A SEAL NEVER QUITS Sample 2

This time, he slid his arm around her waist. They weren’t running at full speed, so there really wasn’t a need for it. But it brought her a sense of security she wasn’t aware she craved. They were traveling at a leisurely walk, and even though Anya knew she had a thousand things to do when she got back to the clinic, she didn’t complain.

She could feel the muscles of his chest against her back, and her mouth suddenly went dry. The man was incredibly handsome in spite of his often surly attitude. Even beneath his ranch clothes, she could tell he was muscular, but feeling his biceps flex as his arm curled around her, she knew he was even more so than she’d originally thought. And it was hard not to look at him.

His face was just as fierce as he was, with strong, angular lines and a square jaw. His jet–black hair and dark eyes only emphasized his olive skin and full lips. He was a man who knew what he wanted and would stop at nothing to get it—-at least, that was what his expression said every time she looked at him.

The warmth of the morning sun beat down on her, and she found herself relaxing deeper and deeper into his embrace. His arm tightened around her waist, and she smiled. The next thing she knew, his lips were against her skin, murmuring softly. Then she felt a small kiss behind her ear, and she slowly let her head fall to the side as he layered kisses down her neck. Heat built within her lower belly, and she didn’t want it to ever stop.

“I’d love to stay like this all day, but I think the horse might get a bit irritated with us,” he whispered in a husky voice against her ear.

“Mmm,” she replied, wanting more. His arm tightened around her gently, then began to release her, and her eyes opened slowly. They were back at the ranch house, sitting atop the horse near her truck. She had been asleep! Had it all just been a dream? A sweet, wonderful dream? “Oh!” she said, sitting upright, unaware she’d grabbed ahold of his forearm. “I’m so sorry I fell asleep.”

“I’m not,” he said in a deep, rumbling voice, sending vibrations through her chest, and her nipples tightened in response. The man exuded everything masculine and sexual, from the way he moved to the way he spoke. And she was practically draping herself all over him. Reluctantly, she peeled herself out of his warm embrace and instantly felt cold and lonely.

He dismounted quickly and pulled her down gently, letting her body slide down his. She felt him inch by agonizing inch until her feet were firmly on the ground. His cologne was intoxicating—-a warm, heady aroma of spices, leather, horses, and the delicious scent of man.

She needed to control her wayward mind. She had so many things to do, and standing here fantasizing in the arms of this man wasn’t going to get anything accomplished.

He reached up slowly, as though approaching a skittish young filly, stroked some of her unruly hair out of her face, and hooked it behind her ear. “Where do you go from here?” he asked softly.

“I leave from here to the clinic. We don’t open for another hour, so at least I’ll be able to get some paperwork done and freshen up a bit. That is, so long as there isn’t another call for a calf birth.”

“You look practically dead on your feet as it is.” Had his words not been framed by his expression of concern, she would have been offended. She gave him an amused shrug of her shoulders.

“I get to sleep when all the calves are born.”

“That could be weeks!” When all she did was shrug once more, he frowned deeply and slid his arm around her waist again in a protective gesture.

“Come inside.” He said it as if it were a command, but she decided it was a request, and her heart began to beat wildly in her chest. This man was…dangerous. She could feel it in the leashed power of his muscles, see it in the mystery stirring deep in his dark eyes, and knew it from the way she could sense he hadn’t been completely honest with her about his past. But somehow, deep inside, she believed he wasn’t a danger to her. The way he looked at her, the way he had so carefully removed the thorns from her, the way he wanted to protect her now… He wouldn’t hurt her.

She nodded, and he kept his arm around her waist as he led the horse to the patch of green grass near the house. He released her only long enough to tether the horse, then returned to wrap his arm about her, holding her against his side. It felt natural, as if that were where it belonged. She wondered if he could feel her racing pulse.

A wave of cool air washed over her as she stepped into the magnificent foyer of the home, and she smelled the scent of bacon wafting about the house. She heard men talking and laughing boisterously, and hesitated. Stryker’s arm tightened around her. She looked up at him, suddenly filled with doubt. “I…I really should go back to the clinic. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“You aren’t intruding. I invited you in, remember?” His voice was still a low rumble, and it was making her insides quiver. What was it about this man? She had never felt this way before. Maybe she was getting sick.

