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Prologue

He put his hand on the bartender’s wrist as she moved the open bottle towards his glass to refill.

“That’s going to be it for me, I’ve got an early morning.” He removed his hand from her wrist and watched as she pulled her slender hand away, noting the bright red of her nails. He remembered seeing red nails like that before. It was the same red as the cherry that topped the ice cream sundae you took your girl out for on a hot summer night. It was the same red as the Ruby stone that sat in a high school ring.

It had been more than eight years since he had seen that high school ring. She had been wearing it on a gold chain around her neck as she kissed him and told him she’d see him later. He waved as she got into the car with her friends and they drove off. Even though it had been a girls’ outing, he was supposed to drive them that day. One of her friends was planning to move into the dorm at the university in Syracuse later that summer and they all had wanted to help her make purchases for her room. But the restaurant manager had a last minute opening and he was grabbing all the work he could. So he stayed behind. He stayed behind and worked so they would be a little bit closer to being able to afford getting married.

His high school ring was never supposed to replace her engagement ring. He had been planning on buying one. But they wanted to move the wedding date up. They needed the money so buying the diamond was put on hold. Tom was still working the busboy job that had carried him through his senior year of high school. He had applications in at lots of other places for full time jobs, but the summer wasn’t the best time to get hired. His dad had wanted him to go on to college, but college wasn’t in his plans. Not anymore. He proposed to Joyce on their high school graduation day.

Joyce’s parents tried to convince them each to go to the local community college. They kept telling them that a two year engagement wasn’t all that long after all. Tom and Joyce knew they couldn’t wait the two years. So he worked as many hours as he could as a busboy. He managed to pick up a few extra hours pumping gas at the local station also. Joyce babysat and she was going to start selling plastic kitchen containers to all the area housewives. She wasn’t planning to buy anything that day. She was just going along for the ride. She was just going to enjoy the day with her girlfriends. He wanted her to have fun.

He was dead on his feet after the shift at the restaurant and he just wanted to go home and watch TV. His mom called him before he left work. His fifteen-year old cousin had run away again, something she did an average of twice a week since coming to live with them when she was twelve. Tom always knew where to find her and he picked her up on his way home that night. They were sitting in his car while he once again lectured her about her behavior when the police car pulled up. Tom knew that his world was about to end when he saw Joyce’s father get out of the back seat.

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Prologue

He felt his muscles clench as he stared into the woman’s face that lay beneath him. If he hadn’t already felt her trembling, he would have known she reached her own climax just by the expression of her face. With one more powerful thrust he felt everything he had spilling into her, he felt a completeness he would have never thought possible. Everything stopped and then he swore he felt their hearts start beating again as one. Pausing a moment to look into her eyes, and they were beautiful eyes he thought, he brushed a long strand of chestnut hair away from her face and kissed her. Then he rolled off of her.

I love you.” Her voice was soft, like the touch of her lips. He couldn’t believe the tingling he felt in his loins at hearing her words.

You’re not even human…”

What?” She almost laughed at his choice of words.

He hadn’t even meant to say that thought out loud. “I mean… I just never felt so… consumed before. I feel like I am under some kind of spell.” As he sat up to face her, he was surprised by the life he felt in his groin. Feeling a touch embarrassed, which was a new feeling for him, he admitted, “I almost feel like I can go another round, and considering how powerful that was…”

She faced him and gave him a sultry smile; her bare breasts were firm and small. But not too small, he thought, just enough to fill his hands. He felt his groin tighten again and just stared.

Hey, are you okay?” She suddenly sounded self-conscious.

Uh, yeah.” He forced himself to look at her face.

She touched his arm, her fingers felt light like feathers. “Can I do anything for you?”

Yes.” He glanced at her breasts again and then back at her face. “Tell me… who are you?”

She laughed, it was a full-bodied sound. “Just one day married and…” She saw the surprise in his eyes as he looked at his left hand and saw the ring. Pulling the bed sheet up to cover her nakedness, she looked at him puzzled. “You’re serious?”

He frowned. “‘Fraid so.”

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He entered the autopsy suite passing the heavy wooden sign next to the door. It said, “Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae”. Once before when Jake had been here, he had asked for a translation of the Latin words and was told, “This is the place where death rejoices to teach those who live.” He was anxious to learn and he hoped Holly would be anxious to teach. He had high hopes that they could learn something, anything that would lead them to the murderer. Two men were waiting for him as he donned a surgical gown and protective eyewear.

