Cast of Characters
edited by Lou Aronica

ISBN: 978-1-936558-50-6 * eISBN: 978-1-936558-51-3 * Paperback $21.95 * E-book $6.99

Publication: April 3, 2012

Cast of Characters is a genuine publishing event – the first ever fiction anthology from Novelists Inc., the only writers organization devoted exclusively to the needs of multi-published novelists. A collection of new work from twenty-eight accomplished writers, including eleven New York Times bestselling authors, it is a must-have book for everyone who loves fiction.

This major volume – nearly five hundred pages – includes:

“Autumn Treasures” by Catherine Anderson

Sam Jones pulled his BMW sports car onto the shoulder of the unpaved road, so lost in memories that he didn’t worry about the encroaching bushes on the country lane scratching the brand new paint.

“Between the Lines” by Victoria Alexander

He swept her up into his arms and carried her toward his bed chamber. Desire quickened his pace and heated his blood. She was light as a feather, ethereal as an angel. Hair so blond it was nearly white drifted around a face that was surely sculpted in heaven itself. She was glorious and soon she would be his.

“Saint Agnes and the Black Sheep” by Jo Beverley

“Ready, dear?” Lady Martineux used the bright tone she always applied when preparing for another foray upon the ton.

“Quite ready, Aunt,” Agnes Abbott said, rising from her dressing table and pulling on long, white silk gloves. As ready as she could ever be for yet another London evening.

“Waiting” by Barbara Bretton

You are standing in line at the bank on a sunny Wednesday in the middle of your life. Behind you, two aging preppies compare golf scores and vacation plans in plummy tones that make you think of old money and Ivy League schools. This is Princeton, you remind yourself as you duck your head to hide your smile.

“Gift Horse” by Julie Compton

Anna stopped by the pub on her lunch hour. She drove around the block several times before finding a spot near the entrance, all the while cursing under her breath the city’s grand idea of adding cobblestones and parallel parking to create a small-town feel.

“Lady’s Man” by Tanya Anne Crosby

Annie Franklin inadvertently stumbled upon the address to Heaven: It was a two-story beach house at 1776 East Ashley Avenue on Folly Beach.

“Don’t Breathe” by Carole Nelson Douglas

I’m in need of some serious hiding.

Behind a garage or a garbage can won’t do.

My thumping heartbeat tells me I’ve wasted way too much time considering options.

“The Woman who Lied to Cats” by Rosemary Edghill

In the Summer Country, only ditching and dikes claimed the land from the sea. In the Summer Country, seed was sown beneath the surface of lakes that only dried to land in harvest time. It was a rich land, and in the spring of 1258 Death came to claim his entitlements. Death was a great lord, so great that he did not ask the tithe-tenth the Church claimed, nor the third part that King and Baron claimed. No, Death was a great lord.

He took all.

“I Brake for Biker Witches” by Angie Fox

It was a dark and lonely night. No, seriously – it was. You wouldn’t believe the pitch black you get in the middle of the desert in California. No lights. No people. Nothing. We hadn’t even seen another vehicle in almost an hour.

“A Child’s Cry” by Heather Graham and Jason Pozzessere

“Will you play with me?”

The question sounded eerie; the tone of the voice speak- ing the words seemed soft and oddly disembodied.

“An Arrow for Sebastian” by Greg Herren

“So, just how did you two meet anyway?” Lorita Godwin asked into a sudden silence that had dropped over the dinner party. Her words were only slightly slurred. She was on at least her fourth glass of red wine since we’d sat down at the table. She’d had a couple of whiskeys before dinner, and God only knew how much she’d drunk before her guests started arriving. Her eyelids were starting to droop a bit – which didn’t go particularly well with the bad facelift she’d had since I’d last seen her.

“Invidia” by Vicki Hinze

On the eve of the execution, I write this note to my daughters:

When you’re eighteen, the world seems small and the answers simple. Who you are and what you believe in focuses, well, on you. Whether you choose to conquer the world or the S.A.T. exam, you honestly think you can do anything….

“Killing Time” by Marianna Jameson

“Oh, honey.” The mixture of sympathy and amusement in Susanna’s voice was cruel, just plain cruel.

“I’m fine.” Merrilee pressed the thin slices of cucumber more tightly to her burning eyes and held her breath, hoping she could suppress another sob.

