Saturday, February 26, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
She paced the small confines of her bathroom as she waited the obligatory two minutes for the result. Yet, part of her sensed the truth. Not only did Austin take her self-esteem and plans for happiness, but he also took her get-out-of-this-marriage-free card.
The plus sign glared at Meg from the white plastic frame of the pregnancy test. The test fell from her hands and clattered into the bathtub as Meg’s back slid against the wall until she reached the floor.
“I’m pregnant,” she said into the quiet.
Meg never imagined she'd end up like this. With nowhere else to turn, she's forced to rely on the family she pushed away, the church she abandoned, and an unexpected friendship to help her find her forgotten melody. Meanwhile Matt is still mourning the loss of his wife. But determined to keep things together for his daughter's sake, he decides starting over in a new place might be just what his family needs.
This touching story combines romance with redemption and real conflict to remind you it's never too late to find joy. Kaylee Baldwin's capable hand renders a sincere, heartfelt story of rediscovery and hope. Perfect for romantics of all ages, this book will captivate your heart and rekindle your belief in the magic of music.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
My dearest Georgie,
Your real name is Evelyn Wilhelmina Doyle after your mother. Yes, your mother. I know I have been more than tight lipped about her but it is time to tell you everything—how I lost her, who she was and what really happened. It’s time for you to know the truth.
I never wanted this day to come, but knew it would. I can only pray I have prepared you enough. Do not shred this letter like we usually do. Keep it with you at all times. It will be your lifeline, or part of it. Do not contact anyone, especially the authorities, although I know that may be your first reaction. Try hard to leave Grandma Gee out of this, yet I’m afraid I cannot protect her now. She knew what she was getting involved with, which gives me a small amount of comfort. Take the time to get yourself fully prepared before leaving, however, don’t take too long because if you are reading this, they have finally found me and may be coming for you soon.
Georgie, I hope you understand why I have done the things I have done. I know you might be angry, but know that everything was to protect you. I love you so very much and wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I lost you as I did your mother.
You are a member of a unique, powerful, dangerous family and heir to an incredible fortune. It is for this reason you never knew your mother, something that broke her heart as much as it did mine. She was poisoned, murdered by her sister just after your birth. I thought we had everything taken care of. I thought we had hidden well enough, but they took her from me. I have done my best to keep you and Grandma Gee out of their sights. Unfortunately both your mother and I knew that could only last for so long.
We tried to pass you off as dead with your mother by having a double funeral. That only worked for a year. As far as I know, they believe you are still living with Grandma Gee. Once your mother died, we knew they would focus on finding you. I couldn’t, we couldn’t, let them have you without a fight. That is why you spent your first five years with Gina-who was to stand in as you-and your Grandma Gee. I called in some favors and we found Gracie Gee. She volunteered to help me hide you with the help of Gina. Gracie is an angel for taking on the risk that accompanied helping our family. Don’t be mad. I’m sure you’ve realized she is not your biological Grandmother, but in all other regards she is. It would not have worked any other way. Please know it was for your protection.
I bet you are wondering what I was doing while you were there. All you need to know now is that many false trails have been laid. I have worked long and hard to ensure your safety and that justice was given to your mother’s killer while trying to imprison the mastermind behind it.
I know this leaves a lot of holes and you have many questions, but your mother was afraid of you having too much information up front. She did not want to run the risk of you getting caught and being tortured to gain your knowledge and access to the family vault—although both you and I know that would never happen—but I will respect your mother’s final wishes.
It is now your duty to find your inheritance. It has been hidden for reasons your mother will tell you. I get the impression it is more than an inheritance, much more, but I cannot know for sure. She has cleverly laid clues that you must find to claim it and stop what we failed to stop. It has been done this way to protect it as well as you. I myself only know enough to get you started on your journey. I have trained you as your mother instructed me and you are ready. There will be a letter from your mother instructing you in what to do next, once you have made the first discovery.
