If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that people are weird–sometimes in a sweet and charming way and sometimes not so much. We’ve been stressed out and we’ve dealt with other stressed out people, so let’s ratchet that up with a psychological thriller. Take a peek at Encounter by Alana Lorens and tell me what is scarier–vampires and ghosts or real people.
You’ll find a code to get a copy of Encounters for only 99 cents. Be sure to check out two chances to get free books. Act fast- The Magic is Everywhere Giveaway ENDS June 15.
What Scares you the Most?
by Alana Lorens
I’m the first person to acknowledge that I love stories with a psychological twist, a real gut scare. Many times those stories take place with a malevolent spirit, a fantasy boogieman or other ethereal hoodoo. But, to me, far scarier is human nature and the things we humans will do to each other.
In ENCOUNTER, everyone starts out with good intentions and behavior. The lawyers are going to a retreat to build team confidence. Jake Patrin, the caretaker, is setting up the location for the retreat. Inez and her companions are traveling across the border to seek a new life in America. Davi Pilar is just driving a truck to make some money. Sounds innocent enough all around, right?
Until nature steps in.
A freak snowstorm in March—not unheard of, but pretty rare—shuffles the deck. Whose karma or belief in Fate activates this catalyst, we’ll never know. Whatever bit of destiny sends it, though, changes all the innocent intentions into desperation moves.
If we know anything about humans, it is that they are not at their best when motivated by desperation. A man on the edge of sobriety. A woman trapped and determined to save her life. Fancy folk with their carefully cultivated ‘masks’ slipping to reveal…what? Deadly secrets spilled, reaching out to taint others.
What will they all do to survive, once they are forced together in a once-safe microcosm?
What won’t they do?
Encounter by Alana Lorens
Teo Haroun and the other lawyers in his firm look forward in varying degrees to the retreat at the Sherman Ranch in northern New Mexico. The boss has laid down some rules — no phones, no computers, no communication with the outside world — that makes them uneasy. But the corporate team-building exercises are necessary for this firm to survive its inner sniping and turmoil — and to protect the secrets they hold.
Inez Suela and thirty other Mexicans have paid a coyote hundreds of pesos to take them across the border into the United States, where they hope to make a better life. The crowded truck heads north into New Mexico to meet their local driver, the occupants unaware that a freak March snowstorm is waiting in its path.
Jake Patrin, the caretaker of the Ranch, fights demons of his own as he struggles daily with addiction. Working far from the city on the lonely Ranch, hosting those who rent the facility, is his protection and solace. But he’s about to lose the only peace he’s been able to grasp.
Davi Pilar needs to make some fast money to appease a couple of St. Louis loan sharks, so he agrees to pick up a truckload of illegals and take them to St. Louis. He drives to New Mexico, not knowing that Inez, the woman who rejected him years before, is one of those on that truck.
The intersection of these people, the collision of their cultures, the revelation of their secrets—all these things lead to violence, death, and even redemption in their New Mexico ENCOUNTER.
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A Sample of Encounter by Alana Lorens
A wiry man with Spanish features stacked pieces of luggage behind the rear seat, delivering a quiet monologue punctuated with obscenities. Teo didn’t understand much of what he was saying, but between the bad words and the tone, he got the basic gist. Greedy Americans. True, the large pile of suitcases seemed like a grandiose amount of “stuff” for a week, even for six of them.
“Hello,” Teo said. “Are we going to manage all this?” He set his bag on the front seat, marking his territory.
“It’s impossible,” the driver groused as he capitulated to the inevitable and radioed for a car top luggage carrier. Teo grinned and the man relaxed, reflected the smile. “What can you do, eh?”
“Go with the flow, my friend.” Teo walked behind the van into the street, feeling the sun on his face. So long since it had been warm in Chicago.Here, March was nearly sixty degrees. After four months of bitter winter, it felt glorious. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes.
Moments later, tires squealed. A horn blared inches from Teo’s thigh. An irritated male voice yelled, “Get out of the street! Are you crazy?”
Teo jerked back to reality, found himself looking across the hood of a “Hello-Officer Red” Trans Am at a polo-shirted man with dark glasses and a jaunty black hat. “S-Sorry—“
“Sorry, my ass! Are you high? Get out of the effing street!”
The Chicago partner squinted, studied the driver. “John?”
The driver swung out of the vehicle, lowered the shades a moment and looked at him. “Hey…Teo? Right? Oh hey, sorry, man. Damn glasses are really dark.” The broad-shouldered man walked over, shoved a meaty hand in Teo’s direction. “You okay?”
“Fine, fine.” Teo shook his hand, released it when it was polite. He’d barely recognized the newest Denver partner, John Kirk Nicholas, responsible for most of the firm’s West Coast clientele.
I hadn’t realized he was such a jerk.
But Teo’s friendly smile never wavered. He knew many men like John Kirk, confident of their own place in the world, cocky bastards who made sure they belonged to the “right” social groups and had the “right” opinions to get ahead, whether those opinions served the moral conscience or not. None of them was gay.
John Kirk turned to the van driver. “Hey, Pedro! Where can I park my rental?”
Teo stiffened as the driver gritted his teeth and pointed out the parking lot before turning back to his work.
The athletic Trans Am driver grinned at Teo and clapped him on the shoulder. “See you inside, pal.” Climbing back into the car, he squealed his tires again and headed in the direction of the indicated lot.
In an attempt to offset John Kirk’s bad impression on the driver, Teo helped Pedro unload the large suitcases and set them on the curb as a youngish man showed up with the requested car top carrier. “We’re not all like that,” Teo said apologetically.
The driver looked at him, cocked a brow. “Gringos?”
Surprised, Teo shook his head. “Lawyers.”
“Ah.” Pedro chuckled as he got back to work, and Teo retreated inside, feeling he’d been put in his place.
Interesting how we categorize and assign worth to ourselves by what we are, not who…
Meet Author Alana Lorens
Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a
pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of
Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She
writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as
Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of
Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum,
who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by two crotchety old cats, and six
kittens of various ages.