Posted in #urban fantasy, Native American, New, New Release, Romance, Young Adult

Evil Awakened

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The Kiche Chronicles, book 1

by J.M. LeDuc

Genre: Native American/Urban Fantasy/Young Adult

From one generation to the next, legends of good and evil have been passed down around Indian campfires. With each passing generation, less is believed. To the young, they’re just stories, but to the elders, they are warnings.

In the woods, which border between the reservation and the Everglades, four teenage Cree braves recite an ancient ritual. Not understanding the words they say or the implications of their actions, they call forth a demon which had been cast into the netherworld with no chance of escape . . . unless man called it back. Free, it has one plan; build an army of beasts, and ultimately, become immortal by feeding on the spirit of the one destined to become the Kiche—the Sky Spirit Goddess.

It has been foretold that the gates of the netherworld will be opened and it will take the wiles and courage of a sixteen-year-old girl, whose skin is as white as winter’s snow, to send the demons back and save an entire nation.

Pamoon, left abandoned at birth on a Cree reservation, has been marked with a flame on both her neck and left palm. All her life, they have been a nuisance, but now they mark her destiny. With the fate of her friends’ lives on the line, will she have the courage to pick up the gauntlet and walk the path the fates chose for her before her birth? In EVIL AWAKENED, Pamoon and her wolf cub, Scout, begin a journey that may end in her demise or might possibly take her to worlds only humans can imagine. A journey to both heaven and hell. A path only the one destined to become the Kiche—the Sky Spirit Goddess—can travel. She’ll need help if she is to survive; help only the spirits can provide. Let’s pray it arrives in time.

Whatever evil man creates, only man can defeat.

Chapter One

The woods have always been sacred to Native Americans, but sacred doesn’t always equate with good. Like the sweet smell of Pine sap mixed with the pungent odor of decaying humus, spirits run the gamut of good and bad.

Spirits always hear the cries of those who call them; tonight . . . they’ll answer.

March 2, 12:10 a.m.

The smell of the Slash pines and Live oaks permeated the thick blanket of humidity. The temperature remained tolerable, but with air so thick, it was as if the clouds had descended from the sky and fallen upon the earth. The stillness of night and cover of foliage made the environment more oppressive. To a tourist or stranger, the weather might have seemed unbearable, but to those who grew up in and around the Florida Everglades, it was just another early spring evening.

Bobby and his friends huddled around a small, dimly lit fire nestled in the woods between the city limits of Swamp Ridge and the Indian reservation. Sweat poured from their skin, and alcohol swam through their bloodstream. Their teenage, liquor-infused imaginations burned hotter than the heat emanating from the glowing embers. Beer cans and an empty bottle of cheap gin littered the makeshift campground.

“I’m not sure about this,” Bobby, the most rational of the four, said. “You know what Powaw says about this stuff.”

Scott laughed at Bobby’s apprehension. “Don’t be such an âpakosîs,” he slurred. “We’re just screwing around. Besides, Powaw’s nuts. All the elders are crazy.”

Glassy-eyed, Bobby glared at his friend and pointed a stick in his direction. “Don’t call me a mouse. It just doesn’t feel right messing with this kind of thing.”

Mike, the alpha of the group, took his last swig of beer and crushed the can, belching at the same time. “You two losers are always arguing. Let’s do this.” Bobby watched him look over at Ralph, lying on the ground, passed out with pine needles stuck to his face. “Wake up the lightweight,” Mike said. “He has the spell.”

“They’re not spells,” Bobby mumbled under his breath. “We’re not witches.”

“Witches are girls, warlocks are guys,” Scott corrected.

Grunting, Bobby threw his hands up. “Witches, warlocks, it doesn’t matter.”

Mike took a step toward Bobby, his hands balled into fists. “What’d you say?”

“Relax, Mikey,” Scott said, stepping between them. “Every time you get drunk, you want to pick a fight with one of us.”

“I’m not drunk. I just don’t like when Einstein over here says shit under his breath.”

