Sunday, May 7, 2017

New Release: Forever Him by Jeanne St. Jame

 


This is not just a love story, it's an obsession...

I can't keep my eyes off the tall, dark, and confident man who stops in the coffee shop every morning. I want this stranger more than I've ever wanted anyone before, even though I only know his first name. As an author, my imagination is my ultimate writing tool, men like Kane my muse. And the minute he leaves, I'm overcome with fantasies I can't control and my fingers fly across the keyboard... Until one day, I almost snap. My embarrassing outburst has me running out the door when he catches me and takes me to his home.

Though it's risky, I can't resist him. And with one kiss, he now owns me. This man will capture my sanity and trap it forever. He'll steal me one piece at a time until he possesses me completely. He'll ruin me for any other man. But I don't want anyone else, for it'll always be forever him.

Note: This book can be read as a stand-alone and has an HEA ending. Due to the sensual and explicit sexual nature of the story, it is intended only for readers 18+. Trigger warning: this book includes a main character who is dealing with PTSD.

PURCHASE HERE



READ AN EXCERPT


His name is Kane. I will love him forever. He just doesn’t know it yet…

Chapter One

The only reason I know his name is because every morning when he stops at the coffee shop for his large black coffee, the barista calls out, “Kane with a K.”

Every. Single. Morning.

I assume the barista does it on purpose. Possibly to coax a smile out of him. But it never does. His expression never changes. It seems forever stuck in serious mode. He just grabs his coffee, throws money into the tip jar, spins on his heels, and leaves.

Maybe he’s an important man. A busy man. A man with a lot of responsibilities on his broad shoulders. Maybe his mind is on what he needs to get done for the day.

But he never deviates from his routine. Black coffee. No cream. No sugar. No pastries.

Not once since I’ve noticed him.

I rarely pay attention to people coming and going from the shop since the mornings are usually busy. I sit in my corner with my laptop open, my brain spinning with ideas. Or not.

Sometimes I have severe writer’s block. Those are the times my brain seems dark and empty. Nobody’s home. I had it the first morning I noticed him. During those times, I stare off blindly while reaching deep into my head. Searching for… something. Anything. Begging for just a couple words to spur my creativity.

The front door with its delicate dinging bell usually never pulls my attention. Until that day. The day I happened to be staring at the door mindlessly, not paying attention to the influx of customers.

Until him.

He’s tall. And broad. Not fat, no. Heavy muscles bunch under the dress shirt he wears as he pushes the door open and steps inside. His dark hair is super short on the sides, just a tiny bit longer on the top. A no-nonsense haircut. Like him… No nonsense.

His perfectly ironed, deep purple dress shirt is tucked neatly into his black slacks. His black leather belt is held together by a simple gold-tone buckle.

His eyebrows appear dark and heavy above eyes that make me blink. They are so light but I can't tell if they are gray or blue. No matter what, they’re a shocking contrast to his skin color.

The only visible accessory he wears is a watch on his wrist. Even from where I sit, I can see it’s quality. One I could never afford, and I probably wouldn’t know the brand. But it screams expensive.

His legs are long and unmistakably solid, giving him a confident stride as he beelines to the counter.

Why does he stop here for black coffee? I’m sure he can afford a coffee maker. It isn’t difficult to make. Some grounds, a filter, and some water. Push the button, wait, and voilà…

Ah, maybe he doesn’t like to wait. But is it actually quicker to stop here every morning?

Maybe he doesn’t like to clean up. Though, after studying him, my gut instinct says he can afford someone to take care of dirty dishes. Perhaps he even has a significant other who would be willing to do it. A wife. A husband.

A lover…

It doesn’t matter why he stops each morning because once I notice him, I can’t take my eyes off him. I can’t concentrate.

I watch his lips move as he places his order. I wait for the corners of his lips to turn up as he talks to the barista. They don’t. No eye crinkle, no smile, not even a nod of his head to acknowledge that he’s speaking to a fellow human.

Nothing.

He never takes out a cell phone once while waiting for his coffee. I have never even seen him with one in his hand.

He would be the kind of person to think it rude to be on your phone instead of giving your full attention to the person serving you. Even if that attention is cold, lifeless.

He’s consistent, and he always comes alone. One day I switch from my regular table in the corner to a table where I can see his left hand. His ring finger appears bare.

Though, that doesn’t guarantee he isn’t married. Or in a committed relationship. A lot of men don’t wear bands. I watch him every day. I learn the way he moves, that he’s right-handed, that he takes fifteen strides to the coffee counter. That he always checks the lid on his coffee to make sure it’s secure before pivoting to leave.

I turn into Pavlov’s dog. When the bell rings at 8:02 every morning, I have to glance up. I can’t fight it even if I want to.

After I watch him walk out the door, I spin fantasies about him. How he will look naked. How his face will twist when he comes. How his fingers will feel deep in my pussy, stroking my insides, making me wet.

How serious his kiss will be when he crushes me against him.

I can’t escape my thoughts. My desires. My panty-soaking fantasies.

