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Push Me, Pull Me by Vanessa Garden ~ Excerpt + Giveaway

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Push Me, Pull Me by Vanessa Garden
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Since Ruby Milton’s mother committed suicide, she’s forgotten what it’s like to be seventeen.

Saddled with taking care of her toddler brother and alcoholic father, Ruby has no time for fun. She also can’t shake the growing resentment she feels for her mother’s decision, which left her unable to grieve without anger and regret.

Then she meets blue-eyed musician Byron Black, who challenges everything she believes.

Byron refuses to let anyone control his life—or his death. When he left the city behind, he was in search of somewhere where nobody knew his secret. What he didn’t expect was to meet a beautiful redhead whose views conflict so completely with his own. But as their romance deepens, he begins to doubt his choices and decides to return to the city…for one last chance.

When Byron disappears, Ruby will stop at nothing to track him down.

Upon finding Byron, Ruby discovers his devastating secret, and a battle of wills begins. Byron doesn’t want her to know this part of him. He has to deal with it by himself, even though the idea of losing her tears him apart.

Will they be able to see each other through the darkness?

Or should they save their hearts and just let go?

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VanessaA bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not gushing about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her books, Vanessa enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

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Excerpt

“Are you in a lot of pain?” It was a stupid question. My eyes travelled to the front of his shirt.

He pulled back a little, as if to protect his wound from my intrusive gaze.

“I’m fine, Ruby,” he said, but kept his eyes trained on the ceiling, his expression unreadable.

“How long have you had this one for?” I reached out and gently traced my trembling finger along the thin silvery line on his face and neck, moving from his jaw down to his collarbone.

Byron closed his eyes and exhaled raggedly. “A long time. Don’t look at it,” he rasped. “It’s ugly.”

I swallowed thickly and gazed at the fine structure of his face, at the thick lashes resting against his cheekbones and the sensual swell of his lips. “Nothing about you could ever be ugly.”

At my words, Byron opened his eyes and fixed them on me. He gently tugged my arm and waist, rolling me on top of him. He breathed hard from the exertion.

I blushed from being so close to his face and sat up, straddling him, my thighs on either side of his waist.

“You’re so beautiful, Ruby,” Byron whispered, his hands finding my hips.

I shifted slightly, conscious of the growing hardness I could feel beneath me.

Outside, the sky was darkening, but there was just enough light coming in through the window for me to see the look on Byron’s face. I’d never been looked at like this before.

“Come here,” he whispered, sliding his hands from my hips up my lower back, gently pressing me down.

I bent and hovered over him, careful not to apply any pressure to his chest, but Byron wrapped an arm around my waist and slid a hand behind my neck and gently pressed me down so that I could feel every inch of his firm body beneath me. The sensation made my pulse quicken and my heart stutter. A flush, hotter than the recent weather, burned through my veins and heated my body.

Against my neck, Byron’s breath came faster.

Our lips came together, soft and chaste at first, but as soon as our tongues touched the kiss grew deeper and harder. Byron’s hands slid up my back to tangle in my hair while I ran my hand through his.

He moaned softly and suddenly the kiss kicked up a gear. Our hands crossed paths and we entwined our fingers together, briefly, before moving on to touch each other’s bodies, wherever our hands could reach. Every inch of Byron felt hard, whereas, beneath his careful touch, he made me feel soft like I was something delicate and precious. It was exquisite.

I couldn’t get enough of him. I wanted to somehow meld us into one person.

I drew him tight against me and he groaned against my mouth, the sound sending a jolt of excitement to my lower belly, that is, until he stiffened beneath me and pushed me off.

I hadn’t pleasured him, I’d hurt him.

“Are you okay?” I knelt beside him, horrified at what I’d done, my hands hovering over his chest.

Byron remained on his back, his chest rising and falling in short, sharp rasps, his jaw tense, his hands twisting at my bed cover.

“I’m so sorry. Is it bad? What should I do?”

“It’s okay. Don’t be sorry,” he whispered hoarsely, looking away. “It’s not your fault, Ruby. It’s me.”

“I’m the one who crushed you,” I said softly.

He sighed and steadied his breath.

