Monday, December 11, 2017

TUESDAY TALES - PICTURE PROMPT WEEK - "TWO OF HEARTS" CONTINUES...




Welcome! This week, I've selected the sky picture above. We continue with "Two of Hearts" for a while longer...


   Before she went on this crazy internship three thousand miles away, when five o'clock rolled around, he’d turned his thoughts to Clare –wondered what she had made for dinner, and if she’d be up for sex after. 
   At six, he’d looked forward to going home to her, listening to her challenges and victories for the day, gazing at her beautiful face, and feasting like a king on her gourmet meals. He’d had a wonderful life. Now that that was gone, at least for six months, he realized how much he had taken for granted. Best decision he’d ever made, marrying Clare. Okay, maybe that and buying ten thousand shares of My Life company.
   Frowning, Terry returned to his empty apartment. The barking pug greeted him, her little legs stiff as she made sure he wasn’t an intruder. Then the wiggly canine licked his face and tore around the house, showing him how happy she was that he was home. Terry smiled. The animal was too hilarious to ignore.
   He pulled out a rectangular plastic container from the freezer, then opened a beer. She’d worked like a lunatic to leave him a month’s worth of meals in the freezer before she left. He flipped on the news and put the food in the microwave. His cell rang. He muted the tube before answering.
“Clare, baby! How are you?” He stretched out on the sofa, resting his feet on the coffee table.
“Aces. You? You okay?”
“Fine. Busy.”
“Are you going to bridge tonight?”
“Of course. Some things have to stay the same.”
“You getting a new partner?”
“Al said he knew someone, but I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. How are things?” He knew he shouldn’t hope she’d say terrible and that she wanted to come home, but he did. 



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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Doug, Tiramisu, and Adeste Fidelis -- A Christmas Memory



I was raised not to ask for things. When birthdays came along, we got what we got. Same with Christmas, and Hanukkah. I'm the same to this day. Making a Christmas list is almost an impossible task. 

As an adult, if I wanted something, I earned the money and bought it myself. That worked fine. So when I'd be window shopping with a friend, I might express a desire for something, but it was only words. If I wanted whatever I was staring at badly enough, I'd come back later and buy it, if I could afford it. I never lived above my means, preferring to do without some things and have money to pay my bills. 

When Larry and I had only been married about five or six years, we had a new baby. His friend from law school, Doug, who lived in Las Vegas, came to visit. I wasn't thrilled because we had no space. He didn't mind camping out on the sofabed. But in the middle of the night, I'd be up breastfeeding Stevie and reading him A.A. Milne poetry, a few feet from Doug. He never complained, and was grateful to be welcomed into out little family. 

One morning, he walked Stevie and me to my office. I worked for myself and brought my baby to work every day. Eclair Bakery was right below my office. I loved their windows. We stopped to see what was fresh that day. We commented on the luscious confestions in the window. There was a tiramisu cake there, and I remaked how much I loved it. Doug mentioned his favorite, too.

We then parted--I went to work, and he went sightseeing. I didn't think anything of it as I headed home to prepare dinner.  When we had finished, Doug whipped out a box. Yep, you guessed it -- a tiramisu cake from Eclair. I was dumbfounded. That had never happened to me before. I cried --and ate a big piece. 

As he was leaving, Doug thanked us and chided Larry for not realizing how lucky he was to be married to me. His thoughtfulness, listening to me,  never left my heart. I can still remember the warm feeling it gave me. To think someone so removed from me had actually paid attention, and acted upon my words, astounded me. 

A few years later, Doug told us he had cancer. He fought for a while, then called with a strange request. He needed $5,000 for an experimental treatment. (This was more than 20 years ago.) Raising two kids, we simply didn't have the money. If we had, we would have given it to him. 

Sadly, he told us he'd asked his folks before calling us. His parents had been divorced for a long time. His mom didn't have it, and his father said he didn't either. I remember how angry I was to hear his father had brushed him off. If it had been me, I would have done anything and .everything to raise the money to save my son. 

