Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for A Wish on Gardenia Street by Shelley Shepard Gray

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Tasty Book Tours, for A Wish on Gardenia Street by Shelley Shepard Gray, Please leave a comment or question for Shelley to let her know you stopped by. You can enter her tour wide giveaway, for a A Digital Download Copy of A WISH ON GARDENIA STREET, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.

An Amish Brides of Pinecraft Novella
Shelley Shepard Gray
Released July 28th, 2015
Avon Inspire

Bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray continues her Amish Brides of Pinecraft series with a special addition—a tale of wishing and wanting...and what the heart really needs.

Good things may come to those who wait, but Mattie Miller is confident that great things come to those who go after what they want…and Mattie wants Danny Brenneman. Danny is the reason she's returned to the sunny Amish community of Pinecraft, Florida—well, that and to see her best friend Leona get married.

Mattie's met Danny only once before but she knows the spark between them is sure to lead to something special. Despite a missing cat, wedding day chaos, and Danny himself, she's confident this vacation can only end one way: in an engagement of her very own!

Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

After Beverly closed the door, Mattie looked around the space again. The attic room held three beds, each decorated in bright shades of pink and purple. Two windows covered in sheer white curtains let in a wide expanse of light, brightening an already cheerful room. On one side of the room was a full bathroom along with a small closet and some pegs on which to hang her dresses.

Then there was her favorite part of the room: a lovely window seat where she, Sara, and Leona had lounged and watched the world go by two stories below them.

Wanting to enjoy her first moments to the fullest, Mattie sat down on the cushion and gazed out at the people who walked by just in case she spied anyone she knew. Soon, however, it became apparent that her attention wasn’t focused on the people but the bright day outside. The June sky was a clear blue, and it seemed as if every home and business owner on Gardenia Street had taken pains to grow the most beautiful flowers. Purple periwinkles, red geraniums, and pansies of every color imaginable decorated walks and pails and terracotta pots on most every front porch.

The neighbors across the way had out a lovely set of white wicker furniture. A lady and a fluffy white poodle were sitting on an oversized chair, looking so perfect, it was as if they were posing for pictures.

Soon, with God’s help, Mattie was sure that she, too, would be making her home here in sunny Sarasota. Maybe one day she’d have an expansive front porch, too. She could laze about with a good book while waiting for her husband to come home in the evenings. Later, they could sip on iced tea together as they watched the tourists pass by. Eventually she’d be taking care of her kinner, raising them under warm, sunny skies.

She was just about to drift into that vision when she saw Leona approaching the front walkway. Mattie tore out of the room, raced down the steps, and burst out of the front door just as Leona was about to knock. 

“We’re together again!” she cried as she gave Leona a fierce hug.

“I’m so happy to see you,” Leona said as she wrapped her arms around her tightly.

“It feels like it’s been forever instead of just weeks since we’ve seen each other.”

Leona nodded. “Somehow the distance seems greater when we’re hundreds of miles apart.”

As they turned and walked up the stairs, Mattie nodded. “I canna tell you the number of times I ached to tell you something but you haven’t been around.”

“At least you still have Sara.”

“At least.” However, Mattie wasn’t sure what was going on with Sara anymore. Their last trip had put more distance between the three of them than mere miles. Sara now seemed more content to spend all her extra time reading, cooking, and sewing. She had also begun to volunteer at a local nursery for young children. All of those things were pleasurable pursuits, to be sure. But they were far from Mattie’s chosen list of fun activities.

Though Sara had no doubt not wanted to be sick, Mattie privately thought that she’d seemed rather relieved to have an excuse not to venture back down to Pinecraft.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Hold Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Virtual Tour for Spy Trade by Matthew Dunn

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Pump Up Your Book, for Spy Trade by Matthew Dunn.  Please leave a comment or question for Matthew to let him know you stopped by. 

Spy Trade
by Matthew Dunn
A Spycatcher Novella

Publisher: Witness Impulse
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: eBook/Paperback
Length: 100 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062441423

About the book:

When a mission goes awry in Syria, senior CIA officer Bob Oakland is captured by aspiring members of ISIS, who demand the release of one of their own, Arzam Saud, in U.S. captivity. When their hands are tied by Washington’s refusal to negotiate, the CIA turns to MI6 officer Will Cochrane to find out what’s really going on. The threats are escalating quickly, and in order to save the CIA officer, Cochrane must uncover why Saud is truly so important . . .