“Timeless” by Wayne Jordan

The Atlantic Ocean stretched before him like the essence of time. Already he loved Barbados. From the moment he’d stepped off the American Airlines flight, he had felt an unexpected sense of belonging.

“A Walk in the Rain” by Kate Kingsbury

I knew something bad had happened when Holly Fraser didn’t turn up that day for lunch at the diner. At first I was just annoyed that she’d kept me waiting. I kept watching the door, looking for her to come rushing through it, her face all flushed behind her sunglasses.

“Tunnel Vision” by C.J. Lyons

Everything I did, I did for us.

She smiled and I knew. Not her normal, painted on for the world smile. No, this smile was her secret smile, aimed only at me.

“Tell Them Herbert Sent You” by Katie MacAlister

Subject: I’m getting married in the morning...

Date: 4.14pm 24 September 2012

Well, not this morning, but tomorrow morning. Assuming my family doesn’t drive me insane first, that is.

“The Thief Taker” by Ashley McConnell

It had been a long, unprofitable afternoon, and Kian was hungry. Kian was always hungry. Radeke said it was because he was growing. Kian hoped he was wrong. It was harder to cut purses when you got bigger.

“Small Sacrifices” by Jodi Lynn Nye

Dr. Perri Closson watched as Dr. Ethan Miller chewed, trying to guess what he was thinking by the expressions on his long, mobile face. Her own smaller, rounder face she kept guarded.

“A Pearl Island Wedding” by Julie Ortolon

She had to stop the wedding. Panic clutched Chloe’s chest as she stared with horror at the phone in her hand. How could all her happiness come crashing down around her with one phone call?

“The Hammer of Artemis” by Diana Peterfreund

To Donna Maria Isabella Leandrus

Cloisters of Ctesias, Rome,

Having come through the recent season of illness in my country, I am at last in a position to write to you. The sickness has carried off my noble father as well as my mother, a woman who once lived amongst you, before she was wed. My sister Catherine, betrothed in marriage to Lord Darnley, has also succumbed. It is this unfortunate news that now gives me cause to write.

“The Story of My Unlife” by Laura Resnick

I realized I was going to have serious problems adjusting to being a vampire when I tried to bite someone in the jugular vein and discovered it’s much harder to do than you might think.

“Ghostel Montenegro” by Patricia Rice

At midnight, Marie-Celeste Montagne leaned against the Hotel Montenegro’s carved double panel ballroom doors and listened to the ghosts dance.

Well, she supposed she was actually listening to ghostly musicians since dancing wraiths made no sound, but she sighed in delight, imagining the ball being reenacted inside.

“When It’s Wright” by Deb Stover

Great-Aunt Rachel was one part Mighty Mouse and two parts Betty Crocker. At least, with matters concerning her family’s happiness.

And Kate McDonald had the awesome distinction of being that family. Extended, nuclear, whatever. She was it. As such, all the love, doting, and smothering attention Aunt Rachel could muster were reserved for her.

Kate’s cup runneth over...and then some.

“A Dream of Flight” by Victoria Strauss

Toward midnight, the master took advantage of the pause between an exiting troupe of acrobats and an entering quartet of madrigalists to escape the banquet. He half-feared his patron might insist he remain, but the patron simply waved dismissal, as if the master were no more than a servant. Which, in a certain sense, was true.

“Down Under” by Karen Tintori

Peter’s hand dove for his pocket as his nostrils contorted in an explosive sneeze. The small reception area reeked of wet umbrellas, peonies and over-cooked coffee, although it was barely eight in the morning. He frowned at the bright pink flowers, no doubt snipped by some middle-aged secretary. He bet she hummed as she harvested them. Like Elizabeth used to back when he’d found it charming.

“Vanished” by Diane Whiteside

The clock struck nine P.M., the note sharp as a bugle call before it disappeared into the West Virginia mountains. I glanced around, distracted from climbing stairs in stilettos rather than my beloved clogs.

“Goldfarb’s Red Scarf” by Steven Womack

There was no visible, obvious reason why Nathan Goldfarb should be the worst runner – and perhaps the worst athlete – in Academy history.

On first appearance, it made no sense. His body was lean, lanky, with long legs and the outline of ribs showing through the skin of his abdomen. There was nothing superfluous about him. He was neither fat, nor clumsy, nor even that slow. In practice, he ran respectably if not spectacularly. At worst, he should have been a mediocre runner, an uninspired runner, or to use a phrase common at the Academy, an “underachiever.”

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