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"Put down the gun, Hoss, 'fore I blow that oversized melon of yours to kingdom come." Winchester Jackson's cold, steady voice cracked through the canyon sure as a shot. Although Hoss Dalton, seated on his horse, had his rifle stuck under the leather flap of the stagecoach window, Winn knew the outlaw never robbed alone. Somewhere, hidden by the rock walls, sagebrush, and dead grasses of the canyon, Hoss's ragged band of fellow thieves lay in wait.
The stage perched precariously on the shaley edge of the dirt road leading from Carson City to Winn's town of Bodie. Inside, a woman whimpered and a small dog yipped.
This was getting old. It really was. And it was unlikely this would end well. Hoss was two bricks shy of a load and perpetually half-drunk. But then anyone who'd seen and done the things an old Hunter like Hoss had would want to drown himself in whiskey most of the time. "Hoss? You hear me?"
The female whimper was cut off instantly. Even the hot desert air scented with creosote and sagebrush in the rocky chute of the canyon stood still.
Hoss turned slowly. His rifle, which was pointed at the occupants hidden within the dark interior of the steam stage, wavered at the I-won't-tell-you-again tone of the sheriff's voice.
Attached to the front of the stage, the mechanical horses, big copper beasts the size of Clydesdales, pinged, hissing steam through their venting nostrils as the metal and gears cooled.
Winn kept Hoss in his sights. The old man's eyes, rheumy from too much rotgut whiskey, flicked to the star-shaped silver badge on Winn's chest, his rifle slipping an inch. Sonofabitch, was the old fool going to shoot a stage full of people right here, ten minutes from town, for a measly payroll?
The brilliant sun hung white-hot overhead in a cloudless field of brilliant blue.
"Countdown is at three, Hoss. Drop that, or swear to God, I'll shoot you where you stand! Tommy Sutton? You stay right where you are!" he yelled. He didn't know if Sutton was there or not. Didn't have eyes in the back of his head either, but the rustle in the grasses off to his right stopped.
"Damn, Winn. You ain't nothin' like your old man." Hoss's tone conveyed his deep disappointment born of familiarity.
Winn peered down the length of his rifle barrel aimed at his quarry's heart. "Thank you for the compliment." Fact was, anything that distinguished him from his notorious outlaw father and supernatural Hunter, Cyrus "Black Jack" Jackson, pleased him enormously. He didn't want any part of that life. Not now. Not ever again.
"Cain't you jest let me go, for old time's sake?" Hoss and his group of bandits had once been Hunters alongside his father. But tough times had turned them from protecting humanity to protecting their own self-serving interests. They'd robbed this stage four times in the last month, hoping for a payroll run for the Black Gulch Mine.
Winn was damned if he was going to let it be five. He had a murder a day, sometimes more than one, to contend with in the rowdy mining town. Having the miners' pay stolen and travelers threatened on a regular basis was a pain in his ass. He'd stuck Hoss and his cronies in jail three times for doing exactly this. And every time, Hoss's nefarious connections had gotten them out. But enough was enough.
"If I let you go, then I wouldn't be doing my job, now would I? Get your hands where I can see them." Winn pulled down the lever on his repeating rifle, preparing it to fire.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Four other guns cocked and pointed at Winchester's head as the rest of Hoss's group emerged from the jagged, tan rocks of the canyon. A perfect place to stage a holdup.
"Not this time, Winn." His wide smile a mess of gaps and yellowed teeth, Hoss stepped forward and pulled the rifle from Winchester's hands. "No one would have figured you for the rotten apple in the barrel. A lawman!" His lip curled with contempt. "That would jest make your pa spit nails."
Winchester resisted the urge to tug on the hardened tips of his heavily waxed black mustache, a habit he'd developed when agitated during his last five years as sheriff of Bodie. "My pa would have spit anything he could chew."
A metallic clink and rattle of gears alerted Winn that the steps of the coach were being lowered. "Stay inside," he shouted to the fool preparing to alight on a mountain pass with five armed men waiting mere feet away.
A rustle of taffeta accompanied a length of silky calf and dainty half boot onto the first step. From the dim recesses of the stage stepped an elegant woman.