Now, please do not come for me. By the time you read this I could be dead, most likely by the same hands that killed your mother. If by some miracle they have not discovered who you are then I will be a happy man and I do not want them to learn of you because you came after me, if I’m alive. You must find the vault and claim your inheritance first. Your aunt will be hunting for you as well as the vault and you must get there first. Know I love you dearly. Know that your mother loved you dearly. Remember what you have been taught. Good Luck!
P.S. Use this code 3-12-9 to open the safe in the study. It will contain some of my weapons that might come in handy on your journey. I love you Georgie. Be careful, watch your back, be weary of who you trust and the enclosed map will help. Keep it safe. Use the Key.
My mouth hung open for who knows how long, not sure whether to believe the letter or not, yet there it was right in front of me. In Dad’s own handwriting nonetheless. And his signature. His special signature only I have ever seen. So I knew the letter was authentic. Though the map made no sense. It had random dots marked in red all over the United States. I had no clue how that would help me . . . do what?
Grandma Gee wasn’t my real Grandma. Evelyn is my real name not Georgina Blackinsworth. Where had Georgina come from? And Blackinsworth for that matter. My mother was killed . . . no, murdered. Isn’t that what he said? My eyes scanned the letter again. “. . . justice was given to your mother’s killer.” Yup. Mom had been murdered. I always thought she had died in a car accident. Now Dad has been taken, presumably by the same people who killed my mother. Or is he really dead like the police officer said? He wouldn’t have known at the time he wrote the letter whether or not they’d kill him. But he suspected they would. Could he really be dead? But how can he warn me to not go after him? He seemed confident in the letter that he’d be alive. Who am I kidding? He used the would if. He never uses the word if. I dropped my head in my hands. What am I going to do?
WHACK! Something hit a wall in the back of the house. I stopped breathing, listening intently as I had been trained. My eyes flickered to the clock. 12:12. Well, maybe this whole thing could really still be a drill. They are on time, just the wrong day. No, it’s all way too far off. Something in my heart told me the time was just a coincidence, but I had to check.
I folded the letter slipping it under the back strap of my bra without making a noise. Not a very comfortable spot, but my hands remained free and it stayed with me. I snuck down the hall as quiet as a stalking cat. The noise had come from Dad’s office. I peeked through the door just in time to watch someone climb through the window, well more like fall through the window.
The person had a firmly build, slight figure completely covered in black. Definitely male. With the cut of his clothes, I could see the muscles in his shoulders and across his chest. His thighs and arms told me he never missed a day lifting weights, but his clumsy entrance almost made me laugh blowing my cover. I clamped a hand over my offending mouth to restrain it.
At full height, the intruder stood three inches taller than me. I couldn’t see anything other than eyes through his mask. I gauged him to be about my age give or take a few years, emphasis on the give. No more than a year or three older though. His entrance showed me he wasn’t the normal caliber of person usually sent on my drills. I immediately deemed him unworthy and no threat, but remained hidden to observe his actions.
A breeze danced through the open window stirring the drapes. The material lightly slapped the wall in response to the welcome movement. He froze, muscles tightening like a cat ready to pounce, instantly checking over his shoulder and finding the door. He didn’t know he had already been caught. I suppressed another giggle. When he relaxed I inhaled, the smell of cigarettes burning my throat making my eyes water. Glancing out the window I couldn’t see any smoke trail. None of my neighbors smoked so I watched closely to make sure a second person wasn’t about to join the party. My nose scrunched as I caught another whiff. When no one else entered, I assumed he brought it in with him. The intruder’s movement brought my eyes back to focus on him.
I had to hand it to him, though. Once on the ground, he moved with feline grace. Had I not heard his less than elegant entrance, I would still be sitting on the couch with my head in my hands. Maybe I judged too early. He worked his way over to Dad’s desk. After carefully opening and closing several drawers, he reached for the bottom left one. My back itched and I was glad to already have the drawer’s contents in my possession. After finding it empty, he shut it and turned to the closet, found the safe and began to work on opening it. I had stayed on the sidelines long enough.
