Sunday, June 1, 2014


By: Terri Talley Venters

“Holy shit!” Terri said. The American Alligator sunned himself on the bank of the retention pond. The sun touched its reptilian hide and he raised head, like he owned the joint.
“Mom, language.” David said, shaking his overgrown blonde head and rolling his blue eyes. The thirteen-year-old already had the teenage attitude down pact.  
“David, look!” Terri pointed to the gator on the bank between the retention pond and the tidal marsh leading to the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida.
“What the…” even David couldn’t act nonchalant about this. “OMG! That big gator is in our backyard!” Standing on the rock next to the screened-in pool, he placed his hands on his hips, looking incredulous.
“It’s the start of mating season. I hear the gators move from pond to pond in search of a mate.” Terri said.
“Mating season?” David’s face, drenched in adorable freckles, looked at his mother.
“You know, how babies are made?” Terri laughed, knowing the embarrassing response before it even happened.
“Ugh, Moooom. You’re so embarrassing.” He retrieved his iPhone 5 from his pocket, snapped a picture and then typed away. Within 30 seconds he’d blasted all of his social media and texted his friends. “This is so cool. We have a gator in our back yard.”
“Wait until your father sees this. He’s on his way home from work now.”
“Can I go fishing?” Davis asked.
“Absolutely not! That gator could eat you! It could eat me, just like that.” Terri snapped her fingers.
“What’s for dinner?” David asked like a typical teenager, always hungry and worried about his next meal.
“Dad is bringing home sushi for us and chicken fried rice for you. Oh, that reminds me, I need to thaw out the ahi tuna for Daddy to sear.” Terri turned and entered the house through the wall of glass doors leading from the screened-in pool to the gourmet kitchen.
Opening the freezer side section of the side-by-side stainless steel refrigerator/freezer, Terri retrieved the frozen bag of Publix brand ahi tuna. She walked to the butcher block, dropped the bag on the counter, and pulled out the large Wustoff butcher knife to cut the tuna.
Glancing up, she froze at the site of David. He stood on top of a stone bench along the perimeter of the pond, less than twenty feet from the gator. She watched in horror as David lost his balance on the sloping bench. Attempting to catch his balance, he waved his arms and leaned backwards.
“David, Nooo!” Terri screamed as she watched David fall face first in the water, hitting his head on a granite rock along the perimeter. He lay still as the gator dropped into the water and swam towards her son.
Terri had already started sprinting out the door towards her first born child. After hurdling the fence like a track and field star, she ran like the dickens.
Still holding the large butcher knife, she shouted to the gator. “Oh no you don’t, mother fucker!”
Just before the gator got to David, Terri jumped through the air and landed on the gator’s back. Its head turned and opened his mouth towards her. With her left thumb, she gouged one eye and stabbed its other eye with the knife. The gator struggled as it moved its body sideways and snapped back. Terri pulled the knife out and stabbed its head again and again.
The gator backed up into the water, dragging Terri down with it. Once it got in deep enough water, it started twisting in a gator roll to drown its victim. Holding her breath, Terri circled around in the water with the gator and continued to stab. Bubbles formed at her lips as the air escaped her mouth. Her lungs burned as she continued to stab the gator. Then everything went black.
A bright light shone in her eyes and she squinted. “Am I in heaven? Is David okay?”
The light turned off and she opened her eyes. The smile of a handsome man looked into her eyes. The sun set behind him with lush palm trees swaying in the breeze. “Are you an angel?”
The E.M.T. laughed. “No, ma’am. I’m with Jacksonville Fire Rescue. Do you remember what happened?”
The scene of her son falling into the pond and hitting his head flashed through her mind. “How’s David?”
“I’m fine, Mom, just a concussion,” David said, holding an icepack on his bandaged head.
“Oh, thank God, sweetheart.” Something squeezed her hand and she turned to see her husband of twenty years at her side, holding her hand.
“Hi, honey, I’m home.” Garrison smiled down at her. Then he kissed her cheek. “You saved our son’s life today. That was eight foot gator you killed. Guess it’s gator tail for dinner tomorrow.”