“No. I mean, I shouldn’t be here, doing this…starting something with you…” he met my eyes, “…something that can never really go anywhere.” He exhaled, it sounded harsh and angry. “Remember, I’m leaving soon, Ruby.”

I tied my hair up with the band I kept around my wrist and tried to keep my face neutral so that he couldn’t see how I really felt about him leaving. We’d only just gotten to know each other. I liked the guy. I didn’t want him to leave.

“Is this to do with your music? Because you want to tour? Or because of this…this thing with your parents?”

Byron smiled down at the bedcover, but it was a bittersweet smile. “I wish this was about something as simple as music.”

“Are you in a lot of pain?” It was a stupid question. My eyes travelled to the front of his shirt.

He pulled back a little, as if to protect his wound from my intrusive gaze.

“I’m fine, Ruby,” he said, but kept his eyes trained on the ceiling, his expression unreadable.

“How long have you had this one for?” I reached out and gently traced my trembling finger along the thin silvery line on his face and neck, moving from his jaw down to his collarbone.

Byron closed his eyes and exhaled raggedly. “A long time. Don’t look at it,” he rasped. “It’s ugly.”

I swallowed thickly and gazed at the fine structure of his face, at the thick lashes resting against his cheekbones and the sensual swell of his lips. “Nothing about you could ever be ugly.”

At my words, Byron opened his eyes and fixed them on me. He gently tugged my arm and waist, rolling me on top of him. He breathed hard from the exertion.

I blushed from being so close to his face and sat up, straddling him, my thighs on either side of his waist.

“You’re so beautiful, Ruby,” Byron whispered, his hands finding my hips.

I shifted slightly, conscious of the growing hardness I could feel beneath me.

Outside, the sky was darkening, but there was just enough light coming in through the window for me to see the look on Byron’s face. I’d never been looked at like this before.

“Come here,” he whispered, sliding his hands from my hips up my lower back, gently pressing me down.

I bent and hovered over him, careful not to apply any pressure to his chest, but Byron wrapped an arm around my waist and slid a hand behind my neck and gently pressed me down so that I could feel every inch of his firm body beneath me. The sensation made my pulse quicken and my heart stutter. A flush, hotter than the recent weather, burned through my veins and heated my body.

Against my neck, Byron’s breath came faster.

Our lips came together, soft and chaste at first, but as soon as our tongues touched the kiss grew deeper and harder. Byron’s hands slid up my back to tangle in my hair while I ran my hand through his.

He moaned softly and suddenly the kiss kicked up a gear. Our hands crossed paths and we entwined our fingers together, briefly, before moving on to touch each other’s bodies, wherever our hands could reach. Every inch of Byron felt hard, whereas, beneath his careful touch, he made me feel soft like I was something delicate and precious. It was exquisite.

I couldn’t get enough of him. I wanted to somehow meld us into one person.

I drew him tight against me and he groaned against my mouth, the sound sending a jolt of excitement to my lower belly, that is, until he stiffened beneath me and pushed me off.

I hadn’t pleasured him, I’d hurt him.

“Are you okay?” I knelt beside him, horrified at what I’d done, my hands hovering over his chest.

Byron remained on his back, his chest rising and falling in short, sharp rasps, his jaw tense, his hands twisting at my bed cover.

“I’m so sorry. Is it bad? What should I do?”

“It’s okay. Don’t be sorry,” he whispered hoarsely, looking away. “It’s not your fault, Ruby. It’s me.”

“I’m the one who crushed you,” I said softly.

He sighed and steadied his breath.

“No. I mean, I shouldn’t be here, doing this…starting something with you…” he met my eyes, “…something that can never really go anywhere.” He exhaled, it sounded harsh and angry. “Remember, I’m leaving soon, Ruby.”

I tied my hair up with the band I kept around my wrist and tried to keep my face neutral so that he couldn’t see how I really felt about him leaving. We’d only just gotten to know each other. I liked the guy. I didn’t want him to leave.

“Is this to do with your music? Because you want to tour? Or because of this…this thing with your parents?”

Byron smiled down at the bedcover, but it was a bittersweet smile. “I wish this was about something as simple as music.”

