Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Happy Canada Day!


Happy Canada Day!

I know I've been a bit scarce blogging lately. It's a busy time in the Carlton household these days. Lots of changes going on. But I just wanted to drop in to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day. 🎆🍁🥂 I hope you enjoy your day. I know it won't be as jubilant this year with all that's going on around the world, but I hope you have an awesome day. Please take care. Stay safe and well, my friends. 

In honor of the day, I've posted the first couple of chapters from one of my favorite stories, Lost Time, over on Pick a Genre Already if you'd like to have a read. A Canadian girl ventures to the UK.

Hannah Keys thinks she's setting off on the trip of her dreams—a month in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland—but after one mishap after another—beginning with her best friend abandoning her in the airport and ending with the man of her dreams dead—she's renaming it the vacation from hell!

I also want to wish my American friends a Happy upcoming Independence Day on the 4th! 🎉



Friday, 15 May 2020

Hot #99cent Book Deals! Enjoy this intriguing excerpt from Book 3 in the Lustful Possession Series, The Fall of Cairnnon Castle #timetravel #DarkRomance


Meet the O’Cairnnon’s — a fate most do not survive...

A seemingly harmless paranormal investigation sparks a series of haunting events that ultimately sends an international team of supernatural investigators to Ireland and to one of the most haunted destinations in all of Europe… Castle Cairnnon. A saga sweeping several generations of characters, in an unsettling and at times horrific tale with many twists and turns, and a stunning conclusion you won’t see coming.

Travel Through Time and Unravel the Mystery of Cairnnon Castle


Each book in the Lustful Possession Saga, only .99¢ through May 31st at eXtasy Books

Please note: Though this collection of short stories is predominantly dark erotic paranormal—at times verging on horror—it runs the gamut in sub-genre cross-overs and eras—from contemporary to historical time-travel, and back again. The series also incorporates both m/f and m/m couplings, plus scenes with multi-partner interaction, m/m/m and m/f/f

Enjoy this intriguing teaser from my favorite book in LP series —can I say that? 😲 The Fall of Cairnnon Castle. It's got a little bit of everything I love to read and write, some time-travel—the present to historical—a heaping of mystery, a touch of horror, and two ruggedly handsome, medieval Irishmen, twin brothers no less, battling over one woman.


Caught in a cave-in, Scientist Neve Brádach, lies broken and dying, trapped inside the most haunted castle in Ireland with the infamous elemental, Bás a thagann. Neve is left defenseless to fight it and is forced to suffer a life that is not her own...
Prologue

Cairnnon Castle, Ireland—The Present 

The earth underneath me quakes. The sky above me falls. It rains down on me. Pain explodes inside my head. My ribs break. I am crushed.

A deafening rumble offends my ears. My body is tossed and crumpled, battered by debris. It goes on for an eternity.

And then...

Silence. Stillness.

The pain is immense. Like nothing I’ve ever endured in my life.

Oh, God! Please! I implore wordlessly. I cannot speak, scream, or moan.

My eyes are closed. But beyond me, there’s brightness, so vivid I detect it through my closed eyelids. I try to open them, but none of my faculties are functioning. I am heavy. My lungs are burning. It hurts to even take shallow breaths. I concentrate on the unenviable task of simply inhaling in and out—an action I have obviously taken for granted all these years. The dust is choking me. I try not to cough. I will split apart if I do. My ribcage has already splintered with the weight upon me.

A low hum begins. It is annoying, but as it goes on it becomes comforting, harmonious.

As the fire in my chest subsides, I am lethargic, sleepy, and content.

Stillness.

I know what this is. It is elemental. Inevitable, from the moment we take our first breath.

I wait for it...

Death comes.


For a more adult teaser, hop on over to Pick a Genre Already for the continuation of this scene and a little bit more! 

For the quick blurbs of each book in the saga find last week's post HERE
or Check out The Lustful Possession Series @ eXtasy Books
.99¢ each through May 31st



Check out my eXtasy book page for lots of savings and more variety, including editor's choice, historical romance, The Devil Take You and reader favorite, mafia romance, the Always Cambridge Series

I believe your stay in purgatory has only just begun… 


Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage.

Known in the Highlands as the legendary devil, Gard Marschand, raids his way across Scotland and England amassing power and property in his malevolent wake. He will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost—even conceal his true identity and associate with his enemies. His determination is all-consuming until he and his men, lay siege to Ross-shire and one feisty Scottish lass obliterates his single-minded purpose.


Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need for revenge for a love that just might save his rotten soul? Or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within?



Always Cambridge
Saga, Romantic Suspense, Love Triangle, Mafia Romance, Sex & Violence

Caught up in a bitter blood feud with a rival crime family and unable to bear the violence that claimed her mother, Holly embarks on an epic journey of love, loss and life-altering choices, only to discover a truth she's feared all along... Mob life is forever



On Sale eXtasy Books




Sin Bin 

priest, erotic romance, taboo, sacred & profane

Father Daunté Bennifetto suddenly finds himself in charge of his childhood parish and all of its parishioners, including Camillah Lima, the woman he can’t seem to forget. True to form, the wild girl he remembers hasn’t changed a bit, headlining at a strip club. 


Night after night, Father Bennifetto finds himself worshiping at Camillah’s feet, in a club appropriately named, The Sin Bin.

~ Sin Bin is FREE at Smashwords until May 31st



If You Can’t Handle the Heat
erotic, romance, dubious consent, light bdsm

An unlikely couple is brought together as celebrity judges on a reality-based cooking show. When Chef Sesto Théodore meets erotic author Syn Fully—personalities clash, sparks fly, and morals go up in smoke. Getting together would be a recipe for disaster, but hot sex with no-strings couldn’t hurt. At least not until real feelings get involved. Somebody’s about to get burned!

~ If You Can’t Handle the Heat is also FREE at Smashwords until May 31st




SWAP

forbidden love, erotic romance, be forewarned this story contains infidelity

Hailey Hollinger has it all—a great husband, a fantastic career, good friends… and one hot brother-in-law who won’t stay out of her fantasies

~ Fan fave SWAP is 60% off over at Smashwords

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Beat the boredom. Invest some time in a series new-to-you! Grab the Lustful Possession Saga books #99cents each thru May 31st #paranormal #darkromance & more Book Deals!

Hello Friends, Readers & Visitors:

Thanks for stopping by. If, like me, you are having trouble occupying your time, I have some deals to share. Strangely, I have time to read and write, but honestly, I don't even want to. My heart's just not in it. I was struggling with diminished ambition before the pandemic, and it's even worse now. So, I've been house cleaning, as I know most of you are — Have you ever washed your hands so much in your whole life? — And my hubby and I have been busy clearing up the flower beds in the garden. The weather is only now beginning to be nice enough here in Ontario, to get out there. The wind still has a chill to it. We had wet snow last week. The flurries continue this week, but with no real accumulation. But my hardy little daffodils don't care, they are up along with the grape hyacinths. Oh, and my red Trillium is in bloom. [Fun fact: The white Trillium is the official flower of Ontario.] I think nature is the only thing that's 'normal' this year.




Anyway, 'nuff about me. If you are looking for some reads to occupy some time or for some much needed distraction — if even for just a little bit — the following list contains .99¢ reads, free reads to download, and bargain books on sale, in a variety of sub-genres, though all adult erotic romance.

Please stay safe and well.

Take Care, folks
Kymmie
aka H K Carlton





While home bound why not start a series New To You? Like the Lustful Possession Saga — the haunting serial that breaks all the romance rules! Each book in the series is only .99¢ until May 31st at eXtasy Books!

Meet the O’Cairnnon’s — a fate most do not survive...

A seemingly harmless paranormal investigation sparks a series of haunting events that ultimately sends an international team of supernatural investigators to Ireland and to one of the most haunted destinations in all of Europe… Castle Cairnnon. A saga sweeping several generations of characters, in an unsettling and at times horrific tale with many twists and turns, and a stunning conclusion you won’t see coming.

Travel Through Time and Unravel the Mystery of Cairnnon Castle


Please note: Though this collection of short stories is predominantly dark erotic paranormal—at times verging on horror—it runs the gamut in sub-genre cross-overs and eras—from contemporary to historical time-travel, and back again. The series also incorporates both m/f and m/m couplings, plus scenes with multi-partner interaction, m/m/m and m/f/f




Part 1 - Meet Me in the Dark
(m/f, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, ghosts, possession)

Crishtin Davenport thought she was attending a simple Halloween event—a good scare to get the blood pumping. Little does she know her actions that night would unleash an ancient evil.

Part 2 - Dark Foursome
(m/f, paranormal, erotic, contemporary, ghosts, possession)

A foursome takes on a whole new aspect when a fledgling couple, is hijacked by two randy spirits, who then use their corporeal bodies to recapture the sexual pleasures they enjoyed while inhabiting the physical world.