Winn felt a rush of unwanted heat as she emerged into the dusty sunlight. Dark, glossy curls were capped with a jaunty little top hat sporting a cloud of black feathers. Her expensive-looking bustled gown, the blue-black iridescent color of raven wings, hugged her slim waist and suggested a silhouette that was amply curved by nature rather than artifice. But more stunning than her figure was her face.
Seeing her beautiful, exotic features made Winn's heart knock uncomfortably and caused his palms to sweat. Sure he'd seen women. Plenty of them. But nothing like this roamed the likes of Bodie. Lips, a shade too full to be fashionable, and high cheekbones accented a pair of piercing whiskey-colored eyes that stole his breath away.
The woman's dusky beauty was both dark and alluring, but an undercurrent of danger surrounded her like a storm cloud charged with lightning. Upon the black kidskin leather of her gloved hand was a large ruby ring, which matched the blood-like droplets of rubies at her ears. Her every mannerism screamed wealth and privilege.
"Is there a problem, gentlemen?" Her voice was soothing and rich like warm honey, and her heavy Eastern European accent made "gentlemen" sound more like "zhentlemen."
Hoss gave an impatient jerk of his head toward the stage, even though his gaze lingered on the woman. "Wait your turn, missus. Get back in that coach. We'll have us a fine time when I'm done with my business." His suggestive tone made Winchester want to punch him—hard, and preferably more than once.
"I think not," she replied smoothly.
The hair pricked up porcupine fashion on the back of Winchester's neck as the scent of sulfur tainted the air. Something about this situation wasn't right.
He turned away from the woman, focusing instead on taking down Hoss. Sure, he'd probably get shot by one of the Dalton gang, but if he did it right, it wouldn't be more than a flesh wound, and Hoss would take the brunt of his gang's shots. He bent his knees slightly, preparing to lunge at Hoss's middle, but before he could even move, all hell broke loose.
The woman's face warped, her brows protruded, her eyes turned crimson, and her full lips bracketed a pair of perfect, pearly fangs. She hissed, and every head turned.
"Vampire!" Hoss yelled to the others.
Taken off guard, they fumbled with their weapons, trying to exchange regular bullets for silver, but they weren't fast enough. In a blink she had stripped the Dalton gang from their horses and savagely ripped out their throats with her delicate gloved hands and razor-sharp fangs. In a cloud of dust, the horses ran down the canyon, back toward town, their frightened whinnies echoing off the rocks.
Only he and Hoss remained. Winchester grabbed his rifle out of Hoss's loose grip and trained the weapon on the monster in taffeta. She turned back, facing them, her lips slicked with bright red blood. The tip of her soft pink tongue stroked one fang, making Winchester's gut contract involuntarily.
"A bit rustic, and a little too well marinated in whiskey, but substantial," she said, as if discussing the vintage of wine. She pulled a black silk handkerchief from the sleeve of her gown and dabbed at the blood remaining around her lips and chin, removing the last traces of her unladylike activity.
"Well, don't just stand there, goddammit, shoot her!" Hoss yelled, shuffling behind Winchester. Winn stood his ground, the rifle pointed straight at the vampiress's heart. Not that it would do much good. What he really needed was a machete or a broadsword to lop that lovely dark-haired head from her slim shoulders.
"Don't come any closer," he warned.
She tilted her head slightly, like an inquisitive bird of prey, her eyes returning to their original amber color and her face returning to its regal profile. Only the fangs still remained.
"You have nothing to fear from me. Look around you, Hunter. Have I harmed the innocents in the coach? Have I harmed you? No. I took only the lives of those who were contributing nothing to your society in the first place. Hardly a crime." She peeled the soiled black gloves from her fingers one at a time, then tossed them into the air where they disappeared in a swirl of dark smoke.
Winn's finger rested heavy on the trigger, just needing a finite amount of pressure to fire the rifle at the vampiress. Only one thing held him back.
Everything she'd said was true.
He glanced at the wooden, steam-powered stagecoach. The occupants huddled inside, whispering and peering with wide, frightened eyes from behind the dusty leather window coverings, afraid to come out; but they were unharmed. Hoss's men lay in crumpled bloody heaps, and Hoss himself was still cowering behind him, but she hadn't attacked him.
"What d'you want, vampire?"
