Stone of Destiny–COTT Champ!

A hearty congratulations to Mary Ball, author of Stone of Destiny!

And a special thank-you to these authors for entering their great new releases:

Bonnie Doran, author of Dark Biology

Laura V. Hilton, author of Awakened Love

Maddy Lederman, author of Edna in the Desert

Julie Cantrell, author of When Mountains Move


 

About Stone of Destiny:

Taylor has given up on everything but her work. After becoming the youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company, she believes life is complete–until her grandmother asks her to oversee the renovations of the family home, in addition to searching for a missing heirloom.

Her first contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. Taylor experiences strange. Unexpected feelings surface that she doesn’t understand. Thoughts that should remain unspoken are voiced. Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself and forcing her to question everything she believes. Is this a fairytale, or simply her soul reaching out for a different world–a life she can only find through faith and a divine trust in God?

What Voters Had to Say:

Mary L. Ball, I am looking forward to reading Stone of Destiny! The story sounds amazing.

Mary, your title sounds interesting. I like the idea of following the trail of an heirloom.

Stone of Destiny is one I look forward to reading.

Mary does such great work. What a mind ! I have been looking forward to her new book ever since I first heard about the storyline.

Mary Ball’s Stone of Destiny excerpt takes a Christian believer out of the box.

Mary Ball is an excellent author. I am looking forward to her next book.

Stone of Destiny is good reading. You’ll love it.

To to a wonderful beautiful lady Mary L. Ball keep on writing you are the best and your books are wonderful

About the author, Mary Ball:

She is a member of ACFW and lives in North Carolina between the wondrous mountains and beautiful beaches. When she’s not writing, Mary enjoys supporting her husband’s ministry,singing, fishing, and reading a good novel.

For more about Mary visit her at http://MaryLouwrites.weebly.com

Find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/inspires4mary <https://twitter.com/inspires4mary

and facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inspirational-author-Mary-L-Ball/

Reviews for Stone of Destiny

 

Stone of Destiny by Mary L. Ball is a wonderful story of romance and one finding their way back to God through faith and trust. Taylor Harrison is the youngest CEO at the Mugful Beverage Company and she feels that her life is complete. With great trepidation she agrees to oversee the renovation of her grandmother’s family home. Fifty years earlier, a sapphire ring was lost in the house and Granny Kay wants Taylor to search for the ring as the renovations are being made. After finding the ring, Taylor begins to have strange dreams and she is even making phone calls in her sleep at night.

Brent Roberts is the nephew of Granny Kay’s best friend and he has been hired to do the renovations to the house. When he and Taylor meet, she is definitely not impressed even though she thinks he is the most handsome man she has ever seen. Brent is very much in tune with what God wants him to do with his life. His faith and the way he shares his knowledge of God cause Taylor to start questioning some of her beliefs. She soon realizes that she can only find happiness through a true faith in God.

The development of the plot, the characters, the dialogue, and the description of all the scenes were done in an excellent manner. The characters were so real that at times I wanted to shake Taylor and would not have minded if Brent gave me a hug. Granny Kay is the kind of grandma that everyone would love to have and her love for Taylor was a very important part of the story. All the action taking place in the book was so well done that in my mind I was struggling right along with Taylor as she worked to make her decisions and I was pulling for Brent to win Taylor’s heart. I really appreciate the way that the author handled the romance in the story and how Taylor regained her faith in God and finally trusted Him with her life. Searching for the missing ring added a little suspense to the story.

Would she find the ring or would it be lost forever?

I highly recommend this book. If you like a wonderful story with lots of romance, a little bit of suspense, and a story in which faith in God plays a big part, then this is the book for you.

***********************

Mary Ball has written a book that people must read. I have watched a lot of Nicholas Sparks movies and this book ranks up to the top of a Nicholas Sparks love story.

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This is the second book by Mary Ball that I have read. The first one was a mystery/suspense that had me guessing all the way to the end. This one had me intrigued and wondering all the way to the end what path Taylor was going to choose. This story starts out with a bang, literally, and I was wondering how I was going to put this book down to sleep that night. I love decorating and watching HGTV so I was especially interested in Mary’s description of how this old house was being renovated by our very special hero. This book also takes place over a period of time so it is not an insta-love, but one that grows. Though sometimes I did get aggravated with Taylor for some of the choices she was making that would have resulted in a very lonely life.