The saga takes a sudden medieval time-travel twist in Part 3 - The Fall of Cairnnon Castle (m/f, time-travel, Ireland, historical, paranormal, dark erotic, verging on horror)

Cairnnon Castle is one of the most haunted places on earth and home to one of the most evil entities ever documented. When an enthusiastic troop of paranormal investigators descends on the ancient stronghold, all hell breaks loose.

Meet the O'Cairnnon's - a fate most do not survive...


Part 4 - Rising From the Darkness
(m/m, paranormal, erotic, contemporary)

U.S. paranormal investigators return to Ireland to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fall of Castle Cairnnon. But what they find instead might set the paranormal community on it’s collective ear.

Part 5 - Dark Seed
(paranormal, erotic, contemporary, m/f story with m/m interaction)

The supernatural investigators' astounding discovery at Cairnnon Castle, can only be described as a miracle.

Or perhaps one blessing, is just another curse.


Part 6 - Bending Darkness
(m/f, paranormal, erotic, time-travel, historical)

The Cairnnon curse threatens to turn one woman's dreams of happily-ever-after into a hellish nightmare.

And Part 7 - Dark Defeat - The stunning conclusion to the Lustful Possession saga (paranormal, dark erotic, time-travel, historical, an m/f story with f/f and m/f/f interaction)

Hell-bent on saving her children, a mother will stop at nothing to defeat the evil that stalks her family, or at the very least, she’ll die trying.

Evil never gambled on battling one pissed off mother!



Each book is only .99¢ until May 31st at eXtasy Books






Sin Bin 
priest, erotic romance, taboo, sacred & profane

Father Daunté Bennifetto suddenly finds himself in charge of his childhood parish and all of its parishioners, including Camillah Lima, the woman he can’t seem to forget. True to form, the wild girl he remembers hasn’t changed a bit, headlining at a strip club. Night after night, Father Bennifetto finds himself worshiping at Camillah’s feet, in a club appropriately named, The Sin Bin.

~ Sin Bin is FREE at Smashwords until May 31st

 

If You Can’t Handle the Heat
erotic, romance, dubious consent, light bdsm

An unlikely couple is brought together as celebrity judges on a reality-based cooking show. When Chef Sesto Théodore meets erotic author Syn Fully—personalities clash, sparks fly, and morals go up in smoke. Getting together would be a recipe for disaster, but hot sex with no-strings couldn’t hurt. At least not until real feelings get involved. Somebody’s about to get burned!

~ If You Can’t Handle the Heat is also FREE at Smashwords until May 31st





SWAP

forbidden love, erotic romance, be forewarned this story contains infidelity

Hailey Hollinger has it all—a great husband, a fantastic career, good friends… and one hot brother-in-law who won’t stay out of her fantasies

~ Fan fave SWAP is 60% off over at Smashwords

 

In the Flesh
ff, lesbian, les fic, erotic romance, organized crime

Assigned the unenviable task of taking down the untouchable Travino crime family, undercover ATF Agent Kate Benson is thrown into the seedy underworld of organized crime. Posing as Vivienne, Kate meets exotic dancer Carly… In The Flesh



#99cents @ Pride Publishing and Amazon




Check out my eXtasy book page for lots of savings and more variety, including editor's choice, historical romance, The Devil Take You and reader favorite, mafia romance, the Always Cambridge Series

I believe your stay in purgatory has only just begun… 


Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage.

Known in the Highlands as the legendary devil, Gard Marschand, raids his way across Scotland and England amassing power and property in his malevolent wake. He will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost—even conceal his true identity and associate with his enemies. His determination is all-consuming until he and his men, lay siege to Ross-shire and one feisty Scottish lass obliterates his single-minded purpose.
Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need for revenge for a love that just might save his rotten soul? Or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within?

140k + Super Novel

Always Cambridge
Saga, Romantic Suspense, Love Triangle, Mafia Romance, Sex & Violence

Caught up in a bitter blood feud with a rival crime family and unable to bear the violence that claimed her mother, Holly embarks on an epic journey of love, loss and life-altering choices, only to discover a truth she's feared all along... Mob life is forever


On Sale eXtasy Books


Take Care. Stay safe and well, my friends.
💜🌷💜🌈

Thursday, 23 April 2020

#FlashbackFriday Relive the dramatic moment that changed everything - Always Cambridge, bk 1, is on Sale, Only #99cents until April 30th #RomanticSuspense

The Always Cambridge Saga

Romantic Suspense, Mafia Romance, Saga 

Caught up in a bitter blood feud with a rival crime family and unable to bear the violence that claimed her mother, Holly Cambridge sets out to right her father's wrongs, but instead she embarks on an epic journey of love, loss, and life-altering choices, only to discover a truth she's feared all along... Mob life is forever 

The book that started it all, book 1 in the Always Cambridge Series is only .99¢ for a limited time.