"I am the Lady Alexandra Porter, Contessa Drossenburg, emissary of His Vampiric Imperial Majesty, Emperor Vladimir the Fifth. I've come to seek out the eldest of the Chosen, Winchester Jackson. I was told he resides in Bodie." Her gaze flicked to the cluster of sun-bleached wooden and brick buildings down in the valley below, then drifted to the star on his chest. "Do you know him?"
"Lady, I am him."
Her eyes widened slightly. "Then we have business to discuss."
Winn slowly lowered his gun, but not his guard. Apparently Hoss was stupider than he looked; he tried to wrestle the repeating rifle away from him. But Winn had lost his patience. He clocked Hoss on the side of the head with the butt of his rifle, and the other man slid unconscious facedown into the powder-fine dirt.
Winn glanced up at the vampire. "I don't do business with supernaturals."
She gave a shrug of her petite shoulder, her fangs retracting completely, leaving behind a row of even, white teeth. "I expected as much, but the emperor does not share my view. He thinks it is time for vampires to join with the Chosen if we are to defeat a mutual enemy."
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend?"
"Da. But perhaps it is best if we discuss this elsewhere." She threw a meaningful glance over her shoulder at the stunned occupants of the steam stage. "May I have your leave to glamour them? It is not safe for them to know so much. Don't you agree, Mr. Jackson?"
Much as he didn't like it, she did have a point. The last thing he needed was a stage full of frightened travelers to come rolling into Bodie spouting off about a vampire killing the Dalton gang. People, as a general rule, were panicky, stupid, and rash. And chances were ten out of ten, if the travelers talked, the town would come beating down his door demanding that he fix it. No, it was far better if she glamoured the lot of them and made them forget this unpleasantness had ever happened. He nodded his approval.
The vampire dipped her head as she bent in a curtsey, then gingerly picked up her skirts and turned back to the stage. The low, husky quality of her voice rustled like the taffeta she wore, sultry and smooth, completely absorbing the total attention of the travelers.
"You have had a most pleasant trip, with only the slightest delay for a mechanical horse that needed an application of oil," she said slowly. Winn tried to block out her voice, but glanced over her shoulder to see the wide, glassy stares of the occupants of the stage. She certainly did know how to throw a glamour. Good thing he was practically immune.
That was the second thing Pa had taught Winn about hunting. The first had been never to trust a supernatural being. The Darkin were the scourge of the universe—children of the night—dedicated to eliminating humans so they could claim the earth for themselves.
No matter how elegant, sophisticated, or well-mannered the contessa seemed, she was still just a damn vampire, and sooner or later he was going to have to slay her.
The knowledge bit down deep and hard into his bones, refusing to let go. Winn silently cursed in four different languages. As the oldest Jackson brother, he'd been exposed to the life of a Hunter the longest. Pa had started drilling the rules into him from the time Winn could toddle.
Which made all of this so much worse. Because ten years ago he'd given it up, walked away, and vowed to stay good and gone from Hunters and anything to do with the Darkin. He'd tried to lead a normal life—be an upstanding citizen with a clean reputation—something neither of his brothers would know about. For while the Jackson brothers looked similar on the outside, with their pa's jet hair and broad shoulders and their ma's blue eyes and winning smile, they were as different as could be on the inside.
Winn turned away from her as she bid the travelers a kind good-bye. She shook their hands, and waved to them while the horses gained steam and began to huff and chuff, ready to resume their journey into Bodie.
It didn't help that his little brother Colt, the hothead of the three and a self-styled outlaw, had come waltzing in that afternoon, determined to locate their pa's long-lost piece of the Book of Legend. Winchester had told his little brother the truth. Only a Darkin could access the Book where Pa had hid it. And, nothin', but nothin', was going to change his mind about taking up arms as a Hunter again.
White puffs of steam and darker smoke from the carriage's boilers mixed with the dust kicked up by the mechanical horses, creating a dark smudge in the otherwise cloudless clear blue sky as the stage clanked and rolled on down the hill into Bodie.
The vampire eyed him with a mixture of curiosity and respect mingling in the depths of her eyes. "You are not exactly what I expected, Mr. Jackson." She clasped her bare hands together, the dark ruby ring winking on the ring finger of her right hand.