Not much time passed after that conversation until one Sunday in December. Larry's church was having it's Christmas concert in the afternoon. I had gone out on an errand. When I returned, there was a message on the machine. It was Doug's mother. I didn't bother to listen to it as I already knew why she was calling. 

Shaken, I went to the concert anyway. As I sat quietly, the choir came through, as they always did, down the center aisle, carrying candles, and singing "Adeste Fidelis." 

The song started my tears. I sobbed quietly through the entire concert. Now every time I hear that song, it brings tears to my eyes, as well as good feeling to my heart. The warmth of friendship from Doug, who listened, remembered and acted, has stayed with me. He may be gone, but his kindness lives on in my heart and mind. 

Happy Holidays. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

TUESDAY TALES - WORD PROMPT "HEAT" - TWO OR HEARTS CONTINUES

  

Welcome! Thank you for stopping by. The word prompt is "heat". We're still with "Two of Hearts". Scroll down to go back to Tuesday Tales. 

 After the phone call from the police last night informing her that Stan had been in an accident, she’d been running on adrenaline, with barely a moment to take in what had happened. She had spent the night in the hospital, curled up in a chair by Stan’s bed. He had been unconscious, but she held his hand, prayed and hoped for good news.
   “I’m sorry Mrs. Hogan. I can’t tell you anything. Until he wakes up we won’t have any idea of the extent of the brain damage.”
   “But he was wearing a helmet.”

   The doctor shook his head. “If he hadn’t, the accident would have killed him. Still, that doesn’t completely prevent injury. I’m sorry. I wish I had better news. We have to wait and see.”
Jen had consoled herself with the fact that Stan was still alive and there was hope. There would always be hope, as long as he was breathing. 
   
   She had fallen asleep for an hour or two, then rushed home at seven to walk Willie. There hadn’t been time to stop and take a breath –and let things sink in –until now.   Leaning against the shower wall for support, the heat loosened her emotions. Jen slid down and sobbed. Huge groans escaped from her, shaking her, making her tremble. Stan was her life. He had to get better.

   After a few minutes, she took two deep breaths, pushed to her feet and turned off the water. She reached for a towel, gripping the towel rack to steady herself. She retrieved the fluffy white terry robe from the hook on the back of the door, and wrapped herself in its clean softness.

   Padding to the kitchen, she poured a cup of coffee. Her stomach protested, but food didn’t appeal to her. She couldn’t remember when she had last eaten. Picking up the cover of a pan on the stove, she spied the remnants of the special meal she had been making for Stan when the call came.
   “Just one spin,” he had said.
   “I’m making a new dish. This is a New York Times recipe.                You’re not gonna want to miss it.”
   “I never want to miss your cooking, baby. You know that. But the ‘cycle. Hell, it’s calling to me.”
    “The rain stopped, but it’s still wet outside.”
   “I’ll be careful. Promise.”
  “You’d better be,” she said, shaking a fist in his face in mock anger.
   
   He’d pulled her into his embrace and kissed her with passion.
   “One spin?”
   “Just one?”
   "West Side Highway to the Bridge and back. That’s all. Honest,” he said, releasing her and showing her his palms. 


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Saturday, December 2, 2017

BREAK MY HEART - DELETED SCENE


Here's something I NEVER do. It's an unedited, deleted scene. It was deleted with good reason. But readers are often as curious to see what didn't make the final cut as what did! Some things in the story have changed completely. So here, you go. *Hides under the bed.* Please excuse any typos or other errors. You want it raw and as-is, so you got it. 

