The Ex Files: A Novel About Four Women and Faith

( 18 )

Overview

There are four ways a woman can handle heartbreak. She can fall apart, seek revenge, turn cold, or move on. The Ex Files is the story of these four women:

When Kendall Stewart finds her husband and her sister in bed together, she vows to never let anyone get that close again. But when she is faced with saving the life of the woman who destroyed hers, will she be able to forgive?

When an NBA superstar tells his mistress, Asia Ingrum, that he's ...

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Overview

There are four ways a woman can handle heartbreak. She can fall apart, seek revenge, turn cold, or move on. The Ex Files is the story of these four women:

When Kendall Stewart finds her husband and her sister in bed together, she vows to never let anyone get that close again. But when she is faced with saving the life of the woman who destroyed hers, will she be able to forgive?

When an NBA superstar tells his mistress, Asia Ingrum, that he's decided to honor his marriage vows, her shock quickly gives way to revenge...but her decision may come back to haunt their five-year-old daughter.

Every night Vanessa Martin wonders why her husband committed suicide. Even worse, she contemplates joining him in eternity. Will Vanessa be able to gather the strength to live again?

Sheridan Hart is finally finding her way after a lie destroyed her seventeen-year marriage. Her new love is ready to get married, but will she commit to this younger man or is her ex-husband taking up too much space in her heart?

When their pastor asks Kendall, Asia, Vanessa, and Sheridan to meet weekly for prayer, they can't imagine they will have anything in common. But then a devastating tragedy strikes and these strangers are forced to reexamine their choices. Will they find true friendship, or will prayer -- and their union -- fail them?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Ex Files is a moving-on song in four-part harmony."

— Donna Grant and Virginia DeBerry, authors of Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made

"Once again, Victoria Christopher Murray has crafted a compelling, intriguing, and page-turning story that stays with you long after you've finished the book. This wonderful tale of four different women from vastly different backgrounds shows how we can all be bound by the common thread of faith."

— ReShonda Tate Billingsley, bestselling author of Everybody Say Amen and I Know I've Been Changed

"My girl, Victoria Christopher Murray has done it again! I love her work and this book will bless you, so read it."

— Michele Andrea Bowen, author of Church Folk, Second Sunday, and Holy Ghost Corner

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476709253
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 428
  • Sales rank: 268,889
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Victoria Christopher Murray

Victoria Christopher Murray is the Essence bestselling author of more than twenty novels including: The Ex Files, Lady Jasmine, and The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil. Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The Ex Files

A Novel About Four Women and Faith
By Victoria Christopher Murray

Touchstone

Copyright © 2007 Victoria Christopher Murray
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416535515

Chapter One

Sheridan Hart

"I think Daddy has a new lover."

Sheridan stopped moving; the coffeepot she held frozen in midair.

"Mom!"

Only then did Sheridan feel the heat of the coffee spilling over, onto her hand. "Ouch." She snatched her hand away and grabbed a paper towel. But as she patted the spillage spreading over the counter, her thoughts were on her daughter. "What did you say?"

Tori shrugged. "I think Daddy has a new lover. Don't worry, Mom," she admonished. "He hasn't introduced me to him. It's just that Dad's been a bit different. Kinda happy."

The world had certainly changed. Here she was talking to her thirteen-year-old daughter about her father's male lovers. It had been more than three years since Quentin had declared his love for a man. Still, Sheridan couldn't find a way to call that part of her life normal.

Sheridan could feel her daughter's eyes, waiting for her reaction. The silence was interrupted by a car horn.

"They're here." Tori jumped up from the dining table and Sheridan exhaled. This talk had ended -- at least for the next forty-eight hours.

"Okay, sweetheart," Sheridan said, as she handed her daughter the suitcase that waited by the front door. "Call when you get to Palm Springs."

"Okay."

"And don't forget to get your reading done since you're missing schooltoday."

"Okay," Tori agreed, although Sheridan doubted that she would look at any textbook.

"Have a good time." She kissed her daughter's cheek, then opened the door and waved at the three Nelsons -- her daughter's best friend, Lara, and Lara's parents.

Leaning against the door frame as Joseph Nelson tossed Tori's suitcase into the trunk, she already wished the weekend was over. She wasn't looking forward to these days alone. That thought and the chill of the lionlike March morning made her shiver.

" 'Bye, Mom," Tori yelled before she stepped into the car. "Tell Brock I said hello." Then she added, "And don't do anything I wouldn't do." Tori slammed the car's door on her words, leaving Sheridan standing with her mouth open, long after the Jaguar pulled away.