She drew a deep breath and nodded again, and he smiled down at her. Suddenly she didn’t care about the other men in the house, didn’t care about her thundering heart or the butterflies low in her stomach, because she thought she was going to melt into a giant puddle on the floor. “You should do that more often,” she said softly.

“Do what?”

“This,” she whispered, and before she could think better of it, her fingers lightly traced his smiling lips. His eyes darkened, and the smile slowly slipped from his face.

“You’re playing with fire, bella.” His reply was soft and almost seemed to caress her.

World Building

Love this tunnel book!  (what a great project to do with an old book! and add some more details)

Whether creating a brilliant sci-fi/fantasy realm or a community in a real city/town, when you are writing a novel you are building your own unique world for your characters. Sure, there may be streets, restaurants, major landmarks, and more that actually exist in our current world, but the way your characters view, use and interact with these places is all part of your world-building.

Today I’d like to share with you things I keep in mind as I write, and share with you some of the key components I relied on when building the world for my newest series, Texas Navy SEALs. For all of the Alice in Wonderland fans, imagine we’re about to go down the rabbit hole. For all of the Harry Potter fans, imagine we’re about to experience Apparition.

From the moment you open a new book (or click it open for ebooks!), you enter a world created in the mind of the author. The author, through description, dialogue, and imagery, is inviting you to step into this world and make yourself at home. What makes that happen, though? If the author does their work proud, you’ll never even realize you’ve stepped out of your current state-of-mind–bills to pay, kids to tend to, oodles of responsibilities–and into the fictional state.

Using the senses is the best way to establish what the fictional world is like: sights, sounds, smells, touch, and taste. I’ll use a paragraph from my book A SEAL ALWAYS WINS, coming out February 25th, 2020, to share this experience.

The late afternoon hum of bugs surrounded them in the hot Texas sun, and she flashed him one of her brightest smiles. “Good. Last one to get there is a rotten egg.” She laughed at his shout of surprise, leaning over her horse’s neck and urging it forward. The wind whipped across her sweat-dampened face, carrying the scent of dust and mesquite. She moved farther forward over the horse’s withers, the coarse mane brushing against her skin.

Ideally you’ve been transported to this scene and can feel the heat of the sun on your skin, hear the bugs, smell the dust and mesquite along with other sensations. But world-building is far more than just one scene. The author must build the principles that make this world function. My Texas Navy SEALs world functions on the principles that the SEALs must maintain an undercover operation, there is evil in the form of terrorists they must identify and stop, they must form connections in the small South Texas community they live near, and they must embody the SEAL Creed and Ethos through their actions and choices.

In addition, the town, which happens to be the real town of Hebbronville, Texas, needs to follow the patterns and activities small Texas towns are known for to give a base-line of reality. Even in the most outer reaches of sci-fi you will find elements tied to our reality to help us form a connection with the author’s fictional world. If everything in the fictional world is completely foreign to us, we have a hard time finding a way to identify with the characters.

Speaking of characters–they are the real vessels to bring us into the fictional world. What they see, feel, smell, taste and hear can make the experience extremely vivid. I could write a couple paragraphs describing the layout of the ranch where my SEALs operate undercover, but Stryker, the leader of the SEAL team and hero of the first book, A SEAL NEVER QUITS coming out July 30th, thinking about how he needs to repair the corrals with their broken rails because of years of neglect and the SEAL team talking about their new home with animated humor really brings their world to life. In A SEAL ALWAYS WINS you get to experience the custom training grounds they’ve built on the massive ranch through their day-to-day drills to keep their skills sharp.

World building is complex and takes a lot of thought and effort, even if you are writing a contemporary novel set in your hometown you know like the back of your hand. An author must create a world so vivid the reader never wants to leave. Or, better yet, the reader wants to visit the world again to learn what happens to other characters in the world they’ve built. My Texas Navy SEALs started out with six SEALs, but it looks like it may conclude with eight or more. Each SEAL adds an extra element to the world I’ve built, making it that much more intriguing for a reader to return to uncover more (at least, that’s what the reviews have been saying so far!).

If you are an author, have fun building your world. It’s exciting and scary at the same time, because you have to invent some of the laws and parameters it abides by. If you are a reader, may you experience the ultimate joy of a great novel and become immersed in a world you love.

