Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Along The Watchtower by David Litwack @DavidLitwack #Contemporary #Fantasy #AmReading

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. In less than a minute, I found myself in physical therapy. Like the rest of the hospital, the room was green-tile sterile, but someone had made an effort to cheer it up. Porcelain clowns lined the windowsill. Stuffed circus animals—lions and elephants and a family of monkeys—surrounded the rack that held the free weights. And a variety of fresh-cut flowers had been set in mugs in the cup holder for each exercise bicycle and treadmill. Later, I’d learn from Ralph that Becky kept them fresh, paying for them out of her own pocket. He said she’d deny it, but he’d seen her sneak in on more than one Monday morning with an armful.

Fresh-cut flowers. Mom used to get them every Monday as well, to brighten up the gingerbread house. But after Dad died, she started leaving them too long, not replacing them until they’d decayed so badly they smelled. After Joey died, she stopped buying them altogether.

The girl I met in the courtyard stood over a rolling aluminum table, organizing things I didn’t much like the look of. She was sufficiently absorbed that she didn’t notice us until Ralph called out.

“Afternoon, Becky. Brought you some fresh meat.”

She turned and grinned. “Always love a new victim.”

“Great. I’ll leave you two alone. Sounds like you need some privacy.”

After he left, she went back to finishing her preparations, making me wait. Finally, she came over and extended a hand.

“We already met, but let’s make it official. You’re Lt. Williams, but I can call you Freddie. I’m your worst nightmare, but you can call me Becky.”

I reached out and shook her hand. She didn’t seem scary.

“Ralph says you’re the best, that if anybody can bring me back, you can.”

“Ralph’s wrong. I’m just the guide. You’re going to do most of the work.”

“But are you the best?”

“Let’s say I haven’t lost one yet.”

“So I’ll be back on the basketball court in no time.”

Her grin vanished. She grabbed a chair, dragged it over and sat next to me.

“We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, Freddie, so we need to be straight with each other, right from the outset. My goal is to get you back to as normal a life as possible. If you work hard, I’ll have you out of that wheelchair and on crutches in a month. A month after that, maybe a cane. Beyond that, we’ll see. I make no promises other than to work as hard as you will.”

She stared at me. I stared back, captivated by my reflection in her gray-green eyes. She blinked first and went back to the rolling table.

. . . . . . .

She sat down again and undid the Velcro from my brace.

I winced. I hadn’t looked at my leg much since my peek the week before. The incision was less angry and the oozing had stopped. But what shocked me were the muscles. Where once I had bulges, now there were hollows. Not the leg of an athlete or soldier. Not the leg of a guy who might someday dunk. The leg of an invalid. Becky’s words rattled around in my brain. Crutches, then a cane. After that, we’ll see.

“It may not be pretty,” she said, as if she’d read my mind, “but it’s yours. Take a good look. Let it motivate you when you start making progress. And trust me, you will make progress.”

She squeezed some ointment from a tube onto her hands and rubbed them together.

“This will feel a little cold.”

She spread the ointment, swirling her fingertips over what had once been my quad. When she started the e-stim treatment, I felt the muscle spasm and contract involuntarily, a strange but not entirely unpleasant feeling. As she slid the wand around, humming along to its buzz, I noticed her touch more than the current.

She spoke out of nowhere. “I read the report. Says you have no family.”

I kept staring at her making figure-eights on my leg.

“Is that right?” she said.

I nodded.

“What happened?”

“I was born an orphan.”

She turned off the e-stim and looked up at me.

“Want to talk about it?”


“Ralph said you don’t talk much.”

“I talk when I want to. I don’t want to talk now.”

“Fine with me.” She resumed the treatment, hummed a few more bars, and then spoke without looking up. “Ralph was right about another thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are a hard case.”

She was quiet after that, going about her job while I focused on the clowns at the windowsill. Every now and then, I’d sneak a look at her. A beautiful, happy optimist. But she’d never lived my life.

Crutches and a cane. After that, we’ll see. I was different from her—a realist. I knew what “we’ll see” meant. I’d need more than physical therapy to bring me back. I’d need a miracle.