Bobby eyeballed his friend, squinting, trying to erase the double vision. “I said we’re not warlocks, we’re Cree braves. We don’t cast spells; we conduct ceremonies to awaken spirits.”

Scott shoved him, jokingly. “You’ve been spending way too much time with the elders. We’re just out here screwing around. You know as well as I do, this stuff is just legend. These things don’t actually work.”

“Then why bother? Let’s just clean up and go home.”

Mike brushed the dirt off his jeans, tied his long, black hair back in a knot on top of his head, and smirked. “We do it because it’s cool. There is nothing for us to do back on the reservation; at least this gives us a reason to come out here and drink. If you’re scared, little âpakosîs, then go home.”

Tossing the stick into the fire, Bobby’s face crimsoned. “I’m here, aren’t I,” he said. Balancing himself precariously, he shoved Ralph with the toe of his boot. “Wake up.”

Mike splashed beer on his friend’s face to speed up the process.

Drunkenly, Ralph slapped at the alcohol, smudging the dirt on his face, then stumbled to his feet.

After giving Ralph a few minutes to focus his thoughts, Bobby and the others formed a circle around the fire. Taking in the view, he thought of how all his friends looked different, yet they were, at their very core, the same. He was the smallest of the four, but the smartest. Ralph was the quiet one, yet he could be dared into trying anything. Scott was the biggest, the group’s protector. He’d stand up to anyone who dared insult his friends. And then there was Mike. Mike was the athlete, the one who seemed to go through puberty when he was ten, and always acted as if he had too much testosterone rushing through his veins.

All different, yet the same. They all had an olive skin tone with a complexion most girls would kill for. They all had straight, silky, black hair which they wore long and straight. And they were all proud of their Native American heritage.

All different, yet the same.

Bobby’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Ralph clearing his throat. Turning his attention to his friend, he watched Ralph pull the ritual he had torn out of his grandfather’s old book from his pocket, unfold the paper, and start reading.

“Kihci Macimanito, Pimihawin Mistikwan, koskonowewin. Tatawaw ota. Kîyânaw natohtamawin kiya ôma wîcihiwewin. Kiya katikaweyin peyakotipiyimisiwin ohtâyihk ana asahpicekewin kiya.”

The trio repeated the Cree words none of them understood and could barely pronounce.

Bobby eyed Ralph, who had stopped reading and gruffed his frustration. “If you want the spirits to hear us, we need to say this like we mean it.”

The four exchanged glances; Ralph nodded and started reading from the beginning. This time, the others repeated the words as if they believed whatever it was they were saying.

The still, stale air was broken by a breeze that whistled through the woods causing the rustling of leaves and branches, creating the sound of shaking maracas. The sudden change in the environment seemed to energize Ralph, who began to recite the words with increased attitude and volume. The others followed suit, and with every word emoted, the winds surged and swirled.

The gusts swept the dirt, pine needles, and dying embers into the night, making them feel like bee stings striking Bobby’s face. An unexplained fear began to bubble inside him as he slapped the dirt from his eyes. Trembling, he tore the paper from Ralph’s hand to stop him from repeating the ritual. Crumpling it in his fist, he threw the paper towards the fire. An acrid blast of wind blew it away from the flames and swept it toward the trees.

The hair on the back of Bobby’s neck tingled. “I don’t like the way this feels,” he whispered, dread dripping from his words. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

The others must have felt the same way, for they hastily grabbed their packs and started running.

As Bobby raced through the low-branched pines, he thought he heard Mike. The squeal was so short-lived, he couldn’t be sure; his fear forced him to run faster. With each burst of wind, he heard another one of his friends cry out. The combination of running, alcohol, and adrenaline made him want to throw up; he choked it down and kept moving. Turning back toward the noise, Bobby saw nothing through the curtain of night. The air, thicker and heavier than before, forced him to breathe through his mouth. Turning forward, he glimpsed a low hanging branch in his peripheral vision—too little, too late. The bow smacked his forehead, knocking him to the dirt. Instinctively, his hand went to his cheek; he felt the sharp sting of the gash and the wet warmth of fresh blood. His feet scrambling, his hands clawing, it took all his resolve to put one foot in front of the other. His legs finding a rhythm, he sprinted onward.