"What'd you expect?"
The corner of her mouth tipped up in a way that made his skin seem to shrink a size, and he had to keep himself from leaning forward to sample those tempting lips.
"From the legends we've been told"—her gaze raked him over, assessing him— "someone bigger."
Winn's lips twitched beneath the edge of his mustache. "Is that so?"
Her long, tapered fingers lightly brushed the velvet rim of her expensive little hat, which was sheltering her face from the sun. "Da. But then looks can be deceiving." Even though she looked no more than twenty-five, she had to be an old and powerful vampire to be withstanding the intensity of the daylight.
"You got that right," he muttered. Strip a bustle, petticoats, and corset off a woman and you were often shocked at what remained. But not with her. He could tell.
"His Majesty would like you to accompany us to his main palace in Europe and join in recovering the second third of the Book of Legend."
"You know where another piece is?"
"We did. For six hundred years it had been stored within the royal castle. But recently it was stolen. If you are willing, His Vampiric Imperial Majesty's envoy and I would like to return this evening to discuss retaining your services."
Winn pressed his lips together. He wasn't about to hire out to a vampire—imperial, majestic or otherwise. He didn't work with supernaturals, and he sure as hell wasn't about to work for them.
"Let's get one thing straight, Lady Drossenburg. If I decide to help you, and I'm not saying I will, it will be on my terms, and not because I give a rat's ass what your high and mightiness back home thinks. We clear on that?"
A fine little tic worked at the corner of her eye, but otherwise her face remained perfectly smooth. Clearly she was as uncomfortable with this little arrangement as he was. Good.
She bowed her head and dropped into an elegant curtsey, the pale dust marring the edges of her dark skirt. "Of course, Mr. Jackson."
Excerpted from The Slayer by Theresa Meyers Copyright © 2012 by Theresa Meyers. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. 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.
Posted May 16, 2012
Posted on Romancing the Book's blog
Reviewed by Jen
Review Copy Provided by Arc by the Author
After having read and enjoyed my first foray into steampunk with the first book in this series, The Hunter, I had to get my hands on The Slayer when I heard it was up for review. And I wasn’t disappointed in this sophomore effort. Ms Meyers took on a thrill ride across the globe filled with paranormal encounters galore.
While this book is the second in a series, it can stand alone. However, it makes much more sense if you’d read The Hunter first. Because in The Hunter, you get a lot of world building and plot set up. In The Slayer, the reader is thrown right into the action meeting Winn, a Wild West sheriff, as he is trying to foil a stagecoach hold up, and Alexa, a vampire countess on a mission to find Winn. See, there’s the prophecy that Winn and his brothers are “The Chosen” and they’re supposed to stop the demons from opening this gate and basically taking over the world. But Winn has walked away from his destiny and Alexa has been given the task of convincing him to help save the world. Most of this is set up in the previous book (where Winn’s brother is doing his part) and very early in this book (say the first 3 chapters), so I’m not really giving much away here.
I enjoyed the interactions between Winn and Alexa. They’re natural enemies as she’s a vampire and he’s a hunter, trained from birth to hunt the Darkin (demons, vampires, shifters and so forth). They join forces against a mutual enemy, but don’t really trust each other. They’re both constantly looking over their shoulders, all the while fighting this insane attraction to each other. Ms Meyers did a great job of creating the tension while not being too repetitive and still moving the romance and action forward.
The plot was fun and fast paced. The reader is taken from the Wild West to Transylvania and ultimately ending up in Paris. The modes of transportation, mechanical horse and two different kinds of airships, and so many interesting and unique mechanical devices (which make it steampunk) help make this trip quite memorable.
I have to say, I’m very much looking forward to the final book in the series. We got a quick glance at the last brother, Remington, and his foil (who happens to be a shifter). All three stories are taking place simultaneously as they’re racing against a clock. And I’ll be counting down the days until The Chosen is released.
