The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Fiction

Opening Lines: Little Pink Taxi by Marie Laval

It’s with great pleasure that I invite Marie Laval to my site with her ‘Opening Lines,’ from Little Pink Taxi!

Thank you so much Jenny for welcoming me on your blog today and share the first 500 words of my romantic comedy LITTLE PINK TAXI, which was released a year ago – already! – by Choc Lit.

People often ask me where I find my ideas, and what inspired me to write LITTLE PINK TAXI. Was it a holiday in the Cairngorms of Scotland, a stay in a beautiful old castle, or perhaps a past experience of driving a taxi?

I can say straight away that my inspiration was not driving a taxi! I have never driven a taxi, although ferrying my children between school, home and various friends and activities often felt like it indeed. Regretfully, I have never stayed in an old castle like Raventhorn, although it would be one of my dreams to do so one day.

I have however holidayed in Scotland, and loved the wild landscapes, lochs and forests, as well as the breathtaking architecture and atmosphere of Edinburgh where I went on a couple of city-breaks.

What really inspired me to write LITTLE PINK TAXI was a series I very much enjoyed watching on television a few years ago. You may remember it, because it was a big success at the time. It was called ‘Monarch of the Glen’, and was set in Glenbogle Castle in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland. In my mind, Raventhorn castle – Rosalie Heart’s childhood home – is very similar to Glenbogle. There is a loch and a forest nearby, and of course, the dramatic backdrop of Cairngorms.

My other source of inspiration was a pink taxi I saw a few years ago in Manchester city centre. I know that they are quite common these days, but at the time, it was the first I had ever seen, and I thought it would be fun to have my heroine drive one of them. It gave me ideas about Rosalie’s personality too. She is fun and bubbly, very loyal to her friends and family, and she loves singing but can’t carry a tune! The story developed from there.

First 500 words…

‘I believe you’re waiting for me. I’m Petersen.’

Startled by the deep voice with the hint of a French accent, Rosalie spun round, and tilted her face up to meet a pair of serious grey eyes.

‘Welcome to Scotland, Monsieur Petersen.’

She gave him what she hoped was her most dazzling smile, but Petersen only looked down at her and said, ‘I was expecting McBride.’

Rosalie tucked the heart-shaped board on which she’d written Petersen’s name in pink under her arm. ‘I’m afraid Geoff was taken ill. I shall be driving you to Raventhorn.’

Petersen frowned. ‘I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it’s nothing serious.’

It was nothing that a cup of tea, a couple of headache tablets and a few days away from the malt whisky wouldn’t cure, but Rosalie couldn’t tell him that.

‘A head cold, that’s all. He will have recovered by this evening, I’m sure.’ Her cheeks grew warm. Lying had never come easily to her, but it was even harder when a giant of a man with eyes as cool and uninviting as the winter sky stared down at her.

She pointed at his leather holdall and laptop case. ‘Would you like me to carry your bags to the cab?’

Arching his eyebrows, he gave her a sardonic stare, which made her feel even smaller than her five foot one. ‘No. I don’t think so.’

‘Ah. Very well. Shall we go then? The weather is horrendous today. At least I found a space near the terminal so we won’t get too wet.’

Her last words were drowned in gusts of icy wind and rain as the terminal sliding doors opened. She pulled her key fob out of her pocket and strode towards the cab. ‘Here we are.’

‘Is this McBride’s idea of a joke?’

Droplets of rain clung to Petersen’s dark blond hair and the broad shoulders of his navy coat. He gestured to the bright pink metrocab on which Love Taxis was painted in large letters, then to her matching anorak.

‘I hope you’re not planning to take your clothes off and squirt whipping cream all over me.’

Although his voice was quiet, there was a steely edge to it that made his French accent more pronounced.

She started to laugh. ‘Take my clothes off, in this weather? No thank you! You don’t seriously think I am one of those strip-o-grams people hire to embarrass their colleagues at birthday parties, do you?’

He didn’t smile. No spark of humour lit his eyes. He’d meant what he’d said. The laughter died on her lips, and she pulled the zip of her pink anorak right up to her chin.

