Tag Archives: Prohibition

How Martini Club 4 Was Born (Ruined – Vintage Romantic Suspense by Alicia Dean – #FREE for a limited time!!)

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Martini Club 4 – The 1920s

In 2010, I and three of my writer friends—Amanda McCabe,  Kathy L Wheeler, and Krysta Scott—began meeting each Friday evening for Martinis and various other libations at the Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma. In time, we came to dub our gatherings the ‘Martini Club.’  During one of these get-togethers, an idea was tossed around to write stories centered around a Martini Lounge-like establishment. The idea blossomed from there, and the ‘Martini Club 4’ series was born.

Each of the four authors wrote our own, stand-alone novella, but the girls from each are friends, and they interact in one another’s stories. This first series is set in the 1920s, and the follow-up novellas are set in the 1940s.

I and my BAFF’s (Best Author Friends Forever) had a blast brainstorming and creating the MC4 Vintage Historical Romances over drinks and during a few out of town retreats (over drinks, as well :)).  Sadly, Kathy and Amanda have moved out of state and the Martini Lounge was converted into an Italian restaurant, so, like the Roaring Twenties, our Martini Lounge gatherings are bygone days.  (Although, never fear, Krysta and I have a few other friends who now meet for drinks on as many Friday nights as possible, though COVID has certainly put a damper on that. We still call our get-togethers MC (Martini Club) 🙂

Step back into the days of prohibition, gangsters, and speakeasies with the Martini Club 4 Series.

****  FREE for a limited time!!  – Ruined, Reckless, and Rebellious are free and Runaway is only 99 cents!!

 (See below for info about the 1940s novellas)

About the Books: 

  • Jessica:  An aristocratic reporter with a penchant for trouble, she encounters sexy, mysterious Frank Markov, owner of an elegant new speakeasy and a man with secrets she’s dying to uncover. ~ Rebellious by Amanda McCabe 
  • Eliza: She fled England in pursuit of a better life, but her illusions are shattered when she falls prey to a scoundrel who draws her into a life of prostitution. When she meets Vince Taggart, a former boxer in search of his missing friend, she finds hope and the promise of love. ~ Ruined by Alicia Dean
  • Margaret: Her impulsive nature lands her face-to-face with gangsters and bootleggers. Even more disarming is her undeniable attraction to the enigmatic Harry Dempsey. ~ Reckless by Kathy L Wheeler
  • Charlotte: Her dreams of owning her own bakery crumble when blackmail and murder land at her feet. Is the dashing detective her ruin or her salvation? ~ Runaway by Krysta Scott 

 

Blurb: Can an aristocratic lady melt the cold heart of a Russian gangster?

Lady Jessica Hatton fled her high-society London debutante life for one of investigative journalism in New York—only to be relegated to the fashion pages. Searching for a juicy story leads her to Club 501, the city’s most glamorous speakeasy—and its handsome, mysterious owner, Frank Markov. But his past of war and revolution puts their hearts—and their lives—in danger…

Excerpt: “Do you smell that, Meggie?” Jessica Hatton cried as she leaned into the cold, salt spray wind, her t-strap shoes perched on the lowest rung of the ship’s railing.  She’d lost her hat, and the short strands of her hair blew into her eyes, but she didn’t care.  England was far behind them.  They had escaped.

“It smells like freedom!” she shouted, and threw up her arms.  It felt like she could fly all the way to America.

“I only smell old fish,” Meggie said.  “Now come down from there, Jess.  If you tumble into the drink, it will all be over before it even starts.”

Jessica laughed and shook her head, but she did climb down.  She spun around to see Meggie stretched out on one of the deck chairs, the glossy mink collar of her coat drawn close around her.

The sky was grey and dismal-looking, the water not as glassy-smooth as when they slid past Ireland yesterday and headed out to open sea.  Several of the passengers had retreated to their cabins, but Jessica couldn’t stand staying inside.  Not when there was so much to be seen.

“It smells like fish and freedom,” Jessica insisted.  “But we can go in now.  Maybe Charlotte and Eliza will want to play some cards or mah-jong.”

“Finally,” Meggie grumbled as she swung her feet down to the damp deck.  But her smile was broad.  Jessica knew Meggie was loving it all just as much as she was.

Blurb: She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans…

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped.

Former boxer, Vince “The Fist” Taggart dreams of marrying, having a family, and living a quiet, peaceful life. But when a girl he’s known since childhood disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza is the key to finding his missing friend.

Excerpt: Eliza lifted her gaze, then looked away when she met his eyes. They were just too…striking, too blue. “I’m afraid you’ll have to speak to Oscar. He handles all my transactions.” She could never have a normal outing with a man. A lump of regret rose in her throat. She turned and started up the stairs.