Holly’s body was already lying on the shiny, aluminum dissection table. The table, a little more than waist high, was edged with an aluminum channel to allow blood and fluids to drain away from the body. The room was uncluttered and glaringly bright. It was a stark reminder of the lifelessness of the cadavers stored in the drawers along the wall. Soft music played from a radio on the counter in contrast to the harsh reality of the body lying motionless on the sterile looking table. Jake was always impressed with the clean up after an autopsy, the table always looked totally fresh and unused in time for the next patient. And there was always a next patient to fill the spot. That supply never seemed to end.

Dr. Ramos, the pathologist in charge of the lab, explained that one of his residents had already taken care of Beth, the charred corpse, early in the morning. He would complete his report and get it to Jake as promptly as possible. The first-year-resident assigned to assist Ramos with this autopsy was looking ever so proper in his starched white lab coat and was nervously readying a number of quart-sized jars for organ tissue samples to be sent to the lab for toxicology tests.

The doctor donned clean gloves before adjusting his goggles. “Pretty messy scene last night, huh?” Ramos spoke with ease, almost as if he was chatting with a familiar friend over a card game. Well into his sixties, the study of body parts and what they could tell you about how a person lived and died had always fascinated the doctor. He was well accomplished in his field and his word was highly respected in all the circles of investigation and trial. The doctor lived by the words on the door and truly believed that the dead rejoiced in communicating with him.

Although it was Ramos’ responsibility as Medical Examiner to pen all final autopsy reports, in recent years he had often allowed younger pathologists and first and second year residents to perform the more mundane procedures. He was personally overseeing this autopsy on Holly as a favor to Jake and to help speed along the findings and bring closure to his investigation. Dr. Ramos had the utmost respect for Jake Carlson, he had always been a man of his word who always sought the truth and justice for the victims. Ramos also got a special kick out of Jake’s interest in the autopsies and his own regard for listening to what the dead had to say.

It was a shame, mused Ramos that Jake hadn’t chosen medicine as his career, but then again, he was very good at what he did. If he weren’t so good, he never would have made it to the rank of Commander, especially as early as he did. Carson had certainly been a few years younger than his two most recent predecessors had been when they earned their titles. In the good doctor’s opinion, if that old goat sitting in the Chief’s chair ever decided to retire, Jacob Carson would probably find himself heading up his department.

Jake sighed. “Yeah. Unfortunately, with all the people who responded, all the trampling through the place, I can’t shake the gut feeling that we missed something.”

A crime scene should remain undisturbed, victim’s bodies should remain where they’re found, there shouldn’t be any bloody footprints belonging to rescuers. While so many of the EMS and fire personnel were careful not to disturb any more of the scene than they needed to, it had been impossible to maintain the complete integrity of the scene. Too many shoeprints to get anything clean, too many clothing fibers left by responding police and rescue workers, and the fire department destroyed evidence as it put out the fire.

It made Jake feel more than a little guilty and certainly sinister that he would have preferred no survivors that had to be removed from the cabin. Of course he wanted survivors, he corrected his thoughts silently, he just wished they had all been outside of the cabin when they were found. “Now we’ll have to waste time getting shoeprints and all from everyone who was there.”

“I’ve already begun my external examination. We’ve recorded the height and weight, her clothing and the general appearance.” The girl had been dressed in a torn, gauzy white shroud similar in shape to a judge’s robe, or graduation gown, and it had emphasized her youth.

The gray-haired doctor motioned that he was once again turning on the tape recorder to dictate his findings. “We have multiple lacerations and avulsions of both breasts, while there was profuse bleeding, no arteries or veins were compromised. This appears to be a non-fatal injury.  There are also severe contusions and rope burns circling both wrists and ankles, these appear to be consistent with a struggle. There was no evidence of tissue samples under the victim’s nails. Some light bruising around the mouth and laterally on both cheeks are in conformity with the type of gag the police report described.”

“The pattern of the lacerations and the tearing of the breasts seem to have been done with a common variety garden tool. We are comparing the markings to some of the hand tools found at the scene.” The abandoned tool shed was located at the perimeter of an old farm that had been sold to a developer for new housing. Like most of the suburbs, active farms and open land was giving way to an increased population.

Dr. Ramos removed the thin white sheet that had covered the young girl’s body. “I noted the absence of any body hair on the trunk, including the pubic area. She seems to have been freshly shaved. There also appears to have been vaginal bleeding.” He gently inserted a speculum into the cadaver’s vagina and adjusted the light behind him. Jake was impressed with the respect Dr. Ramos showed in his handling of the young victim’s remains.