Tori was growing up -- too much, too fast. Quentin's stepping out had changed them all.

In the kitchen, Sheridan settled at the table with her coffee. Three days alone, too much time to ponder. Too many hours to think about all she'd lost. In the last three years, she'd lost all the men she'd loved: her husband, Quentin, to a man. Her son, Christopher, to college. And then, worst of all, just three months before, her father, Cameron, to God.

Thoughts of her father were the ones that made her heart swell. And then came the ache. And then, the tears. Emotions that were overwhelming, never ending.

The ringing phone paused her tears and she gripped the receiver, grateful for the reprieve from her growing sorrow.

"Hey, babe."

His voice alone made her smile, although it didn't stop her pain. Why had Brock chosen this weekend to be away too?

She said, "I'm glad to hear from you."

"What were you doing?"

Sheridan wiped her eyes. "Nothing."

"I was hoping you were thinking about me."

"Tori just left, so I was sitting here...." She stopped.

"It's going to be tough without her, huh?"

She nodded. "Tough without her, tough without you. With Mom in San Francisco...I wish..."

"What do you wish?"

"I wish you were here." She sighed when the bell rang. "Hold a sec."

She scurried to the front door, eager to shoo away the intruder so that she could get back to Brock. She swung the door open and for the second time in minutes, she stood standing, unable to speak.

Brock grinned, flipped his cell phone closed, then lifted her into his arms. "I'd forgotten that Tori was going away until you mentioned it last night."

"But what about D.C.? What about your mom?" she asked.

"I told her I'd be there on Monday." He leaned back. "I couldn't leave you alone."

He was the man who made her heart sing, but now, she cried and he held her close.

"That's not the reaction I expected. Maybe I should go." He turned, but she grabbed his hand before he could take a step.

"You're not going anywhere." With her foot, she slammed the door shut.

He brushed his lips against hers, but when he tried to pull back, she wouldn't let go. Minutes later, when they broke apart, his eyes searched hers. "Sheridan..."

"Yes." She kissed his neck and when he moaned, she pressed into him even more.

"No," he said.

"Please," she said.

Pushing him against the wall, she gave herself pleasure with the feel of him. "I want you," the words slipped through her lips before they again joined together.

He carried her up the stairs and she drowned herself in his shoulder-long locks, sinking into his scent. Within minutes, they were one, their melodic moans filling the room.

Sheridan was an emotional knot -- lust and loss -- tied together. Brock was the release that freed her from her pain. His arms, his lips, his hands -- her comfort. But an hour later when he rolled over, still panting, her pain rushed back. Sheridan turned away, folding her knees into her chest.

She could feel it before she heard it -- his sigh.

"Please don't do this, Sheridan."

She could hear all that he felt. He asked, "Why do you do this?"

She turned over and rested her head against his chest. "I needed you."

"And I wanted you." He wrapped his arms around her. "I hate this. I hate the guilt that wraps itself around you every time."

"Because we shouldn't be doing this."

"But you..."

"I know." She squirmed inside his embrace. "I just needed..." She felt the tears and wondered for how many more days, weeks, months would she cry?

She sobbed, a blend of grief and guilt. He tightened his arms, and she wept more.

Time passed; her tears stopped. Brock leaned onto his side and, with his lips, wiped away the teary residue on her cheeks. "We don't have to go through this anymore."

Now she sighed.

He continued, "It doesn't make sense that we're not married."

"I can't think about that right now."

"We wouldn't have these guilt fests if we were married."

She bounced up in the bed. "You want to marry me so we can have guilt-free sex?"

He held up his hands. "You know it's not like that."

"I don't want to get married just for sex." She glared at him.

He matched her stare before he leaped from the bed. Without a word, he snatched his pants. As he dressed, her heart cried for him. But her lips wouldn't move.

He slipped into his jacket and marched to the door. Only then did he look at her. "All I want is to love you always. But we can't stay this way, Sheridan." He stood, waiting for words from her.

But she had nothing to give him.

With a shake of his head, he disappeared into the hall.

The front door had already closed before her first tear came. "What is wrong with me?"

She'd wanted Brock to stay. Wanted to hold him again and tell him every word he needed to hear. But it was as if sorrow didn't allow her to understand anymore. She felt like a speeding bullet aimed toward a place she didn't want to go. But if she didn't stop herself, she was sure that soon, Brock would be added to her list of loss too.

