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  I’m a wife, mom, journalist and author — depending on my mood that order of preference can change.

I have ten published Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels (& eventually I will get that 11th one finished!), two short story collections, a few stand alone short stories, two writing guides, a quick reference guide about medical emergencies, and I host a long-running Kindle blog featuring twice-weekly writing lessons and exercises. …and in my spare time I write as a journalist for various periodicals and a syndication service.  I also pen a monthly column in an Emergency Medical Services trade paper (I’m a former EMT).

My fictional characters push me to put their words on paper and tell their stories; thankfully my family understands when I choose to spend time with the voices in my head.

I’m married (to the same sexy man) for 42+ years and we have two adult offspring and multiple pussycats.  I’ve described my life as “the middle of a soap opera” but with lots of HEAs sprinkled in.

In addition to my writing I maintain my author website, a family business website, and two health related sites that are dear to my heart and family, one about Stroke Recovery (my husband had one Dec 2016) and another about Kidney Donation (for my brother [in-law]).  I’m hoping if I keep busy enough I will stay out of trouble, it doesn’t always work.

Please feel free to connect with me on my Author Blog, Facebook, Twitter, or my Facebook-based Street Team,  I also invite you to have some fun and ask me any writing-related question(s) on GoodReads; (I may or may not plead the 5th if you ask personal questions, lol).

I would LOVE to hear from you.

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Print, E-book, Audio & foreign translations.

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Touch of Love:
Short Story Collection

by Chelle Cordero

An Empty House

No matter how many times I turned the key in the lock the room within was always empty. I kept waiting for the day he would return. I told him that I would wait as long as it took until he came back to me.

I missed my husband, I missed sleeping next to him every night, and I missed seeing him every morning as he dressed for work. Someone else was preparing his meals now, someone else was watching over him as he slept. So many days and weeks had passed as I cried myself to sleep every night… alone.

He left suddenly late one night in December. We had made plans to celebrate the holidays with the family, but our plans fell flat and there were no celebrations. I never expected him to leave our home like that and for me to be left all alone in that house, it seemed so big without him there. It hurt that I had to make arrangements just to see him, I even needed permission, and it had to be convenient for someone else’s schedule. Every time I called his phone just to say hello a female voice always answered and I had to ask if she would let me speak to him. My heart was breaking.

Our kids rallied around but they have their own lives, their own families and their own homes to go back to. I couldn’t keep depending on them, I wasn’t sure what my future held and I couldn’t keep them from living their own. I had to force myself to look strong for them, for my husband and most of all for me.

Even works of fiction reflect on the author’s life and experiences
and Touch of Love was truly inspired by lots of personal stories.

 

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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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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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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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Ipema di Chelle Cordero

traduzione in italiano di Elisabetta Colona

Ipema: sanguinamento dell’occhio causato da un trauma… Matt Garratti, un paramedico di New York, si trasferisce con sua moglie e suo figlio nel Nord Carolina per fare il lavoro dei suoi sogni come medico di volo. Pakistana di origine, Sudah, sua moglie, riceve sguardi taglienti e commenti brutali dai nuovi vicini… Matt si chiede se stia inseguendo i suoi sogni o portando la sua famiglia in un incubo da cui non potrebbero più svegliarsi.

Il libro sarà presto disponibile!
(coming soon)

Reviews of Hyphema

“In Hyphema, author Chelle Cordero meets headlong a number of real problems facing her characters. She doesn’t sugar-coat cultural differences and prejudice. The series of incidents and the deaths faced by Matt and Sudah cause them to face these problems and gives the love story a depth well-done.” —Janet Lane Walters

“Ms. Cordero tackles such amazingly current topics-hate, prejudice, fear of the different, with such enjoyable, suspenseful, and well-researched background, that this reader will be following her closely to see what she writes next. Each medical scene resonates with reality, and each chapter flows into the next with a flutter in the pit of the stomach for what is coming, as well as what has been.” —Brian Davidson

Hyphema is also available in Spanish

touch-of-love

Rekindled

“Cynthia?”