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“What’s the name of your design friend?”
“Shyla Hollings?”
“Yes, yes. The one that does set design. I need to hire her to do my house.”
“What?”
“You heard me. My 
New York decorator is busy and wouldn’t travel out here anyway. I’m tired of living in a dump. It’s time to get this place set up. If I’m going to live like a hermit, I’m damn well going to do it in style. Her number, please?”
“I don’t think she’ll appreciate you calling and asking her to decorate your house.”
“She will when I tell her what I can pay.”
“Her husband is a wealthy retired pro football player.”
“So what? I don’t give a crap who he is or what he does. If you won’t let me call her, then you do it. I need help. Mindy in a total decline here.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll call her.”
“Good. Thank you. I knew you’d see it my way.”
“I always do, don’t I?”
“That’s why I adore you, cousin. You’re the only one who hasn’t turned their back on me.”
The minute the words were out of his mouth, he regretted his candor. He’d vowed to himself, never to admit that to anyone. Well, Mindy wasn’t just anyone. Still. Here comes the pity.
There was a moment of silence. “I’m so sorry, Rick. Let me call Shyla now.”
“Thank you. Forget I said that, will you?”
“Whatever you want, hon.”
He put down the phone and took a moment to thank God for Mindy. Checking his watch, he realized it was dinner time. At his feet, Oliver gave a little whine.
“Okay, boy. I know. Time to eat.”
He traipsed into the kitchen, grinding his teeth. He hated cooking for himself, even if it only meant heating something up in the microwave. And the frozen food selections were not to his taste. Still, he had no idea how to do much more than boil water, so he relied on frozen food.
He opened a can of dog food for the pooch and gave him fresh water, then heated up his supper. The two sat together in the kitchen, eating. Rick stared out the window at the beautiful scenery. The green of the trees, the sweet bird songs soothed him. He had to come to terms with his disfigurement and move on. He had to build a new life. But how?
He knew people with personal resources –inner strength, determination, problem-solving skills. But that wasn’t him. Rick Breaker Winslow had grown up a pampered child. He’d had the run of his parent’s Victorian mansion in Pine Grove. Hot-and-cold running nannies, cooks, caretakers looked after little Rick.
Then he started modeling. After he’d given up fighting to get his life back, he learned to enjoy the attention and, for sure, the money. It’s wasn’t a far distance from slave to master. Before long he was calling the shots, picking and discarding jobs on a whim. Doing only what suited him. Spending time only with people who paid the proper homage to him and his fame.
As he sat and looked out the window, it dawned on him what a monster he’d become. Shame filled him when he recalled how he’d treated the little people, interns, go-fers, people just starting out. He’d been high-handed, condescending and sometimes even cruel.
His heart sank as he conjured up a true picture of Breaker Winslow, famous model and total dick. Fear gripped him. What if he reached inside himself to find his inner strength and there was none? What if he was truly as empty has he had appeared?
When he finished eating, he poured a glass of white wine and took Oliver out to sit on the back porch. He eased his butt into an ancient rocker. The movement calmed him. He watched the birds and searched for a way out of his depression, a path that could lead to some kind of life.
He made a mental list of professions, jobs, but couldn’t come up with anything he either had the skills to do or wanted to do. Face it, Breaker Winslow was only a shallow, pretty face with no skills, no aptitude, and no ability at anything. Being the best frog catcher on the street didn’t qualify you for anything in life. And he couldn’t even become a gigolo because he’d lost his looks. That was a shame because he did have a talent for making love. He laughed to himself. He ought to, he’d done it enough.
Absently, he petted Oliver who had curled up in a small bed by Rick’s feet. The feel of the soft fur between his fingers lowered his blood pressure, reduced his heartbeat. He could no longer hear it in his ear. Rocking back and forth refreshed his spirit. 

His thoughts turned to his body. He hadn’t worked out much in a year and was already getting flabby. He’d gained five pounds. He needed a gym, but there was no way he’d be joining anything – even if they had one in this no-man’s-land. He’d have to construct his own gym. He knew the equipment he needed to keep himself fit and slim. Now where to house the damn stuff?

****
The next morning, after breakfast, Rick harnessed the dog for his morning walk. His mind returned to the idea of a gym. As they strolled, the pooch pulled toward the center of his property. Rick unleashed the animal, who ran full speed after a squirrel. Rick loped along behind, his long legs and easy strides keeping him close to the little pug.
As they ran, an outbuilding came into view. The barn! Why didn’t he think of it before? It would be the perfect place for a gym. He whistled for Oliver and the twosome headed for the decrepit structure.
If the house was sagging and sorry, the barn was about three steps below. It looked so rickety, he’d be afraid it would collapse the minute he pushed on the door. And who knew what lived in there? Deadly spiders? Vampire bats. He’d be afraid to go inside alone. A yap from the floor reminded him that he wasn’t alone.
Not that Oliver could do much to protect him against anything truly threatening, but he could bite and make noise. That would have to do.
“Ollie. Oliver! Get up! We’re going exploring, buddy.”
At the sound of his name the pooch jumped up. Rick put down his glass of wine, tucked his fingers into his pockets and headed for the barn. Oliver trotted along behind him. He hoped the place was decent enough to turn into some kind of a gym. 
A rueful smile spread his lips. If you threw enough money at a problem, you could solve almost anything. He touched his cheek. That’s right almost anything.

