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Spotlight

May 14, 2011
Amazon Kindle eBook
eISBN: B0052ENA74
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e-book
Fictionwise March 2008
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August 2001
Forge Books
ISBN 978-0-812-56158-6
Mass Market Paperback
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July 2000
Forge Books
Hardcover Order from Amazon
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On January 6, 1972, ten-year-old Devin O'Keefe takes part in a peaceful demonstration march through the Catholic ghetto of Bogside, Northern Ireland—never suspecting that the demonstration is doomed to become Bloody Sunday, and that he will watch the British Army kill his brother along with twelve other defenseless marchers. Wounded in the arm himself, Devin vows revenge on his British oppressors—and steps into a cycle of violence that will leave him with a shattered family and an empty heart.

Eighteen years later, Devin has become an earnest rock-n-roller who uses his songs to relate the horrors he's seen to an international audience of millions. His American tour photographer, Fonda Blayne, is falling in love with him—but she has no idea that his brooding silences may be rooted in a very real danger. Devin hopes that he's left the violence of his homeland in the past—but some very powerful and deadly forces are hoping to take advantage of his life in the spotlight...

Reviews

"...an exciting contemporary tale that uses music and romance as a means to provide insight into the complex Northern Ireland issues. The story line is enjoyable and the lead couple is a dynamic pair. The support cast provides focus to how complicated the issues in Northern Ireland really are. With this tale and BORDER CROSSINGS, the SPOTLIGHT is sure to fall on Carole Bellacera." -- Harriet Klausner, UNDER THE COVERS, Affaire De Coeur

"...Bellacera's riveting and romantic suspense shows the seamier side of the fight for Northern Irish independence, and the toll that has been taken on its people." -- Patty Engelmann

"...at once sensuously romantic and edge-of-the-seat suspenseful, this is a book to savor." --Maudeen Wachsmith for Romancing the Celtic Soul

"Carole Bellacera, author of last years' award winning novel BORDER CROSSINGS, a gripping novel about terror, death, hope and love in Northern Ireland, has done it again! ...an excellent thought-provoker." -- Peg Gaabo, for the IRISH CONNECTION NEWSPAPER

"This beautiful and poignant tale of trauma and triumph is written with such style I found myself held captive with each word. SPOTLIGHT is an engrossing tale of horrifying proportion and bittersweet victory. Carole Bellacera has an impeccable talent as a story-teller with writing skills to match." --Karen Williams, Rhapsody Magazine, July 2000

"Rarely has a book about the pop music scene grabbed me from the prologue and held me so totally immersed through the epilogue...This is one wonderful, awesome book...Ms. Bellacera showcases her wonderful skills as a writer with her dialogue, plotline, and characters. This author's talent is extraordinary and her obvious love of the Irish puts her storytelling on a par with the likes of Nora Roberts." --Betty Cox, Writers Club Romance Group on AOL

"Last year, Carole Bellacera proved that she was a talent to watch. Now she is back in a big way, with another timely, emotional and thought provoking story. Ireland's troubled history plays a key role in this totally gripping drama." --Jill Smith, Romantic Times Top Pick, 4 1/2 stars

"This is a very romantic story which is suspenseful as well. I highly recommend this book! It is well worth paying the hardcover price." --Maudeen Wachsmith @ READ@egroups.com

Excerpt

Prologue

January 30, 1972
Derry, Northern Ireland

Rain misted the street as ten-year-old Devin O'Keefe pushed his way through the throng.  In his right hand he carried an unwieldy sign that had been clumsily painted with five words: No Internment.  Release Conor O'Keefe.   It was a sentiment he believed with all his young heart, but he was tired and the sign had grown heavy since he'd joined the anti-internment march several kilometers out of town.  They'd reached the middle of the Bogside, the Catholic ghetto where no sane Protestant dared venture for fear of becoming a target in the gun-sights of the provisional Irish Republican Army.