The sound of that voice saying her name, a name she rarely heard anymore, froze her insides. Cindy dropped the folder she was filing and turned around slowly. The memory of the voice was clearer than the memory of the face she saw.

“My God, you haven’t changed a bit.” He smiled for a moment before a frown of disappointment appeared. “It’s Daniel, Danny —”

“I… I know. What are you doing here?”

Stepping back to steady herself against the desk, she gestured to the hallway around the nurses’ station she was standing at.

“I have an appointment with,” he pulled a paper from his pocket, “Dr. Callen.”

“Oh no.” It was impulse that made her suddenly rest her hand on his arm.

“What’s the matter?”

“Oh Danny I’m so sorry.”

Daniel looked confused. “Why are you sorry?”

She dropped her hand from his arm, “Why are you seeing an oncologist?”

It took a moment and then he laughed. “I’m not a patient. I’m a doctor and I was asked to consult on a case.”

“Oh,” she looked embarrassed. “I… I’m glad that you’re okay, I didn’t know you were a doctor.” She shrugged and started to look away.

He sighed. “It’s been a lot of years. There’s been a lot of changes… I’m sure a lot has gone on with you too.” He looked at his wristwatch and shook his head. “I don’t want to keep Callen waiting. Look are you nearly done with your patients?” He sounded like he was all-business.

She inhaled sharply. “I’m not a doctor. I work in admissions.”

“Oh, my turn to be embarrassed. I assumed, I mean you always talked about going to medical school.” Daniel’s voice was filled with both surprise and question.

“Things changed,” she sounded sad.

 
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Gunfire. The noise startled Annie. She froze and cautiously looked around. She had left the room with the imprisoned girl. She was outside and there was a commotion. Nearby there were two police vehicles by a tree about ten yards away, both units were empty. There was an ambulance parked beyond the police cars. Annie found herself standing next to a building with grey wooden slats, some kind of shack or barn. The morning sun was just rising and the sky above still looked inky like a storm moving in. She stepped closer to the building looking for cover even knowing the bullets couldn’t harm her.

Annie watched as a man running from the back porch fell right after another shot sounded. He was sprawled motionless on the ground between the tree and the house he had been running away from. The sun flashed off of an object that flew from his hand as he fell. An officer ran to the motionless body. He touched the man’s neck to check for a carotid pulse, and then he looked up at another officer and shook his head. Using a latex glove he pulled from his pocket, the officer picked up the shiny object, a large butcher’s cleaver with brown stains on the sharp edge. Another officer brought over a bag and the cleaver was dropped into it. They turned the dead man onto his back and patted down his body looking for ID.

“There’s nothing.” One of the officers called out to another member of their law enforcement team.

Someone said a curse word behind her. It came from somewhere around the corner of the shed.

“We have no clue where the girl is. Or why he took her.” Dave was coming around the shed and shouting the information to the other officers.

Annie tucked herself even tighter against the wall of a weathered shed. She looked at the face of the man lying on the ground. “That’s not him.” She said aloud and shook her head as she stood next the wooden structure.

“What did you say?” Dave stopped short when he saw her. He cleared the corner of the shed just in time to hear her words. Dave looked puzzled.

Annie looked at him terrified. He was looking directly at her.

“Who are you? How did you get in here?” He pointed the handgun he pulled from his side holster at her. “What are you doing here?”

Annie stared back at him. Her eyes were wide.

“I asked you a question.” His words were curt.

She paused and looked at the gun in his hand. “You can see me?” She sounded surprised.

He frowned. “Of course I can see you. What the hell?” Dave raised his handgun. “Where is the girl?”

“I don’t understand…” Annie shook her head. “How can you see me?”

“Don’t play games. I asked you a question.” He paused deliberately between each word wondering who this girl was. He only knew from Gayle’s driver’s license that it wasn’t her.

“Hey Boss, there’s no one in the house.” One of the police officers ran from the back door of the house to Dave. Dave’s partner, Tim, followed. They looked at his raised handgun curiously. “Everything okay, Boss?”

