Welcome to Commas and Quotations...

Here you will find a new blog post each day featuring a 1st chapter or an excerpt from an author. It's impossible to wade through all the books on amazon to find something you might enjoy. Most readers rely on a beautiful cover to sell them a book, and others listen to recommendations from friends and family. We're going to do both for you here at Commas and Quotations, but you'll get to read a snippet from the book and decide for yourself if it is your cup of tea. If you think you might want to come back and see us on a regular basis, take 10 seconds out of your day and 'Subscribe to Commas and Quotations' (over on the right) to receive the excerpts delivered right to your email account. Be sure to follow us on Google+, too! I hope you enjoy, and please feel free to comment on the excerpt to let the authors know what you think. Their buy links and social links will always be under the excerpts, so take advantage of that and make a new friend! And as always... Happy Reading from Commas and Quotations! =)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Novel Desire by Genevieve Scholl

Paranormal Romance (witch) 18+

Chapter One

They were waiting for her...
…inside that packed gymnasium, where Vivienne Miles would have every eye  on her as she walked up to the podium to give her “inspirational speech” to this year’s graduating class.
Her palms were already clammy; they’d likely be seafood bisque by the time she made it to the microphone. Viv sighed, trying to fight past her fears. Even after everything she had gone through with the release of her very first novel—from the book signings, to interviews, etc she was still as nervous as if it were the very first time she’d stood before an audience. The people inside that large gym were people she grew up with. They were people whom she considered anything from friend to foe. That fact, added to the knowledge that everyone at the school, and in the town, considered her some sort of celebrity that she wasn’t, pretty much made this the most nerve wrecking experience she had ever had.
Viv looked around her, noticing the photographs on the wall of the previous graduating classes. She stood from her position on the bench and scanned the images for the one of the 2006 class, where she knew she would see an awkward, short, plump girl who had wished she could just hide behind some of her tall classmates, away from the camera’s lens.
When her eyes landed on that girl, Viv shook her head, not wanting to remember that particular time in her life. High School had been some of the worst years of her life; between bullies centering their attention on her day in and day out, her grades being less than mediocre and barely making it each day, and the fact that she would have much rather been in a corner somewhere listening to music and escaping the hallways than participating in P.E or music class. Not much had changed since then, except for the fact that she had moved out of the small town of Logi, New York, made a name for herself, and gained some confidence. She was still that short, plump, socially awkward person that was staring back at her from the photograph. The only difference, now, was that she was a woman, instead of a young girl who felt she had no place in the world.
Viv never wanted to enter these halls again, or see most of the people she had once called classmates. Yet, here she was, waiting for her name to be announced so she could be highlighted as one of the town’s “most successful people” and give a speech about how you should never quit believing in your dreams. Viv didn’t mind the speech, per se, because it was true that no one should give up on their dreams, but if you ever looked up the definition of the words “socially awkward” you’d understand why Viv was apprehensive about the whole concept of standing before this particular audience. The dictionary clearly defines socially awkward as people who are “individuals excessively afraid of social interaction due to some form of peer rejection or personal choice.”
Yup, that basically defined Vivienne Miles, Romance Novelist.
The worst part about having returned to her hometown was going to involve having to mingle and autograph books after giving her speech. She’d much rather just run out the door, into her vehicle, and take off down Route 12 to get away from the town and the people. She loved Logi, N.Y, but it was too hard to be there. If she were visiting an old friend, teacher, or even her former hairdresser it was fine, because she had no chance of running into someone she didn’t want to see—unless someone walked into the hairdresser’s home to visit, but that was a rare occasion.
When she faced the crowd that was sitting in that room, she would be eliminating any chance. In fact, there would be no way around it. She’d be seeing people from her past as soon as she stepped inside. Worse than that, she would likely see the very guy her novel was written about. It was titled The One that Got Away, after all.
David Wilkinson was the head jock of their class, and had been the one to hold Vivienne’s heart for the last four years of their High School career, as well as the one who still held it and probably always would. She looked at the class portrait again; only this time her eyes zeroed onto David. He stood in the back, smiling beneath his graduation cap with his arm around two of his teammates from the baseball team. His six foot frame towered over the rest of the class, but he didn’t look like a giant. He carried his height with pride. At the time, he had been about 180 pounds of muscle, with slightly darkened skin from their senior trip to Hawaii. His bright blue eyes and dark hair created a contrast that made her go weak in the knees back then. Evidently, considering Viv found it hard for her legs to hold her up as she stared at his image, grabbing onto the wall nearest to her, they still did.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Revitalized (The High Arc, book 1)