‘You have the wrong idea about me. I’m your taxi driver, nothing else. And for the record, the only way I like my whipping cream is on a chocolate brownie or a very large ice-cream.’

Although she tried to sound blasé, her face felt like it was on fire and she stumbled over the last words…

Blurb

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

Author Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for a number of years. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors, she writes contemporary and historical romance. Her native France very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

LITTLE PINK TAXI is Marie’s second contemporary romance and is published by Choc Lit. It is available here.

You can get in touch with Marie on Facebook and Twitter, and why not check the beautiful photos of Scotland and Denmark on the special Little Pink Taxi Page on Pinterest?

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Many thanks for your great opening lines, Marie.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Another Cup of Coffee: Amy’s Adventure Begins

Another Cup of Coffee is the story of Amy Crane’s quest to get her life back on track.

This is how her adventure begins…

 

…Once her impulsive decision to go home to England had been made, she’d barely stopped for a break in the haste to work her notice period, sort out the ending of the lease on her rented flat, and arrange somewhere to stay in London. Now that stillness was about to be forced upon her, Amy had to face the reality of what she’d done by throwing in a good job and a nice flat for no job and a rented room in a shared house in London that she’d never even seen.

‘I need coffee,’ she muttered to herself. Hoisting her tatty fabric handbag higher onto her shoulder in a bracing gesture, she headed for the café located next to the departure checkpoint.

Aberdeen airport

…It was only once she’d checked in at Aberdeen airport, her luggage safely stowed, that Amy finally stopped moving. Slumped on a bench, looking around at the people rushing by, she realised that this was the first time she’d been inactive for weeks.

Having successfully managed to purvey her order to the Chinese-speaking assistant via a mixture of words and semaphore, Amy sat down on one of the fiendishly uncomfortable steel seats. Ignoring the unsightly build-up of used cups, half-eaten meals and spilt fizzy pop, Amy briefly allowed herself to contemplate her situation. Almost instantly her nerves regrouped in her gut, and Amy decided to put off any serious thoughts about the future until she was on the plane. That way, any possible temptations to chicken out and stay in Scotland after all would no longer be an option. Major life planning could wait. For now she would just indulge in her drink and watch the world go by. Then she’d have a wander around the meagre collection of shops, and perhaps buy a book or magazine for the flight, putting reality off for a bit longer.

Unable to put off the moment, Amy picked up her backpack and headed over to the departure gate. As she passed the newsagents’ her eyes landed on a copy of one magazine in particular- it had the appropriate headline, New job, New home, New life.

Amy muttered the words over and over in her head like a mantra, as she purchased the magazine fate seemed to have left for her before joining the queue of people who were also turning their back on the Granite City, for to business commitments, holidays, or in her case, for ever.

During the seventy-minute flight, Amy had managed to concoct enough excuses to delay any plan of action as to what to do next for a little longer. She’d examined the flight safety card thoroughly, had uncharacteristically engaged her fellow passengers in mindless conversation, and flicked through her magazine. Amy had read the occasional relevant passage, but had been disappointed not to find an article entitled You’ve Ditched Your Life – So Now What?

Now, trudging down the gloomy concourse at Heathrow to retrieve her luggage and trying to ignore the patina of perspiration on her palms, Amy was suddenly aware that someone was talking to her.

‘You OK?’

The man striding next to her spoke with a soft Irish lilt, ‘You’ve been chatting to yourself ever since we landed.’

‘Oh, God, have I?’ Amy’s face flushed. ‘I’m sorry; I’m always talking to myself. You must think I’m nuts.’

‘No!’ His eyes twinkled at her as he spoke. ‘Well, maybe just a bit.’

Amy wondered how old he was. Roughly her age perhaps; she always found it difficult to tell with men in suits. Amy didn’t want to think about it, or she’d get onto thinking about how much time had passed since she’d last smiled at a man of her own age, let alone spoken to one, and that way lay madness. ‘You’re probably right. I’ve just chucked in my life, so perhaps I’m insane.’

‘A lot on your mind then,’ he nodded his bespectacled head.

Amy carried on rambling. ‘No job, a home I’ve only seen from a brochure, and I’m getting a serious case of cold feet.’

