Hi, folks!

Real quick --  the Lie to Me virtual book tour concludes today at Socrates' Book Reviews, with an interview with the Sandman, a.ka. Jayce Honeycutt.  The Amazon Gift Card winner will be announced by this coming weekend.  (With RWA Nationals hitting this month, I need a little time to catch up on my entry-tracking.)

Next, I have more Bound by Decency for you today.  It's the last preview I'll be sharing on the blog.  Which leads me to some other news as well:

Bound by Decency kicks off a blog tour tomorrow, on release day.  Join me and meet the characters, learn about the inspiration behind the book, as well as a bunch of other tidbits from pirate lore.  I'm also hosting giveaways throughout.  I will be with Stella at Ex Libris today!

But let's get to today's teaser.  For the previous teasers and to catch up on the story:

Bound by Decency, Prologue
Bound by Decency, Chapter 1
Bound by Decency, Chapter 2

Bound by DecencyAugust 1, 2012

After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose -- vengeance.

Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more.

Only this time India's not fighting society. She’s battling a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.


~ 3 ~

As Cain stepped through the door to the main deck, a foul-breathed sailor skidded to an abrupt halt. He grinned, though he lacked the teeth to make it complete. “Cap’n! I was on me way tae fetch ye. Trouble be fast approachin’ on larboard.”

Every muscle in Cain’s body tensed at the veiled excitement in the seasoned sailor’s voice. He stepped the rest of the way outside, brows drawn tight as he looked over the rail. At the sight of a warship not more than five hundred yards away, he clenched a fist.

“Damn me,” he muttered. He grabbed onto the bowline, swung himself around the mizzenmast, and rushed up the short stairs to the quarterdeck where Drake stood at the rail, a brass spyglass lifted to his eye.

“You’re just in time for the fun, Cain. Seems His Majesty’s finest couldn’t resist a little bit o’ sportin’ at first light.”

Cain pulled the glass from Drake’s hand and lifted it to his eyes, though he didn’t need to look. The flapping Union Jacks off the main mast told him everything. Out of habit, he surveyed the hull, counting gun ports. Twenty coal black muzzles stared him in the face.

He lowered the glass and pulled in a deep breath. His mind worked quickly, calculating odds, debating whether to stand and fight or whether a speedy disappearance would be in their best interests. It made no sense for a single warship to draw so close. The Kraken outgunned her by twenty. Doubled her standard crew. Why would the Royal Navy foolishly enter such skewed stakes? Better yet, how had she found them? When he’d left the decks earlier, he’d seen only the single distant light.

“Shall I give the call to guns?” Drake’s question held the anxiety of a man sporting for a fight. “She’s easy pickin’s all by herself.”

With a slow shake of his head, Cain squelched Drake’s enthusiasm. “Let’s see what she’s about. She may pose no threat.”

Drake’s jaw dropped in disbelief. He recovered with a double blink. “Your mind is full of cotton, Cain. She’s right there for the takin’. We fire on her bow and bring her to her knees, I say.”

Exasperation rammed Cain like a stone fist. Though Drake’s skills at sea were exceptional and his argument well-suited to the life they had assumed, his logic held an error they could ill-afford to make. Cain thrust the glass back into his quartermaster’s hands. “Have you forgotten the cargo in my cabin? It’s not her death I seek. As certain as that warship sails in range, another isn’t far behind.” He looked once more to the approaching Navy ship. “We stand and wait. Maintain our course. She cannot possibly recognize us. Let us see what she’s about.”

“You’re cursed with this decency,” Drake muttered. He braced his hands on the rail and stared down at the sea. “What happened to Cain, the scoundrel who knew nothing but the fight?”

Cain didn’t bother with a reply. The man Drake referred to was stuck somewhere between Teddy, who had led a quiet merchant’s life, and a life of freedom Cain had once revered, but now despised.

The warship coasted another fifty yards closer. The waters between them crested and sloshed against The Kraken’s hull. A hearty bellow floated across the narrow expanse. “Boat, ahoy!”

Curling his hands into the rail, Cain looked to Drake. In the silence that passed between them, they shared the combined knowledge of more than twenty years at sea. Answering the call would doom them. They must commit to fight or turn their sails to the wind. Cain knew what Drake wished. What the men craved. Beneath the warship’s decks, they’d find enough supplies to keep them aloft for several more weeks. Coin aplenty, depending on how recently the Navy had set ashore.

Yet he didn’t trust the warship’s solitary presence. With word of his escape so fresh, several full fleets sailed in search. Too likely, it remained she had a sister somewhere near. One who would make her appearance on the echo of the first cannon blast.

“Boat, ahoy, I say! In the name of the King present yourself!” the warship demanded again.

Cain whirled toward the helmsman on the poop deck above. “Turn her west, hard to the rudder, now.” He grabbed an overhead line and jumped down to the main deck. “Hands to the riggings, make haste! Clear the braces, clew up the foresail, close-haul that spanker!”

At once, the crew flew into action. Amidst a chorus of protests, they hauled on lines, repeating his commands down the decks to the men near the bow. Cain stood amidst them, throwing his own back into the chore of bringing the boat hard to starboard. As he heaved on the rigging, and the bow began to ease around, he shouted once more, “Haul on every scrap of canvas—we’re changing course!”

Drake joined the chaos, climbing down amidst the men. The glower he sent Cain made his disagreement known, but even he wouldn’t dare protest in front of the entire company. They would argue later, when no one could overhear the quartermaster take to task the captain.

The sails filled, rippled hard with the catch of wind. Behind them, the slower vessel turned to follow. Cain encouraged his men with another hearty bellow, and as The Kraken settled into her new path, he gestured to the bosun. “Stuart, mind your paces. Tell Reggie to prepare the stern chaser.”

The very last guns on the end of the ship, he would fire if necessary. A strike across the warship’s jib would slow her even further. But the noise would alert all nearby. He would make the call only as a last resort.

Anxiety constricted his chest. Never before had he run from a fight. In years past, he would have struck his colors in answer to the hail. Before a second call could come, the cannons would have rained.

Then again, never before had he carried human cargo worth a damn. While India was still Cain’s captive, she was also a woman. He could not bring himself to risk her life. He’d make this up to the men. Find a target they could easily overtake. Once he was free of India Prescott.

A cannon thundered. Near The Kraken’s stern, a splash pocked the decks. Cain vaulted onto the rigging. Hand over fist, he dragged himself to the yardarm above the decks to obtain a better view of their positioning. The warship lagged severely, now nearly six hundred yards away. A slow smile spread across Cain’s face, and he nodded to himself. “More sails, and with a will!” He looked back to the helmsman. “Steady as she goes, King.”

“Aye, Cap’n,” King returned with a wide grin.

Satisfied the Navy ship no longer posed a threat, Cain climbed down the net of braided rope. He surveyed the crew, insuring no man slacked in duty. His gaze met Drake’s dark glower. Cain drew in a deep breath. Once, he would have been equally as furious. Only cowards turned tail and ran.

He looked away. Shouldering past a seaman, he shoved through the heavy door that opened onto his private hall. At his cabin, he halted. India presented a more bothersome encounter than even Drake’s anger. Her deceit, her games, only made his head ache. He turned around and descended the main stairs into the crewmen’s deck below. Food would do his mind well. He hadn’t eaten since dawn the previous morning. On a full belly, he could confront both Drake and India.

Winding through rough-hewn tables, he made his way to the cook’s room and pounded on the timbers that supported the open doorframe. The scent of his favorite fish soup permeated the air. His stomach rumbled greedily. “Cleaver, hand me a bowl of that tarpon stew.”

The cook gestured a three-fingered hand at a large boiling pot. “Ain’t ready, Cap’n. All’s I gots is last night’s doughboys.”

Cain considered the lumpy, soggy leftovers of dumplings soaked in pork broth before he let out a disappointed sigh. Warm, the fare left little to desire. Warmed-over, it could scarce be called edible. His belly, however, demanded sustenance, no matter the type. “Very well. Throw a scrap of jerk on there too.” At least the salted pork would add flavor to the floury lumps.

Juggling his signature knife in one hand, Cleaver ladled out a generous portion. He tossed three thick slices of meat onto a plate, then passed them both to Cain. “Here ye be. Don’t let me hear ye complainin’ none.”

Cain took his meager meal to a long table and dropped into a sturdy chair. As he picked up his spoon, footsteps entered at his back.

“What in the seven hells was that about, Cain?”

Drake’s gravelly voice washed over Cain like buckets of ice. He dropped his spoon into the runny soup and leaned back in his chair with a mutter. “Can’t you see I’m about to eat?”

A scarred fist slammed into the table near Cain’s elbow. “I don’t give one single damn about your belly. My men agreed to aid your cause. They did not sign on to turn tail from a nonexistent threat.”

Anger simmered through Cain’s veins. He narrowed his gaze, meeting Drake’s baleful glower. “Last I knew, I was captain here.”

“Last I knew, the man I called friend was no coward.” Challenge gleamed behind dark grey eyes.