Monday, May 12, 2014

Guest Blogger-Jenn Nixon, Author of Lucky's Break

Guest Blogger-Jenn Nixon, Author of Lucky's Break
After almost losing her Uncle Phen during the investigation of her mother’s murder, Felicia “Lucky” Fascino cut all ties and ran away, hoping her family would move on and forget the promises they made. Putting the past behind her has never been easy, but Lucky knows the job is slowly destroying her already fractured psyche. Staying away, especially now that her family is in danger, is the only way to keep everyone safe.
Kenji Zinn, determined to locate his ex-lover, tracks Lucky to a small island with her family’s help, and finds her in a miserable and self-destructive condition. His connection to her is strained after months apart but his feelings haven’t change, and he attempts to persuade her to come home, to protect her family and keep her promise. Despite her obvious mental fatigue, only Phen is able to convince her that the way to get closure is finding an elusive man named Quimby and take him out permanently. 
Once home, Lucky breaks it off with Kenji, and agrees to go back to work if Phen promises to let her go when it’s done. While her family continues to track their target, Lucky returns to work for the network—struggling through each job, aware that pushing her family away won’t bring anyone the peace they deserve. As she begins to repair her shattered relationships, her true feelings for Kenji are tested when she almost loses him completely. Before it’s too late, Lucky realizes he’s her best ally to help her finish what she started and find Quimby before he strikes again.
Excerpt 1
Kenji is at ‘the compound’ recovering…
Kenji jerked up, waking the instant the doors shut. Looking over, he saw her walk in. His heart thumped. His stomach churned, causing the wound to throb. It felt like he was dying a slow, poisonous death.
Wearing a sports bra and tight spandex shorts, Felicia moved to the mat and stretched. The thick, curly locks pulled back to reveal her stunning face and bright golden, catlike eyes. She appeared healthier, vibrant again. Filled out, with the curves he loved to trace.
            Kenji shuddered, attempting to ignore his natural response to her as he stood up. Noticing immediately, she spun around and gawked at him.
            “Didn’t know anyone was here.” She turned, picked up her towel, and went for the door.
            “Felicia,” he said and crossed the room, forcing his body to move faster than it liked. He winced near the treadmill, paused, and grabbed the rail. She lurched forward.
            “Easy,” she chided and bit her lip.
            “I am fine,” he said. “I will be leaving shortly.”
            “Okay,” she said while hanging her head. “As long as you’re well enough.”
            “Irrelevant. I have stayed too long.”
            “Don’t let me being here stop you from getting better. You won’t see me again.” Her tone turned tight, sharp.
            He bridged the distance slowly, nearing the weight bench. “Until you sneak into my room again.” Felicia whipped around, storming toward the exit. “How long will you ignore what you feel for me?”
            “What?” She seemed genuinely shocked by his question but didn’t miss a beat with her retort: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
            “Why did you come to my room?” He followed her to the exit.
            “To say good-bye,” she said.
            “Every word you speak is a lie. You do not want me to leave anymore than I want to go.”
            “Keep telling yourself that, maybe you’ll believe it one day.”
“Is it so hard to admit you care?” She paused at the door and stared at him, emotionless. “No, you are too stubborn. You will realize you want me, and it will be too late. I hope you are willing to live with your choice.”
            “I am,” she said.
            “Go. All you do is run away.” He wave at hand to the door and shook his head.
“Fuck you.”
“Do you fear what I make you feel that much?”
“Listen, I just wanted to tell you my side, okay? That’s all. I know what I did was wrong. I tried to make that perfectly clear. It was despicable and hurtful. The drinking wasn’t an excuse; it’s just an explanation. I wasn’t myself. I don’t expect you to accept my apology. I just wanted you to have it because it’s the right thing to do. Gives us both a clean break.”