YA Paranormal


My heart skipped a beat, it was a sign. My love for the Willow had to have been because of her. The tree felt more alive than anything I had ever encountered before. I could now see it for what it was; it was much more than a tree. It was Rasmiyah, and connected to a part of me. There was movement in the walls. I looked closer to find that they were not frozen, but actually moving, breathing, feeding the tree; and calling to my soul.
There was a song. I could hear it, barely, coming from the heart of the tree. Airy tones, what I would assume angels sounded like, called out to me and beckoned me to join them, and, I wanted to. Every cell in my body began to call back to them, joining in their song, and rejoicing my return to what was undoubtedly my home.
I stepped forward. The tables turned. It was now I who towed Lacal with me. I had to be with them, the melodic voices in my head. I couldn’t wait any longer. Every step I took brought another pulse of energy. The light of the tree moved with those pulses, traveling into my body and warming me to my core. It felt warm and freeing and purifying.
As we reached the center of the room and the base of the tree, I looked down at my hands and I saw the light underneath my skin. It moved and danced throughout my limbs, and I embraced it. I turned to Lacal and saw that he looked the same as I did. He looked first at himself and then at me and smiled.
“You look so beautiful.” He touched my face and held his hand there. I leaned into him and covered his hand with mine.
“Is this how it felt the first time you were here? This is amazing, I feel so good. I can’t even find the words to express it.” I smiled at him and wanted to kiss him.
“No, this is new. See, I told you, you are the one, Alexa. All of this wouldn’t be happening if you weren’t.” He looked at me like a kid preparing to open the largest gift under the Christmas tree.
“Yeah, you were right, about everything,” I stepped closer to him pressing my body up against his.
“So, are you ready for this?” He asked me and turned away to look at the tree.
“I don’t know exactly what ‘this’ is, but yes I’m ready.” I turned to face the tree as well. Our hands fell from my face, but we didn’t lose contact. We laced our fingers together.
He placed his free hand on the trunk then motioned for me to do the same. I did, placing my hand right next to his. I felt a prick in the palm of my hand, a tiny point of pain followed by an overpowering sense of ecstasy.
The energy from the tree poured into us, and the glow beneath our skin intensified until we were lit up almost as bright as the Willow itself. The voices, once singing, were now sighing with contentment as the branches reached around us, tying together and sealing us in our own cocoon away from the world.
I assumed it would be over. It was exactly what Lacal had described, a cocoon and light. We stood there, looking at each other and nothing happened. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t ruin the moment with words. There really were no words to say.

 Social links

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

OBSESSION (Book 2) by Georgina Hannan

*Young Adult, Paranormal Horror*


Obsession is the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, or desire.
Madness is a state of being mentally ill.
Both can have similar symptoms. Both take over you completely, changing who you are, how you act, what you say and what you do.
Most people would say they definitely aren’t mad and that they have never been obsessed with anything because they don’t have that kind of personality. But maybe that’s because they haven’t found anything that important to them…Maybe they aren’t cursed with that trait.
“Seen off another husband, I see,” sneered a village lady as she walked past Mary in town. The woman’s husband gave his wife a stern look for speaking out of turn. Mary was high society and so didn’t need to respond to a commoner, yet she laughed, sending chills down the passers’ spines.
“Your family is cursed. I pity your son,” the woman’s husband spat.
“Oh yes, indeed we are! I wonder how the curse will manifest itself in the next generations?” Mary replied and cackled as she strode away from the shocked viewers.


Monday, February 24, 2014

*Paranormal Erotica Romance/Thriller 18+*


What happens when your whole family is scarier than any nightmare and
you have no desire to be anything like them? Do you stay and go along
with the family plans or do you rebel and have them possibly turn
their viciousness on you?