I think about changing coffee shops because I‘m becoming obsessed.

I want to touch him. I want to see him smile. I want to make him laugh.

I imagine that something is missing from his life. Like me. I can solve all his problems. I can smooth his brow when it furrows after being overwhelmed at work. I can kiss away the tension. I can whisper soothing words in his ear to distract him from all the important tasks he’s responsible for.

The only good thing about my obsession is it helps me write. Once the bell rings as the door closes behind him, my fingers tear across the keyboard. I no longer suffer from writer’s block. Fantasy after fantasy pops in my head, and I squeeze my thighs together until I ache as the words spill out onto the screen.

He is my muse.

My inspiration.

His skin is dark, but I can’t imagine him lounging by a pool. He seems too important for that. Or too impatient. He probably doesn’t have time for fun. Life for him is about getting things done.

So, it isn’t a tan. No, his skin tone appears natural. His heritage makes him dark. Brooding. Intense. Something lurks in his lineage that is far from middle America. Even if his driver’s license classifies him as white, his family tree would say otherwise.

Kane with a K intrigues me. I never sleep in anymore, but I don’t have to set my alarm. My eyes pop open every weekday at the same time, my head already filled with him. I make sure I am at the coffee shop, in my usual spot with my laptop open, my chai tea fresh and hot in front of me by 7:50. Just in case he’s early.

He never is. He’s like clockwork. He has a routine, and sticks with it.

Every. Single. Morning.

I want to know what his last name is. What he does for a living. What kind of car he drives. Does he walk to the coffee shop? Does he live or work nearby?

When the tiny bell rings, I glance up. My eyes flick to the time in the corner of my screen, 8:02. Then they land back on him.

Today he wears a jacket over his light blue dress shirt, one that emphasizes the color of his eyes. His dark blue patterned tie is knotted perfectly, precise, tight to his collar. The cuffs of his shirt are visible over his hands. The correct length for a well-dressed man. His gold cufflinks flash as his arm swings in rhythm with his gait.

He’s so out of my league, he never, ever glances my way. Not once.

I don’t understand how he can’t feel the heat of my gaze, the filthy sexual nature of my thoughts.

How can he not feel me undressing him?

Every. Single. Morning.

He has to wait this morning. Two people are ahead of him with much more complex orders than his usual large black coffee. The staff is short-handed today. His sharp gaze sweeps the space behind the counter before realizing the issue. He lifts his arm and checks his watch.

His toe taps. Most likely from impatience, not nervousness. His body turns as he surveys the shop. For once, he's noticing that there are other customers and things in the café other than just him, the barista, and his large black coffee.

I feel him, though he’s not even close, not even touching me.

I sense the air shift with every breath he takes. I notice every blink. His long, dark eyelashes open and close like two Chinese fans.

Then his gaze bounces to me. Instead of continuing past, it stops. It stays. He stares. Possibly because I’m staring back. Maybe because my mouth gapes open and I’m breathing more shallow than normal.

I shift awkwardly in the hard, wooden chair as heat rises into my cheeks, and I’m mortified that I can’t tear my gaze away from his.

His eyes narrow and his brows furrow, making his eyes appear darker than normal. They remind me of a stormy sea instead of the tranquil Caribbean Ocean.

My heart beats furiously as his eyes roam over my hair. I fight not to run a hand through it and hope it’s all in place… because it usually isn’t. I curse under my breath when his gaze drops lower to my mouth. I lick my lips before slamming my jaw shut, narrowly missing my tongue. His inspection of me is slow, thorough. Down my neck and then lower.

I’m glad I tossed on a V-neck cashmere sweater this morning and not an old sweatshirt. Never in my wildest fantasies did I think he would notice me.

Never.

His eyes roam smoothly to my cleavage and pause again. One second, two seconds, three seconds. Blood rushes to my head, and I squirm. Heat pools at my core making me wiggle in my seat.

God, just his gaze makes me want to come. My pussy throbs and I have an urge to touch myself.

All of those fantasies.

If he only knew.

He’d probably laugh and think I’m silly. That he’s way out of my league. He would never be with someone like me.

But I want him to touch me. I want his fingers to rake through my hair, rip my head back. I want to feel his lips, his teeth, along the strong pulse in my neck. I want him to brush his thumbs over my hardened nipples.

I find myself light-headed and realize I stopped breathing. I’m waiting. Paused for him to make his move. To grab my hand, pull me out the door, to his house, his car, his office, where he could fuck me thoroughly and hard until he makes me explode into a million pieces.

I want to climb on his lap and spear myself on his cock, riding him hard until I’m slick, sweating, and clinging to his skin with my fingernails. I want to feel his teeth along the sensitive curves of my breasts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JEANNE ST. JAMES is an erotic romance author who loves an Alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing since it gave her an escape from teenage angst! Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages.

Connect with her at http://jeannestjames.com or on social media at:







Monday, May 1, 2017

Featured Book Cover: Miracle Man by William R. Leibowitz






Title: MIRACLE MAN
Author: William Leibowitz
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Pages: 385
Genre: Thriller
                       
 REVERED     REVILED      REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero.  Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real. 

