Ben sat quietly and watched her. Sam tried to go back to reading.

“So what happened to you Sam? I really thought we had the same values and the same dreams. When did money become so important to you?”

She didn’t want to have to defend herself to him. It would be too easy to be swept up in a lie. Looking away from him, afraid that he could read her pain, she barely whispered. “What makes you think it wasn’t important all along?”

“I thought I knew you better than anybody else. Just like I thought you knew me better. You were the only person I ever let get close to me.”

Sam had already been in the foster home when Ben came to live there. Her parents had died in a car accident. She had been rescued, orphaned, from the wreckage. There was no family to replace the loving parents she remembered. She had been the only child of two only children. There was an ailing grandmother halfway across the country but no one else. Her grandmother sent what money she could for the few years she lived but she couldn’t take care of a child. Samantha had just started kindergarten when her world was destroyed.

It was a little more than a year later when Ben, already eight, the same age as Philip, was taken away from his drug addict mother. She had tried to sell him for drug money when she came up short but he had kicked the pedophile she was bargaining with and ran away. It angered her and she sent him into the streets to fend for himself. He was scared, homeless and hungry for almost two days when Baltimore cops picked him up and child services got involved. Ben was brought to the foster home; there were six other kids including Sam and two more birth kids belonging to the couple. It was a relief not to have to hide in the closet while his mother turned tricks to get drug money. But the child in him still felt resentment that his mother had tossed him away like garbage. And the child in him was terrified that he would lose the newfound comfort his foster family provided him with. He couldn’t relax, he couldn’t trust. Sam was the only one who could get through to him. She was the only one who made him feel safe.

He had come to the foster home early in the fall, just in time to start the school year. He was lacking in education because his mother never made sure he got to school each day and he was embarrassed. Even though Sam was younger than him, she helped him study and eventually catch up to his grade level. Then, when the excitement of Halloween drew near, he was terrified when the other kids talked of donning costumes and going door-to-door for candy. He refused to go, he was afraid he would have to do more than just ring doorbells. But when the other kids came home happy and laughing and with sacks filled with candy, he felt left out. Sam dumped her bag of candy in front of him and said it was too much for just her, he had to help her and eat some of it.

They were inseparable as they grew up together. He realized in his teen years that he was falling in love with her but that kind of a relationship would have been just too weird. So it wasn’t until after his eighteenth birthday when he was living on his own that he even let her know how he felt. And it wasn’t until she was eighteen and living out of the foster home that he finally asked her out on a date. It was always just the two of them. At least that’s what Ben had thought.

She still couldn’t look at him. “I had just gotten out in the world and I made choices.”

“But why? You told me you loved me. You said you needed me. We were working towards a future…”

A tear rolled down her cheek. She remembered the things they had promised each other and it was sheer torture to hear him reminding her. “What kind of future did we have Ben? I was working selling donuts in a bakery and you were hoping for something better than a sales job at the hardware store. We didn’t have two nickels to rub together.” She never would have had the money she needed to make things right again.

“So it was the money?” Ben sat at the edge of his chair. “And you couldn’t even wait to tell me yourself? You just left.”

It was another car accident that had changed her world… again. Sam had little more than a broken arm and a minor concussion. Ben was in a coma and had a severe spinal injury. He almost died. There were so many complications. She couldn’t look at him. “I did what I had to do.”

“Are you that much of a coward?” She couldn’t answer him “And he was almost thirty years older than you. Was his money so attractive that you didn’t mind being with a man who was old enough to be your father?”

She looked up at him then. “Julian was… good to me.”

“He bought you.” Just like all those johns who had bought his mother. His voice was edged with disappointment and pain. “Sam, you sold yourself. Did you enjoy letting him put his hands all over you? Was it worth it? I really thought you were different from my mother.”

Sam opened her mouth to speak but decided to remain quiet. She refused to debate this with him any more. Putting the closed book back on the end table, she stood and threw the blanket onto the chair behind her. She couldn’t let him do this to her. She couldn’t let him past all those barricades she had built around her heart so long ago.

“I have contracted with your agency for your services. I think that is the only relationship you and I need to have…” She started to walk towards the door. She turned back to him. “Breakfast is at seven, Philip needs to be at school by eight-thirty. Please manage to find it in your talents to be civil with me in front of my son. He seems to like you and I want him to feel safe. But Ben, I won’t hesitate to have you replaced. Remember that.” She left the room without looking back.