Jennifer Johnston experiences first hand why whispers are spoken in
the dark about her species' being evil when she was just a century
old. What should have been another family dinner spent arguing over
why she didn't want to keep the bloodlines "pure" by being married off
to her older brother turned into a nightmare and left her with more
than tortured memories.

Jackson Dawls and Taylor Durham had been pack mates, best friends, and
the other's mate for as long as they could remember. They were a
deadly species all their own but even they feared the Mystics and
their overly cruel and barbaric ways, but unforeseen circumstances
bring them face to face with not one but a few. Will there lives be in
danger or is something great and unexpected awaiting them?

They also have to stay under the radar of the human society that is
set out to destroy those they believe to be "Tarnished" and a danger
to mankind.

When the three meet long ago secrets are brought to the light. Secrets
no one but Jennifer knew. Not only do they have to learn to get along
with each other because they are fated, someone is also stalking
Jennifer and preforming sinister acts without her being any the wiser.

Jennifer must seek guidance from old acquaintances and form alliances
with those she never thought she would. She is met with riddles and
startling revelations that she never would have imagined possible.

Will they accept their fates and work together or will old fears
destroy their lives? Will Jennifer be able to reclaim what was taken
from her right from under her nose?


"Ahhh. Now this is the life. A guy could get used to this. Have you
ever seen so many fine looking men in one place Jackson? I mean
imagine the possibilities, babe."

Taylor Durham was in a gay man's heaven, with all those tight bodies
swaying back and forth to the music. Grinding together in harmony.

Yep. Heaven.

Well, that is the name of the club. Heaven's Angles. The sign above
the door has several pictures of sex positions at various angles. One
could live here forever if you asked him. He had dragged his best
friend, Jackson Dawls, here tonight because he needed a good lay, and
nothing got Jackson in the sexing mood like some dancing, groping, and
drinking. They were shape-shifters, with increased sexual hormones,
and all those male bodies together got them all hot and bothered. So
it was going to be a good night. A damn good night if Taylor had his
way. And Taylor always got his way. Especially when it came to

"The only fine looking man you should be interested in is me, Nyhiya.
You are mine and I will kill, maim, or castrate anyone who tries to
say otherwise," Jackson replied.

"Awe babe, I love it when you get all growly. Makes my wolf wanna
roll over and submit," Taylor said.

"As it should," Jackson replied.

He loved being a wolf. Hell they both did. The Dylia were the
strongest, fastest, and one of the deadliest of any supernatural
beings in the world; at least that's what they had heard. Those
twisted-as-fuck Mystics were by far the deadliest. He never wanted to
be in an alley alone with one of those assholes. When Jackson and
Taylor were just young pups, they were warned to not be caught alone
with one of the immoral bastards. He had never run into one and he
hoped to all that's holy that he never did. And neither did his
Nyhiya. He wouldn't know what to do without the man. Nope, didn't even
want to think about it. Ever.

"Let's get something to drink, baby. All this dancing is making me
thirsty." Taylor grabbed Jackson's hand and pushed their way through
the crowd to the bar. "Two Jack and Cokes please," Taylor said to the

"Coming right up," the bartender replied. They took their drinks and
had a seat. Taylor was so hard it hurt. All he could do was think of
Jackson's cock pounding into his ass. With that thought in his head he
downed his drink and looked over at his Nyhiya with one raised brow.
He knew that look would get him what he wanted, and, even if he was
doubtful, all he had to do was look at the impressive bulge in his
lover's pants.

Buy links:
Amazon Paperback and Ebook:

Barnes and Noble Paperback:

Social LInks:

Blog: http://www.dark-indiscretions.com

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/b3arcat26/

Facebook Book Series page: http://www.facebook.com/darkindiscretions

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/shakuitajohnson

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sljay1184

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Protective Love by P.J. Belden

