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“The Curse of the Gateway” Part Two of the Gateway Series- Read Chapter One FREE!

THE CURSE OF THE GATEWAY TEASER (2)

<marquees>This is Part Two. Readers want to begin with “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series!<marquees>

Here is the first chapter of “The Curse of the Gateway.”

“The Curse of the Gateway”

 

Missing Parts of the Case: Part Two of the Gateway Series

 

 

By: Aimée Marie Bejarano

 

The Curse of the Gateway

(Part Two of the Gateway Series)

Copyright © 2014 Aimée Marie Bejarano

All Rights Reserved

No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission by the copyright owner. IF this novel is given out as a free pdf, it is NOT by permission of author and it’s piracy.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Published August 19, 2016 Released under “Missing Parts of the Case” later redone and released as “The Curse of the Gateway” Missing Parts of the Case (Part Two of the Gateway Series) Both are the same novel and under copyright of the author.

 

Chapter One

Gabriel violently yanks Aiden by his t-shirt, wrenching him across the threshold of Grace’s brick home. Aiden is stunned gaping at Grace, disheveled on the ground hugging herself. Tears streaming down her red face. He briefly questions if Gabriel has finally figured out that he has feelings for her.

“What?! What is it, Grace?” His blue eyes widen.

 

Several months prior.

 

Aiden Jenson nervously sits on the witness stand, having just endured a thorough and detailed testimony. His account of the days leading up to, and the day of his shooting is on display, naked as day.  It was a dark day set up, and meticulously planned out by Detective Phil Linton.

Aiden wipes his sweaty palms on his ironed suit pants, crinkling them. The D.A. settles in her chair at the prosecution table, with her notes strategically laid out.  She waits for the defense attorney, whom she’s gone to bat against before, to question her witness.

Stewing in a new, navy blue suit, calm and cool, appearing like he doesn’t have a care in the world, is the deceptive and cunning, Phil Linton. He carefully studies Aiden, thinking and presuming the color tie his attorney instructed him to wear will give off a wonderful, first impression to the jury.  Linton scowls at Aiden, wishing he was in a pool of blood, and imagining every crooked, menacing thing he’d like to inflict, if only given the chance.

Judge Prodeman, the man with the scar on his face, who was indicted with the attempted murder of Aiden Jenson and bribery, was wise and took a plea deal. He avoided a lengthy trial, but lost his high paying job.  The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the case of Chacho Macho since Judge Prodeman was the judge presiding over his case. It was due to the fact it was not a fair trial from the start. Because of all the evidence admitted, Chacho Macho also took a plea deal for the murder of young girl he brutally raped and murdered.

Justice has been served for everyone. But, not just yet for Phil Linton.  He’s willing to brazenly stand toe to toe with Aiden Jenson. More of a sick, foolish challenge. He despises Aiden.  Always has.  And in his pride and arrogant ways thinks he can get away with attempted murder, not only that day in the bushes, but in the hospital, after the gateway episode. Aiden was recovering from his severe burns and bite to his leg. Linton’s also charged with a slew of minor charges which he’s denied with preposterous claims of being framed. But there’s far too much evidence piled against him.  Amidst wise counsel from his defense attorney to take a deal, knowing the enormous amount of evidence, Phil Linton refused and wants his day in court.

One huge problem stands in his way; the D.A. sitting rather comfortably is Rose Lee, a powerful District Attorney known for tearing people apart on the witness stand.  She has a 98% conviction rate and can’t wait to see if Linton will take the stand. She’s fully prepared and confident in this case regardless that Aiden Jenson was not being truthful in the beginning, about the attempt on his life.  Rose Lee has made it simple to the jury in her opening remarks, how Aiden Jenson must have felt, from nearly being murdered and dumped down a shallow embankment, like a bag of garbage.  Plus, the continued threats from the man in blue, the constant torment, and fear he must have endured.  Linton would have killed Aiden if he loosed his lips.

At the defense table, Linton’s lawyer stands up and straightens his striped tie, he behaves rather smug and pedantic.  He figures he knows precisely how to handle this snot nosed journalist.  Discredit.  His plan is to catch Aiden Jenson in a lie, and bring up past lies, regardless of Aiden’s valid reasons.

“So, Mr. Jenson,”  He clears his throat and swaggers towards the witness stand.  Aiden swallows preparing himself, knowing he’s going to be dragged through the ringer with this man.  The jury eyes Aiden then the defense attorney.

“What you’re saying is you lied? You’re an admitted liar is that what you’re saying?!  You obviously just admitted to all of us, that you lied when you were shot!” The defense attorney motions towards the jury for brownie points.
“Objection your honor!  He’s harassing my witness!”  Ms. Lee stands up and angrily smacks a hand on the table. Reporters and news stations stand piled inside the courtroom, for the most anticipated, broadcasted trial of the year.

The judge bangs the gavel; the courtroom erupts with gasps and echoing whispers. The judge’s deep, brown eyes scowl at the defense attorney. “Counselor, clean it up!  He’s already admitted he was not truthful in the original report.  You need to move on.  Quiet in the courtroom!” The Judge grimaces across the courtroom, his robe more as sackcloth and his presence commands the utmost authority.

Ms. Lee sits back down while the defense attorney nods and carefully eyes the judge.  “Yes, your honor,” The defense attorney takes a different tone then shoots a firm glare at Aiden, with a hand on his chin.  “So, Mr. Jenson, tell us why you lied then?”

Ms. Lee gives a 360 eye roll and sits down.  The defense attorney steps closer to the witness stand.  Linton proudly smiles as he fixes the edges of his mustache with the tips of his calculating fingers.

“I was scared, sir. That’s what I’ve been relaying here, in detail.” Aiden nods, without so much as a smile or his impish grin at the murderer’s attorney who in his mind has a special place in hell.

Scared?” The attorney crosses his arms, and rubs his chin.

Aiden shifts and fidgets on the witness stand.  “Yes, scared,” His ocean, blue eyes pierce at the attorney.  He knows he must remain strong.  All eyes rest upon him, the time is now.

“Look, I frankly don’t care what you think, but a man of the law plotted to have me shot and killed. He dumped me down a hill thinking I was dead.  He paid off Judge Prodeman, and when he found out I was alive, he decided to pay me a little visit in the hospital, and threatened to kill me if I said anything!”  He loudly speaks into the microphone before him. His eyes tell a tale of their own. The jury has no doubt, he’s more than truthful.

“But you admitted to lying when filing your original report,” The defense attorney smirks.  The tone of his voice nettles Aiden, like the continuing sounds of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.

“If I presumably lied, then why did Detective Harry Jade and two security officers at the hospital testify to the fact that Linton tried to kill me yet again, when I was being treated for severe burns last year?  Are they lying to you as well?”

“Let’s be correct here, Mr. Jenson,” He flings his index finger up in the air. “Only Detective Jade testified that my client allegedly made an attempt on your life. Security officers arrived after the fact. Isn’t that right?”

Aiden clears his throat and scopes the jury. “Yes, sir. That is correct.”

“Let’s return to what we were originally speaking of, shall we? You were about to explain to all of us that you were scared, and that’s why you lied, in the original reports. Is that what you want me and this,” He pauses for impact. “hardworking jury to believe?”  The attorney considers each of the juror’s then looks back at Aiden. Some of the jurors frown.

“He knew exactly where to find me, and could end my life whenever he wanted.  He reminded me of that every chance he had. Usually, and cowardly I might add, when I was alone.”

“Uh huh!  A decorated detective said this to you?  He said he was going to kill you if you said anything?”  He sarcastically states again peering over at the jury, with an arrogant look.

“Yes, Phil Linton did.  And I’d refrain from calling him decorated or a detective. From what I’ve heard, he was suspended and then fired,”  Aiden looks directly at a fuming Linton at the defense table.

Some in the courtroom laugh, while the judge fires a threatening glare across the courtroom hushing all spectators.

“Your honor, I want that last comment stricken from the record.”

The judge clears his throat. “Denied. It’s already been brought into trial through evidence. Move on counselor.”

The defense attorney grinds his teeth.  “He has a medal and a commendation.  He’s a hero cop regardless of your lies!” He points his long, bony finger at Aiden.

“You really believe that crap he’s told you?”

Easy there, Aiden. Ms. Lee thinks hopeful his defensive attitude won’t sway the jury against him.

“Mr. Jenson, please stick to answering the questions,”  The judge politely interjects.

“No, it’s alright your honor.  I’d like to know what he means,”  The defense attorney passively waves his arm challenging Aiden Jenson, apparently not cognizant to who he is, or what he’s dealing with.

Ms. Lee smirks understanding Aiden Jenson and how he plays. And from the countless hours spent grilling him in her office, she knows his sly ways.  She was in fact, counting on this.

“We have history.  There have been several cases I had written about previously, where the person behind bars was proven to be innocent.”

“And what does this have to do with my client?”  The defense attorney crosses his arms. He knows full well that Aiden Jenson had Phil Linton as his source only once, and it ended in a near homicide. Ms. Lee’s heart pounds with excitement.

“Well, sir, he was the arresting officer on all of those cases I had written.”

The courtroom erupts in gasps and low chatters, while camera’s flash. The judge bangs the gavel harder.

“You’re honor, I move to strike that!”  The defense attorney points his long arm at Aiden.

Ms. Lee stands up. “Your honor, defense opened the door,” She gives a child-like grin in the defense attorney’s direction.

“Indeed,” The judge nods his head.  “Sorry, counselor, but you opened the door by asking the witness what he meant.  The objection is overruled.”

Ms. Lee scoots back into her seat, while the courtroom continues whispering and gossiping. The judge grows irate and hot under the collar.

“If you don’t settle down, I’ll clear this courtroom and remove the cameras!  You’re here out of a courtesy.  Don’t make me take it back and send you out!”

The courtroom quiets down.  The defense attorney clears his throat.  “Nothing further your honor,” The attorney straightens his tie.  I shouldn’t have asked him that!  The defense attorney thinks avoiding eye contact with Phil Linton; he can sense his evil inspection in his peripheral vision.

Ms. Lee stands up.  “Uh, your honor, since the defense has made it clear they do not believe Mr. Aiden Jenson, I’d like to now present state’s exhibit Y.  It’s the video tape of the day of the shooting.  Also exhibit Z which has photos of that day as well.”

The defense attorney springs up.  “I object to this, your honor!  It’s a blatant attack against my client, which could only serve to prejudice the jury against him!”

The judge sighs.  “Counselor, you’re objection has been noted and we’ve already discussed this in chambers, in great lengths.  You’ve made your detailed arguments.  You’re objection is again, overruled.  There is no violation here.  This is a recording of a crime, and the jury has every right to see it.  Ms. Lee, you may continue,” The judge courteously motions with his arm.

“Thank you, your honor.  I’ll be redirecting the witness after as well.  If someone could please get the lights and after the video is over I’ll get your response, Mr. Jenson,”  Aiden Jenson nods at Ms. Lee.

Ms. Lee steps up to the television and places a dvd into the player. The courtroom is darkened.  All spectators rest on pins and needles to view the actual crime.

Aiden grins at Ms. Lee as Linton shoots daggers at him from his chair, on the opposite end of the courtroom.  There is no denying the plans and actions of the ex-Detective Phil Linton.  The jury attentively watches the video completely floored.  Some look back and forth between the video and the defendant. The video moves around, but very clearly captures the crime and faces of the perpetrators.  It is still fresh to Aiden and difficult to watch. Aiden clears his throat and turns away.  It’s as if he can feel the pain of that bullet fresh in his abdomen.

Then the gun blares. *Bang!*

Aiden swallows, almost unable to hold back the bile bubbling in his throat.  He breathes deeply in and out, calming down. Ms. Lee notices his demeanor and gives him a look of concern. His nod in return reassures her that he is fine and can hold it together.

Ms. Lee is fully prepared and has blown up several photos of who is holding the gun.  No denying it’s the judge and Phil Linton.

When the video is complete, Aiden explains in greater detail and points at the photos he had taken of the two men dumping his body.  While the men were certain he was dead, Aiden made sure he snapped pictures with his microfilm and hid the video recorded in his van.  It’s clear Linton tried to murder him.  In addition, he bribed a powerful judge who earlier that day testified against Phil Linton as part of his plea deal for a reduced sentence.

“Uh, Mr. Jenson, you mentioned that Detective Phil Linton was the one who was your source that day, correct?”

“Yes ma’am, he was.”

“Did you have any idea he was bribing Judge Prodeman the day of your arrival?”

“None,”  He shakes his head then wipes his sweaty palms on his suit pants again crinkling them.

“What about any of the times previous to that day you were brutally shot?  Did you know about the bribe?”

“No, Ms. Lee.  I was stunned to see what I did, and was thankful I caught it on video and film.”

“And the video we saw, please explain to the jury how you were able to capture that?”

“I had a specially made button that matched my coat. Inside of it holds a little camera. It sends a direct feed into my van. It recorded everything.”

“Impressive, Mr. Jenson.  And did you have that specially made specifically because of your occupation as a journalist, and the possibility that some jobs can be dangerous?”

“Uh, yes, Ms. Lee. That’s exactly why I had it made.”

“And uh, what made Phil Linton become your source that day?”  Ms. Lee paces around the front of the witness stand in her high heels and arms crossed.  Her long, thick, black hair trails down her back.  She looks pristine in her olive colored skirt suit and smells of Jasmine.

“I was merely trying to pry information from police officers, which wasn’t working, I might add,” Aiden’s slight smirk has the jury giggling. Terrific! He has the jury on his side believing him. Ms. Lee ruminates.

“That’s typical I imagine, as a journalist, to try to gain information from law enforcement?”

“Uh yes, Ms. Lee.”

“Alright. Please, continue, Mr. Jenson.”

“Well, that’s when Phil Linton strolled by.  He nudged my arm and pulled me aside. He explained how he overheard how I was trying to gather information, from some of the officers. He told me where to be that day.  I had no idea whatsoever, what I was in for.”

She approaches the witness stand and folds her hands. “So, from what we’ve seen, we can only state that Detective Phil Linton set you up for murder, am I right?”  She turns and plunges her manicured finger directly at the dirty ex-cop who swallows.

“Yes.”

“Objection, your honor!  She’s testifying!”  The defense attorney shoots up from his chair.

“Withdrawn!  Nothing further.  Thank you, Mr. Jenson,”  Ms. Lee gives a nod to the judge then stands back at the prosecution table.  “The people rest, your honor.”

The judge nods then veers at the defense table, as Ms. Lee gracefully sits down along with the opposing attorney. Ms. Lee is beginning to grate on him. The defense knows he has no chance of winning.

The judge politely grins at Aiden. “Mr. Jenson, you are dismissed.”

With a nod, he steps down and sits next to Ms. Lee.

“Counselor, are you ready for your first witness?”

The defense attorney clears his throat then stands again to his shaky legs. “Uh, your honor, we will rest on all of our objections.”

The courtroom is livid this perplexes the jury by the look on their faces.

The judge raises his brows and glances towards the jury.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to go to lunch.  When we resume, you will hear the state and the defense’s closing arguments.  See you in an hour. Actually, you have been patient over several weeks of this trial. Jury, please take an hour and a half. I’m told they have a wonderful spread of deli for you, and dessert.”

The jury smile heading out of the courtroom in an orderly line alleviated they are appreciated.

The reporters lurk nearby.  They give updates of the case live while others try catching Aiden Jenson or Phil Linton for a brief interview. They shout their questions at Aiden yet he ignores them.

Aiden stands up and stretches his arms overhead then leans over to the D.A with a disconcerting glare. “What are they pulling, Ms. Lee? I wasn’t expecting this.”

“Aiden, relax this is good news for us.  He has absolutely no defense to his crimes.  We have witnesses and video along with photos.  I believe he knows it’s best not to put up a fight if he’s going to try to appeal this.  Can’t argue you’ve had a lousy defense if he puts up a good defense.  I’m certain that’s what he’s doing, and where he’s headed.”

“Yeah it figures.  I hate the system sometimes,”  He peers down at Ms. Lee.  “No offense.”

She laughs and tucks her hair behind her ears.  “None taken.  It’s not a perfect system, but there’s no way, with the amount of proof we have, that Phil Linton will ever see this world again uh, outside of a prison that is.  Rest assured, Aiden.  I’ve got this under control.  You should trust me,” She brings out more folders from her briefcase for her well prepared closing argument.

He gives a subtle wink.  “You’re not the one I don’t trust.  I can’t wait for this to be over. Perhaps I can get a good night’s sleep.”

“Most victims I speak to find when they testify it’s good medicine. I have a feeling you’ll have a restful sleep tonight, Aiden. It’s almost over.  I do need to speak with you, before the day is over. It’s a rather difficult subject so please, stick around,” Her tone worries Aiden.

When the jury returns from lunch, the powerful, shark Ms. Lee presents her passionate closing statement, to an expectant jury.  She refers to photos again and vastly animated.  She helps them relate, if placed in Aiden Jenson’s shoes.  Many nod in agreement, one juror in particular tears up.  Some of the jurors refuse to glance at Phil Linton, which is a good sign.  And again, photos of Aiden Jenson sit on display when he was in the hospital recovering from his bullet wound.  The particular photo she ends with is the empty syringe which almost seals the nails in Linton’s coffin. Ms. Lee gives the jury thanks for their patience and service as the judge gives a subtle smile. He motions for the defense to make their closing arguments.

Ms. Lee holds her breath, sits, and crosses her legs waiting to hear what these guys have planned.  Aiden gives her a high five underneath the table.

The defense attorney stands, straightens the knot on his tie, and strolls to the jury box. He purposefully glares at each of them dead in the eye.  Some appear uncomfortable while others seem plain old irritated by his demeanor.  The courtroom eagerly awaits wondering what his argument will be.  How can he leave reasonable doubt, and how can he compete with the argument which was just left by Ms. Lee?

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,”  He smirks.  “This whole trial is one, big attempt to smite my client’s good name!  Everything is a sham!  Who have we been talking about this entire trial?  A man named, Aiden Jenson. He’s a popular journalist working for a big newspaper, a top newspaper I might add. He’s only doing this to further his reputation, name, and gain more money!  Especially with his book “The Gateway.” This is all a publicity stunt to sell more books and more newspapers!”

Jeez, this guy’s an idiot. Aiden scrutinizes.

“Phil Linton is innocent! A-hem, thank you.”

The defense attorney nods then sits back down with Phil Linton whom he can feel hot daggers, at his collar.  Linton’s beginning to give him the creeps.

The judge is not impressed and raises both brows.  “Okay.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are not to use this man’s prior reports of misconduct as an officer against him. In other words, the prior investigations from Internal Affairs against him.  They have nothing to do with this case…”

As the judge finishes his statement to the jury, he dismisses them for deliberation.

Aiden takes a deep breath outside the courtroom.  Ms. Lee strolls to him with a sly grin.  “You did very well, Aiden.  There’s no denying what was done to you.  And I believe that every juror was sympathetic. If an officer of the law threatened them, after they survived from a first attempt on their lives by that same officer, well, they would have done the same thing and maybe hesitate come forward.  I expect a quick verdict on both counts of attempted murder, and all the smaller counts included.”

Aiden shakes her hand.  “Thank you.  I appreciate that.  I hope they convict him too.”

“Well, your friend uh, Grace Rodriguez testifying at the beginning of the week was wonderful.  Her account of how he had you pinned up against the wall of her apartment had the courtroom on the edge of their seat.”

“Yes, she said she’d help me and testify.  She knew then something was wrong.  And Harry, well, he saved me from Linton’s last failed attempt. He always has my back.”

“Yes. Harry Jade. Wonderful detective.  His testimony helped as well. Linton really should have taken my plea, but can’t cure stupid.  Why don’t you get some fresh air and relax.  I’ll call you first thing when there’s a verdict. And uh, just ignore the riff-raff of reporters,” She chuckles and gives him a friendly pat on his arm.

“What did you need to speak with-”

“Later, Aiden. I promise I’ll let you know.”

Highly concerned, Aiden heads over to the water fountain, he leans over sipping some cool water. Linton hatefully swaggers up behind him with his hands in his pant pockets.