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JUST BROWSING THE INTERNET AND FOUND A FEW  TERRIFIC QUOTES

 

“Compassion is the signature of Higher Consciousness. Non-violence is the tool to evolve into the Higher Consciousness.” ~ Amit Ray

~~~~~

“When you have power and use it for destructive purpose: you don’t deserve it.” ~ Udai Yadla

~~~~~

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” ~ John F. Kennedy

~~~~~

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV

~~~~~

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Teresa

My life changed after I died.
It’s not like I had any special powers.
They just didn’t understand me.
They underestimated me.
I had a gift.

Tears streaked down her cheeks and left lines on her soot stained cheeks. I rested my hand on hers and hoped she felt at least a little bit of comfort. The children were safe, she made sure of that. I let her know I admired her bravery. She appreciated the compliment, for just a moment, and then fear grabbed her again.

She stood again and tried to shake the bars free from the window. Safety bars. Those bars were meant to keep evil out and now all they did was trap her in. Luckily the little ones could squeeze between the wrought iron rods and she dropped them to horrified bystanders on the street. She understood that there was no way she could escape, but she was determined to save the children.

One by one she made sure that her charges would be alright, they were safe. And now it was time for her to die, but now the fear of how she would suffer terrified her.

Coughs seized her body as she sank back down to the floor and cried some more. Flames were licking the walls. There wasn’t much time left. We were both scared, but I knew I had no reason to fear for myself.

We could hear the sirens of the approaching fire trucks, but there wasn’t time. Her eyes were haunted as she looked at me and I prayed that the smoke would claim her before the flames. My prayers were answered. I sat still and stroked her limp hand and felt so sad that the girl’s last minutes were filled with terror.

As the burning ceiling above us sent flaming stalactites raining down, I knew she was at peace.

Annie bolted upright in bed and gasped as she tried to catch her breath. There were no flames and no smoke, but the smell still assaulted her nostrils. Her throat felt raw.

Scott muttered a curse word into his pillow. Her gasp disturbed his slumber. Thankfully he turned over and went back to sleep. She held her breath until she was sure that he hadn’t woken enough to demand his usual wham-bang-thank-you-ma’am anger sex.

Annie slid quietly from the bed and padded barefoot down the hall to the guest bathroom. She needed to be quiet so she wouldn’t wake her mother-in-law and be subjected to her belittling comments. Of course Dianne would be only too happy to complain to Scott and make sure that he reprimanded his wife appropriately.

She locked the bathroom door behind her and drank three bathroom cups of water. Then she sat on the closed toilet seat. Annie hugged herself and thought about her nightmare. Only it wasn’t just a nightmare, not her nightmare anyway, she knew that. Somewhere some young girl had just died in a burning apartment. And there was nothing Annie could do to save her.

Annie had these types of dreams ever since she was a little girl, she just didn’t always understand why. There was a time when she was normal and happy. There was a time when she had the love of two adoring parents and she felt like a princess. Then there was a night she was napping in the back seat of the family car, her parents’ lively laughter and conversation soothed and comforted her. Suddenly her mother screamed, her father yelled, and Annie was tossed in the back seat. She remembered sobbing and screams… and pain. There was heat and crackling and then nothing.

Sometime after she woke up in a hospital bed she heard the nurses talking about how she was pulled from the wreckage by the rescuers just before the car exploded. She arrived close to death because of burns and damage to her smoke-filled lungs, a minor head injury and other cuts and bruises she had just added to the pity everyone looked at her with. She was in the hospital for weeks.

Annie went home, not to the childhood home filled with happy memories of her parents, but to her mother’s elderly aunt and uncle. It was an old but comfortable farmhouse and Annie would play with her dolls while hiding behind the furniture. Her aunt always made sure she was taken care of before she would tend to her chores. There were days her aunt would offer coffee and donuts to friends in the country kitchen. One day when Annie was playing close by, she overheard her aunt whispering to a neighbor that Annie actually did die on the operating table and, through the grace of God, the doctors managed to bring her back.

She was so young and couldn’t understand why she had been able to come back from the dead but her mommy and daddy couldn’t. Annie believed it was absurd that her whole life since then was just borrowed time.

When her nightmares first started and no one understood why she woke up screaming so often, hospital counselors told her aunt and uncle that she was reacting to the loss and it was normal.

