Blitz: Bellamy and The Brute by Alicia Michaels

Bellamy and The Brute
Alicia Michaels
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 13th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult

A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.
When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness—one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.
Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…
As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?


Author Bio:
Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. With several Fantasy and Science Fiction titles under her belt, Alicia strives to write multicultural characters and stories that touch the heart. V-Card, the first book of the Sharing Spaces series, was her first Contemporary Romance.
The mother of three and wife to a soldier, she loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.


XBTBanner1

Audiobook Review: The Onion in the Stew by Betty MacDonald

Onions in the Stew Banner.jpg
Audiobook Title: Onions In the Stew
Author: Betty MacDonald
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Length: 9 hours 40 minutes
Audio Release Date:
Synopsis: The bestselling author of the American humor classic The Egg and I continues the adventure with this collection of tales about life on the fringe of the Western wilderness. Writing in the 1950s, Betty MacDonald, sophisticated and urbane, captivated readers with her observations about raising a family on an island in Puget Sound. As usual, humorist MacDonald is her own favorite target. She manages to get herself into scrapes with washing machines set adrift in rowboats, used cars, and a $25 Turkey Squasher. And then there’s the scariest aspect of island life — teenaged children.
Buy on Audible

Review
Another enjoyable journey through the life of Betty MacDonald in which we are educated in the ways of island life, the highs… and the lows.
This is the third of Betty MacDonald’s books that I have listened to and I, still, do not tire of the stories of the early to mid-1900’s.  The enjoyment of the audio books is aided by the retention of Heather Henderson as the narrator thus ensuring consistency across the series.  But better than that, Henderson’s voice is well matched to the book, indeed if I now think of Betty MacDonald she talks with Heather Henderson’s voice.  The production, too, remains top class and means that the book can easily be listened to in any environment and you are automatically whisked back in time to not only hear about Betty’s life but to live it with her.
Initially I struggled more with this book than I did the others, and I think this was because I had such high expectations.  I found myself judging the book harshly for the first half an hour; however, once I allowed the story to immerse me I found that I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than the other books,

Author Bio

Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters.
MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island).
Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.
Post Hypnotic Press: WebsiteTwitterFacebookYoutubeLinkedInSoundcloudPinterestSoundCloud

Narrator Bio

Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts.  Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire;  and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine.   She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry.  In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.

Grand Prize
Onions In the Stew Giveaway #1

1st Runner-up
  Onions In the Stew Giveaway #2

2nd Runner-up
Onions In the Stew Giveaway #3

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Post Hypnotic Press, Inc. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Excerpt: Venus & Lysander by Yoshiyuki Ly

D:DocumentsEnchanted Book PromotionsBook ToursUpcoming ToursVenus and Lysandervenuslysanderbanner.jpg


D:DocumentsEnchanted Book PromotionsBook ToursUpcoming ToursVenus and LysanderVenus and Lysander cover.jpg
Title: Venus and Lysander
Author: Yoshiyuki Ly
Genre: Historical Romance / Fantasy
Living as a nobleman and as a woman, Valerie of Lysander is sick of waiting for the world to change. The discrimination she suffers as an outcast builds into resentment. Once Val takes matters into her own hands, the whole Empire of Tynan feels her brand of justice. The Emperor’s adviser, Lucrezia of Azrith, wants more of Val’s ruthlessness—for revenge against the unjust, and for her own desires. Venus and Lysander is an intricate romance set in the fictional Victorian city of Eden, 250 years after the events in The Scorpion’s Empress.
Lucrezia is Lady Chancellor for the Emperor and a sorceress-in-hiding. She is forced to conceal her identity from the religious public for fear of death. As she learns to trust in Val’s chivalry and affections for her, they both fall for the softer sides behind their similar bulletproof personas. Lucrezia receives a mysterious warning about a sadistic enemy threatening the Azrith and Lysander families. Once they discover their nemesis’ true motive, Val and Lucrezia’s tyrannous devotion for one another is all they can count on to survive.