In no mood to fight with one of the few persons he could consider ally, Cain dropped his head to the back of the chair and closed his eyes. Through clenched teeth he asked, “Have you forgotten His Majesty’s ships do not tend to sail alone?” He opened his eyes and pinned Drake with a hard stare. “Have you become so accustomed to the simple spoils off the Bahamas that you cannot remember a ship of the line, stays with the line, unless they seek to bait and sink?”

Drake’s jaw worked in a fit of temper. But as silence settled around them, heavy and oppressive, the harsh glint in his eyes softened. He pushed his long unruly hair away from his face and lowered himself into the chair opposite Cain. “’Tis true I’ve come to take risks more often than not. But I didn’t save your sorry arse to become the laughin’ stock of my company. Tell me, Cain, what’s amiss with you? Did you grow to like a simple merchant’s life as Teddy?”

Two years ago, had anyone asked Cain the same, he would have laughed in their face. Yet now, when he couldn’t sail the sea without looking over his shoulder, he craved what he had lost. He’d come so close to finding decency, to obtaining a worthy place within this world. To the life he hadn’t even realized he longed for.

Now, he had nothing but a past.

His appetite spoiled, Cain pushed the bowl aside. “I have confessions to gain from Miss Prescott and a traitor to hunt down.”

“That’s it, isn’t it?” A solitary golden hoop earring glinted as Drake cocked his head. “Can’t say as I blame you—you had the freedom of a rover and the security of lawfulness. We let you be, didn’t often trouble our former brother. There’s no shame in admittin’ you wish things otherwise.”

Uncomfortable with Drake’s keen perception, Cain rose to his feet. “I won’t find Richard any faster by sitting here flapping my maw with you.”

As he stepped past the table, Drake’s arm shot out. Strong fingers dug into Cain’s forearm. “What are you doin’ with the girl? I agreed to help you capture her. But the men mumble. The lackeys seem to think they’re deservin’ of the little chit.”

Cain shook off Drake’s grip. “I’ve yet to decide. She claims ignorance. I gave her this morn’ to think about it.” He looked over Drake’s head at the distant stairs, his mouth pursed. He couldn’t keep India aboard forever, and truth to tell he hadn’t particularly given thought to what he’d do with her once he learned Richard’s whereabouts. He didn’t dare risk the British coast again—certainly not after William Prescott learned of her kidnapping. Nor could he deposit her in the colony across the ocean. Dropping her over the rails would be the simplest solution, but he didn’t have it in him to kill a woman.

He frowned. Not a man aboard would understand that logic. If they heard him make mention he couldn’t stomach the though of bringing harm to India, they’d throw him over. He dropped his gaze to Drake’s. “We’ll take her to Nassau and leave her with Old Bess.” With a few words to the regal madam, Cain could insure India found safe passage to England. Another tidbit he didn’t intend to share. He would have laughed had he heard a rover utter such nonsense.

To better cover his despicable decency he added, “She can teach India how to…survive. Tell the men if they wish to have her, they will have to pay Old Bess’ price.” Which he would see that Old Bess set so high no man, save a king, could afford.

Amusement turned up the corners of Drake’s mouth. He chuckled low, shook his head. “Perhaps there’s a bit of Cain left in you yet. Only he would take a lady and turn her into a whore.”

Unable to resist a chance at goading Drake, Cain replied, “She will not be the first dove I have soiled. At least the ladies will have me.”

At the subtle insult to Drake’s long-time lover, Drake grunted. “I prefer a bit less virginal propriety.”

“Aye, you prefer the risk you might wake with a knife in your side.”

Relieved he’d satisfied Drake’s interest in his intentions, Cain left Drake to splutter for a retort. He mounted the stairs once more and turned for his cabin. This time, he wouldn’t be deterred. India would give him answers, or he would do as he promised and bind her in ropes. A bit of time in The Kraken’s belly, with the stench of bilge to fill her nostrils, would bring a swift recovery to her memory.

He let himself inside to confront the same chilly rush of air flowing from his windows as before. India huddled on the floor, her back against his bed. He stalked across the room. “God’s teeth, you’ll give us all the sickness. We have yet to reach warm waters.”

A soft moan answered his lecture.

He glanced down at her with a frown. She pulled the sodden blanket about her tighter and shivered. So she sought to feign illness, did she? Another trick that wouldn’t work. “I warned you not to play me for a fool.” He closed a second window. “You’ve been raised with ships. I don’t believe this game of illness. Have you gained your memory?”

“Please…” She wet her lips with a tantalizing sweep of her tongue. “I don’t know.”

Cain turned from the closed windows, leaned a hip against his desk, and folded his arms across his chest. “I grow weary of this constant circle. Tell me now, India, else I’ll find those ropes.”

She answered with a shake of her head. “The windows. Please…” Another shudder rolled down her spine, and she shrunk back against the heavy bed frame.

It was then Cain noticed the lingering stench in the air. He sniffed, wrinkled his nose. His gaze slid down India’s slender shoulders to the floor. There, tucked beside his bed, sat the chamber pot he’d dumped the night before. The odor came from the greenish bile within. Blast it all, she wasn’t fooling.

Need more?  Buy the Book tomorrow!


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Good morning, all!  This is the last Six Sentence Sunday for Bound by Decency.  Remember, it releases on Wednesday!


“I am a pirate, India--do you think I give a damn what other people wish?” The burn of arousal fled from his gaze, replaced with the full strength of his anger. He removed his hand, strode for the door, and grabbed the knob. On a backward glance, warning filled his penetrating stare. “Your body speaks the truth. In my company, your mouth will do the same.”



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Good morning everyone! I'm pleased to bring L.J. Garland and Debbie Gould to you today! They're going to be spotlighting their new release, Sins of the Mind, which looks really enticing!

Sins of the Mind

Seven years ago, Abby Montgomery survived a brutal attack. Now she is ready to put her pain in the past and move on with her life. The problem is, one by one the men in her life are being viciously murdered.

The detective assigned to the case, Ethan Parker, has demons of his own to hide. As the danger gets closer to Abby, so does Ethan. But can they get past his secrets before the killer gets to them? Sometimes the sins of the mind are more depraved than the sins of the heart.

They agreed to sit down for my interview, and had some really interesting things to say.  Take a peek!

Good morning, ladies!  Briefly take us on the journey with you – when did you start writing, did you start in the genre you’re published in now, what hurdles did you have to overcome, etc.

LJ GARLAND : We were both published authors by the time we’d met.

DEBBIE GOULD : Yes, we’d both had several novels out by different publishers.

LJ GARLAND : As for genres? When we’d started together, I’d been pubbed in both sci-fi romance and romantic suspense.

DEBBIE GOULD : I was basically romantic suspense. That is where my heart lies.

LJ GARLAND : So, yes. Since our latest release, Sins of the Mind, is romantic suspense, we were pubbed in the same genre.

DEBBIE GOULD : As far as hurdles, writing the story was easy. Sending it out to the critique group and learning about all the things I had no clue about was shocking. Grammar is not my strong suit apparently. LOL.

LJ GARLAND : For me, it was that there was SO much to learn. Writing is a very complicated craft—not to mention subjective.

Obviously you write romantic suspense. Is that your favorite genre to read? Do you write in any other genres, or under any other pen names you’d like to share?

LJ GARLAND : I read everything from YA to fantasy to horror to sci-fi romance to astronomy books. As long as it’s interesting, I like it. Love the NatGeo and Science channels for a quick fix. As far as writing, I like sci-fi romance, time travel, suspense, and paranormal.

DEBBIE GOULD : I usually stick with romantic suspense, all though I do wander off into the paranormal and horror from time to time.

Of the books you have published, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?

DEBBIE GOULD : I keep hoping back between my first and second for different reasons, lol. But then there is Sins of the Mind and well, the paranormal Laura and I just finished is awesome. Then again the book following Sins of the Mind has started off with a bang, so, umm I think it’s fair to say I can’t pick one favorite, lol.

LJ GARLAND : Oh Yeah! That paranormal we finished is amazing…the characters are so deliciously tortured. But today, Sins of the Mind is my fav. The characters are interesting and diverse and the setting (Vermont) is gorgeous. Shh…Debbie and I have already started on the next book in the Red River series.

What are your published titles and please tell us about anything coming down the pipe next

LJ GARLAND : Well…guess that cat’s out of the bag! LOL

DEBBIE GOULD : We are working on the next book in the Red River Series, yup more murder, mayhem, and romance, lol.

LJ GARLAND : Yep, we’ll be torturing the next characters even more than the first. Though, I think Sins of the Mind had several unexpected twists…and the characters got banged up pretty good.

Let's talk about Sins of the Mind, specifically for a little bit.

Tell me about your plot development? How did the idea spur, did you have to do much research, any interesting tidbits that we should know?

LJ GARLAND : And as I recall, we were both on the same Internet forum. We’d known each other for…what? Two years, Deb?

DEBBIE GOULD : Yup, about that. We had been brainstorming a plot in one of the books I was writing (still unfinished, lol) and I showed her the first chapter of another story that had been screaming in my brain at me. She liked it, and I asked her if she wanted to co-write it.

