The first of three books in The Magnolia Series, Blood Ties - The Bonds Are Permanent - is slated for release in paperback and ebook on June 1, 2015. The ebook is available for preorder on Amazon for only $0.99 (big savings from the on-sale price of $3.99). Simply click here to visit Amazon and place your order.
The final cover:
LiAnn Tuck and her daughter, Karina Summers, are settling into their new life, enjoying the small farming community of Sheridan, Arkansas. The slower pace, compared to the craziness of Los Angeles, is a welcome distraction for them both. Taking care of her aging parents and their small farm is just what LiAnn needs to forget her twenty-five year career as a detective. And Karina's new love interest brings back the smile she lost from years of undercover work and her cheating ex-boyfriend.
Their idyllic lifestyle changes the minute a family friend, Cecil Pickard, pays a visit. He lives at The Magnolia, an independent living facility in Hot Springs, and believes someone is stealing from him. LiAnn and Karina offer to investigate and suddenly find themselves inside a living nightmare.
Theft isn't the only criminal activity taking place inside the historic, stately walls of The Magnolia. Organized crime has infiltrated Hot Springs, and what they're after is not only money, but life itself. As LiAnn and Karina dig deeper, they might just be digging their own graves.
Print book interior insert:
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Sneak peek at the first chapter:
“You ain’t your own man, Lucas Hill. Your ass is owned by another. Just his bitch to jump when he snaps those meaty fingers and points,” he grumbled. It took all of his concentration to keep his foot steady on the accelerator and the truck hovering at the speed limit. Irritated, he clenched his jaw hard. The sound of his teeth grinding filled up the entire cab. Lucas was still pissed off he was out doing this in the middle of the frigging night. His eyes were bloodshot. Lack of sleep and staring at the dark highway for the last three hours made them feel like he’d poured salt into them.
Swirling another mint around in his mouth, he hoped it hid the smell of the three beers from earlier. He didn’t even want to think what would happen if he got pulled over. With his luck, it would be for something like speeding, not waiting the full three seconds at a stop sign, or not using his turn signal before changing lanes. Blinking twice, he made sure to keep the truck in between the white lines. All or any of the minor screw ups would put him in the middle of a shit storm for sure. Lucas had no desire to make headline news like other runners from committing some stupid traffic infraction. Jail time for drug running was stout enough, but he shuddered at the thought of what his sentence would be if some nosy pig poked his face inside the cooler and got the shock of his cop life viewing its contents.
A shiver of panic traveled down his spine, and Lucas gripped the steering wheel of the inconspicuous black Dodge truck with a bit more force. While chewing on the well-worn spot on his bottom lip, he double-checked the side and rearview mirrors. Nope, he was safe. No blue lights behind him and no strange vehicles following either. Normal, sane people who lived normal, sane lives weren’t out at three o’clock in the morning. He let go of his crushed lip when the nasty rust taste hit him.
“Damn, another piece of my flesh offered to him. Damn!” he muttered after swallowing the droplets of his own blood.
Lucas didn’t fear much in this world, especially not the frigging police or even a stint behind bars. He could handle both with ease. And it wasn’t like he sought out trouble; it just seemed to come to him. Like a damned homing pigeon or boomerang—it kept landing right on his lap, no matter how hard he tried to stay on the straight and narrow. His last six-month stint in Lafayette County, Tennessee, had been a walk in the park.
A brawl with the bouncer at Gigi’s Strip-n-Tip landed him in the slammer after he got too friendly with a damned stripper. What a joke. How were you not supposed to touch all that flesh when it was in your face? When it was all said and done, Lucas was convicted of battery after the dust-up with the bouncer. Lucas had some bruises, but the bouncer suffered a broken nose and was missing two front teeth.
Time spent in county lock-ups was a breeze compared to doing hard time like his old man down in Tucker. The sorry excuse of a father would die behind the concrete walls of the maximum security prison.
Lucas' minor run-ins with the fat, slow, and lazy cops of the Southeast were as easy to handle as banging a virgin. Slip in, slip out, and leave a slight stain of blood behind as a reminder you were there.