Seeing the lights of the reservation through the thickness of leaves, Bobby emitted a short sigh of relief before one last gust of wind struck his face. His eyes screamed in horror and his vocal cords danced in pain, but sound never moved past his lips.

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Mark Adduci, writing as J. M. LeDuc, is a native Bostonian, who transplanted to South Florida in 1985. He shares his love and life with his wife, Sherri and his daughter, Chelsea.

Blessed to have had a mother who loved the written word, her passion was passed on to him. It is in her maiden name he writes.

J.M. LeDuc’s first novel, “Cursed Blessing,” won a Royal Palm Literary Award in 2008 as an unpublished manuscript in the thriller category and was published in 2010. The rest of the Trilogy of the Chosen: “Cursed Presence” and “Cursed Days” followed in 2012, as well as a novella, “Phantom Squad”–a prequel to the trilogy. “Cornerstone,” the continuation of the Phantom Squad Series was published in 2013 to critical acclaim.

“SIN” is the first book in the new Sinclair O’Malley Series.

J.M. is a proud member of the prestigious International Thriller Writers (ITW) as well as the Florida Writers Association (FWA) and loves to interact with his fans. He can be reached at and on Facebook on his author page.

Posted in Adult Fiction, Blog Tour, Native American, New, New Release, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Series, Suspense

Beguiling Indeed


He’s a Navajo sworn to bring her to America;

She’s a sexy genius in a race with him across France

At last! Beguiling Delila (Romancing the Guardians, Book 6) is here. This one took longer than usual to write because of all the settings I had to research. Most of the book is set in France. Delilah Moreau, the glamorous French Guardian, possesses a miraculous mathematical talent that provides her a privileged life, but it can’t give her what she truly wants: lasting love.

Leon Tseda, a Navajo whose homeland serves as a hidden gathering place for the Guardians, vows to bring Delilah to safety, thwarting thugs sent to capture her and the valuable scroll she guards. Opening in Paris, the story whisks the pair in a life-and-death chase across France to Nice and Monte Carlo on the breathtaking Côte d’Azur.

Both Delilah and Leon have lost loved ones, and they’re no longer youngsters, but they are not too old for a second chance at love. Their journey is fraught with danger, excitement and steamy, mature romance. Will it lead to love – if they live long enough?







There are seven Guardians, each possessing a psychic gift and a precious scroll containing a secret prophecy handed down from ancient Irish seers. Not to be revealed until mankind is ready to listen, the prophesies are in danger of being seized by vicious “Hellhounds” who want to use them for their own evil ends.



Rescuing Lara (Book 1), winner in the 2015 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Awards, is set in Ireland and Texas. It stars Lara Spenser, the injured niece of the murdered high Guardian, and Connor O’Shea, a hunky ex-Special Forces soldier Lara hires as her bodyguard. Lethal villains, hot romance and a few surprises make this a wild ride.

US: Amazon   UK: Amazon     

CA: Amazon   AU: Amazon



Decoding Michaela (Book 2) features a heroine who can read minds. Stunned by news that her revered leader, the High Guardian, has been murdered, Michaela Peterson is attracted to Dev Medina, the handsome messenger, but fears he may be out to steal the scroll she guards. Can Dev win her trust and unlock her heart before the Hellhounds capture her?

US Amazon    UK Amazon    

CA Amazon    AU: Amazon



Capturing Gabriel (Book 3) is set in Colombia. Gabriel Valdez refuses to believe the feisty
Navajo beauty who tracks him down with a message to meet the other Guardians in the United States. Instead, he takes her prisoner. Josie doesn’t count on falling for him. Gabriel doesn’t intend to trust her with his secrets or his love, but the heart has a mind of its own.

