning her smile. “We have plenty of time, and the traffic is light this morning, or at least lighter than usual.”

Tatia continued to smile as she closed and secured the sliding glass door. She was glad Henry had been available this morning. Her records at the executive car service she always used indicated that he was her preferred driver. She knew she could trust him to chat lovingly about his wife of nearly fifty years and his multiple children and grandchildren instead of hitting on her like some of the younger drivers.

She looked in the mirror and moved her arm into several positions to be sure her sleeve didn’t pull up and expose her mark of shame. Satisfied, she took a quick pass through the bedroom and bathroom in case she had forgotten anything vital. She closed the quart-sized plastic bag that held all the cosmetics she would need for a week at camp and tucked it into a corner of her small rolling suitcase. Then, she grabbed the laptop and the loose-leaf notebook that lay waiting on the ottoman in front of her favorite chair, slipped them into her shoulder bag, and headed for the door. She wouldn’t have time for work the next week, but she never liked to be completely out of touch – and she’d have time to review the notebook in the airport and on the plane. Before she shut and locked the door, she glanced around the tiny apartment that had been home since the previous year when the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act had been passed and she had been asked to chair the Council on Human Trafficking. The flat wasn’t much by Washington, D.C. standards, but as one of twelve trafficking victims whose job it was to advise policymakers, she wasn’t exactly an insider anyway.

“Good morning, Henry,” she greeted him again with a big smile. “Are you ready to roll?”

“Always ready to drive you wherever you need to go, Miss,” he replied with a grin. “You make yourself comfortable, and I’ll put your bag in the trunk.” He took her suitcase, knowing she would want to keep her shoulder bag with her.

Once they were on the road, Henry began a now-familiar conversation. “Miss Robins, I don’t understand why a successful lawyer like you continues to live in a cramped walk-up in this neighborhood. I’ll bet you could find something much nicer if you looked around a bit.”

“I’m sure I could, and it would be much more expensive. Then, I wouldn’t be able to afford to have you drive me around, and that would be just too sad.”

Henry sighed and continued. “I worry about you. This area isn’t safe for a young, beautiful woman alone. You need a husband who will protect you.”

“Henry, I know you care about me, and I appreciate it. But you know I’m waiting for God to choose a husband for me. Until He does, I have my guardian angels watching out for me.”

“So, I guess I should mind my own business and let Him mind His and yours. In the meantime, I’ll keep reminding Him that you need a good man in your life.”

Tatia laughed and changed the subject. “Henry, I’ll bet you can’t guess where I’m going today.”

“No, I can’t. But since you’re dressed in jeans and boots instead of a business suit, I’m guessing it’s not a business trip.”

“You’re right. No business for the next ten days. I’m going to visit some old friends, and then I’m going to summer camp for a week.”

“Summer camp, huh? My grandkids are each going to different camps this year.”

With that, Henry began talking about his favorite subject: his family. Tatia settled back into her seat and half-listened while she thought about her first time at camp.

It was the summer of her twelfth birthday with nothing to look forward to but three months of Texas heat in a house crowded with too many foster kids and Josie, her pre-menopausal foster mom. Josie didn’t really seem to like any of them, and she usually took her frustrations with her absentee, truck-driving husband out on the kids.

At least Tatia would be free of the incessant taunting of her classmates as they droned on about their hectic vacation schedules and the hardship of finding time for cheer camp, youth camp, and several other camps between trips to the beach, the mountains, and The Continent. Tatia had no idea what they meant by that last one, but she knew she was supposed to be impressed. She didn’t bother to answer the snide questions about her summer plans, plans that consisted of remaining unnoticed and spending as much time as possible losing herself in a pile of books at the blissfully cool library.