She reached for the telephone, punched in the first three numbers to his cell. But then she returned the phone to the cradle. She lay down. And thought about her father. And cried more. And wished that Brock had kept his promise and not left her alone.

Copyright © 2007 by Victoria Christopher Murray



Continues...


Excerpted from The Ex Files by Victoria Christopher Murray Copyright © 2007 by Victoria Christopher Murray. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Introduction

1. Pastor Ford forms the weekly prayer group by inviting four women who, at first glance, have little in common with one another. What is it about Pastor Ford that makes these women dutifully attend and find their mission without question? Why do you think she asks Sheridan to facilitate?

2. Asia has invested ten years in her relationship with Bobby and becomes desperate when he announces their relationship is over. Why do you think she believed he would leave his wife to marry her? How do you feel about her conniving ways — meeting Bobby, ensnaring him with a carefully planned pregnancy, confronting his wife, and ultimately making false accusations to Child Services?

3. Do you think Child Services should let Asia keep Angel? Why or why not? What would the members of the prayer group think if they knew what Asia had done?

4. Kendall can't forgive Sabrina for stealing her husband, Anthony. What other options does Kendall have for revenge besides withholding a bone-marrow transplant? How do you feel about Kendall's refusal to communicate with Sabrina even when she finds out her half sister is dying?

5. What factors motivate Kendall to search for a viable bone-marrow donor and form the foundation anonymously? What do you think would happen next if the story were to continue?

6. Sheridan is continuously torn between Brock and Quentin throughout the novel. Do you think it's possible to be close friends with the father of your children and still be able to move on and marry another? Do you think Sheridan is truthful with Brock when she says that Quentin is out of her heart, and do you think he's truly convinced? How do you think the death of her beloved father, Cameron,plays into her choices?

7. Tori is ostracized by her schoolmates; her best friend, Lara; and Lara's mother after Sheridan discovers their exploratory kiss and the rumors about Quentin's infidelity. What do you think about Tori's suspension from school? Do you side with Quentin, who thinks suspension for fighting is unfair? Do you agree with his idea of adopting the Christian response of turning the other cheek, or with the principal's interpretation? Why?

8. Do you think Sheridan agrees with the pastor's belief that homosexuals are not born with their sexuality? ("First of all, you know Quentin wasn't born that way, so neither was Tori" p. 168.) Do you think she blames herself for not anticipating, or perhaps even causing, Quentin's transgression? Or for Tori's kiss with Lara?

9. Vanessa seems warm and solidly rooted, and to have so much promise in many roles in her life, especially as a daughter and a member of the community. Why does her death stun the others in the group so much? Do you think they could have reached out more? And, if so, would it have made a difference? And why do you think she saw no other path for herself?

10. On p. 281 Asia asks, "How can they think about suicide? It's the unforgivable sin — they're going to hell." Pastor Ford makes it clear that suicide is not the ultimate sin — "if it was it would be in the Bible" — but refers her to the passage that does reveal the ultimate sin. "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven" (Matt. 12:31). What is the point that you think Pastor Ford is trying to make for Asia? And why?

11. Why do you think Victoria Christopher Murray wrote the novel in a format that shifts among each of the four main characters' viewpoints for each chapter? Does it make the novel and each woman's story and motivations easier to follow? Why or why not?

12. At the end of the novel, each woman has dealt with the dissolution of a relationship in her own way — some with revenge, some with the help of God, some with the help of friends and family, and some with a bit of each — but all have moved on. Did the prayer group's bond help the women? Could they have done more to help Vanessa?

Enhance Your Book Group

1. Pastor Ford is a great cook and loves to host dinners with Asia and Angel. Serve a feast that would make her proud!

2. If you haven't been attending a club or group that you had once been a regular part of, try to attend a meeting or reconnect with some of your favorite members before your book group gathers and see how it feels to rekindle the closeness one can discover from a group with a mutual interest. For example, it could be a knitting, Bible study, or hiking group, or perhaps meeting with a group of friends you have not seen in a while.

3. Read Grown Folks Business, the novel that introduces Sheridan and the Hart family. Discuss the author's writing style and how each of the characters has grown and changed.

4. Go to www.victoriachristophermurray.com to learn more about the author and her novels.

Victoria Christopher Murray is the Essence bestselling author of the novels Truth Be Told, Joy, Temptation, and Blessed Assurance, a collection of inspirational short stories. She lives with her family in Inglewood, California. Visit her at www.victoriachristophermurray.com.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Pastor Ford forms the weekly prayer group by inviting four women who, at first glance, have little in common with one another. What is it about Pastor Ford that makes these women dutifully attend and find their mission without question? Why do you think she asks Sheridan to facilitate?