“There appears to be several lacerations and contusions along the inner membranes. My impression is that a hard object penetrated the victim, possibly something jagged. I am going to swab the vaginal canal for any evidence of fluids.” If any semen was present, then the DNA would be run through the computers.

Remembering that Julie had told him about Andrew Larkin telling her he had sex with Holly, Jake made a mental note to have Larkin called in for a DNA sample for comparison. He watched as several swabs were bagged and labeled for the lab. He spotted a small amount of a white chalky substance on the side of Holly’s knee. “Doc, what’s this?” Jake pointed making sure not to touch and contaminate the body.

“I don’t know.” Ramos walked around the table to Jake’s side. “Only one way to find out.”  The doctor scraped the white substance with a cotton swab and dropped it into another plastic specimen bag to send to the lab.

Dr. Ramos finished his examination of the outer body. Then he picked up a shiny knife and cut a large Y-shaped incision into the girl’s chest with a sharp, long blade and separated the fractured ribs that were not uncommon after CPR compressions. Since dead people didn’t bleed, there was only minimal oozing along the incision.

After cutting the cartilage that held the remaining ribs to the sternum, Ramos folded back the skin to expose Holly’s heart and lungs. “This girl was a heavy smoker.” He directed Jake’s attention to the less than pink lung tissue he had just sliced into. “Her heart is somewhat enlarged and shows some signs of cardiomyopathy,” he looked up at Jake to explain, “that’s a muscle weakness.”

“After the heart is weighed, I’m going to have some tissue samples sent to histology. Since the police report indicated that there had been cocaine use reported, I’ll ask them to look for some amounts of Benzoylecgonine in her body.” Benzoylecgonine was a telltale and lasting ingredient found in cocaine, an element that sometimes could be found up to a few weeks after its use in a person’s bladder.

The examination continued with an ongoing litany for the tape recorder. Ramos indicated that, since the girl’s stomach was nearly empty, death had been several hours following her last meal, possibly a full day or more. The information bothered Jake, but he wasn’t sure how important it was or not. Larkin had indicated meeting the girls in a bar, Jake figured they’d have ingested at least drinks, pretzels or popcorn. If she had been a frequent cocaine user, that could explain why she hadn’t eaten recently.

“She appears to have a small needle puncture in her antecubital fossa,” the doctor pointed towards the crook of the girl’s right elbow. “But there are no track marks or other visible punctures to suggest any illicit needle drug use.”

A little bit more than two hours after Jake had entered the room Dr. Ramos and the resident had returned the bulk of the organs to Holly’s body cavity and the resident was busy sewing up the Y-incision. Various samples of tissue were packaged and on their way to the lab for study. “Based on my initial examination, the apparent cause of death was cardiac arrest. Contributing factors would include an enlarged and weakened heart and severe blood loss.”

Dr. Ramos let the resident finish sewing the cadaver closed and preparing the body for release while he went to wash up. “So Jake, are you up joining me for lunch?

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KARMA VISITED by Chelle Cordero

(from pg 13, Smashwords online edition)

In this business I need to be married and this community frowns on divorce. So I’m stuck.”

Please tell me you don’t love her.”

Don’t worry Mother, I never did. So long as she keeps up appearances though, I’ll keep her around.”

Annie could never forget the sickening feeling she had hearing him say that he didn’t love her, that he never loved her. With the losses she suffered at such an early age, and moving away from the only family she did know, thinking she was loved by Scott meant everything to her. Losing that feeling of security was almost more than she could bear. Annie felt alone again. She continued eavesdropping even though she knew it would only bring her more pain.

And what happens if little miss psycho gets out of line?”

Then I have her committed and snatch up the sympathy vote.” He laughed as he spoke.

You could always do that anyway.”

Hmm,’ he thought about it. “You’re right. It definitely could give me a boost. Besides, family values, I can be a devoted husband standing by his sick wife. Yeah, it could work. And it would actually leave me free to have a real life without making any commitments.”

Annie knew then what she had to do. She had to save enough money to be able to afford to leave. Scott told her he would never let her go, at least not until he was ready to get rid of her There was no one in town who would help her and no where she could go, he had already convinced several of the folks in town that she was suffering from mental illness. Ironically these were the same people Annie might have tried to go to for help in escaping his stranglehold. He elicited their cooperation in keeping an eye on her for him, for her own safety of course. Even the local minister called Scott the day she went to the church looking for help. She needed money to get away and a plan that would work quickly and quietly, and she had to do it by and for herself.