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Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ICE - Will the money come? by @TheobaldSprague #Memoir #Family

The main purpose of our trip the year before on Akademik Ioff was to find out the physical feasibility of our intended joint expedition and to see what the ice conditions were like in the Northwest Passage. For me, I hoped to gain a good visual sense of what I’d be trying to capture on film. Within the first few days, I knew I would bring back never-before-seen footage from The Passage. From Dan and Jim’s perspective, they grew confident that a Nordhavn boat could take on The Passage and survive. Each morning, the crew of Akademik Ioff provided the ship’s passengers with its own newspaper, giving the latest headlines. Each morning, the three of us would sit and discuss the sorry case of the world in general and feel all the more secure that our intended trip through the Northwest Passage was about as timely as we could hope for.
On September 15, 2008, with a growing sense of accomplishment and anticipation, I sat down for breakfast and opened the ship’s daily newspaper. I stared in abject and total disbelief at the latest headlines noting that Lehman Brothers was crashing, about to be financially erased from the face of the earth, and that the collateral damage was going to be unprecedented.
The collateral damage reached the Far North. As the days continued to roll by, Jim no longer wanted to discuss the trip. In fact, Jim no longer ate with Dan and me. When the three of us actually were together, the talk was of anything but their $300,000 commitment to the trip and perhaps building a forty-foot boat so they could join in the adventure. By the time the trip aboard Akademik Ioff had ended, there was no $300,000 commitment. I saw it coming a mile away.
Dan Streech was the type of man who, when he told me of the offer’s withdrawal, he did it with tears in his eyes. I was completely in Dan’s corner. I couldn’t in good conscience ask for such a large amount of money while he was looking at having to lay off longtime trusted employees, people he truly loved.
But as much as I appreciated Dan’s position and honesty, I was devastated. Actually, more than devastated. I was completely and decisively screwed.

A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.
What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

TO WATCH THE OFFICIAL HD TEASER FOR “The Other Side of The Ice” [book and documentary] PLEASE GO TO: VIMEO.COM/45526226) 

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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
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Dance For A Dead Princess by Deborah Hawkins @DeborahHawk3 #Mystery #Romance #AmReading

Mid-April 2010, Paris

In the gray spring rain, he stood in the Place d'Alma staring down at the tunnel where she had vanished from his life on the last night of August 1997. He came here whenever he was in Paris. He counted the pillars until he reached number thirteen, the one that had taken her life. Tears formed behind his eyes, as they always did in this place. But he refused to let them overflow. Instead, he took a long breath of fresh rain mixed with the exhaust of cars speeding through the tunnel.

When the big black Mercedes entered its skid that horrible night, his last living link to Deborah had been taken from him. Diana and Deborah, West Heath girls, friends forever. Deborah had been dead since 1994, but he had lost her long before she became his wife, three years after he met her at Diana's wedding to the Prince of Wales in 1981. How many nights had he spent talking to Diana about his marriage, about her marriage, about his guilt over Deborah, and about the impossibility of being in love? Too many to count. He ached to tell her now how empty his life had become without either of them.

He stared down the long, gray tunnel, wondering as always what she had felt as she had slipped away from everyone who loved her. Had she struggled against it, as Deborah had? Or had her torn and broken heart quietly accepted its fate? No, he doubted that. She'd have fought to stay with her boys. Diana hadn't gone into death quietly. That January, she'd had a warning of what was coming. She'd recorded a video tape naming her assassins and had given it to someone in America for safekeeping. But she would never tell him who it was. Too dangerous, she always insisted. If you had it, they'd come after you, too. Leave it alone, Nicholas. The tape is safer out of England.

His phone abruptly interrupted with a text message from his assistant. He was late for a meeting of the Burnham Trust at the Trust's Paris headquarters, and everyone was waiting. Well, they could wait. All day and all night if he wanted. He was the Eighteenth Duke of Burnham and the second richest man in England after the Duke of Westminster, and he'd be late if he decided to be. He hadn't wanted to be a duke but having been forced into the job, he was going to enjoy every possible perk.

As soon as the news of Diana's death reached him, he'd vowed to find her tape and make it public. No luck for the last thirteen years, but his latest operative had just come up with a stellar lead at last. It was so stellar that not only was he pretty sure he was going to find the tape, he was also going to have the opportunity to unload the decaying family seat in Kent and exact his well-deserved revenge upon his father, the Seventeenth Duke.


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Genre – Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Rating – G
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