Stonebrook Cottage

( 32 )


When everyone is keeping secrets, it's impossible to know who to trust

To put her life back in perspective, Kara Galway has moved home to Texas after years in New England. The up-and-coming defense attorney intends to concentrate on her career and spend time with her Texas Ranger brother. But fate has something else in store.

While Kara is devastated to learn her former mentor, Connecticut governor Mike Parisi, has died suddenly, she's pleased ...

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Stonebrook Cottage

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When everyone is keeping secrets, it's impossible to know who to trust

To put her life back in perspective, Kara Galway has moved home to Texas after years in New England. The up-and-coming defense attorney intends to concentrate on her career and spend time with her Texas Ranger brother. But fate has something else in store.

While Kara is devastated to learn her former mentor, Connecticut governor Mike Parisi, has died suddenly, she's pleased for her best friend, Allyson Stockwell, the new governor. Then Allyson's children show up at Kara's Texas home. They are terrified—and hiding something. Afraid for themselves and their mother, they are certain the circumstances of Mike's death are suspicious.

Kara must return with the children to Allyson's home, Stonebrook Cottage, to unravel what exactly is going on. Are the children really in danger? What secret is Allyson hiding? And then there's Sam Temple, the Texas Ranger Kara has fallen head over heels in love with. Sam has followed her to Connecticut and has no intention of leaving without her. Kara must uncover the truth if she is going to protect the people she loves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Neggers'people, places and things are colorfully and expertly rendered in this compelling work of fiction." -RT Book Reviews on Cider Brook

"Cider Brook is easy to sink into and be swept away by vivid imagery and intriguing encounters." -Suspense Magazine

"Neggers' Sharpe & Donovan series has developed a wide following, and her books maintain a potent combination of suspense and romance." -Kirkus Reviews

"Neggers' beautifully flowing and skillfully narrated novel is rich with dialogue that emphasizes the sights, sounds, culture and panoramic views of Ireland."-RT Book Reviews, Top Pick on Declan's Cross

"Heron's Cove gives romantic suspense fans what they want...complex mystery with a bit of romance. Neggers skillfully create[s] a compelling puzzle, refusing to reveal all the pieces until the very end."

-RT Book Reviews, Top Pick

"Saint's Gate is the best book yet from a writer at the absolute top of her craft." -Providence Journal

"Heron's Cove is...gripping and suspenseful....Readers [will be] riveted to the pages from the first ominous late night phone call to the searing climax."-Nashua Sunday Telegraph

"Neggers captures readers' attention with her usual flair and brilliance and gives us a romance, a mystery and a lesson in history."

-Top Pick, RT Book Reviews on Secrets of the Lost Summer

"Only a writer as gifted as Carla Neggers could use so few words to convey so much action and emotional depth."

-Sandra Brown

Publishers Weekly
In the hopes of bringing some balance into her hectic life, high-powered defense attorney Kara Galway moves back to her childhood home in Texas after years of living in New England. But fans of Neggers's characteristically chaotic, breakneck-paced romantic suspense novels know that the heroine's hopes will be quashed even before her mentor and friend, Connecticut governor "Big Mike" Parisi, is murdered in his pool. Not long afterwards, Kara's best friend, new governor Allyson Stockwell, begins receiving sinister crank calls she's concealing, and her two precocious preteens disappear from their Texas summer camp only to reappear, terrified, on Kara's doorstep with a stalker at their heels and a possibly forged note from mom begging Kara to bring them back to the town where they witnessed Mike's death. To do so, Kara illegally, and somewhat illogically, "borrows" her lawman brother's gun and private plane, but readers needn't worry long. Strong, sensitive and seductive Texas Ranger Sam Temple is hot on her trail and ready to come to the rescue. Although Neggers includes a few far-fetched plot turns, her skill at creating colorful characters and deliciously twisted story lines makes this an addictive read. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778316152
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/28/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 97,454
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Carla Neggers
Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense, including her popular Sharpe & Donovan and Swift River Valley series. Her books have been translated into 24 languages and sold in over 30 countries. Carla is always plotting her next adventure--whether in life or for one of her novels. A frequent traveler to Ireland, she lives with her family in New England.
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Read an Excerpt

Austin was in the grip of its fifteenth consecutive day of ninety-plus-degree weather, a quality of Texas summers Kara Galway had almost forgotten about during her years up north. Even with air-conditioning, she was aware of the blistering temperatures and blamed the heat for her faint nausea. The heat and the seafood tacos she'd had for lunch.