Dave realized that neither man acknowledged the woman he was speaking to. “Yeah.” He slowly lowered the handgun. “Any sign of the girl?”

They both shook their heads.

He was puzzled that no one else questioned how she got past their cars without anyone seeing. He was skeptical but it seemed as if no one else could see her.

“There… there’s another guy.” Annie said the words out loud.

Dave heard her, the others didn’t. “Look for another guy.” Dave felt compelled to repeat her words.

“In here.” Annie motioned to the shed they were standing next to. “There’s a secret room.”

Dave hesitated. Then he turned to the other officers. “Check the shed out. Look for a hidden door or something.” He looked at his partner, “Make sure there’s no other way out.” He looked back at Annie.

Dave and the other officer stood on both sides of the front shed door, both of them drew their guns in anticipation of danger. Dave nodded and his partner went to kick the door in. Before he could touch it, the door exploded outwards in splinters and the man with the dirty T-shirt that Annie had seen berating the girl burst out and attacked the two lawmen.

The three men scuffled. Dave quickly had the man pinned face down. He yanked his hands behind his back and cuffed him. “Where is the girl?”

Tim ran back around the shed when he heard the commotion, but stood back when he saw that Dave had everything under control.

“Fuck you.” Angry man spoke into the dirt.

“No, fuck you, dirt bag.” Dave pushed the suspect’s face into the ground. Dave spoke to his partner. “Look for some kind of a secret room,” he glanced back at Annie.

She remembered the musty odor; it reminded her of the root cellar at her uncle’s farm. “It’s underneath the shed.”

Dave sighed, he felt like he was losing his mind and then he repeated her words again, “Check underneath the shed. Look for a trap door in the floor.”

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also available in foreign translations
Portuguese ~ Italian ~ French ~ Spanish

Day 3
Abandon Your Excuses

As a writer it actually pains me to hear the excuses many people make instead of following their dream to write. So many of the “reasons” people use to explain why they are not doing the very thing they say they really, really want to are decoys. People use excuses because of fear, because of false expectations, or because it just isn’t that important to them.
If you really want to “be a writer”, then write.

Making Time
“I don’t have the time to write.” That statement is a common one and often follows the declaration “I have the greatest idea for a novel, one of these days…”

Make one of these days NOW and write that book. No one expects you to finish writing all those magical words in one sitting, or even two. If you really want to write, there is time to write. Most published authors and writers have first or second jobs, families, schooling and other responsibilities. Few people can devote an eight hour work day to writing that great novel.

Part of the writing process is simply thinking – and we can think of scenes, characters and plot twists while we are doing housework, sitting in a traffic jam, riding the subway and even while we are in the shower. Keep a pad of paper in your briefcase, purse, in the kitchen. In your desk drawer, or next to your favorite TV chair to scribble notes whenever an idea occurs to you. Many writers keep a pad and pencil on the nightstand to record bits and pieces of dreams before they vanish away in foggy memories.

Keep a file folder or a large envelope near your desktop or other workstation and store these snippets. These snippets will help you organize your thoughts and begin writing your story. You can find 15-minutes, or more, to write full sentences on a legal pad or type words on a keyboard. Just fifteen minutes, the time it takes to drink your morning coffee, the time it takes to let your hair dry after a shower and you will find your story growing.

What If No One Likes It?
It is possible, even likely, that you will find editors and readers who do not like your work; that doesn’t mean that it is not good. Try again with another editor or a different audience.

When you walk into your local bookstore, are you apt to want to read every book that is on the shelves? Some of the topics won’t appeal to you, sometime you just don’t like the writing. It’s the same with your writing, not everyone is going to be enamored. Send your queries out to different markets. And while you are waiting, keep writing.

Many successful authors “papered” their office walls with rejection slips before connecting with the one right person.

I Don’t Know How to Go About Publishing a Book
Most of us didn’t, some still don’t. First you have to write the book and then you have to find a publisher. Speak to other writers, read magazines or books that appeal to the market you wrote for. Take names off of magazine flags (staff listings), look up publishing names you see on book spines. Join writers’ forums and ask questions.