Spy Trade is available for order at

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Google Play * Harper Collins

Matthew Dunn spent 5 years in the British Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6, as a field operative. His role required him to recruit and run agents, coordinate and participate in special operations, and to operate in deep-cover roles throughout the world in order to collect secret intelligence to support the West’s ongoing fight against hostile and unpredictable regimes, state-sponsored terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. His missions required him to travel extensively and typically he operated in highly hostile environments where, if compromised and captured, he would have been executed.

Matthew was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection and direct action including agent running and debriefing, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, anti-surveillance, counter-surveillance, advanced driving, infiltration and exfiltration techniques, and covert communications. His skills were widely deployed by him in the field. Matthew typically worked alone but he also had significant experience of working with highly-specialized units of the British SAS and SBS as well as joint-operations with MI5, GCHQ, and strategic allies.

Matthew was security cleared to the very highest level in Britain. Because of the nature of his work in MI6, Matthew is bound by a life-long pledge of secrecy regarding his methods of work, agents, missions and overall knowledge of the British Intelligence community and its allies. He remains in close contact with MI6 and will never breach its trust in him.

Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Matthew was the recipient of a very rare personal commendation from the Secretary of State For Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs for work he did on one mission which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the successful conclusion of a major international incident.

During his time in MI6, Matthew conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful.

He is the author of the contemporary Spycatcher series of espionage novels.

For More Information
Visit Matthew’s website.
Connect with Matthew

August 3
Book featured at Undercover Book Reviews
Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
August 4
Book featured at Queen of All She Reads
Guest blogging at Bent Over Bookwords
August 5
Interviewed at Review From Here
August 6
Book featured at Confessions of a Reader
Guest blogging at The Literary Nook
August 7
Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
August 10
Book featured at C.A. Milson
Book featured at Lover of Literature
August 11
Book featured at A Bibliophobia Anonymous
August 12
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Guest blogging at Harmonious Publicity
August 13
August 14
Book featured at Around the World in Books
Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club

Book Blitz & #Giveaway for the Biggest Stage by Karolyn James


Welcome to my stop on the Book Blitz, presented by IndieSage Promotions, for The Biggest Stage by Karolyn James.  Please leave a comment or question for Karolyn to let her know you stopped by.  You can enter the tour wide giveaway, for a $25 Amazon GC, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  

Blitz: The Biggest Stage by Karolyn James
The Biggest Stage 
 Publication Date: August 3, 2015
 Genres: ContemporaryRomance
Available on Amazon

His first kiss dried her tears. His second rocked her world…

Dropped from the label, desperate to get signed and get back on the road, lead singer of Willow Son – Colby – will do anything to make things right. Looking for some good karma, he gives up his hotel room to a woman who needs a place to crash. It’s only one night, the kind of thing he’s used to. Plus, she’s beautiful, exactly what he needs to take his mind off his rocky rockstar career.

When Tessa travels to the next city, as her sales job requires, she can't focus on anything but the rockstar that is lingering on her lips. She finds it insane to think anything with Colby was real – and that it could happen again. That is until Colby and Tessa meet up once more – hundreds of miles away from their first hot kiss.

A third encounter with the sexy lead singer leaves Tessa wondering what’s happening… is it fate? Or something else?

Tessa thought kissing a rock star was crazy. She's about to find out what happens when one falls for you.

Add to Goodreads

About Karolyn James

Karolyn James is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author of several romance series, including the Brothers of Rock series and the upcoming Ferry Creek contemporary romance series...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Drape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, for Drape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith.  Please leave a comment or question for Karen to let her know you stopped by.  You can enter her tour wide giveaway, where Karen will be giving away (2) Print Copy of Drape Expectations and HobbyReads Travel Sewing Kit, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You can also follow all of the stops on Karen’s tour by clicking on the banner above.  