Even those expectations were probably too high. Since she would be home from school, she would be noticed and subject to Josie’s expectations. Josie didn’t like being called by her first name, but she would never be “mama” to Tatia. She was more like the wicked stepmother in Cinderella. While she was finding relief at the mall or the movie theater, Tatia would probably be stuck in a house with a couple of ancient window units and a few box fans that did little to fight the triple digit temperatures. Instead of spending time in the library, she would be surrounded by sweaty, smelly kids with runny noses, dirty diapers, or both. At least they could all go outside and spray each other with the water hose to cool down and wash away some of the unpleasant odors.

The only break Tatia could count on was the weekly meeting with her social worker. It wasn’t really Ms. Dunham’s fault that their time together was spent checking on Tatia’s situation and filling out reports. Even though Tatia was smart, pretty, and sweet, she had issues, issues that had kept her moving from foster home to foster home instead of finding the forever home she longed for. Most prospective parents wanted newborns or at least a toddler to rock and cuddle. The few who would consider an older child wanted one who would respond to overtures of love and tenderness instead of an emotionally unavailable little girl who rarely made eye contact and who resisted all efforts to break through her ironclad defenses. It didn’t help that her files included accounts of frequent night terrors caused by recurring nightmares. Still, sometimes Ms. Dunham dropped the formalities and took her out for ice cream or shaved ice, and that was better than nothing.

With such low expectations, Tatia was totally shocked when, at one of their meetings, Ms. Dunham said, “Tatia, how would you like to go to camp this summer?”

“Yeah, right. Like Josie would let go of that kind of money.”

Ms. Dunham smiled. “I know finances are tight right now, but this camp won’t cost Josie anything.”

“I don’t know. I spend enough time during the school year with those snobs. I don’t want to waste my summer with them, too.” The regular kids made life miserable for the foster kids, so the thought of spending more time with them seemed almost unbearable.

“You won’t be with your classmates from school. This is a camp especially for kids in the foster system, so everybody will be more or less in the same situation.”

“Ah, I see. It’s one of those ‘let’s take care of the poor foster kids so we can feel better about ourselves’ kind of things. And I suppose we spend most of our time in group counseling sessions spilling our guts to perfect strangers.”

Ms. Dunham was accustomed to the defensive cynicism of her young clients, so she wasn’t put off by Tatia’s resistance. “No, as a matter of fact, there are no counseling sessions. If the campers want to talk to a staff member about something, that’s okay, but the purpose of the camp is to have fun.”

“Fun, huh? Like what?” Tatia’s curiosity was piqued in spite of her best efforts to remain disinterested. By the time Ms. Dunham had given her a more detailed description of the camp facilities and activities, Tatia couldn’t help feeling a little excited by the possibility, but after so many disappointments in her life, she was afraid, too. “Maybe, but Josie would never let me go. She needs me to help with the little kids.”

“I’ve already mentioned it to her. She said if all the kids can go so she can have a week off, she’s all for it.”

“Oh, I see. So, I get stuck with the same bunch, just in a different location.”

“No, Tatia. It’s not like that. The campers are divided by age group, and each counselor has two campers for the week. You’ll be paired with a girl your own age, and the two of you will get lots of one-on-one attention from a counselor who is already praying for you and looking forward to meeting you.”

“I knew there was a catch. This is a church camp with lots of preaching and telling me what a failure I am. Right?”

“It is a faith-based camp, and there will be a couple of Bible stories each day, but the focus is on how special you are to God. And I guarantee you won’t be bored with the praise and worship times. All I can say is you’d better take your dancing shoes.”

“Really? The way you describe it, it sounds too good to be true.”

“It’s better. I’m probably not doing it justice. It’s only five days. What have you got to lose. You might have some fun.”

“Well, if you want to go to the trouble of getting it set up, I guess I could try it just this once.” She tried to retain her cool demeanor, but Ms. Dunham was thrilled to see a spark of something in Tatia’s eyes she hadn’t seen before – hope.

“Miss Robins?” said Henry. “We’re almost to your stop. Are you checking your bag or carrying on?”