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El último pecado

El Ayudante del Alguacil, Jake Carson, está a manos llenas… la investigación de un homicidio múltiple brutal, un hijo lleno de problemas y una exesposa rencorosa. Conoce a la joven paramédica de espíritu libre Julie Jennings. Cuando Julie se convierte en el objeto de una obsesión, ambos estarán en peligro…

Hipema

Matt Garratti, paramédico de Nueva York, se muda con su esposa e hijo a Carolina del Norte para tener el trabajo de sus sueños como paramédico de vuelo. Sudah, su esposa pakistaní, recibe miradas frías y comentarios insensibles de sus nuevos vecinos… Matt se pregunta si está siguiendo su sueño o llevando a su familia a una pesadilla de la que tal vez nunca puedan despertar.

El Karma Llegó

¿Crees en el karma? Annie Furman tiene un regalo que le permite, mientras duerme, visitar a la gente cuando lo necesitan, ¿pero quién estará ahí para ella cuando necesite ayuda? El Alguacil adjunto, Dave Tuner, se encuentra investigando una serie de allanamientos de morada y homicidios. No tiene idea de que al resolver estos casos conocerá a la mujer de sus sueños.

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That Christmas Feeling – Tamara Philip
A Date With Mistletoe – Chelle Cordero
Jock Stewart’s Holiday Hilarity – Malcolm R. Campbell
Dead for a Night – Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard
Esperanza-The Holiday that Wasn’t – Neva Squires-Rodriguez
Surprise in August – Charmaine Gordon
The Gift – Lauren Shiro.

Available from Smashwords

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Mother Nature spawned two daughters in the late summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The devastation to the coastal communities off of the Gulf of Mexico was substantial thanks to storm surge and high winds. In the City of New Orleans, which was buffeted by Category-3 hurricane force winds (125 mph) and rain; aging levees designed to protect from rising storm waters broke and an estimated 80% of the city was flooded. Homes and lives washed away.
All in all more than 1500 people died in Louisiana (more than 120 people are still listed as missing) and a total death count from the storm amounted to over 1800 (including Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi). The loss of beloved family pets, some dead and others forever lost in the chaos, weren’t even counted and families still mourn. The death toll rose with “indirect” fatalities which included a heartbreaking high percentage of stillbirths from the flooded parishes of Louisiana. Katrina made landfall in Florida on August 25, traversed the warm Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in Louisiana on August 29.


“Hurricane Katrina (2005). A Day That Shook The World . With the power of a nuclear explosion, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on the 29th August 2005. 125mph winds caused widespread devastation.”  (uploaded by British Pathé Aug. 1, 2011)

The massive loss of life, immense property damage, the failure of the levee infrastructure, and the lack of adequate evacuations pointed to dismal shortcomings in disaster planning. The dedication of public servants was questioned, communication between agencies responding to the emergency was confused, people who needed food and basic supplies were mixed with looters, charitable donations and rescuers were originally denied access to the areas of need by the National Guard for safety concerns, and heads of state were accused of delayed response.

Assistance and donations came from around the world to a country known so often for aid to others. Hurricane Katrina (followed quickly by Hurricane Rita) monopolized headlines and forced major overhauls in disaster planning and response. But even now, ten years later, destroyed homes still sit abandoned and thousands of people displaced during the storms never returned. There has been some re-building and the spirit of those remaining still shines strong, even so the scars will always be there.

People came from all over the country as part of organized Federal teams to render aid – rescue, medical, mortuary… My husband spent about six weeks in New Orleans helping to administer health services in tents set up in hospital parking lots; most hospitals were totally destroyed, others had minimal facilities available, and the patients overwhelmed those limits. During his tenure there he slept in tents, in a mobile van converted for administrative work, and in a firehouse on a barrier island (the firehouse had flooded and equipment destroyed); the teams he worked with shared supplies and sent messages home via satellite phones.

Spouses of the team members sat at home listening to every news report and waiting for those short 45-second calls from our loved ones. When he returned home he was filled with remarkable stories of strength and determination. People who had been through hell were inspirations in survival and compassion. The people of New Orleans were grateful for the help and eager to assist. When he came home he was a changed man for the better after spending that time with such amazing people.

 HH 3way

Hostage Heart

Life was hard after the hurricanes swept through, destroying her parents’ home and livelihood…

An errand for her boss – a chance encounter with a crew of bank robbers – a kind man who tried to help her … a man who isn’t all he seems… no, he is so much more

(From the acknowledgments for my novel Hostage Heart)

To my husband
For inspiring me with the stories he brought home from Louisiana after the storms…

And to DMAT teams around the country who rendered aid after hurricanes devastated parts of the Gulf Coast. And to the resiliency of the folks who met these hurricanes firsthand.