This story is a true saga, following Holly from the age of nine, through her violent teen years, and eventually into her forties. Each installment starts where the last leaves off. The violence and sexual content amps up in later installments, reflecting Holly's age as she matures and circumstances change.

Our lucky heroine also has a trio of formidable men who weave their way in and out of her tumultuous life. Randy Phillips, her beloved body guard. Special Agent, Alex Orton, from the FBI, and surprisingly of all, Victor Mayhue, the son from a rival crime family. But Holly doesn't need a man to swoop in and save her, no, she's quite capable of taking care of herself. In fact, often she rescues them.

See what readers are saying on Goodreads

Awesome Reviews like this one...

I would not have enjoyed reading Running if I hadn't taken the time to get to know the main character in Always Cambridge. I would not appreciate how much she has evolved as a young adult if the author had not so meticulously laid out the events that made up her formative years, childhood through teen years. It was really amazing to see her character develop from a scared, unsure and wounded teen-ager in Always Cambridge to the strong and courageous young woman in Running. And she is a true heroine. She has so many character traits that are lacking in this genre. A very real, very endearing combination of insecurities and bravado, sensuality and naivety, duplicity and at the same time more integrity than any of her male counterparts... To read the entire review click HERE

Or check out one of my all-time favorite reviews from Pages2BigScreens
https://www.pages2bigscreens.com/blog/always-forever-a-family

"I could see this on Lifetime as a 3-part series movie. The dynamic of the story is realistic and heart-wrenching, I cried, I laughed, & I loved throughout this entire saga—"


Book 1 in the Always Cambridge Series

He is her guardian, but she’ll do anything within her power to protect him. His only duty is to keep her safe, but he can’t save her. 

Holly Cambridge is just a typical kid, or so she thinks, until one day, she takes a good look around and realizes her friends don’t have bodyguards dogging their every step.

At the age of sixteen, Holly is assigned a new bodyguard, Randy Phillips. He is a tall, muscular, God-like force in the young, impressionable and lonely girl’s life. He is her friend, her confident, her conscience, and the older man she adores beyond reason.

Randy Phillips is fully aware of his young charge’s adolescent crush on him. Although he is flattered by the adulation, he maintains a safe distance and professional demeanor until Holly is wounded in a rival family blood feud, and the course of both their lives is changed forever.


Excerpt from Always Cambridge, Book 1  Warning for Language

Chapter Twelve 

"Randy!"

Patrick appeared in the doorway of Cambridge’s office. I’d been sitting here all goddamn afternoon trying to figure out what was up with the computer system when all I wanted to do was get back to Holly. It was times like these that I realized I still had a lot to learn. Maybe I should have let her come with me. She would have diagnosed the problem and had it fixed by now. And she’d be with me and I wouldn’t be worried about her and my stomach wouldn’t hurt. I rubbed the back of my neck again trying to brush away the cold feeling. 

“Randy! They’ve been hit.” 

“Shit! Which patrol?” I asked still distracted. When Paddy didn’t answer right away I looked to where he stood in the door. He was pale and I could see him trembling from where I sat. 

“Jeffy and Dale,” he answered gravely. 

A cold hole punched into my chest. “Holly?” 

He nodded once. “They’re all down.” 

I raced past him, pulling on my coat as I ran. I jammed into the nearest car in the courtyard—a whole procession of them were ready to leave. “Hurry the fc*k up!” I yelled. 

Everyone in the car was talking as we pulled away. I didn’t listen. I couldn’t. My head was buzzing. It was full of noise. My chest hurt. I felt cold but I could feel sweat beading on my forehead and running down my back.

Could we not go any f*ckin’ faster? 

“Are the cops there?” someone asked. 

“Yeah, cops are everywhere. EMTs are there too.” 

I felt like I was going to jump out of my own skin. “Hurry the f*ck up,” I cursed at them as we came to a stop. 

“F*ck off, Phillips. I’m goin’ as fast as I can. Traffics backed up because of the…” 

I didn’t hear the rest. I couldn’t take it anymore. I bolted from the car and ran towards the food bank. About a block away, I was stopped by cops barring anyone entrance. They had barricades up and yellow tape to keep people out. 

