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Ode to a Carnival Fish Named Kirishima

My daughter attended a high school homecoming this past weekend while I was at the local author fair at the Port Jefferson Public Library. As I was setting up my table, I received a call from her on my cell that she’d won a fish in a contest and didn’t know what to do with it. We’d had fish when she was young after my cat died and we hadn’t yet replaced him. We hadn’t had any luck with those fish, as most of them died within a week. The longest-living one was doing well until we introduced another fish to the tank to keep him company. I remember how upset she was when I told her that her fish “Rocket” had died. She’d named him after the children’s show Little Einsteins.

When I got home from the fair, Holly was watching the goldfish swim in a small tank she got at the carnival where she’d transferred him from his bag. We knew he needed a larger tank and one that filtered the water. I recalled having found our old tank recently and putting it in the garage. The next day, Holly moved the fish to a bowl with fresh water where he swam around quickly. While I was out, she went in the garage got our old tank, cleaned everything, and set it up. When I came home, she told me she was missing the filter, so we ran out to a pet store and spoke with a fish specialist who gave us the proper one. In addition, we purchased additional fish flakes and a couple of other items to help prepare the water. The store owner gave us instructions, and she followed them. When the fish, she named Kirishima for an anime character got into the new tank, he seemed to adjust and enjoyed the bigger space.

I posted to Facebook about our getting him and asking if anyone also kept fish with cats since we have Stripey.  A few responded that they did and had no problems.

When I went to work at the library yesterday, I picked up a book on goldfish for further information. When I came home, Kirishima was swimming around and exploring the aquarium. I put on some music to do my exercising, and he seemed to “dance” with me. I took a video of him which, unfortunately, turned out to be his last one.

When I didn’t see Kirishima this morning, I was worried. He didn’t seem to be anywhere in the tank. When fish die, they usually float to the top, but he wasn’t up there. My daughter took the lid off the tank and finally found him in the filter. He floated to the bottom and lay there. We knew he was gone. I think Holly took it better than me. I’d begun to enjoy watching him swim. I realized that most carnival fish are sickly, so I shouldn’t have expected him to last long. Yet I blamed myself. Did I do something wrong? Did we feed him too much or too little? Did we rush him into the aquarium? Did we not give him enough light or darkness? All these questions will never be answered. I only know that I feel a loss. Maybe we’ll get another fish. Maybe we’ll just put away the aquarium again. It’s strange to mourn a fish we only had 3 days, but he was beginning to grow on us. It’s possible I took it harder than my daughter who seemed to accept it.

I try to tell myself it’s for the best. We have a cat, after all, but he didn’t seem to even notice the aquarium we put in our window. I tell myself it would’ve been one more thing to take care of in our busy lives and one more thing to worry about when we go away. Yet I can’t help the sadness I feel. We’ll send him on his way tonight to Rainbow Pond or wherever fish go. Rest in Peace, Kirishima. Perhaps I’ll find a place for you in my next book.

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Saying Goodbye to Mom

This isn’t my usual post about books and writing, but I know a lot of you have seen my Facebook and Twitter posts about losing my Mom on July 21st.  So many of you online friends have sent condolences, lovely pictures, and private messages. My publisher emailed me to let me know that I should take my time before I dived back into edits on the book that  I’m currently completing. Locally, my friends and family were there for me Monday night at the Funeral Parlor viewing.  Several members of my church dropped by to express their sympathy. A large number of my co-workers came from the library. Two neighbors of my mother also attended the viewing and one came to the mass yesterday at St. Paul the Apostle Church. Some people have donated to animal associations in her memory because she was a big animal lover, and our house always had pets. Without the support of all these wonderful people, my family and I would’ve had an even a harder time coping with our mother’s death.

On Monday night, I shared some memories of my mom after the Deacon read Bible passages and prayers for her. For those who weren’t able to make it due to distance or other commitments, I’m including it on this post. I know many of you have also suffered the loss of a parent or other close relative or friend. No matter how old or sick they are, it throws you for a loop. Your world turns upside down. The guilt is always there, even though the sensible side of you knows that there was nothing you could do. Even though you realize that they are in a better place rather than subsisting without a quality of life.