****

The dark wood was weathered beyond shabby chic straight to falling apart. Two large doors came together in an uneven line. A rusty closure dared Rick to touch it. He grimaced and put his hands on the metal. Oliver barked and wagged his tail.
 “That makes one of us who wants to see what’s inside,” Rick said, tugging on the latch.
Anger at the barn’s uncooperative attitude fueled his strength. He’d show this hunk of junk exactly who was boss.
“So you’re not going to open up? We’ll see about that,” he said, yanking hard.
Rust crumbled on his shoes as the latch sprang up with a jolt. He swore, brushed off the tops of his Nike’s, and faced the double doors. As he pulled on one, the creaky hinges wailed like a dying coyote.  Rick cringed at the assault on his ears. A musty smell enveloped him as the door swung wide. Temporarily blinded by the darkness, he hesitated before moving in.
Oliver trotted inside, nose to the ground.
“Stinks in here, doesn’t it?” He asked the pooch.
Unafraid, Oliver continued in and turned to the right. When he disappeared, Rick panicked.
“Oliver! Ollie, where are you? Get back here right now!”
An answering bark assured him his pal was still alive. As his eyes adjusted to the lack of light, he took tentative steps inside. There wasn’t much to see. He made out what looked to be stalls, maybe three in front of him. To the right was a half-wall. He guessed that either hay was housed there or a small tractor of some kind.
There was a bit of old straw on the floor. A small shaft of light poked through a hole in the roof. On the left was open space and in the rear, a ladder going up to the loft. The ladder was missing a rung –the others looked weak, at best. No way was Rick going to attempt to check out the loft. Spider webs, masterly woven between supporting beams, tickled him as he passed by.
He shuddered at the notion that a spider might be crawling on him and he’d never know. Even as a boy, he’d been afraid of spiders. He frowned to think he hadn’t outgrown that yet. He shook all over, hoping to knock off any hangers-on. Oliver gave his fur a shake as well, making Rick laugh. 
He exited the building and latched the door. While they checked out the barn, clouds had gathered. Big drops of rain began to fall. Rick sprinted toward the house with Oliver running full speed behind him. Once inside, he made more coffee and took a mug out to the back porch. Easing into the rocker, he watched the rain fall. As long as the wind didn’t pick up or shift, he was safe from the wetness. Oliver curled up at his feet.
He stared at the monstrosity that used to hold horses and tractors and other useful things.
“Now it can house my gym and I can get back to where I should be.”
The rain beat a steady song on the roof. Something to the right caught his eye. Damn! Water dripped down on the far end of the porch. This roof would have to be fixed.
“Probably have to rebuild the whole fucking house. And that shitty barn, too,” he said.
Ollie barked.
Still be cheaper than rebuilding his townhouse. The insurance company was waiting to pay up until the fire department declared that the fire wasn’t arson and wasn’t set by him. He frowned at the thought. If anyone had seen that palace, they would have known he’d never burn it to the ground.
For the millionth time the pity party returned. He missed his hot tub and his king sized bed. Never get something that big in any bedroom in this place. The one wound that would never heal was the loss of the original artwork on the walls. He’d never be able to replace that. He sighed.
“Maybe we should have a plan for this dump, Ollie? What do you think?”
The pug barked as Rick eased up from the rocker and went inside to fetch a pad and pen.
“Okay. Where should we start, boy?”
New energy surged through him as he wrote down his thoughts. The design and construction team, consisting of Shyla Holllings, Will Lennox and his sister, would be arriving that night. He’d ordered pizza and beer for their get-together to plan the renovation of his new digs.
At least he’s be prepared with a few ideas on paper. He worked hard to muster enthusiasm for the new project, but he fell short. Yearning for his old life took over. No one had as perfect a life as he had and now it was gone –forever. Would he ever stop mourning? Probably not.
He finished up and put the pad on the dining room table. Then he went up to his room, a new cozy mystery by Mel Comley shoved under his arm. Reading proved to be the best escape. After reading two chapters, he fell asleep. Oliver had jumped up to join him and curled up next to Rick. The snoring of the creature, which had annoyed and disturbed the man at first, had become a lullaby, soothing him to sleep.