2. Asia has invested ten years in her relationship with Bobby and becomes desperate when he announces their relationship is over. Why do you think she believed he would leave his wife to marry her? How do you feel about her conniving ways — meeting Bobby, ensnaring him with a carefully planned pregnancy, confronting his wife, and ultimately making false accusations to Child Services?

3. Do you think Child Services should let Asia keep Angel? Why or why not? What would the members of the prayer group think if they knew what Asia had done?

4. Kendall can't forgive Sabrina for stealing her husband, Anthony. What other options does Kendall have for revenge besides withholding a bone-marrow transplant? How do you feel about Kendall's refusal to communicate with Sabrina even when she finds out her half sister is dying?

5. What factors motivate Kendall to search for a viable bone-marrow donor and form the foundation anonymously? What do you think would happen next if the story were to continue?

6. Sheridan is continuously torn between Brock and Quentin throughout the novel. Do you think it's possible to be close friends with the father of your children and still be able to move on and marry another? Do you think Sheridan is truthful with Brock when she says that Quentin is out of her heart, and do you think he's truly convinced? How do you think the death of her beloved father, Cameron, plays into her choices?

7. Tori is ostracized by her schoolmates; her best friend, Lara; and Lara's mother after Sheridan discovers their exploratory kiss and the rumors about Quentin's infidelity. What do you think about Tori's suspension from school? Do you side with Quentin, who thinks suspension for fighting is unfair? Do you agree with his idea of adopting the Christian response of turning the other cheek, or with the principal's interpretation? Why?

8. Do you think Sheridan agrees with the pastor's belief that homosexuals are not born with their sexuality? ("First of all, you know Quentin wasn't born that way, so neither was Tori" p. 168.) Do you think she blames herself for not anticipating, or perhaps even causing, Quentin's transgression? Or for Tori's kiss with Lara?

9. Vanessa seems warm and solidly rooted, and to have so much promise in many roles in her life, especially as a daughter and a member of the community. Why does her death stun the others in the group so much? Do you think they could have reached out more? And, if so, would it have made a difference? And why do you think she saw no other path for herself?

10. On p. 281 Asia asks, "How can they think about suicide? It's the unforgivable sin — they're going to hell." Pastor Ford makes it clear that suicide is not the ultimate sin — "if it was it would be in the Bible" — but refers her to the passage that does reveal the ultimate sin. "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven" (Matt. 12:31). What is the point that you think Pastor Ford is trying to make for Asia? And why?

11. Why do you think Victoria Christopher Murray wrote the novel in a format that shifts among each of the four main characters' viewpoints for each chapter? Does it make the novel and each woman's story and motivations easier to follow? Why or why not?

12. At the end of the novel, each woman has dealt with the dissolution of a relationship in her own way — some with revenge, some with the help of God, some with the help of friends and family, and some with a bit of each — but all have moved on. Did the prayer group's bond help the women? Could they have done more to help Vanessa?

Enhance Your Book Group

1. Pastor Ford is a great cook and loves to host dinners with Asia and Angel. Serve a feast that would make her proud!

2. If you haven't been attending a club or group that you had once been a regular part of, try to attend a meeting or reconnect with some of your favorite members before your book group gathers and see how it feels to rekindle the closeness one can discover from a group with a mutual interest. For example, it could be a knitting, Bible study, or hiking group, or perhaps meeting with a group of friends you have not seen in a while.

3. Read Grown Folks Business, the novel that introduces Sheridan and the Hart family. Discuss the author's writing style and how each of the characters has grown and changed.

4. Go to www.victoriachristophermurray.com to learn more about the author and her novels.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful, deep, romantic, intense...