Tips to Research Success!

Image result for research picture

Let’s face it–coming up with an awesome story with great characterization, strong plot, and perfect setting put you on the right path to write a book that grabs people’s interest. Every book, whether it is Historical, Contemporary, Fantasy, or Sci-fi requires detailed research. 

I’m sure some of you reading this right now might be thinking “yeah, but I’m going to write a fantasy book in a world that doesn’t exist except in my mind, so why do I need to do any research?” Fantasy books transport us to an alternate reality, but an author of incredible Fantasy knows there are always elements of reality mixed in to keep us grounded. On top of that, it’s best to research how to build your world, and even study Fantasy Writing tutorials to help with creatures and sorcery (if you have that in your book).

I started my writing career with Texas History. My Publisher at one point said I could probably earn a Master’s degree because of the depth of knowledge on Texas History I had gained after the extensive research I conducted. Now I write Contemporary Romantic Suspense about Navy SEALs. For every single book, I’ve had to do a crazy amount of research, and, in this post, I’m going to share with you HOW I approach research.

  1. Know your subject matter. For my historical books, I had to become intimately aware of the forming of the Texican rebellion, the Mexican Army, the terrain of the land, clothing of the time period, speech patterns, and much, much more. So before I even started researching, I made a list of all the things I needed to know. With my SEAL novels, I’ve had to learn about Naval procedures, SEAL ranks, jargon, military equipment, and details about the crimes they were attacking, i.e. drug cartels, human trafficking, etc. Again, I began with a list.
  2. Google has a ton of info. Take everything with a grain of salt, though. Today anybody and everybody can post articles about a subject matter and the information is biased by their opinion or is just altogether false. Go through the articles, and, if there are sources cited in the article, follow those sources. Frequently, my research online led me to books with first-account information with true details, facts, and personal information invaluable to adding the “it” factor to your book.
  3. The Library is your friend. My local library knows me on first name basis and has helped me more times than I can count. If they don’t have a book you’re looking for, they are usually tied into a network and can get the book shipped to your library. Again, look at the sources in the book. It will lead you to even more information than you anticipated!
  4. Interviewing historians or people in the occupations you write about is invaluable. I had the advantage of friends in the Navy eager to talk to me about the way things work, different ranks, and even directed me to Facebook pages where Navy Sailors enjoy ragging on each other. I also got the opportunity to visit with SEALs and I have a notebook full of notes.
  5. Visit the location of your book if at all possible. My newest series is set in South Texas, and my family loaded up and took a road trip exploring the entire area, including the border crossings, so I could have pictures to reference. On top of that, we stumbled upon the perfect little town to be the setting for my series. I met with locals, talked to them about the area, and all of it has been incorporated into the series.
  6. Finally, check and double check! One of the SEALs I got the chance to visit with gave an incorrect acronym for an explosive tape the SEALs use when breaching an area. It wasn’t until I had taken all the info from this SEAL and did an extensive Google on everything he had told me that I discovered he had mixed acronyms for two different types of explosives. Not THAT big of a deal, but if someone familiar with military terms read that in my books, I would DEFINITELY hear about it in my reviews.

Research should be fun. Realize that, even if you aren’t writing a Fantasy, you’re still creating YOUR unique world full of characters and motives and goals. How exciting for you! With every book I write, I create a binder to contain my research, and I have a ton of binders now! Enjoy creating your Novel and embrace the beauty of research!

A SEAL Never Quits Sneak Peek

Calving season had arrived. Anya felt like she belonged in some episode of The Walking Dead as she pulled around the back of the clinic. The past two nights she’d been out on call. One of the ranchers had called in time, and she was able to save both the mama and the calf. The other had called too late. Even though she had spent hours trying, she could only save the calf—-the mama had already lost too much blood.

Elena had been checking on her daily, knowing this was the hardest time of the year for her. She stopped by multiple times with a packed lunch or dinner, something Anya could take with her if she had to race out the door for another emergency call. She didn’t know what she would do without Elena. They had become best friends while at Texas A&M and been inseparable since.

One of the benefits of living at the clinic was that she was always ready for what might come at her and the bed was only a room away when she needed her sleep. The downside was…she lived at her clinic.