 

Amazon Review

5 stars Karma Visited captured me from the beginning and never let go.

Karma Visited captured me from the beginning and never let go. This tale of good, evil, and a miraculous gift between has a cast of characters you’ll never forget. Well done, Chelle Cordero.
Charmaine Gordon, Author of Survive & Thrive novels and Mature Romances

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Karma Visited

By: Chelle Cordero

Narrated by: Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard

Length: 3 hrs and 52 mins

Switch between listening to an audiobook and reading on your Kindle with Whispersync for Voice.

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JUST BROWSING THE INTERNET AND FOUND A FEW  TERRIFIC QUOTES

 

“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.” ~ Rose Kennedy

~~~~~

“Life is all about evolution. What looks like a mistake to others has been a milestone in my life. Even if people have betrayed me, even if my heart was broken, even if people misunderstood or judged me, I have learned from these incidents. We are human and we make mistakes, but learning from them is what makes the difference.” ~ Amisha Patel

~~~~~

“Success is a process… During that journey sometimes there are stones thrown at you, and you convert them into milestones.” ~ Sachin Tendulkar

~~~~~

“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” ~ Nelson Mandela

~~~~~

“If nothing else, the act of reaching a milestone often serves to reveal a superstar’s true nature.” ~ Stephen Rodrick

 

PROLOGUE

He trailed kisses down her neck while he let his hands explore the recesses of her body. Davie shuddered when he found the warmth between her thighs with his fingers. “Am I hurting you?” He was concerned. Even though he had made it a habit not to get involved with any of his partners, she had made him pause. There was something special about this girl; there was something about her that had stayed in his mind ever since their first meeting.

“No…oh, Adam, that feels so good.” Davie kissed him back as she felt her response spiraling toward the unknown. “Adam…Adam…” Her breath caught.

“What Sweetheart?” It was easy to see how excited she had become and it felt good to know that he had that effect on her.

“Adam…” She felt very timid. “I’ve never felt like this before.”

“I’m glad.” He thought of how good it was going to feel when he entered her. “I’m so very glad.”

“Adam…teach me…”

He mated their lips and wrestled his tongue with hers. “What do you want me to teach you?” He smiled against her neck.

“Teach me how to…ooh…” She arched her back and pressed herself into his palm. “How to make it good for you.”

Oh lord, so sweet, he thought as he took a delicate nub into his mouth. “How could it not be good for me? You are so beautiful…”

Davie felt another shudder run through her. “But, I don’t know…Adam, I,” She inhaled sharply as she felt his fingers probing inside her. “Adam…I’ve never…”

For the first time, Adam remained motionless. “Never… what?”

“I’ve…never been with a man before.” She sensed his withdrawal before he actually pulled away.

Adam’s brow was furrowed, “What are you saying, Davie?”

The icy chill that Davie felt left her feeling embarrassed to be lying naked in bed with this man. She pulled the bedsheet over her exposed breasts. “I’ve never been with a man…before”

He sat upright in bed seemingly unaware that he was just as naked as she was. “Are you telling me that you’re a virgin?”

Davie sat up clutching the bed linens tightly to her body. “Yes.”

“Damnation!” Adam got up from the bed angrily. “You couldn’t have told me that before?”

Her eyes welled with tears. “I didn’t know we were going to wind up in your bed…” They had gone out to dinner, again, and a walk in the park. His kisses turned into an invitation back to his apartment. She wasn’t naïve, she knew that they might…get closer, but she was so spellbound by him…

“Dammit Davie! I have never taken a virgin before and I certainly don’t intend to start with you!”

She watched incredulously as he pulled a pair of jeans on. “I’m sorry…I…”  Suddenly Davie felt angry. “If you thought that I thought it was going to be some kind of commitment, you don’t need to worry. I got carried away…don’t worry, it won’t happen again.” She stood taking the bedsheet with her to cover herself. “If you don’t mind giving me some privacy, I’ll get dressed.”

Her anger made him feel contrite and he responded in much gentler tones. “I’ll take you home as soon as you’re ready.”

“Don’t bother! I’ll manage on my own.” She stared at the bedroom door pointedly, but he didn’t budge. “Fine!” Davie dropped the linen to the floor and picked up her clothing.

Earlier, Adam’s body had felt as cold as if he had been blasted with icy water, but as he got another glimpse of her astonishingly beautiful naked body again, he was happy he had donned his pants to hide his reaction. “I…I’m sorry”, he turned his back to her. “I…I just can’t be…the first…”

“What?!”