Brent, our hero, was very patient, knew what he wanted, and pursued Taylor by not be overbearing or controlling. The dreams Taylor would have added an air of mystery to the whole plot and kept me turning the pages just to find out with Taylor why she was having them and what they meant. This book was provided to me by the author and the opinions are my own.
 

Buy Links:

Sierra by Taylor Dean – Book Blast

 

Sierra 99 cents

 

 

sierra cover

Sierra by Taylor Dean

Have you ever been lost in the woods?

Alyssa Fontaine’s life, loved ones—everything familiar and dear—are brutally taken from her.

Taken captive by two men, she endures a horrific nightmare. A new life is forced upon her and even a new name.

Just when it appears that no hope is in sight, she is saved by an unlikely twist of fate. Trapped in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, life will open its arms to her again and she will embrace it. She will find love such as she never knew existed.

Sierra is a heart-wrenching story of the power of the human spirit to survive amidst impossible circumstances and severe losses. It is a story of survival . . . and hope.

 

Smashwords amazon blog 

 

 

Excerpt from Sierra:

This is one of my favorite scenes in Sierra. It’s a pivotal moment, wherein Alyssa’s life can change for the better–or for the worse. After facing extreme cruelty, she is faced with utter kindness. I love the marked difference between her experiences. ~Taylor Dean

“Please sit,” he whispered. Her eyes were drawing him in. She didn’t seem to be scared of him, she seemed to know he wanted to help her. First, he filled a glass with water and held it to her lips. She drank thirstily, but then shook her head negatively when he wanted her to finish all of it. At the sink, he filled a small plastic tub with warm water, grabbed shampoo, and went back to Alyssa. The kitchen sink doubled as his bathroom sink. He had all he needed to clean her up, including a small first aid kit. He knelt in front of her. Once again, he gently touched her chin and lifted her face to his. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears. She had the biggest brown eyes he’d ever seen.

“Just relax and let me take care of you, Alyssa,” he whispered softly.

She responded with a slight nod. Sitting in the kitchen chair, he had her slowly lean her head back till it was resting just above the tub. He gently began to wash her hair, first getting it wet and then massaging the shampoo into her scalp. She winced when he touched the spot where dried blood matted her hair, so he was extra gentle there. Her long hair was tangled and filled with dirt and bits of dried leaves. It took some time to get it clean and several refills of warm water in the tub as he rinsed. Alyssa closed her eyes and relaxed for probably the first time in days. He worked conditioner into the long locks and then had her sit up as he gently combed through it, removing all of the snarls. He then parted the hair where the wound on the scalp was located and took a look at the gash. It was angry and red, and it needed stitches, but would have to wait till he could retrieve his medical supplies from the supply room. He disinfected it with alcohol and moved on.

He again knelt in front of Alyssa. Her eyes opened and stared deeply into his, desperately trying to communicate without words. A lone tear fell, drizzling down her cheek. He brushed it away with his fingertips. This was harder than he thought. He knew this was the first gentle touch she’d felt in days. The abuse she had suffered was obvious to him as he noticed her many bruises. He grabbed his kitchen stool and sat before her. Using a washcloth, he began to wipe her face clean. As he worked, their eyes met and held. Ever so gently he wiped the dirt and grime away from days spent outdoors. And with it he wiped away tears and pain.

“Please help me,” Alyssa whispered.

Alex stole a glance at Pa and Adam. Pa’s eyes were closed and a soft snore emanated from him. Adam was wide awake, his shotgun pointed at Alex, but he stared into the fire sullenly. Alex leaned forward to grab the tube of anti-biotic ointment on the table. With his lips to her ear as he brushed past, he whispered, “Everything’s going to be all right, Alyssa. I won’t let them take you, I promise.”

Alex then applied the salve to the small cuts on her face and lips. Each and every one of his ministrations clearly brought relief to her. Every time Alex looked her in the eyes, she met him with eyes that spoke volumes. He refilled the tub and washed her arms and hands and then took his time cleaning her fingernails, occasionally massaging her hand as he looked into her eyes. He also applied cortisone cream to her numerous mosquito bites. Next, he decided to tend to her neck and wrists. He cringed inside at the raw, bloody skin underneath the ropes. The first thing he’d wanted to do was cut the ropes, but he didn’t want to push his luck. However, now it was time. He went to the kitchen counter and unsheathed a kitchen knife. The sound of the knife being unsheathed brought Adam to his feet immediately.