Thank you again for your patience and kindness at this sad time as I deal with my grief. As words have always been important to me, below are the ones I wrote in memory of Mom. I will also be dedicating my upcoming book to her.

My Mom was seventeen when she married and had three kids before she was twenty-one. She had her fourth, me, eleven years after my brother, Jack. She told me that when the doctor asked her what she wanted — a boy or a girl — because she already had two sons and a daughter, she said she’d like to have another little girl because daughters are special to mom’s. Now that I have my own daughter, I understand how she felt.

As the baby of the family, I was a little spoiled by my older siblings and parents. When my sister and brothers married and left the house, my Mom and I grew even closer. Since there were less mouths to feed, she stopped preparing the wonderful meals I remember – her special meatloaf, delicious spaghetti with homemade sauce, and pot roasts with roasted potatoes that I woke up smelling as a child when she started cooking early on a weekend morning. The three of us would go to dinner at the Sizzler which used to be on Old Country Road and was my Dad’s favorite restaurant. Mom and I also dined for lunch on our birthdays in February and May at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho.

When I was ten, Mom and I went to Cantiague park for a picnic before school started in September. We noticed a gray and white stray cat that looked hungry and wasn’t wearing a collar. My mother, an animal lover, took the cat home. She tried to find its owner, but no one claimed her, so we kept her. I named her Kitty, and she had three kittens the following month. The two male cats got out of the house and never came home. We had the mother cat and her daughter for a long time. We had many other cats and a few dogs throughout the years that Mom cared for, and I remember the sadness we all felt when we lost them.

As I grew older, Mom and I would shop at what used to be the Mid Island Plaza (now Broadway Commons) at Gertz which later became Sterns and is now Macy’s. There was a mystery theater there once, and I remember having a nice meal and a fun afternoon with her at the show. There was also a BINGO hall at Mid-Island, and Mom and I loved to go there, too. We never won a lot but enjoyed playing and being together. Mom was luckier at lottery tickets. She never won any huge prizes, but she won smaller amounts that she reinvested in more tickets hoping she’d hit the jackpot. 

Another store that Mom and I used to shop at was Newberry’s that was like a 5 and dime shop. Mom bought sewing supplies there. When I first married twenty-six years ago, Newberry’s was still around. They opened a pet shop in the store and Mom, sensing that I was lonely since my husband was working nights at that time, suggested we go there and look at the kittens. That’s how I got my cat, Floppy. After he passed and Mom went into White Oaks, I took her Siamese cat Oliver whom she’d had for twelve years. She loved that cat so much that she refused to leave him at her house when she lost power during Hurricane Sandy, so we took them both into ours. Later, when I adopted Oliver, I learned what a special cat he was. He’s been gone less than a year now, and I want to think they’ve found one another wherever they are.

Before Mom started suffering from dementia, she gave me a pin that was in her family that she wanted me to pass on to my daughter, Holly. I kept it in a safe place and showed it to her recently. That wasn’t the only thing she left us. I know she left me with a love of animals and books that I’m sharing with Holly. She read to me all the time as a child, and maybe that’s why I became a librarian and an author. I’m glad I had my mother for 90 years, although the last five of those weren’t the best for her.

One thing that gives me comfort now that she’s gone is a story she told me a long time ago. Even though she married out of her faith, she was raised Catholic in a religious home and we used to go to Church together. She said that when she was young, she was given the last rites by her family’s priest when she was very ill with Rheumatic Fever. There was a painting of Jesus in her bedroom. She was running a very high temperature and lapsed into delirium. She saw a white light at the end of a tunnel where Jesus stood in a white robe. He told her to go back because it wasn’t her time. She went on to marry my father and raise four children and lived to see her 90th birthday. Remembering this tale she told me, as I stood by her bedside a few days ago while another priest gave her the last rites, I realized that it was now her time. She’s with her beloved cat, Oliver who died this past November; her older sister Madeline who passed away two years ago, and my Dad who’s been gone for fifteen years. I miss her but hope to see her again one day when it’s my time.