They reached the dimly-lit baggage collection area as the carousel sparked into life. The whole room spoke of transitory lives, and the dank atmosphere made Amy shiver inside.

The man had obviously noticed her growing unease. ‘Look, I know I’m a total stranger, and it’s none of my business; but if it helps, I think it sounds fantastic. Exciting and brave.’

rucksack

Spotting her luggage heading towards her, Amy grimaced. ‘I don’t feel very brave.’ She grabbed her heavy bag before it lumbered out of reach.

‘You have a blank page. A new canvas to start from. I’d swap what I’ve got for that, and so would most of this lot.’ He gestured to the anonymous crowds that surged around them. ‘Go with the flow, have fun, be yourself, and smile. You have a nice smile.’ Then he scooped up his navy executive wheeled case, extended the handle, and rapidly disappeared, his grey suit merging with hundreds of others in the crush.

Amy stood there, oblivious to the fact that she was in everybody’s way. A blank page. For the first time in days excitement overtook the fear, as she hurried off to hail a taxi to transport her into the unchartered wilds of Richmond…

***

Obviously I don’t want to ruin the story for you- so for the really meaty bits you’ll have to buy a copy!!

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Buy links

Another Cup of Coffee is available as an e-Book and in paperback from all good bookshops/book retailers

Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.com/Another-Cup-Coffee-Jenny-Kane/9781783751129
Kobo- https://store.kobobooks.com/Search/Query?ac=1&Query=jenny%20kane
Nook- http://www.nook.com/gb/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&%5Bs%5Dkeyword=Jenny+Kane
Happy Reading,
 
Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Sophia’s Secret by Julie Ryan

It’s opening lines time again. This week, Julie Ryan is taking us on a Greek mystery…

Sophia’s Secret is the second book in the Greek island mystery series but can be read as a standalone. I never intended to write a series but having created the setting in Jenna’s journey, I was reluctant to leave it alone. My books, whilst always having romance at their core, deal with the dark side of Greece that tourists rarely see so be prepared for murder and suspense too!

Blurb for Sophia’s Secret

Kat has never understood why she was sent at the age of seven from Greece to live in England with her Aunt Tigi. When she receives an email from her grandmother, the first contact in over twenty years, informing her of her mother’s death, she knows this could be her last chance to find out the truth. Little by little she finds out the shocking facts as her grandmother opens her heart. It seems everyone has a secret to tell, not only her grandmother, as Manoli, her school friend, also harbours a guilty secret. Then there’s a twenty-year-old mystery to solve as well as a murder and what happened to the missing Church treasure?

FIRST 500 WORDS

The boy knew he shouldn’t be out so late on his own but a dare was a dare! His best friend, Vasilli, had dared him to meet up at midnight in their den in the woods. He’d been so excited he could barely sleep. His mother had come to tuck him in—not that a boy of nearly eight needed tucking in he’d reminded her as they went through the usual nightly ritual.

“Night night.”

“Sleep tight, mind the bugs don’t bite.”

Then when she’d gone, he forced himself to stay awake until he heard his parents come back up the stairs to their room.  He waited for the light to go out and gave it a few more minutes to be on the safe side. The luminous watch that he’d asked for on last birthday was showing nearly 11.30. There would be plenty of time to get there. He peered out of his bedroom window. It was dark out. There were no streetlights in his village. It was lucky that he’d remembered to pack a torch. He crept silently down the stairs, careful not to wake either his parents or the sleeping twins, put a jacket on over his pyjamas, slipped his trainers on and spying the fruit bowl on the table, put a couple of apples in his pocket in case he got hungry.

The gang had built the den during the long summer holidays when they were allowed to play out until late provided that they told an adult where they were. This was different. The summer had given way to autumn and there was a chill in the night air. He wrapped his arms round himself for extra warmth or maybe just to give himself courage. He thought fleetingly of turning back but he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand Vasilli’s taunts of ‘chicken’ the next day. All he had to do, he reminded himself, was cut through the woods at the back of his house and meet his friend in the den. Just then, as if giving him a signal, the moon came out from behind the clouds illuminating the woodland path. He set off at a run, not wanting to be late. Once he reached the safety of the den, they’d have a good laugh about what a great game it had been.