LJ GARLAND : That’s right! And I was excited because the story was interesting. Romance and murder, what’s not to like? So, we started brainstorming ideas and things got pretty intense and…what’s the word I’m looking for?


LJ GARLAND : Yes. That’s a great descriptor. But we both loved it and voilà, Sins of the Mind!

What’s one thing about your hero that we wouldn’t necessarily learn in the book? A secret dream, an embarrassing habit, an episode from childhood.

DEBBIE GOULD : Hmmm, he secretly likes to go commando.

LJ GARLAND : Hahahaha! Or he likes to clean is gun in private…. ;o)

All heroes are unforgettable in one way or another. What’s one thing about your hero that makes your heart go pitter-pat?

LJ GARLAND : His total devotion to the heroine. As far as other women go, he doesn’t see the – well, not in romantic terms. It’s all Abby and only Abby.

DEBBIE GOULD : His protectiveness, yet he know how to give her space too.

If your hero doesn’t have a pet in your novel, what kind of pet would best suit his personality?

DEBBIE GOULD : German Sheppard.

LJ GARLAND : Definitely a dog. Sheppard sounds right.

Moving on to heroines – Everybody has flaws. Sometimes they are endearing, other times they are annoying. What is your heroine’s greatest fault?

LJ GARLAND : Stubbornness. Gets her in trouble for sure!

DEBBIE GOULD : Ditto! I’m all for being independent, but when your life is on the line, you really ought to pay attention to what the sexy detective tells you to do.

LJ GARLAND : I know, right? It’s not like it’s his first day on the job.

Without giving away details that might spoil the story for those who have not read it, could you tell us the one strength your heroine provides to your hero?

DEBBIE GOULD : Hmm. She opens his eyes to things other than just the job.

LJ GARLAND : Wonderfully cryptic! (high fives Deb) She sure does. Lots of other things.

If your heroine was your daughter – what advice would you give her upon meeting your hero?

LJ GARLAND : If your heart chose Ethan, if you love him, then run to him. You couldn’t have done any better.

DEBBIE GOULD : Don’t jump to conclusions and listen to your heart.

If we peek in on your hero and heroine’s lives ten years from now, can you give us a glimpse of what we’d see?


LJ GARLAND : Ethan and Abby will be blissfully married. We write romance, so it’s a definite HEA.

Well, let's take a peek at them now, shall we?
“Moment?” He raised his eyebrows, tried for a surprised expression. “We were having a moment? Where was I?”

A husky laugh escaped Abby’s lips. She gave him a playful shove, but he caught her hand, his fingers encircling her delicate wrist. With great care, he bowed his head and pressed his lips to the center of her palm. Her sharp intake of air told him she liked it.

“Is this the moment you were referring to?” He kissed her wrist. “Or this?” His mouth grazed along her skin, up the side of her neck to the tender point below her ear.

“Mmm.” She shivered.

He inhaled, reveled in her unique scent. A mixture of spicy vanilla and exotic flowers invaded his senses and sent the room slowly spinning. Primal lust roared through him, demanded he possess her in a rush of carnal passion.

But Ethan resisted.

Intent on enticing Abby into a wild, heated frenzy, he trailed the tip of his tongue along her throat. Her pulse hammered beneath his ardent attention, and he reveled in her response. His fingers slid over her supple skin. One hand sought the silky tresses adorning her head while the other coaxed her legs across his lap and then slipped around her waist.

He pulled back, stared into her lovely face. Eyelids fluttering, she sighed in his arms. When she looked at him, desire burned bright in her eyes. His heart stuttered at the sight, and hot need rushed to his groin.

“Abby.” Her name rolled from his tongue in a mix of desperation and lust. A voracious hunger to taste every inch of her body washed over him. The urge to kiss the small of her back, to run his tongue along her skin, delving and dipping into her secret, sensitive places, all but overwhelmed him. “Tell me to stop. If you’re not ready, honey, tell me to stop right now and by all that’s holy, I will. But you need to know how much I want you right now.”

Oh yum!  Now I wanna know what happens next!!
Back to you two ladies for a minute. 
Many writers describe themselves as "character" or "plot" writers. Which are you?

LJ GARLAND : Now, this is an interesting question because I would say that I was a plot writer and Debbie is a character writer.

DEBBIE GOULD : Yeah, I’d have to agree.

LJ GARLAND : I would hope that would mean we got the best of everything in our stories! LOL

If you write in multiple genres, Do you find it challenging to shift? Or is it a natural process?

LJ GARLAND : I don’t have a problem switching from genre to genre. If they’re set in space or in a deep cavern or on a desert island, it’s more about the story and characters for me.

DEBBIE GOULD : Like I told Laura, who keeps wanting me to jump into Sci-Fi, if I know the world and what’s going on in it, then I can do it. Setting really makes no matter if you know the plot and your characters. May take more research though, lol.

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?

LJ GARLAND : The imagination is vast…open yourself to it. Writing is a process. Learn the craft and never stop.

DEBBIE GOULD : Exactly, don’t ever stop learning your craft, take courses, get a critique partner, hook up with other authors. We are, for the most part, a generous group of people and always willing to pass on tips or give a helping hand when we can.

Very sound advice!
Where can we find you to stay updating on everything?
- We can be tracked down at Our Blog where we blog, chat about stuff, and interview other authors.

- L.J. can be caught at L.J.'s Website where she can be E-Mailed.  You can also tweet her at @LJ_Garland1

- Debbie can be found at Debbie's Website where she can also be E-Mailed.

- We love hearing from people who have enjoyed our stories!

Well thank you, LJ and Debbie for coming by today!  Best of luck with Sins of the Mind and your upcoming sequel!  You're welcome to come back when it releases.


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Hi folks!

First up -- Lie to Me virtual book tour.  It continues today at my fellow Berkley author, Roni Loren's site.  Drop in and meet my inspiration for Alexei, with my Book Boyfriend of the Week post!

Next, we're back to Tuesday Teasers and Bound by Decency.  If you're just dropping in, catch up here:

Bound by Decency Prologue
Bound by Decency Chapter 1

Bound by DecencyAugust 1, 2012
After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose -- vengeance.

Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more.

Only this time India's not fighting society. She’s battling a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.


~ 2 ~

Cain held the wheel, savoring the feel of smooth wood beneath his palms. The wind stirred the aroma of fresh rain and salt. He inhaled deeply and surveyed the lightening horizon. Perhaps he should reevaluate the measure of India’s ruination. After all, once she revealed Richard’s location, what else was he to do with her until they reached a port he could enter? He would have weeks to indulge in the sensual pleasures of her gentle curves.


He grimaced and tightened his grip on the wheel. He couldn’t allow himself to become distracted by the sweet promise of her body. She was a tool to what he desired, and he could not become preoccupied with a temporary dalliance. Particularly an untrustworthy dalliance.

Cain frowned as he scanned the lavender sky. He had left India in his cabin for six hours. By now, she would realize he had no intention of returning her to land. Not for a good while, at least. An hour aboard would serve to destroy her reputation. Several weeks would ruin even her father’s ability to purchase her reception into proper homes. And Richard, who prized both the woman and her money, would never want to look upon her again.

Cain might have felt guilty if he weren’t convinced that India knew where Richard was hiding. As besotted as his former partner was, she’d know every conniving detail of his plan, including his betrayal. For that matter, if India Prescott were anything like Cain’s own mother, it wouldn’t surprise him if she’d urged Richard into the set up. Women craved wealth. So long as they possessed it, the means of obtaining it mattered little.

Bloody hell, his mother had driven his father to the sea. Cain as well, once he could braid a length of rope.

The low tone of six bells rang through the stillness. Cain glanced down at the snoozing helmsman near his feet. When he did not immediately jump to, he gave the man’s backside a sharp kick. “Up, King. You may take back your wheel.”

The man scrubbed at his eyes. “Aye. Sorry, Cap’n. With ye at the helm, I let me eyelids droop.”

Cain accepted his apology with a curt nod. “Keep her steady.”

He ambled down to the main deck, stepped over a round of coiled rope, and paused at the rail to look out at the sea. This late part of middle watch, an hour before morning watch began, remained his favorite. Men worked efficiently, careful to keep their voices low. The hushed murmur brought comfort. The ringing of the bells brought peace. Compared to the more boisterous moments when the sun stood at its highest, here he could think.

A distant light on the horizon marked another vessel several leagues away. With the overhanging clouds, he couldn’t make out mast or sail. In truth, he didn’t care. He felt no need to plunder. Not until he settled his score with Richard. Turning from the ship without a word of warning, he made for his cabin.

Inside, he found his windows open and India huddled in his chair. On closer inspection, he observed she slept. Glancing around, he inventoried his meager things. She had not nosed about, as he’d expected. Odd. Curiosity was a woman’s second bane. He had yet to meet a one who couldn’t curb the habit.