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Click on image (left) to enter the giveaway (INTL) of:

  • Push Me, Pull Me coffee mug filled with heart shaped chocolate and a $10 Amazon gift card.

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Blog Tour: Poisoned Waters -an Excerpt

Book-Cover-Poisoned-WatersPoisoned Waters is set in the 1950s on a trans-Atlantic cruise from Southampton to New York. Helen Gardener is murdered during the voyage. The novel follows the stories of seven unfortunate characters and how they are affected by the death of Helen Gardener. Was it merely an accident? Mr Phillips, the owner of the ship, and sponsor of the cruise, rules with an iron fist, in search of something or someone.

Lies spiral out of control as the suspects try to survive the final days on board. Conflicted by their sense of morals, greed, and lust, they realise what kind of people they really are. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who was Helen’s murderer?

This is the first chapter to, Poisoned Waters.

“I trust everyone. I just don’t trust the devil inside them.”
Troy Kennedy Martin

Chapter 1
Pearl Moon

26th August 1955
Friday Evening

The crystal chandelier of the Diamond Royale’s Grand Hall glistened, showering raindrops of light all over the room. American swing, fast gaining popularity in post-war Europe, filled the air with a festive atmosphere. Passengers aboard the luxury ship bound for New York swayed to the beat of a live band, as they sipped blood-red wine, and savoured the taste of lust on another’s fleshy lips. While most clustered together in fits of giggles and chuckles, Sylvia strayed to the side, with a cigarette between her fingers.

The smoke danced up towards the ceiling as if trying to escape from her crimson lips. The smell of nicotine was pungent and it seeped through the black satin gloves she wore. Sylvia didn’t know why she had bothered to come aboard this cruise; it was full of hot air and nothing more.

The Grand Hall was littered with generals, lords, ladies and other members of the elite. The men whose eyes danced in her direction blubbered with loose and deeply intoxicated smirks. The desire to butt out her cigarette against their pupils grew.

Out from the crowd, a robust man caught her eye. Within seconds, he advanced towards her. Sylvia averted her eyes and took a long drag on the cigarette.

“My sweet pearl, Sylvia,” The man leaned in towards her; his cheek felt like sandpaper and she could smell his abhorrent breath. “Dance with me.”

“Markus, liebling, I still need a drink.”

Sylvia excused herself, hoping her husband would stop bothering her. His thin lips caressed her neck and his thick fingers found her buttocks. She resisted the urge to burn him with the cigarette.

After he pawed her with squeezes, sloppy kisses and German pet names, Markus agreed to fetch drinks. Without avail, Sylvia walked in the opposite direction. She just wanted to escape from her demanding husband for a few minutes. Crossing to the other side of the ship, she flicked the butt away and pulled another out of the case she had nuzzled between her breasts. On edge, Sylvia’s fingertips trembled, struggling with the lighter as the brisk wind made it difficult to light her third cigarette of the night.

“Need help?” A hazy voice with a heavy accent asked from just over her shoulder. His accent was strikingly familiar.

“Ja, alstublieft.” Yes, please. Sylvia responded in Dutch.

The young man’s eyes lit up. He couldn’t have been older than twenty five, nearly two decades younger than her husband. She quickly scanned his fitted suit and steely grey eyes. Taking her cigarette and lighter, he lit her cigarette before handing it back to her.

Extending a hand in thanks, she was taken off guard when he raised her hand to his lips. He held her gaze for longer than necessary as he brushed his lips across the top of her hand.

“Can I help you?” she asked, unnerved.

“May I have this dance?” Before he waited for her reply, he had already pulled her close.

“I am a married woman,” Sylvia pulled her hand away, unsure about his intentions.

“Sylvia!” She barely heard Markus over the music. She twisted out of the young man’s touch to see Markus shoving his way through the crowd towards them, a glass of wine in each hand. The flash of anger she saw upon his face dissolved the moment he turned to the man before her.

“Ah, you have met my beautiful wife, Sylvia Wrinkler. Liebling, this is the new accountant I was telling you about, Mr Jacobus van Tiel.”

Sylvia stared at Jacobus under heavy black lashes. There was something in that man she didn’t like. Everything about his appearance was sharp, rigid and stern, similar to Markus but without the sagging stomach and jowls.