Shotgun aimed at Alex, he yelled, “Put it down, Doc.”

Alex faced him without flinching. “I’m cutting the ropes. They’ve rubbed her skin raw and it’s going to get infected,” he said with steel in his voice. “You can have the knife when I’m done.”

Pa awoke from his snooze in the commotion. “Sit down, Adam. Doc’s right. Let ‘em fix her up,” he growled.

Adam continued to stand, anxiously waiting while Alex cut the rope on her neck and freed Alyssa from her leash. He then cut the other ropes and freed her wrists. She closed her eyes and Alex could see the relief on her face. He wondered just how long she had been bound. He handed the knife to Adam roughly and stared him in the face. “Satisfied?”

“Won’t do any good, I’ll just be puttin’ the ropes back on ya know,” Adam taunted.

Not if I have anything to say about it, thought Alex.

 

Book Trailer

 

 

Praise for Sierra:

Every now and then you come across a novel that profoundly takes your breath away, and Sierra is that novel.
-Kathleen of Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Riveting from beginning to end. Be prepared to read straight through.
-Sherry of Fundinmental Book Reviews

I thought I had read romances before, and books like “Jane Eyre” and “A Tale of Two Cities,” I had always considered the peaks of romantic literature. Let me say this. This is the most romantic book I have ever read in my 38 years on this planet!
-Ruth of My Devotional Thoughts

What I like most about Sierra was how Taylor lulls you in the beginning, then she shreds the peaceful scene to pieces. It happens so fast you barely have time to comprehend what is going to happen. Just like in real life.
-Laura of FUONLYKNEW Book Reviews

 

TaylorAuthor Taylor Dean

Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding that she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of romance in her line-up.

 

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BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/22/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Warning Signs, a Love Inspired Suspense by Katy Lee – Book Promo

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Katy Lee for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As an Inspirational Romantic Suspense author, Katy Lee writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. Through her writing, ministries, and teaching, she dedicates her life to sharing tales of love, from the greatest love story ever told to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Katy and her husband are born New Englanders, but have been known to travel at the drop of a hat along with their three children. But www.KatyLeeBooks.com is where you can find Katy anytime.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town’s number one suspect—the high school’s new principal—doesn’t fit the profile. Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen’s help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

Product Details:
List Price: $5.99
Series: Love Inspired Suspense
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373445598
ISBN-13: 978-0373445592

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Drug Enforcement Agent Owen Matthews gripped the wheel of his rented sports boat as he coasted through the North Atlantic at barely half-throttle. The Maine island town of Stepping Stones urged Owen to rush forward to the safety of its shores, but his newly acquired phobia of boats wouldn’t let him speed up even one knot. At this rate the sun would be gone before he arrived at his next assignment.

“What we do for friends,” Owen mumbled through clenched teeth, thinking about his old academy roommate, and the island’s sheriff, Wesley Grant. Even though Wes chose small-town law enforcement and Owen took the federal route with the DEA down to the Mexican border, the two of them kept in touch.

Wes had called, needing Owen’s undercover expertise to take down a recent marijuana problem at Stepping Stones High School. No job was too dangerous or too far for Owen when it came to extinguishing the distribution of illegal mind-altering substances. Even if the job brought him back to these Maine waters where he vowed never to go again.

Owens quashed away the sickening memory. He’d let the guilt return later, but for now he had a job to do. He steered his focus back to the few facts Wes gave him about the case, specifically on how the drugs appeared about six months ago, soon after two new residents moved to Stepping Stones.

Wes was a good cop, but he probably didn’t want to believe a fellow islander could ever bring such harm down on one of his own. Since Owen grew up on the mainland and not with these people, he could offer a more unbiased investigation of all the inhabitants, new and old.

Plus, Owen knew firsthand how the ones closest to us had the power to destroy us—he knew this not because he’d been on the receiving end, but because of the people he’d destroyed. His past offenses convinced him that every islander was capable and a suspect—including the owner of the fishing boat coming at him.

At first, the vessel bobbed alongside a huge rock and lighthouse up ahead, but when it shot off like a bullet, Owen questioned its hurry. Was its retreat an innocent maneuver or had Owen intruded on an illegal happening of some kind?