Vince caught up to her in a few steps and grabbed her arm, taking the bag from her at the same time. “That was a lousy thing to say.”

She opened her mouth to accuse him of going around Oscar so he didn’t have to pay. But that was ridiculous. He hadn’t taken what he’d paid for the first time. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead. His attention confused her. What was his angle? He didn’t want sex. Did he think she was hiding something about Cynthia and if he spent time with her he could draw it out? “What do you want from me?”

“A picnic.”

 

(99 cents on Amazon, free at this link: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/imED1 )

Blurb: Lady Margaret turned Lady Bootlegger…

Singer Margaret (Meggie) Montley needs money…fast. Her friend is in a dire situation with nowhere to turn. While Meggie is on the brink of stardom, it’s not soon enough to save her friend.

Harry Dempsey is out to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at the hands of a ruthless gangster. But trouble spirals out of control when Meggie Montley shows up the night he meets his nemesis to settle the score. Saving the impetuous woman from a crime lord might be easier than saving her from her own reckless behavior.

Excerpt: Meggie launched herself from her hiding place and threw her arms about Harry’s neck. Locked in his muscular embrace, she rested her chin on his shoulder. His arms tightened around her. “Oh, Harry. I came as fast as I could. Just as we’d planned.” The words, she’d intended to carry, came out breathless.

“Fast, huh?” The whisper was against her ear where no one else could hear, raised goose prickles over her entire body. “Guess I’ll have to do something about that.” He lifted his head. “What are you doing with my girl, Joe?”

Joey’s hands flew into the air, indicating his surrender. “Sorry, Dempsey. Had no idea she was anyone’s quiff—”

Meggie’s cheeks burned, and she stiffened at the insult. Harry’s one arm gripped her closer. The other shot up, jerking her body like a rag doll. She couldn’t see Harry’s face with her own now buried in his neck, but she felt the corded muscles contract.  

(99 cents)

Blurb: Can she prove her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?

After escaping an arranged marriage, Lady Charlotte Leighton lands on a new shore, determined to realize her dream of opening her own bakery. But her plans are shattered when her former fiancé follows her to New York. Now, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom.

Haunted by a string of failures, Detective Felix Noble is determined to solve his latest case. But his efforts to find a murderer are jeopardized by a forbidden attraction to his number one suspect. While he’s certain Charlotte Leighton is keeping secrets, instinct tells him she’s not the murderess he first believed.

Excerpt: Long thin fingers curled around a glass and lifted it from the tray. Charli followed the direction of the drink. Derrick Chaunce, or as the local duffs referred to him, “Slick”, grinned, exposing yellowed teeth.

“You … You…” Her throat closed. The rest of her diatribe wouldn’t budge.

He winked. His thin hair slicked back in the latest fashion exaggerated the gaunt cheekbones and sunken eyes, tinging him with an unhealthy, dilapidated look. He gulped the whiskey. A bit of the amber liquid escaped through the gap in his teeth and down his chin. Her stomach lurched.

“Thank you, sweet cakes. Put it on my tab.” He skulked off.

Charli whirled around. How did the bounder get past Tiny? Ira fumed about customers who ran up a high tab without reconciling at the end of the night. Now she would have to explain yet another charge added to Slick’s mounting debt. She sighed and rolled her eyes to the heavens. The customer was always right. Even when they were wrong.

 

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Print book of all four: http://www.amazon.com/Martini-Club-1920s-Kathy-Wheeler/dp/1508793107/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429473865&sr=1-6&keywords=martini+club+4

Martini Club – The 1940s Novellas:

Pampered: The 1940s – Kathy L Wheeler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZS2F7QK

Priceless: The 1940s – Krysta Scott  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081M76DLK

Precarious: The 1940s – Alicia Dean https://www.amazon.com/Precarious-Martini-Club-1940s-ebook/dp/B085BR3N7P/

Perilous: The 1940s – Amanda McCabe – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081K789BV?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

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Diana Rubino’s Bootleg Broadway

Please help me welcome Diana Rubino with a fun new release…

BOOTLEG BROADWAY
Booze, music, sex, murder, Prohibition New York. What a time to be alive!
Now on audio with the expressive voice of Nina Price.

After FROM HERE TO 14TH STREET, set in 1894, I needed to set this a generation later, which happened to be the 1930s-­with Prohibition and the Great Depression as the backdrop. This is the first book I ever wrote where I created the characters first, with nothing to do yet. The plot developed the way it did because of who they are. My goal was to get the protagonist Billy McGlory into one mess after another. This era couldn’t have been more suited to Billy’s adventures, a few of which he barely escaped with his life.