Posted in New Releases, Uncategorized

New Release: Where in the Dark by Karen Millie James

Two envelopes. Two holocaust survivors. Two anonymous bearer

bonds each worth one million pounds. Corporate forensic

investigator, Cydney Granger, with help from beyond the grave,

enters a world previously unknown to her to unravel the truth

behind a web of secrets, lies, corruption, blackmail and hidden

Nazi loot as new horrors of the Third Reich come to light.

 

Still struggling to come to terms with the apparent death of her

husband, Captain Steve Granger, five years’ earlier Cydney puts her

personal feelings to one side and is determined to bring to justice

an escaped Nazi criminal, Adolf Weissmuller, living under the assumed

name of Albert Whiteman, whose son is about to run for the US

presidency. Can Albert ever make amends for his crimes against

humanity, or are some actions beyond forgiveness …?

Will Cydney, along with her trusted and tough protector, former

sergeant, Sean O’Connell, also uncover the truth surrounding

her husband?

 

The consequences of Cydney’s investigations, stretching back

before WWII, are far reaching with the potential to bring down a

banking dynasty as she faces insurmountable odds from which

there is only one final solution.

 

The dramatic follow-up to The Shadows Behind Her Smile,

a compelling debut which takes the reader from the heart of Cydney’s

corporate world to the ruins of war-torn Damascus and where men

will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

From ch7:

Albert Whiteman had led his life for the last fifty-eight years feeling confident he had left his past behind. Now, through his own fault, it was about to come back and bite him extremely hard and harm everything he had set in motion for his son to become president of the United States of America. How his fellow officers would have laughed to even think that the son of a Nazi officer, his own child, might one day hold that position.

He had not thought about his past until recently. It was almost as if it hadn’t happened, an episode in a book he’d read, as if he was so detached from his previous existence, repressing any memories and never haunted by images.  Now, he questioned whether in fact he should feel any guilt for his actions.  He’d never considered this or any consequences of the actual mass murders he had committed and the exterminations, but the thought alone and the questioning in his mind was eating away at him on a daily, almost hourly basis.  He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and was unable to function.  It was essential to his existence and to his life to have answers, especially now he didn’t have long left on this earth and would have to face his Maker.  He felt no remorse; how could he when everything he had done had been on the orders of his senior officers?

Never a religious man at all or God fearing, he had started to attend a catholic church in the last year, initially chosen purely because the architecture and the statue outside of the Madonna and Child attracted him more than any others.  The church dated back to the 1830s and was built in a pseudo-gothic style, and somehow it had managed to escape destruction in the civil war.  With its sweeping vista across the gorge of the Shenandoah River, it gave the man a sense of peace which he didn’t receive where he lived one hundred and fifty miles away, and he was struck by the richness of everything about it.

When Albert sauntered into the church it enraptured him, which came as a shock. The first time he had simply entered through the open door and stood inside the vestibule before going through into the nave where he gazed wonderingly around him, admiring the stained-glass windows and statues that honoured religious figures and illustrated the Bible’s words. Around the walls were plaques of the story of Christ’s crucifixion.  He felt drawn by the sense and smell of it all and the fullness of an all-consuming silence, and the cold, instead of repelling him, was somehow comforting. From childhood, religion to him was cold. The few times he was forced to attend church with his parents as a young boy, he’d found it unemotional and uncaring. He had never understood the draw or why you had to pray to God or anyone you couldn’t see or hear. Was the lack of heat to give you a sense of Hell in comparison? The preacher always drummed into him that was where everyone would end up if they didn’t abide by the rules set out in an ancient text. Now he may be thinking differently because that’s all he had left.