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history.  But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect.  Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal.  But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand.

Miracle Man was named by Amazon as one of the Top 100 Novels of 2015, an Amazon Top 10 thriller, an Amazon bestseller and an Amazon NY Times bestseller.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:
    A tall figure wearing a black-hooded slicker walked quickly through the night carrying a large garbage bag. His pale face was wet with rain. He had picked a deserted part of town. Old warehouse buildings were being gutted so they could be converted into apartments for non-existent buyers. There were no stores, no restaurants and no people.
“Who’d wanna live in this shit place?” he muttered to himself. Even the nice neighborhoods of this dismal city had more “For Sale” signs than you could count.
He was disgusted with himself and disgusted with her, but they were too young to be burdened. Life was already hard enough. He shook his head incredulously. She had been so damn sexy, funny, full of life. Why the hell couldn’t she leave well enough alone? She should have had some control.
He wanted to scream-out down the ugly street, “It’s her fucking fault that I’m in the rain in this crap neighborhood trying to evade the police.”
But he knew he hadn’t tried to slow her down either. He kept giving her the drugs and she kept getting kinkier and kinkier and more dependent on him and that’s how he liked it. She was adventurous and creative beyond her years. Freaky and bizarre. He had been enthralled, amazed. The higher she got, the wilder she was. Nothing was out of bounds. Everything was in the game.
And so, they went farther and farther out there. Together. With the help of the chemicals. They were co-conspirators, co-sponsors of their mutual dissipation. How far they had traveled without ever leaving their cruddy little city. They were so far ahead of all the other kids.
He squinted, and his mind reeled. He tried to remember in what month of their senior year in high school the drugs became more important to her than he was. And in what month did her face start looking so tired, her complexion prefacing the ravages to follow, her breath becoming foul as her teeth and gums deteriorated. And in what month did her need for the drugs outstrip his and her cash resources.
He stopped walking and raised his hooded head to the sky so that the rain would pelt him full-on in the face. He was hoping that somehow this would make him feel absolved. It didn’t. He shuddered as he clutched the shiny black bag, the increasingly cold wet wind blowing hard against him. He didn’t even want to try to figure out how many guys she had sex with for the drugs.
The puddle-ridden deserted street had three large dumpsters on it. One was almost empty. It seemed huge and metallic and didn’t appeal to him. The second was two-thirds full. He peered into it, but was repulsed by the odor, and he was pretty sure he saw the quick moving figures of rodents foraging in the mess. The third was piled above the brim with construction debris.
Holding the plastic bag, he climbed up on the rusty lip of the third dumpster. Stretching forward, he placed the bag on top of some large garbage bags which were just a few feet inside of the dumpster’s rim. As he climbed down, his body looked bent and crooked and his face was ashen. Tears streamed down his cheeks and bounced off his hands. He barely could annunciate, “Please forgive me,” as he shuffled away, head bowed and snot dripping from his nose.

About the Author

William Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment/media law in New York City for a number of years.  He has represented numerous renowned creative people and many leading intellectual property companies.  William has a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.  He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.

William wrote Miracle Man because of its humanistic and spiritual messages and because he feels that in our current times--when meritless celebrity has eclipsed accomplishment and the only heroes are those based on comic books, the world needs a real hero--and that, of course, is Robert James Austin, the protagonist in Miracle Man.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Trailer Reveal: Are You There Krishna? by Rachel Khona


We're happy to host Rachel Khona's ARE YOU THERE, KRISHNA? IT'S ME, RESHMA, OR RACHEL. OR WHATEVER Book Trailer Reveal today! Enjoy the trailer!




About the Book:

Title: ARE YOU THERE KRISHNA? IT'S ME, RESHMA. OR RACHEL. OR WHATEVER.: ESSAYS ON TALKING TO GHOSTS, ACCOSTING CELEBRITIES, GETTING HIGH, SEXISM, RACE AND FIRST-GENERATION WOES
Author: Rachel Khona
Publisher: Thought Catalog
Pages: 257
Genre: Humor/Memoir

Rachel knew even as a young child that she wasn’t like the rest of her Indian family. While her parents were plotting how she could make it into med school with her mediocre grades in chemistry and biology, she had other things on her mind, including such gems as:

• Why can’t she go to the temple on her period?
• Why don’t her Indian cousins like her?
• Why was it OK to be sexualized at a beauty pageant but not for herself?
• How can she straddle two cultures while retaining her sense of self?
• Why are women considered sluts and men considered studs?
• Why do people keep asking her if she was born in
India?
• Should she wax down there?
• Why does she have crazy eyes?