US Amazon   UK Amazon    

CA Amazon   AU: Amazon



Touching Charlotte (Book 4) Introduces Charlotte Dixon, an empathic Guardian, and Tristan Jameson, an ex-NYC cop burdened by grief. He needs healing and love, but how can a man romance a woman who can’t stand to be touched? Breaking through Charlotte’s barriers while protecting her from Hellhounds proves his ultimate challenge.

US Amazon   UK Amazon    

CA Amazon   AU: Amazon



Profiling Nathan (Book 5) is a chilling murder mystery/sexy romance. Guardian and ex-con Nathan Maguire just wants to make a living inking tattoos in Tampa, Florida, but when FBI profiler Talia Werner walks into his shop, she turns his life upside down. To save her pretty neck, he must help catch a serial killer. His deadly psychic gift may come in handy.

US Amazon   UK Amazon    

CA: Amazon  AU Amazon



Leon thrust open the door to Delilah’s outer office and charged in. He tossed Esme a quick greeting as he strode to the inner door. She replied but didn’t try to stop him when he once again entered Delilah’s private office unannounced. He found her standing at a small open closet tucked in beside the wet bar in the corner.

“We must leave. Now,” he said the moment she turned to look at him. “The Hellhounds have come. They were at your condo asking for you.”

Her eyes widened. “How do you know it was them?”

“I know because at least one had a gun. Come, we must go. They might be on their way here right now.”

She made a choked sound, grabbed her coat from the closet and stuffed her arms into the sleeves. Snatching her handbag off her desk, she rushed over to him, breathing fast. Leon gripped her elbow and turned toward the door he’d left partway open. At that moment, a man’s voice sounded from the outer office. He spoke in French. Leon didn’t understand the words but caught his threatening tone.

Esme screamed and Delilah cried out, clutching Leon’s arm. Then her inner door was shoved open, banging against the wall. Three men barged in. Determined to protect Delilah, Leon circled his arm around her, slipping his other hand into his jacket pocket at the same time.

The shortest of the three, who had asked for Delilah at her condo, was apparently the leader. An ugly lantern-jawed tough, he reached under his coat and pulled out an automatic. Pointing it at Leon, he growled something in French.

“I do not understand your words,” Leon said mildly, “but I have no gun if that is what worries you.”

“Oh yes? Then show what you do have,” the man ordered in thickly accented English, indicating the hand Leon had stuffed in his pocket.

He nodded and obeyed. Extending his fisted hand, he uncurled his fingers to reveal a small pile of fine, dark powder lying on his palm. “This is only a calming medicine I sometimes use.”

Laughing, the Frenchman sneered, “You need calming now, eh, old man?” He waved his weapon at Delilah, causing her to gasp. “Release the woman. She is to come with us.”

Delilah trembled in fear. Would Leon meekly hand her over to the vile trio? Intending to resist, she tried to draw away from him, but his arm tightened like an iron band around her waist, holding her close. Seeing him bend his head, she thought he meant to inhale the calming powder but, instead, he blew it into the men’s faces.

The three inhaled sharply, choked, coughed and screwed their eyes shut. “What the hell?” The leader demanded in a strangled voice. Trying to blink the dust from his eyes, obviously unable to see, he waved his gun back and forth.

Delilah shrieked, certain he was about to shoot both Leon and her. But he didn’t get the chance. Clutching her arm, Leon hurried her past the blinded men and out the open door. She spotted Esme crouched on the floor behind her desk. Resisting Leon’s tug on her arm, she shouted, “Don’t cower there like a frightened rabbit, Esme. Come! We must escape!”

White with fear, the trembling girl rose and followed them. As the elevator doors opened, Delilah heard the three villains stumbling from her office, shouting furiously. Heart hammering, she dashed into the elevator with her companions and sagged in relief against the wall when the doors closed. Esme huddled in the corner, crying and shaking.

Leon laid his hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Calm down and look at me,” he said, drawing her tearful gaze. “When we reach ground floor, Delilah and I must run. But you should go to the security desk and ask the guard to call the police. Will you do that?”