Author bio
Yoshiyuki Ly was born in San Diego, CA. She lived there until moving away to college. In high school, she began writing fanfiction as a serious hobby. Her pen name represents her multiracial heritage and a unique, diverse outlook that reflects in her work. She is a writer and a gamer.
Excerpt
Valerie had nothing to say. She stared at the ground, breathing harder than before. Hunger no doubt clawed at her stomach. She kept licking her lips as a poor quench for her thirst. Valiantly, she resisted her weakness, jaw clenched in concentration. I shifted in my seat, moved by her efforts. Her breaths in particular echoed through the small cell, clouding my ears with my imagination. Was her need for food and drink the only reason she was like this?
“Well?” I asked.
Still nothing.
“Such a difficult woman you are,” I said with a sigh.
I noticed then that she was distracted by her thoughts. Valerie appeared fixated on the images in her mind, staring at the ground to give a canvas to the colors. Now I was curious. I waited until she looked into my eyes. The intensity there acted as the avenue for my exploration. Non-intrusive, undetectable, I weaved my way into her mind to see her thoughts for myself.
There I saw Valerie’s fantasy: of her ripping the chains from the ground, of her grabbing me by my waist, shoving me against the wall and kissing my neck, hard. The suddenness of it all startled me. I fought not to recoil or react in any way. In her thoughts, I cried out in mixed want and denial; tried and failed to push her away. She overpowered me. She pinned my wrists to the wall over my head, hissing in my ear:
“How I’ve wanted to rip this control from you…”
Fantasy and reality blended together the longer I watched her ravage me. Never had I allowed anyone to touch me like this. To have me in such a way. My ego had kept me away from that. Yet here I watched Valerie do what I’d denied myself for so long. I watched and watched; wanted to keep watching; wanted to keep burning in this building heat. But it was too much—too much for me to handle.

Cover: Rogue in Love: Thea and Lex by Inger Iversen

Rogue in Love: Thea and Lex
Inger Iversen
Publication date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Sports

Missing Teal and Trent from Inevitable: Love & War? Check out Rogue in Love, the beginning of a series of standalones featuring Trent Reed’s new employees!
Ten years ago, Lex made the difficult choice to skip town, abandoning the young girl who’d offered him her innocence and a place in her heart. However, when Lex is called back to Blackwater to say goodbye to his dying confidant, he is confronted by the broken-hearted woman he left behind and given the task of helping her mend the gaping hole his absence created.
When Thea and Lex reunite, sparks fly and secrets are unveiled.

Author Bio:
Inger Iversen was born in 1982 to Anne and Kaii Iversen. She lives in Virginia Beach with her overweight lap cat, Max and her tree hugging boyfriend Joshua. She spends 90 percent of her time in Barnes and Noble and the other ten pretending not to want to be in Barnes and Noble.


XBTBanner1

Blitz: Incense & Peppermint by Cathrina Constantine

Incense and Peppermints
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.
Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.
With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.

EXCERPT:
September 1969

The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray by the time my brother leaned on, or rather wobbled against, my door. His glassy eyes floated in their sockets. Stoned, again.
“Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie, my older brother slurred.
My gaze slipped over his pasty chest, sprinkled with wiry hair, and past his jockeys to his stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally, I’d say gross and mock him, but only because he normally treated me like a speck of toe scum.
“Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home, and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the other side of my room.
“You need to grow up,” he said. “Here, it’s party time.” Pinched between his thumb and finger, he revealed an ordinary aspirin as if he’d procured the magic solution.
“Uh… I don’t have a headache.”
“Hey, turd. It’s not an aspirin. Stop the nerd act and get with the program. Grow up.”
Our sibling behavior toppled into the belittling and ridiculing stage. Though I figured it was his way of helping me. Yet, staring at the pill, I was interested, but a hootenanny of cymbals clashed inside my head and my sensible side screamed.
You’ll puke! I hate puking. Wasn’t it only last week Stevie was tripping and heaving guts like a water hose?
Shaking my head, I declined his kind and strange offer and tried using simple logic to get rid of him. “Not tonight. Mom and Dad will be home any minute. Go to bed. It’s late.”
“They’ll be so-o plastered. I can’t stand them like that.” Dejected, his shoulders slouched, and his body seemed to deflate. Until he tossed the pill, saying, “Catch.”


Author Bio:
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.


XBTBanner1

Cover: No Rest for the Wicked by Krystal Jane Ruin

No Rest for the Wicked
Krystal Jane Ruin
Publication date: May 10th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal

Since her release from the psychiatric facility and into the smothering guardianship of her aunt, twenty-one-year-old psychic Tatum Torabi has been sneaking away to sell curses and plagues in the underground, a black market known for illegal and supernatural wares.
Tatum’s unique abilities catch the attention of a hella-creepy trash peddler who offers her a job tracking down people who owe his boss “a favor.” She couldn’t be less interested, but when she refuses, the company forces her compliance by threatening the lives of the only family she has left.
Because tracking barely scratches the surface of what they really want from her. There’s a reason Tatum is so good at making curses, and they want her to use those skills for a much darker purpose.