“This ‘aint over, Aiden.  You’ll pay for this one way or another,”  Linton curtly whispers near the journalist’s ear.

Chills crawl up Aiden’s back. He wipes his mouth and quickly spins around. The look on Linton’s face is sheer evil.

“You’re threatening me again, Linton?”

Aiden raises his voice drawing the reporters’ attention as they step out of the courtroom. Immediately, they rush up to the men who stand toe to toe. Ms. Lee hears the ruckus, pushes through the gathering spectators, and hustles over with a few officers at her side.

“Take this man into custody!”  She points, as they swiftly remove Aiden Jenson, the state’s best witness safely into another room.

Linton’s lawyer wipes his glossy forehead, and yanks his client away from the reporters for a much needed tongue lashing which naturally Linton refuses to heed.

Within the hour, the jury relays a message that they have reached a verdict. They’re brought back into the courtroom.  A record and a shock.  Every officer including Detective Harry Jade waits to hear the anticipated verdict hoping this will be the end of Phil Linton.  The evidence is clear of his guilt however one can never be too certain how a jury will be swayed.

Grace is working at the law office and eagerly awaits by the television set when those red letters fly across the screen saying, VERDICT REACHED.  She’s been praying for a guilty verdict knowing how deceptive Phil Linton is.  The attorneys’ in the office cease from their work, and scurry around the television, for the decision broadcasting all across America, interrupting regularly scheduled programs.

“I have been told that the jury has reached a verdict,”  The judge clears his throat, as cameras roll the live footage.

The jury foreperson stands up, with a piece of paper folded in his grasp.

“Yes, we have your honor.”

“Please, pass it to the bailiff,”  The judge motions with a pleasant smile.

The bailiff brings the verdict slip to the judge who reads it then passes it back to the bailiff.  He hands it to the foreman.

“And what say you?”

“For count one hindering prosecution, we find the defendant guilty,”  The courtroom gasps, as the judge bangs his gavel down.  “For count two of intimidating a witness, we find the defendant guilty.  For count three of staging a crime scene, we find the defendant guilty.”

Ms. Lee confidently folds her hands as her shoulders lower.  All of her hard work is indeed paying off.

“For count four of bribery, we find the defendant guilty.  For count five to the attempted murder of Aiden Jenson, we find the defendant guilty.  To count six of the attempted murder of Aiden Jenson, we find the defendant….guilty.”

“We’ve got him!”  Ms. Lee smiles beams and stares at Aiden, by her side.

Gasps fill the courtroom again, as Aiden sinks in the chair sighing. Ms. Lee slaps him a high five.  Detective Harry Jade approaches Aiden and places a strong hand on his friend’s shoulder.  Aiden peers back at his best friend with a nod of relief.  The gavel bangs down with a stern eye from the judge silencing the courtroom.  Phil Linton curses under his breath snapping a few choice phrases to his idiot attorney who can’t wait to flee the courtroom and get away from his client. He’s already packing up his briefcase.

The judge specifically addresses them.  “Thank you members of the jury.”

Then the jury foreperson stands again and speaks up.  “Your honor, we the jury well, we had one thing we wanted to add to our verdict.”

“Objection, your honor!”  The defense bellows jolting up with sweat dripping off the sides of his temples.

The judge sighs.  “Relax, counselor.  They want to add something, and I’m eager to know what it is.  Foreperson please, continue,”  The judge pleasantly motions.

“We wanted to say that we admire Mr. Aiden Jenson, and how he came forward after all this time.  Fear is a terrible thing,”  Aiden smiles and gives a nod to the jury who has all eyes peering at him.

“Objection!”  The defense attorney bellows again.  The judge ignores him, for only a moment.

“Indeed, fear is a terrible thing,”  The judge nods.  “I thank you for that.  Counselor, sit down. They are merely wishing him well before they leave,”  The defense attorney sits as Ms. Lee smirks.  “Jury, we thank you so much for your service over the past weeks.  You are dismissed.  You are also free to speak to anyone of the press as you see fit.  Or you may keep silent regarding this case.  That is your right and your decision.  Thank you again for the time you have taken away from your jobs, and your families. This court doesn’t take lightly your service and sacrifice. We thank you. You are dismissed.”

The jury is escorted out of the courtroom. Some reporters stagger out incredibly anxious to interview the jury, as the judge speaks up.

“We need to return for sentencing.  I see that we can meet…” the judge looks down studying his calendar.  “…next month at a date to be set.  But, there is another issue I’d like to address,” The courtroom sits on pins and needles, while the white haired judge looks up and tosses his pen down.  “I’m told there was something of a threat that happened over an hour ago.  Sir?  Did you in fact threaten, Aiden Jenson, by the water fountain?”  The judge folds his hands curiously, and intently eyes the untrustworthy ex-cop.

Phil Linton glares at his attorney who gives him a nod that he must answer the judge.  Linton stands up and clears his throat for the obvious lies about to spiel forth.  “Sir, I merely told him he will pay.  But, I meant for the lies he has said.  I certainly did not mean death or injury.”

Aiden makes an obvious noise with his mouth blowing off the bull crap excuse.

The judge glances at Aiden.  “Mr. Jenson, what did you make of this when he stated those words to you?”

Aiden Jenson stands to his feet.  “Your honor, I was simply getting a drink of water when he approached me.  He said, this isn’t over and I would pay one way or another.  If it was as he said, then why on earth did he lower his voice and corner me? Why was his tone less than amiable?”

The judge raises his brows again drawing his attention to the dirty ex-cop.  “That’s a valid question.  Why did you lower your voice and have an unfriendly tone?  And why address, Mr. Jenson, by the water fountain, which is clearly off near a corner of the courthouse?”  The judge’s tone grows more disconcerted, sensing he’s being lied to.

Linton thinks of another lie.  “I uh, don’t know uh, possibly because of the news crews,” He fixes the edges of his mustache.  “They’d make anything news even if innocently said,”  He coolly remarks.

Aiden shakes his head and sits down as the judge places the gavel down.  “I have not seen someone as cunning as you seem to be.  I’m ashamed and completely stunned, that a man of the law is so crooked and was able to stay on the police force, as long as you have done.  I think New York will be a lot safer knowing you no longer patrol the streets.  Now, Aiden Jenson, do you wish to press charges to this threat?”

Aiden quickly converses with Ms. Lee then stands up.  “Your honor, I think Phil Linton is in enough trouble.  I will be glad when the sentence is handed down.  I’d rather just let this go.”

At his words, Detective Harry Jade’s face is unnerving knowing Linton may still attempt something to hurt his friend.

“Phil Linton, I think you have been temporarily reprieved.  You’re bail is still set at two million dollars.”

Ms. Lee swiftly stands.  “Your honor, we would like his bail revoked. The state again would like to remind you of the callous nature of his crimes and would like Phil Linton to be remanded until sentencing. He is now a convicted man. This is highly unorthodox to allow a convicted man out on bail!”

Aiden swallows, Jade swallows as well and crosses his arms, eying the judge peculiarly. Something isn’t sitting right.

Linton’s attorney shoots up. “Uh, your honor, I’d like to remind the court that my client has come for every day of this court case. He hasn’t fled and he’s been out on bond.”

“Ms. Lee, you’ve already stated your objections in great detail.  He has given us his passport and agreed to return for sentencing.  I have the stipulation that he is remain on house arrest being monitored 24/7.  Mr. Linton, you are ordered to be back here for sentencing next month.  That will give your attorney time to get an argument together, as to why you shouldn’t receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.  And at that time, I will hear the victim’s statement.  I’d suggest you get your faculties together, Mr. Linton.  Thank you.  We are adjourned!”

He bangs the gavel down as the reporter’s hustles out to snag Aiden or Linton outside and catch a reaction to the verdict.

Reporters waste no time surrounding Aiden Jenson, the man of the hour, as he steps outside of the courtroom. He has a glow about him, a weight has indeed been lifted, yet something is troubling him greatly. Linton is out on bail for thirty days. He sighs and rubs his sleepy eyes. Sleep may not be possible, after all.

“Sir, did the short verdict time stun you?”  “Aiden, what does your editor, Carlisle, have to say about this case?”  “Mr. Jenson, will you write a book about all of this since “The Gateway” has been an international bestseller for so long?”

Aiden raises his hand and shoots a slight nod at Saline Davis also up front waiting to get the goods from him.  She looks great in a pin striped, skirt suit still trying to make it big as permanent news anchor and leave the world of newspaper articles behind.  George, of course, is holding his camera standing behind her. He wiggles his fingers at Aiden.

“First off, I was extremely shocked at the time the jury was out and I’m certainly thankful, for their service and that they saw the truth.  My editor, Carlisle, is behind me as long as I write an article for the paper,” The reporters laugh as cameras flash. “And as far as another book, I’m not sure about that. I’m just thankful that next month Phil Linton will be behind bars, and know what it’s like to live in fear.  No more questions, please. I’d like to go home.  Read the rest in The Daylight News tomorrow.”

“Come on, Aiden!  Tell us were you at all afraid that the jury would come back with a not guilty?  Late Breaking Channel Nine News wants to know!”  Saline Davis shoves her microphone in his face stopping him from leaving. He frowns; her mic almost pops him in the lip.

“Ms. Davis, you look terrific!”  Aiden sarcastically eyes her up and down then gives a flirtatious wink.  She clears her throat with an embarrassing smile as reporters smirk and giggle knowing the rivalry between the two.

“Saline, anyone in my position of course would be afraid that the jury may not rule in my favor.  But, that’s why there’s a sharp D.A. named Ms. Rose Lee, who has had my back one-hundred percent!”

Aiden points to Ms. Lee just stepping out of the courtroom carrying her thick briefcase.  The reporters surround her and shout their questions, as she looks over at Aiden and sends him a friendly wink. She begins addressing their questions one at a time.

Then Phil Linton steps out of the courtroom also thronged by reporters. It seems with his presence, the temperature in the courthouse changes a few degrees.

“Mr. Linton, why did you threaten Aiden today?”  “Are you angry with the verdict?”  “Is it true you bribed Judge Prodeman?”  Why did you try to kill Aiden Jenson? Twice?” “Is it true you were under investigation for several years by Internal Affairs?” “Why do you think the judge allowed you out on bail, after you’ve been convicted of these crimes?”

Saline Davis also shoves her microphone in Linton’s face, in hopes to squeeze the dirt out of him or twist what she can.

“I’m very disappointed with the accusations against me.  They’re all lies!  I never threatened, Aiden Jenson, and I never bribed anyone,” He gives a slight nod of his head and purses his lips.  “A good cop is now fired and going to do time,” He touches up his mustache with his thumb and forefinger.  “It’s a sad day today that the system has failed the people of New York.”

Phil Linton’s defense attorney escorts him outside down the front steps of the packed courthouse and into a cab fleeing from the mass of reporters.

Aiden Jenson hugs Ms. Lee who joins him outside.  Aiden breathes in the fresh air as relief and redemption embrace him.

“I can’t tell you how hard this was, but you made it much easier. Thank you.”

“Hey, it’s my job, Aiden.  And this case brings my conviction rate up to 99%.” She winks. “Listen, now that we’re alone, uh, there’s a problem. I want you to know, I have the very best people and law enforcement working on it.”

“Does this have something to do with why Linton is out on bail?”

She clears her throat. “Aiden, we suspect the judge has been bribed. Then after this, allowing a convicted man for murder out free on bail, well,”

“Great. This is just great. Are you saying I’ll have to go to court again?”

“Calm down, Aiden.  I’m not saying anything like that. Right now, we only have the judge and his peculiar behavior, buying expensive things and such. He also has been meeting someone late at night, during the trial, and we have no clue who it is. However, we’re now tapping his phone. I’m so sorry, Aiden. I know you wanted this whole charade to be over. I need definite proof before I go around accusing a judge of bribery.”

“That makes a lot of sense, as to why Linton is out.”

“Trust me, Aiden. I’m on top of it. One-hundred percent. I can have a unit detailed to you.”

“No, no. I can’t have that. If he’s going to kill me, I’m fed up. He should get it over with.”

“Well, keep your friends Jade and his partner near you, please. Until this is over. They’re bad for business.”

“Yes they are. Listen, I’m confident we will figure this entire thing out. For now, join me across the street for a steak.  I’m starving. I’d like a big dinner,” Ms. Lee hands her coat to Aiden, who politely lays it around her shoulders.

“You’re absolutely right, Ms. Lee. I’ll focus on the bright side.  Dinner is on me.  For a job well done.  You drink champagne, right?”

“I’m a lawyer, Aiden. I’m not dead,”  He laughs as they walk arm in arm towards the restaurant.  “Plus, I don’t have to go in until Monday.  And uh, call your detective friends to join us. We all need to celebrate.”

“Oh those boys love a good steak.”

If you’ve loved this second book of the series, grab part 1 for only 99 cents! http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano   TheGatewayjpegwrap

There are other chapters of several of my books, so search the blog and enjoy reading! Give me a follow and have fun! I look forward to connecting!

 

Since I’ve began my Christian publishing house website, I have had over 3,500 visitors since April! I’m so thrilled and blessed at what God is doing. Please take a peek and have fun! You can shop any of my novels, learn about my publishing house, myself, shop awesome clothing featuring my book covers, read about special guest author, and see book news! Oh! And you can post a comment or prayer request directly on the site! http://deadmanwalkingpublications.com/  Subscribe, follow me in cyber world. You are a blessing! Thanks for stopping in! Copy of Halloween Haunted Doll Horror Costume Theme Party Event - Made with PosterMyWall

 

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“Angelica, You Have Chosen Well” Part One- Chapter Three

A New Design (1)

 

Chapter Three

 

“A Night of Death”

“My nursemaid, who I saw regularly, became a good friend of mine growing up.  At each visit, she taught me how to cook, clean, and sew.  She was very kind to me and possessed a hidden beauty unseen on the outside.  She was tender and loving as if I was one of her children.  My nursemaid arrived the night after Mary and Joseph departed the following day.  After trading a horse of ours, belonging to my mother with their donkey, they left to find suitable lodgings.  Joseph had said his donkey was a bit on the stubborn side.

“One particular night, when my nurse maid had come, there was a loud bang on the door.  One my father would never forget.  One night would shake him for many years.”

 

~~~

 

*Knock, knock, knock.*

“Sir, shall I get the door?  Your baby is almost finished eating,” The nursemaid calls out from the bedroom.

“No thank you, Deborah.  I shall get it.  Let Angelica finish.”

Phillip opens the door to three heavily armed soldiers standing on his doorstep in battle array.  Their eyes darken with hatred, which bleeds through their metal helmets.

“In the name of King Herod, we are instructed to find any baby boys in this house!”  A soldier proclaims authoritatively. Phillip pauses and noticeably trembles, his body freezes with fear.

“Do you have a baby in the house?”

“Uh, yes I do but…but, it is a girl.  Sir, she is nursing,” Phillip hesitates.

“Stand aside!”

The soldiers parade themselves through the front door, and violently shove Phillip aside demanding to see the baby.  They march in perfect order through the bedroom door. Deborah sits nursing the baby, and suddenly startles by the unwelcome guests.

“In the name of King Herod, we are ordered to find any baby boys in Bethlehem!  Now, give me the child!”

Deborah protectively places her hand over the baby; as the other two soldiers stand behind with hands on their swords preparing to draw them out.

“But, sir, it is a girl!  And she is nursing!”  Deborah covers herself with a blanket.

“Give me the baby!”  The soldier demands a second time growing impatient.

He seizes the infant, and carelessly unravels the blanket wrapped around her.  Ripping off the cloth, which covers her bosom, he then cruelly hands the screaming baby back to Deborah.

“Let us go!  It is as they have said!”

The three soldiers stomp out the front door, mount their horses, and ride off.  They leave a trail of dust blowing down the streets of Bethlehem as they hasten to do evil in the name of the king.

“What do you suppose is happening, sir?”  Deborah asks quieting the baby.

“I do not know, but I have a feeling it has to do with the people who were here before.  They had a Babe…a Son…and now they are gone.  I packed food and water for them as they went on their way.  I traded Beth’s horse for their donkey, and they blessed me for showing them kindness as they departed.  I cannot imagine how a stable is showing kindness to them?  I wish I could have done more.”

“But, sir, you did.  You provided them a place to have their Babe, in safety, and you gave them food and drink.  You did more than I have seen many do here in Bethlehem,” Deborah says.  “And Beth would have given them her horse as well.”

“I guess you are right,” Deborah hands Angelica to her father.  She is fast asleep.

Screams of terror and the wailings of women and children in the distance shake Bethlehem’s peaceful night, and Phillip’s inn nearby.  Babies scream as if being torn away from their mothers.  Phillip embraces Angelica tightly in his arms and close to his face.  He thanks God she is alive, but still fears the possible return of the soldiers.  Just what would they intend to do upon finding a male child?

“It sounds as if death is in the air, sir.  What if they come back?”  Deborah places her hand to her chest.

“Well, they are not looking for girls, only boys.  But, rest assured, you will not be here.  Please, take Angelica home with you and bring her back when she is weaned.  I shall visit daily and bring you your wages.”

Feeling her heart beat faster, Deborah adheres to the observation of Phillip.  “Of course, sir, I would be glad to care for her…did you say they are only in search for boys?  Oh my Lord!  What about Benjamin?  My husband Zebedee is watching him now!  Phillip, I must run home!  He is only six months old!”  Deborah cries.

“Then go, Deborah!  Go!”

Phillip’s heart hammers in terror and alarm as he opens his front door.  Deborah bolts in a state of panic into the darkness of the night.  Dreading…

Soldiers swiftly parade through the streets of Bethlehem on their horses. They carry torches to light their deadly mission:  A mission for one purpose and one purpose alone.

One particular soldier rides upon the King’s chariot.  He oversees the soldiers as they fulfill their duty.  Head of the Praetorian, he is crude and lifeless as if looking into dead, black eyes.  His name is Judasis, but the soldiers who know him call him Death due to his talent for killing. Fearlessly, he stands twice the size of a normal man.  His full dressed armor is the best of all the soldiers.  Judasis is infamous throughout the region where prisoners also know, and fear his name.

Just as Phillip closes the door, horror strikes seeing Death leap from his chariot excitedly. Storming into a nearby home across the street, he snatches a baby boy from his mother’s grasp.  Drawing his sword from his sheath, he swings slicing the screaming infant across the neck, killing him instantly. The mother screams in wretched agony.

Phillip’s knees shake dreadfully buckling beneath him.  He swiftly kicks the door closed.  Blowing out the lantern, he jumps up and scurries to his bedroom hiding himself and Angelica under the bed.  I know who that man is.  I have heard rumors, all the way from Jerusalem, of his evil.  What if he comes for my Angelica?  Phillip scrutinizes. We must stay hidden!

Phillip remains awake all night listening to the continuous, agonizing cries, wailings, and shrieks throughout Bethlehem.

Finally, daybreak, and the sound of horse hooves fade into the distance.  Taking with them, are the lives of dozens of baby boys including Deborah’s precious, infant son, Benjamin.

After the burial of Benjamin, Phillip hands his only daughter, his most precious gift over to Deborah.  She will care for Angelica until the age of two when she is fully weaned.

 

~~~

 

“I grew up knowing that the Son of God, Jesus, was born in our stable.  Father did the best he could raising me without a mother.  I could not have asked for a better father. He taught me many things like; the care of our animals, and counting, and collecting the money from the inn.  I was very happy with my father.  But, when I turned the age of twenty-nine, I began to feel as if something was missing from my life.  I was not married nor did I have that desire.  Instead, I took care of father and enjoyed working in the inn, which is unusual for a woman unless she has a husband.

“At that time, rumors spread throughout Jerusalem of a man who I desperately wanted to meet.  A man I thought, for a brief moment, could be Jesus.  But as it turned out, he pointed the way to Him instead.

“Father wished for me to settle down and marry, which is customary for a woman to do.  But, I desired something more for my life.  I longed to make a difference yearning more than anything in this world to see Jesus. I had only heard stories about Him since I was a child from my father.  I did not want to leave Bethlehem, but the more I heard of Jesus, and the man called John the Baptist, the more my heart longed to find them and hear the things taught.  Jesus was to arrive according to the teachings of John the Baptist.  This was the same Jesus born in Bethlehem on the same night I was born.  I knew I had to find Him.”