Markus handed her one of the glasses as he sipped from his own. When he lowered the glass, the wine left a dark red sheen on his top lip. Sylvia tried again to excuse herself, feeling uncomfortable. But her husband gripped her wrist and the diamond bracelet she wore bit into her skin like a row of teeth. Her escape thwarted, Sylvia stood still and forced a dazzling smile.

*

Benjamin held open the galley doors as he slid inside with an empty platter. Working as a waiter for the Phillips family, the sinfully wealthy hosts of the cruise, was less than an enjoyable experience. He needed money and this was the first job he was able to achieve that paid him a reasonable salary for the week the cruise lasted. The heat of the kitchen swept over him and he frowned.

“Those honkies don’t stop eating. They’re like pigs,” Mary growled underneath her breath as she passed him by.

Ever since they had met, she had stuck to him like a fly. They shared the same dark chocolate skin and childhood discrimination, but he didn’t share her fierce hatred for the people they were serving. Growing up in London during the 40s meant that he did bear the scars of racism. Many people of both colours had provided him good experiences and subsequently snatched him away from the all-consuming hatred. Colour didn’t matter to him but it did to Mary who spat on their food. That young woman who had barely reached twenty knew a lifetime of obscenities.

Benjamin followed what his mother had told him. He had to keep his head low and try to not attract attention. He had to be grateful for what others gave him and he was trying his best to keep his job, earning his pounds. While at times he felt like reporting Mary, he couldn’t. They were connected whether it be by colour or age or something greater.

Hurriedly arranging more servings of caviar, Benjamin heard someone calling his name. The barmen needed an extra and Benjamin begrudgingly agreed, hoping he wouldn’t lose his break. While he was serving wine, spirits, and beer he noticed the mass of people congealing together. Several men were gobbling their appetisers, licking their thick fingers, and grinning with oily lips.

Benjamin tried to stay as invisible as possible. He served the customers with a soft voice and shy nods. A man in his forties arrived at the bar demanding two glasses of their finest wine.

Without hesitation, Benjamin prepared the drinks, but as he put away the wine bottle it knocked over one of the glasses. The sound of smashing glass pierced Benjamin’s ears and he cringed with the expectation of a beating. The flustered barman came over, prepared the second glass, and took it over to the middle-aged man, who, in the midst of the loud band, hadn’t heard the accident.

“How long can it take?” the man groaned, his German accent clouded his words. “You’re all pathetic. I don’t know why they bothered hiring you people.”

The German man walked off, leaving no tip, but instead a twisted smirk. Benjamin’s heart fluttered. It wasn’t the middle-aged man who had caught his attention, but the woman he was advancing towards. His eyes lit up, the weight on his heart lessened and fleetingly he smiled. She was beautiful, her snow white skin glistened and honey-gold hair cascaded down her back. He wondered how sweet she would taste.

*

Harold massaged his aching fingers. His British companions shared clever puns over their glasses, chuckling. The occasional spray of saliva was also shared. Harold sipped from his own drink but had not achieved the level of drunkenness his colleagues were currently at. On top of having a high tolerance for alcohol, Harold always seemed to either give up paying for expensive drinks or was unable to stomach much more than a few glasses.

The friends spoke in barely coherent babbles of what was once the reputable English language. He had studied with them at the same stuffy university; business had been their chosen area before they all diverged into specific streams. Their current usage of language suggested they hadn’t even completed their high school education. The stench of cigarettes and alcohol was suffocating him.

Taking his turn to leave, Harold moved off into a different direction. His old colleagues had barely noticed him leave. The moment he had detached himself from them he felt much more relieved. The loud noise was deafening and rather than degrade his senses he drifted to the doors that would lead him outside. A young waitress with a stony expression took his glass.

The doors were opened for him by the young boys who stood by. Harold gave them respectful nods which they returned. The wind bit at his neck and shaven face while tousling his dark blonde hair. His emerald eyes were squinted in protection against the wind. Harold moved out onto the deck of the cruise ship and touched the railing. It was so cold that he retracted as if he had touched something hot. The chilling weather outside was causing him to shiver and shake. Was there a storm coming?