Author Bio:
Krystal Jane Ruin is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction living in the Tennessee Valley. She can often be found knee deep in Sudoku and other puzzles, in a Youtube hole, or blogging about books, writing, and random things.


XBTBanner1

Cover: illusionary by Desiree Williams

Illusionary
Desiree Williams
Publication date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.
Alice fell down a hole.
Wendy flew to Neverland.
Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.
Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.
Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.
No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.
Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.


Author Bio:
Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.
You can find out more about Desiree and her books at www.desireewilliamsbooks.com


XBTBanner1

Blitz: The Monster Upstairs by Elle Klass

The Monster Upstairs
Elle Klass
(Bloodseeker, #2)
Publication date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

A mysterious blinding white light followed by a vision haunts Mandy until something unthinkable happens. She comes home from school to find her mother badly injured. On instinct, through her tears, forces from within her surge through her fingertips into her mother, giving her a second wind. She urges Mandy to take a note and leave but she can’t, not yet.
Her hot dark haired, muscle-bound neighbor Joel finds her and drags her crying towards the door. What awaits them on the other side sends them back into the house where she learns Joel isn’t who she thought. Her entire life gets turned upside down as her destiny sends her and Joel deep into the world of supernatural creatures and Bloodseekers.

EXCERPT:
Before she finished her thought he grabbed her hands. Energy excited her molecules and zipped through her body. She recognized the feeling and wasn’t shocked when he let go of her hands and they were behind the stadium in the field where she first learned Veronica was a witch.

“It’s more private here. We don’t need people listening to us. And your friend is on her way,” he said with grin.
“What?” she said before she remembered witches were telepathic. “Never mind,” she followed up with.
“I’m Cody.”
“Alison.”
Within a few minutes Lacey joined them, jumping right into it and getting to the point. “I’m so happy you found us. We could use you on our side.”
He smiled. “My parents are powerful witches. As their offspring, I have a collection of all their powers; telekinesis, telepathy, lighting balls and bolts, teleportation, and pretty much anything. Anyone in a witch bloodline has magic, but it has to be practiced.”
Lacey stomped her foot and folded her arms over her chest. “You’ve known about us. You see our glow, so why didn’t you come to us sooner?”
He chuckled. “I’m a witch. I know this is new to you, but we don’t get involved unless you need us. We created Slayers. One person, every other generation in a witch of the light bloodline, that the spelled amulets call to and who can use the magic inside the amulet.”
Alison rolled the idea around in her head. That wasn’t news, but she grasped again at the light witch bloodline thing. A thought clung to her brain and manifested. They didn’t derive all their power from the amulets. They each had magic inside them that accentuated the magic in the amulet.
Lacey twisted her face. “You can help us?
“I can help you draw on your own magic that makes the magic in the amulets stronger. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be able to share each other’s magic unless you are connected by touch but you can strengthen the spelled magic in the amulets and do most anything with it,” he paused.
“I don’t know if you’ve felt it, but there’s disturbance in our energy field. Something big is happening, coming our way. We need to be prepared and ready and you need to tap into powers that other Slayers naturally tap into overtime. You don’t have that time,” he said, his face and voice grave.


Author Bio:
Elle was born in Redwood City, California and spent her childhood growing in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a bachelor’s degree in education. For fun she reads, spends time at the beach, travels, and enjoys time with her favorite friends, and family. She is night-owl and gets the majority of her creative writing done during the dark hours.


XBTBanner1

Giveaway: Spring Fever!!

Welcome to the Spring Fever Giveaway Party!
A dozen authors over at YA Author Rendezvous have put an awesome giveaway together – with over TWENTY chances to win!
One grand-prize winner will walk away with a signed, first edition hardback of Witch and Wizard which just so happens to be written by one of the biggest names in fiction – JAMES PATTERSON! On top of that, they get a $100 amazon gift-card!
And all if takes is a minute or two and a few clicks of the mouse.
DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE!
Check out these other amazing prizes they have for you here.