Buy Links:

Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and audible: http://amzn.to/2fJv6O4

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karenmilliejames/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/@KMillieJames

Website: www.karenmilliejames.com

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Cover Reveal: Fame and Obsession by Cora Kenborn

Title: Fame & Obsession
Author: Cora Kenborn
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Editor: Gillian Leonard of Lilypad Editing
Expected Release Date: Oct. 25th, 2016
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:

Struggling writer Phoebe Ryan abandons her southern roots and heads to New York, determined to leave her nightmarish past behind…

She was not expecting to meet a famous rock star, or to be coerced into ghostwriting his autobiography. But she tries to maintain focus on her dream of becoming an author, despite the attraction she feels for the sexy rocker, not to mention the baggage that comes with him.

Julian Bale’s world was shattered one drunken night, and it almost ruined him…

Weighed down by guilt, he blames himself for an accident he could’ve prevented. He will play the game, but swears his hot little ghostwriter will never get that story out of him. As much as he wants her, if he has to choose between his dream and hers, it’s no contest.

Phoebe and Julian give in to a forbidden attraction, and their public romance risks both their lives…

An obsessive fan is on the loose and now that the secret’s out, it’s made them both targets. The psychotic stalker is determined to have Julian for herself, even if she has to reveal their sordid pasts and eliminate Phoebe to do it.

He lives for fame. She lives to hide. Obsession lives to ruin them both.
Cora Kenborn writes romantic suspense novels with strong heroines, complex alphas, harrowing danger, and snappy banter. She is the author of the rock star stalker series, Lords of Lyre but refuses to be pigeon holed into one specific genre. She loves delving into the twisted mind of a dark villain as well as giggling while writing rom-com banter.
Cora lives in Eastern North Carolina and is a true Southern girl, growing up on sweet tea, front porches, and the simple life. She says “y’all,” “fixin’ to,” and should you deserve it, will “bless your heart.” She’s the proud mother three hyperactive and occasionally adorable children, and the wife of a husband who tolerates her chaotic writer’s cave.
Although reading is her passion, she can usually be found watching true crime shows and crafting inspiration for twisted new tales. Cora admits to being a horrible cook, an even worse baker, and believes she’s more dangerous with a hot glue gun than any weapon on earth. Oh, and she and autocorrect are mortal enemies.
Author Links:
Cora’s VIP Newsletter http://www.eepurl.com/b1xCtj
The coiled body behind me tensed, ready to detonate. Whoever defended me could hold his own, but I could still take everybody out with one flick of the wrist. Chivalry felt warm and fuzzy but I learned a long time ago that one hundred and fifty volts felt electric and twitchy.
Turning my chin to the side, I whispered on an exhale, “It’s fine, I’ve got this.”
A low laugh against my neck curled my toes.
“You so don’t got this.” His chest rumbled as a strong hand ran skilled fingers around my hair. I tilted my chin, watching his eyes harden. “You’re up my ass, shit-for-brains. Don’t ever touch what’s mine.” He shifted his lips against my ear. “Right, baby?”
One suitor tested my patience, but two pushed my limit. I opened my mouth to tell him off when he stole the moment and pressed his lips against mine. Resisting, I murmured veiled threats as he pulled me toward him. The impromptu kiss dissolved into failed waves of aggression, and I inexplicably responded to him. Before I knew it, I’d wrapped my arms around his neck.
After a few heartbeats of kissing a complete stranger, I finally regained what dignity I had left, shoved his chest, and faced him with fire blazing in my eyes. He snickered and waved as my aggressor stalked off. Shooting him a death glare, I reached for my drink. After scanning for witnesses, I brought it to my lips and drained it.
“Thirsty?” He smirked.
“What the hell was that?”
He snatched the drink out of my hands, giving me a wink before tipping it back for the last drop. “You weren’t exactly pushing me away. Besides, I just saved your ass. Heath Vaughn was inches from having a hand up that thing you call a dress.”
“I didn’t ask for your help!” I bit back. “I don’t even know who the hell you—wait, who?”
“Somebody had to step in or you’d have spent the night in jail with that concealed, illegal shit in your purse. You’re telling me you didn’t know that was Vaughn? Maybe because we haven’t time-warped back to his 1995 five minutes of fame.” He walked past me with a smirk plastered across his face.
 Struggling to catch up with him, I grabbed his shoulder in disbelief. “That’s a joke, right?”
“Afraid not. Vaughn in the flesh, and apparently in the sauce too. Why do you care so much what he thinks?” He eyed me curiously, his jade-green eyes knocking me breathless.
Finally allowing myself a full look at him, I quickly averted my eyes before he could see my racing pulse reflected in them. Chaotic chocolate spiked hair pointed in every direction and hinted at a carefully constructed morning-after look. A small silver earring caught flashes of light in the darkness and tattoos decorated each uncovered arm.
Remembering to breathe became a chore.
“Because I’m screwed!” I shouted, frantically waving my phone. “My boss is already pissed at me, and I was supposed to meet Vaughn here for an interview, and—why am I telling you this?”
“Calm down.” He grinned, revealing a deep dimple in his left cheek. “Look, the dude’s so far tanked he won’t remember he was here, much less you were. Give me your phone.”
“I’m not giving you my phone. I don’t even know you.”
Rolling his eyes, he snatched my phone out of my hands. “Didn’t stop you from making out with me, did it?” He scanned the email I’d been checking all night. Typing furiously, his lips curved upward and he handed it back. “All fixed.”
“What did you do?” Thankfully, previous defense training taught me to never label emails with personal information. In the darkness, he’d never scroll back far enough to know my name.
“Why must you question brilliance?” he countered with a sigh. “You sent him an email concerned for his safety since he never showed for your interview. You waited but had to leave because you actually work for a living. You’d love to reschedule since you’re such a huge fan and were disappointed at the missed opportunity to hear all about his crap-ass reality show, since I assume that’s all he would’ve wanted to talk about.”
I could’ve kissed him—if I hadn’t already.
“You’re an evil genius.”
“So I’ve been told.”

