Café Chocolaté: Chapter XXVI

Chapter XXVI – Adrian Terrence

Adrian watched Ginger sit down, noting the change in her manner. Earlier, she had been compliant, but confident. Almost arrogant. Now, she sat with her shoulders slightly bowed and her eyes lowered.

“You said that you wished to speak with us, Miss Thomas?” Xavier finally spoke, when the silence had lasted a full minute.

Ginger still sat silent for several seconds, before she raised her head. She seemed to notice Monique and nodded toward her with a questioning air. The child sat, trying to poke some life into the flattened face and ears of her stuffed bunny.

Xavier followed the look. “She stays with me.” Monique glanced up at Xavier, looked at Ginger, and went back to Mr. Pickles in silence. “She can’t be shielded from what’s happening. Just use discretion where you can.”

Ginger nodded, then continued to hesitate. Adrian began to expect her to up and walk away.

Instead, she pulled back her shoulders and raised her head, but the same defiance did not surface as before. “Listen, I have to start out by repeating that Eddie did not kill anyone.”

“But you’re afraid that he may have done so anyway?” Xavier asked.

“No! It’s…” She sent a look toward what could be seen of Eddie still lying on the floor. “I did – for just a minute – consider that he might have done it – but I panicked! I would have known better otherwise.”

“What made you panic, Ginger?” Adrian hadn’t opened his notebook and decided to push it aside for the moment.

Ginger spread her hands flat on the table, her eyes closed for just a second. She opened them with a sigh. “I know who Gary Bradshaw is from previous experience.”

“Before last week?” Adrian wanted clarification.

Ginger nodded. “From six years ago.”

Adrian looked directly at the woman. “When Eddie was questioned for shoplifting?”

Ginger nodded again.

“Perhaps it would be wise to tell us how you know about him.” Xavier folded his arms onto the table. “As well as how Eddie knows about him.”

“That’s just it.” Ginger curled her hands into fists and then shoved them into her lap. “Eddie didn’t even meet him. Gary Bradshaw was one of the witnesses from the shoplifting case. Eddie was put into police lineup three different times. Gary Bradshaw was the only witness who identified Eddie as the thief.”

“And you know this how?” Adrian asked.

Ginger shrugged. “I went to the station to get Eddie. Someone slipped up or outright gave the guy too much information, including Eddie’s name. Gary Bradshaw was ticked that they wouldn’t arrest Eddie on his say-so and was loudly complaining to the lady with him. I didn’t even have to eavesdrop to hear him. Everyone heard him.”

“I see.”

Ginger glared at Xavier. “Eddie said that they wouldn’t tell him anything. The police wouldn’t, that is. I didn’t tell him either.”

“Why didn’t you tell your brother about the person who accused him of theft, Ginger?” Adrian finally pulled his notebook over, but he still didn’t open it.

“I thought… I thought that if he knew about it and they questioned him again, it might sound badly. He said that he didn’t do it and I didn’t want to make things worse for him.”

Xavier remained impassive. “And yet, you panicked, Miss Thomas, if only for a moment.”

“It wasn’t just Gary Bradshaw who made me panic.” Ginger shook her head emphatically. “It… It was the ice pick.”

The cousins exchanged glances. “The ice pick?”

Ginger nodded.

“You defended him when Eddie found the ice pick.” Adrian felt more than a little confused.

“No… I mean, yes, I did. But that’s not what I mean. I mean, when I found the ice pick.”

Even Monique looked up and Adrian dropped his pencil. Xavier cleared his throat. “You found the ice pick, Miss Thomas? Before your brother?”

Ginger nodded again.

Adrian tried to process and frowned. “When exactly did you find the ice pick and where did you find, Ginger?”

Ginger’s voice dropped very low. “In the neck of Gary Bradshaw.”

Adrian couldn’t help but stare at her.

Xavier continued to remain unfazed. “Please explain, Miss Thomas.”

Ginger clenched her hands even tighter. “It was a couple of minutes after the explosion. Eddie ran off to help people. I started to go talk to Timothy Teller and Anna Carpentier. I had to pass Gary Bradshaw as I was standing behind the counter, and… and when I did, I saw…” For a moment, her voice wavered. She stuck her chin up. “I saw Gary Bradshaw just sitting there. He was obviously gone and I recognized the ice pick. We keep it on the wall and I knew who the man was. I just panicked! I pulled the ice pick, threw it on a shelf under one of the counters, and hurried over to talk to Timothy and Anna. It might have taken me two minutes and everyone was too distracted to notice me. Even Eddie.”

“You thought that Eddie committed the murder, because you knew of the previous connection and you knew that he had access to the ice pick?” Xavier asked.

“And because we were both right there. Eddie could have walked over to Gary Bradshaw without my knowledge, while I talked to a customer.” She shook her head. “It was irrational, but not impossible. I know he didn’t do it though – because I know him.”

“Regardless, you decided to protect a murderer, Miss Thomas.”

Ginger glared. “He’s my brother.”

“That does not make it right.”

Ginger wavered. “Which is why I am talking to you now. But I didn’t care about right nor wrong. I didn’t really think at all – or I would have never panicked.”

Xavier only nodded.

“I’m telling you everything now.” Some petulance reentered Ginger’s tone. “Surely that counts for something.”

Adrian opened his notebook and began jotting down notes. “It would count for more if you saw someone else near Gary Bradshaw near the time of the murder, Ginger.”

“I didn’t.” Ginger sighed. “I wish I did. I’d certainly tell you about it. But I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t see anyone at all.”

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Author’s Bookshelf: Starlight and Time

My reading time took a blow this last week, as I had writing projects to catch up on and not a lot of time to do them. So, I sacrificed reading to catch up. (And mostly succeeded!)

Consequently, I only read one book this week. Starlight and Time by D. Russell Humphreys. I read it on the recommendation of a dear friend. (The same friend with whom I’ve been buddy reading The Lord of the Rings.) Though published in the late 90’s, I found it a truly fascinating discussion regarding the scientific possibilities of Creation Week. I had never imagined anything quite like this theory – I had actually never really revised the my toddlerhood vision of how God created the earth. I found it all rather wonderful and the science seemed possible. I would rather like to do some research to discover whether more work has been done on the theory in the last twenty years.

I haven’t worked on anything else yet, though I’m thinking it may be time to reread The Betrayal.

What are you reading this week?

To the KING be all the glory!

Reading Recap for 2019

It seems that authors everywhere are talking about their favorite books they read in 2019. Usually posting a top ten on their blog or Facebook page.

I have tried to follow suit. I really have. I have sat down and tried to pick ten books out of the 67 or more different volumes that I read in 2019, but I have failed. I really did read a lot of good books this year. (You can see the log of what I read in the picture above. It doesn’t include books I read twice – they’re only drawn in once.)

In January, I read Peter Pan for the first time. I loved the way J.M. Barrie told his story. Parts of the book are a little weird, and I honestly didn’t expect Peter to be so flighty in his memory, but I quite enjoyed the book. (Which is probably one reason I’m writing a story with Peter Pan as the theme now. More on that later, however.)

2019 marked the first time that I completed C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. I had read The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe more than once, but for various reasons I had never finished the series. I completed it in 2019 and could only say I was sorry not to have read it before. (Though there is something to be said for finishing Narnia while traveling to and staying in Britain!) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader had me skeptical, but in the end I liked it as much as the others. I fondly recall The Silver Chair. I don’t comment on all the theological points of The Last Battle, but that book, especially, left me in awe. Particularly the depiction of death and going to Heaven. It was so beautiful and like nothing I had ever read.

On the recommendation of a friend, I read Silas Marner by George Eliot this last year. The first page, I confess, had me skeptical. (It doesn’t take much for me to be skeptical about a book in the beginning. At least, it doesn’t usually stop me from continuing.) It seemed a little dry. I soon found myself proven wrong. I loved how the author portrayed Silas as such a simple man, but wholly human and likable. Not animal-like in any way, just because he had such a simple way about him. I loved watching him take in his little girl, learning to love and care for the child. It was so sweet. I bought a copy of my own a short while later.

In the summer, I read Brothers at Arms: Treasure and Treachery in the Amazon by John Horn. Lawrence and Chester quickly placed in my list of favorite characters. I actually read the entire Men of Grit series in the summer, and I enjoyed every one, but Brothers at Arms is my favorite. The Mountain Fortress: Escape to the Outback is probably my second favorite, though it is difficult to choose.

I can also count As You Like It as one of my favorites this year, but I can not with honesty say whether I loved the Shakespeare play for itself or whether the fact that I read it for my trip to Oxford, saw it as my first play, and attended the play in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, no less, made it a favorite. I can not decide on an unbiased opinion in this case and I do not intend to continue trying at present.

War in the Wasteland. Douglas Bond has been a favorite author of mine since I was sixteen. With that knowledge, I had high hopes for this book, but it far exceeded my expectations. You can read my review here.

Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant. I know that I actually wrote one of the books in this series. I also know that we published The Vintage Jane Austen Series two years ago. For various reasons that I will not bore my readers with, I only managed to give the entire series my full attention this year. I would venture to say that, lovely as our series is, Kelsey may have written the best story out of them all. I really loved the way that she retold Sense and Sensibility.

This seems to have been my year for reading series, which is odd since I generally avoid them. (Short version: I’m always afraid that the further the series goes, that the author will somehow ruin the story. I didn’t see that happen in my 2019 reading, however.) I discovered Chautona Havig’s Meddin’ Madeline series to be quite fun. So fun, in fact, that I am cheerfully anticipating the release of book four. I do enjoy a good mystery and the characters really are realistic, but relatable. I can’t pick a favorite here… I really can’t. I rather think of them as one long book. I’m not sure why.

Another series I enjoyed in 2019 is The Accidental Cases of Emily Abbott by Perry Kirkpatrick. Not sure I could pick a favorite book here either, but I do have a favorite character. Brent Peterson makes being a spy look like such an adventure. Again, I look forward to the next installment. This series was likely one of the most amusing of anything I read in 2019.

Although I have read them before, rereading most of The Lord of the Rings in tandem with a dear friend of mine (we’re still working on the end,) deserves mention, as I have highly enjoyed the reading. Also, I began by reading The Hobbit first, which I hadn’t done before. It’s been fascinating to notice just how often The Hobbit or its characters are referenced in the succeeding books.

I read The Weight of Glory toward the end of summer. I love how C.S. Lewis can make clear, things that have confused or befuddled me. I plan to read it again.

Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and Not a Word by Chautona Havig both get honorable mention, as favorites of mine that I reread.

As this list is growing long beyond all sense of reason, I shall bring it to a close. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t include among my very favorites, Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey books. I have not finished this series, but I plan to. Whose Body? Charmed me from the first chapter. Lord Peter has not replaced my favorite detective, (because who could replace Sherlock Holmes?) but he does hold second place, currently. His best friend, Detective Inspector Charles Parker, may also be my favorite police detective ever, actually. I look forward to finishing the series.

These are not in order, though they are somewhat in order of my reading. Somewhat. Some of my most favorite are up towards the top, but then… some of them are farther down. And then the list gets mixed up.

I enjoyed my 2019 reading year and I’m looking forward to 2020. (Thus far, I am enjoying Tolkien’s The Return of the King.) What were some of your favorite reads in 2019?

To the KING be all the glory!  

We Have a Release Date!

LORD willing, November 1st, Christmas Carol Society will be available for Kindle! Shortly followed by paperback. (All of my pushing has not managed a paperback version on the same day. LORD willing, that will be the following week!)

I should have posted this on Monday – but I forgot. I don’t know how, except I filled my entire day with editing. The good news is, Christmas Carol Society, is through with major editing and is just going through last read through!

Perry at perryelisabethdesign.com did a lovely job on my cover! I usually do my own, but I’m not sorry I decided to change things up. The cover makes me smile, just looking at it. It fits my modern story, while tying back to the original story of A Christmas Carol.

I can not pick favorites among my books. I haven’t ever had that ability. However, I do believe that Christmas Carol Society is very possibly the best book I have ever written. Miss Dartmoor proved to be a fascinating study for me, I had a lot of fun with Albert, and I loved Charlie. Then, of course, there is Ralph, Jessie, Ryan…

I have wanted to write a book that included A Christmas Carol for a number of years – and now I finally have one! And the release is oh-so close! We’ve got nine days and counting… I should go and work on formatting!

To the KING be all the glory!

Synapse – A Review

Synapse by Steven James

Released October 8th, 2019

Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but what they believe. Is hope real for them, or merely an illusion?

Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon.

But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions that Artificials were never meant to ask.

Deftly weaving suspense and intrigue into a rich, resonant tale that explores faith and what it really means to be human, Steven James offers us a glimpse into the future and into our own hearts.

Synapse is an unforgettable, gripping story of dreams shattered, truth revealed, and hope reborn.

My Review

Steven James is an exceptional writer. Never once did the story lag, even during long discussions of a philosophical nature. He knows how to weave together his words and story in a beautiful manner.

I enjoyed seeing from multiple perspectives, even from the criminals’ points of view, throughout the book. I rarely got confused – only with the NCB agents and that could be attributed to my not noticing their names when they first appeared on the page.

My biggest complaint about Synapse is the role of Kestrel Hathaway. Biblically, I don’t believe there is a role for female pastors. She didn’t act much like a pastor either, from what I could see, but as her character arch put her into a place of struggle, perhaps that could be expected. I did like how many times she called Scripture to mind, even though she couldn’t always say she knew her own thoughts on those Scriptures.

I would also include a warning regarding the violence of a few of the death scenes. As a thriller, one might expect deaths, but the level of detail, particularly for some of the murders, might disturb some readers.

I found the underlying premise regarding what Jordan, an Artificial, can and can not believe about God to be a fascinating topic and one that I want to think about more thoroughly. The discussions regarding existence, death, and eternity were well thought out and good food for thought.

Blog Tour

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 8

Just Your Average reviews, October 9

Emily Yager, October 9

amandainpa , October 10

Wishful Endings, October 10

Just the Write Escape, October 11

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections, October 11

Pause for Tales, October 12

Mary Hake, October 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 13

For The Love of Books, October 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 14

Hallie Reads, October 15

Blogging With Carol, October 15

Remembrancy, October 16

Through the Fire Blogs, October 16

Simple Harvest Reads, October 17

Texas Book-aholic, October 18

Rebekah Jones, Author, October 18

janicesbookreviews, October 19

Bigreadersite, October 19

A Reader’s Brain, October 20

Inklings and notions , October 21

By The Book, October 21

About the Author

Steven James is the critically acclaimed, national bestselling author of sixteen novels. His work has been optioned by ABC Studios and praised by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, the New York Journal of Books, and many others. His pulse-pounding, award-winning thrillers are known for their intricate storylines and insightful explorations of good and evil. When he’s not working on his next book, he’s either teaching master classes on writing throughout the country, trail running, or sneaking off to catch a matinee.

To the KING be all the glory!