F*ck! I had to get to her. I should have been there! 

I looked around. Down the alley. Up to the rooftops. 

I pushed the guy in front of me hard, so he’d collide with the cop who wouldn’t let me through. While they wrestled, I sprinted down the alleyway, through the back door of the bakery, ran through the store and out the front door. Now I was on the inside of the barricades. There were people everywhere. I kept my head down, moving without being noticed. 

The rest of the guys arrived at the cordoned off area. I heard the Cambridge name and the cops went into a fc*kin’ frenzy. I took off, using them as a distraction. There would be some arrests, I knew. We were armed for this war. 

As I approached the food bank I saw broken glass everywhere. The plate glass windows were gone from every store in the vicinity, shattered. As I moved closer to the black Cambridge car I could see that it was riddled with bullet holes. 

I saw Dale first. He was face down, his body half on the sidewalk, half on the road. Behind the car, a pool of blood ran like a rivulet down the crease between the curb and the road. 

Holly! My mind screamed her name. 

Everything around me seemed to be moving in slow motion. Even me. I wanted to go faster but I couldn’t seem to get my body to catch up with my racing mind. The only thing I could hear was my own ragged breathing and my heartbeat drumming in my ears, and the blaring sirens off in the distance. 

Holly! 

Jeffy was on his back, closer to the building. The back of his head was gone. 

Holly! 

Trent lay face down on the sidewalk, his big body blocking the door of the food bank, as if he’d tried to put himself between the bullets and…Holly! 

An ambulance was backed up against the curb, back doors wide open. Cops stood in front of the store entrance, taking pictures and numbering spent casings. 

F*ck! They were all dead! 

Holly! 

I moved towards the door. I saw EMTs and a stretcher inside the building. One of the paramedics came to the door and said to a uniform, “We’re ready to transport. Can you move this guy so we can get out?” 

“Yeah. I think we’ve got all the pictures we need. Just need a chalk line.” 

“Hurry up, this one’s getting shocky,” came another voice from inside. 

“Holly?” Was that my voice? 

“You can’t go in there?” said one cop. 

“How’d you get here?” asked the other. 

Mrs. Small was just inside the door holding a bandage to her head. Her shirt and face were covered in blood. I pushed at the cop, suddenly more frantic than ever to get in there. The clawing inside my chest was gonna blow. The cop held me back. 

“Holly!” I roared. 

“Please let him through,” Mrs. Small cried. “He’s the young lady’s young man. She needs him. Please.” 

“We can’t let you in there. You’ll contaminate our crime scene.” 

“Oh, God!” My head swam. My vision took on a tunnel like quality. Crime scene. “Please!” My own voice echoed in my head. “Please. Just tell me. Tell me she’s not dead!” 

Just then the police pushed me back out of the way. It took eight of them to lift big Trent onto a stretcher, to remove his lifeless body from the doorway. 

I was breathing hard. The clawing was nearly out of my chest. 

Mrs. Small stepped out first. She was trembling and stumbling over the shards of thick broken glass and the forgotten food cans. One of the cops kicked at the tins to clear a path for her. Another cop took hold of her arm and guided her into the back of the ambulance. 

I saw the expanse of a large man’s blue shirt backing out of the door holding one end of a stretcher on wheels. But it wouldn’t roll through all the debris. They carried the stretcher over the threshold as if it weighed nothing. 

“Holly?” my voice broke on a sob. I ran to her side. “Oh, God, Hol,” was all I could choke as I looked down at her. She was alive. I could feel uncharacteristic wet warmth on my face. 

The pretty white blouse that she had so carefully donned this morning was saturated in bright red blood. The paramedics had cut it to inspect her wound—wounds? I didn’t know. I couldn’t tell. They had her all covered up to her neck, except for her right arm. It was bandaged round and round her upper arm. Blood had already begun to seep through the center of the white gauze. 

My breath felt like a freight train hurtling through my chest. 

My gaze traveled from her arm, up. Her beautiful blonde hair had come out of the sloppy bun that she’d arranged. My mind kept flashing to her walking towards me, just this morning, dressed all pretty. The lacy white blouse and skirt. Her hair up. So pretty. Such a teenager on the verge of becoming a beautiful young woman. I couldn’t get my mind to wrap around the fact that that same girl was the one lying here. Not my Holly. Please. Not my girl. 