She unlocked the back door and went into her room, ready to rinse off and get into fresh clothes and, if she was lucky, maybe get a half hour or so of sleep. She pressed her head to the cold tile in the shower when her phone began to buzz on the sink counter. No rest for the weary.

She hastily turned off the water and grabbed a towel and quickly dried her hands, snatching up the phone before it could go to voicemail. “Dr. Gutierrez,” she said out of habit.

There was a pause on the other end of the line, then: “Anya?”

Stryker. She would recognize the husky baritone of his voice even in a loud room. Just the sound caused her heart to jump. It had been nearly a week since she’d seen him. She’d been too busy to check on his cattle as she’d planned. But part of her was also embarrassed to see him again after her panic attack. No one had ever witnessed one, and she felt betrayed by her own mind for giving up her secrets.

“Yes?” she replied, suddenly anxious. Most calf births happened overnight. It was nearly six in the morning. Something must’ve gone wrong.

“Anya, one of the heifers, one that you were concerned about because her hips are narrow… She’s been in hard labor for close to four hours.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes or less.”

True to her word, less than twenty–five minutes later, Anya punched the code into the gate and watched the gates open with agonizing slowness. She drove up to the house at a breakneck speed and pulled a medical bag from the passenger seat. She was heading for the barn when a sharp whistle drew her attention. She turned to see Stryker riding up to her on one of their workhorses.

“She’s out in the field,” he said and extended an arm down to her.

Anya hesitated only a split second before reaching up and grabbing his forearm. The direct skin–to–skin contact was jarring.

She looked up into his dark eyes and saw something flash. Was it possible he was feeling the same thing? But whatever had been in his eyes disappeared almost instantly as he lifted her quickly, setting her in front of him in the saddle. He spun the horse around and spurred it into a gallop. Anya reached for the horn of the saddle, but suddenly Stryker’s thick arms were around her, holding the reins while securing her in a tight embrace.

Anya drew in a deep breath and was struck by the smell of horse, leather, and man. She felt a little light-headed as she clutched tightly to her medical bag. They had gone about a quarter of a mile when Stryker finally pulled the horse to a stop. Anya could hear the weak cries of the heifer, but couldn’t move until Stryker did. Fortunately, he was in as much of a rush as she was, and he dismounted quickly, then pulled her from the horse and set her firmly on the ground.

She shook off the goosebumps that had pimpled along her skin and hurried in the direction she’d heard the cow. Stryker stayed close to her, and she began to fire off questions. “As of now, how many hours has she been in labor?”

“Hard to say when her first labor pains began. But it’s been close to four and a half hours since she really began bearing down as if she was ready to give birth.”

She cast him a sideways glance. “And you’re just now calling me?”

He frowned. “She seemed to be progressing just fine, same as the others. And we know that it usually takes longer for a first–time mama. But then she started thrashing around and seemed to be in a lot of discomfort. More so than would be considered normal. She took to ground right about the time I called you.”

Anya was already yanking on her long, latex gloves as they rounded a large mesquite shrub and the heifer came into view. It was obvious she was in the middle of labor as her body strained against another contraction and she let out her distressed cry.

“Try to keep her calm while I check her,” Anya said softly, trying not to frighten the animal.

Stryker went to do as she asked, placing a knee on the heifer’s neck, preventing her from lunging to her feet. Anya did a quick examination, and it was as she feared. The amniotic sac had already burst. The cow’s hips were very narrow, almost too narrow for the calf’s head and feet to fit through. Almost.

“I need to twist the calf.” She looked up at Stryker, and he was watching her intently.

“Okay. So what do you need from me?”

Anya focused on the task at hand. “Hold her like you are, but brace yourself. She’s going to try to move.”

Stryker frowned at her a little deeper, then braced himself. Anya reached into the heifer’s birth canal and felt the head of the calf. There was a very high percentage it was going to be stillborn, depending on how long the calf had been without the amniotic sac to protect it. Carefully, she turned the calf’s head, then reached for the legs that were already pointed in the right direction of the birth canal.

She waited until she felt the start of a contraction by the tightening of the heifer’s muscles, then pulled hard on the calf’s legs. The next contraction almost immediately followed, and the heifer tried desperately to push. Suddenly there was a give in the calf, and the heifer pushed again—-hard.