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Monday, November 27, 2017

TUESDAY TALES - FROST IS THE WORD PROMPT - TWO OF HEARTS CONTINUES...


Welcome! This week the word prompt is "frost." The story "Two of Hearts" continues...scroll down to return to the excellent authors of Tuesday Tales. Thank you for stopping by.

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Jen pushed her wet hair off her face and pulled her soaked T-shirt away from her skin. She didn’t need to show strangers her boobs. Sure, April showers, but this was ridiculous. Yesterday had been the first dry day in a week. Stan had always done the morning and late-night walks with Willie. She took him in the afternoon. The poor pug was drenched. He shook off and panted, his long tongue lolling.
“Come on, boy,” she said, sprinting to the entryway of a large apartment building. She spied a man taking up most of the room. Screw him. She elbowed her way under the overhang, pulling Willie up close. Life was terrible. Everything was shit and she’d be damned if some greedy asshole was going to make her day worse.
“Willie?” The man asked, narrowing his eyes and staring first at her dog, then at her.
Instinctively she pushed at her hair, but it was too wet and matted for her to fix.
“Yeah. This is Willie. Who are you?”
“This is Queenie.”
Jen looked down. There stood an adorable pug about a third smaller than hers. The wet dog ginned up at her. She had to smile back.
“Queenie?”
“Your father usually walks Willie, doesn’t he?”
She bristled, frowning. “You mean my husband? Stan usually takes the morning and late- night walks.”
The man blushed. “I’m terribly sorry.”
“You should be.” She wasn’t putting up with anything today.
“We don’t usually talk. Just hello and let the dogs play. His name’s Stan?”
“That’s right.”
“Did he sleep in?”
“He’s in the hospital.”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I hope it’s nothing serious,” he said, touching her arm.
She shot him a frosty look and he moved away as much as the limited space allowed.
“The dogs really seem to like each other,” he continued.
Obviously this obnoxious idiot didn’t know when to shut up. “Willie likes all dogs, especially other pugs.”
“Queenie is hot, I’m told,” he quipped.
Jen gave a half smile at his feeble joke.
“Sorry. I’m not usually out this early. My wife does the early morning walks. Guess I’m not awake yet.”
“Oh, did she sleep in?” Jen shot him a hostile glare.
“She’s in L.A.”
Jen nodded.
As fast as the sky had opened up, the rain tapered off. She watched the two dogs shake off again, then sniff each other, bark and play. Her heart and head hurt. She needed to get home.
 “As much as I’d like to let Willie play with, Queenie, was it?”
He nodded.

“I’ve gotta go.” Holding her shirt away from her body, she tugged gently on the leash and Willie drew his attention away from Queenie and followed Jen.  “Sorry, boy. I know that’s your girlfriend, but I’ve got to get home.”

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Monday, November 20, 2017

TUESDAY TALES - "TWO OF HEARTS" CONTINUES...



Welcome! The word prompt is "thank". Here's another snippet from "Two of Hearts" my NaNo writing project for the month of November. It's not a traditional romance, but rather women's fiction. Scroll down to return to Tuesday Tales and the amazing authors there. 