*Mature audiences only (18+)*
*Dark Contemporary Suspense Romance*

Twelve years earlier

How much longer will this last?  I certainly didn’t think it would last as long as it has.  If I were to be broken any more I would be in pieces as small as a grain of sand. 
Dragging myself into my bathroom, I locked the door and turned on my radio loud enough to drown out anyone who might come into my room.
Placing my hands on the sink in front of me, I looked at myself in the mirror.  My right eye was already swollen and starting to bruise.  Reaching up and carefully running my finger down the right side of my face, I winced in pain when I got to the cut just below my cheekbone.  I was a hideous beast; a plaything for a sick and twisted guy.  I have used so many excuses covering up for any visible marks on me.  They have never been this bad.  How can I hide this one?  How can I make this one go away? 
Falling to the floor, I cried out as my back slammed against my vanity.  Nightmare can’t even describe what I am trapped in.  A nightmare is something from which you wake up in a panic before realizing it was all a dream and real life isn’t like that.  No this is my life. 
I pulled my legs up to my chest and winced when my legs touched each other.  Spreading my legs apart, I could see the bruising there - and the blood.  I ran my fingers over the small little bruises; they were from his fingers digging into me.  The half circle marks just above that was where he bit me while I fought and begged with everything I had.
The bite marks and nail marks on my other leg was the source of all the blood. Those broke the skin, and some of them were deep.  Pulling myself up off the floor, I turned on my shower and took what was left of my clothing off.  He’d ripped them in his rush to get them out of the way.  There were barely shreds left of my clothes.  As I was throwing my clothes away, I caught another glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Oh God!
I was hideous.  A beast in my own skin fighting against myself to be set free; fighting to forget, to run and hide, or to stand and kill the son of a bitch.
These aren't normal thoughts for me. A beast in my own life. How do I get my life back - or is that even possible? Has he destroyed me so much that I can't even own my own life?
Laughter filled me and came out when I realized, I was like Humpty Dumpty and no one could put me back together, no matter how they tried.  This thought caused me to laugh until I had tears falling down and landing on the floor.  My body shook, but not from laughter this time.  Instead, it was the crying that I knew would be coming, but had hoped wouldn’t.  Every jerk of my body - every deep breath - sent sharp pains running through me.
Steam was filling the room, adding a haze to my image in the mirror.  It was fitting, like the dark, eerie forest with thick fog hiding the creatures of the night.  I took one last look before I stepped into the shower.  The first sprays of water that hit my skin burned, but it was better than the pain I had been feeling; the empty, hollow pain that seemed to ache, but never heal.  It was always with me, like phantom pains that stayed with me each day.  It was hard to forget when you kept feeling the pain.  That was all I wanted to do; forget.  Forget that he ever touched me.  Forget that he ever hit me.  Forget that I ever met him.  I just wanted to forget it all.  I wanted to forget everything about Alex Greene and the things that he did to me.  It seemed that my brain seemed to want me to remember, and my body… my body couldn’t forget the damage that had been done to it over the years.  All the remembering wasn’t even the worst part, either.
My nightmares were worse; I was there again in the moment when the pain was inflicted. That was harder to handle than the ones that hovered over me constantly.  In my dream, I was stuck and left to suffer it over and over again.  Living it once was hard enough, but to relive it and feel it all as intensely as the first time was torture.  My brothers had come in several times and tried to comfort me, but it was hard having anyone that close to me.  Once I’d had one of my nightmares, it was nearly impossible to fall back asleep.  So often times, I would be up the majority of the night.  Being awake with it so quiet was enough to make me wish I could sleep.  Quiet meant the voices in my head could be heard easily.  I didn’t want to hear the voices.  I hate the voices.  They were always him, screaming, grunting, panting, whispering; no, I hated the voices.
I stood under the shower, washed and rinsed, and then just let the water try and wipe the grime away that I felt after each attack.  If there was a way to completely wash it away, I hadn’t found it yet.  I stood there completely alone, no one to turn to for help or understanding.  If I said anything, I was putting my life - as well as the lives of whomever I told - in danger.  My life? Hell, I didn’t care much about that anymore. But to endanger someone else’s life… I couldn’t do that.