He kept his undercover status in mind and prepared to make all neighborly with the captain of the…. He strained to read the name of the fishing boat scrawled on its hull.

The Rita Ann.

A harmless enough name. Although typically, a drug trafficker wouldn’t be advertising its wares on its exterior for the world to see. Owen observed more of the rusty, white fishing boat with its tall, lit masthead. A rule follower, it would seem with his adequate safety equipment. But, if one was carrying illegal cargo, it would be in their best interest to keep their light bulbs in working order. Why risk the chance of being pulled over?

Owen searched the dark pilothouse windows for the captain, but only the reflection of the setting sun glinted back at him. He sped up a little to close in, waving his hand high, and slowed to an idle to wait for the lone figure at the wheel to wave back.

Instead, the Rita Ann increased its speed and changed its course—directly on him.

Stunned, Owen’s hand slipped off the gear shift. This couldn’t be happening. Not again. The sun was setting, but he could still be seen. The last time it had been pitch dark. This didn’t make sense.

Snap out of it, Matthews! He ordered himself to reengage, but his stiff hands might as well have been petrified wood. He had to move, but visions of a past splintering boat flying sky-high immobilized his reflexes. Six years of time dissolved into this moment as he relived his first crash.

No, he denied for history to repeat itself. Move! Now!

A surge of adrenaline pushed him to hit the reverse. He blasted back out of the Rita Ann’s path. The fishing boat jetted past him without an acknowledgment.

Owen questioned if the driver had seen him or not. How could he not, though? He watched The Rita Ann chug out to sea. Owen forced his hand to turn the wheel to follow. He would flag it down to find out, but first, he would need to speed up to catch it.

Duty called and Owen’s previous driving-with-caution vaulted to the wind as he kicked up his speed a notch, then another and another. The front bow parted the rolling waves into a frothy wake as he set his sights on the Rita Ann. His attention drilled straight ahead, until a gray object flew past him on his starboard side. Immediately another followed. Owen’s head whipped from side to side in confusion.

They were flat rocks, smaller, less visible than the large one with the lighthouse. The sight of the solid, unmovable masses caused him to slam back the throttle, jolting the craft to a rumbling crawl.

The Rita Ann raced on ahead without him.

It wasn’t the fact that he let her go that choked him, but rather the fact that he could have had a disastrous collision if he had been a few scant feet more to his left.

At least no one was in the boat with me this time. Owen blew out a breath of angry expletives about his stupidity. I have no business being out on these waters. Not even for a job.

With tighter fists than before, he gripped the steering wheel again. In an anxious cold-sweat, Owen drifted with the tiniest bit of gas sent to the engine. In such a slow motion, he realized more and more of these rocks protruded up from the ocean floor around him, leading up to the island of Stepping Stones.

The island apparently got its name from these rocks. The lighthouse itself was built on the largest of them while the others dotted a sporadic path. A beautiful scene for a painting, but in reality, these rocks posed a deadly threat to boats cruising their way up the coast of New England. How the ferry could dock here was beyond him. Maybe that’s why it only came in once a week. Too risky with these formidable pieces of stone that required a wide berth.

Owen made his way back to the rock with the lighthouse. As he approached, something red and gold caught his attention. His rubberneck told him it was a woman.

She lay motionless on the rock, the only part of her moving was a strand of her hair fluttering on the sea breeze. His mind reeled with concern. Was she injured?

Owen swung his gaze back at the departing Rita Ann. Perhaps the woman was hurt by the same hands that piloted the boat. That would explain the hasty departure. Had someone on the Rita Ann dumped her here? Thrown her overboard? Owen’s stomach twisted at the thought. Time was critical if that was the case.

He steadied his gaze on her, but from his vantage point all he could make out was her shock of long, red hair glinting with gold in the sun’s rays. The tresses fanned out against the rock like the rays themselves. He leaned over the steering wheel as if that would get him closer, faster.

With the engine of his boat chugging, he hoped she would hear him approach and lift her head or wave a hand, but she didn’t. Not even when his boat sidled up to the rock and lapped idly in the waves.

“Miss?” he called out over the rattling engine. “Miss, do you need help?”