After leaving home, Rachel got high in
Amsterdam, met her pop singer idol in a bathroom, argued with a ghost, and got lost in the Pyrenees. But that didn’t stop her from questioning while men still tell her to smile. 'Are You There Krishna? It’s Me, Reshma. Or Rachel. Or Whatever.' weaves stories of Rachel’s life with observations on race, class, sex, feminism, and culture with humor and candor.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon




About the Author


Once upon a time in an exotic land called New Jersey, Rachel Khona used to dream of one day playing tambourine in an all-girl rock band. That never happened.
Instead she became a writer. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim, and Cosmopolitan among others.
When she’s not writing or designing, she is busy drinking wine and singing off key, bike riding, pretending she’s friends with Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, eating absurd amounts of cheese, or listening to rock music at an appallingly loud volume. Sometimes all at once.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Spirit of Love by the spirit of love, known as glen




Title: THE SPIRIT OF LOVE
Author:
the spirit of love, known as glen
Publisher: Aurora House
Pages: 196
Genre: Spirituality/Poetry

The Spirit of Love is a collection of short writings, poems and phrases written by a man who took himself into some of the darkest and most destructive depths that one can go with drug and alcohol addictions back in his early twenties.

The collection of writings contained within The Spirit of Love are the result of one man’s healing journey within himself and the deep questioning that has arisen from within it.

With the love, support and guidance of his dear friend Edwina, in helping to bring these writings from the handwritten scribbles on paper to how they are presented today, The Spirit of Love is a reminder that no matter how dark, desperate, alone, helpless or trapped one believes they may be, the sheer beauty of the perfection of life in its totality is silently and patiently living within us all, and its love is so powerful that it can heal anything that has come to pass.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:


6.
Take me now so that I need never feel again
Screaming inside I keep everything in
Release me now so I may tear this skin from off my shell
For free can I not be from this living hell?

7.
Why are you afraid?
Swept along without giving a moment to stop
Why are you going to the next place you want to be?
What’s wrong with where you are now?
Is the next place going to be any different or better?
Funny how unwilling you have become to look
Can it be that bad inside?
Afraid to feel life no more
Oh, how the voice is clever
Feeding the prey so as not to be hunted.

9.
Staring at you the battle begins
Nightmare’s voice always wins
Fighting so strongly against my will
Oh, the insanity contained in a pill
Within gulp of water’s cup
Battle lost I’ve given up
Slowly the chemicals suffocate my brain
The next few hours surely insane.

10.
How can you label I and in turn yourself?
For labels change as frequently as the weather
I am changeless – eternal
Let your sight not fool you into a world of form
Enjoy thy magic and mystery
Play with it joyfully and compassionately
But see yourself not of it
Are you your job?
Is that the limit of your destiny?
Why do you choose to do what you do?
Is it really you doing it?
Look what the eternal search has brought
A searching with no end to wanting
That which you truly not need.

11.
Stop it, stop it, I hear you scream, the voice constant in its demands of you
But what can be done if broken you have become?
Bound to a meaningless death whilst your feet still walk
Bow to grace as freedom is you just in being
See the butterfly kiss the wind as a graceful dance
What have you become outside yourself?
Smash all mirrors as they do not allow you to see what lies beneath
Seven colours formed of white
Form holds the illusion together not wanting it to be seen
All that allows it to be is what’s in-between
No sense I make, so that your mind can move beyond the hours of 9 till 5
I lie timeless for you.

20.
Is mankind reflecting upon itself?
From and within the boundless nothingness that I Am
Nothing more or less than degrees of variation
Like a leaf throughout the seasons of its cycle
Come within so that I am released from form
And journey from stillness back to stillness
As infinite space and eternal grace dance together in the hands of thy children
Mention not a word of I, nor a thought, nor emotion, invisible I remain
See that star in your eye?
It is your world beneath your world
A diamond in the form of a stone
Belong to silence, cometh to existence through seed of breath, even and pure.

24.
Cannot you feel the spirit within her? Why? Why? Why?
You poison her veins with fluorescent venom
Yet still she gives you soil to grow your food
You shatter her body with each bomb that tears at her skin
Yet still she gives you air to breathe
Your chemical mind soaks away her pure clear blood
Yet still she gives you water to quench greed’s thirst
Great Mother Earth, you inspire me to a love that holds no enemy
Take not a moment more to cleanse your soul from our mistrust
Seeing you create your balance now
A new earth awaits your presence
And yet still you wish to give us abundance’s dance
Your wisdom singing peacefully within thy true self
A self of love, a selfless love
My weeping heart bleeds its last drop into your soil
Take it and send me to my grave with your earthy kiss
For you have earned your rest from the hand of man.

37.
Is thy being too simple for belief?
A simple being of love sets everything free

40.
For whilst thoughts, emotions, content, story and experience is a part of the journey, it is a mere ripple on the surface of the vast depthless ocean of thy being, of which I know nothing.




About the Author

At the peak of his destructive cycle glen was so consumed by addictions, that on any given day saw the abusive consumption of cocaine, MDMA powder, special K, ecstasy, crystal meth, marijuana, prescription drugs (anti-depressants, sleeping pills) and alcohol.

A time that saw him attempting and failing to out race police cars through the streets of a Melbourne suburb one night, to experiencing a near death experience while bleeding out from a glass injury when holidaying overseas, a time of daily self-harming with the prospect of suicide never being far out of reach.