The calf came out so quickly, Anya was propelled backwards into the mesquite bush. She felt thorns dig into her flesh and winced at the burning, stabbing pain, knowing they were going to hurt like hell when she pulled them out. It hurt like hell already. She drew in a deep breath to keep from crying out at the fiery ache.

“Let her up,” she said to Stryker, and he lifted his knee from the heifer’s neck. Instantly she propped herself up on the ground, staring at the unmoving object she’d given birth to. With a few grunts, she went to a standing position on trembling legs and began to lick the slickened calf.

A minute passed by, and Anya grew anxious that the calf wasn’t moving. She couldn’t lose two in one night… But as faint streamers of light appeared in the sky, she realized it was no longer night. A new day had dawned.

“I should’ve called you sooner. Thanks for trying…”

“Shh!” Anya exclaimed, wincing as she extracted herself from the mesquite bush. The calf was moving.

***

“Have you had a lot of calls this week?”

“Ouch! Yes. It has been busy.”

“Have all the calls been as bad as mine?”

“No, and yours wasn’t so bad. If you had waited much longer, it would have. I lost a heifer last night because the rancher waited far too long. It breaks my heart every time I lose one of my animals.” She drew in an audible sharp breath.

“Sorry. I can’t believe how many of these you have in you! You do realize that you’ll probably have a rather painful reaction to this?”

“Trust me, I’m already painfully aware of everything involving these damned thorns right now.” Anya stood leaning against the horse they had ridden out to the pasture, her eyes squeezed closed against the pain as Stryker removed each agonizing thorn one by one. He wished he could take the pain away from her and take it upon himself. Fortunately, her jeans had protected her from some of the smaller, more difficult thorns, but several of the long thorns had penetrated the thick denim and would certainly leave sores.

“This is my fault,” he said with sincerity.

A smile touched Anya’s face. “If you knew all the stuff I’ve fallen into over the years, you would realize this is nothing. I once fell into a cactus. So this is definitely not the worst.” She hissed out her breath through her teeth when he pulled out a thorn that was deeply embedded in her upper thigh. Because of the way the thorns had gone in, it was far easier to pull them out with her jeans still on, much to his disappointment. The thorns had literally pinned her jeans to her body.

His hands roamed over her back, feeling for any additional thorns he might have missed. Then his hands moved lower, and he could feel the tension in her body. He wanted her to trust him completely. It was a thought that suddenly disturbed him. Why did he want her to trust him? What was it about her that had him dreaming about her, thinking about her as he went about his work, even looking forward to the next time she would come to the ranch? It’s because she challenges you in a way no one else ever has. She makes you want to be a better man.

“You have some more…” His hands continued to trail over the backs of her thighs.

“Believe me, I know. I can feel every single one of them.”

He frowned, and she turned her head to look at him. He was pulled into her light hazel eyes. It seemed as if there were a thousand colors in those eyes. She gave him one of her smiles that he’d wondered if he would ever see again. The soft, carefree smile that had intrigued him from the moment he met her.

“You’ve got this, tough guy. Don’t go fainting on me now.”

He could feel the corner of his mouth pulling into a smile. “I was feeling a bit woozy there for a second. Would you revive me if I passed out?”

“Not a chance. I’d finish pulling out the thorns myself and ride your horse back to the ranch. You could walk back once you came to.”

Stryker was dumbfounded for a moment, unsure how to respond to her comment. Then she chuckled. He shook his head. “Woman, you have thorns sticking out of your ass, and you’re in the mood to joke?”

Still laughing softly, she replied, “Who says I’m joking?”

Stryker plucked out one of the thorns, and she drew in a sharp breath. “Because I know you, and you could never be so cruel.”

“You think you know me.”

His mind flashed back to that horrible night when she’d tried to get out of the truck. He could still feel the tug on his arm when he knew she’d fallen. She had risked serious harm just to get away from his truck, from her nightmares, from him.

He kneeled and his eyes were level with her ass. If it wasn’t for the thorns sticking out, he would be mesmerized by its perfect heart shape. She was a small woman, and many would probably say she was too thin. But he recognized her strength and her muscle and knew she wasn’t thin. She was lean, like a well–trained athlete. He plucked the last thorn loose, and he lightly ran his hands over her ass, checking to make sure there weren’t any that he missed.