No answer. No movement, either

Owen cleared his throat and tried again, louder. When that turned out the same, the words ‘deathly still’ crossed his mind. Apprehension niggled at the back of his neck. He rubbed it away with the horrid thought and called out again. “Miss?” he yelled forcefully, but couldn’t deny the waver of uncertainty in his voice.

He hadn’t seen someone this still since his wife, Rebecca, lay in the sand, paramedics going through the motions of saving her only because he begged them not to stop. Owen’s throat filled with a golf-sized blockage. He shot a jittery gaze toward the island, willing someone else to come help this woman.

The docks in miniature glimmered in the sunlight, waiting for his boat to find its place beside them for the night. Oh, how he wanted to do just that. To allow someone else better qualified to help her. He was good at chasing bad guys, not rescuing women. But not one person came into his view. Not one fisherman. Not one loitering teenager. No one at all stood on the pier for him to wave at for assistance.

Owen cut the engine. It has to be me. He dropped his shoulders as he dropped anchor.

He thought about radioing for help, maybe the woman was just in a deep sleep. Just in case she was hurt, though, Owen grabbed the life-saving equipment stored in the rear stern under the padded seats. He yanked open the compartment to find a first-aid kit and blanket, along with life vests. He scooped up the blanket and kit and went portside, reaching out to grab at the crusty barnacle-covered stone.

Swells rocked the woman in and out of his view. With every rise and sway of his boat he caught sight of her one-piece, red and blue bathing suit. He thought it was a mishmash of flowers or something, but didn’t concentrate enough on it to be sure. His full attention was given to the state of the woman’s wellness. In a quick scan, his eyes followed from her bathing suit down her long, muscular limbs of milky white to a set of small feet sprawled motionless.

“I’m coming, okay?” he assured her loudly as he threw his load up on the rock and hoisted his body to follow. Please be sleeping, he thought but said, “Don’t move. You may have a neck injury.” Like Rebecca when she was thrown.

The woman didn’t move. Not even to acknowledge his presence. He watched for any sign of a twinge or breathing as he scraped along the sharp barnacles. Pain sliced through his palms and bared forearms. He used the discomfort to propel him up and forward, but glad for the protection of his denim jeans. Lying flat, he came face-to-face with the still, delicate features of the woman. Long, light lashes rested on pale, freckled cheeks. He hesitated to touch her. Would he find her asleep? Dead? Had his rescue not come in time?

“Miss, can you hear me? Are you hurt? Do you need help?”

Nothing.

His hand reached for the curve of her neck and gently felt for her pulse on skin, icy cold. She moaned and her heart’s life-beating sound brought Owen a mix of relief and elation. She may be hurt, but at least she was alive. Thank you, L-Lord, Owen’s reflexive prayer of thanksgiving had him wiping an old bitter aftertaste from his salty lips.

“God had nothing to do with saving this girl,” he muttered. “God’s not here. I’m here.”

His blunder stumped him for a moment before he launched into the rescue. Owen reached for the scratchy, wool blanket behind him and stretched it over her arms and chest to warm her. Instantly, her eyes flashed wide and another short sound deep in her throat escaped her pale lips. A moan of pain? he wondered. A quick jerk of her head triggered him to brace her just in case.

“Miss?” He gripped both sides of her face and peered into stark, gray eyes, as gray as the stone she lay on. Fear shone up at him. “Don’t move. You could have a spinal injury. Can you tell me if you hurt anywhere?”

She struggled beneath the blanket, arms fumbling and pushing with a strength that caught him off guard. Owen pressed her arms down and shushed her. He couldn’t safely move her to the boat like this.

She moaned again, more forceful, louder. It didn’t sound like a moan of pain now, but rather anger. She was mad at him? For helping her? She shoved harder at the blanket between them. Her lips parted for the loudest most forceful sound yet. It sounded like the word off without the pronunciations of the f’s. It took him a second before her word hit him like a left hook to his gut.

Owen jumped away from the muffled sounds he would recognize anywhere. They were the same kind of sounds his son made when he tried to speak—ever since he lost his hearing the night he’d nearly drowned in the crash.

This woman wasn’t injured at all. She didn’t answer him because, like his son, she was deaf.

*

Miriam Hunter fumbled under the attack of a strong-armed man. The scare tactics to be rid of her had turned physical. Ever since she arrived here, the islanders had made it known she wasn’t wanted. First, the nasty notes and emails, then the late night crank calls, and now this…this assault.