However, through the unconditional love of his parents, glen found himself backpacking though South America where a collection of events and direct experiences with the local people and Mother Earth herself, triggered the beginning stages of what would later become known to him as the shattering and dissolving of the false identity of the illusionary mind-made-self and its “poor me” story.

An inner-journey that awakens the spirit of love, known as glen, to not being a personal identity as such but rather a way of being, a way of simplicity, a way of the heart, a way that embraces and dances with the perfection of the present moment like no other.

You can visit the author’s website at www.spiritoflove.com.au or his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thespiritoflovebook.


Book Cover Feature: The Investment Club by Doug Cooper



Title: THE INVESTMENT CLUB
Author: Doug Cooper
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Pages: 362
Genre: Literary/Upmarket Fiction

Forty million people visit Vegas every year but most never get past the strip. What about the people who live there? What brought them there? What keeps them there?

Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.

As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 


First Chapter:

Chapter 1

Date: Friday, January 17, 2014                                                        Dow Jones Open: 16,408.02
           Never split tens.
           The words flashed in their eyes and formed on their lips. Nervous fingering of chips followed. Except for third base, the last, and most important, seat at the table. He controlled the fates of the other players, a role he seemed to enjoy. His stout digits remained steadfast, cupped over the stack of ten black chips measured to split the hand. Never had a doubt. Once he saw the house had a five of hearts, he knew his play.
My left hand slid to the shoe, eyes directed toward first base. “Twelve.”
The brim of her faded green military cap angled downward, concealing her eyes and half of her tawny face. Her hat more fashion than function, this girl had never served, at least in the armed forces. Her body, though, was all function. Lean and mean. Definitely put on this earth to move. It was just a question of if that was in the vertical or the horizontal.
She waved her hand over the cards, never lifting her gaze from the table. “I’ll stay. You’re going to bust.” She was there for one purpose: to make money. Played every night. Never for less than $25 per hand and often as high as $200 when she really got rolling. I wouldn’t say she was unfriendly or mean. Just had an edge to her. Wanted to be left alone and not have to talk to anyone.
Next to her in seat two, a burly man, about six foot two or three—somewhere in his late sixties— nodded approvingly. He had a half-inch gray flattop that with each tilt of his head revealed a thinning patch on top. “Good girl,” he said. “You don’t have to have great cards; just need the dealer to have worse ones.“ He plucked a red five-dollar chip off his stack and placed it next to his bet. Holding up his index finger, he said, “One card, down please.”
Sliding the card from the shoe without revealing the value, I said, “Down and dirty.” Directing my attention to his neighbor, I nodded at the seventeen in front of the surgically enhanced Barbie doll in seat three. “The ol’ mother-in-law’s hand.”
She furrowed her brow, barely wrinkling her taut forehead. “What does that mean?” It was obvious she didn’t know the game, but she wasn’t stupid either. Everything she did had a purpose. What she revealed at the table was exactly what she wanted the others to see to elicit the reaction she desired.
“It’s a seventeen,” I said, about to drop one of my standard lines, good at least a few times a night. “It’s like your mother-in-law. You want to hit it, but you can’t.”
“Well, I don’t have to worry about one of those.” Her eyes sank to her cards. “So do I hit or not?”
The burly, elderly man to her right said, “Always assume the dealer has a ten as the down card, sweetie. With the dealer showing five, you don’t want to hit because the house probably has fifteen and is going to bust.”
“Just let her play her hand, gramps,” the guy at third base said. Diminutive in stature—oh hell, I’ll just say it. He was a little person or dwarf or whatever the politically correct term is these days. He played with aggression and anger. Winning wasn’t enough. He wanted more. Acted like he deserved it. Like the world owed it to him. He banged back the remainder of his third cognac and motioned for the cocktail waitress to bring another one.
Nip-Tuck Barbie pushed her puffy lips out in a pout, waving her perfectly manicured fingers over her cards. “I’ll hold then.”
Seat four was all business. He was around fifty, black and distinguished, with a wiry frame. He had short salt-and-pepper hair on the sides and back that connected into a beard the same length but much thicker than the rest. Too methodical to be a pro, but he knew the game. He was firm and decisive. It was obvious he liked the strategy and analysis. My guess was accountant. His face was too kind to be a broker or a banker. Wasting no time, he pushed his fingers outward from his clenched fist over the cards. “I’m good with eighteen.”
The waitress delivered another cognac to the little guy at third base. He took a green twenty-five-dollar chip from his growing stack, which was almost as high as the one on his shoulder. He downed the drink in one gulp. “Bring me another,” he said. His eyes were drooping with each drink. He ran his hand through his wavy, reddish-brown hair and pushed the thousand-dollar black stack next to his bet. With his index and pinky fingers extended like a two-pronged fork, he said, “Split ’em.”
I tilted my head to alert the pit boss. “Checks play. Splitting tens.”
Gramps said, “Come on, junior. You’re going to take the bust card and screw the table.”
The pit boss walked over. “Splitting tens. Go ahead.”
I pulled the first card from the shoe, hesitating before revealing its identity. “You sure about this?”
He pressed his index finger repeatedly into the felt. “Flip the damn card.”
It was an ace. “Twenty-one.”
He pointed at the second ten. “Paint it.”
I pulled a queen from the shoe. “Split again?”
“Nah, I’m good with twenty,” he said. “I don’t want to be greedy.”
“Too late for that,” the Accountant in seat four said.
I knew what was going to happen before I even played my hand. I had seen it too many times before. One asshole screwing it up for everyone else. I revealed my down card. A king of spades. “Dealer has fifteen.”
The Accountant rubbed the bald patch on the crown of his head and shifted back in his chair. “Would’ve busted if you hadn’t split.”
“Come on, need a big one,” Lean and Mean at first base sneered.
I flipped the next card to add to my fifteen. An ace of clubs. “Sixteen,” I said, “Not going down easy.”