Making some calculated noise, I scuffed my shoe on the floor. I watched the guy straighten and bolt for the window, but caught him before he reached it. Grabbing him around the neck, I threw him to the floor and took my relaxed ready stance-feet shoulder width apart, left foot slightly behind my right, hands to my side and standing tall. I looked the intruder in the eye. “What are you doing here?”
He did a once over glance as he stood up and laughed. He actually laughed at me! Not the smartest thing he could have done. My eyes narrowed dangerously. I repeated my question with more force. “What are you doing here?”
He had the never to laugh again. “Look, don’t know who you are, but you’ve got no idea what you’re up against. I suggest you just beat it before I have to put you in your place.” He moved to pass me.
I put my hand out, barring his way, cocking my head. Something seemed familiar about his voice. “This is my home and you will answer my question before I put you in your place.”
He knocked my hand out of the way. “Nothing. Looks like I got the wrong place anyway.” He sent me a hard glance and walked to the window.
My turn to laugh. “The wrong house. That could be a problem, but I’m pretty sure you have the right one, otherwise you wouldn’t have been searching my Dad’s desk and trying to break into his safe. Now . . .” I moved my hands to my hips, “why don’t you tell me what you’re doing here before I do put you in your place.”
“No can do sister. I’ll be leavin’ now.” He tried to push past me but I stepped in front of him. Part of me wanted to still believe this was a drill, but the other part screamed it most certainly wasn’t. He hadn’t come close to following protocol. He hadn’t said the right things. He hadn’t responded the right way. All the evidence pointed to him not being involved but I clung to the off chance he might be new and it was still a drill. I just couldn’t accept that Dad could truly be dead.
“You sure, my Dad didn’t send you?” I asked.
“Yeah, now move . . . ple-e-e-e-ase.”
For some stupid reason I stood my ground. I don’t know why, but I did. Probably not one of my more brilliant ideas. He immediately shoved me and made for the window. Some of my training kicked in and my foot shot out to trip him. I could have taken him easily, but stopped myself, pulling my foot back at the last second. He stumbled anyway but stayed upright only to slam his shoulder into the window. A quiet gasp escaped his mouth and his eyes met mine.
The look startled me. It was one of knowing—knowing me, knowing what this was about, and a look of pity almost. It didn’t last more than a second, but still rooted me to the floor, allowing him time to scramble up and out. His mask caught on the corner of the window sill and I heard the fabric tear. He probably successfully cut his face or neck though I couldn’t be sure which. I cautiously approached the open window and found a fluttering piece of fabric. Scanning the distance I located and watched his form disappear into the darkness.
Standing there a long while, staring out the window I wondered about his look, wondered if there truly was a sense of familiarity. It didn’t compute for some reason. Taking a deep breath, I went to the window and closed it, quickly wiping it down with my sleeve to erase fingerprints. Dad was really meticulous about something silly like that. I could never leave the house until it had been wiped clean, something I never understood. But if what his letter said was true, he never wanted to leave any traceable evidence behind. That being the case, then why had we stayed in this house for almost two years, longer than any previous place? Maybe he thought we were safe since it had been so long. I didn’t know.
Everything weighed heavy. In a daze, I made my way back into the front room. Sitting on the couch I pulled out Dad’s letter to reread it. Slowly it began to take root. This was real. Not a drill. It was all truly happening. Now what am I supposed to do? Prepare myself. Prepare for what exactly? You could be dead Dad. Not sure what to do, I pulled out the locket Dad had given me just that morning-well technically yesterday morning-as an early birthday present.
I caressed the smooth gold casing of the locket. It had been my mother’s and one of the few times Dad offered any insight on her. The details of that moment flashed through my head.