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Two years ago.
Terry grumbled as he slipped on a wind breaker and harnessed the pug. A year ago, his wife, Clare had begged for a dog. Terry had a child in mind, but he gave in to her, as he always did. He’d wanted a lab, a big dog, a man’s dog. She’d had a friend volunteering in pug rescue. Clare had talked him into becoming a foster and little Queenie had done the rest.
Terry chuckled as he led the proud little dog down the hallway. No matter his mood, her pug strut made him smile. He locked the door to their elegant two-bedroom apartment and headed for the elevator. It was eight o’clock. Clare always did the early morning walk. But he’d put her on a plane to Los Angeles the day before.
He frowned as he thought about what she’d be doing there. An acquaintance of hers from the magazine she had freelanced for had hooked her up with some producer. There was going to be a six-month script-writing internship program and she could get in. Their conversation last month returned to him as he rode to the lobby.
“Aren’t you a little old for an internship?” He’d asked, refilling their wine glasses at dinner.
“It’s not for neophytes. Only for experienced writers.”
“Oh,” he had said, nodding.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to break into the movies.”
“Isn’t that a bit cliched?”
“Very funny.”
“Sorry.”
They’d finished the bottle. She’s cooked, so Terry had washed the dishes. Afterward, they’d made love. After great sex with Clare, Terry couldn’t deny her anything. He knew she knew that, but he didn’t care. He loved her with all his heart.
“How long is this program?” He’d asked, lying next to her, stroking her bare breast.
“Six months. That’s all. It’ll pass quickly.”
“And your freelancing?”
“Sarah said I could take a leave of absence of sorts.”
“And your job will be there when you get back?”
“Uh huh. That’s what she said. We already live on what you make. My dippy shit little salary won’t be missed.”
“It’s not about money. I’ll miss you.”
“You can come for weekends. Please, Terry? I may never get another chance.”
The soft feel of her skin and the pleasure from release still floating through his veins warned him he’d miss the sex and the cuddling. Clare had an amazing body. He claimed he’d never tire of looking at it.
“You’ll have Queenie,” Clare had said.
At the mention of her name, the pug had jumped up on the bed. Panting in his face, she circled and pushed her way between them, resting her chin on Clare’s leg. He admitted that Queenie had wrapped her little self around his heart, no matter how often he laughed at her antics.
“Okay. Six months. Only six months. Then you come home, right?”
“Right. Thank you. I love you madly, truly, dearly,” she’d said and then seduced him. 
He’d spent the next month looking for ways to back out of the deal. He’d never seen Clare happier. She sang in the morning, initiated lovemaking every night, and cooked dinner for him. How could he destroy her hopes? Did he believe she’d have a dazzling career as a scriptwriter? Terry had no doubt about her writing ability. But she seemed firmly locked into nonfiction. Smart enough to keep his misgivings to himself, Terry had swallowed his doubts and let her go. 

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Monday, November 13, 2017

TUESDAY TALES - PICTURE PROMPT




Welcome! We continue with my special November Women's Fiction work-in-progress, "Two of Hearts". Only 300 words allowed this week. Thanks for stopping by. 

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Two hours later, she opened her eyes. If only she could wake up and have it be yesterday. She’d tell Stan not to ride. She’d hide the keys, puncture the tires, if she had to. She yawned, shifting around, stretching her legs. She had to get to the hospital. 
   Jen stared at the bouquet of flowers Stan had bought for her. She had given in, agreed that he could take the bike out for a spin. The flowers had been the bribe. They lay on the counter, wilted, limp throwing her shallow behavior back in her face. Why hadn’t she held fast?   
   She flew out the door and into the first taxi she found. When she arrived at intensive care, Stan was lying in bed with tubes going into and coming out of all sorts of places, the same as when she had left him. His left leg and wrist were in casts. It was Monday and the reality of Stan’s motorcycle accident punctured her brain for a second time.
   She approached the bed.
   “Good morning, darling,” she whispered, leaning over to kiss him.
   He was unresponsive. Grabbing her purse, she padded down the hall to the coffee machine. She needed another jolt of caffeine. The coffee was terrible, but it was the only stuff available. Back by his beside, she pulled out a comb and ran it through her long hair. One glance in the mirror at home had told her she looked like hell. She added lipstick. It didn’t help much, but it was all she could do. Jen needed to look good when Stan woke up.
   Staring at her handsome husband, she longed to crawl into bed with him. If she could snuggle up under his arm, hear his deep voice, she’d know everything was going to be okay. 


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