Damn, he was getting hard just touching her! But he had another motive as he was kneeling there. Quickly, he leaned down and lifted up the leg of her jeans, and there was the evidence of road rash he had suspected.

He stood and turned her to face him. “You did get hurt that night. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Seriously? You really want to rehash that night again?” Her eyes held shock and…pain.

He should have realized the subject would be a delicate one for her. He wanted to rewind and take back his words. “I don’t mean to bring up old feelings. What you went through was terrible. I just can’t believe you tried to jump from a moving truck.”

“I know,” she whispered.

“At first I thought it was something I’d said, or done. But then… Wait, what?”

“I said, I know. I know what you were trying to do. But that doesn’t make it any easier to relive my embarrassment. I don’t want anyone to know I had a panic attack. Can we just forget it ever happened?”

Why can’t I let this go? I’ve just got to make it right. She’s still hurting.“No.” His answer made her gaze fly up to his in confusion.

“I thought you would want to move forward as if it never happened, so to speak.” Anya watched him, her brow furrowed in puzzlement.

“Having a panic attack is hardly anything to be ashamed of. In fact, it makes you a little more—-well, real. You were coming across a little too perfect to be human.” He smiled when her lips twitched. “I want you to trust me. I want you to feel like you can be yourself around me.” I want you to like me again. I want to be blessed with those smiles again. I want to feel your sweet body pressed against mine again. I want you to touch me again. I want you.

The realization was jarring. He wanted her. He wanted her to be his and only his. The idea of another man receiving the same attention brought up an unexpected jealousy. He didn’t want to be feeling these things for a woman. And yet, this woman…

“I would like that too,” Anya said softly.

Had she been reading his mind? Was she saying… No, wait, she was replying to his earlier comment. “So you 
think we can go back to the way things were?” He wanted to put his hands on her waist. He wanted to kiss her.

“Yes. I just… I  don’t know how to explain it. You’re the first person ever to see me have a panic attack. You won’t tell anyone about it, will you?”

He smiled down at her. “Not a soul. Well, you’re finally thorn–free. We can head back now.”

She smiled up at him, and he quickly mounted the horse, then offered his hand down to her. She grabbed ahold of his forearm, and he lifted her up and in front of him again. She leaned back against him and settled in comfortably. Which meant her ass was nestled directly against his crotch. He was in trouble.

Texas Navy SEALs

I’m a huge fan of Julie Ann Walker’s books and was overjoyed this morning when I received an email from my Editor with a couple of notes Julie wrote about my new book, A SEAL Never Quits! “Fierce, fast, and full of alpha hero goodness. More, please!” Julie wrote. I’m so excited! Seven weeks from today it’s going to be available. It’s available for preorder now.

https://www.amazon.com/SEAL-Never-Quits-Texas-SEALs-ebook/dp/B07NVVHJP5/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=A+SEAL+Never+Quits&qid=1560318298&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Beautiful Country

Last night we were serenaded by coyotes yipping and yapping, bulls calling to the heifers in heat in a different pasture, and the hum and buzz of summer insects. Absolutely love my #ranchlife in South Texas!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is not about bar-b-ques and the beginning of summer. It is a chance for us to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice as soldiers. Please take a moment to remember the lives that have been lost in the pursuit of freedom and justice for all. To our fallen soliders–we will never forget.

A SEAL Never Quits

You can pre-order A SEAL Never Quits (officially available July 30th, 2019) now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and Wal-mart. So exciting! Here’s the back cover: First in a thrilling romantic suspense series featuring a band of do-or-die Navy SEALs in Texas
A SEAL is ready for anything…except losing his heart…
Lieutenant Amador “Stryker” Salas and his tight-knit Navy SEAL team are undercover on a Texas ranch and tasked with covert ops across the border. It’s an assignment that requires all their skills, all their secrets, and all their know-how. 
Anya Gutierrez, the local veterinarian, has been serving the ranch for years. She loves the animals and ranching life, and Stryker finds her a breath of fresh air in his otherwise rigidly disciplined existence.
When Anya gets caught in the crosshairs of a mission gone sideways, Stryker must tell her the truth about who he really is, risking everything to keep her out of harm’s way, even if it destroys him…

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