Not Sam Temple. He was another possibility for her queasy stomach, but not one she wanted to consider.

She'd been putting in long hours since Big Mike's death two weeks ago, but memories of their long friendship would sneak up on her no matter how deep she buried herself in her legal work. Kara had met him through her friend Allyson Lourdes Stockwell, now the governor of Connecticut. She and Kara had gone to law school together, before Allyson's husband died of cancer and left her with two toddlers to raise on her own.

Henry and Lillian Stockwell were twelve and eleven now. After Big Mike's funeral, they'd flown back to Texas with Kara, and she'd dropped them off at a kids' dude ranch southwest of Austin, a long-planned adventure that Allyson had decided not to cancel, despite the trauma of Mike Parisi's death. Henry and Lillian had loved him, too. Everyone had.

The kids wrote to Kara, who was their godmother, from the ranch, complaining about the food, the heat, the bugs, the snakes. They never mentioned Big Mike.

Kara tried not to think about him, or his funeral. How he'd died. The Connecticut state police and the state's chief attorney's office were conducting a joint investigation. But none of that was her concern. All she should concentrate on were Henry and Lillian, who would be spending a few days with her after their dude ranch experience, then flying back to Connecticut to enjoy the last of summer and get ready for school.

Seeing them would be a welcome distraction.

George Carter stopped in the open doorway to her office and peered at her. "You sick?"

Kara focused on her boss. "I think I had bad seafood tacos at lunch."

He winced. "There's no such thing as a good seafood taco."

At sixty-two, George Carter was a man of strong opinions, a prominent and respected attorney in Austin, a founding partner of Carter, Smith and Rodriguez, African-American, straightforward, brilliant, father of three, grandfather of two. He was also one of Kara's biggest doubters. He made no secret of it. He said he liked her fine and didn't hold her Yale education or her years as an attorney in Connecticut against her. He'd never even asked her about her Texas Ranger brother. His doubts weren't personal. George was a buttoned-down lawyer who fought hard and played by the rules, and Kara was an out-of-the-box thinker, someone who came at problems sideways by nature, training and experience. She liked to get a fix on the complexities of a problem, understand every angle, every approach, before committing herself to a strategy. In other words, the two of them were polar opposites.

He'd agreed to hire her the previous fall on a one-year contract because, he said, he thought she brought skills and a way of thinking to the firm that it needed. At the end of the year, if the fit between her and Carter, Smith and Rodriguez worked, she'd become a full partner. If not, she'd be looking for work.

"Damn, it's freezing in here." He gave an exaggerated shiver. "I'm getting goose bumps. What's the air-conditioning on?"

"Sixty-eight. I'm still acclimating to August in Texas."

"You're wasting energy and running up the electric bill."

He was six feet tall, his hair just beginning to turn gray, an impressive figure in court with his deceptively understated suits and manner—but Kara didn't believe for a second he was cold. He had on a coat and tie. She just had on slacks and a simple top, and she wasn't cold.

She felt her stomach roll over. Maybe she'd developed an allergy to seafood.

She thought again of Sam Temple. She was accustomed to men who preferred to love her from afar. Romantics. Nothing about Sam Temple was from afar—it was up close and personal, immediate. And crazy, inexplicable, totally unforgettable. She pushed him out of her mind because thinking about him was insanity. Having a Texas Ranger for a brother was one thing—sleeping with one was another. George would hold that against her.

He shook his head. "A born-and-bred Texan like you, fussing about the heat."

"When I first went up to New England, I was always complaining about the cold. I thought I'd never get used to it, but I did. It's like that now with the heat."

"There's no end in sight to this heat wave, you know."

She'd seen the long-range forecast on the news that morning. It was August in south-central Texas. What did she expect? She pushed back her chair slightly from her desk. Her office was small, with standard furnishings. She hadn't bothered adding pictures and her own artwork, the lack of personal touches giving it a temporary feel, as if she was stuck between the kid she'd been here and the woman she'd become up north.