He didn’t fear the police, the court system, the frigging President of the United States. Not even God himself. There was only one person who set his guts on fire and turned his blood cold. The cold-hearted devil with black eyes and no heart ruled his life—and the lives of others—with an iron fist.
Lucas feared the man enough not to even think his name inside his head, much less speak it out loud. If he made some asinine mistake tonight, and the contents of the cooler resting on the passenger floorboard were discovered, he was a dead man.
No doubt. Dead, dead, deadski. Then someone else would be delivering his organs in the middle of the night to some sick, rich douchebag with enough cash to pay for new body parts on the black market.
Lucas squinted through the dirty windshield, looking for the blue Hospital sign. He'd double checked everything on the frigging truck but the windshield washer fluid levels. Who was the dumbshit that prepped the truck for this run? If he found out, introductions would be done properly—with a fist to the face.
“Get a frigging grip, man, this is your twentieth delivery and you've never had a problem.” Still, Lucas knew he couldn’t let his guard down until the package was in the hands of the buyers.
And the Devil was off his ass.
“What the hell was I thinking getting involved with Ray-Ray? Dumb spoiled little rich prick.” The moment he met Ray-Ray in tenth grade, he knew the dude was trouble with a capital T. But Ray-Ray had access to the life Lucas wanted—girls, drugs, and hot cars.
Lucas popped another strong mint into his mouth. Sucking in a mouthful of air between his teeth, he let the potent vapor rush to clear his head and focus his driving. His life had been the total opposite of Ray-Rays. His mom struggled to put food on the table and keep the lights on in their small apartment. Clothes came from second-hand stores, and it was a rarity if they fit. Or lasted longer than a few weeks. His piece of shit, no-good father hadn’t been around since Lucas was a sperm stain on his mom’s panties.
Now here he was stuck in a situation because Ray-Ray had gotten his brains blasted out of his head two days ago by his ex-old-lady’s jealous boyfriend.
Right now, Lucas wanted to turn the clock back two years and drink three more Jack-n-Cokes so he would have passed out on Ray-Ray’s couch. If he had, he would never have ridden with him to “make a delivery for some quick cash” as Ray-Ray called it.
“Five hundred bucks? For just ridin’ shotgun? What you deliverin’, Ray-Ray? Gold dust?”
“Nah, man. Just a one-of-a-kind piece for my uncle. That’s all you need to know. You just watch our tail, got it?” Ray-Ray had said.
Then Ray-Ray had sealed his fate by telling the Devil about him. Lucas had been the one who noticed something wasn’t right about the setup. No sooner had they driven past the designated point, the cops swarmed the parking lot like a horde of ravenous locusts. Ray-Ray and Lucas watched the entire scene from across the street at the Waffle House after they hid the truck in the back parking lot. They tried to act casual when they sat down at the counter and ordered coffee, but their hands shook with fear.
The Devil was impressed with Lucas’s skills. So much so, that the job of runner was pulled from Ray-Ray. Lucas was forced to watch as the Devil's enforcer beat Ray-Ray unconscious for including a stranger in the run and the loss of the expensive package. Neither of them said a word of protest when their sentences were handed down. Lucas’s street survival instincts lit up like a Christmas tree when he was in the presence of the Devil. After witnessing what the man was capable of doing to his own flesh and blood, Lucas knew better than to question his orders.
And now, at age twenty-five, Lucas was stuck in a job he didn’t want with no escape route in sight. He assumed he was hauling drugs. But on his second delivery, Lucas lifted the lid of the cooler.
It wasn't drugs. Inside the slushy mess of ice, was a heart and lungs. He puked for ten minutes. After the shock of that sick vision, he made sure never to open the lid again.
Though Lucas hated shuttling the cold body parts he had grown quite fond of the cash his deliveries put in his pocket. Ten thousand dollars a pop. Unfortunately, his wallet was running on fumes after being behind bars for so many months. When he was released from jail, he went back home and tried to find a legitimate job. He hoped his time away would have given the Devil a good reason to find another runner, but it didn’t work. It was the beginning of his third week out of the joint, and he had celebrated his newfound freedom and the lack of contact from the Devil with a few beers while watching a basketball game on television. But his brief taste of freedom ended with a phone call around midnight.
