A Guest Post by Morgan Dun-Campbell

The Post

It’s tricky to pinpoint how I came up with the idea for this novel, because I don’t really find that ideas are triggered by external circumstances – they almost seem to come from nowhere. In fact, the premise for the novel I am currently working on actually came to me in a dream, which has never, ever happened before. I woke up, thought it was a really fascinating idea, and quickly jotted it down. In terms of The Girl on Camera, I came up with the earliest version of it several years ago, when I was just thirteen. If anything, I think some of my most imaginative novel ideas have come from this time period, and I do wonder if my current ones are as exciting! Over the years, I’ve revisited this premise between working on other projects, because I still think it’s fairly unique, and applicable. There is a certain hook to it.
I’ll try my best to identify exactly how the idea came about. I’ve always been interested in conflict, and how characters with opposing personalities might interact with one another. For a couple of years in my early teens, my favourite film was The Breakfast Club, so this may have been influential! I also know that before I started The Girl on Camera, which at that time was called Camp 101 (a reference to Room 101 from 1984), I began a novel from five different viewpoints, who all had contrasting personas – one of them was a movie star, one of them was a recluse, etc. – and they all ended up trapped in a supermarket, on the same day. I think they were hostages in a robbery, and they all had different reasons for being there at that particular time. The movie star was, I think, visiting the town temporarily and staying in a hotel, her bodyguard was in his room, so she’d ventured to the supermarket alone. So, I would say that this novel about the people in the supermarket inspired The Girl on Camera, in part. The original version of The Girl on Camera was also much more focused on the day to day life of Rory (or Anna, as she was called at the time), there were originally several chapters set in her office at work.
In terms of reality TV, when I was younger, I went through a phase of being fascinated by the concept of being famous, and of celebrity status. This was when my other greatest passion, second to writing, was acting. I’d rehearse monologues from well-known movies, go to auditions, and was a member of the ITV Television Workshop. I’ve attended a few casting calls over the years, too – including Daisy Ridley’s part in the new Star Wars’ movies! However, I’m not really interested in any of that anymore – if anything, I think being famous seems like it would be quite scary. Particularly losing your privacy so drastically. So, I suppose my interest in fame, my fascination with conflicting personalities, and a random spark of imagination, was how I came up with the idea for The Girl on Camera.

And here’s information about the book.

The Girl on Camera banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for The Girl on Camera by Morgan Dun-Campbell. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 6 till 26 August. See the tour schedule here.

The Girl on CameraThe Girl on Camera
By Morgan Dun-Campbell
Genre: Thriller
Age category: New adult, Adult
Release Date: March 14, 2018

Blurb:
Reality TV is about to get real…

“Are you ready to win the heart of the nation? Compete with seven other contestants for the cash prize? Change your life forever?”

Twenty-six-year old Rory Stevens is thrilled to be selected as one of eight contestants for new reality show: The Retreat.

However, on the second day of filming – during a televised broadcast from the show’s host – all power shuts off with no explanation: leaving the contestants, quite literally, in the dark.

Completely stranded, it is now up to Rory and her seven companions to figure out what is happening.

And then one of them disappears…

For fans of Naomi Alderman, Dave Eggers and John Marrs.

You can find The Girl on Camera on Goodreads

You can buy The Girl on Camera on Amazon

Morgan Dun-CampbellAbout the Author:
Morgan Dun-Campbell lives in London. She has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and Publishing, has participated in two Arvon literary writing courses, and has worked as an intern for numerous publishing houses, including Penguin Random House and Bloomsbury. The Girl on Camera is her first novel.

You can find and contact Morgan Dun-Campbell here:
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of The Girl on Camera. Five winners will each win a prize bundle including a signed copy of the book The Girl on Camera, a bookmark, and a small box of Celebrations. Giveaway is UK and US only.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Path To Passion by Nana Prah

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nana Prah will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Heir to his family’s global empire, branding genius Miguel Astacio turns everything into marketing gold. Only his best friend’s sister seems immune to his magic touch. Until Tanya Carrington comes to him to save her floundering nightclub. Miguel is ready to rectify past mistakes. But will his supreme sacrifice win the heart of the woman he loves?

Read an Excerpt:

She stared at the screen again with her eyes unblinking “Um…” She rubbed the back of her neck and a light sheen of sweat broke out on her forehead. “How much will this cost?”

Now for the heavy convincing. He got up and stood beside her to point at the CCTV screen showing the dance area, which had filled up a little more in the hour they’d been going over his ideas. “I can see this place packed, people waiting all the way up the street trying to get in. VIP area filled with actors, musicians and pro athletes flying in to experience it.”