“Hey Honey. I have an early birthday present for you.” He dug into his pocket extracting a small box and set it in my hands.
I smiled opening it. Inside lay a beautiful golden locket nestled on a black cloth. “Ah, Dad! It’s beautiful! Thanks!”
Dad smiled, removed the locket from the box and carefully attached the clasp behind my neck. I heard the latch snap together and picked it up admiring the shine. “This belonged to your mother. There is a picture of the three of us in there. She wanted you to have it.”
My eyes widen. “This was Mom’s? Why now?”
“Because the time is right. Take care of it and treasure it. This locket was very important to your Mother.”
It thumped against my chest and I threw my arms around his neck. “Thanks Dad. I love it.” Pulling away I really looked at him. He was smiling, but his eyes were void of their usual twinkle. “Dad, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, Georgie, nothing.” He enveloped me into another hug just before warning me to be extra careful over the next few days. I felt my eyes roll just as they had then. “Aren’t I always careful Dad?” I whispered to the air.
Turning my mother’s locket over, I forced it open. Inside three pictures smiled at me like Dad said. Dad, Mom and me. The fourth picture holder remained empty. A sad smile and a dull ache spread while I gazed at the first real picture I had ever seen of my mother.
My finger covered her face as I compared mine to Dad’s. Thanks to him I was blessed with his larger nose and sharper cheekbones but the resemblance stopped there. Sliding my finger away I studied Mom’s picture. I do have her eyes. Dad’s bright blue ones stood in stark contrast to mine and Mom’s dark brown ones. My oval face landed between was softer than Dad’s but not quite as round as Mom’s. My straight black hair came from her as well. It’s no wonder Dad never wanted to talk about how she looked.
The moment passed quickly as I instinctively began looking for some type of clue in the picture. Nothing out of place. Nothing on the back. No invisible ink. “Hmm.”
Taking out Dad’s picture I ran it through the same scrutiny. Nothing. Same with mine. The smooth locket bore no clues either. With a sigh, my hand moved to toss the locket on the couch. A glint of light flashed pulling my eyes back to the locket.
“Hmm. A magnifier.”
The one in my room wouldn’t be strong enough, but Dad had one in his safe. Gathering the pictures and locket I headed back to his office. An idea blossomed, quickening my steps. Carefully kneeling on the floor, I checked over my shoulder and went to work on the combination. Right past 12 three times . . . Left past seven twice . . . stop . . . on . . . 3 . . . CLICK! Turning the handle, I felt it release and pulled it open. Excitement and nervousness mixed in the air. I had never seen the inside of Dad’s safe before, not for the lack of trying. Even when I thought I was being sneaky, he knew I was there and called me out before opening the safe. I half expected him to come barreling down the hall any moment. Part of me wondered why he kept the contents away from me, but never asked. All I knew was this was one of the only things that always moved with us.
Not sure what to expect, I sucked in a breath holding it until the safe door was completely open. Eyeing the contents my breath whooshed out like a deflating balloon and with it, my excitement. What? Nothing impressive in there at all. I expected something more valuable like . . . jewels or money or something rather than the magnifier, which was much smaller than expected, a few weapons and a note. Disappointed I grabbed the magnifier, turning my back on the safe. What’s so special about all that?
Settling cross legged on the floor I held the locket under the magnifier and lowered my head until my eye meet it. In less than a second, I located the spot and it took even less time to focus on it. Etched into my locket was a single number 2. My hands dropped into my lap, cradling the locket. What is that supposed to mean? My brain began to spin through possibilities. Two words . . . two numbers . . . two letters . . . two people . . . two codes . . . two something . . . two what?