The water turned cold, so I stepped out and dried myself off before slipping on my sweats and tank top.  Being in a house full of people and still having the feeling of being completely separate from them was almost as if I was watching my life rather than participating in it. I hated no one and everyone all at the same time.  Filled with confusing, conflicting emotions, and yet the person I really hated was me.  It was my fault I was in this boat.  I couldn’t fight hard enough.  I couldn’t save myself.  Even if I wasn’t able to save myself, how can I even think to ask someone else to help?
Knock knock knock…
I sighed.  I didn’t want anyone to see me.  Today was enough to deal with on my own, it would only be tougher if someone else saw me too.
“Go away.  Get out of my room.”
I hated that my voice was shaky.  Strength came from within, and that was all I had that kept me making it through each day.
“I need to talk to you.  Now!”
Dad sounded pissed.  Just what I needed - a lecture on top of everything else today.  I threw the towel around my shoulders and hoped it covered enough of my markings that weren’t covered by my clothes.  Taking a deep breath and putting my head down, I opened the door and walked out to my room.
“What have you done to your room?  I’m shocked to see this from you, Kayla.  One rule, we have in this house and that is to keep ourselves and our spaces clean; that includes this room.  You’re grounded, Kayla.  No summer camp this year.”
Dad was right; the room was in shambles.  I never left my room like that, but then again, it wasn’t me willingly doing it, now was it?  My bed was messed up, with pillows and blankets everywhere.  My side table had been turned over, and everything that was on it was on the floor.  The shelves that held my books and movies were empty.  If my father would just look around more than just a glance, he would see the blood speckling my sheets and the floor.  If he would breathe in, he could smell it in the air.  Maybe that was just me.  I can smell the dirtiness he left behind.  I can smell the fear. 
Please look harder daddy… please save me.  Notice on your own because I cannot tell you on my own.  Lift my face up.  Make me look at you.  Save me daddy; he’s going to kill me one day.  I’m not ready to die. God, daddy please… I’m so scared and alone.  Someone save me… please.
He didn’t do any of that.  Why would he?  There was no reason he should suspect anything out of the ordinary to have happened there.  To him and anyone else, it was an open and shut case.  I was being destructive, and punishment needed to be given.
Damn! I have to clean up this mess.
Whenever I looked around my room, I relived the moment - this time as well as the others before it.
I need to get out of here.  Two more years - that’s it, and I can get away from this place and the memories… but not the nightmares it carries.
My father continued to yell at me for the mess in my room.  I kept my head down and nodded where needed.  The burning in my eyes was intense and I was holding the tears at bay the best I could.  I’d just had my only sanctuary taken from me, leaving behind nothing but a mess, by having the shit beat out of me and being raped.  Tears fell, and I knew my dad saw them because he stopped yelling and told me to go to bed before leaving my room.  Once my door shut, I cried and cried.  It was in that moment that every hope I’d had disappeared, and anger and resentment took its place.
I stared out at my bedroom window.  The sad thing was that he didn’t even have to use that half the time.  For most of the attacks, he just walked through the front door.  I don’t know how he broke away from my brother without raising alarms, but he did.  I tried locking my door, but it doesn’t help.  That’s when he uses the window.  The latch is broken, so I can’t lock it.  I tried to put stuff in there to keep it from opening, but it never worked.  I couldn’t get away from him.  He was everywhere I was; school, work, shopping… everywhere.
Getting off my bed, still crying, I found my paper and a pen, then wrote out a short little note.  It was not to my family, but instead to the man that had haunted me for the past four years.  This note was not a ‘give up’ speech.  It was to let him know I would not go down without a fight.  It was writing out the courage I needed to keep moving through life.  I would keep this note with me for as long as I needed the courage and strength to push forward.
“One day, it will be your time to suffer.  One day, I will be there smiling as you taste revenge at its best.  You may have broken and hurt me now, but it won’t be like this forever, and you will soon see what messing with a Williams girl means.  Good luck asshole.”