By Karen Rose Smith
A Caprice Deluca Mystery (Book 4)

Publisher: Kensington
Release Date:  July 28, 2015
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length:  352 pages
Format: Print/eBook
ISBN-13: 978-1617737701
ASIN: B00P53E0G2

Buy Links:  Amazon   B&N    Kobo    iTunes  Google Play    Book Depository    IndieBound

Caprice De Luca’s former client and now friend Ace Richland–an 80’s rock star–asks her for a favor.  Can she quickly stage his girlfriend’s house to sell?  Widow Alanna Goodwin, a transplanted Southern beauty, will be moving in with him!  Immediately Caprice realizes Alanna’s southern charm can be turned on and off at will.  Caprice agrees to stage Alanna’s Kismet antebellum-styled mansion for Ace’s sake.  But she soon learns Alanna doesn’t have a genuine love for her cat Mirabelle and also uncovers a plot her new client is hatching to sabotage Ace’s comeback.  However, before she can tell Ace, Alanna is murdered and Ace is the prime suspect.

As Caprice investigates, she learns Alanna had more secrets than pie safes.  With her Cocker Spaniel Lady by her side, she tracks down clues and adopts Alanna’s cat.  In the midst of some of her own family upheaval–her uncle has moved in with her parents–she finds herself with a dilemma.  Grant Weatherford, her brother’s law partner, advises Ace and reveals more of his past to her.  Seth Randolph, the doctor she dates, wants her to meet his family.  She must choose between them.

Danger stalks Caprice.  Will her refresher self-defense course save her life?  Only if she keeps her wits about her and Lady by her side.

About This Author
Award winning and best-selling author, Karen Rose Smith’s plots are all about emotion. She began writing in her early teens when she listened to music and created stories to accompany the songs. An only child, she spent a lot of time in her imagination and with books–Nancy Drew, Zane Gray, The Black Stallion and Anne of Green Gables. She dreamed of brothers and sisters and a big family like her mother and father came from. This is the root of her plotlines that include small communities and family relationships as part of everyday living. Residing in Pennsylvania with her husband and four rescued cats, she welcomes interaction with readers on social media.

Author Links:

A fun cozy filled with colorful characters, lively dialogue and plenty of suspense, Drape Expectations, the fourth book in the Caprice DeLuca Mystery series by Karen Rose Smith, is the perfect escape for mystery lovers.  Set in the fictional town of Kismet, Pennsylvania, Ms. Smith’s “crime solving house stager” finds herself drawn into solving a murder and placing her life in danger.  While the fourth book in a series, this is a book which can be enjoyed on its own.

Ms. Smith does an excellent job developing Caprice DeLuca’s character right from the start.  While I have not read the previous books in the series (something I’ll be correcting shortly), I was able to connect with Caprice right away.  An attractive woman with a quirky sense of style, Caprice uses her knowledge and training in home design to “stage” her client’s homes in order to help them sell.  While her business is thriving, and she’s got it mostly under control, Caprice is also trying to deal with some personal issues; a love life that’s definitely heating up a lot quicker than she expected and some family drama involving her uncle.  When a former client asks her to take on an additional client and she agrees, she soon finds herself involved in solving a murder, trying to choose between two romantic rivals and trying to stay one step ahead of a killer who suddenly sees her as a threat. 

The secondary characters are also well developed and I really enjoyed getting to know Ace Richland, the 80’s rock star who has become her personal friend, Grant Weatherford, her brother’s law partner and one of her romantic interests and Lady and Sophia, her two pets.  I also enjoyed getting to meet some of Caprice’s family members and I really liked how everyone she seemed to interact with ended up with either a rescued dog or cat, curtesy of Caprice’s efforts.  Even the less than likeable characters, such as Alana Goodwin, Ace’s girlfriend, who later becomes the murder victim.

The mystery of who killed Alana is well developed and there are plenty of twists and turns.  There is enough suspense and action to keep you guessing as to who the killer is and why Alana had to die (and I have to admit that I really didn’t mind her dying).  The story’s pace is good and I found myself turning the pages quickly to find out what was going to happen next.  Especially with the additional emotional angst from Caprice’s love life and the danger she eventually finds herself in.  Overall Ms. Smith does an excellent job developing her story and drawing the reader into the world she’s created. 