Unable to resist, he leaned close so they were almost cheek to cheek. Her heat and honeysuckle perfume floated into him, and he turned his head so his starving lips could caress her one more time. He kissed along her jaw until he met the sensitive area of her neck, where he teased her with gentle nips until she moaned. She sprang as far away from him as the room would allow.

What had he been thinking? Why did she affect him this way? She took away his willpower like no other woman had ever done. Thinking became almost impossible when she was around. The desire to smooth his hands over her incredibly silky soft skin drove him to get closer, but he stayed rooted to the spot, watching her rub the goose pimples from her arms.

About the Author:

Nana Prah first discovered romance in a book from her eight grade summer reading list and has been obsessed with it ever since. Her fascination with love inspired her to write in her favorite genre where happily-ever-after is the rule.

She is a published author of contemporary, multicultural romances. Her books are sweet with a touch of spice. When she’s not writing she’s, over-indulging in chocolate, enjoying life with friends and family, and tormenting nursing students into being the best nurses the world has ever seen. Nana loves to connect with her readers on Twitter @Nana Prah and Facebook at Nana Prah, author.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Path-Passion-Astacios-Nana-Prah-ebook/dp/B0778RGL2Q

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Path-Passion-Mills-Kimani-Astacios-ebook/dp/B079KLFH7H

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Path-Passion-Astacios-Nana-Prah-ebook/dp/B0778RGL2Q

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/path-to-passion-nana-prah/1127454529?ean=9781335216809#/

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488081910_path-to-passion.html

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/mt/book/path-to-passion-the-astacios-book-2/id1345049748?mt=11

Contact Details:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NanaPrah

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NanaPrah.Author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nanaprahauthor/?hl=en

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nana-Prah/e/B00E9ILIPA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1517833825&sr=8-1

Blog : http://www.nanaprah.blogspot.com

Newsletter: https://www.nanaprah.com/newsletter-sign-up
Nana is giving one lucky commenter a $20 GC (Amazon or BN).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder by Mary Cunningham

Tour Banner_Margaritas Mayhem and Murder

BLURB:

Andi’s step-mother is a real piece of work! But is Ruby a murderer?

Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent/amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father’s widow and books a 60th birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will lead to the murder of a has-bePageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00052]en lounge singer—or that Ruby will be the main suspect.

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with the charming local sheriff, Manual Rodriquez. After an embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, a chance to check out an eyewitness to the murder leads her to Las Vegas.

In Vegas, a mysterious meeting in the Bodies Exhibition, a body preserving in the prep-room, and an evasive owner of a dance studio, give Andi clues to help Ruby. But when Andi is mercilessly drugged and locked in a storage room, she realizes dear old step-mom isn’t the only one in jeopardy.

And here’s an excerpt for your pleasure–

“Tell me what’s going on. Slowly, and about fifty decibels lower. Why are you in jail?”

“Well, honey, I’m not sure. Oh, I know what they’re saying, but I didn’t do anything. I swear. Well, at least nothin’ I can remember. You see, it all started on the cruise ship dance floor, quite innocently, mind you.”

“What started?” I located my slippers and shuffled to the bathroom.

“As I was saying before you interrupted, it all started on the dance floor. You know, they play such romantic music on these cruises like, Shadow of Your Smile and Mandy. Oh, don’t you just love Manilow? Well, anyway, Lenny and I were having a lovely time, and he was obviously enamored, if you catch my drift.”

I knew this was a mistake. Still, I asked, “Lenny who?”

“Why, Lenny La Mour, of course!”

I drew a blank.

“Lenny La Mour,” Ruby huffed, “The famous Las Vegas performer? He’s the reason I picked this cruise. He had his own humongous nightclub and everything. Oh, Andi Anna, don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him. Why, women my age swoon at the sound of his voice. But, I suppose your generation only has eyes for that Bon Ami person.”

“Uh, are you, by any chance, talking about Bon Jovi?”

Find Out More About the Author Here

Author, Mary Cunningham, grew on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad’s original bedtime stories that no doubt AuthorPhoto_Margaritas, Mayhem, and Murderinspired her imagination and love of a well-spun “yarn”.

Childhood experiences, and a recurring dream about a mysterious attic, inspired characters, Cynthia and Augusta Lee, for her award-winning middle-grade series, Cynthia’s Attic. The setting is in her childhood home in Southern Indiana. Family stories and ancestors comprise the storylines. There are currently five books in the series: The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou, The Magician’s Castle, and Legend of Lupin Woods.