Blitz hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Excerpt: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below by

D:DocumentsEnchanted Book PromotionsBook ToursUpcoming ToursHell Holehellholesbanner.jpg


D:DocumentsEnchanted Book PromotionsBook ToursUpcoming ToursHell HoleHH1 Front Cover 2016-09-21.jpg

Title: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below
Author: Donald Firesmith
Genre: Apocalyptic Scifi / Horror
It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…


Author Bio
D:DocumentsEnchanted Book PromotionsBook ToursUpcoming ToursHell HoleDonald Firesmith Author.jpgA computer geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He is also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes him sound more like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.
By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky and his youngest son Dane.

Excerpt

“Professor, take a look at this,” Mark said, squatting down and pointing at the nearest mound of dirt. He held his hand a few inches over it. “There are small holes, and I can feel gas escaping from them. That’s weird; it should be freezing, but it’s actually warm.” He leaned over and sniffed the air just above the hole. “Jesus, that reeks,” he cursed as he stood up and rubbed his eyes.
I reached down. There was a surprisingly large flow of gas coming out of the hole. I looked around at all of the other mounds of dirt dotting the ice on which we were standing. “Shit,” I exclaimed. “We’ve got to get the hell out of here.”
“Why?” he asked with a confused look on his face. “We just got here.”
“Prudhoe Bay natural gas is about three fourths methane. One eighth is ethane, propane, and other heavier hydrocarbons, while the remaining eighth is carbon dioxide. I’m not worried about the methane and ethane; they’re lighter than air and will drift up and out of the hole. But carbon dioxide, propane, and hydrogen sulfide are all heavier than air and build up in low areas.”
“Like the bottom of this hole,” Mark said as the nature of our danger dawned on him.
“Like the bottom of this hole,” I agreed.
Although I was breathing rapidly, it was becoming increasingly harder to catch my breath. Both were early signs of carbon dioxide poisoning. Meanwhile, my eyes were really watering, my nose was running, and my lungs were starting to burn. Hydrogen sulfide combined with the water on their moist surfaces to form hydrosulfuric acid. I had a dull headache and was becoming increasingly nauseated. Worse, the stench of sulfur had begun to disappear: a classic symptom of hydrogen sulfide poisoning. “We have to head back up and strap on oxygen tanks and full face respirators before we come back down.”
“Okay, Professor,” he replied, looking at me with concern. “You’re definitely not looking so good.”
Weak and increasingly clumsy, Mark had to help me reach the rope and secure it to my climbing harness. Then he said into his walkie-talkie, “Angela, there’s hydrogen sulfide and excessive carbon dioxide down here, and we need to get out of here right now. It’s made the professor sick, so I’m sending him up first.”
“Understood, Mark,” Angie replied, her voice indicating her concern. “Is he ready?”
“Yes, all hooked up,” Mark replied.
A second later, the rope began pulling me up. It sped faster and faster until I was practically running up the side of the hole. Soon, I was up to where the permafrost gave way to damp dirt. I slipped going over the boundary, and the rope dragged me face first over the short muddy slope. Bill helped me climb over the ridge of dirt surrounding the edge and unhooked my climbing harness.
Coughing and unable to catch my breath, I stumbled into Angie’s arms. The caustic gasses at the bottom of the pit had set off one of my ordinarily rare asthma attacks, leaving me gasping for air. I fumbled through my pockets, found my rescue inhaler, and had to give myself three puffs before my breathing became easier. Meanwhile, my eyes were still burning and watering so heavily that I heard rather than saw Bill throw the end of the rope back into the pit and use the winch to lower it rapidly into the hole. After helping me wipe the mud from my face, Angie wrapped me a bear hug, totally heedless of the muck she was transferring to her own face and clothes.
“It’s down,” Jill said, her voice amplified through our walkie-talkies.
Bill stopped the winch, and we waited for Mark to tell us when he was ready to come up.
“Okay, I’m ready,” Mark said. “Bring me up.”
Bill restarted the winch, and the rope began winding itself back around its spinning shaft.
Feeling stronger, I let go of Angie and turned back towards the pit so I could watch Mark being raised over the edge. It was at that moment, through eyes still somewhat blurry from tears, that I saw Kowalski. He was standing near the edge of the hole, a few feet downwind so that the smoke from his cigarette wouldn’t bother us. He took a final puff and carelessly flicked the still smoldering butt into the pit.
“Stop!” I croaked, my voice raspy and painful from coughing.
Kowalski turned towards me, and our eyes met. Unaware of what he’d just done, he was completely confused by the expression of horror on my face.
After seconds that seemed to stretch into eternity, the cigarette butt tumbled past Mark and eventually reached the depth where the concentration of methane and hydrogen sulfide reached explosive levels.