 

~~~

 

“Angelica, there is a handsome, young man who lives in the city.  He has asked for your hand in marriage.  I told him I would ponder his request as is customary.  However, I still wanted to ask my beloved daughter,” Phillip says folding a pile of clean, white linens in hopes Angelica may have a change of heart.

Resting her chin on the handle of the broom, Angelica ceases from the day’s chores.  Far from the thoughts of marriage, she daydreams of her heart’s aspirations.

“Father, you know I would do anything to please you,” She gently answers.

“And I would do anything for you as well, Angelica.  But, I do not want to force you into something you do not want to do. Although…I would love to have grandchildren, I see in your eyes it is not something your heart desires.”  Philip chuckles.  “I believe I have always known you had no desire to marry.  Even as a child, while girls pretended to marry, you were still playing in mud holes and kicking the boys in their legs.  I see that you love to be here in Bethlehem, and yet your heart seems so far from this place, is it not?” Angelica smirks. “So, what is it you want my daughter?  I will get it for you,” Phillip sincerely asks pausing just a moment as Angelica bites the side of her lip.

“Father, I have heard some people in the city speaking of a man called John the Baptist.  He is down at the River Jordan baptizing and preaching repentance from sin and the coming of the Lord. Each time I hear the story of the night Jesus and I were born, I remember what you said the physician had told you.  He said, that the shepherd had declared, ‘It is Christ the Lord!’  No one has ever called anyone Lord, until now!  I want to wait for Jesus.  And I want to go and wait with John the Baptist, and hear all he has to teach!”  Angelica passionately exclaims.

Sad by his daughter’s words, Phillip stands to his feet, and places the folded linen on the table. He would give his own life to please her.

“Then daughter, Angelica, that is what you shall have!  Now, we must not delay.  I will pack some clothes for you, with a moneybag.  I want you to make haste and go to the River Jordan.  But, one thing I ask that you must promise me,” He wiggles his index finger at her.  She lifts her head in unexpected amazement her father’s sudden agreement and his change of heart excite her.

“What, Father? Anything!”  She flings her arms to her side and spins around a single time.

“I want you to promise me, that you will write often.  Tell me all that happens and what John the Baptist says about this Jesus.”

Dropping the broom onto the floor, she runs over to her father.  She falls lovingly into Phillip’s outstretched arms.  Resting his head upon her shoulder, he caresses her long, curly hair and cries already missing her.

“Angelica, your mother would be proud of you this day, just as I am proud of you.  You are following your dreams.  She did just that.  Her dream of course, was to have a family. Not just me, Angelica, but you.”

“Oh, Father,” Angelica weeps on his neck as they tenderly hold onto one another.

“Now, you shall leave in the morning,” He grabs her shoulders. “Tonight, I will make preparations, but for today, let us finish our work.”

“Yes, sir, Father!”

Angelica picks up the broom and continues sweeping cheerfully like never before.  Her heart suddenly misses Bethlehem knowing tomorrow she will be gone.

 

~~~

 

“The next day was sunny and hot, for that time of year.  Father packed a few garments of clothing, along with a new pair of brown sandals, a head covering, and a moneybag for me.  He taught me to tie the bag on the inside of my sash, to keep from robbers.  Father put a lot of money in my moneybag and instructed me to write to him if I needed more.  He would send the stable boy, who was now grown to my aide.  Kissing my head and holding me tightly, he cried as if he did not want to let go.  I left that morning.  I looked back at my father standing in front of the inn. He was waving his hand through the air.  With tears in his eyes calling out, “I love you, Angelica!  I love you angel!  Don’t forget to write, my daughter!”

“I left on foot, even though Father wished I took his old and unbridled donkey.  The River Jordan was a day or mores journey away.  On the roadside, I met several people who surprisingly were also traveling to the River Jordan.  So we decided to travel side by side in one accord.

“I stopped and ate when I needed to eat, and stopped when the sun went down and slept.  The friends I made on the road were some of the best I have ever known.

“I chose to make my bed a good distance from the road side, in case of robbers by night while I slept.  I trusted God to keep me safe.  I often fell asleep staring at the many stars in the sky.  How beautiful they all were.  It was at those times I would think of my father, and miss him dearly.

“Since I traveled with only a few people, we would talk about the rumors heard at the River Jordan.  All of us could not wait until we arrived; it was like a new season.  People left their homes from afar bringing their wives and children to see and hear John the Baptist.”

 

~~~

 

Finally, the day comes when Angelica arrives at the River Jordan in Nazareth.  The fragrance of burnt wood and fish fill the air following the sound of rushing water.  A man’s voice echoes off the water up into the many hundreds standing and sitting around as she steps through the thickets of grass.

There is much shade along the River Jordan, many flowers and round rocks which some choose to sit upon.  Along the edge of the water, there is a wide river bend where many gather together eating and breaking bread in peace and harmony.  Their laughter is without a shred of falsity.  Others anxiously stand in the water, with a very pleasant man whose face has a distinctive glow.  Up to his waist in the water, he has a brown beard, which is a bit straggly: his body is thin yet something about him seems strong and powerful.  He wears garments made of camel hair with a leather belt strapping around his waist.  Lovingly, he smiles at everyone by the river.  One woman is in the water beside him.  The man holds onto the woman’s hand while his other supports the back of her neck.  He dips her backwards into the water. His voice carries across the ripples of rushing water to all who gather. They also have that same joyous glow upon their faces.

“In the name of the Father, I baptize you!”

Immersing the woman in water, she emerges. The crowd rejoices praising God and clapping their hands.  The sight brings tears to Angelica’s eyes.

Setting the bag down by her traveling companions, Angelica makes her way through the thick, green grass towards the edge of the river.  She sits down and listens to him speak while warming her hands on a nearby fire.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

“I listened to him and for a brief moment I thought, Could this be Jesus?   Until he spoke again, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loosen.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Through the afternoon, Angelica hears his message and believes in the Messiah even more than the stories she heard from her father in Bethlehem. It is then she decides, and purposes in her heart with all that she is, to follow the Lord for the rest of her life and continue with Him as long as she is physically able.  She knows she must wait with John, for Jesus will come.  In the meantime, she abides by the river alongside hundreds camping in the beds of the grass.

The next day, people from around the river begin lining up near the water with a deep desire of baptism.  Angelica’s desire rises within her heart as was the decision to come to the Jordan, and she eagerly waits for her turn to come.

Finally, John the Baptist reaches his hand for her from the water’s edge.  The cool breeze of the day blows passed the trees.  Angelica reaches her hand out to his, and as she touches his hand, she feels a strange sensation warming her.  Then, she steps into the cool River Jordan.  Carefully, she steps across the smooth stones at the river’s bottom a few paces.  She trembles with joy.  This is the most important decision she has made thus far.

“Do you give your life to the Lord?  Do you want to serve Him all the days of your life, and do you repent from your sins?”

Tenderly she cries out. “I do!”  Tears flow off her eyelashes.

Kindheartedly, he grips her hand tightly.  She feels a strong pulling within her stomach, which she does not understand, but welcomes.  Raising his voice to all the others nearby, she feels a power coming from him, a somewhat emanating power.

“I hereby baptize you in the name of the Lord!  Praise to God in the Highest!”

He submerges her backwards into the water.  For a brief moment, Angelica sees her life flash before her eyes.  She emerges.  Everything she knew she desired in Bethlehem has finally been found in the precious, pure words he has spoken.  The water is cold, but inside her heart tingles like a warm embrace.

Angelica steps out of the River Jordan, dripping wet as others gather around applauding and glorifying God.  The moment she steps onto dry land, dozens of men and women hug and welcome her to the Lord.  Children hang onto her drenched garments and smile up into her blue eyes endearingly. One child, no older than two years hands her a dry tunic.

Continuing on with John the Baptist and the others a great length of days, the date of Angelica’s birth passes.  She is now at the age of 30 as is Jesus who shares the same prophetic day.

During her time, at the River Jordan, she carefully notices many tax collectors and soldiers coming near the riverbank to hear the message John is teaching.  She can see by the look in their eyes, they are out for blood and try to trick him by the questions they ask.  Skeptically, she keeps her eye on them and prays for her friend John the Baptist whom she has come to know.

Rumors spread how John had rebuked King Herod for taking a bride that belongs to his brother.  Her name is Herodias.  Thereafter, she secretly despises him searching for a clever way to demolish the man of God.

Many ponder if perhaps John the Baptist is in fact Jesus the Christ.  But, even in the middle of their idle chit chat, he keeps pointing them to One who is sure to arrive.

 

~~~

 

Loud, quick footsteps, trail down the stony, staircase, accompanied with the angry voices of evil men.  Soldiers approach the cell stopping Angelica from her story.

“Pardon me, sir, but I just follow my instructions.”

The jailer begs forgiveness, from two heavily armed soldiers.  One of them…is Death.  As the soldiers walk passed the other prisoners waiting, they tremble at the sight of this ominous soldier. The soldiers stand angrily in front of Stephen’s cell.

“This one, Stephen, was not even supposed to be jailed!  The counsel is furious he is not up in the synagogue speaking with them.  An hour has past and your orders were to take the other man down to the jail.  Not this man!”  Death raises his gruff voice as he repulsively gazes around the bleak prison.

“It is just disgusting…the stench down here!  It is almost unbearable!  I should not have to come down here to correct your mistakes!”  Death roars as he crosses his thick arms glaring at the puny, miniscule existence of the jailer.

“I am sorry, sir.  If it pleases the counsel, Judasis, I-I could explain how it was my-”

“NO!  No need to do that.  Down here you call me DEATH!  You are lucky you are escaping with your life, and the lives of your family with an error such as this!  I should throw you in a cell of your own!  Or should I just crucify you here?”  Death draws his sword and presses it slightly against the jailer’s neck.  The jailer feels the sharp, cold blade to his skin.  Terror grows in the heart of the jailer as Death places the sword over his Adam’s apple, with sinister thoughts of gutting it out of him.

“No, Death, please, sir!”  The jailer pleads looking up at the mammoth man staring down at him desiring to trample him under foot.

“Open the cell!”  The wicked soldier interrupts.

The loud, locked chamber clicks as the quivering jailer opens the cell, and moves aside.  The other soldier stomps inside, and stares at Stephen who glances up with the parchments in his hands.

Angelica shutters. She stares at the larger soldier in remembrance and familiarity.  I remember stories my father told me of this man.  She thinks. He is surely a wicked fiend.

“We must put these chains back on him!”  The soldier bellows.

Stephen stands to his weary feet perceiving his time has now come, and he shall speak as the Holy Spirit gives him utterance.

Death ducks his head and stomps inside the cell.  He places a set of chains around Stephen’s feet weighing him down, yet he remains strong standing upright.  He is brave, but not without fear.  Stephen slides the pages of the parchments through the metal bars back to Angelica.

“You see, all for God’s glory?  Listen, when they prepare to destroy your life, pray to the Lord.  Pray to Him for strength,” He sternly glares into Angelica’s blue eyes, as she discerns the urgency from Stephen.

Angelica reaches out, but the angry soldier grabs Stephen’s hands.  Once again, the parchments fall to the grimy floor as the soldiers quickly chain Stephen’s hands together.

“Pray to the Lord, huh?  Well, we shall see what will be done with you after the counsel hears you speak.  If I were you, I would worry about your own life and not the life of this woman!”  Death sternly states, with an evil undertone.

The soldiers stand on the left and right leading Stephen out of the cell.  Locking the cell behind them, Angelica stands to her feet and walks toward the door of her cell.  She watches Stephen as he slowly shuffles his feet an inch at a time yieldingly bound and chained.  But, this will be the last time he is ever bound as he is.  And it is a moment he welcomes with all his heart.

Glancing over at her, he speaks one final time.  “Remember what I said.  Your life has made a difference.  Only do not lock it away…share it with anyone who will hear!  Tell your father the same.  I will see you soon, Angelica.  I will see you soon!”  He states while they hard-press and shove him passed the prisoner’s cells by Death’s strong arms.  The weight upon Stephen is heavy, but he is ready.

The soldiers lead Stephen up the staircase as some in the jail clap and rejoice.  Others weep with sadness of heart knowing his most certain fate.  Death is only ending his life here on earth.

Angelica rests her forehead against the metal bars, wrapping a few of her dirt-embedded fingers around them.  Closing her eyes, she begins to pray.

“O my Lord, whom I serve.  Give me strength and my friend, Stephen.  That You may show him a revelation where he will be with You if he is to be put to death today.  Let his words pierce the hearts of all who hear him.”

Tears run off her face and ripple to the cell floor.  John lay on his back staring over at Angelica.  He presses his lips together. It disturbs him to see the young radical crying.  Then, he glances at the cloth Stephen left for him.

“Angelica, please do not cry.  At least you know where you will spend eternity: which is more than I can say about myself,” He crosses his bony arms.

Immediately, she dries the tears with the back of her filthy hand and takes a few steps toward the bars.  She feels a tugging in her heart to speak.

“It is not that I know, but do you?  John, do you really know where you will go when they sentence you to death?  Where you will spend eternity?”

John slowly pulls himself up towards the interesting girl.  He feels weak and sick; his illness clings to him like the skin on his frail frame.

“I am not a good man.  I have been a thief my whole life.  Now, you tell me how is it, that a God as you say, can possibly love someone like me?  And how can He accept him into His heavenly home?  Why will He, a person such as myself?”

“John, I want you to listen to me.  I am going to tell you more about Him; now, just sit back and hear me.  It may help you with the answers you seek.”

Just then, sounds from above boom like a stirring, which shakes the walls and very foundation of the prison.  Dirt falls from the ceiling as some in the prison cough.  People scream and yell troubling the prison.  Finally, a man’s voice authoritative and wise with power quiets the angry mob.  In her heart, Angelica knows Stephen is speaking that very moment to a violent and hateful crowd in the synagogue.

Minutes seem as hours passing when suddenly the crowd becomes irate and wrathful louder than before.  Footsteps clatter from the ceiling rushing across from one side to the next then fade into the distance.  Angelica shuts her eyes tightly as tears fall down her dirty cheeks once more.

“I will see you soon, dear brother.  I will see you soon,” She softly vows.

The crowd seizes Stephen, tosses him outside the city, and mercilessly stones him.  He looks up to the sky at the parting heavens, and sees Jesus. Then he lies down and falls asleep.

The jailer victoriously stomps down the steps and stands in front of a cell door, five cells from where they hold John.  A soldier joins him.  They yank a man out of his cell bound and chained for immediate execution.

“Ah the crowd is relentless today!  More blood to shed!”  One of the soldiers mocks with sarcasm.

“It seems there are four more people now, before I am to be taken,” John says putting his head down by his soon coming fate.  “Can you honestly tell me this is all worth it?  How old are you, Angelica?”

“I am thirty-four years old.  And yes, I can say it is all worth it.  Once you hear what I have seen, and how being near Jesus, and by His side has been worth everything, I can endure it now.  I would never trade one moment spent with Him.”

“Okay then, Angelica.  Go on with your story.  I am listening.”

Leaning his back against the wall, John gazes at the cloth Stephen had given him still sitting between the bars.

Angelica reaches for her parchments and pen, and places them on her lap.  She begins vigilantly writing again.  The words pour forth like sweet honey as she remembers every moment with Jesus.

 

 

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Free Chapters of “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series

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The 1st two chapters of “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series- a supernatural, scifi, and urban fantasy read!

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

“Hello! SOMEONE HELP ME! I need help!” Grace sways back and forth, on the floor, of her kitchen.  She’s pale and trembling with a broken phone tightly pressing against her ear, with a white knuckled grip.  There’s a sense of hopelessness and terror. “I need help!” Her voice trails off.

Ten minutes earlier.

Grace leans over and picks up a toy train from the carpet of her New York apartment. A severe storm is blowing into the city.  The wind fiercely whistles as the raindrops violently beat against the windows like loud pops of pebbles, as surely as if a teenage boy was getting his girlfriend’s attention. That’s when one of the woman’s children calls for her from the back bedroom.

The mother of four sighs while tying her robe around her waist. She tiredly drags her body towards the back room, where her children lively giggle getting ready for bedtime. Grace was hoping they wouldn’t need her, and she can retire for the evening, but with small children, it’s inevitable. But, she was still hopeful.

It’s a chilly and damp night. Grace checks the thermostat then steps into the room for Manny who is still calling her.  The four-year-old jumps into her tired arms.  She sighs, his hugs warm her.

“Momma! I can’t put my shirt on.  It’s stuck.” His voice slightly muffles from being tangled in his shirt. Grace lovingly grabs Manny by the shoulders and sits him on the bed.

“You’re old enough to put this on yourself, aren’t you? Come on buddy?”

Manny shakes his head. She sighs, grabs the wrinkled up pajama shirt, which is over half his head and one arm, and fixes it for the black, curly haired cutie. He smiles clinching onto his mom while she embraces him and lays him into his nice, warm Superman covers.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes mom.”  They all answer.

Emilio, her eight-year-old son jumps up and down landing on his butt on the top bunk bed.  While José, her six-year-old, snuggles underneath the covers in his own bed near the door. Smiling proudly, she endearingly watches her children settle in for the night. Grace tucks each one in and gives a special kiss on their innocent foreheads.  You definitely have a full load here, Grace.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just then, the sound upon the windows grows – deafeningly loud.

“What is that, mommy?”

Manny glances toward the window at the startling noises. “Honey, it’s only raindrops. There’s a storm coming.”  Grace brushes her long, black, curly hair off her shoulders and flicks off the bedroom light.  She turns on the hallway light knowing her children need it for comfort, especially during a storm.  Manny looks at her with a disconcerting glare, their bedroom lights up from the lightning outside.

“It’s alright.  Just ignore the storm, honey.  If you watch the lightning, it’s very peaceful. God watches over us.  Remember, I told you the last time that God makes the storms?”

“Yeah, loser!” Emilio heckles his nervy brother. Manny twists his lips shooting Emilio a weird look.

“That’s your brother!” Grace is already irritated from the lack of sleep the night before. She eyes Manny whose countenance drops at the hurtful words of his big brother. Then she eyes Emilio.

“I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice.  He will always be your brother. Don’t make fun of him. Now, please apologize.” She crosses her arms.

Emilio covers his head with a pillow and muffles, “I’m sorry, Manny.”

“It’s okay, Emilio.  I love you,” Little Manny brightly smiles.

Emilio wrinkles his nose at the very thought of his brother always saying he loves him and the others.

“That was sweet of you, Emilio.  Alright, boys. Go to sleep.  I love you. I’ll make some waffles in the morning.  Night.”

The noise of the storm rises over the chime of the mobile, dimly playing above her eight-month-old son Chico, asleep in a crib in her bedroom. Chills creep up her arms. She thinks nothing of it and quickly checks the thermostat again.  Maybe it’s broken. It’s awfully cold in here.  Grace crosses her arms.  I was hoping this wouldn’t happen in a new place.

About two months ago, Grace Rodriguez moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a large New York complex.  It is located on a pleasant street surrounded by tall trees. This is a night like any other, for Grace as a single mother, putting her children to sleep and cleaning up their toys. Yet something about this night is fairly off track in the atmosphere.  Sure it’s raining, but since when does the rain beat so hard against the windows that it sounds like the glass may shatter at any given moment?

Grace rubs the silver cross necklace around her neck, with her middle finger and thumb, and then continues picking up the rest of the toys scattered across the living room.  She quietly places them in a toy box in the corner. The children’s matching short, black locks of curly hair sprawl across their pillows. They lie silent, their eyes slowly closing from the busy day they’ve had.  Only small slits can be seen. Grace yawns and stretches a moment. She heads back down the hall, and peeks in on her kids. She cracks a smile at her children with love and affection. With a sigh, she scans the usual mess of scattered toys. It is just a typical boy’s room which she will have to clean sooner or later.

Grace heads to her room yawning, in the dimly lit hallway, when the children’s eyes open wide, glancing toward the darkened living room at the sound of a loud *clang*.