Tatia knew his question was his diplomatic way of calling her out of her reverie. She had lost a bag once, and not wanting to repeat the experience, she had learned to pack lightly enough to meet the strictest carry-on limitations.

“Just drop me at the curb, Henry, and thanks for calling me back from La-La-Land.”

He smiled at her in the rear-view mirror. “Anything for my favorite passenger. I hated to disturb you. You looked like you were enjoying your thoughts. Looking forward to your week at camp?”

“I am, Henry. It’s an intense few days, but it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And I get to do it with some very special people.”

“How special?” he asked mischievously.

“Henry, you’re impossible.”

She laughed as he stopped the car and moved quickly to the trunk to retrieve her bag. She was reaching for the door handle when her phone notified her that she had a text. She glanced at the screen and saw a selfie of Jesse in a do-rag and Harley T-shirt. The brief comment said, Wanna race?

She grinned and responded. You nerd! I’ll be in DFW before you make your first gas stop.

So smart & beautiful! 1st gas stop already.

You cheated! Left early!

His reply began with a thumbs up symbol, and then he continued. Making 500+ today. Stopping in Springfield, MO tonight. 400+ tomorrow. Breakfast Sunday?

Deal!

She slipped the phone back into the side pocket on her shoulder bag and slid toward the car door which was now open. As she stood up, she looked up into Henry’s grinning face.

“Very special, I think,” he said knowingly.

Tatia felt the heat rise in her cheeks, but she couldn’t help smiling back at him.

“Yes, I thought so,” he said as he pulled out the handle of her suitcase and handed it to her. “I’ve already scheduled myself for your return. I’ll be waiting in the cell phone lot when you touch down. Have fun.”

“I will, Henry, and thanks.”

# # #

Want more? Buy the complete book on Amazon in either digital or paperback.

Blessings,

Linda

Book Bargains for National Book Month | by Linda Brendle

In looking for an excuse to offer special pricing on my two novels, I found the perfect one – National Book Month. This month-long celebration is held each October and focuses on the importance of reading, writing and literature. The National Book Foundation created the first National Book Month in 2003.

From today through the end of the month, Tatia’s Tattoo and Fallen Angel Salvage ebooks will be 99 cents, and paperbacks will be $12.95 or less.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim sizeTatia’s Tattoo: As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there. Filled with tragedy, crime, redemption, and love, Tatia’s Tattoo is a story that exposes the sordid underbelly of small towns and shines a light of hope on how the evil might be defeated.

 

Fallen Angel Final Cover FrontFallen Angel Salvage (Tatia’s Story, Book #2): Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong? An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors. Will it be enough? Or will their daughter become another statistic?

Blessings,

Linda

Release Day: Fallen Angel Salvage

Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

P R E F A C E

THE LETTER

Thursday – 3:00 pm

Tatia stepped out the back door and stood quietly for a moment, watching her two children play tag in the small back yard. She smiled as Joy slowly jogged between the swing set and the sandbox with her younger brother in hot pursuit. Daniel lunged toward her, but she swerved at the last moment causing him to belly flop onto the soft grass.

“I almost got you,” he pouted.

Joy leaned over him and gloated, “You missed me by a mile, short stuff.”

He grinned up at her, touched her arm, and rolled away from her under the swing set. “Tag, you’re it!” he shouted in triumph.

Tatia laughed at the stunned look on Joy’s face and clapped her hands. “Nice move, Daniel! Now, recess is over, and we have a reading lesson to complete before we quit for the day. Dust yourselves off and get the mail on your way in.”

“I’ll get it,” yelled Joy as she took off for the front of the house.

“No!” wailed Daniel. “I won! I get to get it.”

“Okay, I guess you’re right,” said Joy, slowing down to let him catch up. Then, she tapped him on the shoulder. “But now you’re it!”