“Six or higher, six or higher,” Gramps said, standing from his chair.
I pulled the next card, peeking under the corner to delay their unfortunate fate before flipping a three of hearts. “House has nineteen.”
I scooped Lean and Mean’s last four green chips from the bet circle.
She ripped her hat off in disgust, her thick black hair and crescent eyes now visible, and glared at Junior. “You’re such a dick.”
I placed my hand on Gramps’s down card.
He pleaded for a ten. “Monkey, monkey, monkey.”
I turned over a six of diamonds. “Seventeen.” I snagged the two red chips from his failed double and redeposited them into the house bank. Returning to Nip-Tuck Barbie, in one motion I collected her chips and also seat four’s. “Another seventeen and eighteen, not enough to beat the nineteen.”
Greedily rubbing his hands together, Junior said, “But my twenty-one and twenty are. Daddy about to get paid!”
I pushed two stacks of one thousand to match his bets. “Twenty black going out.”
The pit boss approved the payout.
“That’s it for me,” Lean and Mean said. “I’m not wasting any more money playing with this jackoff.”
“Me, too,” Gramps said and pushed his thirty-eight fifty to the center to cash in. “I’m done.”
“Quit your bitching,” Junior said, tipping the waitress fifty for the new cognac.
“But we all would’ve won if you hadn’t split,” Gramps said.
Junior tossed two of the blacks back to me. “Give me some green.”
I measured two stacks of four green chips. “Check change. Two black coming in.”
He combined the stacks and tossed four green at Lean and Mean and one each at the other three players, giving the last one to me. “That ought to cover it, you bunch of cry babies. That’s why they call it gambling.”
Lean and Mean flipped the chips back to him. “I don’t need your charity.”
He pushed them to the middle of the table. “Well somebody take them because I don’t want them.” His eyes scanned the players, stopping on Lean and Mean. She put her hat back on and pulled the brim low again. He said, “Heeey, wait a second. I know you. You work down at OGs, don’t you? You and your girlfriend soaked me for about five grand one night.”
OGs was Olympic Gardens, a midlevel strip club on Las Vegas Boulevard between downtown and the strip. Midlevel because it’s not as swanky as the upper-tier places like Spearmint Rhino or Sapphire, but it’s also not the bottom rung like you walked into a methadone clinic the day after New Year’s. OGs biggest advantages are the location right on LV Boulevard and having male and female dancers to cater to both genders. The men perform upstairs and the women downstairs, which was obviously set up by a man, because that’s how most men want to operate in their relationships as well. If patrons want some seediness without feeling the need to bathe in hand sanitizer after leaving, then OGs is the place.
Lean and Mean snatched her purse off the back of her chair and slung it over her shoulder. “I don’t know you.”
“Well, you should. We spent about four hours in the VIP room. Your name’s, um…Faith, and your girlfriend, oh, what was her name? She was a real rock climber, that one. She had that chalk bag of coke in her underwear and kept bumping me up while she was dancing. Damn, what was her name? I kept calling her Dora the Explorer.”
Gramps said, “Just drop it. The lady said she don’t know you.”
“What are you, her pimp?” Junior gulped more cognac.
“That’s OK,” she said. “I was just leaving.” She turned and angled toward the door. Gramps followed her.
Nip-Tuck Barbie squirmed in her chair. “Geez, I never knew blackjack had so much drama.”
Junior picked up the hundred dollars in green that he had tried to give Lean and Mean from the middle of the table. “For someone who works for tips, you’d think she’d be more appreciative.” He tossed them to me. “I’m sure you’ll put these to good use.”
And that was how I met these five broken people—a drug-addict singer-turned-stripper; a widowed, retired New Jersey police officer; an alcoholic, divorced sportscaster; a card-counting, ex–Catholic priest; and a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur—who all somehow managed to wander into the El Cortez and sit at my table on a random Tuesday night.
I haven’t always been a blackjack dealer, but I have always lived in Vegas—fifty-seven years. Have held just about every hospitality job this town has to offer, from parking cars to cooking food to serving drinks. What I’ve never done is been a big winner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of winnings, but they don’t even come close to the losses. For every night in the black, there were two or three in the red, and the red numbers always seem to be higher than the black ones. Don’t let anyone tell you different. They might say they’re even, but they’re well south of even; it’s just a question of how far. That’s why I gave it up years ago and switched to this side of the table. I can guarantee you I walk out of the casino up every night.
I’ve tried dealing other games, but there’s just something about blackjack. I like how communal the game is. I like how strangers sit down and in no time will be fist-bumping and high-fiving. Of course there are a fair share of squabbles as well, like the one I just told you about. You see, a lot of players think they’re just playing their individual hands, that they should trust their guts. But the good ones know there are rules and every decision at the table affects everyone else. I know the math says different, that each play is an independent event and will help others just as often as it hurts. But I’m talking about the bigger play, the energy at the table, the stuff that flows through and carries us all.
Yeah, I’ve seen a lot in my years flipping cards. Seen players win fifteen hands in a row and lose just as many; be down to their last ten dollars and walk away up a thousand; win five grand and slink away with their pockets turned inside out. Won’t say I’ve seen it all, though. Just when I think I have, a night like that Tuesday happens, and a story like I’m about to tell you unfolds.
Now I’ll admit I wasn’t present for all the stuff I’m about to share. Some of it I was and some of it was told to me, and, well, some of it I just filled in the blanks, and you’re going to have to trust me because in this job I’ve learned how to read people and recognize problems before they happen: the colleagues headed for an affair, the social drinker on the road to alcoholism, and the newlyweds who won’t make it to their fifth anniversary. Amazing what people will reveal across three feet of felt. They think they’re in control, but putting a stack of their hard-earned money on the table loosens up more than their wallets. It triggers their vulnerability, and that opens up the vault to all their secrets. I just have to watch and listen, like reading an open ledger. Most tell more than I ever care to know, as much by what they don’t say as what they do.
Dow Jones Close: 16,458.56