“I’m sorry…” He left the room.

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JUST BROWSING THE INTERNET AND FOUND A FEW  TERRIFIC QUOTES

 

“The 21st Century has begun as an era of uncertainty, with a heightened focus on security and public safety.” ~ Gavin Newsom

~~~~~

“While on a ladder, never step back to admire your work.” ~ OSHA

~~~~~

“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

~~~~~

“Anger is a legitimate feeling, one often designed for self-protection.” ~ Kimberlee Roth

~~~~~

“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” ~ Barbara Bush

He really was trying to be helpful, thought Jake. Still, something was bothering him about the information the guy was handing them. It was almost like he was trying to be too helpful.

Jake berated himself for thinking poorly about Larkin, after all, with everything he had witnessed that night it was no wonder that he wanted the bastard caught. At least that was what he had told the detectives. He had even come in voluntarily to answer questions, they didn’t have to ask him to be there.

He let the other team members ask the questions while he quietly made notes. But when Larkin couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get specific enough about which bar he and the mysterious John had picked the girls up in, Jake voiced his dissatisfaction with an impatient sigh and a snort. And he got a disapproving look from his superior for that.

“I don’t remember, we went to several nightspots, I don’t remember which one we were in when we met Holly and Beth. All I know it was somewhere in Westchester.” He whined. Larkin fixed his watery eyes on Jake. “I am so sorry, I really wish I could remember.”

Jake excused himself from the room, he’d get the notes from the rest of the interview from one of the detectives.

Larkin had worked with a police artist and now Jake had a sketch of the perp. He also had a photo of Holly and an artist’s sketch based on a reconstruction of Beth’s face. He sent those pictures over the wire to the local Westchester police along with a list of the clubs Andrew had named. Now if only someone would recognize the missing man and give them some clue as to his whereabouts.

Meanwhile he had pulled several missing persons files on descriptions matching the two girls; sometimes the victim’s identity was an important lead as to who the murderer was. There were a few files that came close, but so far nothing had matched.  Jake was suspicious by nature, and in this business it was best to check out everything, so he ran any information he had on Andrew Larkin through the computers as well. The man came up squeaky clean.

It irritated Jake that Larkin didn’t have even a traffic violation on his record. Something about Larkin bothered Jake and he was hoping to find something out about him that would justify his dislike of the other man. He just couldn’t figure it out.

The forensics team had found evidence that the car found at the scene was the same vehicle that had carried the two girls and Larkin. There were inconclusive signs of a fourth person. Only Larkin’s prints were on the steering wheel but that only confirmed the story that he had related to them. The carpeted floor mats were filthy and it seemed impossible to get a clean copy of any shoe prints. The well-worn cloth-covered seats didn’t give up much evidence either.

The team was thorough about collecting any evidence from the car in the hopes that they might get some leads on the identities of the other three occupants. The tires were well worn but scrapings were made from the treads to see if there was any telltale substance that might lead them to a garage, industrial parking lot, construction site or anywhere that Larkin might not have remembered driving to that night.

The lab techs collected shoeprints and fingerprints from all the responding emergency service workers and had diligently weeded those out of the prints found in the cabin. It was time consuming but necessary. Still, although they were able to pick up another man’s shoe prints, they had nothing else to go on.

Curiously neither of the girls seemed to have carried a purse with them, at least they didn’t have one at the crime scene. Both female victims had been dressed in similar gauzy robes with no underwear or footwear. What should have been their normal street clothes were missing and Jake wondered if the absent man had taken those items with him as some sort of perverted souvenir. It wasn’t unusual for the police to find a victim’s personal effects among a killer’s treasured possessions, a trophy collection of sorts.

Without any hard evidence, the trail was already feeling cold. Jake was frustrated at the lack of clues. The crime was definitely one of the more heinous he had ever encountered, he rarely felt as jolted as he did now. He couldn’t explain the strange foreboding he had about this case or the frantic need to solve it immediately.

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Final Sin was an
Honorable Mention in the Fiction Category of the 
2010 NY Book Festival 

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Although there are a lot of people who are unclear about if they need to comply with this new General Data Protection Regulation due to go into effect on May 25, a few things are clear — even if you are not based in the UK, if there is any possibility that you are doing ANY marketing to the UK, you need to comply. Fortunately several of my books have sold in the UK (thank you all so much) and I know my blog and website have been accessed from there as well. Based on what I have heard I need to take the appropriate steps to ensure I am in compliance.