Fun Fact:
As in FROM HERE TO 14th STREET, a lot of characters have nicknames like Piggy Balls and Dirty Neck Bruiso. I sat around the table with my surviving aunts and uncles who were then in their 80s and 90s, and they rattled off these nicknames from ‘the old days’ in Jersey City like they made them up yesterday. That was a standard Italian neighborhood custom, everybody had a nickname. Some were more descriptive than others. But you didn’t just ’get’ a nickname. You had to earn it.   
 
Some more nicknames from the old neighborhood:
 
Bruno Chicken Body
Butta Jeans
Charlie Burp
Chick a la zoo
Dirty Dicky
Dirty Neck Bruiso
Floody
Frankie Butch Butch
Gravel Gertie
Hoo Hoo
Jazzy Lou
Jijji Balls
Jinji
Vigi-Leak

My fav passage from BOOTLEG BROADWAY (which made my aunt cringe):
 
Pru had kept closemouthed all day about what she was giving him for his birthday. He badgered and hounded her, but she wouldn’t give in.
As Ma began divvying up the rum cake, the doorbell rang, and Da came back with a long box. “This thing’s heavy. What’s in here, Pru? Billy’s tombstone?”
Billy cut the ribbon with the cake knife and slid the lid off. Wads of tissue paper filled the box. As he removed the last layer of covering and revealed what was inside, they all gasped­-a sculpture of a naked man, in all his masculine glory ­and fully aroused. He had one hand on his hip and one foot upon a pedestal on which was inscribed in bold letters,
BILLY.
“Oh, crap.” His face turned red hot.

About Me

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Paris, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, Washington D.C. and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. My husband Chris and I own CostPro, an engineering firm based in Boston. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, devour books of any genre, and spend as much time as possible living the dream on my beloved Cape Cod. 

Contact Links

My Website
www.dianarubino.com
 

My Blog
www.dianarubinoauthor.blogspot.com
 

Facebook 
https://www.facebook.com/DianaRubinoAuthor/?ref=hl

Twitter
https://twitter.com/DianaLRubino

Goodreads
http://bit.ly/1V3GCgt

Amazon Author Page
http://amzn.to/1EQWdfJ
 

Chat and Promote … Fans of Historical Fiction and Nonfiction
http://bit.ly/2HrCOEQ

Purchase BOOTLEG BROADWAY
getbook.at/NewYorkSagaBookTwo

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Alicia Dean’s 1920’s Vintage Romance ~ RUINED ~ Free through Monday, March 21st!

This is technically Book 2 in the series, although each are stand-alone. It’s FREE on Amazon for a few more days…

Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon Page…

Ruined_NEW CVR_LRG

ABOUT:

Downton Abbey meets Sex and the City…

She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans…

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped.

When Vince Taggart’s childhood friend disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza may be the key to finding his missing friend.

*** The Martini Club 4 Series came about as a result of four author friends who meet each week at a favorite hangout, The Martini Lounge in Edmond Oklahoma. They decided to write stories centered around a similar establishment, and these four novellas were the result. Their next installment of the series will be set in the 1940s. Follow the authors to keep up with all their releases, including the Martini Club 4 series.

Excerpt:

He studied her with intense blue eyes. The dimple on the right side of that firm mouth creased with a smile. For the first time, she noticed a scar on his slightly crooked nose. The man was a ruffian, so why did he make her pulse race?

She’d resigned herself to giving her body to whatever slobbering pig came along, she would suffer through it, let her mind go somewhere far, far away, and move on.

But this man—how on Earth could she be intimate with him and not feel…something decidedly unprofessional.

“That sounds lovely.” As the words came out, she realized that there was a grain of truth to them. She couldn’t imagine this handsome, charming man’s attentions being as vile as Killman’s were. In fact, having his lips on hers, his touch on her skin…

Eliza lifted her gaze, then looked away when she met his eyes. They were just too…striking, too blue. “I’m afraid you’ll have to speak to Oscar. He handles all my transactions.” She could never have a normal outing with a man. A lump of regret rose in her throat. She turned and started up the stairs.

Vince caught up to her in a few steps and grabbed her arm, taking the bag from her at the same time. “That was a lousy thing to say.”

She opened her mouth to accuse him of going around Oscar so he didn’t have to pay. But that was ridiculous. He hadn’t taken what he’d paid for the first time. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead. His attention confused her. What was his angle? He didn’t want sex. Did he think she was hiding something about Cynthia and if he spent time with her he could draw it out? “What do you want from me?”

“A picnic.”