Posted in Limitless Publishing, New Releases, Uncategorized

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order: Dark Redemption by Sarah Marsh

darkredemptionDARK REDEMPTION by Sarah Marsh
Broken Souls Series, #1
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Cover Designer: 
Redbird Designs

SYNOPSIS: 
Sofia Boon was ready to make changes in her life, but she didn’t see this coming…

Taking a chance, she finds the nerve to ask out her handsome neighbor, but when he doesn’t show up for their date, Sofia knocks on his door and meets a man claiming to be his roommate, and she soon realizes she’s made a horrible mistake.

Eitan Kent is a tortured man, haunted by a death he was unable to prevent…

Eitan believes he is unworthy of being loved. He buries himself in his work and takes a job to track down a wanted criminal, Ben Donovan. He locates Donovan’s apartment, but finds it empty—until Donovan’s “date” shows up.

Eitan doesn’t know what to make of sweet, curvy Sofia, but she’s the only lead he has…

Feeling he has no choice, Eitan decides to take her with him to see if she can somehow lead him to Donovan before it’s too late—or if her innocence is all an act and she’s involved in the bastard’s crimes.

Sofia is terrified and tries to explain to the dark stranger that she barely knows her neighbor and has no idea how to track him down, but Eitan knows exactly how to get the truth from her. Who knew a little torture could be so sweet?

Coming August 30th!

darkredemption2PRE-ORDER TODAY: http://amzn.to/2b8b90v

“Who says it’s always the damsel who needs to be rescued?”

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Sarah Marsh

Hello there, you’d think that writing the “about” info on myself would be the easy part of this exercise but wow. Not so much. I’ve only been writing stories for the last couple of years, I’ve been a huge fan of science fiction and romance novels for a long time and one day my over active imagination just wouldn’t seem to quit so I got on the computer, started typing and eventually ended up with my first book! It’s an odd career turn for me as I also currently work in an office in an accounting capacity, but I’ve also been a pastry chef as well so perhaps this is a little closer to getting back to the creative outlet that I’ve been missing. It’s great to be able to put little pieces of yourself into these heroines that you perhaps don’t get to show the world or even wish you were more like, its a liberating experience. At the same time, writing is such a personal thing that putting yourself out there to the world to be judged by publishers, reviewers, readers, basically everyone that reads your work is a really scary thing for a lot of people. It was a terrifying thing for me and I am grateful that I have some very supportive family and friends, thank you most of all to Marissa who has always been there right from the start no matter what I put in front of her to read!