My blog and my website offers me “analytics”, I know the regions where people have checked in, the dates and referring URLs… I do not receive individual usage information. I do not share any of the non-descript information that I receive (except for an occasional brag in general that my blog is being checked out around the world. I do not share any of your information with anyone and have NO intention of doing so.

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After His Lucky Charm this is Tom’s Story…

It was already night when he got back home, but he had to go pay a visit somewhere. Tom had only been at Joyce’s grave a few times. In the beginning it was just too painful. Now, it was just not something he ever got used to doing. After attending the funeral for the young state trooper though, Joyce was pulling at him. He stopped at the local grocery store and bought a small bouquet of flowers from the produce rack.

He knew where the grave was even though it had been a while. Tom arranged the flowers in front of her headstone and then sat on the wet grass. He leaned his head against the cold marble. There was a full moon above that played games with the lighting in the cemetery. He was alone. It was after hours and he really wasn’t supposed to be there but he didn’t want to have this conversation with anyone else around.

“Hey babe, I’m sorry it’s been so long. You’re probably pissed, I know…” Tom heard the silence and felt the cool breeze. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. They finally found the guy who hurt you… I am so sorry for all that you went through. Hey Joyce, I almost killed him, but someone else beat me to it. I did beat him up though and put him in the hospital.” He thought of all the trouble he had gotten into being accused of killing Dunlop. “Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have killed him. But I wanted to…”

He closed his eyes and remembered a time when they were tumbling around behind the football field tickling each other. She had accidentally swung and hit him in the lip. She was so upset because his lip bled. He teased her and made so much fun of her that day. “Hey, I saw your folks and your baby sister. Kristen looks so much like you. It really threw me when I first saw her, I almost thought it was you. Cat was also amazed at the resemblance.” He swallowed and let his words be absorbed in the night. “Remember how we both were so frustrated because Cat and Stephanie were such pains in the butt to us and how we swore they’d never grow up? Well Steph’s in Iraq in the marines. And Cat’s a mom! Do you believe it? Wow.”

Tears came to his eyes as he remembered seeing her casket lowered into the ground. He felt like his heart had turned ice cold that day. “Life has gone on all around us babe. So many things have changed… So many things.” He put his hand on the marble headstone and wished he could feel some life force or something. Tom had heard stories from people who claimed it happened to them. The stone was cold and still.

“Joyce, I met someone. I fell in love with her, but I don’t know if I am ever going to see her again. She walked away from me. But I love her. Her name is Alli. But I swear my heart can feel again.”

There was no explanation for it, no reason to believe it. An incredible calm feeling engulfed Tom suddenly. He sat upright and looked at the headstone. His fingers traced the little cherub that was engraved in the stone. He just felt as if Joyce had smiled for him. “I want to find her. I want to marry her and have a family with her. I don’t know where to start looking but I know I don’t want to lose her too.” He leaned his forehead against the stone and closed his eyes tightly against the tears. “I think you understand. Thank you.”

Tom sat in the darkness remembering Joyce’s love, remembering the way Alli made him feel. It was several minutes before he spoke again. He was sure that Joyce was filling him with hope for a future. He almost swore he could hear her voice telling him to live and love.

Somehow he knew that Joyce liked Alli. Finally he got to his knees and faced Joyce’s name engraved on the stone. “I love you babe. I always will, that’s never going to die.” But it was good that he could love again. Joyce was happy for him, he was sure of it. He just had to find Alli. “Thank you.” He placed a kiss on the top of the headstone. “Good bye.”

Within the Law

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 JUST BROWSING THE INTERNET AND FOUND A FEW  TERRIFIC QUOTES

 

Rainbows apologize for angry skies. ~ Sylvia Voirol

~~~~~

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness. ~ Adeline Knapp

~~~~~

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~ Vivian Greene

~~~~~

“Don’t let the rain drive you to the wrong shelter; the shade can turn out to be your protector and also your destroyer, and sometimes the rain is the perfect protector from the rain.” ~ Michael Bassey Johnson

~~~~~

“You can dance in the storm. Don’t wait for the rain to be over before because it might take too long. You can do it now. Wherever you are, right now, you can start, right now; this very moment.” ~  Israelmore Ayivor

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