 

MartiniClub4Image1920s

MARTINI CLUB 4 SERIES IN ORDER:

Rebellious (Book 1) by Amanda McCabe – http://amzn.com/B00RKKP9VI

Ruined (Book 2) by Alicia Dean

Reckless (Book 3) by Kathy L Wheeler – http://amzn.com/B00RICW0G0

Runaway (Book 4) by Krysta Scott http://amzn.com/B00RIFHGPC

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A Visit to Eischen’s for Chicken, Okra, and a History Lesson

Last Saturday, I took part in a book signing at the Anadarko Library. I met some new readers and had a blast! The people at the library were wonderful, especially my friend and fellow writer, Tamrie Foxtail, who put the whole thing together. She did a marvelous job, and I so appreciate her hard work.

Here are two of the readers we met, sisters Samantha and Montania (yes, that’s spelled correctly). They were so cute and so enthusiastic about reading. I thought it interesting that, even though they are quite young, they preferred print books over ebooks. Guess new technology isn’t always welcome. 🙂

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I made the trip with my Martini Club 4 peeps, Amanda McCabe, Kathy L Wheeler, and Krysta Scott. On the way back, we drove to Okrache and had lunch at Eischen’s. It was wonderful! I’d been there a handful of times, it’s my son, Presley’s, favorite place to go, but I hadn’t been in ages. Amanda and Krysta had never been. In case you’re not familiar with Eischen’s, it was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The bar opened in 1896 and is reputed to be the ‘oldest bar in Oklahoma’ although I was educated on the fact that it’s not actually the oldest bar. Blue Belle Saloon in Guthrie is three years older, but Eischen’s is the oldest bar that has stayed in business since it’s opening, other than briefly closing for prohibition in the early 1900’s and a fire in 1993, and is the only one still owned by the same family. Blue Belle has opened and closed over the years and changed ownership several times.

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Our server, Ryan, was awesome. He took good care of us and was friendly and helpful. I asked him about the history of the bar, and since he didn’t know all the information, he brought over A.J., who was a wealth of information. (I most likely have some of the details wrong. I didn’t take notes, I was just soaking it all up in my over-worked pea brain :))

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Ryan, our server, behind the bar of Eischen’s

Eischen’s is known for it’s yummy fried chicken and okra, and I was curious about how they came to serve these dishes. A.J. said it was the result of a shuffleboard contest in 1963. The winner would receive a chicken dinner (winner, winner, chicken dinner), and the owner and his friend (who had a part in running the bar), used the friend’s recipe and cooked the winner a chicken dinner. It was such a hit, that the owner purchased the recipe and has been serving it ever since. Okra was added some years later when farmers would bring it in and have the people in the bar sample it. The okra was a hit as well, and was added to the menu. Speaking of the menu, it’s very limited. They offer chili, roast beef sandwiches, nachos, frito chili pie, and barbecue sandwiches, in addition to the chicken and okra, but not much else. Then again, when you serve chicken and okra that tastes like that, you don’t need anything else.

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A.J. is the bearded guy behind the register.

 

I was fascinated with A.J.’s telling of the history of the bar. He told of how they came to be closed on Sundays. Farmers would come to the bar on Thursdays and pretty much stay straight through until Monday. The wives converged on the owners and demanded they do something about it. They agreed to start closing on Sundays, so the farmers would go home. 🙂

In my Suspense/Thriller, Without Mercy, I set a scene in Eischen’s, when my hero goes to meet up with the bad guys. You can read the Eischen’s excerpt below…

Without Mercy Extra Large

Buy links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Blurb:

How far will a mother go to protect her child?

When an apparently random bank robbery turns out to be a sinister plan, single mother China Beckett is thrust into a nightmare.

A group of mercenaries take over her life, threatening her young daughter and everyone they love. Each time China makes a mistake, someone dies. She’ll fight to the last breath to protect her child, but that might not be enough.

As the lives of China’s loved ones are jeopardized, she must take action, although she has no idea where to turn—and time is running out. But then, a startling truth is revealed and China discovers that the only person who can save them might be a ghost from the past.

*** Warning: Explicit language and graphic violence ***

Excerpt:

He arrived at Eischen’s in just under an hour. The hardwood floors were worn, and the walls held vintage beer signs. In a room at the back stood a few pool tables. To the right were tables surrounded by metal chairs. Plastic upholstered booths lined one wall. The place was crowded for a Monday night. What would it be like on the weekend?

Royce and Bishop sat at a table. Royce stood and waved Aiden over like an old friend anxious for a reunion.

Aiden squeezed past the bodies waiting to be seated and headed to the table.

“Sit.” Royce gestured to the chair across from him. “You remember Dan Bishop?”