The long hallway holds the feeling of imminent danger brewing. Grace pauses, and hesitantly calls out while slowly spinning around.

“He-hello?”  Her voice crackles as a cold breeze climbs up her legs then moves through the air chilling her to the bone.

“Momma, what was that noise?” One of her children groggily speaks up.

“Oh nothing, honey,” Her shaky voice is noticeable. “You remember last month when that alley cat jumped onto our stairs outside? And he knocked down mommy’s plants in the window sill?” Grace clears her throat and nervously grins.

The boys laugh, now appearing to be awake due to the noises they hear and the fear consuming them.

“Yeah that was funny, mommy. He jumped all the way up here. And we’re a hundred floors up!”  Manny giggles.

“No we aren’t butthole.  We’re on the fourth floor,” Emilio pokes again.

“Don’t call him that!” Grace faces their room and points her finger now clearly upset. “You are brothers. You should stop all the fighting and name-calling or you’re going to get spanked!  Now I mean it, say you’re so-”

More sounds clank around in the kitchen stopping her from finishing the threats to the arguing children. Grace’s big, brown eyes bulge as she fearfully tip toes backwards against the bedroom door.  It suddenly dawns on her the baby is asleep in the crib, in her room. I can’t leave him alone. What if it’s a burglar? She ponders.

“Boys, I need to get Chico.  He’s in my room. None of you move a muscle, alright? I mean it not one of you,” She whispers to her wide-eyed kids.

Biting the corner of her lip, her face turns flushed.  Her body uncontrollably trembles while trying to remain calm, cool and collected. Jose and Emilio sit up. Manny clutches his blanket close to his chest for comfort and a shield, from the fear he feels.  Jose tosses his covers off, hops out of his bed, and jumps into the bottom bunk snuggling under the covers next to his brother Manny.  Emilio remains on the top bunk, with a sick surge in his stomach.  Being the oldest, he knows something is gravely wrong.

“Okay boys, now sit still and don’t move.  I’m going to get Chico,” She whispers.  Emilio nods.

Grace slowly tiptoes down the hall towards her bedroom. Her stomach akin to riding the elevator up a tall building, making her nerves shoot up in terror from the continuing clanks and bangs in the kitchen. Abruptly, the sounds veer into the living room.  Her heart sinks in her chest, but she can’t see a thing in the living room from where she stands. Grace reaches for the doorknob, her fingers shake. Her pulse races, she may faint. Her forehead is glossy with sweat. She clinches her eyes together a moment and breathes in deeply.  Quickly, she flings open the bedroom door smacking it against the wall and clamors inside.

The noise escalates and all of a sudden stops, as quickly as it began. Putting a pacifier in the baby’s mouth, Grace scoops him out of the crib and cuddles him close in her trembling arms. A dark shadow quickly passes through the hallway, like a ghostly, eerie presence. Then it disappears unnoticed to her.  The necklace hanging around her neck glows with a light, auburn aura. Grabbing the telephone on the nightstand, she hustles back into the boys’ room. Relief hits. The glow of the necklace fades away as she closes the door and locks it while trying to quiet the baby who’s awake, from all the movement.  Grace gasps in a deep breath, thankful she’s back with all her children, but ponders what to do about the intruder. I think there may be a baseball bat in the boys’ closet. If he comes back here, I’ll let him have it!

“Okay boys, alright…isn’t this fun?  Everything’s okay,” Grace gathers another deep breath, and bounces the baby slightly soothing him to sleep.

Grace tries making everything seem like a fun game, as she often does, so her children will not be afraid.  Suddenly, her heart sinks in her chest at the empty top bunk. Emilio is nowhere in sight.  Remnants of a giant, animal, paw print on the sheets is Grace’s only indication something is gravely wrong.

“My God, what’s that smell?” Hesitantly, she touches the print and rubs it within her fingertips. “This is sick!  What is this?” Grace yanks the covers off Manny’s bed.

“Ah! Don’t hurt me!” Jose screams.  Manny tucks his little body in a ball squeezing his eyes shut.

Hurt you?  Where’s Emilio?” Grace waits for an answer. “Look at me!” She grabs his chin forcing him to look at her. “Answer me…where….is Emilio?”

Jose grabs the blankets and throws them back over him and his brother unable to stop his body from quivering.  He’s on the verge of soiling his pajama pants.

Grace places the phone down and lays the fussy baby on the bed. Maybe he’s hiding.  She wonders.

She opens the boys’ closet speedily flinging shoes and toys around the floor, shoving aside clothes and hangers searching for Emilio.  Kneeling on the floor, she keenly glares under the bed, but he is nowhere in the room.  Her heart pounds faster and loudly resonates in her ears. She feels faint again and an urge to sit down, but she can’t! Where is Emilio?

“Emilio?  Oh my God!  Emilio! Boys where did your brother go?  Boys come out from under there! Where did he go?” The worried mother frantically questions again.  Horrified, the children will not move a muscle or come out of hiding. Their quivering bodies are evident to the human eye.

“Alright, listen. Hold Chico with you, and hide him under the covers.” She carefully covers the baby with the blanket, alongside her remaining kids. “I’ll be right back.  Don’t you move!” Grace panics, twiddling her fingers as she thinks what to do.  Chico whimpers then closes his eyes falling back to sleep suckling on his pacifier. Grace grips the phone and dials 9-1-1 as she bites the corner of her lip.

Dreading, she slightly cracks open the squeaky door then jumps. Easy there, Grace.  Don’t make your kids more scared than they already are.

Hesitantly, she closes her children’s bedroom door and heads back into the hallway to find her missing son.

“Hello, what is your emergency?” The emergency responder answers.

Slowly, Grace moves down her dark hallway, keeping a watchful eye on the living room while deliriously creeping back into her bedroom.  How is it he’s gone after those noises? How?

After a short search, she creeps back into the hallway.  Grace wipes her glossy face and attempts to calm down, but her heavy breathing seems to be getting the best of her.  Thoughts of panic prick her mind.  Where did Emilio go in just a short amount of time? I was gone for only a moment.

Carefully, she tiptoes one foot in front of the other, her bare feet quietly press into the beige carpet. She opens the bathroom door. Sneaking up to the bathtub, she’s light headed, dizzy cradling horrible thoughts of what may have happened to her son. Grace quickly flings the shower curtain aside then wipes a tear from her small, pug nose. Taking a sigh, Emilio is not there and the search ensues. Examining the closet in the hall, she flinches, swinging her fists around grabbing into thin air at a small cobweb.  She rummages through the children’s coats and shoes remembering, Emilio likes to hide in the closet while playing hide and seek with his brothers.

Just then, Grace hears muffles. Holding up her hand, she recalls the 9-1-1 call.

“HELLO WHAT IS YOUR EMERGENCY?” The emergency responder repeats.

A very frightened Grace presses the phone to her ear as she glides her fingertips along the wall.  She gasps and heaves in a deep breath, panic rising.

“Uh, yes, um…I heard a noise in my house and-and it could be a burglar and my boys are here, but,” She continues whispering softly, maneuvering down the hallway into the living room; her legs nearly buckle giving way to her trembling.

“But, what?  Ma’am, are you there?”

Grace sets her eyes on the living room. A dim night light barely illuminates the room in disarray.  Her furniture is upside down blocking her pathway to the kitchen.  There’s a clear sign of a struggle.  The beautiful flower pictures, which hang over the couch, are lopsided.  It is dark, but still her son is nowhere in the room.

“Emilio!” Grace whispers.

Surprised by the state of her home, she carefully straddles over the couch, pushing the coffee table out of the way.  A few strands of curls brush against her flush cheeks.  Her mind continues racing.

“Your boys are what?  Ma’am?  Okay ma’am we have your location and we’re sending police assistance.  Do you see a person in your house?  Is someone in the house with you?  Is there an intruder in the home?” Dispatch continues probing the frightened woman to keep her talking prying for more information.

Suddenly, the feeling Emilio has been kidnapped hits Grace like a punch in the gut.  “Okay, please hurry!  My house is a mess like someone was looking for something!  My furniture is all over the place and I still can’t find my son!”

“Okay ma’am so…your son is missing?  We are sending someone right now for you.  Don’t move, okay?  Ma’am?”

Grace pulls the phone away from her ear when something creaks in the house, again.  It’s coming from the kitchen, like footsteps moving around.  Did he get out of bed to check on the noise?

Cautiously and bravely, she pokes her head around the corner expecting to see a prowler. The kitchen appears as she left things. The faint street lights partially stream into her kitchen. Alarmingly, she eyes the room searching for Emilio.  The table, near the window, and stools seem in place. It appears to be the only tidy room in the apartment. Carefully, she steps into the kitchen. She hugs the side of the wall with her rickety body, then out of the blue trips on something in the middle of the floor.  The phone flies out of her hand, and breaks into pieces as the battery pops out and slides across the floor.

“Un!” She falls forward, landing hard onto her stomach nearly smacking her face on the tiled floor.

Propping up on her side, she moans in some pain, but soon realizes the very thing hindering her steps, is her child Emilio.  He lays face-up on the floor in his pajamas unconscious.  Patting the sides of his face, she desperately tries reviving him, but something is not right.  There is an unsafe ambiance cautioning her that something is still amiss in the home.  Grace clenches the child’s pajamas and yanks him onto her lap.

“Oh God!  Emilio…oh Emilio!  Wake up! Come on!  What happened, baby? What happened?”

A cold chill still resonates throughout the apartment.  Is someone here? Who did this to him? I’ll kill him!  She tells herself.

Something warm and wet underneath Emilio startles her. As she lifts her hands, she spots large animal footprints. The prints strangely encircle where her son had been lying.  The very sight of it sends chills up her spine.  The hair on her arms stands erect.  Something is present and near, she detects it.  It’s nearby and it’s utterly palpable.  This is the same thing I saw on their bed. What is this?

Goo sticks to her hands. She frowns and curiously puts it to her nose wondering what it could be.  This light pinkish hue sticks all around her fingers embedding underneath her long fingernails. She continues patting Emilio’s cheeks to wake him regardless.

Suddenly before her, a colossal creature appears standing on all fours like a lion guarding his newly caught prey.  Its appearance is like a beast, a tall tower.  Some of its body almost human-like is scalded head to foot. Wearing tattered pants and a long, red cape draping its burly back sweeping the ground, its powerfully built body is black as ash. Smoke simmers off its skin.  It all seems like a bad dream to Grace. She closes her eyes tightly. Her heart hammers.  Sweat drips off the sides of her face.  She panics, but holds her son tightly. The stench of the intruder is putrid like sulfur.  It is one of the dead which walks, only a much stronger aroma consumes the place. Her eyes rest upon the creature’s bear like feet and razor sharp claws.

Terror hits. Grace alarmingly screams at the top of her lungs. The intruder picks up the unconscious child in his simmering arms. Grace clutches the leg of Emilio’s pajamas, yet the creature gives an earth-shattering growl and wrenches the child from her grasp.  Its cape drapes over Emilio like a blanket.  Its muscles pulsate and its back arches until it stands to its feet like a man.  He growls again at Grace.  The creature towers larger than any human being.  Weakness and fear consumes Grace, she’s unable to make it to her quivering legs almost paralyzed at his presence.

Just then, a blue light flickers as thousands of small molecules gathers behind the creature. It entombs the kitchen like a whirling swimming pool, hovering in mid-air.  A gateway.  Grace’s eyes veer and fixate, mesmerized by the bright blue light illuminating and levitating. The glow and iridescent color is magnificent. The hole swirls and brightly glistens.

The creature jumps into the giant gateway, which vanishes like a flint, along with Emilio who’s still unconscious and unable to fight off his kidnapper.

“Oh God. Oh God!” Grace blinks her eyes. *Sniff, sniff.*

Grace scrapes up one of the broken phone pieces, near her leg. The hysterical woman screams in a blank daze. She’s completely delirious the phone is destroyed and stained with the same, unknown substance. Grace presses it against her ear.

“Hello…please!  Help there is someone here!  There is someone here, and he took Emilio!  Help! Help!  Someone help me! I need help! I need help!”

Grace remains on the floor rocking back and forth white faced, scratching her fingernails on the tiled floor. The baby screams from the bedroom. There’s the faint sound of a police siren in the distance. Grace cries in agony into the telephone while gasping for breath. But no one is on the other end.  Not even a busy tone echoing in the kitchen bouncing off the walls to shout at the distraught woman, No one can hear your cries!

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

At the heart of downtown New York, there are buildings that appear as if they touch the sky.  Lined on every street and corner, lawyers, stock traders, associates and the like, have their offices.  In one of those tall buildings with windows overlooking Manhattan square, is the office of the popular newspaper ‘The Daylight News’.

The leading newspaper columnist in New York is a man named Aiden Jenson. Aiden is an abrupt man, clean-shaven, almost six feet tall, talkative and has little patience for the harangue of people, especially fellow journalists or reporters. He’s a lanky man with deep blue eyes and bleach blonde hair which makes him appear like the “All American” boy.  A sweet, yet calculating man, Aiden’s experience over the years, has perfected his ability interviewing victims. Not being much of a cook, except throwing bread into the toaster, he usually eats cereal for dinner while watching a baseball or football game at night.  He remains a bachelor, living alone in New York, and is disinterested in any advances of a female-most of the time-as he is married to his job, and set in his ways like a turtle in his shell.  Curious and investigative, he is one of the leading journalists cracking stories on violent crimes. The stories, which made a name for him, involve men in prison cells and few on death row, with claims of their innocence. Aiden’s learned over the years, to follow his instincts and the hunches in his gut.  It’s helped him uncover that some of these inmates were in fact doing time for crimes they indeed did not commit. Aiden has cracked open many cases causing reinvestigations in record number, for convicted prisoners. Families of the victims however, do not always share his success.

Lately, however, he is becoming bored with his usual stories about convicts. Aiden is noticing a woman he knows well, Saline Davis, who is part of ‘The New York Chronicle’, is following in his tracks, hot on his tail more than she’s ever been.  Saline Davis is also a popular journalist, but in addition has landed a small slot with Channel 9 Late Breaking News.  Though they work with different newspapers, they’re always competing with one another. It’s been that way since college.  In fact, their newspapers are often toe to toe when it comes to front page stories and sales, only ‘The Daylight News’ remains ahead by a hair due to Aiden Jenson.  Aiden has a well-earned reputation in New York as one who listens to the people and most readers love him in return.  Little does Grace know, her life and Aiden Jenson’s life are about to collide in one of the biggest paranormal adventures New York has ever read.

The boss hollers at Aiden, from his office, for one of his private talks, which usually means he wants to know what the next story is or how the new story is going. Basically, just being a bothersome, nagging boss, picking at him for details of the story before the deadline.  Typical, only Aiden has adjusted to his boss’s tactics and brash personality, developing a way with him, which others wish they possess.  People often fear entering the boss’s office for one reason.  Hearing the words, “You’re fired!” is a tough break for those working in the newspaper business.  In New York, a fired journalist spreads like wild fire.  You either write a great story or get canned for not producing a well-grounded one. What his boss dislikes most is recanting a story; which of course is immediate grounds for dismissal with this line of work in such a competitive field of “he” said “she” said.  Aiden however can care less.  He knows and is proud he’s on top. If he is ever fired, he could have a job by the end of that working day. And his boss knows it only too well.

Aiden saunters through the hubbub of cubicles and journalists on their phones and the clacking of fingers sweeping across the computer keys.  Aiden pauses outside the glass door, of his boss’s office.  The maple desk positioned near the entrance is where the boss’s secretary sits each day, a headset attached to her ears.  She’s a normal gal, not much to look at.  She’s mousy of sorts, with straight brown hair, no make-up on her pale face, and wears thick, bronze framed glasses.  Usually, her passé pantsuits or long plaid dresses are an eye sore making a terrific bull’s eye for others in the office to snicker behind her back.  Even though she’s not blind to the gossip, she’s shy and smitten by Aiden’s good looks and boyish charm. Her name is Elise Reming.

“Oh hi, Aiden. How are you today?”  Elise smiles revealing her shiny, metal braces splayed across her big teeth in a flirtatious, yet shy manner. She is hoping he will take a glance, in her direction.  Nervously, she tugs on her horrendous, royal blue, plaid dress.

“I’m good, Ms. Reming, thanks.” Aiden scratches his strong nose avoiding eye contact with her.  His mind is solely on this meeting with his boss and nothing more.  He opens the door and treks into the office where his boss is impatiently waiting at his desk.

His boss’s name is Kip Carlisle, and he’s typically surrounded by a cloud of smoke, from a cigar clenched in his two front teeth. It’s a soothing calm when in deep thought. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to hear him speak past the stogie.

Aiden slightly coughs, from the smoke in Carlisle’s office, which makes him feel a bit queasy and turn green.  He’s never liked the smell of cigars.

Now Aiden’s boss is also a tall man, clean-shaven, with deep frown lines casting a shadow, between his eyes, accompanied by obvious crow’s feet.  He is an exceedingly headstrong, determined man, in his late forties, with a boxy jaw.  His wardrobe consists of expensive grey suits, without the jacket, and a tie he leaves dangling loosely around his neck.  People in his office think this is a bit peculiar, but they never ridicule the boss.  His athletic build, red hair, and big, auburn eyes are intimidating.  Fast-talking, Kip Carlisle’s known for making swift yet accurate decisions in his deep, raspy voice.  He hates when anyone yells or raises their voice around him, unless he is the one doing the yelling.  Abruptly, he slams down the phone when he sees Aiden pop in.  Finally, he’s here.  Carlisle thinks, having waited only a few minutes.

Carlisle eyes his best journalist. “Okay Aiden, listen you are the best journalist I’ve ever had, maybe ever known in my lifetime. You can be cool, cunning and calculating.  But, strange happenings in New York City? Paranormal? You understand, when you told me this last week, I said we’d discuss it.  But the Ghostbusters thing has already been done!  By the way this isn’t bothering you, is it?”  He points at his cigar, sitting in a glass ashtray, then quickly remarks, “Good,” And swiftly cradles it between his front, squared teeth with a sly grin.

Aiden eases back in the tan chair, in front of his boss’s desk, getting comfortable for what is going to be the beginning of a long debate or lecture. But, he’s fully prepped for a terrific argument.  Aiden has been at this paper long enough to know how to handle the long talks.  He has his ways, well manipulations. He scratches his cleanly shaven, baby face, and fixes the wrinkles in the seams of his pants.

“Listen, I know it’s not what I usually write about, but it’s something I really want to do.  Once you read about it, you’ll be a believer.  I promise you!”  Aiden rubs his sweaty palms on his suit pants, crinkling them up again.  He has an impending urge to fix the wrinkles, a somewhat OCD habit of his.

Carlisle rolls the thick, cigar around his mouth, and stews adjacent from Aiden, in his high back, black chair, which swooshes as he clunks down.  He plops his feet on the corner of his desk and impatiently drums his fingers on a thick stack of papers.  Taking a huge puff of his cigar, he blows circles of smoke into the air then glares at the finest Cuban cigar he can afford cradled between his fingers.

“Alright…I’m listening,” Carlisle waits surrounded by fresh smoke. There’s a cool, odd silence in the office then finally, Aiden contemplates his ice breaker.

“Sir, with all due respect, these criminal articles are washed up! They’re yesterday’s newsAnd the people out there are searching for more than just another presumed killer exonerated!  And to be quite honest, I can’t handle anymore hate mail from the victims’ families, threatening me!” Aiden shakes his head.  “Even in light of new evidence, they think I’m aiding and helping a killer go free.  They place a great deal of blame on this paper too!  Yesterday, an elderly woman on the street confronted me.  She was still convinced one of the convicts set free, who was clearly innocent by the way of DNA evidence, is guilty.  Something about her son being a good boy, and before I could rebut, she slapped me!”

“She slapped you?” Carlisle snickers, with wide eyes, unsympathetic to what his journalists may go through with the public.  As long as the stories in his paper remain number one, it’s all that matters and the heck with anything else!

“Yes, sir.  Right across the face!  I can still feel the sting,” He rubs his cheek.  “I want a new route.  A change of pace!”