Cain went to his desk to turn up the lamp before going to her. A rough shake of her shoulder brought her upright with a squeak. Her eyes widened to twice their normal size, and she visibly shrank from his touch. The ashen color of her delicate features further announced her fear.


“You are not here to rest, Miss Prescott. This is not a respite of pleasure. You’re here to recall where Richard set his sails to.”

She swallowed, then shook her head. A shiver rolled through her, setting her hands into a tremble. Cain frowned at the wet blanket she wore around her shoulders. “Why do you still wear that soggy thing?”

With effort, India sat up straighter. Color filled her cheeks as she looked to the floor. In a near inaudible voice she answered, “It would be indecent to lounge about in my sleeping clothes.”

The visual gave him pause. A remembrance of her slender body cloaked with wet, white muslin, so thin he could witness every shapely curve, burst within his head. On its heels rose the forbidden fantasy of creamy skin cloaked only by her long ebony tresses, her full breasts swaying beneath the satiny drape. His entire body tightened. His heart kicked a heavy beat.

Appalled by his unexpected reaction to her simple statement, Cain moved to the windows. He pulled one shut with more force then necessary and slammed the lock in place with a balled fist. “Richard. Tell me where he is.”

“I don’t know.”

She had spirit, he’d give her that. But her willfulness would accomplish little, lying even less. Though lies were the third, and most intolerable bane of femininity. He yanked another window shut. “Fabricating stories will get you nowhere. One of two things will happen—you will tell me where he is, else I will find him without your aid. The latter I don’t advise.”

“Even if I did know, I’d not tell you. You wish to kill him. I’ll have no part in that.”

Cain chuckled beneath his breath. She wasn’t as brave as she wanted him to believe, for the vibration of her voice betrayed her disguised fear. Her fear was his salvation. If he played upon it, she would come to believe he was truly capable of doing her harm. And to avoid harm, she would confess her secrets.

He turned around to level her with a hard look of warning. But when his gaze fell on her wide eyes, his throat seized, denying him words. Not blue, as he had thought before. No, in the brighter lamplight they gleamed deep turquoise. Like the clear waters near Nassau.

Saints teeth, more than a dozen women had tumbled through his life, and not once had he ever glimpsed such fathomless eyes.

With effort, he tore his gaze away. Hand clenched at his side, he ground his teeth together. He dared not become distracted by her beauty. She was nothing more than a pawn. A trifle piece meant to be strategically played.

“Miss Prescott, if you expect me to believe a man’s intended does not know his whereabouts, you’ve mistaken me for a fool.”

She sat forward, her features now pasty white. “No. You don’t understand—”

His eyes narrowed as a fresh rush of anger raced through his veins. “Tell me what I don’t understand. That you seek to protect the man who betrayed me? That you and your father despaired over my failure to hang? I say, little bit, tell me what exactly I do not understand.”

With furrowed brows, India shook her head. “I cannot help you. I don’t know why I’m here. For the love of Mary, I can’t tell you where Richard might be.” Her voice rose in indignation. “The day he heard of your escape, he left, saying only that he would return before summer’s end.”

A small part of him wanted to believe her. When Cain had wanted to stand and fight, Richard wanted to run. When it became necessary to eliminate a man or two, Richard had suddenly vanished out of sight. Had Richard sailed under someone else, his cowardice would have seen him strung from the yardarms. Yet what India wished Cain to believe defied even Richard’s gutlessness. Richard wouldn’t take the risk his pretty little princess might cry off the engagement and be swept away by someone else.

Cain puffed out a hard, frustrated breath. He rubbed at a scar on the back of his hand as he considered what to say. But before he could decide on a response, she rushed to words.

“Betrayed you how? You’re a pirate who stole from him. All Richard did was deny your outlandish request for obtaining aid with a pardon. You can hardly fault him for that—no man would. I advised him denying you wouldn’t be wise and told him that Teddy would say the same. After all, it was just a few thousand pounds worth of goods, not a sum we couldn’t do without.”

His head snapped up like she’d cracked a whip. “What did you say? You told him Teddy would advise the same?”

India answered with an enthusiastic nod. “Indeed. Teddy sails for Grey and Cathain. He handles most of the shipments himself. He would be familiar with your…methods. Teddy wouldn’t be fool enough to raise a ruckus over a handful of goods you stole, that is easily recovered from Grey and Cathain’s vast storehouses.”

Dumbfounded, Cain could only blink. They’d never met—how could she possibly know what he’d have told Richard if, in fact, the story she presented were true? He searched for words. Unable to develop anything intelligent, he repeated, “Teddy.”

“Yes, Teddy. Richard spoke of him quite fondly. I should like to meet him. He seems quite the fascinating seaman. I’ve heard so many stories I feel like I know him.”

A slow pleasurable burn spread through Cain. He, fascinating? He had been called many things, but fascinating wasn’t one. Heartless and devil’s spawn seemed to be the favorite accounts. Indeed, not once had fascinating made the list. It held a most pleasurable ring. Almost a touch of decency as well. It was certainly a great deal better than murderer.

He caught himself and pursed his lips. By the devil, she couldn’t expect him to believe she held no knowledge about his identity. Every post in three countries had published the news of his arrest, his association with Grey and Cathain, and his subsequent escape. Her words could only be trickery. An attempt to gain his favor, and his sympathy, through false innocence.

It had almost worked. She’d stroked his ego with the insinuation she respected him, and he’d almost bought into her tale. One too many experiences on the receiving side of a forked tongue, however, had eliminated his naivety a long time ago. It was time to use her fear to his advantage and remind her of her place.

He closed the distance between them and picked up one slender hand. Trailing his finger down the sensitive inside of her wrist, he held her gaze. “Such delicate skin. Smooth. Fragile. It would be a shame to see it cut by ropes. Must I bind you, Miss Prescott, to learn your secrets?”

On a soft gasp, she tugged at her hand.

The sound, combined with her wide eyes, tightened a fist around his lungs. Ignoring the painful clench, he cupped the side of her face with his other hand and ran his thumb along the side of her neck. The urge to press his mouth to the bounding vein there threatened to override his purpose.

Determined to hold onto his initial course of intimidating her, Cain choked back the unexpected rise of desire. He kept his voice low to mask the roughened quality of his throat. “And your throat. How easily it would bleed beneath the press of a knife.”

“Stop,” she whispered as she pulled on her hand again.

Indeed. Stop he must. He was far too close to her and the light scent of honeysuckle in her hair tormented in ways he couldn’t explain.

Cain flung her hand into her lap and stepped away. “Perhaps a cat-o-nine would suit you better. It wouldn’t take much to turn your back to shreds.” He paused for effect, stole a deep breath to temper the unexplainable fire in his blood, then narrowed his eyes in warning. “One of which, I assure you, will happen if you continue with this charade. We both know I am Teddy. Do not mistake me for a fool again.”

India’s brows furrowed, and she opened her mouth to speak. Denying her opportunity, he swiftly exited. The slam of the door echoed down the narrow hall. Before it died into silence, Cain turned the lock. He pressed his forehead to the wall and swallowed down a groan. Too true, her skin was soft. Her wrist so small he could fit two of them in his hold. His palm still tingled where he’d touched her warm flesh, and he rubbed it against his trousers, anxious to be free of the unsettling sensation.

No wonder Richard had fallen so completely for the little bird. A man could lose himself in those turquoise eyes. They had a way of making a man forget his purpose. An effect Cain could ill afford.



India collapsed into her chair. Her pulse raced from the close encounter with Cain, and she struggled to control the erratic nature of her thoughts. Teddy? What nonsense did Cain speak? Two more polar opposites she couldn’t imagine. Everything Richard said about his business partner painted Teddy as a decent man. A man who knew the sea like no other, but possessed the finer qualities of gentility. Cain, on the other hand, was brash and crude. He didn’t know the first thing about propriety and carried himself with the arrogance of a thief who believed himself undefeatable. The fact he’d stolen her was evidence enough. Teddy would know kidnapping her would be a foolhardy mistake. They couldn’t possibly be the same man.

She dropped her head into her hands and let out a frustrated whimper. Between the boat’s constant motion and Cain’s confounding threats, she didn’t know which was worse. One thing was certain, she must make Cain understand that kidnapping her would accomplish nothing beyond a speedy hanging. Whatever he might think, she knew nothing about the giant of Prescott Shipping. Though politics forced her father to establish the smaller North Atlantic Freight fleet in her name, he despised her involvement in shipping. He claimed it was improper for a woman to occupy her mind with business. Dismissed her abilities, denounced her math, and when she tried to draw him into conversation, he sent her out of the room with a veritable pat on the head. He’d even gone so far as to demand she hire a man to handle her affairs, turning all her hard work into something she couldn’t even celebrate.

Sadly, her intended had taken much the same approach. While he vowed to let her retain ownership of North Atlantic Freight, Richard gave her ideas only the barest scraps of his attention. He certainly didn’t consult her with Grey and Cathain or include her in his visions of the merger’s outcome. Which infuriated her to no end, but also genuinely left her unable to tell Cain anything.