Will Caprice solve the murder before anyone else gets hurt?  Will Caprice decide which man she wants in her life forever?  You’ll have to read Drape Expectations to find out, I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading Silence of the Lamps when it is released in April 2016.   

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spotlight & #Giveaway for Made For Us by Samantha Chase

Made For Us
By Samantha Chase
The Shaughnessy Brothers, Book 1

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the book:

Can't make time for love?

The Shaughnessy brothers have spent the years since their mother's untimely death taking care of each other and trying to make their father proud. Oldest son Aidan is hard-working, handsome, successful-and still single. Sure, he'd like to have his own family someday, but who has the time?

She'll show him how to find it

Zoe Dalton, a stunning designer Aidan meets on one of his construction jobs, has the beauty and heart to make Aidan realize how much he could be missing. But it's not easy to break down walls you've spent years building up. Now there's a major storm bearing down on the North Carolina coast, and it could be catalyst enough to force Aidan and Zoe into some major decisions of the heart.

Top Five Signs He is Right for You by Samantha Chase

Hey, Royal Readers!  I’m Samantha Chase and super excited to be here on Queen of All She Reads talking about my new contemporary romance, Made for Us, - book one in my new family series, The Shaughnessy Brothers.  And I have to tell you, this family series is one that I know you are going to fall in love with as much as I have.

What I love about this new series is how much family means to each of them.  When Lillian Shaughnessy was killed, she left behind a husband and six children whose ages ranged from eighteen to ten months.  And rather than this tragedy tearing them apart, it made them closer as they clung together to get through their grief.

At the point that you’re going to be meeting them, seventeen years has gone by and we see how the loss of their mother still affects who they currently are.  Each book will not only introduce you to an individual Shaughnessy as they navigate through their life and eventually find love, you get to spend a lot of time getting to know the rest of the family, as well. 

Made for Us focuses on eldest brother, Aidan.  He’s a workaholic who works in construction who doesn’t take time for himself, but once he meets the lovely Zoe Dalton, he suddenly decides to do just that. 

But if you’re like Zoe, how do you know?  Just because a super-sexy guy starts smiling your way, how do you know he’s right for you?  Here’s some helpful hints:

5.  He takes the time to get to know you.  Aidan was a little overly cautious in this step and sometimes he didn’t pay close enough attention, but in the end, he made sure that he knew Zoe as well as he knew himself.

4.  He listens.  Zoe fell a little hard for Aidan when she realized that he actually listened to the things she said and remembered them – whether it was just to listen to her talk about her day or her hopes and dreams – a man who is willing to let you talk about the things that matter to you is a keeper!

3.  He makes you laugh.  There were plenty of opportunities for Zoe to laugh at Aidan, but it was so much better when they laughed together.  A man with a sense of humor is definitely a gift – it shows that he has a lighter side and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

2.  He makes you sigh.  With pleasure!  A man who is sexy and affectionate and isn’t afraid to show that side of himself?  Yum!  Aidan was a little slow in this category too, but when he finally let his guard down and kissed Zoe for the first time?  It was better than she ever imagined. 

1. He’s willing to admit when he’s wrong.  This is a tough one for most guys, but when you find a man who is willing to admit he’s messed up and doesn’t try to make excuses for himself?  Grab that man and hold him tight.  Zoe did!  And that’s just one of the reasons they are living happily ever after! 

 About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan's Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40's to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.

When she's not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Social Networking Links 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Virtual Tour for The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Pump Up Your Book, for The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi.  Please leave a comment or question for Amita to let her know you stopped by.  You can follow all of the stops on her tour by clicking on the banner above.

Why My First Novel Is About The Devdasi Cult That Exists in India despite The Law By Amita Trasi

Thanks for hosting me today.

When I set out to write this novel, I only ever intended to write about the friendship between two girls—Tara of privileged upbringing like many girls in India’s cities and Mukta, a poor village girl who doesn’t really land the luck of the draw. Initially, I hadn’t imagined Mukta to be born into a family of temple prostitutes. But as I wrote, the characters took on a life of their own and led me to places that I honestly didn’t think I would ever research or write about.