She smiled at George. "You didn't come here to listen to me complain about the heat."

"No, I didn't. Kara—" He sighed, obviously not thrilled with what he had to say. "You've had a rough couple of weeks. I can see they're taking their toll on you."

She knew what he was talking about. "Mike Parisi was a good friend."

His warm, dark eyes settled on her. "Nothing more?"


But Big Mike had wanted more. He admitted as much after she'd decided to move back to Texas. He was half in love with her, he'd said, and had been since his wife had died, but didn't want to ruin their friendship by saying anything. Now that she was leaving, he wanted her to know. When she met a man in Texas, he'd told her, don't hold back. Go for it. Life was too short, his own missed opportunities too numerous, too bitter, to contemplate.

Would it have made any difference if he'd told her sooner?

No, she thought. She'd never been in love with Big Mike. Nor had he been in love with her—not really. He knew it that day in Connecticut and so did she.

Kara smiled, picturing him in his cluttered office, a fat cigar stuck in his mouth. "He liked to tell me bad Texas jokes," she told George Carter. "He thinks—he thought we were all hard-asses down here."

"The new governor, Allyson Stockwell, is a friend of yours, as well?"

Kara nodded. Allyson's husband, Lawrence Stockwell, had died ten years ago, now Big Mike. Two strong, powerful men in her life. Lawrence's half brother, Hatch Corrigan, didn't have that kind of magnetism or influence, but he was all Allyson had left.

Allyson had insisted for months Hatch was another one who loved Kara from afar. Kara, who never noticed such things, refused to believe it until Hatch decided to tell her at Big Mike's funeral. We were both in love with you, Kara. Stupid as hell, huh?

No wonder she had a sick stomach.

"Worried about her?" George asked.

"I don't know. Allyson's only thirty-seven—she let Big Mike talk her into running as his lieutenant governor. But she's devoted to public service…"

Kara trailed off, remembering her friend's panicked voice the night of Big Mike's death, not long after she was sworn in as governor. I'm not ready, Kara. I'm just not. She'd called on her cell phone to give Kara the terrible news. Kara had just arrived at the Dunning Gallery in Austin for the opening of the Gordon Temple exhibit. Temple was a prominent Cherokee artist, raised in Oklahoma, a former teacher in Texas who was now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Getting him for their gallery was a coup for Kevin and Eva Dunning, whose daughter Susanna was married to Kara's brother Jack.

That Gordon Temple and Sam Temple, a Texas Ranger, shared the same last name was, Sam said, just one of those things. Kara didn't believe it.

Every second of that surreal evening was etched in her mind.

"Big Mike was a larger-than-life kind of guy," she went on, aware of George's scrutiny. "He won't be an easy act to follow, but people shouldn't underestimate Allyson. Once she gets over the shock of his death, she'll do fine."

Kara blamed her own shock for her subsequent behavior that night at the gallery. She'd turned off her cell phone after Allyson's call and slipped it into her handbag so she wouldn't have to hear more, know more, and when she swept up a glass of champagne off a passing tray, Sam Temple was there. He was not unfamiliar to her. They'd met a few times at her brother's house in San Antonio—she was not as oblivious to Sergeant Temple's black-eyed charm as Lieutenant Jack Galway no doubt would have hoped.

But she never thought she was crazy enough to go to bed with him. He was so dark and sexy and irresistible, and when he suggested they sneak out for coffee, she'd seized the moment.

They ended up at her house a few blocks away. He stayed all night and all the next morning, and never once did Kara mention Big Mike's death.

She'd had no contact with Sam since. She left that afternoon for Mike Parisi's funeral in Connecticut. She talked to the state detectives about his death and how she'd come to know he couldn't swim, that she'd never told anyone his secret. Although not specifically assigned to the case, Zoe West, Bluefield's sole detective, asked Kara about Big Mike's interest in bluebirds and exactly who knew he couldn't swim. When she questioned Kara on her whereabouts the night of Mike's death, Kara ended up giving her Sam's name and number. It had seemed like the thing to do at the time. She thought Zoe West would be satisfied once Kara offered up a Texas Ranger to corroborate her story.

"It was an accidental drowning," she said half to herself. "Big Mike's death."