About the Author


Doug Cooper is the author of the award-winning novel Outside In and The Investment Club available October 2016. He has a BS in Mathematics Education from Miami University and a MA in American Studies from Saint Louis University. Always searching, he has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, he has also called Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, and Oslo, Norway home. He now lives in Cleveland working on his third novel Focus Lost.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

 

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Feet Say Run by Daniel A. Blum


Title: THE FEET SAY RUN
Author: Daniel A. Blum
Publisher: Gabriel’s Horn Press
Pages: 349
Genre: Literary Fiction
At the age of eighty-five, Hans Jaeger finds himself a castaway among a group of survivors on a deserted island.  What is my particular crime?  he asks.   Why have I been chosen  for this fate?  And so he begins his extraordinary chronicle. 

It would be an understatement to say he has lived a full life.  He has grown up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl.  He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess.  After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, finds solace among prostitutes while his wife lay in a coma, and marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her. 

By turns sardonic and tragic and surreal, Hans’s story is the story of all of the insanity, irony and horror of the modern world itself.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 


Book Excerpt:

It was early November.  November 5, to be exact.  1938.   I was with Hilda when we heard the news over the radio.  A German diplomat had been shot.  By a Jew.  We’d never heard of this diplomat.  Who had?  But suddenly it was all over the news.  This abominable act!  Committed not just by a Jew.  But, rather, by the Jews.  This high crime!  For a few days the diplomat clung to life.    But the fury of the official broadcasts was astonishing.  The demands for revenge.  And then, on the day I had marked for my next visit with Sylvia, this obscure diplomat, now elevated to the level of a great personage, died of his wounds—martyred himself for the cause of all of us violated Germans.
Hilda and I just looked at one another.
“I think you need to get her out now,” Hilda said.  And then, “If you’re going to do it.”
I nodded.
The wireless was broadcasting stories of rioting breaking out all over Germany.  Anti-Jewish rage.  Synagogues torched.  Storefronts smashed.  From inside Hilda’s apartment though, we heard nothing.  It was like any other night.  Would it really spread to our quiet little town?
I left for Sylvia’s before midnight.  The crooked alleys in Hilda’s neighborhood were all calm.  Maybe none of it was true.  There were people out here and there, maybe more than usual —groups of threes and fours, mostly drawn out by the news, wondering what they would see.  But it was a chilly night, and that seemed to keep people moving.
As I walked toward the river I could hear more voices.  And then there was something.  A lamp store.  Brodsky’s Lamps and Lampshades.  Smashed to ruins.  Shards of glass everywhere.  Just as the radio had described it.  Why had it happened here though?  What was this strange, magical connection between the radio and this pile of debris?   Is that what it means to be a social species, that we will simply do what we believe others are doing?  We hear words on the radio, people are destroying Jewish businesses, and like pre-programmed automatons, we interpret this message as an instruction?
I moved on, walked along old streets, under medieval arches, and out to the less ancient, less huddled part of town.  Across all of it was a sort of crystalline quiet.  A milkman’s wagon passed —the horse clopping and snorting.  Along the next block I scared up a yard of chickens, startled myself with the sudden clucking and scattering.  Peaceful Edelburg.  My storybook town.
 I was most of the way to Sylvia’s when I approached something again.  A commotion.  I drew closer.   A crowd of figures, milling around a square, Vanderplatz.  Watching something.  Watching what?  There were voices.  Shouts.  I approached.   Peeked through a pair of shoulders.   A man was being pushed by several men.  They were shouting at him.  Trying to get him to push back.  He was older, had a frightened face, kept trying to back away, but there was always someone behind him, giving him another shove.  His hair was disheveled.  Beside them, on the ground, was a hat that had evidently been knocked off his head.  What did they want from him? 
A woman, who seemed to be his wife, was restrained by two other men.  One had her arms.  The other had a hand in her hair.  She was crying, protesting.  She wore a heavy coat that bunched in the neck as they pried her arms back.  When she spoke, the hand in her hair drove her down lower, until at last she was on her knees, and drool was dripping from her mouth.  Now the man protested the woman’s treatment, begged on her behalf, and this resulted in a fist hitting his stomach.  He bent over, breathless, as other blows started to land on him.