Bartlett’s Rule

2015 BR 3D

5 star review

     Great book, really good story
                              
posted by Anonymous

This is a story of a woman struggling with the aftereffects of rape while she falls in love. The man she loves becomes a huge support for her as he has to learn to adjust as well. Well written, very understanding. This definitely is a good book for a discussion group.

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Available in Print, E-book and Audio
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Bartlett’s Rule was named one of
Carolyn Howard Johnson’s Top Ten Reads for 2009

Bartlett’s Rule shares the story of Lon and Paige’s love affair; a romance filled with hardship, emotion, danger and triumph. Falling in love was never the challenge; being there for each other, knowing just what to say and making it work is the real test. Paige and Lon are real; they are human, they cry and they laugh. Paige has to learn to trust. Lon has to learn to be patient.

Download Bartlett’s Rule Book Club Extras FREE

Book Club Packet includes cover art, author photo and bio, discussion starters and more information, plus full color printable bookmarks, and more…

At a recent party a friend was praising a couple of books that I wrote – I stepped to the side and asked her if she would be kind enough to post a review. She looked genuinely concerned and said “I wouldn’t know what to write”.

It’s easy, if you can tell me one (or more) things you liked (or even disliked) about the book, you can write a great review. You don’t have to be a professional book reviewer and you can post the review simultaneously on multiple sites.

You would be doing this author and all authors an incredible favor. Potential readers look for books that people want to read and seeing lots of reviews says to them that the book is worthy of their time.

So please, I know several of you out there have read at least one of my books – please help me by posting a review on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Goodreads, YOUR Facebook page, Smashwords, KOBO, iTunes or send it to me for the Potpourri Parlor.
Thank you!

all march 2015

a good quality book review is NOT the school-age book report. Your review should be a minimum of five or six sentences up to two or three (small) paragraphs. Don’t prove you read the book by including spoilers (that totally unexpected twist that really made the story). Write what YOU liked (or disliked) about the book; a book should be a personal experience for every reader so keep it personal. Be honest but never brutal; if the book was filled with typos for instance but was still a great story say something like “a few distracting typos took away from an otherwise terrific story”. (Always try to find something positive to say). If you didn’t like the book because it was not your favorite genre then own up to it; despite mostly four and five star reviews, my favorite review I received on one of my books was only two stars — the writer stated she didn’t care for it because my style was too much like Danielle Steel and she doesn’t care for Steel (who happens to be one of my faves). Again, review the book from YOUR perspective, YOUR likes and dislikes, and the impact the book had on YOU. Remember to be gentle but always honest.”

Courage of the Heart

3 forms CotH

by Chelle Cordero (Goodreads Author)
Adam Sherman has guarded the dark secrets of his past. Davie Prescott is the one person he doesn’t have to hide from. When his past catches up to him, he learns that there’s a lot more at stake. Adam is prepared to give Davie up in order to protect her until he learns that she’s got a secret of her own.
Gloria Antypowich rated it5 star review
A great read with characters I cared about.

Adam Sherman is a computer expert and a womanizer who is dedicated to “Bedding but not Wedding.” When he becomes aware of Davie Prescott, a twenty year old student who works part time at the same place that he does, he pursues her.
Davie feels an equal attraction, but she is not an average 20 year old. When Adam makes his move to take her to bed, she confesses that she is still a virgin. His reaction is the exact opposite to what she might have expected; he is not thrilled that he is her first. In fact he pulls away in shock and says he will not make love to her. Then he gets out of the bedroom as fast as he can.Davie is humiliated and angered, assuming that her lack of experience had been a turn off for him.Adam is still attracted to her and tries to smooth the troubled situation between them, but she is not willing to open up to him again. Adam has a dark secret that he has been hiding, but eventually his past catches up to him in his work place. He shares his secret with Davie and is shocked that she doesn’t turn away in disgust; instead she is supportive.

Then he learns that she has been hiding a secret too. They both have deep emotional wounds, and together they help each other come to terms with the problems that have created turmoil in their lives. Their commitment to each other gives them the courage to face their problems and make a new life.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast paced, full of twists and turns, mystery, danger and tragedy. I cared for these two characters. I was reminded again that sometimes people have no control over the circumstances in their lives and without love and support from family and community, they flounder in shame and fear.

Don’t miss a great read. I’ll be looking for more books from Chelle Cordero.

 

Living, Breathing, Writing [Kindle Edition]

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