Posted May 1, 2012
Winchester Jackson knows what supernatural beings to fight in the States, but now he is thrown into the unknown when His Vampiric Imperial Majesty sends his emissary, Lady Alexandra Porter (Alexa), to bring Winn back to Transylvania to find the next missing piece of the Book of Legend that Winn’s father hid. Although Winn has left the world of supernatural fighting he is reeled back in after finding out that they must find all the missing pieces of the book or all hell will break loose. In an unlikely turn of events, it is the beautiful vampire, Alexa, who aids him in more ways than one. Winn has always believed that there are no good vampires in the world but after meeting Alexa , Winn slowly starts to realize that there might be a few good Darkin and that maybe his heart isn’t as hard as he believes it to be.
A good follow up for Meyers. She keeps the pace going from the first book, The Hunter, and by the end you are looking forward to the third installment. The steampunk world Meyer’s has built is very imaginative and I love their adventures on the airship. Definitely felt like I wanted more out of this one but I was satisfied with what was given by Meyers.
(ARC was received from publisher for an honest review)
Posted April 29, 2012
The Jackson brothers are on a mission. They may not believe the rumors that they are the prophesized Chosen, but they can’t let evil reign. They need to find the three sections of the Book of Legend. It will take recombining the Book to stop the archdemon lord, Rathe, from opening the Gates of Nyx, a portal between the human and Darkin realm.
Many years ago Winchester Jackson gave up hunting for the quiet life. He prefers being the sheriff for Bodie over hunting down Darkin, the supernatural children of the night that prey on humans. Things are heating up though and the Darkin are seeking out Winn. All he wants is to be left alone, but when the Darkin want your help to stop their enemy, you tend to take notice.
Contessa Drossenburg, Alexandra Porter has come to persuade Winchester to aid her people with finding the last third of the Book. Vampires have guarded the Book for over six centuries and it has been stolen. One would think they wouldn’t want or need the help of a hunter, but when their way of life and food supply are being threatened, they will do anything to stop the threat, including working with their sworn enemy.
Winn and Alexandra’s adventure takes them around the world. From the first moment they meet, they are attracted to each other. Their attraction almost jumps off the pages. While this book is very light on sex, it is filled with sexual tension. These are two people, who should not want each other, but something is pulling them together and there seems to be nothing they can do about it.
I’m sorry to say, but I’m just not feeling this book 100%. The story as a whole is good. I love the idea, but something was missing. Character development focused mainly on the two protagonists, leaving me wanting in regards to secondary characters and the villain. In fact, the villain didn’t seem very villain-ish at all. However, Rathe’s evil behavior does play a larger role in The Hunter. He almost seemed like an afterthought in this book. He loomed in the background and then once the showdown was upon us, it was just over.
The ending is probably one of the most rushed I have ever read. I was getting down to the last dozen pages thinking something was wrong. It can’t be ending and then suddenly was resolved. There was tons of build up and then a simple unfulfilling resolution. This might be something that would be hard to remedy though. All three brothers need to find their portion of the Book before there can be a conclusion. I am not sure how it will all play out, but I am still interested in the outcome.
The more I think about it, I can see this series improving once all the books are written. This would allow the reader to enjoy the books as one big novel. The Slayer didn’t even have a cliffhanger. It just left me hanging. While it may appear that I don’t like the series, I really do. It’s is action packed and the universe is fun to read about. That is probably the genius of Ms. Meyers. I am frustrated with this particular book, but the desire to know what is going to happen is pulling me in and holding on. I believe this series is still a winner and I’m looking forward to Remington’s story, The Chosen. It is scheduled for release March 2013. There is also a rumor of a novella for the fun and funky inventor of the series, Marley Turlock. It looks like it should be coming out late 2012, YAY!!
Posted April 9, 2012
Theresa Meyers has created another fabulous chapter in The Legend Chronicles with The Slayer, and this time readers will follow the eldest Jackson brother Winchester Jackson in his quest to save the world.
Winn was ready to settle sown and put his Hunter status on the shelf and leave that life for good. Winn is an amazing character with his love and loyalty to his brother even after the hell he was raised in. Growing up in a family if Hunters can be a dangerous sometimes, but as Winn found out looks can be deceiving and have deadly consequences in life and from all of the trouble Hunting had gotten him into, to protect his loved ones, Winn stopped Hunting and took up a star. Being the law in his small Bodie, CA town can keep Winn busy on any day and when Winn goes out to foil a stagecoach robbery his finds himself surrounded by the dead and a deadly woman in blue.