I currently live in British Columbia, I’m a bit of a hobby-a-holic. At the moment I am obsessed with scarf knitting, to the point that I had to open my own Etsy store to unload my stock pile of scarfs….I mean how many scarfs can a girl really justify keeping for herself? I also am a painter, mostly abstract in acrylics. With the pastry arts background I spend a decent amount of time still creating recipes and baking, much to the delight of my co-workers who I use as lab taste testers, I love making home made chocolates as well. In the spring and summer I love to plant things and tinker in the garden, and spending time with friends and family.

I hope you enjoy my books! I certainly enjoy writing them and I strive to get better with each one, thank you for your support!

Sarah.

Website: https://sarahmarshfiction.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SM_fiction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahmarshfiction

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

His Confession by S. Valentine Now Available Free on Kindle Unlimited

hisconfessiongraphichisconfessiongraphic2hisconfessiongraphic3His Confession is now available on KINDLE UNLIMITED!

 The Black Door Trilogy! By S.Valentine.

His Confession is available on Kindle Unlimited! – A world of sex, secrets & seduction.  #KU #Romance

Need a new sexy romance series? Meet Darion Milano!

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2apXZfO

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ar6K6p

Her Confession OUT Aug 30thA world of temptation, truths & ultimate tests.

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2aKBnWU

Their Confession COMING SOON – A world of decisions, desires & deepest fears.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Monday Blog, Short Story, Uncategorized

How do you like this short story?

gift-548299_640I hope you like this story about a girl who finds that the best gifts are worth waiting for and that believing in yourself is the first step toward achieving your dreams.

A PERFECT SOLUTION

by Debbie De Louise

© Debbie De Louise 2015

Loser. If you looked up the definition in Mary Jane Hopkins’ personal dictionary, her name would be listed. If the dictionary was illustrated, her photo might appear there, too. For the twenty-nine years and 364 days that she had been on this Earth, Mary Jane had accomplished nearly nothing. She did manage to graduate high school only because Mrs. Palmer, her English teacher in her senior year, felt pity for her and gave her a C- as her final grade. Mary Jane wasn’t stupid, but she had such low self-esteem that she failed everything she tried. An only child, her parents gave her everything she wanted, but they could never give her self-confidence.

The list of Mary Jane’s failures could take up a book. Since childhood, she’d taken lessons in a variety of wind, string, percussion, and electronic instruments – piano, violin, guitar, drums, flute, electric keyboard, even xylophone. After her parents invested thousands of dollars in lessons, she could barely play a note. Her mother, Gladys, suggested to her father that maybe music wasn’t Mary Jane’s thing. Then followed years of art lessons at a prestigious art school. A four-year old could better master her stick drawings and splattered paintings. Her dad then considered that his dear daughter might be more athletic than artistic. She took horseback lessons and nearly broke the horse’s back. She tried tennis, soccer, softball, basketball, golf, and even ping-pong but constantly lost the balls in each game. She nearly drowned during her Red Cross swimming lesson. Both parents agreed it might be best not to enroll her in skydiving or mountain climbing classes.

After all Mary Jane’s attempts at enrichment classes failed, her parents tried a different tact. When Mary Jane turned 13, her mother told her father that she read some books on teenagers that said they should be allowed to “sink or swim.” Her dad said that, judging by MJ’s previous swimming lessons, the sink was more likely. Gladys explained that the saying was not literal. It simply meant their daughter needed to try things on her own and suffer the consequences if they didn’t work out for her. Therefore, Mary Jane joined some clubs at school – cheerleading, chess, chorus, and even camera club. She forgot the one-word cheers, had no clue about the chess, got laryngitis her first day at chorus, and dropped and broke the camera club’s $500 digital camera.