Aiden continues shouting, determined to go a different direction.  He flings his hands and arms back and forth.  Looking out of the glass windows, some of his colleagues are peeking over their cubicles wondering what the racket is all about: perhaps wondering if Aiden was just fired.  That certainly would be big news!  Ms. Reming eyeballs him over the newspaper she’s reading, also curious as to what all the hubbub is about.

Carlisle abruptly stands with a stern glare, and strolls over to the chestnut bookshelf behind him.  Grabbing a silver picture frame off one of the shelves, he wipes the glass, with the sleeve of his white shirt, and then places it back.  He quietly sighs under his breath at the pompous, hoity-toity reporter.  Aiden lowers his voice, realizing he’s doing something his boss cannot stand. This of course, is not the first time Aiden’s been jazzed up with his emotions. Definitely not the first time he’s been slapped or cursed at either.  I hate his yelling. But, changing my best journalist from a lead crime writer to a paranormal researcher? Na.  He thinks.

Carlisle squeezes his cigar between two fingers, attempting to keep his calm demeanor.

“I’m receiving letters about the strange and paranormal.  Things people have always questioned beyond death and murder, ‘Is there life on another planet, and are there really ghosts, spirits that are not at rest?’  They…our public, our readers, are asking why I don’t write about this, sir.”

Before he can finish his plea, Carlisle prematurely shakes his head disagreeing with this new, passionate direction Aiden desires to take.  “I don’t think so, Jenson. You dig your heels into rapists and killers in jail. ‘Why fix what’s not broken’, my father used to say?”  He points his cigar at the journalist.

“And regardless the public may hate what we print, the bottom line is, they’re reading it.” Carlisle smugly utters and grins placing the stogie back in his teeth. “And the phone lines light up.  Complaints sure, but again, they’re reading.  You probably despise that small group of haters out there in that popularity of yours.”

Aiden uses that impish grin, while mulling over another way to convince his stubborn boss.

“Well…I suppose Saline Davis will succeed in grabbing these stories…I truly tried.” Aiden’s sad, passive tone carries an underlying mischievous plan as he shrugs his shoulders.  His dazzling blue eyes somewhat dwindles.

Carlisle promptly takes the cigar out of his mouth in shock, and sits up on the edge of his chair. “Davis?” Carlisle twists his lips. “The one at the Chronicle? That woman is a bull.  She’s been competing against you for years.  What does Davis have to do with all of this?”  He squints his right eye at Aiden. “Late Breaking Channel 9 News too, right?  She’ll never become a permanent news anchor the way she works.  Lies, lies, lies.  Didn’t you go to school with that woman?”

Aiden nods. “I did.  Well, sir, it’s true she has been following in my footsteps for years as you know.  Always trying to write a better article about a similar case, or tailing me on every story, with that fat tub of lard of a cameraman…and she knows,” He purposefully eggs on. “She will take whatever she knows on the air, to get the job she wants. No matter the underhanded things she does to make it happen for her.  Being a journalist for the paper, is just a means to her plan.  She can care less about readers, sir.  She only cares about one thing, being a permanent anchor. But, this right here, I’m certain she knows.”

“Knows what?  For crying out loud, Jenson, spit it out!” Carlisle pleads, and knocks a fist on the desk, his maroon tie hanging loosely from his collar.

“She knows what the public is looking for, and I’m sure she’s receiving letters too.  Do you really believe a shrewd woman like that is going to pass up an opportunity to bury me, in the dust?  Or bury this…our newspaper in the dust perhaps?” Aiden raises his voice again. He knows it’s getting under his boss’s skin.  Just a little more push and I have himAiden thinks.

He speaks with unbridled passion, knowing it will make it appear that he’s in it for the newspaper, when in fact he’s only in it for himself.

Carlisle calmly leans back into his leather chair twirling the cigar around in his fingers. Tilting back, he glances around the office chewing over what the arrogant journalist has laid on his plate.  Well, Saline Davis, if she gets her hands on something like this, we just might become number two in our little newspaper battles. I don’t think I can let that happen.  Carlisle calmly figures.  Or, Aiden may just want to leave the paper. I can’t fire him.  He’s too much of an asset regardless of the new talent walking, through these doors.

“Alright, Jenson…tell me more.”

Aiden shoots a sly grin. “Sir, I still listen to my police scanner, and there was one lead six days ago, Thursday.  Last week.  A woman said something came into her home and took her eldest son.  Kidnapped!”

Carlisle kicks his feet up on the edge of his desk clearly interested. “Oh the kidnapping I heard on the news!” Excitedly, and without notice, he bangs a fist on the desk again.  The ashtray jumps then lands akin to the sound of glass breaking. “Well that’s big news, and that’s great! That a boy, Jenson!  Did you follow up on that lead?”

“Yes, sir, but it’s quite an unusual kidnapping.  I took a little stroll to the apartment where the call came from. I uh,” Aiden gives a proud chuckle. “Convinced a police officer outside to speak with me.  They weren’t allowing anyone in that building.  Now, he said the doors were bolted and the chain was locked from the inside.  They had to break it down.  The woman claims some creature took her eldest child.  Now that’s news!  Imagine the headlines,” He holds both palms up imagining a billboard in the sky, bringing his boss on the wild ride of his imagination. “And we would be the only paper in this city…a city full of millions of readers, who possesses the story.  Not even Saline can get her filthy, little, conniving hands on this one!”  His enthusiasm causes Carlisle to sneer thinking of all the sales. “Sir, give me a shot writing this. Give me four weeks.” He holds up four fingers. “If you don’t have a kick butt story, and I mean kick butt, then I’ll hang my head, raise the white flag, and peacefully return to writing about convicts. You have my word on that.  My word is my bond.  You know that.”

Carlisle huffs. “So, you’ll be prepared to go back to one thing you now detest, huh? The one thing that’s made a name for you in this foul talking city?” He tests him with one eye squinting.

Aiden nods. “I will, sir.”

Carlisle insensitively blows circles of smoke into the air while oddly grinning. The smoke permeates strangely releasing that calming effect for the overworked boss.

“Those police officers always talk. They say they can’t disclose anything but most of them sing like a canary,” Carlisle arrogantly raises his brow and boastfully whistles in a sarcastic bird-tone. “Are they still keeping people from the building?”

Aiden shakes his head no. “They sent all units home today, sir. It’s an open sepulcher over there.”

“Heard that on your scanner too, didn’t you?”

Aiden fires that all-American grin again. Carlisle snickers.

“Alright, Jenson. You’ve got your shot.” Aiden sits up straight. “But just four weeks!  It would be sincerely foolish not to allow my best journalist to follow his hunches, which has made himself,” he clears his throat, “and this newspaper number one.  So, Jenson, you’ve got it!  Now, I want something good.  If this is a paranormal instance you want to capture, I don’t want just strange where this woman who lost her kid needs to be institutionalized. They rarely spoke of the details on the news, now that I recall.  And I want that Davis person, well, you just grab the bull by the horns. Understand?  And I swear, Jenson, if you screw this up, it’s back to convicts, crank calls, curses and slaps!  Now get out of here, Jenson, and get to work!” He rants.

Aiden gets up, shakes his boss’s hand and strolls towards the office door. Smiling, he’s pleased his manipulation and bull crap has convinced his boss to change his obstinate mind.

“Uh, just one more thing, Jenson?” Aiden turns around and faces Carlisle. “Did you follow up on the woman? Was she institutionalized for all of this, and does she have other children?”

“Sir, from what the officer said, she has four children and now three. He explained the detective on the case didn’t think her rambling warranted a call to the psychiatric facility. They’re exhausting all leads including an absent father. There was uh, some strange things found in her apartment that made the story, to me, seem all the more horrifying and believable.”

The phone rings, Carlisle curses lewdly snatching up the phone. “This is Carlisle! What do you want that couldn’t wait till I was out of a meeting?” He waves with his hand, motioning for Aiden to leave his office.

“I was just going to call you. What’s going on?” Carlisle gruffly speaks with the stogie hanging out the side of his mouth, holding it in between his back teeth. Covering the telephone, he yells one last repeated order.

“Jenson, remember just four weeks!” He places the phone back up to his ear and raves on. “Well, you better print it by tomorrow or you’re fired!”

Imitating a gun with his fingers, Aiden points at Carlisle to let him know he understands the directions and all that’s on the line for him and the newspaper. Carlisle may keep his word, and force Aiden to continue writing about convicts if this doesn’t pan out, but Aiden knows better. He is certain he’d be fired first.

Elise peeks around the newspaper beaming at Aiden again, longing for him to take just one look in her direction.  Just one simple glance to let her know he knows she’s alive.  Perhaps a smile?  It would surely make her day.

“Bye, Ms. Reming.” Aiden strolls off with long strides swiftly thinking only of the case at hand, and ways to get the story.

She raises her brows watching him pay careful attention to his job and surely not for the unattractive Elise.  Does he even know how rude he’s being? I’m sure he’s just got a lot on his mind, Elise. Just hang in there.  She reasons to herself.

Elise sighs sinking into her chair and frowns as he leaves. She rolls her eyes and plants her nose back into the newspaper. Others in the office, carrying stacks of papers and files, gape at Elise. They jeer and ridicule another hideous dress she has worn to work. They appear stylish and up to date in fashion.  Of course, they think they’re much better than Elise who by her wardrobe, and drab exterior, is an easy target for humiliation even though she’s a terrific secretary.

Elise stands to her feet. Yawning and stretching her arms overhead, she arches her back then places her headset on the desk. She heads into the employee lounge for a cup of coffee to awaken her senses.

One of the mockers puckishly strolls behind Elise carrying something small, within her grip. She’s beautiful styling a light grey, pin striped skirt-suit.  Her delicate blonde hair is pinned up away from her face, bringing focus to her lovely blue eyes.  Every hair is perfectly positioned with Bobby pins.  She has a well-known reputation as the office flirt, dating a list of men and discarding one when another comes along.  She is also known as an average writer, sneaking by solely by her looks, and salacious charms-definitely not by her talent.

Elise pours a cup of hot coffee when she hears heels clacking on the tiled floor, as the office woman approaches. Others quietly sit around some of the oval tables reading, texting and on their cell phones with business calls while on break. They pay little attention to the “plain Jane” woman.

The office woman scans the break room making sure no one is watching. Slyly, she removes the small sugar packets and quickly begins pouring herself a cup of coffee.  She politely clears her throat.

“Hi, Elise. Nice to see you today.”

Elise is somewhat surprised by the welcome of this woman who has never spoken to her before today.  She shyly lifts her eyes at the woman who is grinning in a warm yet calculating manner.  Elise isn’t accustomed to make heads or tails of the woman. Is this perhaps her friendly demeanor?  Normally, she teases her.  Perhaps those days are over.  Is this the beginning of a conversation that will help Elise be accepted and finally have a friend? She’s hopeful.

“Hi, Heather. N-Nice to see you today too.”

Why is she talking to me?  She’s never spoken to me before.  Elise ponders.  “Uh oh,” Elise searches all around the counter. “I guess we’re out of sugar. Oh well, black it is today.”

“Well here, Elise. I have a packet of sugar left. Why don’t you have it? I opened it because I thought I needed it. But, I think my coffee is sweet enough. Go ahead! You take it.”  Heather craftily opens her hand, revealing the opened sugar packet.

“Thank you, Heather,” Elise takes the packet without a thought or concern.

“Have a nice day, Elise.”

“Uh, you too, Heather,” Elise instantly warms at the pleasantries.

Heather smirks at the side of her face as she leaves the lounge, happily sipping her hot coffee.  She purposefully swings her hips from side to side, catching the eye of on looking men.

Elise pours the packet into her coffee slowly, stirring the spoon against the rim.  She heads to her desk, places her headset back on, and plops down. Blowing the steam rising at the top of her coffee, she slurps a sip, but something is terribly wrong. She holds the coffee in her mouth utterly appalled. It is bitter and flat making her sick. She looks to the garbage can, but it’s full. She can’t hold it in anymore. She sprays the coffee all over her desk. Tears gather when she realizes, she soiled the top of important papers she has just finished preparing for Carlisle.  Now, she will have to copy the documents all over again.  Inspecting the leftover granules, on the rim of her cup, she can clearly see it’s not sugar. It’s salt.

Confusion hits as to why the coffee is so awful.  Sounds of laughter ring from down the hall. Elise scoots forward, in her chair, and notices Heather with another office woman chortling like chipmunks, at her expense, from the horrible prank they’ve played.

Elise scurries off into the ladies room in her beige pumps, crying and hiding in one of the stalls.  She doesn’t understand why the women enjoy being so cruel to her.  She stands on top of the toilet seat so she won’t be seen.  Weeping into the palm of her hands she wonders, Why are they at me like this? What have I ever done to them?

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Thank you for reading! You can find this novel and others at http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano

 

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Bestseller “Angelica, You Have Chosen Well” Part One of the Angelica Series- First Two Chapters Read FREE!

A New Desig

Bestselling Kindle now read the first 2 chapters below

Chapter One

 

“Who is the Loner?

 

 

 

 

Jesus has already suffered the ultimate crucifixion.  Rising again causes fear in the heart of the king, jealous of any arrival of a so-called “new king”.

Jerusalem is in utter mayhem, crowded with soldiers and stampeding horses, a complete panic. Those who believe in Jesus are arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by Saul of Tarsus.  He zealously persecutes the church seizing men and women called the ‘followers’ or ‘Christians’ for causing uproar.  The uproar, telling people about Jesus Christ the One many speak of who was dead and His body stolen. The Christians however, faithful to Jesus, know better.

Early one dusky morning, a man saunters down a steep, stony staircase leading into a cold, underground prison where the walls seep of water.  A retched lingering scent reeks of death throughout the dark, damp, and brisk prison.  Its walls hold the memory of those dying having perished inside the grey and black encumbrance.

At the end of the stairs sits a wooden chair and a small, round table where a candle drips of wax and remains lit.  The only light illuminates throughout the dark prison.  The man passes by the cells to the right and left, holding men and women who will soon die for their crimes.  Their only crime is preaching Jesus Christ.  The prisoners sing songs to the Lord while many others pray and fearfully eye the man who passes their cell. Thoughts prick their mind, Am I next?  His armor clinks and his sandals sweep across the hard, stony floor until he finally stops at the last cell of the prison.  Disdainfully, he looks down on one prisoner.

“Woman, I have what you sent for,” Speaking abruptly and callously, there stands the prison guard dressed in red and gold armor. He leers at the young woman through the cell bars.  She lies on a bed of hay; she tucks her legs tightly to her bosom.  She crosses her arms in sleep. Struggling to keep warm, her eyes barely open from sheer exhaustion.

The woman of fair complexion snuggles with a head wrap. She wears an off-white gown with a colored, striped sash.  In an unlit cell lying in a puddle of putrid water, her hair shines like the sun, in long ringlets.  Her sky blue eyes distract from the obvious dirt and grime staining her body and clothing.

Swiftly standing to her feet, she staggers toward the guard who holds in his coarse hands a thick stack of parchments along with a pen.

“Well?  Do not look as if you did not send for them, woman.  Just take them!”  The guard is clearly irate at the woman’s hesitation.

“Given the charges, you are very fortunate to have been allowed these parchments!” He stomps a foot.

“I am sorry, sir. I just-”

“Well, take these parchments and your pen!  I do not see what is so important to write about, since you will be put to death in several days!  Today you were arrested and brought here, along with every other Christian! And you have a request to make?  Well, what should I do about the requests of all the others in here?  Just look around,” He points his thick, dirty finger around the prison.

Her eyes are barely able to make out the silhouettes of dozens of men and women in their cells. Some quietly cry, while others sit chained and shackled to the wall.  Their heads hang to their chests in agony unable to catch a breath.  It is a cruel and drawn out punishment; they suffer gradually until their ultimate doom perhaps days, hours, or minutes later.  Others cough profusely. Many huddle together shivering, and desperate to stay warm.  For everyone down here, this is the only hell on earth they will ever know.  As soon as they close their eyes exhaling their last breath, they will be with Jesus.  That is the only joy that encourages them.

Tears fill the woman’s eyes as the guard bellows a triumphant chuckle mocking the woman, his arms cross vindictively.

“Keep quiet over there!”  He scowls at the others.  Some of them gasp and sniffle frightened by the jailer as they quiet their tears hastily.

“Sir, my body may be dead on this earth, but I will not be dead!”  The woman boldly states.  “I will be in heaven with the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  He has risen!  Soon, I will see Him again, face to face.”

“Yes…we will,” One of the prisoners courageously blurts.

“I will too,” another voice speaks up repeated by many others echoing throughout the prison walls.  The voices resound with faith and conviction.  Their lives full of encouragement, and service to Jesus.

“Yes, I will meet my Lord in heaven.”  “I will be there too!”  “And me!  I saw Him and supped with Him, after He rose!”  The prisoners bellow one at a time.

“Quiet! Or else I will come in there, and beat every last one of you!”  He threatens.

Those in their cells silence their voices.  However, one remains vigilant.

“You may beat this body and take my life, but you will never take my soul!”  The young woman defiantly proclaims, as her blue eyes pierce into the jailers very soul.

The so-called Christians begin clapping their hands rejoicing while others cry out.  The testimony of the followers resonates in the ears of the jailer. He grows irate by their uprising.  His face is glossy and a prickly beard fits his harsh demeanor as he reaches to his side, and draws his sword from its sheath.  The sword sends just the right reflection onto the walls from the lit candle; it frightens the prisoners.  The claps swiftly fade as he purposely runs the sword over the bars of the woman’s cell, one at a time.

*Clink* clink* clink*

The sound rings through the gloomy prison.

Determined not to be afraid, she takes a deep breath.  Her blue eyes innocently gaze into his with conviction.  Pausing, from the outburst of anger, his face softens.  He furrows his brow and purses his lips.

“You really are not crazy, are you?  You really do believe what you have just proclaimed, do you not?”

The woman readily smiles at him as if he is merely a friend.  “Yes I do, sir.  Jesus loves you!  And you can come to heaven with me if you like.  I can tell you all about-”

“Enough of this!”  The jailer hisses, his tongue presses against his front teeth snarling at the woman’s remark.  Inconsiderately, he squeezes the parchments and pen between the thick metal bars, and disdainfully tosses them onto the cell floor covering them with filth, and moisture.  He quickly stomps off leaving the heart of the prison slamming the door at his exit.

“OHhh, you are one of those followers of Jesus, are you not?  Well, did you not know?  He was crucified not long ago?”  An old man asks from a cell next to hers.

Kneeling on one knee, the woman gathers the parchments into her hands, and wipes the grime onto her clothes.

“Yes He was, sir, but did your King also tell you the body is missing?  It is because He is alive.  Resurrected, just as He said.  I saw Him, and ate with Him, and watched as He ascended into heaven. He instructed us all to look up and wait for His return!”  The woman joyfully declares.

“With a story like that, it is no wonder you need the parchments.  It was simply some crazy disciples stealing his body, nothing more, woman,” The man shrugs.

“I heard that rumor as well,” The woman gazes up through the murkiness of the prison catching a glimpse of the old, thin man lying on his side.  Moving his fingers through his thick, white beard, he wheezes and coughs profusely.  It appears the only thing holding him together is the skin on his frail, wrinkly body.  Yet somehow, he has enough strength to speak.

“I believe you….I believe He was a great teacher,” His voice gentle yet raspy, and grows faint from obvious sickness setting into his brittle body.

Picking up the pen, she holds the parchments tightly to her bosom and nestles back onto the scattered hay.  “He was much more than that, sir, oh, much more than that,” She exhales recalling His face.

The old man wraps his fingers around the bars of the cell, and scoots himself forward intrigued by the young woman who seems like a radical in his elderly eyes.  It’s something he is not accustomed to seeing.

“My name is John of Samaria.  I was arrested for stealing a loaf of bread when there was a mad panic in the city.  I fled in fear when the narrow streets were suddenly filled with soldiers. I was certain they were coming for me.  They were armed. When they encircled a group of men and women, I was mistaken as one of them.  A Christian, like you appear to be.  They proclaimed we were under arrest, by order of Saul of Tarsus.  We were seized in chains, and brought down here.  The others arrested are also as you, followers of the Man, Christ.  So, I shall be put to death, with all of you, BUT I am not a follower of Jesus.  I believe I will die in this cell before being stoned by Saul of Tarsus.  Perhaps, death is better than the life of thievery I have led,” Resting his head on the cold, stone floor, the man tells his tale.