            Kenji wasn’t getting through; Felicia ignored everything he said. He didn’t care about that anymore. He wanted her to admit the truth. Confess what he saw in her eyes. Want him to stay. “You think a few words etched on a sheet of paper are a proper apology? Why not tell me to my face?”
            Her pitch rose. “You didn’t want me to know you were here. Why would I think you’d want to see me?”
            “You were on assignment. I know you did not need another disruption.” He looked knowingly into her eyes; she glanced away. “I said I would never trouble you again, and I have stayed true to my word. You approached me.”
            “You barged in on my family!”
            “They offered help if I ever needed it. I left you alone,” he said, the anger seething like an overcooked broth, rising to the rim. “If not for you, this injury would not be here!”
            “Oh, so it’s my fault you did a shitty job?” She placed both hands on her hips in defiance. His blood boiled, but he didn’t dare move closer. Then she laughed. Kenji almost snapped. “It’s all over your face; you fucked up all on your own, fella.”
            “You know that is a lie. Have you been flawless these last few months?”
            “I’m fine,” she said, slapping her thighs.
            “You have wanted to tell me how sorry you are, for this long, and I am supposed to believe you are fine? The shame must have been torture for you; a confession only helps so much.”
“It was an explanation.
“How long have you wallowed in your suffering?” When she glared at him, he smirked. He had ammunition to use as well. “I know you, Felicia.”
            “You used to.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
            “I see through your armor, remember?”
            Felicia tilted her chin higher, eyes narrowing. “I’m bulletproof now.”
            “I waste my words on you,” he said and approached. The slight trembles in her body told him the truth. Yet she stood there, resistant as ever. He looked down at her before passing. “Sayōnara, Felicia.”
Excerpt 2
Lucky and Kenji regroup after taking out an obstacle…
“That’s about as bad as it gets. Most of my marks are from a distance,” Lucky said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Up close and I tend to get….”
            “Brutal, Kenji. I wanted him to hurt. I had to walk away, afraid I was going to pummel him just for the hell of it.” Her body shuddered under his hands.
            “You were not brutal. You did what you needed to do.”
            “I didn’t need to kill him. I wanted to.” She stepped back out of his grasp and walked to the bed. “I’m not some sadistic fuck who gets off on hurting people, but sometimes…and with you there this time….” When she sat down, she pulled her legs to her chest. “Everything that happened yesterday, being with you in the field and letting you see me that way….”
            “The last few days have been taxing,” he said, sitting beside her. She reached the edge of every thought but held back, afraid to speak her mind. He kept his distance despite the desire to hold her.
            “I’m still trying to wade through it all.” She put her head on her knees. “What were you thinking, after I killed him?”
            “I thought you extracted all you could from him and finished the job.”
            She turned her head to face him, seemingly agitated. “Then what were you feeling?”
            “Satisfied it was over and impressed with your methods.”
            Felicia huffed, got up from the bed, and started to walk away. He grabbed her wrist. “Let go.”
            He held tighter and stood. “What do you want to know, Felicia? Stop being vague.”
            “How did you feel toward me?” Her voice was heated, sharp. “You were watching me like a hawk.”
            “Mostly, I admired your abilities and thought of little else. There were moments I felt intimidated, other times aroused. Watching you overpower and manipulate that man was invigorating.”
            “Why were you intimidated?”
            “The way you handled the situation astounds me. I was not needed, yet you allowed me to help.”
            She broke from his grip and walked to the opposite side of the room. He stood, silently waiting to see what she’d do. Rubbing the back of her neck, she turned around with wide eyes.
“After all that, you still want me.”
            “I have never wanted you more.”