It only got worse as Mary Jane grew older. She was never asked to her senior prom. Although she wasn’t ugly, she was as plain as her middle name portended. For her 16th birthday, her mother treated her to a makeover at a local beauty parlor. She was allergic to the cosmetics and broke out in hives. Her dad gave her money for a new wardrobe, but the materials of the new outfits made her itch.

As the years passed, Mary Jane applied to many jobs that did not require a college degree. She was hired as a waitress but spilled soup in a customer’s lap. She was a receptionist at a doctor’s office but put the wrong patient’s chart in the files. She even, without her parents’ knowledge, danced at an adult club, but she slipped on the floor and broke her ankle.

Now, approaching her 30th birthday, all Mary Jane wanted was to excel at something. That’s why, when she saw the advertisement in her email, hope grew in her heart. She knew it had to be authentic because her spam filter had not blocked it.

Do you wish you could change your life? For only $99.95, we can send you the details of our proven plan, A Perfect Solution. Whether you want a high-paying job, a loving spouse, or to win the lottery, if you dream it, you can have it. A Perfect Solution has helped thousands of shy, depressed, self-conscious men and women overcome their own feelings of worthlessness.

The final line really grabbed her:

You can even gift A Perfect Solution to a friend or relative or even yourself for your next birthday. A Perfect Solution will arrive in a discreet brown paper package within a week of order with complete instructions and a 60-day money back guarantee. Click here to order.

Mary Jane quickly clicked the order link. She had $100 left in her bank account from her parent’s last birthday gift, so she could afford to charge it. She filled out the order form and added her credit card information. She kept her fingers crossed that she would receive A Perfect Solution by her birthday the following week.

During the week, Mary Jane could not contain her excitement. Each day, she ran to the door when the mail carrier arrived. It was easy when her parents were at work but, on weekends, she knew she would have to keep a closer eye out for the mail truck or one of her parents might see her package. Even though the ad claimed A Perfect Solution would be mailed in a discreet box or envelope, she couldn’t take any chances. She had once sent for a magical beauty formula she’d seen described in a woman’s magazine at the supermarket checkout counter, and her mother never let her live down the mud mask that she received that was closer to the wet dirt in their backyard than it was to a cosmetic product.

The day after she’d ordered A Perfect Solution, she didn’t expect the package to be there, but Old Carter told her, as he handed her bills and advertisements that he was going on vacation and that another mail carrier would be taking his route that week. Mary Jane was a bit upset by this news because she feared the mail might be misdelivered, so she made an even greater point of watching for the daily mail.

On the day that Carter’s vacation started, Mary Jane had just finished lunch when she spotted a blue uniformed man making his way up her walk. He was younger and taller than Carter with dark hair under his mail hat and light blue eyes that met hers when she opened her door.

“Hi, there Ma’am,” he said handing her a few letters. “I’m taking Carter’s route this week. My name is Doug.”

Mary Jane smiled and hoped the glint off her adult braces wouldn’t blind the new mailman. “Nice to meet you, Doug. I’m Mary Jane. You don’t happen to have a package for this address, do you?”

Doug shook his head. “I’m afraid not, Mary Jane. That’s a very nice name by the way”

“Thank you,” Mary Jane said. She was disappointed but told herself it was only the second day after her order.

The following day, Doug brought the mail in the morning. Again, all he handed her were a few envelopes for her parents. He noticed her expression and said, “Sorry your package isn’t here yet, Mary Jane. I’ll keep an eye out for it.”

“I would appreciate that,” Mary Jane said.

The next day, Mary Jane felt like putting on some nice clothes to greet Doug instead of going to the door in her old pajamas and robe. She dug around in her closet and found a dress she had never worn. She remembered worrying that the material would be scratchy on her skin, but when she put the cream-colored silk on, it glided across her body. She added some stockings and even a dab of lip gloss. It would be nice to receive A Perfect Solution looking her best, she thought.

Doug rang the bell this time. When she answered, he produced a bouquet of carnations and lilies from behind his back. “For you,” he smiled, displaying a dimple. “There’s no mail for you today, so I thought you might need some cheering up.”