“Oui, M-Monsieur,” the girl stammered, swiping tears from her cheeks. “But what if those terrible men follow you?” Esme glanced anxiously at Delilah. “Can you protect Madame Moreau?”

“We must leave the city for a while, but do not worry. I will keep her safe.”



I haven’t read the others in this series but I can guarantee you, I will be after reading Beguiling Delilah.

Leon is a Navajo Indian sent from the US to Paris on a mission – to bring Delilah to the states where she can be kept safe from the Hellhounds who have other plans for her and the precious secret she holds.

Ms. Horner takes the reader on a chase through Paris, then France, before the couple eventually make it into the US, BUT, it’s not over.

Will Leon be able to keep his charge safe and deliver her to where she can be protected?

As I stated, I haven’t read the other books in this series, but this is a stand-alone and the story can be clearly understood. The tale is fast-paced, descriptive and keeps the reader enthralled from beginning to end.

I highly recommend this book.


Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and romantic suspense novels, all spiced with paranormal elements. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” – with her husband and a gaggle of very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged children.

Find Lyn’s books on her Amazon Author Page: 

Sign up for Lyn’s Romance Gazette:

Follow Lyn on these sites:  Lyn Horner’s Corner   Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads

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Posted in Cowboy, Crime, Historical, Murder, Mystery, Native American, New Adult, Romance, Series, Victorian, Violence, Western, Wild West

**Free for Weekend**


10 JUNE – 13 JUNE


The Glenmores Revenge Kindle


The Glenmore Family come to the rescue of a young girl who has been ferociously beaten and left to die on the track leading to their ranch.

She is taken to their home to recover. The outlaws responsible for her beating keep watch hoping to recapture the girl and obtain the information they are sure she has.

The search for the outlaws becomes a matter of urgency when murder, shootings, robbery and beatings affect the Glenmore Family.

Rangers are brought in and the assistance of local Indians is sought.

A story about tender love, murder, greed and intrigue.

Meme 1


George and James dropped back to re-join their father and as they discussed ranch business they kept their eyes on Laura up ahead. She had just crossed the tree line and had disappeared from their sight. Joseph had just opened his mouth to call her to stay in sight when they heard her blood curdling scream.

The three men wasted no time spurring their horses into a gallop and headed in the direction the scream had come from.

Laura had dismounted and was on the ground next to a small bundle which rested half on and half off the track. Tears flooded her cheeks and she was shaking uncontrollably. When she spotted her father she jumped from the ground and raced towards him. Joseph was off his horse in a flash and folded her into his arms. While she buried her face in her father’s chest George and James dismounted and moved to check the small bundle which they could now see was the body of a young girl.

“Pa, you better come fast!” called George.

Joseph peeled Laura away from him and reached inside his pocket for a cloth to wipe her tear stained face. Holding her hand he guided her to a nearby rock and gently encouraged her to sit. He grabbed his canteen of water from his saddle bag and handed it to her “Drink Laura. Don’t move darlin’ we’ll be right over here” She gulped thirstily from the canteen while she continued to sob.

Joseph approached his sons and couldn’t stifle the gasp which escaped him as he looked at the ‘bundle’ for the first time. He could now see it was a young girl, about the same age as Laura. Her clothing had been torn to the waist and across the once creamy skin of her back were at least two dozen bloody welts.

Joseph removed his hat and immediately began firing off instructions to his shocked sons. “James, fetch blankets, water and as many clean cloths as you can find! George, hobble the horses so they don’t wander. Keep an eye out for Ben with the board so he doesn’t run over us”

The boys answered in unison “Yes, Pa!” and raced off to complete their tasks.

As the boys followed his orders Joseph assessed the young girl’s wounds further. I will get the bastards who did this! he vowed to himself.

Just at that moment, Ben, the youngest son, drove up with the buckboard and their supplies. Seeing his family moving around ahead, his father attending to something on the ground, he brought the horses to a stop.