There wasn’t enough to go on. Bringing the locket back to my eye, the magnifier helped me find another number in the spot where Dad’s picture had been. 2. Oh that’s a big help. Thanks! In my spot was the number 2 and the empty spot held =. I was thoroughly lost running through different codes, but coming up empty handed. After awhile, my eyes grew heavy. Not wanting to give up just yet I decided the floor looked comfy and inviting. Accepting the invitation, I rested my head on the carpet ignoring its roughness, with the locket safe in hand, thinking a curled up position might help me think more clearly. Oops. Sleep claimed me within minutes.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Two, three, seven, nine and twelve. Those were his favorite numbers, although I didn’t realize it until the night I received word of his untimely death. That’s a night ingrained in my head forever. My world came crashing down around me. Everything I knew was stripped away and I had to start from scratch, rebuild my entire view of my childhood, my parents, my very existence. Nothing was as it seemed and that was never more evident than the night I had to find his so called life insurance policy.
I’m a semi-typical-17-year-old girl, well, 18 tomorrow. In fact I’m supposed to graduate from high school in two weeks, but I don’t know if I’ll be around to walk across the field with all my friends. A police officer knocked on my door tonight and said my father had been killed in a car accident. I shrugged. Nothing I hadn’t heard before. Dad’s body had yet to be recovered, something about being too badly burned, which didn’t make too much sense since the officer had his wallet to hand me. I rolled my eyes. The officer even looked apologetic. He could tell I wasn’t buying it, but when I asked further questions he had no answers. Typical.
Then there was the issue of being underage. He wanted to put me in the care of an adult. Somehow, I managed to convince him that technically I was legal, since in two hours and thirty-seven minutes I would be eighteen. He let that go and left me with his card, telling me to call if I had any questions or needed help. I informed him I would be fine and not to worry. My neighbors knew me well and Grandma lived just down the way. That wasn’t entirely truthful. She’s a few states away, but he didn’t need to know that. After all, that was the plan if anything like this ever happened. I was just following instructions.
So after the police officer left, I was able to take Dad’s wallet and finally find the truth. That was part of the plan too. See, Dad’s a lawyer that works on high profile cases. He has had a lot of people out for his blood and for as long as I can remember, he’s been running me through the “if this happens” drills. “If this happens to me then you respond this way . . .”, “If that happens to me, then this is the way you act . . .”, “If someone says this to you, you say this . . .”, “If I don’t come home after a trip, then you do this . . . .” We would practice at least once a week if not more. So I assumed this was just another one of those times. I followed protocol like I was supposed to. Now I find out what’s really happening and when Dad would really come home.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this would be the real deal. I just figured it was another “drill.” So when I found the note in his secret compartment, right where it was supposed to be I blew it off, threw his wallet on the couch and stuffed the note in my pocket before fixing something to eat. Then plopping down in the recliner I flipped on the TV to watch Dad’s and my favorite show, Jeopardy. We loved to see who could answer the most questions. I munched on the sandwich I had made, saying the answers between bites. When final Jeopardy hit, I glanced at the clock. 10:56. I froze mid-bite. The time was wrong. The “drills” never happened in that hour. My heart beat faster as realization hit home. Slowly I put down my sandwich and found Dad’s note. It didn’t say what they usually say. It didn’t tell me what time he would be home or where to meet him. There were no comforting words in this note. All it said was, “Find my life insurance policy and then you’ll understand.”
I stared at it for three full minutes, scrutinizing it for any deviations, missed details, codes, anything, but nothing was there. So why the wrong time? I clicked off the TV, being bathed in the blue light as the hum slowly decreased. In the silence, I listened for another three minutes to absolute silence. If someone was attached to this drill, I would have heard or seen them by now. Is he serious this time?
With only one thing to do, I headed to Dad’s study, the note clutched in hand. Opening the door, I stood staring at his large oak desk, the familiar hum of his fish tank in the background. Everything was so orderly and clean. The faint smell of Pledge still lingered from the last time he cleaned. No piles of paper either. A smile played on my lips. I would give him a hard time about that. “Dad, a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind!” I’d say grinning as he rolled his eyes.