“I too was brought here by Saul of Tarsus.  It is the way of the world now.  A mad epidemic of sin, where they believe justice is being served by putting us to death for our beliefs, when they know not the truth.  Their hearts and souls refuse to accept what their eyes have seen, and yet it just happened.  It was not so long ago that He came into this earth as a man, and was crucified.  He…He was so much more than that, as I have said.  He was more than I could be and it appears now…more than I will ever be.”

John shivers from the cold and drafty conditions of the prison, but does not mind speaking with the young woman, who is delightful.

“And what is your name, woman?”  His teeth chatter uncontrollably.

The woman sets the parchments onto the ground.  “My name is Angelica, Angelica of Bethlehem,” She answers and takes the wrap from her head and gives it lovingly to the old man.  “The jailer allowed me to keep this blue wrap out of kindness.”

Kindness?  That jailer does not have an ounce of kindness in his body,” He wheezes. Taking the garment through the bars, he drapes it around his body shaking his head.

“Well, he seemed kind at that moment.  The wrap is special.  It was given to me by a woman.  This woman showed me love, in the midst of her pain: A woman with an issue of blood.”

“An issue of blood?”  John the thief inquisitively questions his new found, cellmate.  “Woman… I mean, Angelica.  What are the parchments for?”

She solemnly glances down at the parchments and pen knowing their divine purpose.  “This bed of hay, the smell is…oh so familiar.  You see, I know I will die here very soon.  They will take me out into the courtyard. And Saul of Tarsus will be there, along with a large, angry mob.  He will ask me once more, if I want to deny Jesus or die.  I will answer, the only thing I can say.  ‘I have lived every day for Jesus, and now I will die for Him.  Saul of Tarsus, I have prayed for you since the day I was arrested and placed in chains.  My prayer is this, that one day as you believe you are doing your service, the Lord Jesus will reveal Himself to you.  I will die now on this earth, but I will not be dead.  I will forever be with Jesus.’  Then I imagine the mob will grow more wrathful for innocent blood, and they will drag me outside the city gates and surround me.  Then one by one, they will stone me until there is no life left in this body.  The parchments, dear sir, are to tell the story of why the blue wrap is so very dear to my heart, and why this hay in my cell has a story of its own.  A story that I pray will ring into the hearts and ears of all who hear it,” Angelica grips her pen firmly as she ponders.

“Angelica, as you write your story, will you read it to me?  Every word while I am here.  I want to know this passion you have that will surely end your life.  The passion for this Man named Jesus.”

Angelica beams from ear to ear as she begins to write onto the first parchment.  She begins reading aloud to John.  With the expectation of falling fast asleep, it engrosses him instead, and listens to her sweet, pleasant voice.  From the very first words she speaks, something begins drawing John in.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

“An Angelic Night”

 

 

 

 

“It was 4 B.C. in Bethlehem of Judea where my father Phillip was a simple inn keeper.  Stout, with a large belly and very strong, he has blue eyes like mine, which is extremely rare for a Jew in Bethlehem.  He kept the inn to provide for my mother Beth who was with child, and unknowingly about to have an early birth.  My mother was a petite woman with long, curly, brown hair, and the face of an angel.  She and my father loved each other very much.  The last time I spoke to him, he still expressed his undying love for her.  Being together as a family was all they had hoped for.

“This night was different from other nights at the inn, because quite unexpectedly, it was full.  Usually, at that time of year, my father said we had rooms available.  But, this night was very peculiar.  People arrived all night in search for a place to stay but, there was no room left in the inn.

“The inn of my father was very large.  There were five extra rooms besides mine, and my mother, and father’s, which adjoined to the inn.  I can still see the large dining area and sitting room. It is where we spent countless hours together.  All were built by my grandfather, who has since been laid to rest.  It was a cozy inn, and the guests who stayed with my mother and father always expressed how much it felt like home, during their stay.

“The guests were served hot bread and cheese with wine and fruit.  I can still smell the freshly baked bread and hear the sweet voice of my father calling me to the dinner table.  Oh the laughs we had together.  My father could make me laugh and laugh.

“My mother and father were very content when the guests were satisfied.  But their happiness ended that night as they continued to send others away, for lack of room.  The only place left was a stable where the animals slept.  And no one wanted to lodge in a stable.

“Sitting on a chair in our kitchen, my mother held her bulging belly knowing full well, something was wrong.  She was in her seventh month and the physician said she was in good health, even after complaining of headaches.

“Father was a bit delirious trying to run the inn, while keeping his eye on my mother.  She slowly moves onto the bed for comfort placing her hands on her belly.  Feeling the weight of the child pressing into her ribs, she quietly prays, ‘Lord if it be your will that I should live, please let me live.  But, if I die, please watch over my child, with Your ever watchful eyes.’

“Beth, it will be okay.  I sent the stable boy to get the physician.  He should be here soon,” The expectant, nervous father calls.

“Something is wrong, Phillip.  I can feel it.  Oh God help me!”  Suddenly, a gush of water pours onto the bed as Phillip rushes to his wife’s side.

Beth begins breathing and gasping trying to cope with the pain of birth.  She grips at her gown.  There is a sudden knock at the door.  Phillip wipes the sweat from his brow, with the cloth in his hand.  He hurriedly places a bowl of water on a small table near the bed of his wife; it will surely cool her down.

“Good!  That must be him, Beth.  Now,-now don’t you worry…it-it will be okay my wife.  You just lay there.”

With a worried pain in his heart sinking deep into his chest, he runs toward the door expecting to see the face of the physician.  Here he is!

It dismays and surprises him as he gazes upon a young man strong in stature, and standing at the door, also seemingly desperate.  Who is this now?  Phillip thinks as he peculiarly eyes the stranger up and down.

“Well?  What is it, sir?!  My wife is with child, and I have no time for this!  The inn is full!”  He exclaims snapping at the young man.

The anxious young man seems to share Phillip’s feelings of worry while catching his breath. “Please, sir, are you the inn keeper?”  Hesitantly, he speaks softly.

“Yes, yes, sir, that is me, and I am sorry if you are here for a room.  I have run out tonight, as I said, and quite unexpectedly.  It seems we are overcrowded as it is!”  Phillip exclaims excitedly.

“Oh, so there is no place here?  Well, I need a place to go, you see, I have a-”

“Sir, I am sorry.  You appear like a nice young man.  I would allow you to stay here, with my wife and myself, but she is about to give birth.  We are waiting for the physician right now!”

“Your wife is about to give birth?  Sir, please, is there not anything?  My wife has been riding on the donkey all day, and she is about to give birth as well!”  The young man fears trying to keep his composure, he wipes the sweat from his eyes with the end of his head wrap.

Phillip furrows his brow skeptical at the young man’s truthfulness. “Well, where is she?”  Phillip asks testing the man.

“Over here, sir!”

The young man grabs onto Phillip’s shirt yanking him out of his house in a panic.  There, an even younger woman sits upon a donkey.  Phillip’s eyes widen gazing at her large belly.  The agony on her face shows the young man is telling the truth.  She is in labor, and the desperate young stranger will take anything the innkeeper can provide.

“Sir, is this your wife?  Are you responsible for this young woman?”  Phillip asks glaring and pointing his finger at the woman.

“She is my wife, sir.  Please!  Is there not a single place we can go, in Bethlehem?  My wife, Mary, needs to lie down. For tonight, she will have our baby!”

Phillip pats the young man on the shoulder, and smiles reassuringly. His heart fills with compassion. “I have only one place and it will have to do.  Wait here, I will return.”

With alarm, Phillip runs back into his house and rifles through his belongings.  The only clothes he can find are white swaddling clothes, which he grasps quickly.

“I will be right back, Bethy!”  Phillip hollers taking hold of a lantern and makes haste outside while some in the inn begin to fall asleep.

“This way!  Please hurry, I must be with my wife!”

As they walk, a large, bright star unexpectedly settles in the sky over the stable.  It is the most beautiful star Phillip has ever seen.

“It seems I do not even need the lantern.  The strange star above is keeping our little town well-lit outside,” Phillip mentions.

Bringing them into the stable, Phillip guides the young man who carries his wife in his arms.  “Now, this is all I have.  I do apologize. But, given the conditions, it will have to do.  I laid out new hay and the stable boy cleaned it today.  If you need anything else I will try to help you.  I can inform the physician when he arrives to check on you.  Is that acceptable?”  Phillip hurriedly questions thinking of his own wife.

The animals in the stable are very restless from the noise and laughter in the inn, but as the young man lays his wife on the bed of hay, the animals instantly and silently sleep in tranquility.

“That is odd.  They have been noisy all night long.  Not able to get to sleep because as I said, tonight is an unusual night, with all the extra guests at the inn.”

“Thank you, sir.  This will be fine,” The young man says kneeling by his wife.

“Thank you, sir.”  The young woman says.  Her glowing face remains joyful in the midst of the pain of labor.

“I will leave this lantern with you, in case you may need it.  My name is Phillip, and I will be next door in the house, by the inn.  Now excuse me.  My wife is in need of not only our physician, but me by her side.”

“I am Joseph.  Thank you, Phillip.  May God bless you for your compassion.”

Phillip sets the lantern on the ground near a wooden manger, and sprints back to the inn.  As he rushes to his house, he notices that the star maneuvers directly over the stable, shining brightly above where the couple lodges.

Phillip steps onto his porch and bumps into the physician holding his medical bag in hand.

“Ah, Phillip, Beth is in labor?”  The physician scratches his chin, through his white beard, as Phillip nods his head.  “Phillip, I must warn you, she is two months early and we must be prepared.  The child may not be born alive.  And your wife well, she may not ma….”  The physician pauses, noticing Phillip’s attention is toward the nearby hills.

“What do you make of that?”

The physician lifts his eyes and wrinkly brows toward the hills.  The unusual, bright, flickering lights in the sky shine brilliantly, up on the hillside.  Suddenly, the lights flash like lightning across the heavens.  A beautiful, angelic sound pierces through the night sky resounding radiantly.

“Glory to God in the highest!”

“Have you ever seen anything so…?”  The incredible sight disappears as the declaration silences. “Bethy!  Come, physician, come!” Phillip shouts.

Phillip calmly catches his breath, and orders the young stable boy home.  Phillip and the physician step into the house.  A long night is ahead of them, perhaps.

“Phillip, let us see how Beth is doing.”

As the people in the inn settle down for the night, a great miracle emanates and two births take place, one prophetic.

“Ugh!”  Anguish fills her face, Beth grunts making one final push.  Her gown soaks with blood and she drips of perspiration.  Her heart beats faintly and weak.

The room is lit by a lantern that sits on the table near the bed.  Phillip rubs her face with a pink stained cloth, and repeatedly dips it into a bowl of cool water.  The cry of a newborn babe fills the room with relief and sudden joy.

“It is a girl, Phillip!  Beth, it is a beautiful girl!  It is a miracle!  She made it!”  The physician bellows to Phillip who lovingly strokes his wife’s exhausted head with the back of his hand.

The physician sits in a chair at the end of the bed as he pulls the crying baby out.  Holding her up by the feet, he wraps her in swaddling clothes and hands her to Phillip. His tears of joy slide down his chubby cheeks.  The naked, precious baby continues to cry in Phillip’s arms.

“Oh, Beth, she has your nose and my eyes.  Do you want to see her?”  The proud new father cradles his daughter close.

“Ah Phillip and Beth, she is beautiful.  Her face is so angelic, like an angel.  She is a couple of pounds shy of what she should be, but nothing nursing could not cure,” The physician proudly states.

Beth smiles, she lifts her head gazing at her baby.  But, her joy soon turns grim and sorrowful as she lies back onto the bed. Her legs still in the birthing position, blood covers.  The blood suddenly seeps through the linen at an alarming rate catching the physician’s immediate attention; a great concern has risen.

“Beth?  Beth!”  The physician horrifically screams at the new mother who unexpectedly loses consciousness.

“She is beginning to hemorrhage at a dreadful rate!”  Beth’s body weakens and is unable to hold her legs up any longer.  Phillip lingers.  He is unable to look away from the sudden, fragile state of his wife.  His smiles turn to concern and fear fills his eyes.

“Physician, what is wrong?”  He hollers frantically over the screaming baby.

“Phillip, wait in the other room,” The physician beckons.

“Tell me what is wrong!”

“Not now, Phillip! In the other room…please!”

The physician tries to save Beth as Phillip steps out of the room and closes the door.  Fear consumes him and fills Phillip’s eyes with tears.  He paces around the room for minutes, which seem like hours.  His heart pounds, and his mind races in a hundred different directions yet he tries to remain calm placing all of his trust in the physician, an old, trusted, family friend.

My Bethy will make it. I just know it. He thinks. But, what if she doesn’t? What is taking the physician so long?  The tears drip from his lashes.

Finally in the doorway stands the physician. He is wiping the blood off his hands and arms with a clean cloth.  His face is grief stricken, heartbroken for the new father and friend who is looking back at him with anticipation.

“Phillip?”  He says with a low and tender voice pushing his glasses up to his eyes.  “Phillip, she was just too weak.  There was nothing I could do…I could not stop the bleeding.  I-I am so sorry, Phillip.”

“Oh Lord, no!  Not my Bethy!”  Handing the baby to the physician, he rushes into the room where his wife lay dead and covered, with a clean blanket.

“Oh, Bethy, you did not even get to hold our baby.” He caresses the side of her soft skin one last time, but it is no use…she is gone.

 

~~~

 

“My father lost my mother and gained a daughter all in one night.  He did not know what to do.  The night I was born, a nurse maid was not to be found at that hour; at least one my father did not think to ask.”

 

~~~

 

Phillip exits the bedroom.  His face red, from the many tears shed.  Taking the sleeping babe in his arms, he holds his new child gazing at her face with gladness of heart.  I will love this baby forever.  Until the day I die.

“At least I have a piece of my wife.  She would have been so proud of our child.”  Phillip says cuddling his new baby as he touches her tiny fingers and hands.

“I am sure she would have, Phillip.  Now, I know this is difficult, but would you like me to make the burial arrangements, and find a nursemaid for your daughter?”

Phillip kisses his daughter’s precious head of brown, curly hair.  “I think that would be fine, sir, and…I thank you for all you have done.”

It dismays the physician who lowers his baldhead.

“The Lord bless you, and your daughter.  Now, Phillip, if there is nothing else, I will go and make the arrangements.  I know it is customary for the family, but given the conditions…”

“I know this, physician, and I appreciate you taking care of them for me.  You are more than family to me…and my wife.  And, physician, I have one more thing to ask.  There was a young couple, with nowhere to go tonight.  I allowed them to stay in my stable.  His young wife is with child.  I fear she might have given birth without help.  Will you go look in on her?  I told her husband, Joseph, that I would ask you to visit, to see if all is well.  They may need your assistance.”

“Yes, of course, Phillip.  I would be pleased to help.  Good night, Phillip,” He pats his shoulder with a saddening sigh.

“Good night physician…” His voice trails off as he glares at his precious child now peacefully sleeping.

The physician leaves the house of Phillip, tears dripping from his face.  As he heads toward the stable down the dirt path, lit by that same star in the east, the physician observes a group of men surrounding its entrance.  Shepherds with staffs in their hands kneel which naturally intrigues the skeptical physician. Scratching his chin through his white, straggly beard with his thin fingers, he ponders.  Who are all of these men?  Why are they here?

The smell of livestock grows stronger as he moves closer.  Suddenly, he stumbles into what are many sheep outside the stable.   Rubbing his exhausted eyes, he views a large flock quietly sleeping.  The physician makes his way through, and approaches the first shepherd who is standing on the tip of his toes trying to peek over a taller shepherd directly in front of him. Patiently, he waits for just a glimpse of what is inside the stable.  But, what is it he is trying to see?

“Excuse me, sir?  Why are they bowing their knees?”  The physician touches one of the man’s shoulders.

As the shepherd faces the physician, his eyes are glassy and welling up with tears.  He is peacefully rejoicing in his heart.

“I am…well, we are all here to see the Child whom the angel spoke of.”

“Angel?  What is this madness you speak about?  I have lived in Bethlehem my whole life and never in all my days have I heard of angels here?”  The physician shrugs in denial.  His white hair blows in the cool breeze of the evening.

“Sir, I tell you it is not madness.  There we were, on a hillside keeping watch over our flocks by night. When suddenly, a bright light brighter than anything I have ever seen, shone down upon us from the night sky.  Then an angel appeared and spoke to us saying, ‘Fear not.  Do not be afraid.  I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’  Then a multitude joined the angel and began to say ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.’  So we departed to the City of David, Bethlehem.  We saw a star and knew this must be the place. Assuredly, it is what the angel spoke.  See how He sleeps?”

The shepherd points his forefinger as the physician squeezes through the many that gather around. He remembers the distraction Phillip was drawn to on this miraculous night.  Could this be what Phillip had seen, the bright lights and sound?

There a young woman lay peacefully on a bed of hay.  Her husband kneels gently touching the baby asleep in the manger.

The silence of every donkey, sheep, and goat fascinates the physician.  “In all my years, I have never seen a baby such as this until today.  It is a miracle,” The physician whispers as he kneels to one knee near Joseph.

“Is this your Son?”  He whispers.

“He is the Son of the living God, and mine to nurture,” Joseph replies.

“Did your wife have a problem with the birth?”

“No, amazingly enough, once the labor pains came on she gave birth shortly thereafter.  It was hard, but God was watching out for both of us.”

The physician gently reaches his hand and touches the Babe.  He sleeps on the hay in a manger.  White, swaddling clothes, Phillip left earlier, wraps around Him.

“He looks well,” The physician stares at Joseph then back at the Babe.  “Do you mind if I check His health?”

“No, please,” Joseph picks up the new baby Boy, and carefully places Him in the arms of the physician who checks Him thoroughly.

“I see nothing wrong with Him.  He is healthy, and very peaceful.  Hmm…” The physician sniffles. “I have this strange sense of joy as I hold Him,” The physician leans into the Babe and kisses Him on the forehead.  Clearing his throat, he hands the Babe back to Joseph who carefully lays Him inside the manger.

“Actually, He is the most beautiful baby Boy I have ever seen.  This is a night for births.  Earlier, the innkeeper and his wife had their first child.  She is so angelic, quite beautiful in fact.”

“I am pleased everything went well.  How is the inn keeper, Phillip?”  Joseph whispers.

The physician sadly shakes his head. “Oh, Joseph, Phillip will be rejoicing over his new child, but mourning over his wife, in the same night.”

Joseph’s countenance sinks in deep concern.  “How tragic…please send him our deepest regret…and congratulations.  Please, his heartache must be so deep, yet he was the only one willing to give my wife and I solace and shelter.  For that, I pray God bless him,” The young father says sincerely.

“That is very kind, and I will tell him word for word what you have said,” The physician replies.

The physician rises to his feet making certain that Mary is at rest, with no complications. He then leaves the stable in awe and belief at the happenings he has just witnessed.

The physician knocks on Phillip’s door hearing the baby crying.  The door swings wide open to a very shaky, new father standing on the threshold trying to comfort his baby.  Relief hits.

“Oh, physician, thank the Lord it is you!”  Phillip catches his breath.  “I thought I would have to send for you again!  It is the baby!  She is hungry, and I have nothing to feed her!  What do I do?”  Phillip panics.

“First thing, calm down.  You do not want to alarm your new baby,” The physician comes in and places his arm around Phillip sitting him down. “Now, hold the baby like so.  Rock her back and forth, Phillip.  She needs the comfort.”

As he listens to the wise physician, Phillip breathes a sigh of relief. Slowly, the baby quiets down.  But, her tummy still rumbles from hunger.

“Oh, Phillip, you should have seen what just occurred.  The Babe you have in the stable is the Son of the living God!”  The physician softly speaks with enthusiasm and excitement.