 Buy links
US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I1JCVWM
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I1JCVWM
AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00I1JCVWM

Social links
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PJBelden 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

CURSED (Book 1) by Georgina Hannan

*Young Adult, Paranormal Horror*

CURSED (Book 1)

She knew this wasn’t good. The ominous smell of alcohol filled the hallway. Her 
husband was home. It was only a matter of time before he summoned her. He always wanted 
to speak to her after he’d been drinking. It was the only time he did. 

“Where’s your money, wench?” 

She sighed and left the room. So many times he’d demanded the money. The only thing 
he’d married her for, unbeknownst to him, she’d invested all the money, in ways that meant 
he could never access it. 

He stormed out the room after her. Her heart pumped. He really is in a bad mood 
tonight, she thought as she hurried down the hall to her room.

He entered after her and locked the door. A vicious smile spread across his face as the 
alcohol gave him strength and courage.

Mary was an independent woman, who knew what she wanted and she could, without 
doubt, dominate any relationship. This time even she felt threatened.
The pair argued, their voices reverberating off the walls. He demanded the money, 
saying he’d kill her if she didn’t give it to him. She cackled at the pathetic man in front of 
her. He could never get her money, dead or alive.

Her laugh snapped the last string of humanity left in him and he lunged at her with the 
fire iron. Her laughing continued as she reached for the large ornate statue on the table beside 
her. She bought it down on his head, splitting the porcelain. She hit him, again and again, 
with the remains until his body lay, unmoving on the floor. Blood pouring from his wound.

She stripped and filled the bath tub with cold water; there was no time to heat it in front 
of the fire. She stepped in, strong and unflinching. It wasn’t the first time. Her body 
submerged in the already red water.
She glanced at his corpse and smiled, then moved lower in the water. The servants heard 
her cruel laugh and shuddered, they’d heard that laugh many times before.

To this day he is still undiscovered. 

Buy Links:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Heart Chants by Randy Attwood


By Randy Attwood

In the beginning was the wind. And when the earth came, the wind cared for it. And when the darkness came, the wind breezed across it beautifully. And when the dawn came and laid its lightness over the darkness, We, the People, were created. And the wind kissed our faces.