Teddy knew more about the two companies than she did. He’d seen their financial ledgers, for heaven’s sake.

She let out a heavy sigh. Why did men have to be so absolutely dense? Cain was no better than the lot of them. Perhaps he was even a little worse—she’d never been accused of deceit before. Then again, until tonight, the only deceit she engaged in was the same sort every other lady of status employed. Outside of the privacy of her home, she smiled when she wished to grimace, spoke kind words when she wished to scold. Manners she’d been taught, niceties she assumed. Nothing that would shock or offend, not even a retort that might make a person’s pulse jump.

The way hers had nearly leapt out of her skin when Cain touched her hand. The way it was still bounding now.

Frowning, she fought back a shiver. She ought to be terrified. Indeed, she felt a degree of intimidation in Cain’s presence, but terror had yet to register. If anything, he intrigued her. And down deep inside, India knew she had no business being curious about such a deadly man. If for no other reason, curiosity would lead to scandal, and she was too well groomed to deliberately jeopardize her father’s good name. A name which Cain had already ruined.

Heaven’s mercy, she must convince Cain of her uselessness and find a way off this ship. While Richard would never forego his chance at her father’s money, no polite family would receive him, if Cain didn’t turn her loose. Not that she particularly cared whether they were embraced by society. But her father did, and though she barely tolerated Richard, she loved her father. She didn’t wish to cause him embarrassment.

As the boat pitched again, India gave into a low moan. The fresh air had helped soothe her churning stomach, but her legs were too woozy to hold herself up, let alone make the trek across the cabin to open the windows once more. Thankfully, she’d held herself together through Cain’s interrogation. She didn’t dare let him know she was ill. The brute would probably toss her overboard to spare the health of his crew.

Huddling deeper into her blanket, she swallowed down the bitter taste of bile and willed her stomach to behave. She couldn’t think while it was turning circles. And more than anything, she needed to put her thoughts in line.

Being third cousins once removed from King George and distantly related to the late Louis, King of France, had its advantages. Right about now, her father would find her bedroom empty and contact the authorities. With his power and influence, every available ship under His Majesty’s employ would be on the ocean searching for her. Spreading the word to the sister ships they encountered. William Prescott might play at merchanting to satisfy his soul’s lark, but when it came to his daughter, he would spare no sacrifice.

Which meant freedom lurked around the corner. Cain might succeed in outrunning one, two, even three warships. But his luck would run out. When it did, she’d be free of all of this. She’d deal with the matter of her reputation then. Keeping herself, and Richard, alive until that day took priority.

She massaged her temples with her fingertips. If indeed he wasn’t Teddy, why had he shown such interest when she mentioned his name?

Fleeting panic brought her head out of her hands and soft gasp to her lips. Oh, dear Lord, had she doomed Teddy to the same fate Cain planned for Richard?

India shook her head. No. She couldn’t have. If Cain wanted Teddy, he’d have demanded she reveal his location as well. Or he could well be…

She refused to consider the thought further. Cain and Teddy were as different as night and day. Asking her to believe Richard’s partner had disguised himself so completely was like asking her to believe her mother still lived. Cain’s interest in Theodore Cathain stemmed from something else. She would be wise to discover what that something was.

India dropped her head onto the back of the chair and closed her eyes. She gritted her teeth against the tossing of the ship and forced her mind into silence.

To her horror, Cain rose behind her eyelids.

Only, where he wore loose trousers and a seaman’s shirt moments before, in her vision he dressed in the stylish suit she’d imagined Teddy in, a dozen times or more. Standing over her as he had, he didn’t glower. He cupped the side of her face. His thumb caressed the length of her neck and tickled the fine hairs behind her ear. His eyes held hers, sharp and unsettling. Full of words she couldn’t understand, but some unexplainable part of her soul recognized. And on those sensual lips, the hint of a genuine smile danced. As if he found her pleasing. As if he desired her.

She snapped upright. On a violent shake of her head, she whispered, “He’s not Teddy.”

Come back next week for Chapter 3!


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Morning readers!

I'm bringing you another snippet from Bound by Decency today.  I hope you enjoy this little repartee between the quartermaster and our heroine!


Caught off guard, she forgot all the reasons she shouldn’t want Drake to know that Cain’s whereabouts concerned her. Her mouth dropped open in stunned surprise.

Smirking, Drake placed a finger beneath her chin and gently closed her jaw. “That look resembles a fish out of water. Shall we pitch you over to wet your gills?”

Heat raced to her cheeks.


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Welcome everyone!  I'd like to bring you another scrumptious fantasy story today!  Please welcome S.A. Bolich!

by S.A. BolichPublisher: Sky Warrior Books
ISBN: 978-0615592916

What do you suppose that fire thinks about as it cooks your dinner behind its cage of containment stone? Jetta ak'Kal knows—but no one listens to a Firedancer who has failed to protect her assigned village from an assault by living flame.

The Ancient, the strange, elemental fire imprisoned at the heart of the world, took her lifemate, her reputation as the most talented Dancer of her generation, and nearly her life. Now her clan demands she redeem herself, yet seem strangely indifferent to her insistence that the Dance itself that has always bound the Ancient seems to be failing. Assigned to Annam, a village with no previous experience of fire, Jetta and her new partner, Settak, find themselves battling the naive ignorance of the villagers, the hostility of arrogant Windriders whose mastery of air could kill them both with the flick of a finger, and occasionally each other as they struggle to find new and more powerful forms of the Dance.

Pursued by fire crawling up through every crack, by a new love she does not want, and a nagging suspicion that there is more to her assignment than her clan bothered to tell her, Jetta must forge unprecedented alliances in this high and beautiful place before the Ancient breaks free—for if it does, there will no longer be anything left to fight for.

S.A. is here today to talk about the inspiration behind Firedancer.  Please give her a warm welcome!

Everything is Real (Or Not): Inside Masters of the Elements

I love reading and writing fantasy because the possibilities really are endless. There is no limit to the imagination, and the people who read fantasy seem to have an endless acceptance for new branches of the genre. We all have our favorites, from swords and sorcery to urban fantasy, but there’s always room for something new.

That something new is usually borne of some writer’s personal passion for...something, be it funky machines in Victorian settings (steampunk) to a determination to prove that there are no heroes or villains in the world, only people (George R. R. Martin). In my case, I’m an outdoor sort of girl. I grew up on a working farm; I’ve had horses all my life; and I currently live on and maintain 20 acres, with two horses, a huge dog, and four cats. Mother Nature, with all of her beauty and possibility, snarky indifference to your wishes and outright discomfort, lives on nearly every page I write.

I suppose, therefore, it was natural I would write a series like the Masters of the Elements, where Earth Mother’s troublesome children—Fire, Wind, and Water—run rampant, driving all the action. Just last night I sat out on my deck and watched 360° of thunderstorms raging around my house—until the hail and rain started dumping overhead! Nature is awesome, and fills my eyes, ears, nose, and caresses my skin daily. It is hard for me to imagine that the elements would NOT be alive, going about their business, largely ignoring us puny mortals.

I don’t actually remember where the idea for Firedancer came from, though I suspect, looking back, that the first line “This fire was malicious,” may have popped into my head directly after I had to beat out a small grass fire with a towel, the only weapon to hand (I had just washed my hair and wandered outside). With the wind blowing and skipping it ahead of me, it did seem malicious, and frightful, and for a few horrid minutes I pictured my house and the woods and all going up. But it didn’t. And somehow Jetta was born, my heroine who dances a deadly dance with Old Man Fire whenever it tries to poke its head up to destroy her world. Fire dances (and crackles and spits and roars), so why wouldn’t a dance be the magical element that would contain it, movement for movement?

When my publisher asked me to extend this standalone novel out into a series, I was both scared and exhilarated (often the same thing!). It meant I got to explore the other elements from the inside, and so Windrider was born, and I got to spend a lot of time just listening to the voices of the wind blowing around my house. There are so many! I had never guessed that Windriders sing to her...but they do.

And now, pardon me, but I need to go down to the lake and dabble my toes in the water and listen to the quiet lap and chuckle and imagine how Water is going to affect my characters in Seaborn. I looove being a writer!

What inspires you? What new genre would you invent?

Fire rose that night. Jetta jerked awake to a deep booming horn shivering the glass in the windows and Nuurn's voice shouting, "Fire, Jetta ak'Kal! Fire at the storehouses!"

She scrambled out of bed, throwing a harried look out the window. She could not see the fire but she saw a glow, the size of which turned her stomach to knots. Ruthlessly she suppressed it and charged down the hill. Clouds had rolled in since sunset; it was black as the inside of Wind Point between the houses, forcing Jetta to slow down on the uneven streets. Then a huge shadow loomed out of the night and Rununn said breathlessly, "Follow me, ak'Kal!"

His great hand caught hers and tugged; she followed, trusting his night vision as he wove around hummocks and ruts. Her feet were wet and numb from the chill dew on the ankle-deep grass by the time they dashed over the slight rise and came to the first of the storehouses. Delvers with shovels, with buckets and picks, some half dressed, others barefoot, milled around between her and the fire, determined to catch any spark.