The physician pulls out a wooden chair and sits down at the table. He tells Phillip all the events as they occurred.  All the while, the baby girl falls to sleep.

“This is amazing.  It is so unbelievable, yet…I believe it,” Phillip states.  “But, what can be done about my baby, physician?  I do not know if I can get a nursemaid until tomorrow, for all are asleep. I know of no one who has had a child, or may be of help near my house,” Phillip explains the obvious situation.

The physician scratches beneath his beard moving his whiskers around with his boney fingers. Contemplating, he quickly stands to his feet.

“I will be right back, Phillip.  Rest assured, I will return.”

An hour later, the physician returns to the house.

“Phillip, bring the baby.  Come let us go to the stable.”

Phillip picks up the baby, who has now awaken and crying from hunger.  He wraps her in a blanket, and follows the physician to the stable.  As they walk in, the baby stops crying.

“Now, the shepherds have already gone.  The young woman named, Mary, agreed to help you with your baby tonight,” This thrills the physician.

“But…she must rest. She has a child of her own.  I cannot intrude on them.”

“Phillip, all is well, come,” The physician welcomes his unsure friend.

Phillip is nervous, but notices the Babe asleep in the manger.  The lantern he had left shines dimly on the beautiful sight.  Mary is leaning against a mound of fresh hay.

“Sir, I understand you have lost your wife this night and for that, I am exceedingly sorrowful.”  Mary speaks sweetly.

“Yes, thank you, but when the physician told me how you wanted to help, I did not want to intrude seeing you have a Babe of your own,” Phillip says a little apprehensive.

“Sir, for all the kindness you have shown us, and unto the Lord, I would be glad to help you this night,” Mary smiles.

“Oh thank you.  And rest assured, I will have a nursemaid tomorrow for…well, I do not have a name for her it seems.”

Phillip leans over and carefully places his daughter into the loving arms of Mary.  “Oh she is beautiful.  She seems angelic, like an angel.”

Mary holds the baby in her arms, and rocks her sweetly back and forth.  She caresses her face then touches her tiny hands.

“My wife too had the face of an angel.  She was angelic,” Suddenly, the words inspire him.  “Then that is what I shall call her, Angelica.”

“That is a lovely name, Phillip, just lovely,” Joseph says.  “Our baby is to be called Jesus.”

“Yes, that is what the Angel spoke to me.  Jesus is His name,” Mary agrees.

“And one day perhaps, God will bless Joseph and I with a beautiful baby girl such as this.  But, I cannot think about giving birth again, at least for the moment,” Mary chuckles as she cradles Angelica.

Joseph places his hand lovingly on his wife’s shoulder.  “Yes.  Perhaps one day,” He says agreeing with his young wife.

The physician cannot be more pleased as he smiles at the small babes in the stable.

Phillip leaves Angelica with the couple and the physician for several hours.  Mary kindly and gently places Angelica to her bosom and nurses her to sleep for the night.