“I do.” Aiden slid into a chair.

Bishop inclined his head in a nod, and Aiden returned it.

Royce twisted around and draped an arm over the back of his chair. “I took the liberty of ordering chicken, okra, and Budweiser. They’re world famous for their chicken. I haven’t tried it, but since it’s about the only thing on the menu, I figured I’d give it a shot. That okay with you?”

Aiden shrugged.

A thin, fifty-something waitress wearing jeans and a green Eischen’s T-shirt came over with three cans of Budweiser and sat them in the center of the table. “Chicken’ll be out in a minute, boys.”

Royce picked up a can and tipped it toward her. “Thank you, darlin’.”

He was rewarded with a wide smile before she moved on to another table.

Aiden shot a look around the dining room. The other customers were so close he could reach out and touch them. He leaned slightly toward Royce. “You really think this is the best place to conduct private business?”

“I think it’ll do just fine. The noise level will help drown out our conversation.”

“Sides,” Bishop cut in. “We had a taste for chicken. Folks around us are here for the same. Don’t give a hoot what we’re sayin’.”

Aiden spread his hands out in front of him on the scarred table. “So, what’s this all about? What do you want?”

“If you recall, we have a bit of unfinished business. A job about seven years ago where you never showed up at the rendezvous location to divvy up the payout.”

Aiden snorted a laugh. “That’s what this is all about? You think I ripped you off? I was in an explosion, ended up in the hospital. As soon as I came to, I went straight for the money. I was captured right after I collected. Arrested on some trumped up charge. The rebels took every bit of it.”

Royce shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. We think you might have it hidden somewhere. We know you were thrown in prison, but we got a feeling you hid the money first. Now me and Bishop here, we’re understanding fellas. We were willing to put it behind us. Then, I run into somebody who has it out for you. Hired us to get our own money back, how do you like that?” He chuckled. “Our boss expects a payout.”

Aiden’s gut roiled. These men were counting on money he didn’t have, and China and her kid’s lives were in danger if they didn’t get it. He had maybe five mil Wes’s accountant was holding, then if they’d give him time, he could do the job in Texas and get another mil. But the take from the job they’d done was fifteen. They wouldn’t be satisfied with a third of that.

“What makes your boss think it’ll do any good to use the woman and kid for leverage? Why would I care what happens to them?”

Royce grinned. “You’re in love with the Beckett woman.”

Stone’s chest tightened. “That’s a bunch of blarney.”

He raised his brows and smirked. “Right. That’s why you pined after her when you had to leave her behind to do the job in Tanier. Why you couldn’t wait to get back to her sweet little body.”

Anger simmered through Stone’s veins. Royce was just trying to get a rise out of him. He had to keep his cool. “You’ve got it all wrong.”

“Maybe. Boss man thinks you’re enough of a sap you won’t leave a woman and kid to fend for themselves, especially since the kid’s yours.”

Why did everyone keep saying that? Stone tried to keep his expression bland. “Kid ain’t mine. You gents are barking up the wrong Irishman. I don’t give two figs what happens to either of the females.”

Royce threw his head back and laughed. “Come on, Aiden. Even if you aren’t in love with her, and even if the kid’s not yours, you are not the kind of man who could walk away and leave them to die. Especially over something you started.”

Before he could respond, the waitress returned, her arms lined with food in paper containers. Efficiently, as if she’d done it thousands of times, she placed chicken, okra, bread, and a paper container of onions and pickles on the table, then laid a stack of wax paper squares down, which Aiden presumed were the plates.

“You boys ready for another beer?”

“You betcha. Thanks, sweetheart.”

This time a blush accompanied the smile. “Be back in a jif. You holler if you need anything else.”

After she disappeared, Royce and Bishop took turns picking out pieces of chicken and handfuls of okra, plopping them on the wax paper. Aiden’s stomach growled. The chicken smelled and looked delicious.

He helped himself to a leg and a handful of okra. The food was better than it looked. Who would have thought an old bar in nowhere Oklahoma would have the best fried chicken and okra he’d ever tasted? But then, to be fair, he could count on one hand the number of times he’d had fried chicken and okra.

“Damn, that’s good stuff,” Bishop said, licking his fingers. “They weren’t lyin.”

Royce nodded, picking up his can of beer and draining it as the waitress brought them a second round. When she left, he said, “So, am I right? You won’t leave China and Emma to die at our hands, now will you?”

Aiden pushed the chicken aside and picked up his beer, taking a long swallow from the can. They had him dead to rights. He wouldn’t let a stranger die because of something he’d done. Despite China’s betrayal, he damned sure couldn’t let her and her kid come to harm on his account.

 

 

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