"You really called him that?" George's voice was unexpectedly soft, and he tapped the far edge of her desk, not looking at her. "Take tomorrow off," he said abruptly.

Kara was instantly suspicious. "Why? It's been two weeks. I can do my job."

George headed for the door. "You've been putting in ridiculous hours, even for an attorney. You're going to crack." He glanced back at her, none of his usual doubts about her apparent now. "Trust me on this, Kara. I know from experience. Take a day or two off, all right?"

"I'll look over my workload and see what I can do."

He didn't push—at least not yet. After he left, Kara took out the compact mirror she kept in her tote bag and checked her reflection. Pale, definitely on the green side. No wonder George was concerned about her. She looked awful.

It had to be the seafood tacos. A touch of food poi-soning—she'd be fine tomorrow.

Morning sickness…

She snapped the mirror shut and shoved it back in her tote bag, but she noticed the white opaque bag she'd stuck in there after an impulsive side trip to the pharmacy at lunch. She'd bought two different home pregnancy test kits. Pure drama. She wasn't pregnant. It had only been two weeks since her cra-ziness with Sam. Surely she wouldn't have morning sickness this early.

She'd throw the pregnancy test kits in a garbage can on her way home tonight. Get rid of the evidence of her hysteria. She was thirty-four years old and had never had a pregnancy scare.

Of course, there were commonsense, biological reasons for that, one being that she'd have had to have sex once in a while. She didn't have blazing, shortlived affairs like her weekend with Sam—she didn't have affairs, period.

Big Mike had often teased her about her love life, or lack thereof. "Kara, a tough-minded attorney like you—what's the matter, are you deliberately practicing abstinence? Or do you just not like Yankee men? Jesus, go home. Take yourself a Texas lover. I know you're not afraid of men."

If she should have been afraid of anyone, it was dark, handsome, black-eyed Sam Temple. There wasn't a woman in Texas who didn't feel sparks flying when he was around. Her brother had told her as much, to the point that Kara had felt compelled to assure him she had no intention of falling for any Texas Ranger, never mind Sam.

"Good," Jack had said. "Don't."

At least Sam didn't know she had limited experience, sex and romance the one area in her life that always made her want to run.

For damn good reason, it turned out. She hadn't run two weeks ago, and she'd ended up in bed with Sam Temple.

Better she should have run.

Sam Temple was driving back to San Antonio after nearly two grueling weeks working on the Mexican border when he checked his voice mail and discovered that a detective from Bluefield, Connecticut, was trying to reach him. "Call me back as soon as possible," she said, then left her name and number.

He pulled into a filling station and dialed Zoe West on his cell phone. He'd heard about the death of the governor of Connecticut not long after he'd left Kara Galway's house—and bed—in Austin. Not one thing about it sat well with him, starting with why she hadn't mentioned the governor's death to him before they'd slept together. She'd known. It was in the papers. The first call Allyson Lourdes Stockwell made after learning of Parisi's death was to her law school classmate and friend, Kara Galway, in Austin, Texas.

Sam had checked the times and decided Ally-son Stockwell must have called just before Kara had grabbed her glass of champagne at the Dunning Gallery.

At least that explained why she'd slept with him. She'd been distraught. Out of her head with shock and grief at the news and looking to put it out of her mind.

Sam had no such excuse. He'd made love to a woman—his friend's sister—without even realizing she was damn near a virgin. He remembered his shock at her tightness when he entered her. He'd seen her wince and bite down on her lower lip. He'd asked if she was okay, and she told him oh, yes, fine, don't stop, as if she regularly met men for coffee and took them back to her house for sex.

He knew she was lying, but he hadn't stopped.

No excuses.

Even with the air-conditioning blasting, he could feel the August heat, see it rising off the pavement. A half-dozen eighteen-wheelers idled in the parking lot. He'd had less than eight hours' sleep in three days. He needed a long shower, a dark room and cool sheets.

He didn't need Kara Galway. She was a complication. A mistake. Making love to her had been damn stupid, even if he couldn't bring himself to regret it—not for one second, no matter how hard he tried.

Zoe West answered on the first ring. "West."

"Detective West, it's Sam Temple. I'm returning your call."

"Oh, right—thanks. Just a couple questions. Kara Galway said you were with her at a gallery opening in Austin when she heard about Governor Parisi's death. I'm just following up."