“How thoughtful,” Mary Jane said taking the flowers tentatively. The one previous time she’d received flowers from her grandmother on her high school graduation, she’d had a sneezing fit. However, that was nearly twelve years ago, and Doug’s flowers didn’t even water her eyes.

“I must say you look as lovely as those flowers,” Doug added. “I hope your package comes tomorrow.”

The rest of the week, Mary Jane tried on new clothes when she took in the mail. Each time, Doug had a small gift for her – a box of chocolates on Wednesday, a pretty paper fan on Thursday, and a lovely gold letter opener on Friday – but A Perfect Solution was not in his mail sack.

“Tomorrow is my last day before Carter comes back,” Doug told her. “I will say a special prayer tonight that your package arrives.”

Mary Jane was touched by this thought. “That is so sweet, Doug. Tomorrow is my birthday.”

The mailman smiled, showing his cute dimple again. “Then it has to come. But, if it doesn’t, I will be sure to bring you a special present to celebrate.”

“You’ve brought me so many presents already.” Mary Jane was sad she hadn’t received A Perfect Solution, but she was sadder that tomorrow would be the last day she would see Doug.

When Mary Jane woke up on her birthday, her parents were home because it was Saturday. Her mother made her a special breakfast of her favorite chocolate chip pancakes and her father handed her an envelope across the table. It contained another $100 that she could deposit into her bank account to cover the amount she’d spent on A Perfect Solution. She hoped she hadn’t been a victim of another scam like the mud makeup.

“What’s the matter, dear?” Gladys asked. “You’re not eating much of your birthday pancakes, and you seem worried about something.”

“It’s nothing, mom,” she denied. “It’s just that I can’t believe I’m 30 already.”

“You’re still very young, MJ,” George said. “And, by the way, I’ve noticed you’ve been wearing some new clothes lately and you’ve done something nice to your hair.”

“Thanks, dad. I think it’s time for a change.”

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Her parents both stood up, but Mary Jane insisted on answering.

Doug was at the door with two packages. Her heart leaped at the sight of him and the two brown envelopes.

“Happy Birthday, Mary Jane,” Doug said his blue eyes twinkling. “Which package would you like to open first, and would you mind if you open them in front of me?”

Even though Mary Jane could hardly stand the suspense, she remembered her manners. “Of course I’ll open them in front of you, Doug, but why don’t you come in first and meet my parents?”

Gladys and George were happy to meet the young mailman. Gladys served him one of the chocolate chip pancakes that was left over, and he complimented her on her cooking. Afterwards, George showed Doug his stamp collection, and Doug told him he was also a philatelist.

Mary Jane was happy to see Doug and her parents enjoying each other’s company, but she was eager to open A Perfect Solution and the other envelope, which was just labeled with her name.

When Doug finally said he had to finish his route, Mary Jane followed him outside with the envelopes.

“Please open the one with just your name on it first,” Doug said. “It’s a gift from me.”

“I told you that you didn’t need to give me anymore gifts,” she said as she slit open the envelope with the gold letter opener Doug had given her the day before. Inside was a folded piece of paper. It said, “Will you come to dinner with me tonight?”

Mary Jane felt herself blush. She noticed Doug’s cheeks were reddening, too.

“Don’t answer yet,” Doug said. “Just open the second envelope. I know you’ve been waiting long time for it.”

Mary Jane’s fingers were trembling. She was surprised A Perfect Solution would come in such a package. She’d expected a large box, but her mother always used to tell her that big things often came in small packages. She slit open the envelope. Inside was another note, but this one was computer generated. She suspected the hoax. Her stomach dropped as she read the message:

“Thank you for purchasing A Perfect Solution. Here are your instructions. As promised, this is a foolproof plan for getting everything you want.” Several spaces below that message was the one line of instructions: “Keep on Trying.”

She looked up at Doug who was watching her expectedly.

“So, did you get what you wanted?” he asked.

Mary Jane smiled, her adult braces shining like diamonds. “I believe I have and, yes, I will go to dinner with you tonight, Doug.”