An owl hooted in the branches above him almost scaring him silly. It felt so different at night. Every sound was magnified a thousand times, making him alert to every eerie sound. Little creatures scurrying around made the leaves underfoot rustle. Twice now he’d thought he heard someone following him but when he stopped there was no one. Only a few more metres to go and he’d be safe.

Not wanting to cut through the churchyard, he kept to the wall until he reached the woods. The moonlight showed him the den, just as he’d left it. He rushed inside, breathing heavily, surprised to see that Vasilli hadn’t arrived yet…

***

Buy links

JENNA’S JOURNEY

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenna s-Journey-Island-Mystery-Myste ries-ebook/dp/B01GGOCKLK

SOPHIA’S SECRET

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sophi as-Secret-Greek-Island-Mystery -ebook/dp/B00LFJGCWA

PANDORA’S PROPHECY

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pando ras-Prophecy-Greek-Island- Mystery-ebook/dp/B00V6CWVBW

CALLIE’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ Callies-Christmas-Countdown- Julie-Ryan-ebook/dp/B0188T7H2I

Bio

Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances, thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

Jenna’s Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far and promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles.

In a new venture, Julie’s latest book is a short rom-com called Callie’s Christmas Countdown.

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and dippy cat with half a tail.

You can find Julie on her websites:

Website/blog for book reviews

Blog

Twitter @julieryan18

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Thanks for visiting today, Julie.

Come back next week to read some more opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny


Cornish Romance for St Valentine’s Day?

With St Valentines Day but a few short sleeps away, it’s time to think about buying a little something for that reader in your life. So, how about a little Cornish romance? Not only will it make your loved one smile- it might also warm them up on these chilly winter days.

My first Cornish novel, Abi’s House, was never meant to be a romance. I hadn’t noticed it was until after I’d written it. Yet, within this tale of friendship and self discovery there lies a good old fashioned love story. 

Abi's House_edited-1

Here’s the Abi’s House blurb!!

Newly widowed at barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives-style life that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live.

Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall as a child she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories … maybe even buy a place of her own nearby?

On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, is new to the village. He soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams … but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

Check this out this video about Abi’s House!!-  YouTube link https://youtu.be/VAumWAqsp58

So if your loved one enjoys the Cornish countryside, a touch of romance, a story with twists and turns- and a cute Labrador…then this is the book for you!

You can buy Abi’s House from all good bookshops and via online retailers, including…

Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711175&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-2&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711343&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

The sequel to Abi’s House, Abi’s Neighbour, is also contains a love story- but this time it’s the older generation having all the fun!

Here’s the blurb to Abi’s Neighbour- 

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, Abi’s Neighbour is the PERFECT summer escape.

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Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 


Opening Lines: The Case of the Missing Bride

Today I’m delighted to welcome Carmen Radtke to my place, with the first 500 words from her novel, 

Over to you Carmen…

It started with a conversation in a museum, with an elderly immigrant talking about her voyage as an imported bride.

In an idle moment, I typed a few words into Google, and found a few lines in an old article about a bride transport from Australia to Canada in 1862 that hadn’t gone according to plan.  A story full of possibilities slowly unfolded in my mind. What mattered most to me though was that these girls really existed and deserved to be remembered.

They grew up in Victoria, in Australia, struggling with poverty in a country that was both incredibly modern and yet strictly clinging to the values of the British empire they simply called Home. The few well-to-do, like my heroine Alyssa’s family, had a lifestyle that could have come straight out of Jane Austen’s novels, with balls, country visits and parties. For the poor, and their numbers grew rapidly after the gold rush in 1851 had fizzled out, survival was a never-ending struggle. No wonder that my brides leaped at the chance of marrying well-off men, no matter how far away.

How lucky they must have felt when they boarded the ship, their few possessions stowed carefully in their wooden boxes.