Most reputable publishers will take the time to explain the process. Understand that there are several different publishing methods. You can publish (if you are lucky to make the right connections) through a large house, small traditional press with small runs, small press with print-on-demand, e-publishing, and self publishing. Study the terms and again, speak to other authors. Lastly, don’t sign anything until you are sure you understand what it means.

Activity: Write an instruction guide for a common, everyday chore (housework, driving, dressing, making a phone call, etc.). Avoid making a simple list and using mere phrases. Write this instructional guide in the form of paragraphs and complete sentences. Make it detailed so that even if someone has never used a telephone they will know how to make a telephone call, etc.

Activity: Using the seven numbers of your telephone number, in any order, write a very brief story about people sitting around a dinner table (how many people, how many dinner rolls, etc).

 

***based on the long-running***

Living, Breathing, Writing 
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60+ Days to Live, Breathe, & Write  gives both the aspiring writer and the accomplished writer two complete months of lessons about the craft of writing and being a writer, from time management to social networking, organizing queries to publication, the business of being a writer, and more.

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Prologue

Deanna had a heavy feeling as she headed to work. Maybe it was just those extra bills that had come due. She had been sending a large portion of her paycheck back home to her folks ever since she came to the city. There really wasn’t that much paycheck to go around. She hadn’t been prepared for that assessment the landlord passed on to his tenants for the boiler repair. There just wasn’t any place else where she could cut spending. She already walked to and from work, never went out and spent money with her friends, and she even bought day old breads and produce rather than fresh. She counted her blessings on a daily basis that she had a job and a roof over her head, no matter how meager, but she found herself bordering on frustration every time she balanced her checkbook.

She made up her mind, today she was going to ask Rob if there was any way he could raise her salary a bit. She was willing to take on extra work; she just needed to be able to keep sending money home. The hurricanes had pretty much devastated parts of Louisiana over the last few years. The resulting tornadoes hit surrounding areas and wiped her folks out. There was no way they were able to rebuild their home and the business. She graduated high school out of a makeshift building before the last round of storms hit. Her original plans were to remain at home for a while and maybe find a job down there. Her parents had always figured she could come into the shop with them but there was no more shop to generate money.

Deanna decided to go someplace where she could earn some money to send home to them. Deanna made the move to New York City and had been trying to build a life for nearly a year. A trailer sat on the site near where Deanna remembered her favorite tire swing ever since Katrina and Rita ravaged the area. Her parents didn’t complain. There was no way she wanted to let them know how tight things were for her. She let them believe that money was rolling in or they never would have accepted the money she sent back home.

Clutching her purse tightly to her side, Deanna entered the bank. She was supposed to get some smaller bills for the register this morning on her way into work. She didn’t like walking around with so much money, but Rob insisted that he trusted her to take care of things. Deanna wasn’t naïve; she knew that her neighborhood wasn’t exactly the most crime free in the city. She worried about the responsibility of carrying that much money. If she lost it, there was no way at all that she’d be able to replace it. There never had been any temptation to take what didn’t belong to her but she did allow herself a brief fantasy during the night that the wad of bills in her purse was really hers.

She stepped in line with about half a dozen other customers. She stood behind a very broad shouldered man in a suit and she had to stand on tip-toe to try to look around him to see how fast the line wasn’t moving. He turned towards her and smiled as he adjusted his glasses. His brown wavy hair and bronze complexion stood out against his light brown suit. The ends of his hair brushed his collar. Deanna smiled back politely while hoping she wouldn’t encourage him into a conversation.

He was very attractive and she kept looking towards him when he wasn’t looking at her. Under other circumstances, she wouldn’t have minded trying to engage him in a conversation. But as it was, she needed to be at work soon and she couldn’t forget the money she was carrying. He kept checking his watch and she wondered if he was late for some important business meeting. Deanna checked her own watch and hoped she could make it to the store in time to open the doors on schedule.