"You've talked to her?"


Sam frowned. "Why are you following up?"


He doubted it. There was nothing routine about the death of a governor or Zoe West's call. "Isn't this a state investigation?"

"Big Mike died in my town. I'm assisting."

In other words, she was sticking her nose in the investigation, whether the state cops wanted it there or not. Sam said nothing. He had his white Stetson on the seat beside him, his tie loosened, his badge still pinned to his shirt pocket. Two weeks on a serial-murder investigation in an impoverished area in near-hundred-degree heat, and here he was on the phone talking about a rich man who'd drowned trying to save a damn bird.

"When did Ms. Galway arrive at the gallery?" Zoe West asked. "Did you see her?"

"She was already there when I arrived around seven o'clock."

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2014

    I highly recommend this book. It was a good, enjoyable read.

    The book was very enjoyable and a good read. Well written. Keep you guessing until the end of the book. I enjoyed revisiting the characters from book 2 and the new situations they were in.
    I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    highly recommend

    can't wait for the 4th book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    worth reading

    I enjoyed this story.. It was 267 pages of good reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2013

    Good read anyone would enjoy

    I really enjoy Carla Neggars' books and this one did not disappoint me. Nice easy read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012


    Hello. He smiled.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2002

    Terrific book!

    Kara Galway, an up and coming defense attorney, had recently moved back to Texas from Connecticut. She would be spending time with Jack, her Texas Ranger brother, and his family. Instead, during an art exhibit, she got a call on her cell phone informing her that her good friend and Connecticut governor, Mike Parisi, had died under suspicious circumstances. Kara returned to Connecticut to be with her best friend, Allyson Stockwell, who had become the new governor. <BR><BR> Texas Ranger Sam Temple followed Kara. Sam was Kara's alibi for the night Parisi died. Sam's instincts kept telling him something BIG was happening and he was determined to butt in.<BR><BR> Allyson Stockwell had two children, Henry and Lillian. She feared for their safety because she was being stalked. So Allyson sent them off to camp. However, the kids were hiding a deadly secret. When they realized someone was after them, they ran away from camp to their godmother, Kara. <BR><BR> <B>It was all about to come to a head! </B><BR><BR> **** Tension runs high in this thriller by Carla Neggers. The author keeps things interesting by having sub-plots and co-characters that the readers cannot help but find intriguing. I hated to see the book end and am looking forward to the next release. **** <BR><BR> Reviewed by Detra Fitch.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014


    Her smile brightened and she leaned against him.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014


    Looks down at her, smiling.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013


    Great book it is a must read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    Love all her books!!!

    Carla Neggers holds your interest all the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Yet another good read from carla neggers.

    Another great one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012


    The 14 year old girl looks at hin from high up tree.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2003

    A very pleasant surprise

    Stonebrook cottage has Kara Galaway Texas born and bred moving back home after spending time in New England. She moves home to find whatever she feels is missing in her life and when a dear friend dies suspiciously and her godchildren runaway her life turns upside down. She lies to her brother Jack and the man who has captured her heart Sam Temple, both are Texas Rangers. She kicks into full attorney mode and feels her duty to her godchildren and her best friend; the childrens mother makes all of her decisions justifiable regardless of how many laws she breaks in the process. This is a very good story and the plus for me was this book contains characters that I fell in love with from her novel The Cabin. The Texas Rangers were enjoyable in the first book and I am so happy that she returns them in this book. I hope she has another story in mind for Kara, Jack and Sam. I can hardly wait.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2002

    Terrific Book

    Kara Gelway is a defence lawyer who moved to Texas from Connenticut. Her brother Jack is a Texas Ranger, Her grandkids were in trouble and ran from a dude ranch in Texas and came to her house. Her good friend was the governor Mike Parisi was killed and the kids seen who did it. Some one wis following them. Being a lawyer her wanted to find out who killed him. A Texas ranger Sam came up to help and keep them alive. Come to find out the friend of the governor his sister killed the governor.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2002

    A Review

    Definitely a good story, but it took me three days to get past the first two chapters because of the overwhelming number of characters introduced. It was actually hard to follow the dialogue when there were two pages of character description interspersed in the conversations. If you can wade through it, though, the rest of the book moves quickly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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