What an unreal quality it had though.  This one little act.  This one droplet of cruelty amid the sea that seemed to be sweeping the country.  You could even sense a kind of self-consciousness among the perpetrators.  Acting out this bit of violence, getting themselves comfortable with it, acclimated to it, this act that they had heard was happening everywhere, trying this new thing out, yet having trouble identifying this old couple, these actual people, with the criminal Juden of the broadcasts.
And then, after the first blow, how much easier it seemed, the next punches coming so much more naturally, the hatred starting to feed on itself, the inner pleasure at inflicting pain.  Yes!  This was going to be a beautiful thing, this new violence!  It was just a question of adjusting to it.  That the victims were old and helpless, that there was nothing that they had actually done to deserve it that anyone could name—wasn’t that really part of the joy?  Wasn’t that liberating in some way?  Because if you could beat these people, punch their elderly faces and kick their sides, with all these others watching, doing nothing to stop it, didn’t that give you a kind of power, not merely over your victims, but over everybody, everything?  Could you not take it even farther, see how far it could go?
There were maybe only six or seven young men actually involved in tormenting this couple, and maybe sixty or seventy watching silently.  Many no doubt shocked, horrified, wishing it would stop.  But silent as an audience watching a performance in a theatre.  Silent as a group of schoolchildren watching a bully pick on someone smaller and weaker.  Each thinking maybe now someone should stop this.  It has gone on long enough.  Someone should intercede.  But who?  How?  Others just incorporating it.  Accepting it.  Who knew.
And then there was that awkward moment.  That end without an end—the victims just lying there bloodied.  The beating done.  Only there was no curtain to lower upon the scene.  And that lack of a proper ending seemed to reveal, even to the perpetrators, the pointlessness of what they had done.  Did they just walk away?  Bow to their audience?  What?  At last it occurred to one of them to spit on the couple.  And then the others recognized the virtue of this, and added their spit.  And their beads of spit landed like hateful, little exclamations points on their victims.  And thus having found a suitable denouement, they turned away, headed off, whooping, breaking into some Nazi song—as though it were the final number in a musical.
Kristallnacht had come to Edelburg. 

For a while the crowd stayed where it was, looked on at those two heaps of suffering, as though still expecting something more to happen.  Wondering if it is over.  Wondering if they should offer assistance, call the police, deposit their own spit.  In the end though, they did none of these.  Instead they just watched for a while more and wandered off, left to sort out their own thoughts.
I was one of the last to leave.  I watched them stagger up.  Alive.  Moaning.  I briefly caught the man’s eye.  At least someone get him his hat, I thought.  But I didn’t.  I left.  Just as the others had.
Just a few more blocks to Sylvia’s, and now I felt even more urgently the need to reach her.  I was aware of forms passing this way and that.  More than would normally have been out at that hour.  I heard muffled voices.  But it was difficult to see very much.  The night was moonless.  Who were they?  It was hard to make out.
I waited across the street for a while, until it seemed there was nobody around.  Then I slipped around the back of Sylvia’s house and tossed a pebble at the window.   A moment later I was inside.  I was in her arms.  That same shocking nakedness through her nightgown.  Pressed against her.  We tiptoed up to her room, just as we had on my last visit.  I undressed.  Slipped into her bed.   At first I was still seeing that scene at Vanderplatz that I had witnessed.  That vignette.  And then in another instant it was gone.  As though a great wave came over consciousness itself, obliterating everything.  Because how could this beautiful sensation and that horrid memory coexist?  Or maybe I just willed it away.  I just wanted the pureness of the moment.  No past and no future.   No words.  Just the sensation, the great ocean-wave of desire, flooding everything.  So that when the bed creaked it was as though reality itself had given us a little nudge.  No, you cannot forget me.  I am right outside.  I am waiting for you.




About the Author

Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.

Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.

His latest release is the literary novel, The Feet Say Run.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK