Solstice by Braxton Cosby

CHAPTER THREE

Sydney and Noella walked hand in hand along the small winding path leading to the top the

Mount Dothan. The dusking sky painted a sheet of orange and red light across the woodsy terrain

around them, giving the impression of wading through a sea of fire. Amid the grim moment of

the day and the burning sensation rising in Sydney’s throat, the tone seemed fitting. Silence

accompanied them, and it wasn’t until the pair hit the peak that Sydney finally broke the ice. “So

what do your people call this ceremony?” she asked.

“The time of the harvest. It’s the moment when a fallen soldier is said to join the being of the

sky. I think humans refer to it as God,” Noella said, her tone as flat as the expression on her face.

“Sounds cool,” she replied as she surveyed the surroundings; a patch of flatland that housed a

family of hawks who watched cautiously from above in a lone cedar tree. From here, every inch

of Madisonburg could be observed without the need of telescope or binoculars. A bed of

dandelions and weeping willows greeted them in the center of the field.

“This way. I’ll show you where I buried his body,” Noella said.

She could see that Noella was visibly shaken, slowly unravelling before her eyes. Her hands

trembled as her eyes began to redden. She wondered how long it’d take, amazed at how Noella

had not said a word since Arrion’s death a few weeks ago, only morning him in silence, which

she explained was customary on Fabricius. She had done the deed all by herself, refusing to

allow Sydney to assist in his burial. From scouting the plot of land to digging the hole, Noella

insisted that it was protocol on her planet for a lone fellow soldier to be assigned the arduous task

of preparation. Seeing as though William had departed soon after, there was no better candidate

left for the job.

She took Noella by the hand and drew her close, giving her the most delicate and firm hug she

could muster. Noella stood motionless, sinking into her friend’s embrace. After a few seconds,

she released her, unable to make eye contact. “I’m here for you,” she murmured.

“Thanks, Syd,” Noella replied, her voice ragged.

She finally looked up at her and gave a nod, following Noella’s lead over to the place where

Arrion’s body lay. Surprisingly, the disturbed clay seemed more settled than she expected, dried

from the sun and already showing signs of life as Bermuda grass had slowly began to encroach

along the edges. A makeshift tombstone had been erected, fashioned from metallic fuselage

scraps of the Daedallus, with only Arrrion’s name and handle tatted along the surface, minus

dates to hide his identity to hikers in hopes that most consider it a memorial to a lost pet if they

stumbled upon it.

Noella knelt next to the grave, slid her backpack from her shoulders and began to open it.

Searching her bag, she retrieved a small oval-shaped disk and a satchel filled with purple

powder. “These are crushed lilacs pedals. We must first prepare the path for Arrion’s ascension

by sending tribute to the sky.” She stood and sprinkled a few handfuls over the grave until a thin

layer had materialized before them. “On our planet we usually use the oil of a Tonosia Tree,

which is a lot thicker substance and is used for sterilization. Sarah thought it’d be a good idea to

use lilacs as a substitute because it was a similar color.”

“It’s beautiful,” she replied.

“I will now begin the ceremony.” Noella placed the disc in the center of the burial site,

depressed a red button on the top and came to her side. The two joined hands as the disc began to

spin and dig into the hardened clay. Noella pointed a hydrogen phaser at the site and fired a

stream of fire upon it that scorched the sheet of crushed pedals. The disc disappeared beneath the

flames and Noella broke out into song, in an alien dialect that Sydney could not understand. It

was less about the words and more the moment that choked at her, forcing the tears to flow

freely down her face. She squeezed Noella’s hand as she crooned on. By the time Noella had

finished, a small fissure had opened in the place where the disc had entered and a cloud of

embers swirled into the air; a mix of red, orange and yellow. It lifted high into the sky and faded

into the clouds.

Noella dropped to her knees in a whimper. “It is finished.”

Sydney came beside her and held her close. “It was… beautiful.”

The two sat in silence with only sobs to drown out the sounds of the forest.

 
Solstice
The Star-Crossed Saga
Book 3
Braxton A. Cosby
Genre: YA Sci-fi, Romance
Publisher: Cosby Media Productions
Date of Publication: 11/25/2016
ISBN-13: 978-1540541673 
ISBN-10: 1540541673
ASIN: B01LZ4OMHI
Number of pages: 303
Word Count: 90K
Cover Artist: CMP
Book Description: 
What You Believe, Can Destroy You!
William and Sydney have sacrificed everything to fortify their love, so much so that William dares to brave the depths of space to find a cure for their deadly Supernova bond, leaving both her and Earth vulnerable to Torrian Alliance attack. 
But with a full scale rebellion in play on Fabricius, the reality of Sydney’s execution from Torrian hands is diminished, only eclipsed by the certainty of a more threats – The Third Faction and The Dagmas Clan – lead by Dominic and his insurgent recruits. With overwhelming odds mounting against them, William makes a desperate attempt to find the last of the endangered Star-children only to be captured by a new menace, where he is forced to compete in the dreaded Gauntlet of sport. Allies surge to free Fabricius, seeking alliances across the galaxy while Sydney tries to keep her identity hidden and trains to master the third phase of her Star-child evolution: Solstice. 
With Sarah’s mysterious return home with clues to unlock the future, Noella’s training and Bill’s symbiotic development hope is restored, but will it be enough to unite the galaxy and destroy evil for once and for all?
 
About the Author:
Braxton A. Cosby is the award-winning author of YA fiction. 
He endeavors to paint vivid pictures of his characters and worlds in the minds of readers, so that they too can share in his complex visions of the past, present and future. 
Braxton lives in Atlanta, GA with his amazing wife and four children.  
Instagram: braxtonacosby
Twitter: @BraxtonACosby

 

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Overboard by Roxanne D. Howard

Excerpt:

Piper released the docking line from its cleat on the back of the cruiser yacht.

“Last line’s cast off, Jack,” she called over her shoulder. He hollered back in response,

and she took one last look at the pretty shoreline of Catalina Island. In stressful times,

there were certain places one could visit in one’s imagination, special memories that

brought peace or a wistful smile to one’s face when the sights, smells, and tastes were

recalled. Catalina would forever be such a place for her, wherever her road in life with

Jack took her.

She turned around and walked through the semishade of the deck lounge to the

helm where Jack stood and checked their bearings. A pleasant warmth spread inside her

at the sight of his impressive muscular frame beneath the outline of his loose white shirt.

She rubbed a little hand sanitizer into her palms as he reversed out of the dock. He

glanced at her, and she kissed his cheek. “Greatest holiday ever. Thank you for

kidnapping me. Now, back to reality.”

Jack’s thick brown hair lifted with the light breeze as he turned the boat. “Bah.

Reality’s overrated. I did a sweep of the entire yacht, every nook and cranny. I’m pleased

to report no runaway convicts or stowaways aboard.”

“Thank God. Though I have to admit, Diego did give the trip a lot more

excitement than it would have had without him.”

“Oh, come on. Is sex with me really that bad?”

She shook her head and grinned. “Yes. Anyway, we’ll have to send him a cupcake

in prison when we get back.”

“As long as it doesn’t have a nail file in it.” He winked. “I love it when you wear

your curls loose, by the way. It looks nice.”

She rewarded him with a radiant smile. He’d made it his mission to please her in

every possible way since they’d come to Catalina, and it left her feeling pampered and

relaxed. “Thank you. I like the open-throated pirate look on you.”

“I wonder why.”

“No idea.” She slid her palm over the warm flesh of his broad chest.

He kept his gaze on the ocean but rubbed the tops of her fingers with his free hand.

“The waves are calm today. I didn’t expect that. Ready for your New Year’s

broadcast tonight?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess. I’ve watched the ball drop on TV, but I’ve never

taken part in a countdown before. We’ll broadcast intermittently, but it’s still pretty

exciting. You’ll come to the company get-together before my segment, right?”

“Of course. Wouldn’t miss it. You’ll do great, Piper.”

She made a face. “We’ll see. I’ll do better with you there, even if it’s off to the

side. After how blissful it’s been the last couple days, I don’t want to separate and go

back to the real world just yet.”

He met her eyes. “Who says we have to?”

She kissed him and cupped his jaw with her palm. It was remarkable how a love

you didn’t know was absent from your life could enter and take it over so completely and

in the best of ways. She drew back. “You gonna let me steer again? I promise not to

crash.”

The corner of his mouth tilted up, and he reached over to a peg near the helm and

took down his white captain’s hat. He fitted it onto her head and gave her a little salute.

“Ship’s all yours, Cap’n.”

He stepped aside, and she took the wheel.

“Very good, Mr. Spencer. How does the hat look?”

“It looks yare.”

She laughed. “Now there’s a word I haven’t heard in a long time. Isn’t it from that

old Katherine Hepburn movie? I didn’t think people still said it.”

His finger stroked down the length of her arm as she steered, and a sweet tingle

spread through her body at the featherlight touch.

“My dad was old-school, and he liked to turn a good phrase or two. I’m serious. I

like the cap on you. I’d love to see what you look like in it and nothing else.”

Her pussy tightened at the raw need in his gaze, and she grew wet. “Be careful

what you wish for, Captain Spencer. You just might get it. Take over the wheel for a

second. I need some water. Are you thirsty? Can I get you a glass?”

He took the wheel from her, and his eyes gleamed with lust. “Yeah.”

She skimmed her fingers along his and rounded the corner to the kitchenette area.

She poured a glass of water from a gallon container and toyed with a wicked idea. Over

the past few days, she’d learned she could be as playful as she wanted with Jack, and he

responded precisely how she needed him to. She looked down and tugged at her nipples,

the mental image he’d painted just a moment ago fresh in her mind.

She bit her lip and set the water down as her pussy throbbed. She ran her hand

between her legs to soothe the ache. She shed her shirt and the rest of her clothes and left

them in a pile on the wooden floor. Her body had grown attuned to his, and she needed

his touch.

They’d made love once this morning when they awoke, but they were alone out

here on the open sea. Her time in Catalina with Jack had taught her that if she asserted

herself and showed him what she wanted, he gave it back to her tenfold. And right now,

she was ready for it.

She fixed the brim of Jack’s captain’s hat over her brow, picked up the glass of

water, and sashayed toward the helm. She cleared her throat. “Would you like your water

now?”


Overboard
Costa Mesa Series
Book Three
Roxanne D. Howard
Genre: Contemporary erotic romance,
action/adventure, suspense
Publisher: Loose Id, LLC.
Date of Publication:  December 27, 2016
Cover Art by Bianca Duarte
Design by April Martinez

ISBN: 978-1-68252-255-4
Book Description:
At the end of their romantic holiday getaway, Piper is one loved-up woman, and she can’t get enough of the sizzling passion she’s found with Jack after all they’ve been through. The two lovers board Jack’s yacht and leave the idyllic hamlet of Catalina Island, California to head home for New Year’s Eve, and it seems nothing could be more perfect… until the day turns on a dime, and the waters rise. When Jack receives a radio distress call from an old friend out on the open ocean, their initial efforts to free a trapped, massive blue whale soon becomes a dangerous struggle for life or death when Jack risks everything to save it.
It’s a New Year’s Eve fraught with harrowing danger, narrow escapes, daring rescue missions, and heart-pounding passion. During their countless obstacles, Piper secretly discovers something shocking slipped into Jack’s coat pocket one time after they make love, and it threatens to change everything and rock the foundation of all they’ve built together. With the weight of the knowledge pressing down upon her, can their love survive? This New Year’s Eve, get ready for some fireworks, because it’s all going Overboard.
 
About the Author:
Roxanne D. Howard is a romance novelist who resides in the mid-western United States. She is a U.S. Army veteran, and has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English. She loves to read poetry, classical literature, and Stephen King. She is also an avid Star Wars fan, musical theater nut, and loves everything related to marine biology. She enjoys spending quality time with her husband and children when she’s not writing. Roxanne loves to hear from her readers, and she can be contacted at author@roxannedhoward.com.
To find out more, please visit her website: www.roxannedhoward.com

 

Twisted: The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin’s Name by Bonnie M

Chapter 1 Excerpt

The morning mist had almost lifted in the village of Stanishire, the farmers and fishermen

were readying the market, women were shouting chores to sleepy children, and Aoife was on her

way to collect her father from the town brothel, where the painted ladies entertained men’s

nocturnal needs.

When she reached the main street, she dismounted and tied her horse to a hitching post.

She walked around the corner of the brothel where no one could see her, adjusted her skirt, and

ran her fingers through her hair. Practice had taught her how to jiggle the finicky latch so its

reluctant grip released and granted her entrance. The back hallway was dark and quiet. Maggie,

the young girl who helped cook and clean, was opening windows to release the sweat and

perfume-laced air. Broken glass littered the floor, and cards from unfinished games lay scattered

on tables.

“Maggie,” Aoife whispered.

Maggie turned into the dust motes in a sliver of daylight. Over the years, Aoife had

learned to call her gently and not to sneak up on her lest she startle the young girl as she had

done the first time they met here when Aoife was eleven and Maggie just nine.

“Eeeeef-uh!” Maggie’s eyes lit up as she called Aoife’s name. She had always over-

enunciated each syllable in what sounded like a sigh of relief.

She took hold of Aoife’s hand, pulling her around the corner and into the kitchen, one of

the only places in the residence that passed for a respectable room.

“Wait here,” Maggie said, kissing Aoife on the cheek. “I’ll be right back.”

Aoife looked around at the pots hanging on the wall that Maggie kept so shiny. A rolling

pin on the counter was coated with flour and the smell of bread baking in the oven filled the

dimly lit room. In the corner was Maggie’s chair with a basket of women’s stockings waiting to

be darned. Aoife turned her back to the parlor door and everything that happened there,

pretending her visits with Maggie by the fire were no different than a visit with any other village

girl. The sight of Maggie humming as she patched up stockings always made Aoife think of her

younger sister, Tara, lying under her heavy blankets, sewing away at some pattern their mother

had her working on. Aoife felt that Tara and Maggie would have enjoyed chatting over their

sewing, if only Tara were not stuck in bed with a perpetual cough and Maggie the progeny of a

brothel.

“Aoife. You look quite bright and alive considering the early hour.”

Aoife jumped as Maeve strolled over and pulled a leaf from Aoife’s hair.

“I see you’ve been busy with your studies,” Maeve added.

Aoife touched her hair, searching for more debris. Maeve’s dressing gown exposed her

cleavage and her long, dark curls draped over her bare shoulders without apology. Aoife had

seen her dressed, powdered, and painted since she was a girl, and she admired the way her gaze,

so piercing, seemed to command respect from everyone. But what had captivated Aoife the most

was something more powerful and more impressive than Maeve’s beauty. Although crow’s feet

now punctuated her eyes, and her waistline had thickened, the most powerful men deferred to

her, bowing their heads in her direction when she traveled through the streets.

“I couldn’t resist the path through the woods,” Aoife replied, knowing she could hide

nothing from her.

Maeve stared at her. The affection in her appraisal was always slightly distant, stopping

just short of motherly.

“Seamus is taking care of things,” Maeve said with her usual calm.

Aoife nodded and looked again at the shiny pots, trying to focus on anything but Seamus’

highly embarrassing ritual of waking her father, the fairly infamous Finnegan, from wherever he

had ended his evening and saddling him on his horse. Maggie pulled a loaf of steaming bread

from the oven and set out plates, knives, and a bowl of fresh butter. Each of them took their place

around the table as Maggie generously portioned out the bread. Maeve let her shawl fall over the

back of her chair and straightened up her shoulders, exposing even more of herself. Aoife

flushed and bit quietly into her bread, savoring the flavor and the moment.

There was an honesty and warmth in this kitchen that she never felt in the presence of her

own mother. Conversation and warm bread was what made coming to get her father for all these

years worth the lashings she used to receive from her mother when she returned home.

“I hear that your latest suitor was seen heading out of town yesterday,” Maeve said. “I

gather his hasty departure means that there will be no nuptials?”

Aoife shook her head and cast a quick smile at Maggie.

“I can’t imagine why you didn’t want to marry that one,” Maeve said. “Lots of gold, a

manor house to the east with more land than you and your horse could ever discover, and

handsome, too. What more could a girl want than a man with piles of gold and a good set of

teeth?”

“A man who is blind and deaf and preferably feeble – with deep pockets, of course. Then

I can live my life in peace and never have to worry about his teeth – or mine for that matter.”

Maggie giggled, and Maeve raised an appreciative eyebrow, offering her signature half-

smile, half-smirk. Aoife grinned and took another bite of the steaming bread.

“And what do your parents say?” Maeve asked. Her features had softened, but her

thoughts remained inscrutable. “I can’t imagine they find your refusals as entertaining as we do.”

Aoife fell silent. This was an unexpected detour in the script. They avoided direct

references to Aoife’s family. It made breaking bread between them possible, since the money

Maeve took from Aoife’s father by night was one of the greatest strains on her family’s

resources, reputation, and love. The medicine that Tara often went without after her father’s

reckless trips was reason enough for Aoife to despise Maeve, but she had learned to avoid

dwelling on these realities. She needed Maeve enough to tolerate her father’s indiscretions, since

rescuing him had now become a means of escaping her life. Discussing her family jeopardized

everything.

“Well, no, they are not exactly pleased,” Aoife replied, her brashness fading.

Maeve wiped the corner of her mouth and cleared her throat. Something in the air had

changed.

“You know, at some point, perhaps sooner than you might expect, they will stop coming.

First, the young ones with stacks of gold and good teeth. They have the most fragile egos and

will seek out friendlier pastures. Then eventually, even the wrinkly ones, with and without gold,

will find calling on you not worth the effort,” Maeve paused. “The tales of your beauty will be

replaced by tales of new faces with more welcoming smiles. The choices left to you will be

slim.”

The bread balled up in Aoife’s throat. She could have had breakfast in her own home if

she wanted this type of talk. She suddenly felt incensed that Madame Maeve dared to criticize

her.

“My mother mires me in these traps daily,” Aoife dusted the crumbs from her hands.

“She appreciates neither the risk to my reputation I take coming here nor the fact that I am the

one who has run the farm for years now.”

“This is true. Your family would be in the poor house and your sister probably with God

if not for your courage and your brains,” Maeve said. “But I’m not talking about them. I’m

talking about you and your future. You must understand that there are consequences for you,

whether you say yes or no to the suitors who come your way.”

She raised an eyebrow, which seemed loaded with a warning left to Aoife to decipher. It

had a familiar ring to it, like the warnings her mother made so often about the consequences of

Aoife’s trips to Maeve’s house.

“No respectable man will ever want to marry a girl who consorts with vile women, not

when he thinks he can pay a few coins for her instead,” her mother would say.

Her mother lived in such a dream world she did not recognize that Aoife was trying to

protect the family’s reputation and as much of their finances as was possible. Her mother worried

more about Aoife’s reputation than the food on the table and Tara’s medicine. And because of

that, a chasm had grown between them too deep to ever cross.

“My choices are just as narrow as every other girl’s. I know that,” Aoife said standing up

abruptly. Her shawl dropped to the floor, its power to protect her no match for the storm brewing

in the kitchen. “But I’d never compromise myself – or give men control over my body for money

like you do. Of that you can be sure.”

“I wasn’t suggesting that,” Maeve replied, completely unruffled. “But it’s interesting that

you did. And, Aoife, no matter what choice you make – your husband’s house, my house, or the

nunnery – you are exchanging control over your body for money. Of that you can be sure.”

“I have given half my life already to protecting my family. Everyday, whether I’m seeing

that fields are reseeded and sheep are sheared or carting my father home from here, I am picking

up the pieces of my family’s fortune that my father has broken apart,” Aoife said with less

command of her voice than she would have liked. “And now, after I’ve done everything I can to

save this family, they – and you – expect me to sell myself off to the next buyer, supposedly to

protect them? I can’t do it.”

Aoife knew there was no way for a woman to survive in the world without the protection

of a man, yet the security they offered was never guaranteed. Her father’s choices still chipped

away at the pieces of what was once her mother, Bronagh. Still bedecked in the jewels of their

courtship, she found her only solace and comfort in embroidering ornate and regal designs and

patterns by the night fire, awaiting his return from Maeve’s as if her delicate hands could

somehow stitch back together the girl he had unraveled and the lives he had torn apart at the

seams. Bronagh would not even consider selling her tapestries or needlework to help support her

family, for that would have been beneath a woman of her status. Aoife, however, was not built to

sit and sew while their fortune and Tara’s health deteriorated at the hands of her father. She

needed to be on her feet fixing the problem, not decorating the home they were sure to lose if no

one intervened.

Bronagh had traded away her soul for a broken promise of safety and love, and she

expected Aoife to do the same. But now Maeve, too? Her advice was nothing less than a

betrayal.

“For women not made to curtsey obediently through life, there is no easy choice.” A

subtle urgency belied Maeve’s calm. “However, refusing every suitor is not a means of

controlling your life, but rather giving over control to whatever or whomever is left over.”

“So I should marry the next man who comes along or end up in a whore house like you?”

Aoife said, wincing at her angry words.

She was angry that Maeve had taken her mother’s side, but she did not relish wounding

the one person who had always been a source of strength and understanding. Despite her words,

Maeve’s features revealed not even the slightest hint of hurt.

“What I am saying is that you ought to turn away any option which would leave you

without hope of peace and contentment,” Maeve replied. “But do not fool yourself into waiting

for a perfect choice to present itself, because it never will.”

Aoife felt her stomach lurch. She needed to get away from this house, this woman, and

the truth. Turning around, she marched outside where her father was standing. She walked to her

horse and looked to see if he needed assistance. The legacy of too much mead weighed on his

haggard figure as Seamus helped him to his horse.

“I’m so sorry to have inconvenienced you this morning, my sweet Aoife,” her father’s

worn voice eschewed sadly.

“I know, father,” she replied. “You’re always sorry.”

He swayed precariously in either direction and then took Aoife’s hand suddenly.

“You’re too good to me, Aoife,” he whispered. “You should be reaching for the–”

“Stars,” she finished. “I know, Father.”

He closed his eyes and pressed her hand between his.

“My hand’s grown since we spent our nights stargazing.”

He nodded and Aoife felt a pang of nostalgia sweep over her. She missed the way he used

to pick her up from her mother’s side by the fire and take her out of doors to look at the moon

and stars. The memory of the polished scent of him from her childhood came back over the

stench of mead that clung to him now. He had been a good father once upon a time. She looked

up, searching for any fragment of the man who tossed her high in the air as a little girl. The

sparkle of a tear danced at the corner of his eye. There he was. She kissed his forehead tenderly

and he sighed with the soft smile reserved only for Aoife. His favorite.

 

 


Twisted: The Girl Who Uncovered 
Rumpelstiltskin’s Name
Bonnie M Hennessy
Genre: YA Fantasy
Date of Publication: November 19, 2016
ISBN13: 978-1539753421  
ISBN-10: 1539753425
ASIN: B01N3MC1K4
Number of pages: 306
Word Count: 75,000
Cover Artist: Andreea Vraciu
Book Description: 
An old tale tells the story of how a little man named Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold and tricked a desperate girl into trading away her baby. But that’s not exactly how it happened. 
The real story began with a drunken father who kept throwing money away on alcohol and women, while his daughter, Aoife, ran the family farm on her own. When he gambled away everything they owned to the Duke, it was up to her to spin straw into gold to win it all back. 
With her wits and the help of a magical guardian, she outsmarted the Duke and saved the day. 
Well almost…
Her guardian suddenly turned on Aoife and sent her on a quest to find his name, the clues to which were hidden deep in the woods, a moldy dungeon, and a dead woman’s chamber. 
This is not the tale of a damsel in distress, but a tenacious, young woman who solved a mystery so great that not even the enchanted man who spun straw into gold could figure it out. 
Not until Aoife came along.
 
About the Author:
Bonnie grew up a shy, quiet girl who the teachers always seated next to the noisy boys because they knew she was too afraid to talk to anyone. She always had a lot she wanted to say but was too afraid to share it for fear she might die of embarrassment if people actually noticed her. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after she surprised her eighth grade class by standing up to a teacher who was belittling a fellow student, she realized that she had a voice and she didn’t burst into flames when her classmates stared at her in surprise.
Not long after that, she began spinning tales, some of which got her into trouble with her mom. Whether persuading her father to take her to the candy store as a little girl or convincing her parents to let her move from Los Angeles to Manhattan to pursue a career at eighteen as a ballet dancer with only $200 in her pocket, Bonnie has proven that she knows how to tell a compelling story. 
Now she spends her time reading and making up stories for her two children at night. By day she is an English teacher who never puts the quiet girls next to the noisy boys and works hard to persuade her students that stories, whether they are the ones she teaches in class or the ones she tells to keep them from daydreaming, are better escapes than computers, phones, and social media. 
Twitter: @bonnieMHennessy

 

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