“But everything has its proper place and we don’t want to be leaving any trails for someone to find now do we?” He would scold back, but I could see him trying to hide his upturned lips as he spoke.
I laughed inside. I bet he’s even wiped it down to get rid of his finger prints.
Tentatively I reached out to the bottom left hand drawer, my fingers almost touching the shiny brass drawer handle before remembering not to leave my trail. Donning the extra pair of black gloves Dad always leaves for me, I knelt by the drawer, pulling it open. It felt heavier than I imagined it would. No sound greeted me as the drawer glided along its runners. I expected some type of sound but there was nothing save the thump of my heart in my ears. Thinking I would have to search for his life insurance policy I peered into the drawer. I should have known better. The file lay right on top.
My hands shook as I pushed the drawer closed and went back to the front room. I sat with the policy in my lap for an hour somehow knowing my life would never be the same and not quite ready to find out exactly why. Finally, taking a deep breath, I bit the bullet and extracted it from the manila folder. I didn’t know what I expected to find or even what a life insurance policy looked like, so when a letter from Dad slid out, I had to smile. It was so him. I began to feel a bit more comfortable about the situation when I saw his handwriting. It had been a long time since he’d actually written something for me. Usually things were typed, presumably to make it more difficult to trace. Dad, always so paranoid, but as I scanned through the letter, my smile faded. He had a right to be paranoid . . . and now so did I.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The further Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim bloodline has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Now as her friends focus on high school graduation, Georgie finds herself battling the stirrings of romance for her best friend Jake while racing against the clock. The only thing she knows for sure is find the family vault before her murderous aunt or dad dies.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
“Hmmm,” the doctor muttered.
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, “What does that mean?”
“You do know you’re pregnant, right?”
Her breath caught in her throat. “Excuse me?”
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. “I’m what?”
Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise—she’s going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn’t what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.
Beloved author Rebecca Talley carefully creates this touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. I attended, and graduated from, BYU where I met my husband. He was the FHE “dad” and I was the FHE “mom.” We have been happily married for over 25 years and are the parents of 10 wonderfully creative and multi-talented children. We live in rural CO on a small ranch with a dog, cats, a spoiled horse, and a herd of goats. It took me a bit to adjust to the rural lifestyle after growing up in southern CA, but I love living in the country.
When did you start writing?
I started making books when I was a kid and I loved to write in high school, but I put writing aside when I got married and started having babies. I decided to get serious about it again in the mid-90s when the internet suddenly opened up a whole new world for me. I met other writers, took classes online, and read all I could about writing. I’ve been writing ever since.
What do you like to do besides writing?
Eat chocolate, ice cream, peanut M&Ms. I love to go to the beach and swim in the ocean, but I only get to do that once a year or so. I also love to dance to disco music. I’ve recently started doing Zumba, a kind of Latin dancing/exercise program—lots of hip shaking. I love to go on dates with my husband and I love to play with my kids. I’ve also started making jewelry and flower barrettes with my kids.
You newest novel, The Upside of Down, was released in January. What was the inspiration for this novel?
While I was watching the new version of Cheaper by the Dozen, I thought it would be fun to write a similar story set in an LDS household. Since I have a large family, I drew from many of my own experiences to create my characters and establish the storyline. I had lots of fun writing it, especially as I relived some of the funny things that have happened in our family.
What do you hope people take away from The Upside of Down?
I hope people realize that no matter who we are, none of us is spiritually invincible. We all need to rely on the Lord, in good times and in bad. No matter how desperate a situation may seem, the Lord can lighten our load if we’ll turn to Him. The atonement is for all of us. And, even in the midst of trials, we can have peace.
I also hope people will learn something from my book about Down syndrome and realize that underneath it all, we’re all children of God and we all deserve love and respect, no matter our chromosome count.
Where can we purchase The Upside of Down?
Amazon carries it and it should arrive in LDS Bookstores soon.
Thank you so much for the interview.