THE COLOR OF OUR SKY brings to light an outdated tradition— that of the DEVDASIS. Centuries ago, this tradition began as a way for some women to practice their devotion towards the temple Goddess, Yellamma. A ceremony (similar to a wedding) was performed where these girls/women dedicated their lives in the service of the temple. They would dance in temples, earning the title ‘dancing girls’.

Today, this tradition has devolved into prostitution with young girls being efficiently exploited by pimps in the human trafficking business.  This is the story of one such girl—Mukta—who is sacrificed at the altar of the Devdasi tradition that still torment some villages in India (even though there is a law against it.)

My novel is an intersection of two voices—Tara and Mukta—two girls from two different castes who form an unlikely friendship which endures the worst. For me, the Tara who returns to India seeking redemption represents hope for a better tomorrow for girls like Mukta. Mukta is a representation of a life wrought in the ugliness of the world. In their friendship I find a light—a hope—that for every girl like Mukta, there will be a friend and savior like Tara.

The Color of Our Sky
By Amita Trasi

Publisher: Bloomhill Books
Release Date:  June 30, 2015
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Suspense
Length: 304 Pages (5105 KB)
Format: Paperback/Kindle

About the book; 

A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past.

Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. 

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.

Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

For More Information
The Color of Our Sky is available at Amazon.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Read Chapter One here.

The memory of that moment hit me like a surging ocean wave—drawing me into it—the sour smell of darkness, those sobs erupting like an echo from a bottomless pit. I had tried to break away from it for so long I had forgotten that places can have memories too. I stood in the dimly lit corridor outside my childhood home and tried to unlock the door. The keys rattled in my hand and fell to the floor. This was proving to be more difficult than I had thought. One deep breath and you will find the courage Papa used to tell me when I was a child. Now, in my mid-twenties, here I was, standing outside this locked door, feeling like a child once again.

I picked up the keys and tried again. The doors creaked as I managed to push them open. The apartment was dark. Outside, the sky thundered and rain rammed the rooftops. A stray slant of sunlight fell on furniture that had gathered dust over the years, and I stood in that unlit room looking at the old cobwebs crowding the corners of what had once been my home. I switched on the lights and wiped the dust off my writing desk with a smooth stroke of my hand. It is just an apartment, I told myself. But there were so many things from my childhood here—my writing desk where Papa had sat down next to me, teaching me how to write, and the couch where we had watched television together as a family.

In my bedroom, my bed stood neatly covered, just the way I had left it.  I could hear the sound of our laughter, smell my childhood—the food Aai used to cook and lovingly feed me—that wafting floral smell of saffron in the pulao, turmeric perfumed dal, the sweet rasgullas. There wasn’t any such smell of course, not anymore. All that was left was just a musty odor from closed doors, from buried secrets.

A cloud of dust erupted as I parted the curtains. Outside, the rain was falling softly, leaves cradling the raindrops. The scene was still the same as when Papa and I had moved away to Los Angeles eleven years ago: the zooming in and out of traffic, the honking of rickshaws and cars, the distant barking of stray dogs, the sprawled slums in the distance. Standing here, my suitcases lonely in the doorway, I understood why Papa had never tried to sell or rent this apartment. After making a home in America for eleven years, he had hoped to return one day to search for Mukta. After all, this was where she was kidnapped.

It is said that time heals everything. I don’t think that’s true. As the years have gone by, I’ve found it odd how simple things can still remind you of those terrible times or how the moment you try so hard to forget becomes your sharpest memory.

I stepped out of my apartment that day determined to find answers. The taxi drivers stood in a queue, waiting, hoping, begging you to take a ride from them.

There was something about this city that I would never forget. I could see it everywhere, smell it, hear it—the dreams that lingered on people’s faces, the smell of sweat and grime, the sound of distant chaos in the air. This was where it had happened—where walls had blown apart, vehicles had blown away, simple shards of glass had splintered lives, and our loved ones had become memories.

Standing here, an image of Aai floated before my eyes, waiting for me somewhere, her kohl-lined eyes tearing up as she took me in her arms. It was different before the blasts had come and taken her away.

“Madam, I taking you anywhere you wanting to go,” a taxi driver called out.

“No here, here . . .” another taxi driver waved.