Through a horrifying stint as a travel agent, the character, Andi Anna Jones, travel agent/amateur sleuth, inspired her latest adult mystery series. Book # 1, Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder was released Nov. 30, 2017. The author is currently writing Book # 2 of the series, along with another middle-grade series, The Adventures of Max and Maddie, a historical time-travel, and the biography of a former Army brat/University of Connecticut women’s basketball player who started a non-profit foundation to create scholarships for children of deployed veterans.

Cunningham is a member of The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Writers Guild.

When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband and adopted, four-legged, furry daughter, Lucy.

Review Blurbs for Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder!

“If Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum were a travel agent, she’d fit right in working this case alongside Andi, a wanna-be detective readers are sure to love.” —Regan Black, USA Today bestselling author of the Escape Club Heroes and Knight Traveler novels.
Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder…WOW. Snappy dialog, quirky characters, opens with a curious bang and yanked me through the pages. A fun, fantastic read. —Jean Rabe, USA Today Bestselling author, Piper Blackwell Mysteries.
“Grab a margarita and hold on tight; you’re in for a wild ride.”
—Karen MacInerney, Agatha Award nominee and author of the Dewberry Farms Mysteries

“Charming, lively, and unpredictable, Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder excels in a vivid story mystery fans will relish.”—Diane Donovan, Senior Editor Midwest Book Review

Purchase Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076N6KBM3

B & N Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/margaritas-mayhem-murder-mary-cunningham/1127355519?type=eBook

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/756600

Good news here— Through July MM&M is half price.  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/756600

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mary_Cunningham_Margaritas_Mayhem_Murder?id=0jU8DwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/margaritas-mayhem-murder

Find Mary on Social Media:

Website Links

Website: https://www.marycunninghambooks.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/marycunninghambooks/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MaryCunningham

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marycunningham1/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/367223.Mary_Cunningham

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLNEK4

And more good news, Mary is giving away to one lucky Rafflecopter winner a $20 GC (Amazon or BN). Click below

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to read more excerpt (or get more chances to win), just followed her entire tour.

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Sons of Charlotte

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How many secrets can the Queen City conceal?

Charlotte, NC – 1966

After a head injury on the basketball court, Tony Malone, a firefighter, confides in his best friend and captain, Steve, about a strange dream he had while unconscious. It was as if he were living a different life. Steve brushes it off as related to his injury, but Tony begins to experience more phenomena with these new memories, unbeknownst to his wife, Lana. Tony struggles to live with his secret until a fire opens up a whole new world.

Charlotte, NC – 1996

Chuck Thomas began his ascent to greatness at a graphic design firm headed by Elizabeth Wheaton, the battle-ax of the Queen City corporate scene. A series of Chuck’s immoral decisions leaves the very powerful Wheaton with a raging vendetta. The playboy eventually meets Valerie Meyers, a shy girl with a complicated past, and the two marry. Their idyllic life is halted by a suspicious brush with death leaving Valerie once again picking up the pieces.

Two Souls, Too Many Questions

Literally torn between two worlds, Valerie must once again deal with the loss of her husband and come to terms with what happened to Chuck Thomas and who Tony Malone really was.

Read an Excerpt:

Brushing just a few final strokes of gold wisps across the cheekbones of her heart-shaped face, Tony sat back on his stool and stared at his work. Her periwinkle eyes almost hauntingly seemed to pop off the canvas and pierce through him. A sense of panic rushed through his veins. He dropped the paintbrush in the old coffee can at his feet and stood up looking at the face staring back at him.

I must be going insane, he thought to himself. He grabbed the canvas off the easel and made his way into the kitchen. After rummaging under the kitchen sink, he found a large black trash bag and dumped the painting into the bag. Throwing it over his shoulder, he made his way down to the apartment incinerator. Sweat was creeping up his neck as he realized Lana would be back from the store soon. He threw his masterpiece into the incinerator and hobbled back upstairs.

The effects of the stroke left Tony restless and bored, especially when the boys were in school. Lana had encouraged him to find a hobby to occupy his time and keep him out of her hair. After several failed attempts at common “manly” hobbies, he was drawn to painting and sketching and surprised his family with his talent, even selling a few at a local corner shop. He surprised himself with what he had just painted and pitched down the incinerator.

About the Authors: Along with being a successful writer and editor, AnnaMarie Cantrell is a self-made entrepreneur, starting her first consultation firm at the age of 18. She is Co-Founder and Vice President of Captive Ink Media, a literary consulting firm offering expertise to authors at all stages in their careers, and providing clients national exposure in media outlets such as The Chicago Times, Reader’s Digest, and Bustle. Her work with veterans was recently featured on the CW.

Dr. Matthew Chavis is an accomplished author and speaker. His works have been featured through a plethora of avenues. His inaugural book Old Highway 316 offers readers a glimpse into his life, as he loosely based this fiction novel on his testimony and was recently featured on the 700 Club. Many of his stories encompass the best aspects of romance, drama, paranormal and suspense/thrillers.

Through her own unique marketing plan, Dana Lynn transformed a self-published book into a serious work garnering national attention and bestseller status (under the pen name Katharine DeBrecht). She has appeared on every national cable news network numerous times and on over 500 radio shows across the country, repeatedly requested for additional appearances. As a self-syndicated writer, her opinion-editorials have appeared in major newspapers throughout the United States and across the globe.

http://www.SonsofCharlotte.com

https://www.facebook.com/SonsofCharlotteTORN

http://twitter.com/SonsofCharlotte

http://www.CaptiveInkMedia.com

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Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

JShalvis-RDF_BT

Blurb

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person? Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36260406-rainy-day-friends

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/190905-wildstone

Buy Links:RDF Promo A
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2BovOZU
BN: http://bit.ly/2BZL1hH
iBooks: https://apple.co/2AsDNpk
Other: http://jillshalvis.com/books/rainy-day-friends/#order
Paperback: http://jillshalvis.com/books/rainy-day-friends/#order
Series Buy Link: http://jillshalvis.com/series/wildstone-series/

Read the first Chapterhttp://jillshalvis.com/books/rainy-day-friends/

A Bit about the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s 24943-jill_shalvisalso a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillShalvis/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JillShalvis/
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22370.Jill_Shalvis
Newsletter: http://jillshalvis.com/faq/newsletter/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jill-shalvis

And there’s a giveaway.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81378/?

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Curse of the Ancients–Hawk MacKinney

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Hawk will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

As Craige Ingram climbed the stairs of the derelict building, that peculiar stench of a dead body hit him. It was the same smell no matter where—SpecOps SEAL encounter gone sour, or in a vacant, roach-infested apartment. Inside, his SEAL buddy-turned head of Buckingham Parish Homicide’s Investigative Support Division, Grayson MacGerald, was huddled with the coroner next to a swollen decaying corpse that was days old and hardly more than oozing dead meat. The PI inside Craige had a gut feeling that there was more to this than a dead body, and Craige’s Grannie always told him, “Trust your feelin’s.” But that was before Mihály Keaulescu set down two of his Black Falcon choppers on Craige’s Moccasin Hollow private airstrip in an uninvited stopover. It got worse. From his airstrip to Israel, to Turkey and a nightmare-dream of one-of-a-kind ancient artifacts that not only threatened the serene life Craige knew and loved at Moccasin Hollow, it would destroy the world.

Read an Excerpt:

The smell got worse as Craige made his way up the stairs. Like the smell of burning human flesh, a fermenting corpse gave off one of those distinctive odors one never forgot. Craige thought of the adage about it taking a strong stomach to work with a body that had been dead for a while. One never got used to it. Some memories weren’t pleasant—time on storm-swept beaches, digging for supplies buried in the sand, hidden under piles of rubbish, in dark alleys or trashed rat-ridden warehouses; huddled in black dark caves or stinking tunnels. Their Special Mission CTU team cocked and loaded for anything; prepared to deal out any necessary parcel of maimed, butchered and dismembered—or running for their lives the few times their cover was blown.

As Craige climbed to the second-floor landing, the smell went from bad to a sour-worse. He spotted familiar faces from the department’s forensic team; intent and focused around the pulpy lump with swollen pumpkin dimples where eyes should have been in one very bloated dead body. The corpse was well beyond the initial stages of being recycled. It no longer looked human after cooking several days in the sweltering oven of a Dixie mid-August scorching summer in this dreary one-flight walkup of apartments with no AC and painted-shut windows. The dreary apartment was busier than it’d been in years with lab and forensic techs bustling and sorting the pitiful pieces of the when and how of abandoned death. Near the peeling paint archway into a worse kitchenette he spotted Gray huddled with just over five feet plus, roly-poly Coroner-Medical Examiner Fred Dinkins.

About the Author:

With postgraduate degrees and faculty positions at several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to his work in classrooms and laboratories, he has written numerous professional articles on chordate neuroembryology and authored several novels that reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for both the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his protagonist in the Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. Hidden Vault of Secrets and Westobou Gold, Books 1 and 2 in the series, have received national and international attention. Hawk is also writing a science fiction series, The Cairns of Sainctuarie.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiAGlgQQsMQ&feature=youtu.be

Website: http://hawkmackinney.net

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Curse-Ancents-Moccasin-Hollow-Mystery/dp/0997096268/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2

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The Secret Lives of Royals by Shalini Dua

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shalina will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.

Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?

Confessions of a Shopaholic meets The Adjustment Bureau, this contemporary fairytale is both relatable and aspirational. Taking a look at the current balance of media and power with a healthy dose of humor, fashion, food and wanderlust.

Read an Excerpt:

I’m getting a very weird feeling. I consider turning around and leaving, but getting a cab on a cold rainy night before 2AM is going to be tough as they don’t begin frequenting the area until the bars start to close, and the nearest Uber appears to be 25 minutes away. Plus, I did go to all of this trouble to get my lazy self dressed and over here.

There is a crest engraved in brass metal on the front of the red door, an intricately designed crown and some lettering. I tilt my head to read it all the way around. ‘Alea iacta est memores acti prudentes uturi modus operandi’ I read aloud, and below, ‘Posteriori’. I recognize the language as Latin from the three weeks we spent on it during Intro to Languages, which was designed to help us choose one to focus on during our tenure at the university

Against my better judgment, I push on the heavy door, which creaks open. I enter into a cold stone-walled hall with a stone slab floor, lit by what appears to be a row of fire lanterns on each side. I guess this place is a bit behind the times in converting, or maybe they think it’s super ironic and hipster to not jump on the modernization bandwagon. Or maybe it’s me. I’m not exactly the authority on architectural trends. Maybe converted vintage is over and re-vintaged vintage is back in. Ugh, I can’t wait until I’m old and have an excuse not to be hip.

I walk down a windy stone hallway that seems straight out of a period film. Wow, they are really taking this theme seriously. How cool would it be if this stuff was authentic? I take a few pictures with my phone just in case. I mean as Cultures Editor, it’s always nice to be the one to discover the next big thing, like Connor said.

As I round the corner I hear, before I see, a British male mumbling to himself, apparently in debate.

“It’s so bizarre. But it couldn’t be. Could it? Stranger things have happened.”

I find myself face to face with a short-ish man, though taller than me, with glasses, wearing a sports coat with suede elbow patches. I scream in surprise and jump about five feet in the air. He seems slightly taken aback as well but less jumpy than me, or at least less vocal about it. He’s good looking in an intellectual sort of way and his dark floppy hair is conservatively combed back. I’m not sure if he’s startled by our unexpected encounter or my scream, but he does a bit of a double back.

“Sorry,” he recovers charmingly, “I didn’t see you there.”

“No, me either.” I try to breathe. I feel like I know him from somewhere.”

“Stuart Stephens.” He proffers his hand in greeting.

“Olivia Grace Thorpland.” I shake his in return. “But you can call me Gigi.”

“Hello, Gigi. Nice to meet you.” He is impeccably mannered even after our near death collision. Must be the British thing.

“So are you here for the party too?” I inquire. “Do you know where it is?”

“Party?” he asks, confused. “No, I just had a meeting here.”

“Ah, I see,” I say, although I don’t, given the hour. I definitely know him from somewhere. Got it, he’s a comedian.

“Well, care to join me anyway?” I offer politely. After all, he’s British, I’m being a good ambassador. He appears a bit bewildered.

“No, thanks. I best be going.”

“Are you sure? My friends are in there.”

“Really? Your friends are in there?” He seems surprised to see where I’m gesturing.

“Yup,” I tell him confidently.

“Oh, well, thanks for the invite, but I’m completely sure. Thanks anyway,” comes his nervous reply. “But, can I ask you a question?” I nod. “Is this all, um, kosher?”

“I, I, don’t know.” I hesitate. Is he Jewish and British? Is that a thing?

“Well, I’ll let you get on “he says. “Have a good night.”

“You too. Bye,” I reply. And with that, we walk off in opposite directions.

Finally, I reach a semi-circled entryway that has the option of five doors, one straight ahead and two on either side. These are not your ordinary doors either. They are heavy, arched, rustic, dark brown, slated wooden doors. I’m not really in the mood to crash a wedding reception, murder, or worse, a live band performance; and, given that anything could be behind these doorways, I’m about to give up on this expedition completely, when one of the doors, the entryway smack dab in the center, starts to creak open, apparently of its own accord. A feeling of unexpected dread overtakes me. I brace myself, unsure of what to expect to find behind it.

About the Author:

An international upbringing and a love of stories laid the foundation for wanderlust. Shalini aspires to spend her time country-hopping and consuming pop-culture, comedy and good food but the reality is often frantically downing coffee, meeting deadlines at exactly the last second and working her unglamorous corporate job to fund all of the other pursuits.

The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini’s debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.

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