He was still young, merely thirty, and yet he was acting and feeling like he was eighty. Wasn’t that the age when you left parties early, lost interest in getting intoxicated, and your muscles ached? Wasn’t eighty the age when you were meant to be widowed?

Trying to restrain the burning tears streaking his eyes he looked over the side of the ship. It was difficult to do so, the floor was slippery. He caught a glimpse of the heaving black waters that the boat sailed upon. Harold turned around, resting his sore back against the railing, catching his breath. It was hard to breathe out in this weather and the penetrating winds were only growing stronger.

A shadow scattered across his vision. As soon as he raised his gaze, tears leaked from the red rims of his eyes. “Harold,” her familiar voice cooed.

“Be gone!” he yelled, shutting his lids tightly. These phantoms that haunted him showed no mercy. They sunk their teeth into his fleshy mind when Harold least expected it. The tender caresses of his wife brushed past his cheek. Harold’s hands aggressively pushed it away, only to encounter nothing but air.

Slam! He felt the cool floor smack hard against his tailbone. The floor polished with an icy sheet had been pulled out from under him. The pain that shot through his body expressed itself through miserable groans from his chattering lips. Harold let his body lull; the back of his head hit the ground. His eyes drifted to the brightly spotted sky.

The sound of pleasurable sighs and sloppy kisses broke the silent night. A couple who thought they were alone found somewhere to hide on the abandoned deck of the cruise ship. Giggles erupted from the woman. Husky groans echoed from the man. Rather than torturing himself further, Harold closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see their sublime experience. He wallowed in his own self-pity.­­

Heat from the love made by the couple did little to extinguish the cold that was penetrating Harold’s suit. When Harold raised his hand to the back of his head he felt something warm and sticky. Hushed moans continued to be heard, not far from him. It was hard to see in the darkness. Darkness was encroaching on his vision.

Before he had another moment to consider his actions, a shriek pierced the night air. The scream was not one heard in the middle of making love but one that burst through a woman’s lungs in fear and pain. Harold scrambled to his feet, trying to place the location of the scream. He knew it wasn’t from the couple he had been eavesdropping on. The sound came from a different direction.

The dark, gloomy deck of the ship tilted dangerously. Harold grasped onto the railing but felt his feet gave way. Harold stumbled toward the location of the scream that had sliced his mind like a knife. The back of his head throbbed. Why couldn’t he hear the sound of footsteps? Why weren’t there lights on?

“Help! She needs help!” Harold tried to yell but only managed to whisper. His vision blurred before everything went black.

– end excerpt –bannerblogtour copy

This post has been part of the Poisoned Waters Blog Tour. Poisoned Waters is a thrilling mystery set on a trans-Atlantic cruise where a murderer walks amongst passengers.

preview on Amazongoodreadsmark copy

Twelve Months: An Excerpt

I was approached a few weeks ago to possibly review this book but due to my ever tightening schedule, I have had to decline the pleasure however seeing how interesting it is, I thought to share the book with you all and Stephen Manchester has agreed for me to share an excerpt.  So, without further ado, let me introduce to you… Twelve Months.

Don DiMarco has a very good life– a family he loves, a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests thatkeep him amused. He also thought he had time, but that turned out not tobe the case. Faced with news that might have immediately felled most, Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close the circle on some of his most aching unresolved relationships. Summoning an inner strength he barely realized he possessed,Don sets off to prove that twelve months is time enough to live a life in full.

A glorious celebration of each and every moment that we’re givenhere on Earth, as well as the eternal bonds that we all share, TwelveMonths is a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit.

Excerpt

Though there were empty tables up front, Vic escorted Bella and me to a darkened back room where no one else was seated. The table sat in the center of the room and was very nicely decorated. I could tell by Bella’s face that it seemed peculiar to her. As we took our seats, Vic lit a candle. “I’ll be right back,” he said.

Bella started to question it, but I shrugged it off. “There must have been reservations for the other tables up front?” I suggested.

She nodded, and then noticed a man seated on a stool a few tables over. He was holding a guitar and squinting at some sheet music.

He looked over and smiled. “I hope you guys don’t mind, but I’m trying out tonight for a weekend gig at this place.”