Lucas pulled his head out of the memory. He needed to concentrate on the task at hand. No mistakes. The moon was hidden by a thick blanket of rain clouds. The streetlights were a joke. Why in the hell would someone want to live in this backwoods, redneck city? For Christ’s sake, the streetlights were no better than a flashlight with a low battery. He wished the sky would open up and let the rain out, but then he wondered if the frigging wipers worked.
A flashing yellow sign ahead beckoned him to Fill your tank and your belly! There was plenty of time to stop and refuel, and he needed to hit the head. Thinking about his boss made the beer and coffee run through him.
Pulling off the main highway, the faint neon green from the old truck’s dashboard cast an eerie glow on the white cooler. Once he pulled up to the pump and cut the engine, he yanked off his jacket and tossed it over the cooler.
He reached over and pulled on the black ball cap down low over his forehead. The brown wig attached underneath made his neck itch but he ignored the urge to take it off. Protocol needed to be followed, to the letter, every time. No paper trail was to be left behind. No cell phones, GPS, or anything electronic were to be used during the delivery process. Even the old Dodge he was driving didn’t have the fancy tracking equipment of the newer vehicles available. A different disguise was to be used each time and was provided, along with the cash for gas and instructions, under the front seat. The ancient, black rust-bucket was always parked in the same spot each time—at the back end of the funeral home, hidden behind the storage shed under an old tarp. Instructions and cash were taped underneath the seat. The call came in, Lucas went to the truck, and the game began.
Stepping out of the truck and into the sweltering heat of the Tennessee evening, Lucas shot a final glance over the floorboard to make sure the cooler was well hidden. Satisfied, he pushed the lock down and headed into the store.
Lucas couldn’t shake the sensation that Ray-Ray was riding with him. Well, at least part of him. After all, it wasn’t like Ray-Ray’s uncle to let any body part go to waste.
There had been an additional note tonight. A handwritten one that made him cold despite the heat.
Glad you are back. Stop getting into trouble and keep your nose clean. I’m watching you and don’t want to hear any more news about my favorite courier locked up behind bars. Because if it happens again, there won’t be enough of you left to fill a Ziploc baggie. Got it?
Lucas got it. Loud and clear. As he walked to the counter and paid for his gas, he thought about the line from a movie in his youth. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?
Yes, yes he had. He wanted nothing more than to get off the dance floor and never waltz again. But the Devil owned his dance card. Lucas was so dizzy from all the spinning, he knew he was stuck in the tight embrace of the bloodthirsty leader’s arms.
Writing this book with my mother, Lillian Hansen, was such fun! This is her first book published, and the first time I've co-authored a book with someone else. Countless hours were spent on the phone, bouncing plot ideas, twists, turns, and laughing so hard our sides hurt! We hope you enjoy the story of Sgt. LiAnn Tuck and her daughter, Karina Summers, as much as we enjoyed writing about them!
What readers/reviewers are saying about Blood Ties:
"'Blood Ties' is Ashley Fontainne at her evil-minded best. Since her mother, Lillian Hansen, collaborated on this book, could it be the gift is genetic? This blood-curdling book has everything: malicious and angelic characters, dastardly deeds, a spattering of humor and hefty doses of love... I cringed at the insane cruelty of the leaders of the 'murderous ring.' And I cheered when the stunning daughter/mother team from Cali hits Arkansas, taking it by storm. They not only capture the bad guys, they capture hearts along the way too. This exciting and simply terrific book is so seamlessly written that it's hard to believe two minds wrote it. Congrats on yet another winner... Another movie in the works?'" - Betty Dravis, author of "The Hiss of Evil," coming soon
"The story is a page-turner of murder, torture, robbery, betrayal and romance...I truly enjoyed this story, mostly because of unusual plot relative to senior housing for retirees, and there were several plots woven in and out of the main one." - J. Adamak, reviewer
"...there are so many awesome twists and fun and close family ties and friendships in this book! I have never read a book that grab me like this one did." - D. Kerner, reviewer
"What can I say? She's done it again! I'm so glad that, even though this is part of a series, it could be considered a stand-alone. I totally cried at the end...it's my favorite book of Ashley's so far!" - E. Robbins, reviewer