Author Bio: Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.
Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


by: Terri Talley Venters

“Finally!” Yvette said, handing over thirty Euros to enter the Catacombs beneath Paris, France. She tucked her black hair behind her ear and then dropped her change into the zipper compartment of her hot pink cinch sack.
“I can’t believe we waited four hours in line for this,” Yvette’s lover, Antoine, complained.
“I’m sorry, my love, but I hear it’s to die for.” Yvette turned on her heel with a flirtatious smile. Her yellow sundress twirled around her summer-tanned legs.
Yvette descended over two-hundred stairs with Antione in tow. She walked briskly to the main “display areas” of the Catacombs.
“This is creepy.” Antoine stuffed his hands in his pockets and grimaced at the macabre display of skeletons. He snapped a few photos to commemorate their visit.  
“Don’t be a ‘fraidy cat, you wuss.” Yvette admired each morbid pattern of human bones decorating the winding tunnels of the Catacombs.
“I’m not a wuss, I’m just hungry. Can we go soon?”
“No way! We waited four hours, we may as well make the most of the time we have left until closing.” Yvette stopped in front of a wrought-iron gated door blocking a side tunnel.
“Don’t even think about it,” Antoine put his foot down. “See the sign? ‘Do not stray from the main tunnel’.”
“Oh, now you want to obey the signs. I noticed you didn’t have a problem taking flash pictures.” Yvette pointed to the “No flash photography” sign.
“I just want to see what’s back here.” Yvette tugged on the gated door and stepped back, pleasantly surprised that the door wasn’t locked.
“What if we get caught?”
Yvette shrugged with a wicked grin. “I don’t see any cameras or guards.” Yvette stepped through the open gate and used her phone as a flashlight.
“Arrghh, okay, you win.” Antoine begrudgingly followed his truant girlfriend into the forbidden tunnels of the Catacombs.
“Wow, this is fascinating! Look at all these hallowed out niches in the walls. There’s dozens of skeletons here. I wonder why they don’t include this as part of the tourist path.” She stepped through an opening and into an enormous cavern.
“Wow! It must be at least fifty feet high.” Antoine gazed up in awe.
“Are those stairs up there?” Yvette pointed towards a crumbling staircase.
“It looks like they lead to more tunnels.” Antione, now committed to the adventure, led Yvette up the narrow brick stair case. “Better let me test them first. If I fall, don’t try to grab me or you’ll go down with me.”
“Ahh, how valiant.” Yvette cooed.
Antoine gingerly ascended the stairs, using the decorative bones as hand rails. “Careful, this part is tricky and we’re almost at the top.
“Give me a break, I’m not going to…..” Yvette’s foot slipped as she reached her hand to grab the skull imbedded into the wall.  “Help me!”
With quick reflexes, Antoine grabbed her arm and tried to pull her up. “I got you, don’t look down.” Antoine’s calm tone tried to soothe her, but his panicked eyes revealed his fear of losing her.
“Antoine, let go or we’ll both die.” Yvette’s mind worked rationally to sacrifice her life for his.
“No, I’d rather die with you than live without you!” He pulled her arm up and slowly lifted her torso to meet his.
“Oh, Antoine! You saved me.” Yvette hugged her lover with relief.
‘There, I got you, my love. Let’s go home.”
Rumbling noises vibrated through the cavern. Rocks and bricks crumbled beneath their feet and they fell five stories, still entwined in each other’s arms.
“Here’s two more, Andre,” Yvette heard a Catacomb worker sigh. His tone dripped with a combination of disdain, exasperation, and just a tad of sympathy.
“How awful, Philippe. Why do we bother to post signs warning tourists not to veer off the carefully tunneled path?” A younger worker asked rhetorically.
Oh, thank goodness you found us.  Yvette’s comment went unnoticed.
“Stupid Americans.” Philippe started to pull the lifeless forms out into the center of the aisle.
I’m not American! I live in the south of France. Yvette retorted, defending her nationality.
“How long do you think they’ve been down here?” Andre asked.
“Years. The rats ate the flesh. Just bones and tattered clothes left.”
“Should we report it?” Andre asked?
“No, it’s almost closing time.  I’m too old to deal with the hassle and paperwork. Besides, you’re meeting that sexy Mademoiselle, at the café in an hour.
“Great point, my Manon, does not like to be kept waiting, especially since she is always late herself.”
“That settles it, then. Here give me a hand with this skull.” Philippe pulled the head off of Yvette.
Nooo! What are you doing? That hurts.  Yvette screamed as loud as she could. Her head snapped off of her spine and the older worker meticulously stacked it on top of the pile of hundreds of other skulls.
“Did you hear something? It sounds like a faint scream.” Andre said. He crossed his arms and warded off a chill.
“Yeah, sometimes the spirits lingers, like they don’t realize they’re dead,” Philippe said. He pulled apart the rest of the bones and removed the tattered clothing.
“Toss ‘em in the back?” Andre asked, even though he knew the drill.
“Yeah, then we’ll split the loot.”
Philippe and Andre pulled apart the big bones, and tossed the partially dismantled skeletons behind the neatly stacked rows of skulls.
The bones of Yvette and Antoine, now forever rest with the millions of bones in the Catacombs beneath Paris.