    The uniqueness of this story really pulled me in. Each woman had their own drama and were mismatched as friends, but after some seriously hard times came upon each of them, they learned to reach out to each other and seek God for strength. The Ex Files is like a soap opera with four stories going at the same time, yet they intersect on occasion. The cool thing about the plots in this book were that they were all equally compelling. Usually I want to take one character's plot and dive ahead to the next place where they are featured in the book. But I was never tempted to do that with The Ex Files because none of the stories were dull or unlikable. The conflict was real, the emotion went deep into the character's lives, and the best part about these four ladies lives was that none of their ultimate choices were predictable. In fact, each ending turned out differently than I had anticipated. Also, the author did an amazing job of taking an unlikeable characteristic such as selfishness and still managed to make me care about the women in the book. Each had issues that centered around their own needs and how they dealt with their problems was so realistic and well done. The faith element was perfectly incorporated as well. I just love the ingenuity and creativity in this author's novels. I'm going to have to read everything she publishes from now on. I don't want to miss a thing!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    deep character study

    Sheridan Hart¿s thirteen years old daughter Tori blithely announces her father (and Sheridan¿s ex) has a new lover. Their marriage ended three years ago when Quentin informed her he loved a man. Sheridan has moved on somewhat having found the younger Block, but he wants more of a commitment while she has doubts. --- Kendall Stewart ended her marriage with Anthony when she caught him in bed with her sister Sabrina. The double betrayal has left her acrimonious, but now Sabrina needs her sibling¿s help with her life on the line. --- Asia Ingram is angry that her lover Bobby has decided to end their relationship and be faithful to his marital vows. Her bitterness leads to a need to hurt Bobby, but could also harm their five year old daughter Angel if he retaliates with a custody suit. --- Vanessa Martin feels guilt and loneliness because she did not see how distraught her late spouse Reed was until he committed suicide. Depressed she thinks of joining him. --- Pastor Ford knows these four females are hurting so as he prays for them, he brings them together for a weekly prayer session of the EX FILES. --- This is a deep character study of the aftermath of divorce on the female partner. The story line rotates perspective between the four women so that the audience sees each up close, flaws and all. Although everything ties up to neatly fans will enjoy this insightful look at a prayer group who turn into a support group of friends. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Just Okay to Me

    Have not read this author before, but after reading Kiki Swenson and Stuart Woods and Beverly Jenkins' books, I find this one bland. I would like to see a whole lot more drama that actually catches me from the start. Thank you.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    healing women

    victoria really brings it in this story she really defines the strength of women when it comes to Issues. she took four ladies with different issues and formed a what seemed to be a very uncomfortable situation to come to a meeting of the minds and to discuss their issue. Get this neither of them knew each other you go victoria

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2008

    The book that ga ve me faith

    I like this book because it shows that no matter how hard life gets The Lord will always be by your side to guide the ways u can't find. I recommend this book to whoever needs The Lord their life

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    A reviewer

    Gloria Christopher Murray is one of my all time favorite authors. Her books keep me on the edge of my seat and I love her Christian content coupled with real-life issues. This is a must have! I often read her books over and over. These women have issues! Whew!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2007

    GREAT BOOK

    I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. It was hard to put down! I could relate to each one of them and their issues. This author is fantastic, I have read everyone of her books!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2007

    Great Read

    Interesting from the beginning to the very end. The drama that all of the characters had was real and easy to relate to. I am glad they all matured in the end. Great book, will pass it along.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    Heartaches...

    Sheridan Hart has had her share of problems, the most recent being the death of her dad. She's still trying to find a way to cope. With the help of her boyfriend, Brock, she is sure she will be able to get through this situation. Sheridan finds herself having second thoughts about her ex husband, Quentin. Although it's been three years, she continues to have thoughts of the two of them together as a family. Should she? Asia Ingrum, whose birth name is Chiquita, has for the last ten years had her eyes on the prize. The prize being NBA player Bobby Johnson, her daughter's father. Asia has it all, a fabulous condo, nice car, credit cards with unlimited balances and a five year old daughter, Angel, whom she loves dearly. Bobby is retiring from the NBA. Now that he's retiring, Asia is ready for him to ask the ultimate question. Asia feels after ten years and one child she is entitled to be his wife. Isn't she? Kendall Stewart is a workaholic. Everything with her is about succeeding. She has a wonderful business that she and her husband built together. Anthony, her huband, is a good man. Kendall comes home early from a business trip and is surprised to see her husband in bed with another woman. Kendall cannot understand how that is possible. What did she do wrong? Vanessa Martin's husband, Reed, of fifteen years chose to leave her in the worse way. Vanessa did not know how she was going to deal with a lot of life challenges. Vanessa knows that she needs to be strong, but soon realizes it's not always easy to do. Can she continue to hold on? THE EX FILES conveys the tales of four women, who appear different, yet each share a common bond. Actually, they have more things in common and they will find that all out as they are joined together by Pastor Ford. Author Victoria Christopher Murray has done it again! THE EX FILES holds your attention from beginning to end. I absolutely recommend this book, as well as all of her other books as well.

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