"Let me through!" she shouted, pounding both fists on the first broad back. Rununn cleared a path with indelicate shoves of a broad shoulder and many a, "Pardon, master. Please step aside." that would have set Jetta giggling at any other time. One Delver turned with a sharp, angry protest, planting himself in Rununn's path. Jetta almost shrieked at sight of Burrood.

"Remember yourself, a'Kam!" he snapped at Rununn.


Jetta, trapped amid a towering forest of giant Delver bodies, lost all diplomacy. "Move!" she screamed at Burrood. "The fire--"

Burrood opened his mouth, but what he might have said, Jetta never found out. Rununn wrapped both strong young arms around the older Delver and simply lifted him out of the way, his face averted from Burrood's astonished outrage. Jetta darted through that convenient hole and halted, appalled.

Not one, but three separate fires burned on the road and in the spring grass on the uphill verge. Settak faced the largest, an inferno in the middle of the road roaring shoulder high with a yellow-white core. The other two were spinning threads into the damp and verdant grass, finding it tough going but racing to combine arms of knee-high reddish flame.

"Dancer, what do we do?" a panicked Delver shouted at her.

Jetta gathered her wits. "Clear a line around those two!" She pointed at the lesser fires, which would not spread quickly in that lush grass. "And stay back!"

She ran to join Settak. Outmatched, still he bravely stood his ground. As she came up beside him he thrust his hands out in the move that had worked so well yesterday. The fire shied back but none of its flickering branches sank or died. Jetta saw the failure hit him like a blow to the gut and shouted, "Show no fear, Dancer! Take position on the other side!"

He turned his head and saw her. Relief washed into his face. He nodded and spun away, terrified but still game. Jetta stepped instinctively into the Dance, straight to the fifth movement.

No retreat.

The fire roared at her, malicious to its core. She felt its hostility as she had felt it at Firehome, at Setham. Heat blasted toward her and recoiled; she saw it withering the grass even where fire had not yet taken hold. Sweat glistened on Delver faces at the edge of the light. She set them from her mind, concentrating on the ground underfoot, reaching for the pulsing power under Earth Mother's skin. She planted both feet in the dying heat of ruined grass, uncomfortably warm for a terrifying, endless instant in which she could not feel the run of the fire even with it towering in front of her. And then it came, the sweet, staggering relief of the Dance connecting her to...everything. Everything worth protecting.

The heat faded. The searing brightness dimmed as the air seemed to thicken into a shield around her. The acrid bite of smoke and scorched grass no longer afflicted her nose. Jetta scarcely noticed, for the center of the fire faded to palest yellow and then to white, and a hysth burned there, cunning vanguard of the Ancient, defying the Dance, the Mother. Her. Jetta set her jaw and began to dance.

The hysth roared at her, divided itself and tried to advance on her flanks; she stopped it with an improbable leap and twist that took her level with shocked Delver eyes. On the edge of her awareness danced Settak in brief glimpses of random movements, out of step with her own, disconnected, though she saw that somehow he was keeping the fire from spreading on his side. He was not Kori; she could not expect his efforts to lock smoothly with hers, but still it distracted her on levels she barely sensed save in tiny jolts to the smooth flow of the energy pouring through her.

Then a malevolent intelligence assaulted her, a driving need deep underground. The Ancient. The hysth lunged at her, breaking out of its circle to attack the ground at her feet, burning downward, striving to dump her into the arms of the Ancient. Dimly she heard Settak's frenzied "Jetta!"...

Need More?  Purchase Here:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords
About The Author:
S. A. Bolich is a full-time freelancer who writes on a wide range of topics ranging from travel to horses to web design—and of course, fantasy and science fiction. A native of Washington state, she resides there again after serving six years in Germany as an army military intelligence officer. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years. She is also a lifelong horsewoman and shares her knowledge in the popular "Horses in Fiction" blog series at blog.sabolichbooks.com, in which she helps writers keep their equines from falling into the trap of Hollywood clichés.

Her first novel, Firedancer, Book 1 of the Masters of the Elements series, was released in September 2011 by Sky Warrior Books, with Book 2, Windrider, appearing in May 2012. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, and many other print magazines and ezines, as well as the steampunk anthology Gears and Levers 1, the military SF anthology Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, and the wolf-themed fantasy collection, Wolfsongs 2. Currently she is working on Seaborn, Book 3 of Masters of the Elements.

Get in touch with her here:  Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter as: @sabolichwrites


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Good morning everyone!

One small note of business real quick, before we get to meet the fabulous author who's visiting today.  The Lie To Me tour continues today at Novel Reflections.

Today I'm very pleased to bring you Mal Olsen, another author who shares one of my publishing houses, The Wild Rose Press.  Mal is on tour with her new release, Shadow of Deceit.

Shadow of Deceit

Can an FBI agent obsessed with redemption and a grieving widow desperate to clear her husband's name learn to believe in love again?

Shannon Riedel faces down danger when a gunman breaks into her office claiming her dead husband swindled him. When FBI agent Tony Crazaniak arrives to investigate, sexual heat sizzles. The ex-Delta Force operative's massive presence and dark eyes trigger an attraction the young widow finds unnerving.

When Crazaniak convinces Shannon she needs his protection, they partner to unearth secrets her husband left behind--secrets involving a Tanzanian mine that yields perfect blue diamonds coveted by dealers around the world--secrets connected to a terrorist leader Crazaniak has vowed to take down.

With danger surrounding them, two emotionally wounded souls bond, but can they put their demons to rest and trust in love? Can they survive long enough to find out?

I got the chance to sit down and talk with Mal for a little bit, about the book, about herself.  Here's what she had to say!

M.O. Let me say before we get to the questions, that is wonderful to be here today, Claire. So nice of you to invite me. And, readers, be sure to join in with any questions or comments you may have. One lucky commenter will win a $20.00 Amazon gift certificate at the end of my Sizzling Hot Blog Tour.

You're most welcome -- it's great to have you here!
So briefly take us on the journey with you -- when did you start writing?

M.O. I've written since grade school, but didn't think to try writing a full-length novel until I was an empty nester.

Shadow of Deceit is obviously a romantic suspense.  Do you write in any other genres?

M.O. Romantic suspense has always been my genre of choice. The only thing better than reading an RS novel is writing one. It's been a long time coming—the accomplishment of actually having a publisher take me on, which only goes to prove, as with anything you really want, never give up

Totally agreed!  Is that the only genre you read, Mal?

M.O. As I said above, romantic suspense is where it's at for me—most of the time. But I do enjoy reading contemporary romance, thrillers, action adventure, any kind of suspense, especially anything written by Gregg Hurwitz, Suzanne Brockmann, Linda Howard (and many more. Contrarily, one of my favorite books is The Prince of Val Feyridge by Helen Johannes (listed as a fantasy because of the time period in which it takes place) I love this book because of the very fresh and beautiful way it's written.

So real quick, where can readers pick up Shadow of Deceit.  This is your first novel, correct? 
M.O. Shadow of Deceit is my debut novel. It is available in paperback and ebook at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon, as well as at most ebook retailers.

Could you give us a hint at what might be coming down the pipe next?
M.O. I'm offering two free short stories. Danger Zone featuring one of the characters from Shadow of Deceit, which is available on my website, at amazon.com and most ebook retailers. And a contemporary romantic short story with a canine twist, Me and Brad, is also available at all of the above places.

Coming soon, look for another RS novel: Too Sexy for His Stetson. A rookie deputy and her training officer try to stay focused on business--the white supremacist gang that's threatening their Idaho mountain community--while fighting the forbidden attraction that sparks between them

Oooh that sounds very interesting! 

Let's talk about Shadow of Deceit for a bit.  Where did the idea stem from--could you tell us a little about your plot development?
M.O. I have rewritten Shadow of Deceit so many times, I'm not sure what sparked the original plot, but a snowy Wisconsin winterscape, along with the idea of a terrorist threat, and two emotionally wounded souls—Shannon Riedel and Tony Crazaniak—who must stop the threat while facing their personal demons was always the skeleton for my plot.

My most unique research project was the County Sheriff's Citizen's Academy coarse, where I tried my hand at target shooting with a Glock 22, participated in scenario training, visited the country jail, the morgue, the court house and judge's chambers, and watched demonstrations from the SWAT team, the Dive Team, the K-9 unit. Sessions were also presented by the drug enforcement division, the patrol division, and the detective bureau. The entire course was filled with invaluable, hands-on, in your face, adrenaline pumping experiences that helped this writer breathe authenticity into the lungs of the law enforcers who live between the covers of my books.

I'm so jealous you got to do all that!  How fun.  Tell your county to talk to mine, please.
Okie dokie, Mr. Tony -- does he have any secrets that he hasn't shared with us yet?
M.O. Tony Crazaniak hasn't revealed any secrets to me that I have not relayed to my readers.

What's one thing about Tony that makes your heart melt?