How dare this guy sneak up on her out in this secluded place? At the one place she could fully get away from their angry stares. As though it was her fault drugs had come to their precious island.

Just because the marijuana showed up after she arrived didn’t mean she brought it with her. The bag of marijuana found in her office had been placed there by one of the very townspeople who wanted her gone—perhaps even by this guy leaning over her.

Angrily, Miriam heaved at the heavy material scratching her skin. She didn’t have to think twice as to why he covered her with it. He might as well have sealed her lips with duct tape. She strained against him to free her hands—her voice. He wouldn’t understand a word she signed, but it would make her feel better to put him in his place. She wouldn’t sit here and allow him to silence her. She pushed at him again, but his strength wouldn’t relent.

Who was this guy? Miriam didn’t recognize him as a parent. He seemed too young to have a child in high school. Thirty-two, tops. His dark cropped hair screamed short, clean-cut military, not shaggy, salt-drenched fisherman.

But the eyes….

She stilled to study the rich black currant irises inches from her face. Sharp and assessing eyes, not accusing and vindictive. She thought they held a message of caring, but before she could decipher clearly, all emotion dipped behind their onyx surface like the secrets of the drink, safely hidden beneath murky depths.

His tensed lips moved, too close for her to read. Then as much as she abhorred talking, Miriam broke her vow and opened her mouth to tell him to get off.

The look on his cleanly shaven face abruptly changed from determination to…shock? Her deafness surprised him? If he didn’t know she was deaf then he wasn’t from Stepping Stones. He was a stranger—and she was alone on a rock in the ocean with him.

Every self-defense move Miriam learned in college jumped to attention in her head. She tried to recall if there was a maneuver for when someone had you pinned under a blanket. Never did she think those tactics would be used, but perhaps this was the moment God prepared her for through all those classes. Stay with me, Father, she signed her prayer of petition in her head because her hands were still secured under the blanket. Give me strength and the knowledge to break away. She mindfully pulled out the scripture tucked in her heart for times of darkness.

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Miriam used the words from Isaiah 41to hurl all her strength at the man again. This time, he jolted back as though she’d burned him. Without waiting another second, she sat up, flung off the blanket, and scooted back.

He fell onto his haunches, hands raised up in surrender, but her flight reflex still had her retreating farther away until she reached the edge of the rock. Her heart raced, pounding adrenaline through her head and body. Even being deaf, she could hear it coursing through her.

He hadn’t moved from his place but spoke again. Miriam studied his lips as her breathing steadied. He said something about kelp. She shook her head in confusion and a bit of annoyance. People always thought deaf people could read lips. She supposed she could read them half the time, but that left a lot of room for confusion, which is why she usually traveled with her interpreter—except in the afternoon when she swam out to the lighthouse to be alone. Never did she think she would need Nick way out here.

The stranger’s tall, lean frame bent to pick up a box labeled with the symbol of a red cross. He held it up to her and clarity came swiftly.

He hadn’t said kelp. He’d said help. He thought she needed help.

But why? What gave him the idea in the first place?

Miriam searched the island and knew it to be about 500 yards away. Not a huge distance for a former competitive open-water swimmer like herself. But this man wouldn’t know she swam out to the lighthouse for exercise each day. He probably thought only a stranded and injured person would be this far from land.

Miriam supposed she could try to speak aloud to explain, but a long time ago, she vowed only to use her voice when absolutely necessary. And giving this stranger her personal information wasn’t necessary.

In fact, the only thing necessary was to get off this rock quickly. Miriam didn’t believe she faced any danger from him anymore, but she also wasn’t inclined to be friendly.

She cagily followed his movements to the other side of the rock where his boat anchored.

He gestured with his hand for her to climb in, pointing toward the island.

Before thinking, she naturally lifted her hands to sign. After the first few signs, stating she would swim back, she stopped and waved her hands to say forget it. He wouldn’t understand anyway. She stood on her edge, still keeping him in her sight while preparing to dive in. But before her feet left the ground, Miriam gazed back at him one last time, and froze.

His hand pointed to his chest, then rose to the side of his temple. She watched his index finger slowly point up toward the sky. “I understand,” he signed.