“Ben! We have a badly injured girl. Clear a space in the buckboard and lay some blankets so when we are ready we can take her home to Ma!” called out James.

Ben jumped down and began re-arranging the rear of the buckboard. “What’s happened James?”

“Not sure yet, we just came up on her. Pa and George are with her now”

Where’s Laura?” asked Ben concerned for his sister.

“Just over yonder on a rock. She’s very upset, was her that found the girl! After the board is ready go sit with her, I need to get these supplies to Pa”

James hurried back to where Joseph and George were waiting with the girl. “Ben’s arrived Pa, he’s clearin’ a space in the buckboard and is going to calm Laura”

“Thanks son. She is bad. Looks like she has a broken leg from the angle it’s at, a broken arm and all them welts, cuts and bruises!” We need to patch her up as best we can and get her to Ma”

“She’s lost a lot of blood Pa” commented George “Will she make it?”

“I don’t know son but we will do our best for her”

“Who would do this?” asked an angry James to no-one in particular.

“I have no idea” answered Joseph “but I intend to find out and get this little girl some justice!”

“Buckboard’s ready” shouted Ben

“Go find four pieces of wood to splint an arm and a leg” called George “be as quick as you can”

“On my way” called Ben running into the trees.

Joseph removed the lid from a canteen he’d been handed and poured water onto a cloth. As gently as he could he began to clean the wounds and only then could they see the extent of the damage from the vicious attack.

With her back wounds cleaned up a little the three men gently lifted her onto a blanket which was spread on the ground, turning her over as they did so.

They inhaled deeply when they saw the girl’s face. Both of her eyes were swollen shut. She had a large cut over one eye which would require stitches. Blood had seeped into her raven black hair and congealed which left her hair in a sticky, tangled mess. Her lip was split and her cheek badly bruised. Dirt and dust had combined with blood from her wounds to form a muddy mess over much of her body.

George quickly covered her with a spare blanket to protect her dignity but couldn’t help noticing her perfectly formed breasts and slim waist which brought a stirring to his loins.

Goddamn it George! What’s wrong with you? You are looking at a woman’s breasts and getting randy when you should be more concerned with her injuries! And you’re s’posed to be courtin’ Marybeth!

Joseph took clean cloths, doused them in water and proceeded to clean her face.

“Where do you want these Pa?” asked Ben holding up four good sized sticks.

“I’ll take them. Thanks Ben” said James “Go sit with Laura”

Meme 2

Meme 3










The Glenmores Revenge Full






Posted in Adoption, Author, Contemporary, Native American, Romance

A Romantic Aussie Lady

Maggie pink 4 cropBorn and brought up in Scotland, and attracted by advertisements to ‘Come and Teach in the Sun’, I immigrated to Australia in my twenties to teach in primary schools in Sydney. I now live with my husband of almost thirty years near Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. I love walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the Noosa River on weekends. After spending many years in teaching, lecturing and education management, where I wrote course materials and reports, I began writing the sort of books I enjoy reading, books about women in their prime, their issues and relationships. Now my days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – my idea of heaven! I continues my love of books as a volunteer with Friends of Noosaville Library where I help organise author talks and select and deliver books to the housebound.

The Sand Dollar is the first book in my Oregon Coast Series. I have been to that part of the world many times to visit my mother-in-law who sadly passed away earlier this year just weeks after her 100th birthday. These trips drew me to the location and encouraged me to set a series of books there. My husband’s Native American heritage also played a part in my decision to include a Native American in the tale (more about her in book 2). I began writing this book when, like Jenny, I was working in an educational management position in Health and facing a redundancy, but the similarities of our journeys ends there. All of my books feature the more mature woman who I believe faces different challenges from her younger counterparts, but who also wants and deserves to have a HEA.

                                                THE SAND DOLLAR

The Sand Dollar Cover MEDIUM WEBBlurb

What if you discover everything you believed to be true about yourself has been a lie?