M.O. Tony Craziank makes my heart go pitter-pat because he's hard as granite tough, yet human enough to be afraid of exposing his demons. Strong yet vulnerable.

If he doesn't have a pet in Shadow of Deceit, what sort of pet would best suit Tony?

M.O. Tony puts up with Shannon's cat, but his choice of a pet would be a dog.

Speaking of Shannon--all people have faults.  Some are endearing, some not so much.  What is Shannon's greatest fault?
M.O. Shannon's greatest fault is also her greatest weakness. She's loyal to a fault. She never gives up on believing the best about her friends and those she loves. Sometimes it proves to be an admirable quality, and sometimes it leads her astray.

What is one thing that Shannon provides to Tony?

M.O. Because she learns to forgive herself, she's able to show Crazaniak how to do the same.

If Shannon were your daughter, what advice would you give her upon meeting Tony?
M.O. If Shannon Riedel were my daughter, when she first's meet Tony Crazaniak, I'd tell her to trust him.

Without spoiling anything, what would we see if we peeked in on Shannon and Tony in ten years?
M.O. Ten years from now, I predict you will find Shannon and Tony still very much in love, very happy, living in Wisconsin, and enjoying the roles of dotting parents to their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.

Well, let's take a peek at them now!


Traffic came to a standstill.

She sat, stalled, her heart pummeling like prey snagged in an icy hunter’s trap.

Someone knocked on her window. Heart in her throat, every muscle in her body tensed as she jerked her head toward the passenger side and looked through frosted glass into the face of Special Agent Tony Crazaniak.

Relief uncoiled the knot in her stomach. She’d never been so happy to see anyone in her life. She unlocked the door, and he opened it.

“Jesus, what the hell was that all about?” He dipped his head and plunked a snow-clogged foot onto the floor mat as he grabbed her bags and tossed them over the seat.

“I don’t know, and I wasn’t sticking around to find out.”

Cramming six-foot-plus of man into her Porsche was like stuffing two hundred pounds of prime beef into a picnic cooler. But he managed not only to squeeze in and make himself comfortable, he took charge. “Traffic’s moving, go!”

She eased the accelerator, launching forward into an ice-jammed gridlock of traffic crawling west.

“You want to tell me what’s going on?” His shoulder brushed against hers when he shifted in the seat.

“I would if I had the slightest clue.”

His heat made her nerve endings prickle. And as far as telling him what was going on? The “would if I could” may not have been the entire truth, but it was close enough. Besides, she didn’t want to tell him anything. Yet. What did she actually know?

Snow bunched on the windshield as the wiper blades plowed through thick gruel, as her brain churned, as she tried to come up with an answer the FBI operative would buy. “Obviously someone’s after me.”

Available at THE WILD ROSE PRESS, AMAZON.COM, and Most E-Book Retailers

Mal, I have a few more questions for you before you run off. 

Do you have goals yet to meet?
M.O.  My goal is to speed up my writing process so I can complete at least one book a year, so I guess I'll never run out of goals.

What is the most difficult part of being an author?
M.O. I'm finding the most difficult part of being an author, is that once you're published, there's so much to do with promotion that eats into writing time.

Laugh, tell me about it!  With a release coming every month for the last 5 and the next 5... I am struggling to find time to write.

So what's the hardest part of writing a book for you?M.O. Writing a book is a lot of work. It's balancing a hundred balls at once. If I had to pick the single hardest part of writing a novel for me, I'd say plotting, that is plotting cleverly to come up with a suspense story without any holes.

I can relate to that too.

Thank you so much for coming by today, Mal, and I wish you the best of luck with Shadow of Deceit!
More About Mal Olson

Mal Olson writes adrenaline-kicked romantic suspense. When her consuming passion for writing allows time, she enjoys reading, flower gardening, jamming with friends on her mountain dulcimer, and hiking in the Kettle Moraine Forest. She has three grown children and one grand-daughter and resides with her own special hero in southeast Wisconsin where she juggles writing time with her free-lance landscape design business.

Connect with her at her Website.


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Hi everybody!

So our usual order of business this morning is the Lie to Me book tour.  Drop in at the gorgeous Romantic Crush Junkies blog today and learn some more about me, and to quote Smexy books, this "dark, violent, romance".

Next, I have more of Bound by Decency to share with all of you!  If you're just tuning in, I'm sharing the opening chapters up through release day.   You can catch up here:

Bound by Decency, Prologue

Bound by DecencyAugust 1, 2012
After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose -- vengeance.

Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more.

Only this time India's not fighting society. She’s battling a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.

Let's leap in and discover what happened to Cain after his sentencing!


~ 1 ~

Off The Coast of Brighthelmstone, Britain
May, 1717

The dinghy approached, a dark shroud against an even darker sky. Shadowy oars broke through the surface in unison, then dipped beneath to propel precious cargo forward. Over the hushed lap of high tide against The Kraken’s bow, a coarse masculine, “’Eeave!” marked time with the steady rise and fall.

One bare foot propped on a wooden crate, Cain squinted over the rail. His gaze fastened on the figure huddled in the dinghy’s rear. In the mark of ten more strong pulls, she would stand before him, and the blanket that cloaked her head from the light pelt of rain would fall away. All the beauty in the world couldn’t stop the roil of his stomach or the bile that rose in his throat. Princess or hag, she meant one thing and one thing alone. Retribution.

“The men, they’d trade their casks for a taste of that fair piece, Cain, be she fair or not.”

Cain slid his scowl to his quartermaster. “There’ll be none of that.” If there was, it would be his for the taking. She was, after all, his prize. Still, though he intended to ruin her, he did not mean in the physical sense. Nor would he subject a lady, no matter who she allied herself with, to the sexual appetites of a hold’s worth of men.

Humor danced in Drake’s dark eyes and lifted one corner of his mouth. He quickly covered his smirk with the back of his hand and looked to the approaching boat. His mouth twitched yet again as he gave Cain a sideways glance. “You bear the stain of decency. Gone soft, I say. As do your shabby mates. What with bringin’ a woman aboard, an’ the like. She should be enjoyed as she was designed to be.”

“Clamp your tongue behind your teeth, Drake, else I’ll fill your backside with lead.”

Cain groaned inwardly. Of all the fates—why must Drake be the one to have discovered his confinement in The Battery? Idiocy had persuaded him to accept Drake as quartermaster. That was all it could be. Surely, sheer desperation couldn’t have driven him to such. He couldn’t have been so grateful that he’d asked this scoundrel to sign aboard The Kraken.

Nine days he’d spent in The Battery. He had accepted death. Come to terms with his maker. If it hadn’t been for Drake’s orchestrated escape, nor his skill with word and sword that freed The Kraken, Cain wouldn’t have to put up with the rogue’s infernal presence. Yet Drake had, and though he had always stirred Cain’s ire, Drake was one of few seamen who would accept a woman on board. He, and the majority of men he had just insulted—a wily crew, more loyal to Drake than any group of mates Cain had sailed with in sixteen years at sea. It was only through allegiance to the intolerable rascal that they agreed to sail under Cain.

Drake’s low laughter rumbled beside Cain. “I should like to see you try. You best keep the woman close, lest she knows how to swing a sword.”

Cain dug his hands into the rail. While Drake’s commandeered crew had more than passing experience with a woman on the decks, the woman’s safety was a very real concern. He wouldn’t abide by bodily abuse. He gave Drake a hard look. “I might have led a decent life these last two years, but I haven’t forgotten the ways of the fellowship. Tell your crew they will have their riches. Remind them they sail for Cain.”

He looked back to the dinghy, counting the strokes that would bring her to the ladder on the larboard side. Not so very long ago, his name would have struck fear in the hearts of the strongest men. With the exception of Drake, and a few others Cain loosely considered friends, no one had been safe from his guns or exempt from his will. He wore so much blood on his hands he couldn’t begin to wash the stain away. Oh, how he’d loved the freedom of the sea.

Yet he had surrendered the rum, the gold, the women, and the thrill of running from the Royal Navy for a chance at legitimate wealth and decency. For a while, he found it as Teddy. No more sleeping with a pistol, no more wondering whether morning would be his last. But all that changed with Richard’s betrayal. He was Cain once more. Bound to the sea. Forever chained to her whimsical will. And while he knew he would die in her watery arms, he wouldn’t run from what he was—a ruthless man who took what he wanted and spared no innocent foolish enough to cross his path.

An infamous reputation he was counting on tonight.

The dinghy bumped against The Kraken’s hull. As the seamen below guided the woman up the ladder, Cain pushed off the rail to face the shipboard crew. “Take up the anchor! Hands to halyards, lively now! Prepare to get her underwater!”

On his sharp bark, the crew sprung to life. They clambered to the lines, shouting calls to men further aft. The ruckus was comforting, a subtle energy that soothed Cain’s agitated soul. He’d captured his prize, and the thrill of victory thrummed in his veins.

Anxious to be far from the British shore, he turned to greet his captive.

At a seaman’s none-too-gentle shove, she stumbled forward, and Cain reflexively caught her elbow to stop her fall.