The ends of her hair were red with drying blood. Someone groaned. I swallowed hard. My stomach rolled with fear. 

Her lovely green eyes were closed. Her smooth skin pale. An oxygen mask covered her sweet mouth. 

“Sir. Sir! You need to move. We need to hurry!” 

 I got pushed. 

All of a sudden she shook almost violently. One paramedic looked at the other. “She’s going into shock.” 

They hurried to the back of the ambulance. I mirrored their movements. 

“Holly. Holly. I’m here.” Her lids lifted for a split second, then closed again, as if they were too heavy for her to keep open. She tried again, with the same result. Her uninjured hand fluttered out of the sheet and she groped. I lunged at it, grasping it in both of mine. 

Her cheeks trembled uncontrollably as if she were cold and her mouth worked stiffly. “Randy,” she croaked on a pathetic sob. 

“I’m here, Holly, I’m here.” 

Her eyes tried to function, but they didn’t open. A tear slid out of the corner of her eye and into her hair. Again, her whole body shook. 

“Sir. We need to go,” the EMT barked at me again. A cop pulled at my arm. I shook him off. I was not going to let go of her hand. 

“I need to go with her.” 

The EMT gaped at me like I was the village idiot. “Sir. We are going to the General. You can meet us there.” 

“Like F*ck! I’m going with her,” I gritted through my teeth. 

The EMTs exchanged a wary look. They knew what I was. Then one looked at the cop, I assume wondering if he should have me arrested. 

The other paramedic made the decision and asked me to my utter horror, “Are you her father?” His stare conveyed the message that I needed to play along or go to jail. I was grateful, but still, F*ck! Did I really seem that much older than her? 

“Yeah, Yeah. I’m her f*ckin’ father,” I agreed belligerently. In what f*ckin’ universe would anyone believe that. 

To my surprise the cop let go of my arm. “Go ahead.” His focus had shifted to the commotion going on down the street and the radios blaring. No doubt I could thank my comrades in arms for the timely distraction. 

They loaded her into the back of the bus and I took a seat next to Mrs. Small. 

The EMT secured Holly’s belts and attached the tethers that held the stretcher in place, as the driver slammed the back doors. 

Her body convulsed again. Her lips trembled constantly now. This scared the hell out me. I had seen men die before and they shuddered just like that before they took their last breath. 

 “How bad is she?” I asked. 

The EMT took the stethoscope and listened to her heart and her chest. He then wrapped the blood pressure cuff around her uninjured arm and hit the button on the box that would take her BP automatically at set intervals. 

The ambulance moved slowly through the crowded street. 

The paramedic moved over, keying the mike attached to his shoulder. 

“Bus 14A to General.” 

“Go ahead, 14A,” came a voice in response. 

“We have a female, approximately fourteen years of age.” 

“She’s sixteen,” I blurted. 

“Sorry, I have just been informed by her father,” I did not miss the sarcasm, “she’s sixteen.” 

“Father?” Mrs. Small repeated in confusion. 

I gave her an exasperated look and shook my head. 

“Female, sixteen years of age, gunshot wound to the right bicep. Bullets still in there. Bleeding is under control for the moment. Unknown head injury.” 

“Head wound also a GSW?” came the voice from the radio. 

“Doesn’t seem to be. Blunt force trauma more likely. BP’s steady. But she’s in shock.” 

“Conscious?” 

“No.” 

“Has she been?” 

“Yes, briefly.” 

Her slight frame spasmed again. My traitorous stomach rolled. 

“How far out are you?” came the voice from the hospital. 

“ETA ten minutes.” 

“10-4 Bus 14A.” 

“How bad is she?” I repeated. 

He glared at me as if I was the last person in the world he wanted to give information to but he said, “She’s stable.” I thought that was all he was going to say. I was about to reach across and take him by the front of his shirt when he said, “She’ll need surgery to remove the bullet. But I’m more concerned over the head injury.” He looked at me then, and I could see the seriousness in his eyes. 

“She saved my life,” Mrs. Small croaked. “We heard the shots. I didn’t know what it was. She threw herself at me.” The older lady broke down then. 

The siren sounded as we hit open road. We picked up speed, leaving the police barricades behind. 

“Go on, Mrs. Small,” I said. I wanted to know every detail. 

“It happened so fast. As she ran at me, I could already see the blood on her sleeve, but she didn’t slow. She didn’t think of herself.” 

That would be Holly. She always thought of others first. 