Finally the gentleman in front of her was the next in line. Suddenly there was a shout and a scream. Deanna turned and saw two men –and then a third–with stocking-covered faces waving very large and frightening handguns.

Everybody get down! And keep your faces to the floor.”

All of the bank’s customers obeyed immediately. When Deanna raised her head to watch what was happening, the man who had been standing in front of her gently pushed her back down.

“Do as they say,” he cautiously whispered to her from his own position on the floor.

She could see the feet of the frightened tellers as they were ushered toward the front of the counter to join the rest of the customers. One poor young man was stopped and dragged back behind the counter to empty the cash drawers into a sack. Deanna heard muffled sobbing around her.

One of the masked robbers was moving through the mass of people on the floor demanding wallets, purses and jewelry. Perhaps foolishly, Deanna decided she wasn’t going to give up the store money without some kind of protest. She also slid her grandmother’s birthstone ruby ring off of her hand and slipped it down her bra front for protection.

“Open your purse.”

“No.” He grabbed for it and she wouldn’t let it go.

“Damn it, it’s not worth dying for.” The man spoke to her again in a harsh whisper. She saw that he was eagerly handing over his own wallet.

The purse was wrested from her hand. “No. Give it back!”

He heard the gentle twang in her voice and was intrigued by it. “Don’t be an idiot!” he grumbled under his breath.

Deanna raised her head and her voice in anger. “Will you just be quiet! Ow!” She felt her head being yanked backwards by the hair and she found herself staring at the stocking face of one of the robbers.

“Stand up!” She was forced to her feet. “You want to fight?” A gun was pressed against her ribcage. “I’ll give you something to fight about.” He started to push her towards one of the office doors.

“Where are you taking me?” Sudden terror seized her. She tried to break away but found his grip on her was too strong. “Please. I’m sorry…” Her imagination ran wild with horrible possibilities. Tears began to sting her cheeks.

“Well gee, I got me Scarlett O’Hara, boys.” The bank robber laughed as he announced his find to his cohorts.

“Let her go.” The man from the front of the line made a meek plea for her safety.

“Mind your frigging business!”

Deanna continued to struggle and finally broke free. The robber lunged for her. Faster than she was aware, the suited customer was standing and pushed her protectively behind him. He blocked the robber and they scuffled. She stepped backward and was terrified to see the robber gain the advantage and hold the gun to the man’s temple. One arm wound its way around the would-be rescuer’s neck and he was quickly subdued.

She stood trembling. “Oh Gosh, I’m sorry…”

No one else wanted to take a risk. Everyone obeyed the robbers’ demands. The young teller finished filling the bag, customer pockets were emptied of valuables. The gun was still being held on the attractive stranger.

“Get back down on the floor!” The robber commanded Deanna to lie down on the floor.

She was shaking with fear and with guilt. “Please let him go.”

“Lie down!”

She hesitated briefly and then did as she was told.

“Now everyone just remain where you are. Count slowly to three-hundred. If I hear any police sirens or see any cop cars, I will kill this man.” The robbers began to back out of the bank with one of them dragging the struggling man with him.

Deanna couldn’t let them just take the man with them, not after he had risked himself to save her. She looked up and saw a large ceramic demonstration piggy bank on the counter; as soon as she saw the robber look away, she jumped to her feet and grabbed it. She ran after the robber holding the hostage and struck him in the back of the head.

The robber stumbled. “Run!” She screamed at the stranger. He stared at her in disbelief. “Run!” Finally he made a hasty retreat to the street.

Before Deanna could get safely back into the bank, she found herself being grabbed again and this time the gun was held to her head.

“You little bitch.” The robber’s voice was raspy. “You’re coming with us instead, then.” He dragged her pleading out the doors and threw her into a van just outside on the street.

Another one of the assailants grabbed her to tie and gag her as the vehicle made a hasty retreat. About a block later, the van made a quick stop and Deanna was surprised to see the suited customer step into the van.

He looked at her in anger. “You couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you?”

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