They would spend months at sea and endure storms huddled under deck, or being thrown around like a sack, but they endured it together, and with visions of a good future ahead. Until they disappeared in San Francisco. A Canadian newspaper at the time blamed the Californians for having the brides seduced away with money. I wish I could believe that…

The Case of the Missing Bride is my attempt to honour these women and write a cracking yarn about them. The novel was a finalist in the Malice Domestic competition in a year without a winner and nominated for a CWA Historical Dagger.

Blurb:

When a girl goes missing on board of an ocean liner, only one person is convinced that the disappearance is no accident.

Alyssa has found herself with a group of impoverished girls who are embarking from Australia to Canada in the hope of marriage. As the daughter of a senior official, Alyssa doesn’t share this goal. She hopes to return to England via Canada.

But the girls all share one problem. Their presence on the ship is not known to many of its passengers but their worlds collide when one of the gentlemen discovers them. Then Emma, one of the intended brides, goes missing. Alyssa is convinced the disappearance is no accident and will risk her own life to search for the killer.

What happened to Emma? Is there a murderer on board the ship?

Alyssa is about to discover that there is more to her voyage than she bargained for.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Alyssa Chalmers shifted her weight from one foot to the other. How long could it take to read out 22 names, match them each to a face and tick them off a list? She watched Matron McKenzie’s slow progress. If she kept on at this pace they might all be here by nightfall.

Black sateen rustled as Matron came nearer. “Louisa Jane Sinclair?” A sparrow of a girl curtsied, her brows nearly disappearing into her fair bangs as her eyes grew wide. She shouldn’t be here, Alyssa thought with a pang, she is only a child.

“Where is your box? Nothing missing from the items on your list?” Louisa Jane’s eyes widened more, her pupils two dark disks in the paleness that was her face. She bent down to rummage in the patched cardboard case she carried instead of the regulation wooden box. “Yes, Ma’am,” she finally mumbled. Matron made a note on her list before she called out the next name. “Emma Sayce?”

By the time the pen scratched over the paper for the last time, the train station lay deserted, its outlines barely visible in the gas-lights that illuminated Port Phillip.

Matron clapped her plump hands to get everyone’s attention. “Now listen, girls. No dawdling or gossiping on the way. We shall proceed speedily and as quiet as mice.” She waved her right hand. “Off we go. I’ll be in front, and dear Father Pollock will bring up the rear until he sees us safely off.”

The girls obeyed, trudging in silence towards a new life.

The air smelt of salt, dead seaweed and sadness, Alyssa thought, with the gulls screeching like banshees in the all-enveloping darkness. The sea, so full of promise for a better life and a fresh start by daylight, was nothing but a miserable graveyard at night. She shivered. She must be coming down with something. Otherwise there was no explaining this feeling of doom in someone as sensible as she was.

The girls marched on until Matron came to an abrupt halt. “Ouch,” a girl cried out. “Can’t you watch what you’re doing, you daft cow?”

Matron turned around to confront the speaker. “Be quiet,” she hissed. “And watch your words, girl. I’ll have none of that language, thank you very much – Nellie, isn’t it?”

“What on earth is going on?” a long-suffering voice asked.

“Nothing, Father,” Matron said. “It seems we have arrived. There’s a man waving a lantern over there. Can you make out the name of the ship next to the small barge?”

Father Pollock peered through his spectacles. “I can’t be sure, but it does seem to be made up of two words. Surely you can read it? You’re much closer to it than I am.”

Alyssa suppressed a smile. Matron’s eyesight must be less keen than she might care to admit. The name “Artemis’ Delight” was written in large enough letters to be deciphered, with the gas-lights casting their glow onto the ship’s massive brown hull…

***

Buy the book: myBook.to/MissingBride

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Bio

Carmen has spent most of her life with ink on her fingers. She has worked as a newspaper reporter in Germany and New Zealand, but now has swapped the newsroom for a cramped desk in her spare room in the UK She loves history, travel, animals and has convinced herself that day-dreaming is considered work. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching TV series and films (1930s to 1940s screwball comedies and film noir to blockbusters from the Marvel universe) and planning her next trip, although the cat prefers her to stay home.

She also writes historical fiction as Caron Albright.

Connect with her on twitter: @CarmenRadtke1 or Facebook: Carmen Radtke

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines, Carmen.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 


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