Stunned by news of an impending redundancy, and impelled by the magic of a long-forgotten sand dollar, Jenny retreats to her godmother in Oregon to consider her future.

What she doesn’t bargain for is to uncover the secret of her adoption at birth and her Native American heritage. This revelation sees her embark on a journey of self-discovery such as she’d never envisaged.

Moving between Australia’s Sunshine Coast and the Oregon Coast, The Sand Dollar is a story of new beginnings, of a woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down, and the reclusive man who helps her solve the puzzle of her past.


“You’ll never guess.” Jenny bounced into Rosa’s office smiling.

“You look as if you’ve won the lottery. What’s happened?”

“I’ve had this crazy idea. I know what to do, at least, what I’m going to do next.” Jenny suddenly felt exhausted and sank into a chair.

“What?” Rosa swung her chair round to face Jenny. “What’s cheered you up like this?”

Jenny took the sand dollar out of her pocket turned it over and over in her fingers. “I found this last night. I’ve had it for most of my life, but it’s been hidden away.”

“Is it something special to you?” Rosa reached over to take the object, but Jenny closed her fist over it and gripped it tightly.

“It’s a sand dollar. It comes from Oregon. And… and when I was a child I believed it was magic.” Jenny smiled in reminiscence. “Amazing what we choose to believe as children. My godmother told me that it was mermaid’s money and would always bring me good luck. I found it on the weekend when I was doing some clearing out.”

Rosa cleared her throat, but remained silent. She appeared to be waiting while Jenny gathered her thoughts. Jenny continued.

“I know this sounds crazy, but it occurred to me it’s a sign. A sign I should visit her.” The words sounded strange, even to Jenny. Was the normally clear-headed Jenny actually suggesting she should visit Oregon on the basis of having found a sand dollar she’d picked up over fifty years ago? Looking up, she saw Rosa gazing at her intently.

“What would take you to Oregon?”

‘I know. I sound crazy, but Maddy’s there.”


“Maddy.” Jenny closed her eyes as she imagined herself being welcomed into her godmother’s arms. She could almost smell the wood smoke from the stove. It had always been lit. The tang of smoke had mingled with the smell of the timber in the walls of her godmother’s home. Scenes flashed through her mind: Maddy’s warm embrace, the comfort of the old house, the wild ocean beach; running against the wind, collecting shells and driftwood; the never-ending supply of food. She shook herself. These were childhood memories. She hadn’t been there for years. She opened her eyes again. “Maddy’s my godmother.”

“Have you kept in touch with her at all?” Rosa queried. “Or is she a stranger to you?”

“Oh yes, we’ve kept in touch. It was only Christmas and birthdays, the usual things, till Mum died. Gosh, that was about ten years ago now. Then we began to communicate more often. Maddy’s even on email. Quite tech savvy for someone of her advanced years.” Jenny laughed.

“Well, sounds like you have a plan.”

“It may be a crazy idea, but I’m going to visit Maddy in Oregon. It’ll give me time to decide what to do with my life, but whatever it is it won’t be with this organization, that’s for sure. It’ll be something completely different.”

“Good on you. You know, I read about women like you the other day.”

“Women like me?”

“Women who change direction at sixty. They’re calling you downagers.”

“Downagers,” she savored the word, “I think I like that, though it may be a bit too much like dowagers.” She laughed again. “That’s what I’ll be, a downager. You mean you think it’s a good idea? It would get me out of this place and if I stay here I’ll either vegetate or die.”

“That’s a bit strong.” Rosa was pretending to look shocked, but both of them knew of several staff who had developed serious illnesses during the past year. “Though I know what you mean. I may not stay long myself.”

“You’re safe. They won’t get rid of the finance staff. Still, it wouldn’t do you any harm to look around. It’s a bit like deserting the sinking ship, though it may not be actually sinking, just going round in circles.”

Rosa smiled. “Great to see that sense of humor coming out again. It’s been a serious few weeks.”

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Twitter:           @MaggieChriste33