“She put herself between me and the…” She swallowed as the reality hit her. “We hit the floor and the shelf came down on us. I felt her go limp. So, I did the same. Just in case they came in to see if there were any survivors.” 

“Did they come in, Mrs. Small?” I needed to know. 

“No. No one came in until I heard the sirens. The police were the first ones into the store. They were afraid to move Holly. They tried to remove the shelving and some of the cans off of her. We just stayed that way until you guys arrived.” Mrs. Small looked at the EMT. “Then they carefully moved Holly off of me.” 

I examined the cut on her head and my gaze skipped over her shirt. “That’s all Holly’s blood?” I asked. 

She looked down at herself and closed her eyes as she nodded. 

Holly convulsed again. 

“How far away are we now?” 

“Approximately three minutes,” the medic answered me. 

“Was she conscious at all while you were on the floor of the store?” the EMT asked her. 

“Just for a moment,” she answered him and then turned to me. “She called your name.” 

I looked away from the woman and back down at Holly. I should have been there! 

The EMT took off the BP cuff. He swabbed the soft inner part of her elbow with an alcohol swab and tied a thick elastic band tight around her upper arm. 

“What are you doing?” I demanded. 

“Just putting in an IV. She’s in shock. She needs fluid to replenish her blood supply. And it will be easier for them to administer medication through when we reach the hospital. You wouldn’t want them pricking her every time they need to give her pain meds or antibiotics. She’s going to need both.” 

No. I didn’t want them pricking her. At this precise moment I didn’t want anyone f*cking touching her at all. I had the most overwhelming impulse to pick her up and run. 

The medic took two fingers and swatted, snappy and hard on her soft flesh. Her vein bulged. Pushing the needle , he released the tourniquet simultaneously. He reached up and released the dam and let the fluid flow freely down the line into her arm. Then he taped the needle and tubing securely into place. 

We pulled up to the emergency bay at the hospital. The back doors opened. They wheeled her out. I clung to her hand and followed beside her. 

The paramedic was updating the emergency staff as we hurried down the corridor. He was speaking fast and spouting off numbers that meant f*ck all to me. They wheeled her behind a curtain. Nurses converged on her, flinging the blanket back. There was so much blood. Bright. Red. Blood 

“Sir, you need to get out of the way.” 

A large nurse pushed her ample hip between Holly and me, breaking my hold on her hand. Then as a group they picked Holly up with the edges of the sheet and moved her from the stretcher to another gurney. The paramedics wheeled it away with them. 

A different nurse placed another IV bag onto the pole above Holly’s head. I got pushed farther and farther back as a swarm of people worked on her. 

A guy, I assume he was an ER doc rushed in. He didn’t look any older than me. “What’s her name?” he asked the nurses. 

“Holly. Her name is Holly,” I supplied. 

“Holly,” he was practically yelling at her. “Holly, can you hear me?” He made a fist and viciously rubbed his knuckles between her breasts. I fisted my hand fiercely. I wanted to rip his f*ckin’ heart out. I couldn’t stand him touching her so roughly. He said something and the nurse holding the clipboard wrote it down. 

Another nurse took some tiny, crooked scissors and cut what was left of her bloody blouse off. The blood had soaked through her bra and made the material translucent. The nurse proceeded to cut her bra away exposing her young pale flesh. I closed my eyes and turned away. I covered my face and tried to keep myself under control. I was losin’ it. I couldn’t stand to see her this way. I should have been there! F*ck! This was all my fault. Why had I not just taken her with me when I was called away, like she’d asked me to? I knew her better than Cambridge. I knew what she needed. What I needed. 

As I swiped my hand down my face wiping away the moisture there, I opened my eyes to see an extremely pale, shaky Patrick staring hard at me from across the corridor. Yeah, well, he caught me f*ckin’ cryin’. I didn’t really give a shit. I shoulda f*ckin’ been there! 

Someone behind me closed the curtain to give her some privacy while they worked. I made my way towards Patrick. He didn’t speak but I could see the question in his eyes. 

“I don’t know how bad. They seem less concerned about the bullet in her arm than they do the trauma to her head.” 

Patrick, my strong godfather, who never buckled under any circumstance, wavered in front of my eyes and I had to reach out to steady him. “Was she shot in the head?” 

“No, she got hit in the head when the shelving came down.” I looked around the corridor and half the household was already here. 

“Where’s Cambridge,” I asked. 

“He’s not coming.” I moved my head closer to Patrick, thinking I’d heard wrong. “He’s not coming?” I repeated incredulous. 