As the marchers swept past the expressionless British soldiers dressed in battle fatigues and armed with Enfields, a new spirit of camaraderie seemed to pass through the crowd.  Devin felt it.  It was like an invisible current of electricity surging from one marcher to the next.  Oh, how proud Da would be if he could see me now.

But his father wouldn't be seeing any of this.  He'd been lifted by the Brits five months ago and locked up in the H-Blocks, the gaol for political prisoners.

Along both sides of the road, Irish Catholics stood in the rain and cheered the crowd, some of them joining the march.  Even priests and nuns were among the throng, many of them carrying banners like Devin's.  A few faces along the roadside were implacable, some apprehensive, but most were jubilant.  In America, Martin Luther King had gathered blacks and whites alike to march upon Washington.  Now, the Irish Catholics were doing the same, marching to Derry to win freedom for the oppressed.

Devin stood on tiptoe, searching the crowd for his brother, Glen, and his friend, Pearse.  His sign brushed a matronly woman's beehive; she glowered at him.  "Watch where you be goin', laddie."  She smelled of cheap perfume and sour body odor.

"Sorry, mum.  Excuse me, I must get through."   He'd spied the black head of Glen up ahead.  "Wait up, Glen!"   Eagerly, he jostled his way through the crowd.  His sixteen-year-old brother hadn't wanted him to tag along today, but Devin was determined to be a part of this historical march for freedom and justice.  Stay home with his mum and sisters?   No bloody way.

"Glen!"

At the sound of his name, the tall slender teenager turned.   A pained expression crossed his face when he saw Devin.  "Jaysus, Devin.   Now, didn't I tell you to stay home?"

Next to him, Pearse laughed.  "Since when does Devy listen to you?"

Devin brushed past the last of the marchers to reach him.   "Bugger you,"  he said, grinning up at him.   "I came anyway."

Glen's brown eyes glimmered with worry.   "You hard-headed little imp.  Can you never do as I tell you?  There could be trouble here today."

Devin shifted the heavy sign to his left hand and held it higher.   "I have to do my part for Da.  You know that.  Sure, maybe this will make the Brits release him.  And all the other prisoners, as well."

Pearse nudged Glen.   "Ah, give the little squirt a break, Glennie.  Sure, his heart's in the right place."

Glen stared at his little brother for a moment, then his eyes softened.  His hand fastened on the boy's arm.  "All right.  Stay with us, then.  But don't be doin' anything foolish."

Devin grinned.  He knew Glen didn't really mind that he'd come.  After all, it was for Da.

Glen gave him a sidelong glance.  "I thought by leaving you the guitar, it would keep you busy for a time."

"It did.  I made up a new song."  Devin threw him a teasing grin.  "It's about Rosalie."  He waited for the blush to spread over his brother's cheeks and when it did, he laughed.  "Ah, she is a nice piece of crumpet, isn't she, now?"

Pearse laughed, shooting a knowing look at Glen.  "She is, that!"

Glen glared at Devin.  "Make up all the songs you'd like about Rosalie O'Connor.  It's nothing to me.  Anyway, what made you leave my guitar and come join the march?"

Just as Devin opened his mouth to answer, the peaceful Sunday afternoon exploded in chaos.  Gunfire.  Devin spun in the direction it came from, his eyes searching for its source. But before he could see anything, Glen--or someone--shoved him hard in the middle of his back.  He fell to the ground, his face and hands grinding into the pavement.  Terrified screams erupted around him.  Devin tried to move, but his brother held him securely to the ground.  Glen's savage, suddenly adult-like voice growled into his ear.   "Bloody hell!  Keep your head down, Devin."

Devin obeyed.  Seconds later, he heard a dull thump and felt Glen flinch.  A soft sigh whispered from his brother's lips, just inches from Devin's ear.  Devin's bowels tightened as an ice-cold fear ate its way through his insides.   He knew what it meant.