I nodded to one of them and he hurriedly got behind the wheel. It began drizzling as I stepped inside. The rain fell softly around us.

“Take me to the police station in Dadar,” I told him.

“Madam, you coming from foreign, no? I understanding from the way you speaking. I taking you to the bestest hotels in Mumbai. You will—”

“Take me to the police station,” I repeated, sternly.

The driver was quiet the rest of the way, humming quietly to the tune of Bollywood music roaring through the speakers in his taxi.

Outside, the slum dwellers and street children picking through garbage rolled past us. Heat hovered over the city despite the drizzle, and the wind smelled of smoke, curry, and drains. People still walked dangerously close to the speeding traffic, rickshaws sputtered alongside, and beggars knocked on my taxi window asking for money. The footpaths still housed many of the poor who lived in makeshift tents, women haggled with hawkers in the bazaars, and men loitered in corners giving vacant stares. Behind them, Bollywood movie posters on walls announced the latest movies.

When I was a child, Papa had taken me for a walk on these very streets. Once I had accompanied Aai to the bazaars and haggled with shopkeepers alongside her. And there was a time I had sat in the backseat of a taxi with Mukta next to me while Papa had taken us to the Asiatic library. How excitedly I had shown her the sea, the garden, and introduced her to my world. How many times had she walked with me to my school, carrying my schoolbag, or sat with me on the park bench slurping iced golas? Now, sitting in the backseat of this taxi, my stomach churned. These moments seemed to paralyze me; I was unable to breathe, as if the crime I had committed was slowly strangling me. I pressed my face closer to the open window and forced myself to breathe.

“Here madam, that’s the police station,” the driver announced as he pulled over.

It was raining very hard when the taxi came to a stop, the wipers whipping wildly against the windshield. I stepped into ankle-deep water as I got down, the rain beating against my umbrella. I paid the taxi driver. In the distance, near the garbage cans, children in raincoats splashed water on each other, their giggles coming in waves.

At the station, I found a place on the bench in the corner and dropped my purse in my lap. Eleven years ago Papa and I had sat on one such bench in this police station, waiting for hours, to understand what had happened to us, trying to make sense of it all. Now, as I sat straight, sandwiched between strangers waiting their turn, I wished Papa were sitting beside me. In a way, I still carried him with me—his remains—his ashes, capped tightly in a bottle in my purse. I had brought them here to disperse in the river, something I needed to do, something that was in accordance with his last wishes.

A constable sat at a table nearby, his head behind a mountain of files; another sat behind him at another table, listening to complaints and noting them in a register, while yet another sat on a chair not far away, his head buried in a newspaper. A chaiwala rushed past us carrying chai, placing the glasses of brown liquid on every table. Outside, police sirens pierced the air, and the policemen dragged two handcuffed men inside.
The woman before me sobbed and urged the constable to find her missing son. He yawned, scribbled something in the register, and then shooed her away.

When it was my turn, I sat in front of him. He rubbed his eyes. “What is your complaint now?” he asked, sounding bored.

“I want to speak to your senior inspector.”

He looked up from his register and narrowed his eyes, “About what, madam?”

The wooden board behind him had a chart of the number of murders and kidnappings this year and the cases they had solved.

“It is about a kidnapping that happened eleven years ago. A girl was kidnapped. My father filed a report then.”

“Eleven years?” The constable raised his eyebrows. “And you want to search for her now?”

I nodded.

He looked at me curiously and sighed. “Okay, you wait,” he said, then walked to a closed room and knocked on the door. An inspector opened the door; the constable pointed to me and whispered something. The inspector gave me a glance and then walked toward me.

“Inspector Pravin Godbole,” he said, shaking my hand and introducing himself as the senior inspector of the station.

“I have . . . I am . . . looking for a girl who was kidnapped. Please, you have to help me. I-I just arrived after a long flight from America.”

“Give me a few minutes please; I have someone in my office. I can review your case after that.”

The constable escorted me to his office after some time. Inspector Godbole had sharp, intelligent eyes that I hoped would be able to see what others had been unable to see. He asked me to take a seat. His hat with the emblem Satyamev Jayate—truth alone triumphs—sat on the desk.

“What can I do for you?”