Alexandra Porter, Contessa Drossenburg, has much on her mind as she tries to hunt down an American Slayer who is said to be the Chosen of legend to help the Vampires end the reign of a Darkin who hell bent on killing other Darkin, and enslaving humans. Being in a new world is strange enough but as Alexandra encounters Winn she is swept away by feelings she had thought to have been lost all of these years of her widowhood, and with a deadly prophesy about, Alexandra must keep her wits about her even in the most trying of times.
With romantic suspense and all of the fabulous steampunk creations whirling around the storyline, The Slayer is a fantastic novel of epic proportions. This series follows through books that are in the perspective of each brother so while the central theme of the books stays the same, the quest to unite the Book of Legend to save the world, you get this great view through three central characters. Each brother has fallen for a Darkin female and with their verbal witty exchanges the readers get a glimpse into what makes these brothers tick. While The Slayer follows Winn, we find a man with a troubled past who wants to do right by the people he loves and protect them with a vengeance. Winn is an honesty good man who has had a hard lot in life and wants to hold back his feelings for Alexandra because not only is she a vampire, a race of whom he has slain many, but also because she has her own future to fulfill. As the journey progresses across the globe through all sorts of dirigible and pirate ship traveling apparatuses Winn and Alexandra must pursue these pages of the Book to save not only themselves and those they love, but also the whole world at larger.
With adventure around every page, The Slayer will capture readers with a great pair of characters who are fighting the forces of evil with love, arrows, and inventions across all sorts of terrain filled with Darkin and danger. If the wolves don’t kill you the multitudes of mechanical spiders just might.
Posted April 5, 2012
By Theresa Meyers
Copyright April 2012
Publisher: Zebra (Paranormal Romance)
Brothers Winchester, Remington, and Colt know the legends—they were trained from childhood to destroy demon predators, wielding the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It’s a devil of a job. But sometimes your fate chooses you…
Winn Jackson isn’t interested in hunting nightmares across the Wild West—even if it’s the family business. Unlike his rakehell brothers, Winn believes in rules. As sheriff of Bodie, California, he only shoots actual law breakers. That’s what he’s doing when he rescues the Contessa Drossenburg, Alexandra Porter, a lady with all the elegance of the Old World—grace, beauty and class. And then he sees her fangs.
Alexandra isn’t just some bloodsucking damsel in distress, though. She’s on a mission to save her people—and she’s dead certain that Winn’s family legacy is the only way. Luckily, aside from grace and class, she also has a stubborn streak a mile wide. So like it or not, Winn is going to come back with her to the mountains of Transylvania, and while he’s at it, change his opinions about vampires, demon-hunting, and who exactly deserves shooting. And if she has her way, he’s going to do his darnedest to save the world…
It’s just a normal day in the life of Sheriff Winn Jackson. He’s stopping an attempted stage robbery. Hoss Dalton has his head and rifle sticking into the window of the weekly stage and Winn is trying to talk him into backing down and tossing him the rifle, otherwise his head would be blown ‘clear off his shoulders’. At the same time Dalton’s henchmen have cocked their weapons with the intent of shooting Winn and possibly killing everyone while taking whatever money and goods are on the coach.
While Hoss and Winn are “discussing” the matter, the steps of the stagecoach drop down and a woman elegantly exits the coach saying “Is there a problem gentleman”? We are now introduced to the next player in our story. The Contessa Drossenburg, and here’s where the story goes totally south. The Contessa Transforms from a lovely lady into a fearsome vampire in front of the two men. She then proceeds to wipe out the Dalton boys in the blink of an eye. The Contessa asks Winn if he knows Sheriff Jackson, and he admits that he is the Sheriff.
The Contessa wants Winn to help find their lost copy of the 2nd part of the book, and he initially says NO. Things move on and he finally agrees. We are taken on a tour of Europe and meet all sorts of characters who want Winn to fail, or die. Winn and the Contessa reach an accord and work together very well. You’ll just have to read the book to find out the rest of the story. All I’ll tell you is that it is one surprise after another. With a fantastic ending.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, who only requested a fair and impartial review.
Posted May 16, 2012
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Posted June 10, 2012
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Posted October 12, 2012
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Posted September 11, 2012
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Posted June 7, 2012
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