"You do have a hell of a view from here, Phil. The Kaw valley to the north and these surrounding hills," Roger said as he stood at the glass door that opened east to the second floor balcony off the bedroom. "The last glacier of the Pleistocene era, called the Kansan, by the way, about 600,000 years ago, carved all this out of northeast Kansas. Not good flat wheat country," he said, twisting his torso to look at me. There was a concern obvious on that fat-cheeked bearded face of his.
I was laying flat on my back, both feet elevated on pillows, but by turning my head, I could see the view Roger mentioned. I didn't comment about the Kansan glacier because I wanted to pretend I already knew all about it when, really, I hadn't. Roger knew so much about so many things that you didn't—then he told you about them in such an off-hand way—well, it made you kind of perpetually pissed off at him.
The setting sun caused the shadows from the hills to the west to creep up the slopes to the east. Some good things had happened since I moved into the house in early March. The University of Kansas basketball team, led by Coach Larry Brown and All-American Danny Manning, had won the 1988 national title. It seemed in celebration, early warm weather in late March made the redbuds and wild plums pop their flowers: daubs of reddish pink and white against the brown tangle of trees yet to leaf. Later, in April and May, I would stand on the deck every morning, cup of coffee in hand, looking east as the rising sun hit my face, watching, daily, as the increase of the green leaves covered the wooded hills across the way. I was happy to be out of journalism. I was happy I’d bought a bar in my old college town. I was happy the bar made me enough money to buy this land and build this house. But I wasn’t happy.
Instead of admitting to Roger I didn't know about the glacier being responsible for the hill upon which I perched, I admitted that someone else, lately near and dear to me, also had known more about other things than had I. "Deb was right about this one. She talked me into putting that small porch on this side of the house with the double-wide doors so I could see the view while lying in bed. At the time, I thought it was just one more of her extravagant design ideas. I appreciate it now."
"I told you Deb knew her stuff. I still don't understand why you two split up."
He turned to view the scene again and I spoke to his pot-bellied profile.
"Surely you've heard that designing and building a house is the ultimate test of any relationship. I encountered the corollary: when your house designer becomes your girlfriend, she'll become your hated enemy after you occupy it."
"Must be your fault. Deb's too sweet for it to be hers. Did I tell you my joke for these times?"
He was right about Deb, but I didn't want to tell him the details.
"Please, no. It hurts like hell when I laugh."
"Cracked ribs?"
"Two of them. So, please, no."
"Guy sees a beautiful girl walking down the street, walks up to her and asks, 'Wanna screw?'"
Even without the punch line it hurt. Not because of the ribs, but because Deb had been one of the few women I asked to go to bed with me on the same night I met her; and she had been one of the ever rarer ones who said yes. Roger arranged that blind date. I had been looking for a house designer, so that's all Deb and I talked about over dinner. I liked her ideas and approaches to things. I liked her body, too. Small, compact and as efficient as the designs she talked about. I sort of suspected, at the time, she let me sleep with her to get my business. But then I'm a cynical former newspaperman.
Roger continued the joke: "Girl replies: 'My place or yours?' He says: 'Hell, if you're going to argue about it, just forget it.'"
I kept it to a chuckle, but even that brought tears to my eyes. Pain from cracked ribs produce a long-term debilitating hurt, accompanied by short, sharp knife stabs. Every time you breathe. A lot like being in love. And I’d failed at that more times than I cared to remember.
"And they stomped on both your ankles?"
I pointed to my feet wrapped in ace bandages, surrounded by ice bags, resting on pillows. It also hurt when I raised my arm.
"Didn't break 'em, though. I'm tough."
"Can you walk?"
"I crawl fine. Humbles one. Would be good for you, Roger, Mr. Know-it-All."
"Get you a beer?"
"Makes me crawl to the bathroom too much. Scotch. The Glenfiddich. And on the rocks, Mr. Purity-You're Supposed-to-Drink-it-Straight. A double. Admire my new bar for me. I did all the work myself."
I listened to Roger walk down the stairs, reach the large, vaulted-ceiling sitting room and open cupboards in the bar area. If I couldn't enjoy my new house, I could at least learn the sounds it made as people walked within it. I heard a creak and that surprised me. The floors were solid over a joist system that was supposed to be soundless. I wondered where he had stepped. When I could walk again, I'd have to find that creak, find what was causing it.
I started to yell at him to forget the ice in my Scotch, that I would drink it the way he said I was supposed to; since the ice would water it down and that would increase my fluid intake and thus the need for me to crawl to the bathroom. But when I breathed deep to make the yell, the sharp pain made me shut my mouth.
Had I not gotten into a royal, pissed-off-for-good, stomp-away-I'll-never-see-you-again fight with Deb, that compact efficient body would have been here to look after me. I could have used the sympathy, too. Roger didn't do sympathy well at all.
He came back in the room holding two glasses of scotch in one hand. His fat thumb dipped into the glass with ice—mine—and his index and middle finger dipped in the other glass—his. Under one arm he carried a big firm pillow from the downstairs sofa.
"Want to try and sit up to drink this?" He handed me the glass of Glenfiddich and sucked on the thumb he pulled out of the scotch. "I couldn't find a straw."
I did the painful sidewise roll and used an elbow to start the agonizing process of lifting my torso. He put the pillow behind me. Sweat popped out on my forehead.
"I think I'm about to become a three-time loser," Roger said, then sipped from his glass, turning blacker the tips of his uneven mustache as they, too, soaked up a bit of scotch.
So that was the cause of the look of concern on his face.
"Oh, shit, Roger, I'm sorry. I thought you and Barbara were solid."
"I thought so, too. But I can tell it's coming. Christ, I've had enough experience. My fault. I'm too critical. I know that. I try to change, but I can't."