“Take your hands off me.” She jerked her arm away with so much ferocity she stumbled once again. The soggy blanket covering her head tumbled loose. Raven hair framed an angelic face and dripped over slight shoulders. In defiance, she lifted her head, narrowing the brightest blue eyes Cain had ever seen.

For a moment, he could do nothing more than stare. Richard had said his intended was lovely, but somehow, Cain had never pictured her as a beauty. Yet now, as she stood before him, her chest heaving with indignation and her hair a sopping mess, he realized Richard had once again played him false. India Prescott wasn’t merely lovely. She was breathtaking.

“What in the name of Mary do you think you’re doing?” she snapped. “My father will see you hang for this.”

Her sharp tongue yanked Cain out of his stupor. He collected himself quickly, and for the first time since his arrest, gave into a broad grin. “Indeed, he will have to get in line.”

India’s eyes widened a fraction, but anger drew delicate brows downward, and those sky-blue eyes narrowed. “I see no amusement in this. Do you have any idea who I am?”

As a rumble of laughter broke through the men within earshot, Cain’s humor subsided. His smile faded, and he reached out to twine a thick lock of her hair around his finger. Turning his wrist, he wrapped the silken length around his hand, slowly bringing her closer. So close that the wet fabric straining across her breasts dampened his shirt. The heat of her skin grazed his. “I know well who you are, Miss Prescott.” He ran the back of his free hand across her dainty collar bone, over the slope of her shoulder, then lifted it to draw his thumb across her parted lips. The audible catch of her breath ricocheted through him. So she was not unaffected by him. Good. He could use it to his advantage.

His gaze held hers. A flicker of fear passed behind her eyes, but to her credit, she didn’t shrink away. She stood straight and proud, even as she shivered in the stirring breeze. Courage Cain didn’t often encounter from the gentle-born. God’s teeth, men far stronger and larger than she didn’t hesitate to grovel at his feet. Yet she, no bigger than a lark, defied him with stubborn silence.


To drive her subservient position as his captive home, he tightened his hold on her hair until she winced. Leaning forward, he lowered his mouth to her ear. “You are the daughter of a powerful man and presently my prisoner, to do with as I will.” Stepping back, he untwined his hand and smirked.

India’s palm cracked across his cheek. “Rot in hell!”

A slow burn spread through the side of Cain’s face. He resisted the urge to rub it away. How interesting. She did not burst into tears and simper for her virtue as many of the proper women he knew would have. India fought back, refusing to yield despite her certain knowledge that he held her life in his hands.

Respect stirred in some deep portion of his soul. Cain choked it down with the reminder that she wasn’t just any woman. She belonged to Richard. She knew where the cowardly bastard hid. Likely, she already knew why she was here.

He folded his arms across his chest and pinned her with a frown. “Since you cannot seem to grasp your circumstances, Miss Prescott, allow me to enlighten you. I am Cain. And it amuses me greatly that you will lead the man you love to his death.”


India’s blood turned cold. Cain. She had struck Cain. Not just any thieving pirate, but the very bane of the sea. He’d schooled under Henry Jennings. Rumor had it he held close acquaintance with the vile Blackbeard. She’d been pulled from her bed to stand before the devil himself.

All because Richard couldn’t tolerate the loss of a few thousand pounds. Damn him.

She swallowed hard and summoned the anger that had taken fear’s place the instant the open carriage that brought her here sloshed mud into her lap. She would not cower. Cain didn’t deserve that kind of power. He was a bastard of bastards, a cold calculating killer.

Yet she wasn’t a fool, and she quickly reined in her outrage. She had no desire for an early death. Provoking him would only guarantee such.

Careful to keep the fury from her throat, she replied, “If you think I’ll lead him to you, you are mistaken. I have no idea where he is.”

Cain’s expression hardened. “You’ll have plenty of time to remember.” He nodded to the man at his side and thrust a key into his hand. “Take her to my cabin, Drake. Lock her in.” As if she were no more significant than scrap of trash, Cain disappeared down the deck without a backward glance.

On the heels of his retreat, one solitary word sank into India’s head—Drake. She slowly turned to look at the man he left behind. He wore no bandana as Cain had, and long dark hair shadowed hawk-like features. Slightly taller than Cain, yet equally broad of shoulder, his presence would have been just as intimidating as his reputation—were it not for his broad grin.

Certainly a pirate captain from the legendary Flying Gang wouldn’t grin so. “You aren’t the Dr—”

“Aye, I am.” He took her by the elbow and ushered her down the forecastle steps to the main deck.

She ducked under a yard, dodged a burly man who hauled upon the braces. All around, men hustled at the ropes, a coordinated chaos that somehow managed to come together in uniform. Near the main mast, she caught another glimpse of Cain. Not ten feet away, he leaned against the thick timber, arms crossed over his chest once again. He stared straight at her with a self-satisfied smile.

Pompous ass.

Barely giving India the time to mind her footing against the rain-slicked planks, Drake guided her through a heavy door and into a secluded hall. He didn’t halt his pace, forbade her the opportunity for conversation. Like the captive she was, he thrust her unceremoniously through a door at the end of the corridor and slammed it shut.

The lock scraped into place, heavy and foreboding.

India huddled into her wet blanket to ward off the chill that crept into her bones. Somehow, she’d found herself amidst The Flying Gang. Prisoner to two of the Caribbean’s most feared pirates. First Cain, now Drake. What they were doing sailing together, she couldn’t explain. Why they wanted her held almost as many questions. The only error she’d made was to agree to marry Richard Grey, who had refused to help Cain gain a pardon after Cain stole from the Virginia Maiden. Yet even her betrothal she could fault her father for. He hadn’t given her a choice.

Fear fingered at the base of India’s spine. She shivered and glanced around. A small lamp atop a well-kept desk lit the spacious cabin with faint yellow. Barely enough light to make out a dining table, a comfortable velvet armchair, and a rather imposing bed. She turned from the pile of colorful heavy quilts, embarrassed to stand in a man’s personal chambers. What Cain did there…

She squeezed her eyes shut against the vivid image that surfaced despite her attempts to block it out. Cain’s big, imposing body bare atop the deep crimson quilt. His sun-bronzed skin glistening in the silver moonlight.

India swore beneath her breath. For heaven’s sake, no proper woman would consider what a man did in his bed, let alone what liaisons Cain engaged in. He had kidnapped her. That act would damn her for eternity. She didn’t need her troublesome mind helping her further into the gutters of London.

The ship bobbed on a high swell. Muffled shouts poured through the timbers overhead. Planks creaked, and the vessel jerked forward as the wind caught her many sails. On the nearby table, a crystal decanter rattled in its holding box.

India groaned as the surreal haze of her predicament cleared into hard reality. This wasn’t some dream that would come to an end with morning’s light. Cain, the devil himself, had taken her captive. God only knew how long she might suffer this imprisonment. She could only pray He would see her returned unharmed.

As a woman aboard a pirate ship, that was as likely as the odds she’d meet a mermaid.

She dropped onto the edge of the chair and gazed out the elaborate window. Beyond, the dark sky shifted. Moonlight peeked through thick storm clouds to illuminate the scandalously large bed.

Another sharp dip of the bow, and her stomach rolled. Lord above, not only did ships dictate every aspect of her life, they made her as ill as the plague. She swallowed down the bitter taste of bile and clutched at the chair, determined to keep her body still despite the rollicking motion.

Her last voyage at sea—a brief trip to France, no less—left her bedridden for weeks after. If Cain didn’t satisfy his interest in her soon, she’d turn into a helpless, retching mess.

Pulling in a shallow breath, she steered her thoughts away from the upheaval of her belly. A vision of Cain surfaced. In another setting, he would have been handsome. Against a full head of wild long hair, his light eyes would surely draw attention. But handsome as he might be, she didn’t dare take an inch of him for granted. He stole, he killed, he ravaged. He was every bit the immoral barbarian Richard and her father had described.

Now he stooped to using women as executioner’s bait. He must think her a sniveling coward, if he believed merely kidnapping her would spook her into aiding Richard’s death. While true, she felt no great love for her intended and would have much preferred her father paired her with Richard’s absent partner, Teddy, she’d have no part in murder. Richard might have turned tail and fled to France like a coward, but India would die before she revealed a single hint.

If she were smart, she’d concoct a story about Richard’s whereabouts and gain her freedom. Then again, if Cain chose to keep her aboard while he followed the ruse, once he discovered her duplicity, she’d suffer the same end he planned for Richard. While she’d do about anything to free herself from her unpleasant engagement, she wasn’t prepared to sacrifice her life. Until she could design a plan, she’d be best suited to claim ignorance. Buy time to think things through, look for a way to send word to Richard.

The ship pulled hard to starboard. It pitched downward, raising the stern high. She held her breath, waiting for the inevitable drop.

When it came, India bolted out of her chair and raced across the room. Beside the bed she dropped to her knees before the empty chamber pot. Clutching it with both hands, she held fast as her stomach upturned in one great heave.

Come back next week to read Chapter Two!


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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



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