“He thinks the situation is too volatile. Too dangerous for him to come.” 

“His daughter is in there for Christ’s sake. Maybe dying. I don’t know! And he’s not f*cking coming?” I couldn’t f*ckin’ believe it. 

“Be quiet.” Patrick ordered trying to calm me down. 

Just then the curtain opened and they wheeled Holly forwards. Our whole assemblage converged around her as one. The medics faced some extremely uneasy, anxious violent men. More than one of the guys shifted their suit coats to reveal their weapons. 

“Stand down,” Patrick ordered quietly but authoritatively. 

“You the father?” asked the doctor. 

“Yes,” Patrick answered. 

I shot him a confounded stare. 

“I have her father’s power of attorney to make decisions where the child is concerned,” he clarified, more in control of himself. 

Holly convulsed again and the whole entourage shuddered with her. I wasn’t the only man standing here that would gladly trade places with her. This hardened, heartless group of trained assassins were not untouched when it came to our little one. She looked after us and we were supposed to do the same for her. We’d let her down. 

“Where are you taking her?” I asked. 

“Who are you?” the doctor asked, sizing me up. 

“I’m her bodyguard,” I said. I could tell by the look he gave me that he thought I had failed at guarding her body. Yeah. I had failed. I should have been there. 

“Who is she?” the doc asked. 

“What the f*ck does it matter who she is, just get going and save her!” I yelled. 

“Holly Cambridge,” Patrick said gravely, but his eyes conveyed much, much more to the ER doctor. 

“Ah,” the doctor responded, obviously recognizing the last name. “We’re taking her for an MRI and perhaps a CT scan, which will tell us how bad the head injury is and if she is stable enough to undergo the surgery needed to remove the bullet lodged in her upper arm,” he explained, thankfully in terms we could understand. “We need to move her, guys. Time is not our friend here.” She convulsed again, as if to confirm his statement. 

“Can I come with her?” I asked, and I didn’t know if it was the show of force behind me or the fact that this guy might actually have some compassion that persuaded him to let me accompany her, but he did and I didn’t care why. 

They wheeled her to x-ray. I couldn’t go in the room with her but I watched through the widow and I observed the technician surveying the computer screen. Holly was pushed into a long tube like vessel, her little feet sticking out the only part of her that I could see. Pictures of her brain flashed across the screens, colors and splotches of nothingness. 

A doctor came in and examined the images flashing. He lowered his glasses. “You Mr. Cambridge?” 

“No.” I answered. 

“You her brother?” 

“Sure,” I said. Whatever they wanted to believe was fine with me as long as they could tell me something about her condition. “Who are you?” I asked him. 

“Dr. Clark, Neurologist. Things look good. No bleeding. No swelling. Definitely concussed.” 

“So is she stable enough to remove the bullet?” 

“From a neurological stand point, yes.” 

“Why isn’t she waking up?” I asked. 

“Shock of the trauma, probably. Her brain is protecting her.” 

“But she’ll wake up, right?” 

“She should.” 

His nonchalance was getting to me. “What the f*ck do you mean, she should? You’re the f*ckin’ doctor. Don’t you know?” 

“Anything can happen,” he said with a careless shrug, and then he left the room, leaving me gaping. 

They wheeled Holly out and straight to the surgical wing. I held her hand. Patrick was already there, waiting for us. 

I was not allowed to go any further. “You’ll have to say good-bye here,” said a kind-faced nurse dressed in surgical garb, a cap covering her hair. “We’ll take good care of her,” she promised me. She started to take off Holly’s sweet sixteen necklace. It was a miracle that it was still there after all she’d been through. I held out my hand and the nurse dropped the chain into my palm. I squeezed tight. It was warm from her skin. I knew she hadn’t taken it off since the night I’d given it to her. She’d be pissed if she knew it had been removed. 

I bent down near her ear. “Holly. I’m here. I’ll be here when you come out. I won’t leave you again. ‘Kay?” There was so much more that I wanted to say but couldn’t. I felt like I was losing her. Like they’d wheel her away and I’d never see her again. I’d failed her. It was my fault she was here, and I was so incredibly sorry. 

I smoothed her blonde hair back from her forehead and I kissed her there. When I pulled away her eyes were open but I didn’t think she was really seeing me until she croaked through the oxygen mask, “I love you.” Her eyes fluttered shut and another lone tear escaped and rolled down. I caught it between my fingertips and then they wheeled her away from me.

# # # #

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Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.
Take care. Stay safe and well, my friends
Kymmie
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