"No!"  With renewed strength, he struggled up.   Glen's limp body rolled away.  His lifeless eyes stared at Devin, still showing the surprise he must've felt as the bullet entered his head just above the right temple.  For a moment, Devin felt weightless, as if his body hovered above the still form of his brother, watching with a detached sort of curiosity.  Then reaction set in.  It was as if a leaden pipe had plowed a hole through his stomach.   He gasped for breath, reaching a shaking hand toward the ominous trickle of blood oozing from Glen's wound.

"Glennie.  Jaysus, Glen."  Devin crouched on his knees, his hands touching Glen's face, brushing his black hair away from his forehead.   His skin was still warm.  He was still alive, wasn't he?  Nothing could happen that fast, could it?  "Blessed Mary, Mother of God..." His voice broke.  He couldn't go on.  Devin bit his trembling bottom lip and leaned in to his brother.  "I'll get help for ya.  Just hang on, Glen.  Ya got to."

Devin scrambled to his feet, eyes darting frantically.   "Help me!  Pearse!  Glen's been hit!"

His voice was lost in the swirling vortex of activity surrounding him.  Desperately, he peered around.  Where was Pearse?  Wasn't there someone who could help him?

But there wasn't.  All around him, the marchers huddled on the ground, cowering from bullets still whizzing through the air.  He didn't see Pearse anywhere.  Had he been hit, too? Amid the hysterical screams, Devin heard someone murmuring the Lord's Prayer.

A hand grabbed his ankle.  "Help me..."

Devin looked down.  It was the woman he'd bumped against only minutes before; her beehive was now matted with blood.  Everywhere he looked, he saw blood.  Even the air was rank with it.

"Devin!  Get down!"

Blankly, he turned to look in the direction of the panicked voice.  Pearse stumbled toward him, motioning frantically, but Devin could only stare at him in numbed confusion. Blood covered the older boy's jeans and black shirt in paint-like splotches.

A hot-white fire speared Devin's upper left arm.  In slow motion, he felt himself falling.  He could not protect himself from the impact with the concrete; it scraped his cheek, imbedding bits of dirt and gravel under his skin.   Another searing pain shot through his nose, driving needle-points into his skull.   But it was nothing compared to the agony in his arm. Groaning, he lifted his head and saw blood from his smashed nose dripping onto the street. He sat up, shaking his head groggily.  Almost immediately, everything dimmed; he slumped to the ground.  His hand moved to the painful left arm and came back covered with blood. In amazement, he gazed at the crimson liquid.  So much blood.  Funny, Glen hadn't bled like this.  There had been only that one little round hole.

His head swam.  In the distance, he heard the sing-song whine of a siren growing closer.  The rain fell harder now, its cool wetness a balm against his flushed face.  His mind drifted as he stared up into the scudding gray clouds.  The dull throb in his arm faded.

Suddenly Pearse appeared above him, peering down anxiously.   Then he began to pull on his body, dragging him away.  It hurt.  Oh, Lord Jesus, it hurt.  Finally, mercifully, Pearse stopped tugging on him and knelt down at his side.  He ripped at his shirt and quickly tied a strip of cloth around Devin's bleeding wound.  A black arm band, thought Devin.  Did Pearse know about Glen, then?

Tears welled in his eyes.  "They killed him, Pearse.   They killed Glen,"  he whispered. "Why are they shooting at us, Pearse?"

"Hush, now.  Save your strength.  You're still losing blood."

It was true.  His vision blurred, and Pearse's voice faded in and out.  Devin bit his lip so hard he tasted blood.  He couldn't pass out now.  He had to make his brother's friend understand.

"Pearse, please.  I..."  He grasped the older boy's hand, hot tears spilling down his face.

"What is it, Dev?"  Pearse cradled him, bewildered tears in his blue eyes.  His image wavered, growing close and then fading away.

Devin felt the curtain of darkness close around him.  No.   He wouldn't give in.  Not until he had the chance to make Pearse understand.   Despite the pain that sliced through to his very fingertips, he struggled up onto his elbow so his weakened voice could be heard. "Pearse, I don't care if I burn in hell,"  he whispered.  "I'm going to make those bastards pay for what they did to Glen!" ...

 

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