She nearly stumbled off the rock. He knew her language? Would he say more? She waited, hating herself because deep down she hoped he would. How quickly she willingly trusted this man just because he understood her.

For so long, though, she’d been a foreigner in this world that was supposed to be her home, desperately seeking companionship. Now she stood face-to-face with the one thing she sought after. Forever on the lookout for someone like her, or someone who understood her. Or at least wanted to try.

Poor Nick earned his pay, and then some. But there were only so many current events and primetime television shows to talk about with one person.

Begrudgingly, Miriam knew her traitorous face was lit in anticipation of finding a friend, but even so, she tried her hardest to be nonchalant about the situation. Tentatively, she raised her hands and swirled her fingers in circles. “You sign?” she asked in her language.

His eyes darkened to those murky depths again. He gave one negative shake to his head and averted his gaze past her shoulder.

He didn’t sign.

Miriam did her best to express a lack of caring with a blasé shrug even though disappointment washed over her like a cold wave. Then her mind stumped on the man’s answer to her question. If he wasn’t able to sign, then how did he understand her enough to answer her?

Unless, he did understand her, and didn’t want to talk to her.

Fine…whatever, she dismissed him with a wave of her hand and lifted off the rock in one clean arc. If that was the way he wanted to be, then he was no friend she wanted.

Miriam sliced through the cold water with precision, letting it cool off her temper, amazed her anger could still boil over so easily. She thought God had helped her with that unwanted emotion a long time ago, but sometimes her anger reared its ugly head and reminded her she still had some things to contend with.

Another day, she told herself…again. She wondered if there ever was a good time to reopen old wounds. She thought not, but especially not right now.

She was in the midst of a troubling drug investigation. She had a drug supplier to find. Making friends and digging into her past were at the bottom of her list.

In fact, her past was one thing better left buried. Nothing good could come out of unearthing those dreams—or rather nightmares. Miriam trembled and it had nothing to do with the frigid northern waters she swam in.

The unnatural bulging eyes of those old nightmares stared at her from behind her closed eyelids; a large hand and a flash of something gold blinded her. Images as real today as they were at ten years old. She pushed through her strokes as she pushed the childhood terrors down into the dark abyss.

Mother always said they were a figment of a childish imagination. Except children weren’t supposed to be imagining such horrifying things.

No, I can’t go there. She swam faster, pushed harder. Her hands sliced through the water, jetting her forward. Miriam had a feeling if she continued to delve deeper into that nightmare, she would never emerge. Not even the dark-haired rescuer she left in her wake would be able to save her from the dangers of that watery grave.

Blog Tour & Giveaway! Stranded by Dani Pettrey

stranded

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strandedStranded (Alaskan Courage #3)

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn’t lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.
Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

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daniAuthor Dani Pettrey

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

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Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/10/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Excerpt

Abby’s head swam, her vision narrowing as she stumbled into her cabin. What had they slipped her and when? Nausea rum- bled in her stomach, magnified by the surging waves created by the brewing storm. How could she have been so foolish?

They must have figured out who she was and that she was close to exposing them. They were trying to silence her— though if it came down to it, she preferred death to the alternative.

She lifted the receiver and dialed Darcy’s cabin.

Please be there. Darcy had said she’d wait in her room, but the phone kept ringing until it rolled over into voice mail. This wasn’t a message for voice mail. Not if they knew who she was. Not if it could lead them to Darcy. She had to find a better way, a safer way to leave a message only Darcy would understand.

She scribbled a quick note. Now . . . where to put it? She grabbed the Gideon Bible from the nightstand, slipped the message inside, set the Bible on her bed, and headed for the door. Only Darcy would know Abby would have no reason to have a Bible on her bed. Turning, she spotted her purse next to the nightstand, grabbed it, and placed it atop the Bible. Never hurt to have a little added protection. Darcy would still recognize the significance.

As she walked around her bed, the ship heaved and she stumbled. She needed help. Wobbling with each step, she managed to grasp the doorknob, the metal cool inside her clammy palm. Her breath quickened. Cracking the door, she peered into the corridor, thankful to find it empty. Stepping into the hall, she moved toward the elevator.

Shadows arched around the bend halfway down the hall, where another corridor intersected it. She halted. Her breath hitched.

A man spoke, his words angry and heated. A second man responded. Her heart seized in her chest. It was them. They were coming.