"Roger, you're not too critical. You're just a pain-in-the-ass, know-it-all. High IQ, well-read people with amazing memories are like that."
"Yeah. It's hard to learn to shut up when you know the answer. Especially when you see people messing up because they don't understand the truth about things and especially about themselves. Like your bar downstairs. I'll bet Deb told you to run it the other way. But, no, probably the one thing you thought you really understood was bars because you are a bar owner."
Pain-in-the-ass know-it-all, he didn't know when to shut up. Deb did tell me that if I ran the bar in the opposite 90 degree direction, it would provide a welcome break for the flow of the long space between the kitchen and the sitting room. I had argued it would interrupt the flow of the room. After it was built, I realized I was talking about flow of people, not space. And there wouldn't be that many people. The way I did it meant visitors standing at the bar or whoever was making drinks, namely me, couldn't enjoy either the view of the sitting room and the hills beyond, nor watch what was going on in the kitchen.
"Screw you, know-it-all," was all that I would admit to Roger.
"Did you get any licks in at all?" he asked me, sitting in the reading chair by the bed and resting his drink on one of its wide wooden arms.
"Maybe one. They were like Kung Fu gnats swarming around me."
"With a hell of a sting. Tell me about it one more time."
I took a drink through puffy lips. My right eye was black.
"Last night, after I closed up the bar, I went to the Jazz House like I do on Saturdays to listen to Johnny and his group. Did you know they got a gig in New York? Lawrence, Kansas, won't get to hear them much more, I'm afraid. Anyway, when I left, I used the back steps down to the alley next to the municipal parking lot. I'm coming down the steps and I hear someone running."
I paused to take another drink, the cracked-rib pain from swallowing adding a new dimension to the glorious tang of the scotch smell-taste.
"Out of the darkness of the alley and into the streetlight, I see this Chinese girl come running. What a sight! I mean she was gorgeous. Terrified, but gorgeous. Long hair flying behind her and she sees me. 'Please, can you help me, please,' she says. Then I hear other running footsteps and three Chinese guys show up. So, of course, Mr. Hero steps in front of them and she moves to the other side of me. She runs. Smart girl. The three started to bolt after her, but I put my body in front of them and we all go to the ground.
"I think that pissed them off. They sprang up and made those Bruce Lee noises and pretty soon I'm getting bitch-slapped by hands and feet I never saw coming. One of them swept my feet and others stomped on my ankles as I rolled around and then they went on their merry way. It wasn't elegant, like you see in the movies, but it sure as hell was effective." I paused to sip at the blessed alcohol.
"Somebody else finally left the jazz house and found me. Ambulance, hospital, x-ray, cops, police report and pain pills; couple of which I could use right now. Open that damn child-proof bottle for me, will you?"
He obliged and I took two of the capsules with the next swallow of scotch.
He studied the label on the bottle and frowned. "Should have been just one and no more alcohol for you."
"So Johnny sticks with me at the emergency room and when I'm finally released and the police are done with me, it's 5 a.m. He gives me a ride home."
"No clue what it was all about? If they're students at the University, shouldn't be too hard to find them. How many Chinese are there?"
"Quite a few, actually. I did do some calling around today. About 200 from the People's Republic, more than 100 from Taiwan and about 20 from Hong Kong. And it's just my assumption they were Chinese. Could be elsewhere. The language was Chinese, but I couldn't identify the dialect.
Roger rose from the chair to pace the room. He stood a little straighter and that told me how disturbed he was. More disturbed than knowing his wife was about to leave him. He could understand, predict his wife leaving him. But I recognized that strange taut silence that inhabited his body when he didn't know the answer to a thing or couldn't predict the flow of the future. And he sincerely cared about people, so you forgave him his superior intellect. For a second, I thought maybe my condition caused his concern, inexplicable as the attack had been, but I was wrong.
"Another Indian girl's missing, Phil."
"That's two now, isn't it."
"In two months. No bodies found. Yet. Officially, it's another missing person's case. The police still take the attitude that Indian students from Haskell run off all the time. But Navajo aren't solo runaways. Being in a group is too important to them, especially girls."
"Both have been Navajo. Could just be the odds. Highest percentage of students at Haskell are Navajo. Both had friends, left behind too many personal possessions to be runaways. Got to be kidnappings. When I was in law school, I did a summer internship in a law office in Gallup. Did a lot of reading into Navajo culture and Native American sovereignty rights. Word gets around. I began to represent Native Americans around here. Some of them came to me asking if I could help make the police investigate more. But, hell, there's not much they can do unless a body turns up. Shitty thing, isn't it, hoping a body will turn up? They're all upset and angry. Not a good combination. The Navajo believe in this cause and effect deal. They don't like having these ugly effects without understanding or knowing the cause. I'm afraid it could be a serial killer with a thing for Indian girls. And one of my clients has a daughter whose Navajo girlfriend is really spooked. I've talked to her and I've got a favor to ask."
"What's that?"
"I'd like to hide her out here."
"Out here?"
"Sure. The kidnapper must be prowling the Haskell area. He wouldn't be prowling around here. And she's really shaken. Something going on she won't tell me about. And you could use the help now that you're laid up. How about it?"
"Well, sure. If that's what you want," I said as I watched him walk to the window on the other side of the room that looked out over the drive up to the house.
"That Chinese girl. You said she had really long hair?"
"Down to her butt. And we're talking a tall girl here."
"Really beautiful?"
"Stunning. Even features. Sexy mouth. Full lips. High brow. Why?"
"She's walking up to your front door."

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