I sat down, opened my wallet, and teased out the photograph. How young we looked then—Mukta and I—standing outside the Asiatic library. He took it from my hand and looked at the photograph.

“I am looking for her, for the girl in the photograph,” I said.

“Which one?” he asked, squinting at the photograph.

“The one on the right, that’s me. The other one—she was kidnapped eleven years ago.”

His eyebrows angled upward. “Eleven years ago?”

“Uh . . . yes. She was kidnapped from our home just after the 1993 bomb blasts. I was in the room with her when it happened.”

“So you saw the kidnapper?”

I paused.

“No . . . not really,” I lied.

The inspector nodded.

“Her name was . . . is Mukta. She was a girl . . . an orphan my parents fostered.” I explained, “My Papa was a kind man. He used to work with many NGOs and orphanages in his spare time to find a home for abandoned children. Sometimes he brought them back to our apartment. He rescued street children or poor kids from villages—one or two at a time—and let them stay in our home. They slept in the kitchen, ate food Aai made, and then in a few days Papa found them a place at one orphanage or another. Papa did good any opportunity he got. With Mukta . . . he tried so hard. Something happened to her back in her village. She just didn’t speak for a long time. She—”

“I see, I see,” he interrupted. “We’ll try to find her.”

I wanted to tell him that, unlike the other kids who had lived with us for barely a week or two, Mukta had been with us for five years. And that she was a good friend. I wanted to tell him how she liked reading poems and was afraid of the rain . . . and that we had wanted to grow up together.

“Ms. Tara?”

“My . . . my father had filed an FIR back then . . . of . . . of the kidnapping.”

The inspector took a deep breath, scratched the stubble on his chin, and brought the photograph close to his face, staring at the picture. The photograph was worn out and wrinkled by age like a precious memory frozen in time, both of us smiling at the camera.

“Ms. Tara, this was such a long time ago. She will be . . . older now. And we don’t have a recent picture. It will be very difficult to search for someone without a recent picture. But let me have a look at her file. I will have to contact the missing person’s bureau. Why look for a poor village child after all these years? Has she stolen something precious from your home? Like an heirloom or something?”

“No. No . . . it’s just . . . Papa worked so hard to give the other children a home.

I suppose Papa thought Mukta was the only one who slipped through the cracks . . . someone he couldn’t protect. He never forgave himself for that. At the time the police told us they had searched for her. Papa told me she was dead.

Maybe a police inspector told him that. I don’t know. Papa took me to America after that. 

I . . . I didn’t know she was alive. I found some documents in his drawer after his death. He had been searching for her. And all this time he had been looking for her, I thought she was dead.”

“Nobody looks for such children who have disappeared madam. Look at all the children living in the slums—there is no one to take proper care of them, let alone worry how they are doing if they disappear.”

I looked at him, not saying anything. There hasn’t been a moment in the last eleven years that I haven’t wanted to wander back to that summer night, to that split second when I could have done something to stop it. I knew who the kidnapper was; I had always known. I had planned it after all. But I didn’t tell the inspector this, I couldn’t. There would be way more things I would have to reveal than just that.

He flicked the photograph in his hand and sighed loudly. “Give me a few days. I will look through the files. We are backlogged with many cases now. You can give the constable all the details.” He signaled to him and asked him to escort me outside.

“Thank you very much,” I said, standing up.

At the door I turned to him again. “It would be great if you can help me find her.” He lifted his head momentarily and gave me a slight nod before going back to his work. It took the constable a few minutes to take down the details.

I left the station and stood on the porch watching the police jeeps parked outside, constables carrying files, people waiting impatiently, and suddenly it seemed futile to have come to this place, to have asked for their help.

They hadn’t even asked the right questions: Did I remember the day when it happened? What were the sounds I heard before I knew what was happening? The exact time on the bedroom clock? Why did the kidnapper not kidnap me instead? Why did I not scream? Why did I not wake up Papa who was sleeping in the next room? If they had asked me those questions, I was afraid the truth would come spilling out of me. 

Amita Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in Human Resource Management and has worked with various International corporations for seven years. She currently lives in Houston with her husband and two cats. TheColor of Our Sky is her first novel.  

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