Tatia shook her head and went back into the house as the two tagged and shouted all the way to the mailbox. Joy must have been in a charitable mood, because a few moments later the front door slammed open and Daniel strutted into the living room with several envelopes clutched in his fist. He presented the mail to his mom as if he were handing her a dozen roses, and then headed to the refrigerator for a bottle of water.

“Joy, did you see that old van across the street?” he asked his sister. “It must have been about a hundred years old.”

“I didn’t see any old van, and I wouldn’t care if I did,” said Joy, her charitable mood long gone.

“Well, you should. The driver was staring at you.”

“There wasn’t a van and there wasn’t a driver! You need glasses!”

“That’s enough, you two,” said Tatia, hoping to restore some peace. “What kind of van was it?” she asked Daniel.

“I’m not sure, Mommy. I’ll go check.” He knelt on the couch and peered out the window as Tatia looked over his shoulder. “It’s gone now,” he said with a shrug.

“Good! Now we can talk about something important,” said Joy. “Like birthday cards! Mommy, did I get any more today?”

Tatia dismissed the uneasy feeling that tried to insinuate itself into her mind, and made a mental note to talk with Jesse about the van later. Right now, she had an almost-nine-year-old girl dancing from foot to foot, waiting for her to sort the mail. It was two days before Joy’s birthday, and she had received more mail in the last week than she had in the previous nine years. She loved the emails and ecards her mom and dad shared with her, but she loved the cards that came in the mail even more. They felt more like they belonged just to her. Tatia flipped through the small stack of envelopes and handed two of them to her daughter.

“It looks like there’s one from Alicia at school and another one from Grandma and Grandpa G. How many is that from them anyway?”

“Seven! One every day for a whole week! What about that one? Is it for me?” she asked pointing to the plain white envelope Tatia was staring at curiously.

“No, it’s addressed to me, and it doesn’t have a return address or a stamp.”

“Probably a bill,” said Joy, and she took her cards to the couch to read them.

Tatia opened the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of notebook paper. On it was taped a small article from the Cameron Morning Telegraph dated the previous Sunday.

Cameron, TX. After serving twenty years of three concurrent sentences for murder, aggravated statutory sexual assault, and human trafficking, Eric Hall was paroled from the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville this week. His conviction was the first of several that resulted from the testimony of a very brave young woman, later identified as Tatia Robins in her book, Groomed for the Streets. These convictions freed Cameron from the human trafficking trade that had plagued our city for years.

Below the article was a short, hand-written message:

I wonder if Joy is as brave as her mother.

Buy at Amazon | B & N

Ebook available soon.

Blessisngs,

Linda

Cover Reveal: Fallen Angel Salvage by Linda Brendle

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

A heart-pounding crime thriller unlike any Christian novel you’ve read.

Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

Projected Release Date: July 16, 2019
Cover Design by Brianna Snyder, Spyder Design, http://www.thespyderdesign.com

Blessings,

Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo is available in paperback on Amazon. Due to technical difficulties, the ebook is not currently available but will be back soon.

Reluctant to read Tatia’s Tattoo? Read this brief post.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim sizeSome people have expressed reluctance to read Tatia’s Tattoo because of the subject matter – sex trafficking in small-town America. Following are some excerpt from a Facebook conversation with a recent reader:
 
Very good! 5 stars so far. I’m about half way through. I didn’t get my nap in today because I couldn’t put the book down.
 
I’m not done, but already find myself looking forward to the sequel.
 
I really like your writing style, not too wordy.
 
Being a victim of abuse myself, I was a little worried going into it, being a book about sex trafficking. A lot of writers these days go for shock value. But you’ve handled those bits and pieces very tactfully and I appreciate that.
 
Thank you for being respectful and not making us that are victims re-live it and proving that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
 
You can read the Preface and the first two chapters by clicking HERE and then clicking Download a Sample below the book cover. There is also a buy link there.
 
You can also find it at AMAZON.
Blessings,
Linda
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