“Oh, that’s great,” Bella said, with no idea Gary had already landed the job.

“Not a problem,” I added, acting as though I’d never spoken to the man. And through an acoustic set of love ballads, Gary was just as convincing.

Bella had no idea but the order had already been carefully spelled out – drinks first, Pinot Grigio for her; beer for me, and the itinerary would begin. Vic approached with both drinks on a small round tray. “Appetizers tonight?” he asked.

I smiled. “Why don’t we start with an order of little necks in garlic and oil?”

Vic nodded once and headed for the kitchen, while Gary swooned, “You say it best when you say nothing at all…”

Bella leaned into my ear and whispered, “How did he know I wanted white wine?”

I was into my second shrug when Vic returned to the table with a gorgeous arrangement of long stem red roses. Without a word, he placed them in front of Bella and rotated the vase until the card faced her. “Your appetizer should be out in a few minutes,” he said and strutted away again.

Gary was already on his second number when Bella plucked the card from the arrangement. It read: “Bella, I love you, forever – Don.” She looked up to find the entire restaurant staring at us.

“And always will,” I whispered when she leaned over and kissed me.

After the steaming appetizer and another round of drinks, Vic placed a silver platter before my glowing wife. It held a scrolled sheet of parchment secured by red ribbon. She looked up at him, but he never let on. She glanced over at me. “What…”

“Open it,” I said, while Gary strummed away in the background.

She did. It was the one thing she’d always wanted from me, but had never gotten – until now.

Moments of Destiny

From the moment I met you,

I knew there was a fire between us

that even hard, driving rain could never put out.

From the moment we spoke,

I knew I’d spent my entire life

in search of your deep and passionate love.

From the moment we kissed,

I knew my heart was no longer mine

and I’d finally found my future.

From the moment we laughed,

I knew there would never be enough time

to share all the things I needed to share with you.

From the moment we danced,

I knew, at last, what the phrase ‘better half’ meant

and surrendered to your gentle touch.

From the moment we walked hand-in-hand,

I knew I’d discovered my partner

and that my dreams were suddenly within reach.

From the moment we lay together,

I knew I’d made it to heaven

and thanked God for blessing me with you.

From the moment you agreed to be my wife,

I knew my journey was now worth taking,

through days of sunshine –

or nights of hard, driving rain.

As her watering eyes read the final verse, the musician stopped playing, the restaurant went silent and I went down to one knee. I opened the ring box. “Isabella,” I said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you be my wife…again?”

She never hesitated and dove into my arms. For a while, we just hugged.

“I love you so much,” she cried into my shoulder.

“I know,” I said. “But…”

She pushed away from me and looked into my eyes. “But what?”

“But I need your answer?” I said, grinning.

“Yes…the answer is YES!” she gasped and jumped back into my arms.

The crowd shared a collective sigh, and everyone was clapping when Bella and I returned to reality. It took a few moments before each table returned to its own conversation and half-eaten meals.

Chuckling, I introduced my beautiful wife to Gary, the musician. As they shook hands, Gary admitted, “I was so nervous.”

I bought the man a beer when Vic delivered two previously ordered dinners to our table. Though Bella couldn’t touch hers, I ate and listened to Gary fill the room with a soothing melody. By the time the chocolate covered strawberries arrived for dessert, Bella was emotionally spent. She grabbed me once more for a kiss. “This has been the perfect night,” she whispered.

“And for all these years…you’ve been the perfect wife, my dear.”

As we left the restaurant, another round of applause carried us to the front door. I opened it for my new fiancé – only to discover a white stretch limousine idling at the curb. She quickly turned to me. “It’s not over?”

I shook my head. “It’ll never be over for us.” As we made our way to the limo, waves of nausea threatened to drown me. This is Bella’s perfect night, I told myself, our perfect night. Whatever you do…do not throw up now!

About Author

StevenManchester is the published author of Pressed Pennies, The UnexpectedStorm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as severalbooks under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short storieswere selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

You can contact him at: steven.h.manchester@sunlife.com

You can also find him at: website & Facebook

Get the books from: Amazon, B&N (Nook), Booku (ePub / Pdf)