 

~~~

 

“That night, I was nursed by the mother of Jesus, the Messiah.  It was God who brought them to Bethlehem, and because of the kindness of my father, I am alive today.  It was meant for me to live that night, but now I know my time here is almost finished.  I shall be with Jesus in heaven and see Him once again.”

Angelica continues writing on her parchments, and reading them to John.  A loud noise rumbles from above rattling the prison bars.  Shouts and screams from the multitude gather like a low thunder. Throughout the prison, the hearts of those bound in chains rise in fear.  The prison door opens and a loud ruckus of metal clanging down the staircase precedes several men’s footsteps.

The followers locked in their cells, painfully cry as two soldiers drag a man by his arms down the staircase.  His legs fall limp behind him.  Angelica glances around realizing there is still one empty cell next to hers.  The soldiers shove the man, his wrists and ankles bound with fetters, against the cold, stone floor.  He is thrown toward the empty cell.  They trail passed Angelica and stop.  One of the soldiers holding the set of keys unlocks the cell door.  Unlocking the chains on the man’s feet and wrists, a soldier strikes the man’s back shoving him into the cell.  The man stumbles headfirst, hits the wall, and falls to the floor.  The soldiers mock the injured, defenseless man.

“So…this is the famous Stephen we have been hearing about?”  One of the soldiers loudly and sarcastically proclaims.  “You followers of Jesus are ridiculous!  You will all pay for your crimes…every one of you!  Saul of Tarsus is doing right by ridding us of you Christians!”

Spitting on Stephen and laughing, they both stammer out joyfully reviling on their way up the steep stairs.

“Sir, are you okay?”  Angelica asks while Stephen sits covering his face in the palms of his hands.  After everything, there is still love in his eyes.

“Yes, I am fine, just a little sore in the head.  I knew my time was coming, but nothing will keep me from telling people about Jesus,” He answers wiping the smelly salve onto his tunic.

“That is what happened to me.  My name is, Angelica, and it would please me greatly if you would take half of my hay to lie upon.  The ground is cold and hard.”

“Thank you.  I am Stephen, as you may have guessed, and I will gladly accept your offering.  May the Lord Jesus bless your kindness.”

“I have heard of you, from other followers.  Is it true you are preaching about Jesus?”  John asks.

“Yes, that is why I was arrested.  The Lord has spoken to me and I will speak to the counsel, which may be the end of my journey.”

Angelica stands to her feet; the sandals her father had given her are worn down and filth covers unrecognizable feet.  She lovingly divides the hay on the floor and slides it toward the metal bars.  Stephen draws the hay through the bars, and makes a small pile to sit upon.

“I remember you.  You are Stephen. The man great with miracles, signs, and wonders.  I stole a loaf of bread after you healed a man of blindness,” John states and crosses his arms under his tunic. He struggles to stay warm as he coughs and wheezes.

“Yes,” Stephen answers creasing his brow.  “You look familiar,” He pauses.  “Yes, I saw you there.  You were coughing as you are now, only you seem much worse.  Sir, it is all by the power of Jesus Christ that those healings took place.  I did nothing.”

“You and Angelica seem to share the same faith.  Can you show me Jesus is real?  Can you prove it to me?”  John inquires, with a pure heart.

“Sir, I cannot reach you, and I have nothing to give, riches and gold. But, what I have I will give to you,” Stephen rips a small piece of his sash and places it between Angelica’s cell bars.

“Please, hand this to him.”

Angelica reaches for the torn cloth, and places it between the bars of John’s cell within his reach.

“Sir, if you want to know who Jesus is then reach for that cloth.  By faith you will be healed,” Hesitantly, John reaches for the cloth and touches it with his fingertips.  Suddenly, he resists and pulls away.

“I am not a good man.  Perhaps, I deserve what I get.  I am not worthy to be healed,” John states defiantly.

“John, I am going to pray that before your time comes, you will reach out for this cloth.  When you are healed, you will know the power of Jesus Christ.  You too will meet Him on that day.”

Angelica gently speaks.  “Stephen, how is it that you came to be down here?”

Stephen glares at the candle on the table.  “They gathered together when I was arrested…hoping for another stoning.  I will die soon, but not until I speak to the counsel at the synagogue.  I wonder why I am down here instead of immediately speaking to them.  I pray the Holy Spirit grant me the words when it comes time to speak. That it shakes the hearts, and pierces the ears of all those that gather.”

Angelica snuggles back into the hay and begins to inscribe again.

Stephen glances over.  “If you do not mind, may I ask what you are writing?”

“Oh, I am writing about my life following Christ.  You see, I have always been near Him one way or another.  I want to give it to my father.  I hope one day he will read it and share it with others.”

“You have been around Jesus?  May I read your parchments?  Please, it is all a man can do in a place like this. Either sleep or talk, and since you are writing, I would love to see what you mean,” It fascinates Stephen.

Taking a few pages in her fingers, Angelica hands them to Stephen who is very curious by the statements made.

“I am reading it to John.  As I write you are welcome to listen.”

“Thank you, I will,” Stephen says

Thank you for choosing the read the first couple of chapters. One thing I have always done is written in the present tense. Stay connected for future free chapters of this novel and others! To see all of my novels feel free to go to http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano – available in Kindle and paperback!

God bless!

Re-Post of My Guest Blog With Mark!

I recently guest blogged with wordrefiner.com Mark, and figured it would be great to share what I wrote to my own blog!  Feel free to share! Have a blessed week!

 

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Aimée Marie Bejarano Indie Author of multi-genre novels such as: “The Gateway Series” “The Angelica Series” and “Possessions of the Human Kind” Saga Chapter One. www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano
Owner of Dead Man Walking Publications- website coming soon!

Recently I began really praying what I can bring to the table with the blog. I began thinking of my journey as a writer, beginning at age 16. Well, then I zoomed to the present. There are many things I can indeed help bring to the table in regards to what I did wrong. Publishing isn’t easy, the same goes for writing. I’m sure Mark can tell you it’s certainly a lot of work to proofread because you are trying to polish up every author’s novel. Hours of hard work goes into every word read, and every word circled in red. Then the difficult task of: reading over all of the editor’s notes, proofreader’s, and or the beta reader’s notes- Mark feel free to fix any typos I may have as well lol.

So, this publishing thing is difficult work!  Some of us don’t have the luxury of hiring an editor from the start, and that is precisely what I’d like to delve into.

I’m sick with several diseases and on an extremely fixed income. At the time I wanted to publish, I had no author friends, neither family or friends who could spare the time to proofread for me at all.  I reached out to Createspace. It was a small loan which killed the pocketbook. I completely turned to them for everything minus editing, it was far too much and I simply didn’t have it. Once they took over, I was disheartened when they couldn’t seem to find a cover fitting to my needs and the vision I had.  Especially, the Biblical times. Then, it would cost around $200 more for access to additional photos which they can use. But the problem still rested, that no matter how often I spoke to them on the phone, their pictures were just not up to the vision I saw for my first book, “Angelica.”- Now re-titled, “Angelica, You Have Chosen Well”- Part One of the Angelica Series. I finally settled on an extremely dark cover with a candle lit. Not throwing someone under the bus, but it seemed I had someone working on my novel who barely began illustration. The front cover was in quotation marks. Embarrassing. And because I was so new to everything, did I know? Not at all. It took others asking me why it was there to even consider.

It released without so much as a bang for anything including the hard work put into it. My family did buy a copy here or there but as for gathering a readership, it was a far cry to have any. The front cover was disappointing. I figured this is what all indie authors must go through when first starting out.

So, I worked on my next book. This time, I bumped into someone who was willing to help. Unfortunately, this person is a menace to the publishing world, and I saw evidence posted in dozens of places to this person’s insanity. So guess what happened to me? I was suddenly dragged into it. I was even being called names on Twitter for my involvement with this person. I had no idea who they were, I was a newbie. But afterwards realized this person was dragging my Twitter handle into all of their insane rants. I finally blocked them.  I took everything they worked on and learned how to redo it on my own.  I even received a one star review for the book simply because I worked with this person. They made it clear they did not read the book and hated this other person and pretty much me- Amazon refused to remove it even if they mentioned they didn’t read it. Then later, this person decided to give it a chance and amended the review, but still bashed me pretty well. It must have bothered them because shortly after, I received a message on Facebook apologizing for throwing me under the bus. I have completely forgiven this person but it wasn’t enough to remove anything about that review lol.  And all the while, a lot of self-righteous authors were telling me they were going to help me and send me a list of all my mistakes- yep it does happen. D.M’s still hit me up from time to time thinking their editing is better than what I hired. It happens all the time in the publishing world- I even take peeks at best-selling book reviews or indie author book reviews and it’s almost the same case. Authors criticizing or critiquing the other author’s editors.  When will it end? Problem is it lowers who you are as a writer, as an author to what you shouldn’t be.  Most were trying to take away and strip me of my original writing style. It puts some sort of distaste as if something is wrong with you and your writing, so then the question sits, “Why write at all?” Promises from author’s to aid, and it became where I was growing irritated by it. Of course, I know we can learn new things and God knows I love to, but for this to occur with things such as, “I liked the book BUT I’m going to send you papers of all the mistakes you’ve done.” “I like the book a lot BUT you shouldn’t write it in the present tense but in the first person. Like from the main character’s point of view.” “I like the story but the editing stinks.”- of course this was nitpicking my most recent review lol. ETC.  And quite frankly, I don’t like being beholden to anyone.  Promises come and go. People giving insights on how they think I should write the book was all I needed to say, “Enough. I’m doing it as the Lord tells me to write it, and not because others declare it or push me around. And I will redo it better than before including a new cover and an editor.” The Lord knew all I needed was Him in all of this mess.  Did I change the POV as directed? No way!
I had had enough. The only good thing coming from what’s happened is I slowly began connecting with genuine, kind author’s and I listened and read all I could and learned new programs to help me along this journey.  Most of it I learned alone. The only One beside me was the Lord.

I didn’t have all my ducks in a row years ago, but was learning how to format on my own for paperbacks etc., found my own illustrator, and finally recently at the beginning of this year, all my novels were redone with brand new covers, in 2nd Editions, and edited!

The mistakes I made seem to haunt me still since there are copies of my books floating around that I know are not professionally edited, and thus the reviews that occasionally trickle in reflect that. Presently, I have issued a disclaimer to the readers that since March or April of 2017, my books are redone and edited and the reader can now update to a new version.

Am I sorry that I didn’t wait? You know, I’m sorry to the Lord for my hastiness, however I’m not sorry things turned out the way they have. I’m fully dependent on the Lord and He has used me to be able to push through each novel where I can format and do all myself, including book trailers.  The only thing I need help with is editing and illustration. But, for something good coming out of it is definitely the price I’ve paid for it. I believe even now, that there are readers out there for all of my books who will love them and stick with me as I publish. I know I’ll get another chance for these books to make it to someone’s kindle or into someone’s hands. I believe and have faith I’ll get that chance again. Mistakes are made but it isn’t a life sentence, which is why I love this meme!  I saw it on Twitter and had to share it. Whoever came up with the phrase, thank you because it is so true!

Another great thing is I’ve started my own self-publishing house in 2015 which Lord willing next year, I plan on having other authors underneath. I know God has some great things in store for me and for all of us if we simply ask and believe He can. It has been worth all of the: stress, tears, doubts, discouragements, bad reviews, name calling (Cyber bullying), belittling, and anything else that I’ve gone through. If this is what I’ve had to do to get on my feet, then I would go through it again to understand all that I should for what the Lord has called me to do.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 KJV.

What are some things He has called you to do? Just because something is hindered or bad things happen, doesn’t necessarily mean He is not in it. Get on it! Time is short and we should be about our Father’s business.  Maybe you are a writer, author, poet, illustrator, digital specialist, or artist who loves the Lord. Don’t let those things fall by the wayside.  I often hear many indie authors say, “You know my first book was a train wreck.” Or “My first book was horrible it didn’t do very well.” Or “I hate my covers.” Or “I’m a much better writer now than I was then.” I can relate with all of it.  Funny thing is, currently a ton of indie author’s I know are publishing 2nd Editions with new covers as well!  The great thing about indie authors who publish is you control everything about your book!  In five years, you can release a 3rd Edition for all you want! See? Not alone! Sure there are a lot of people doing what we do every day. But if He has called us, then no one can do it like us!

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New Interview With the Fantastic Traci Sanders!

I am thrilled to have with us again, the lovely and talented Traci Sanders. Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

Today, we’ll be talking about her newest novels which aids the author in the editing process. But! Are also encouraging and helpful to the aspiring author.

Traci, we’re so glad you’re here again. There’s a lot of questions I’d like to ask you, so let’s get started!

1. There is so much to know and learn about editing. How long did it take you to write these novels regarding editing?
This entire book series is based on a year-long blog segment where I offered tips on all aspects of the writing and publishing industry. So, you could say it took me a year to conduct the research and write these books. 😊

2. How important is it for writers to get that editor?
Professional editing is a crucial aspect of producing a high quality book. I would even say it’s more important than formatting or cover design, in some cases. Many readers judge a book by its cover, but some just want what’s inside.

3. What are some mistakes editors make?
It’s important to realize that NO editor is perfect. They all miss things, usually small things like an extra space, or a common word like “quite” being mistaken for “quiet”. That’s one of my faux pas, anyway. As humans, we are fallible and we miss common things that we’re used to hearing all the time. Our brains don’t always register the difference when we’re reading or editing. That’s why it’s crucial that you, as the author, read over your editor’s comments carefully, and be proactive. Try to catch anything he or she misses. You both have the same goal in mind: to produce the best story possible. As long as you learn something, you’re always becoming better at your craft.

4. What awards have you won?
My romance novella Unsevered won Best Second Chance Romance from Bottles and Books Readers’ Favorite Awards and Bronze from eLit Awards. My debut novella When Darkness Breaks won Best Romance Novella from Bottles and Book Readers’ Favorite Awards. They were both nominated for other awards, but didn’t place. I haven’t taken the time to enter any of my other titles in competitions.

5. Tell us if you can, how can an author identify a true writing contest among the false, on the internet?
First, it’s important to know that writing contests and award contests cost money. There is always a fee.
In my opinion, the ones that are quality are those such as Readers’ Favorite and local awards’ programs and contests, especially the ones that offer true feedback on your stories, not just prizes.

6. Okay, since you are an author and an editor, I’ve always wondered, do you edit in your mind while reading a book?
Oh my gosh, yes! And it’s a blessing and a curse. Every book I read, I want to send the author a note to let them know what tiny errors I found in their books, not to insult them or make them feel bad, but because I would want to know about my errors. I want my work to be as close to perfect as possible. Most authors appreciate that I do this. Now that I’ve learned all the editing tricks that I’ve acquired so far, I find it extremely difficult to take off my editor hat and simply enjoy a story. Like I said, a blessing and a curse.

7. Is it a desire to see writers succeed and improve in their craft?
I’ve been a people pleaser, and an advocate for the underdog, for my entire life. So, yes, I’m always willing to help others succeed, even to the detriment of my own success. It’s just the way I was raised. It brings me great joy to help others.

8. In your opinion, what percentage of writers can actually edit their own work?
Most writers can PRE-edit their work, and should, but every author is usually too close to his or her own work to edit objectively. An extra set of “trained” eyes always makes a difference. I even hire professional editors for my books.

9. As an editor, what do you typically notice a writer has problems with? i.e. Spelling, tense, dialogue, sentence structure…
The biggest two issues I see involve tense change and sentence structure. Spelling and grammar issues are easy to fix, and most experienced writers have learned the basic grammar rules. But, things like hanging modifiers and overwriting are not as easy to recognize for some.

10. How many novels do you typically edit within a month?
I just started editing full-time this year, but I’d say I can get at least three edits done per month.

11. Will we be seeing another editing book collection in the future?
Probably not. I covered a plethora of topics in this series, that go above and beyond what most will find on their own, without searching a multitude of sources, which is quite time consuming. Unless the grammar rules change dramatically, this is THE go-to set that every author can use to improve his or her writing dramatically.

12. What education have you had to aid in your editing?
I’m self-taught, but I’ve trained under some extremely talented editors, who’ve shown me the ropes. Plus, I’ve always had a firm grasp on grammar and a love of word play, so this feels like a natural progression in my career.

13. If someone has a desire to edit, what sort of tips can you relay to them?
Read, read, read. Books, blog posts, and tutorial guides. Learn the mechanics of writing, then practice them. Do reworks of your own writing. Pay attention to pauses in writing and structure of dialogue.

14. In your book, “Beyond the Book”, what are a few marketing details readers can expect to learn?
Oh my goodness. There aren’t a few. It’s over 300 pages of out-of-the-box ideas for marketing your books, networking with other authors to build your brand, and tips on producing high quality books. It’s truly a great resource. Even I refer back to my tips!

15. “Before You Publish” is a wonderful tool-since I’ve read about half of it- I see it’s a great aid for those who are aspiring authors. What are a few tips readers may learn in this helpful book?
This is more of a “let me look this up” type of reference book, rather than a “read cover to cover” title. I incorporate a ton of grammar topics – common spelling errors and word-usage errors, and even creative-writing tips. Basically, this book covers all aspects of the writing portion of publishing.

16. In “Living the Write Life”, what are a few tips authors can learn from this book?
Even though this is my shortest book, I’m probably most proud of this one because it’s a guide for life as an author. It includes answers and suggestions for things like: how to be inspired to write, 7 stretches for writers, and how to respond to the dreaded question – “How much do you make with your books?”

17. I love to play a fun game on my blog so readers and fellow authors can learn more about you, and what sorts of things you enjoy and love. So, let’s begin! Writing or editing??
Writing is more fun, for sure. But, editing makes me feel more accomplished.

18. Coffee or espresso?
Coffee

19. Reading in the morning, afternoon or evening?
Evening

20. Playing with your kids, or taking a nap?-no we won’t hold it against you if you pick a nap! HA!
I don’t take naps.

21. Beta reading or editing?
Editing

22. Writing or marketing?
Writing

23. Lake or the ocean?
Ocean

24. Swimming or sun bathing?
Sun bathing

25. Thunderstorms or snow storm?
Thunderstorms

26. Spring or summer?
Spring. I hate sweating.

27. Texting or talking on the phone?
Texting, unless I have a good bit of time to spare. I do love hearing people’s voices.

28. What’s your favorite color?
Purple

29. What is your favorite comfort food?
Strawberry short cake, which isn’t easy to find around here, so if I want it, I have to make it. My mama used to make me one every year on my birthday.

30. Chocolate or white chocolate?
Chocolate

31. How many kids do you have?

Three – 19, 17, and 11

32. Tell your readers one of the funniest things your kids have done?
Wasn’t funny at the time, but, my boys painted my entire house with chocolate syrup while I was working at home one day. They were two and four … and hungry, apparently. This story actually turned into a children’s book for me.

33. I’m excited to hear of your blog tour and we wish you only the best. Give us the details of where you will be heading so readers may join you and snatch one or ALL of these books?
You can always check my blog http://www.awordwithtraci.com. I’ll be announcing each stop there each day.

34. Where can we find a list of all of your novels, including these three “new” releases-which I’m dying to own in paperback?
My Amazon page:
https://www.amazon.com/Traci-M.-Sanders/e/B00BA9VUUY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490804598&sr=8-1

35. Is there anything you’d love to relay to your readers, before we say goodbye?
My ultimate advice would be DON’T SETTLE FOR STATUS QUO. Sure, you can produce a so-so book and maybe get a few 3-4-star reviews, OR, you can take the time learn the rules of grammar and mechanics, and produce an outstanding story that readers won’t be able to forget.

Even though I wrote short romance novellas, and some of the reviews from my readers mentioned that fact, NONE of them really said they felt cheated, because I offered a compelling story. You won’t be remembered for your book’s page count, but you will be remembered for the emotions you brought about for that reader who “needed” that book at that very moment, even if this person didn’t know it.

This has been a fun and one of the most helpful interviews I’ve had. I’m so thankful you stopped by Traci! I and everyone else congratulate you on these new releases and I’m so grateful you’ve written them. I’ll be purchasing all in paperback!

Guys, this has been another AMAZING interview with a wonderful and talented author. Stay tuned for more interviews and give this blog a follow to stay connected.

You Want to Stay Tuned For This Interview!

Hey all! I’m super excited because in a few days, there will be a wonderful author interview with the talented author and editor, Traci Sanders! She has a blog tour coming up that you don’t want to miss including several prizes!
<em*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish – Volume I

*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book – Volume II

To enter, all you have to do is email me a proof of purchase of a digital copy of either of these two books during the tour.

I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour.

Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to tsanderspublishing@yahoo.com

For years, she’s been a devoted editor backing and helping fellow authors, and now she has written these new novels which you definitely want to pick up!

Stay tuned, follow and share because you need to read this interview!!

Author Tools

There are many things to watch out for, when improving our writing craft. Some things I watch out for are: keeping the same tense throughout, spelling, punctuation, not overusing a certain word, making sure my characters have a unique voice, protagonist issues, antagonist, learning new words….
Seems unending, doesn’t it? Na! The more you read, the more you know! The more you speak with other authors, you soon realize we are all on a specific journey. No writer is ever alike. Don’t ever strive to be like someone else. God gave you a specific talent. Use it!
On that note, here is a terrific post aiding us in expanding our vocabulary. I personally adore when I receive word charts. Word to use other than look. Words to use other than like. Here is a terrific one to help you out. Happy writing and reading! Have a wonderful day in the Lord.

Word Power: Words To Use Instead of Good (ABILITIES)

If you’d like to be interviewed, and you write relatively clean novels, give me a shout at Spokenamos@aol.com

New Author Spotlight WITH…

I’m so blessed to have a new author spotlight with Author Gigi Sedlmayer author of The Talon Series.

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Gigi welcome!  I’m excited to have this time to pick your brain so let’s get started!

 

What made you want to be a writer?

Surviving cancer and finding myself still alive after two years of just sitting around, (but caring for our adopted twin-girls and my husband Albert) waiting to die, I finally came to my senses. Since I couldn’t work at a traditional job any longer. I couldn’t stand or sit too long, had too much damage through the radiation and it’s still very painful, and having bad feet, Albert, my husband, taught me how to use a computer.

Earlier, in my teen years, I wrote lots of little animal short stories by hand writing. Nothing came out of them, I just loved it.

I remembered this time and so I started to write, since there was nothing else for me to do.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure, in which language I should write. But then I decided to write in English, since my English became better and we live in an English-speaking country.

I wrote many short stories and entered them into competitions and often got very good reports back, which gave me confidence to go on writing and inspired me to go on.

One of the short stories was about Talon and Matica. Judges from the competition loved the story and so I thought, I could develop a series about Talon and Matica. And so, the TALON series came to life.

Tell us your series genre?

I actually thought, it would be a series for children, reading age, from 9 to 13 years. But it turned out to be for all ages, as some reviewers tell me.

Tell us about your book series and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback or hardcovers)

I let Matica, my main character, speaking in her own voice. It’s best to describe her and her books:

My name is Matica and I am a special needs child with a growth disability. I am stuck in the body of a two-year-old, even though I am ten years old when my story begins in the first book of the Talon series, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. Because of that disability, (I am saying ‘that’ disability, not ‘my’ disability because it’s a thing that happens to me, nothing more and because I am not accepting it as something bad. I can say that now after I learned to cope with it.) I was rejected by the local Indians as they couldn’t understand that that condition is not a sickness and so it can’t be really cured. It’s just a disorder of my body. But I never gave up on life and so I had lots of adventures roaming around the plateau where we live in Peru, South America, with my mum’s and dad’s blessings. But after I made friends with my condors I named Tamo and Tima, everything changed. It changed for the good. I was finally loved. And I am the hero and I embrace my problem. In better words: I had embraced my problem before I made friends with my condors Tamo and Tima. I held onto it and I felt sorry for myself and cried a lot, wanting to run away or something worse. But did it help me? Did it become better? Did I grow taller? No, nothing of that helped me. I didn’t have those questions when I was still in my sorrow, but all these questions came to me later, after I was loved and was cherished. One day I looked up into the sky and saw the majestic condors flying in the air.  Here and now, I made up my mind. I wanted to become friends with them. I believed if I could achieve that, all my sorrow and rejection would be over. And true enough, it was over. I was loved. I even became famous. (You can read all about it in the series) And so, if you are in a situation, with whatever your problem is, find something you could rely on and stick to it, love that and do with that what you were meant to do. And I never run from conflicts.

http://www.amazon.com/Gigi-Sedlmayer/e/B003U8G4WC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Gigi-Sedlmayer?store=book&keyword=Gigi+Sedlmayer

 

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?

I would say, very important. But again, I have med writers, they never read, they just write their book. I read a lot and review them as well.

What book genre do you enjoy reading the most?

I love reading sci-fi and fantasy. YA books.

What genre will you absolutely refuse to read?

Erotica and Romance. I never would read them.

Share with your readers, what’s the best way to handle a less than outstanding book review?

Don’t dwell too long on it. It’s horrible, the first 5 seconds. I got one only with one star. I just couldn’t understand it, but it was there. Yes, I cried, but then I said, okay, it’s not my problem, it’s his/her problem. Next review.

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

Live life the fullest, as much as you can. Smile as much as you can. As Crayn said in my book: Let your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.

And: Smile – it’s the most beautiful attire.

And: “If you don’t know how to go on in life, whatever it might be, even if you have a disability, find a ‘condor’.” Not literally in your life, because that was for Matica, but something you can rely to, something you love doing, something to help others. Whatever it is, that makes you happy. The condors made Matica happy. You have to find yours.

What encouragement can you give to the aspiring author?

Never give up. Your book must have a good story line and a good message, as my books have, I believe.

 

What characteristics do you relate to with your main character Matica and why?

To face myself. When I started to write the book, I never thought of the things they came out then. I wanted to write an adventure story for children and see what came out of that. Because, like Matica, I was rejected in school, not because of the growth handicap she has. I had other things. I had to face what Matica is facing, rejection, and learned, even from writing the book, more and more to cope with myself, to overcome my own rejection and to realise that I have survived a deadly disease.

In a sense, it changed my life as well. I have more confidence now as I never had before. I never thought I could write a story like that. But now? I can and I will write more stories about Matica and Talon and her adventure, her life.

 

What are some of the challenges that face Matica?

I wanted to let children and parents know, that they don’t need to suffer more than they already do. So:

Children suffer from all sorts of afflictions and through my book they can learn how to coup with everything, as Matica did, the main character in my TALON books. She had to learn it in her early life. Children can find a “Condor” as Matica did. Not literally a condor, but every child or adult for that matter, they are battling with none curable afflictions, should find something that let them forget what is happening to them. Finding a “Condor” would help them to overcome that.

Parents can read my books to younger children so they can see that they are not alone, if they have some type of affliction, but that they can overcome it in a positive way, not in a negative way.

I say:  Children with special needs or with disability, or are handicapped don’t have an illness, so there is no cure and it’s not contagious. They want what we all want, to be accepted.

My books are not only for children. As I said, adults face some illnesses as well, so my books are for adults as well as for children.

 

What gave you the inspiration to write this Talon series?

“Teaching Children Self-Confidence through Service to Others.” Children today face immense pressure to fit in with their peers. This pressure is leading to record rates of depression among preteens and teenagers and this to suicide. Parents look for ways to build their children’s self-esteem; however, teens look to their peers and popular culture for acceptance rather than their parents. This puts parents in a challenging situation. Most children of this age group have issues with acceptance and this is explored and resolved in a positive manner within the story line of the Talon series, Matica shows children and teens that they can overcome great obstacles with love, patience and a selfless attitude toward helping others and experience exciting adventure on the way.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

I hate to do the promotion. Mainly because I have no idea how to promote. My computer skill is not good enough for that anyway. So, why isn’t there anyone out there, who would love my books and so would take them and promote them for a fraction of the money the promoters are charging. I can’t do it myself, and I can’t give the books to someone and pay. I just don’t have the money.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

I can’t listen to music and write, it has to be quiet. I am looking lots of times outside, to clear my head for a little while, then I go on.

What is one special goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?

Actually, no goodies. Sorry

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can. 

After I finished writing the first novel in the Talon series about Matica and Talon, I wrote query letters and sent my manuscript to several conventional publishers here in Australia. And guess what? I always got that rejection letter back. I even lost count of them. I tried for many years. I failed.

Next I approached an editor and agent and she edited my book properly. She loved my book and she tried to place it with a conventional publisher. But she too failed.

So, I looked up all the self-publishers here in Australia and decided to let my book be published by BookPal in Brisbane. At that time, they were new here in Australia and weren’t as expensive as the rest. They did a very good job with the designing of the cover page, the outlaying of the book, the distribution, and making an eBook. They also wrote a press release.

When I finished the second book in the Talon series, I approached them again. They were a bit too expensive for me then. But a friend of ours offered me to pay, because he just loved the first book and thought, the books has to go out, people have to read them. And now in the meantime I finished the third as well and published with BookPal again.

But now, since I finished the fourth and the fifth book I had to look for another publisher, since BookPal became too expensive for me. I found Aurora House. http://aurorahouse.com.au/  She is doing now a very good job, even better. We re-published the first four books with new covers. Better. And she has published the fifth book as well. I am happy with them, they do editing as well.

When you need some extra encouragement when going through your manuscript, who do you turn to?

Most of the time I go to my husband. We talk it through and all is well again.

How do you market your book? If it’s a marketing service, please give the name.

Since I hate the promotion thing and marketing, I actually don’t do much. But I promote my books in Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+. I have just entered a cover competition with Authorsdb with the first and fifth book. Ab to now I won the finals for both covers.  But now waiting for the GOLD, SILVER or BRONZE finals.

Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the BEST thing they’ve said to you.

When they read my book, they nearly always say, how wonderful the story is. But buying my books? They like to have a free copy. Okay, I give it to them. At least they do write a review then as well. Mostly 5 stars.

What is the worst thing someone has said to your regarding your work? How did you respond or overcome the criticism?

Didn’t had a negative yet. Not that I recall. Only one review with 1 star. That was bad enough.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication? 

I trust myself. So, sadly to say, no one likes reading my books from my family. All too busy to do other things or working too hard to have the time. But I give it to my editor, and she loves my stories.

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

Well, my first book signing was a very long time ago. But I have to say, it was great and I nearly sold all the books I had there. People were so friendly and asked what’s the story about. All in all, it was a good experience and I loved it. Did many more after that, until Angus & Robertson closed down their stores. Since then, sadly, I had no book signings anymore.

What are some of your hobbies when you’re not writing?   

I like to relax, go for a drive with my husband with our 4×4 car, into the hinterland of Australia or even further, when going on a holiday, into the outback of Australia and hunting for fossils.

I also like gardening, watching good movies and DVD’s and, I am reading a lot, real books, paper backs, or kindle.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is. Let them in to just who Gigi is.

I love blue, like the sky. All my clothes are mostly blue and grey. Favorite food? Well, potatoes and tomatoes. More German food then the food the people are eating here in Australia. Hehehehe. Can’t describe them. Love them. You have to come and I cook for you and see and test it for yourself.

Tell us your favorite novel?

My favorite series is DUNE, from Frank Herbert. All Ben Bova novels. All Sci-fi. Hehehe. But I do love YA novels as well. Like Fairies, Fantasy

What was your favorite children’s book growing up?

Since I grew up in Germany, I loved Karl May. You can’t get his books here. They are a big series as well. They were a mixture of sci-fi, adventure. I still have some of his books.

Now a fun game I’ll ask what your preference. Let your readers know what you love.  

Fantasy book or science fiction?

Actually, both. I love Fantasy and sci-fi, but sci-fi more. Love to read them anytime.

Singing Christmas carols or watching someone sing Christmas carols?

Watching someone sing Christmas carols. Don’t like singing. Well, can’t really sing. hehehe

Favorite side with your Thanksgiving turkey?

Sorry, we don’t have Thanksgiving here. Never ate a turkey. But with a chicken, it’s the leg. Hmm

Watching Christmas light shows on T.V. or driving around to see the Christmas lights?

Both again, love to see the Christmas lights in real, and watch them on TV

A kindle or a paperback?

I love reading books, real books as paperbacks, but it’s more economical reading kindle. My shelves in my house are full with books. Can’t fit any more on them. So, it has to be kindle.

Thanksgiving dinner before 3 pm. or after 3 pm.?

If we would have one, it would be after 3 pm.

Favorite pie during the holidays?

Pastry I like, but not so much pie, or yes, shepherd’s pie. Hmm

Pie or cake?

Definitely cake

Holiday flavored creamers or regular creamers?

Regular creamers

Espresso or regular coffee?

Regular coffee with milk

How many days do you eat your leftover Thanksgiving dinner?

Well, all leftovers, only a few days. No longer

Are there any mistakes you have made during the publishing process? How did you learn from them?

Not really, I only say, when you start writing, don’t give up. Go on, press on. The success maybe right around the corner. When you give up, you will never know. So, stick to it. And with writing you are becoming better each day.

And what I am doing is, reading, reading, reading other books and write reviews. That will help your writing. Well, it helps me.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

My trusted husband

What is one thing you’d like to address to your readers?

Never give up, success maybe is just around the corner, as I said earlier.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

I am writing on my sixed book in the Talon series. It is finish, but I am on the re-writing, and that I will do several times. I will call it: TALON, WINDSONG. So, it will be available, hopefully, early next year. With all the editing and publishing. It all takes time.

Book 1. TALON, COME FLY WITH ME

Book 2. TALON, ON THE WING

Book 3. TALON, FLIGHT FOR LIFE

Book 4. TALON, CONNECTED

Book 5. TALON, ENCOUNTER

All my books are available as paper back and kindle at amazon, B/N and all the other places.

 

Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome books?

My website: https://gigisedlmayer.wordpress.com/

But my editor and publisher is just in the brink of doing for me a new and better website.

My website: http://www.gigisedlmayer.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/gisela.sedlmayer

https://www.facebook.com/gigisedlmayer

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GigiSedlmayer11/posts?cfem=1

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=83666990&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

https://twitter.com/GigiSedlmayer

https://www.pinterest.com/pucara/

YouTube animation clips for the Talon books:

First book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0ontac7S20

Second book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqayANo77x0&feature=youtu.be

 

Thank you, Aimee, for letting me express myself. Had fun answering all the questions.

You’re welcome!  We loved having you.  And I don’t know about anyone else but these novels need to be added to my reading list!  

TALON 1 Come fly with me.jpg

TALON 2 On the wing.jpg

TALON 4, Connected.jpg

TALON 5, Encounter.jpg

 

Ya’ all follow along for more author spotlight reviews!!

Welcome To the Spotlight Author Mary Woldering!

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Welcome one and all! I’ve been sick so we’re late but we can’t pass this interview up! It’s with the talented Mary Woldering. This is going to be fun so let’s get started!

What made you want to be a writer? I always wanted to be one.

Tell us your book’s genre? Historical/Visionary Fantasy

Tell us about your book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback etc.) Amazon print and e-book

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author? Fairly important. However, it DOES cut into writing time.

How did you come up with this fantastic idea? I had a lot of dreams and meditations on the Ancient world with friends, A story emerged bit by bit later.

Which character do you identify with most in your novel? Ariennu of Tyre – my darker, wilder side

“Did the Bible have anything to do with your idea for this novel? Not specifically. Many legends and customs of the ancient Middle East that are mentioned in the Bible show up.

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book? If you journey from being man to god, you don’t lose human nature. There are still emotions or all kinds as long as we live. That’s just one of many, though.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most? MARKETING

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc. Generally quiet.

What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing? Coffee in the morning

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can. A regular job. I had to retire.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to? My writer’s group

How do you market your book? I have no real plan. I talk about it on Facebook & Twitter and my website. I go to live sales events. I don’t have a marketing budget.

Has readers every contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you. They love my books and can’t wait for the next one to come out. I’m a bit late this year and they are coming after me.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication? My writer’s group & my son

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc. I’ve never had an official signing that featured only me. I’ve sold signed books at fairs and gone to meetings with my spouse… sold signed copies there.

What do you enjoy when you’re not writing? Being with my spouse & talking with my family.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is. Let them in to just who Mary is. I love the colors of sunrise, sunset , night and rainbows… almost all colors

Tell us your favorite novel? There are many I like. I don’t really have a favorite.

Now a fun game I’ll ask what your preference. Let your readers know what you love.
A live drama or the opera? Live drama
Chips or crackers? Tortilla chips
Hamburger or chicken sandwich? Chicken
Fries or onion rings? Fries
Milk shake or smoothie? Milk Shake
Thunderstorms or star gazing?? Thunderstorms
Kindle or paperback novels? Kindle

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book? Also my covers are great, but don’t promote the books well. I’m constantly improving. They still get 5 stars though.

What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors? Publish earlier, don’t think your book isn’t good enough. Your readers will let you know.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out? Writer’s group and my son or daughter.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale. Book 3 of the Children of Stone Series –

Opener of the Sky. Scheduled for the Fall.

Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book?
http://www.amazon.com/Mary-R.-Woldering/e/B00OND7QMU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
And http://www.maryrwoldering.com
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This has been great! Thanks Mary! I hope all of you run to grab her awesome novels!
Join us next week. You’ll never know who will be in the spotlight so follow this blog!