Tuesday, August 11, 2020

#GIVEAWAY Showcase Carlos Crosses the Line by Edward D Webster

Today I'm excited to bring you a showcase of Carlos Crosses the Line by Edward D Webster about Immigration, Temptation and Betrayal in the 1960s. In addition I'm so pleased to announce that Edward's publicist Author/Guide is sponsoring a #Giveaway see below for details.

Publisher: Casa de los Sueños Publishing

Release Date: 8-04-2020

Buy It: Amazon/B&N
IndieBound - Be sure and support your local bookstores during this trying time.


Carlos Montoya crossed one line by forsaking his culture’s unquestioning faith. He leapt past another, as he entered California illegally during the free-love, irreligious 1960s.
There, three women tempted him to abandon more of his limits.
One sought to comfort him.
One used him against her husband—his employer—in marital combat.
One demanded everything.
That summer of 1968, he fled California, falsely accused, beaten, and terrified.
Twenty-six years later, in Michoacán Mexico, the beautiful Lilia Gomez arrives on Carlos’s doorstep, challenging him to recall those days and to question his old transgressions. And lurking in his background, what must never be revealed, is the major crime that haunts his past.

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Carlos Crosses the Line

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Read an excerpt:


Julie Booker, May 1968, outside Delano, California

Goddamn it.
Julie drove as fast as her headlights would allow along the deserted two-lane road. Where was the friggin mailbox?
Shed screwed up, and now theyd taken Carlos.
Goddamn it.
The bartender had said to take a dirt road just past a big white mailbox …. There.
A beige pickup was coming out of the road. She slammed the brakes, staring into the other vehicle, hoping it would be them, hoping he was okay. No—some other man inside. She let the truck pull out, swung the Camaro to the right, and hit the accelerator.
Back at the bar, shed been overwhelmed. Hadnt expected The Bastard to show up, hadnt imagined hed come stomping in with a deputy sheriff in full uniform, the two of them like a couple of cowboys. Theyd yanked Carlos from his chair and shouted, Come with us, you wetback scum, as they dragged him to the exit.
The Bastard must have followed her there; that was the only way he could have found Carlos. Her fault!
She had watched like a helpless fool as they took him, watched alongwithadozenotherbarpatrons. Atthedoor, thedeputyturned


back and called out, Dont worry, folks. This mans a thief who needs setting straight. But anyone could have seen the brutal way he had Carloss arm bent up behind him, his dear mouth twisted in pain.
By the time shed recovered, they were gone. And her only clue was what the deputy said next: After we have a little talk well just take him home. Which could have been total BS.
If the barmans directions were right, Carloss place should be coming up. A couple of mobile homes out in the fields She spotted the lights of the first one now, through the light evening mist—the one where Carlos lived.
Only one car out front—nothing fancy like The Bastard drove, no sheriff s car either. She skidded to a stop and jumped out of the Camaro
A woman opened the door of the mobile home a crack and peeked out, then threw it wide open. She was tall and voluptuous, with long black hair. She waved her arms and screamed something Julie didnt catch, then covered her face with her hands.
Julie shot up the stairs and tore the womans hands from her face. Are you Maa? she asked in Spanish.
Tears streamed through black smudges under the womans eyes. “They’re going to kill him! Thats what the pig, Hiram Booker, shouted. He came with police, made Carlos kneel in the dirt como un man and smashed his head with a gun.
Julie flinched, releasing her hold on the woman. “Booker is my friggin father. Did Carlos move after that?”
No maybe. Yes. They broke our window and threatened us. I thought they were going to take me, but they just threw Carlos back in the car and drove off.”
Which way?”
María pointed down the road.


Whats out there?”
Cotton fields. Miles of them.
Come with me. Julie gestured to her car. María backed up a step, eyeing her.
Help me save him, Julie demanded.
The woman nodded, but she kept backing inside. With the door almost shut, she spoke through a crack. “That crazy pendejo, Booker. I want nothing to do with him. Please.
Fuck you. Julie ran to her car.
A minute later she was racing down the rutted road, a red reflection in her mirror, billowing dust lit by her taillights. Ahead, the dirt road in the tunnel of the headlights, stubby cotton plants close on either side. No side roads, no sign of where theyd taken Carlos.
What had she done? Carlos had a wife and family in Mexico.
What would happen to them if The Bastard killed him?
A flicker off to the left and a track that ran between the plants. She skidded and turned in. A clearing. A car with headlights shining on two men, no, three; one was kneeling on the ground. The two standing men turned toward herher father and the one in the tan deputys uniform.
She slammed the car into park and jumped out. She saw blood on the kneeling mans face—Carloss dear face.

April 1994, Santa Lucia, California

Julie shook her head to clear it. That memory of the night in the cotton fields had been vivid this time. No question why; shed just sent Lilia to find Carlos in Mexico. Now the memories, good and bad, flooded in. She had to focus on the best times with Carlos


and put the horrors out of her head. But horrors had a way of creeping in, and the sleeping pill shed taken didnt help. Dont dream about it, she told herself. Dream about Lilia meeting Carlos.


For Californians who work hard, pay taxes, and obey the law… I am working to deny state services to illegal immigrants.
Pete Wilson, California Governor, Supporting Proposition 187, 1994

“The governors office is not a place for blamers, its a place for builders. Proposition 187 would punish the children and turn teachers into police officers.
President Bill Clinton, 1994

Carlos Montoya, April 1994, Michoacán State, Mexico

arlos sat on a barstool at the cantina, nursing his second beer, struggling to follow one of his wifes last requests: Youre querido, said Isabel. When Im gone, dont lose
a good man,
yourself in drink like those miserables at the cantina. Miserables was a good description of the regulars here, and Carlos feared becoming like them. So, he only came once a week now—Sunday evenings, to watch the nine oclock sports show on the big TV. Beer and highlights of the weeks fútbol matches distracted him, but, when the news came on, he would disappear into the night.
Finishing his beer, he ordered a shot of tequila.


Sorry to say, but he looked forward to these pathetic Sunday evenings almost as much as he did to the meals he shared with his daughters, Rita and Anita. The rest of the time, when he wasnt talking to his sheep or trimming fruit trees at his ranchito, he watched mindless comedy shows on TV—hed finally given in and bought one. Small comforts to take up the lonely hours. Anything to avoid drinking.
He glimpsed his image in the mirror behind the bar. Well- shaven; he made sure every day. Lonely as hell, but not miserable, not like those first weeks after Isabel died. It took a silent conversation with Isabels picture to convince him. You shame me, querido, shed said.
The bar was dark, the men familiar, but not one of them a friend. His friends, his cousins, were up north this time of year. These men were just loud, happy voices, cheering for one team or another on the TV screen.
The sports show ended, and a preview of the news began, showing a California politician denouncing illegal immigration. “They rob good Americans of jobs and gobble our tax dollars for medical care. Their children suck up space in our classrooms while we pay the tab.
Why didnt Carlos leave? Why stay to see the painful images of protesters marching in California and police with helmets and batons strapped to their belts, glaring at the crowd, like back in the 1960s. Those hateful polia del Norte triggered memories hed pushed down deep.
Dont think about it. Get out.
Carlos gulped the tequila and took his solitary walk four times around town before ambling back to his empty house. A pause outside the front door. No more cantina tonight, he told himself. Keep your dignity. You owe it to Isabel.


In bed, the usual questions nagged at him. Why go to the cantina every week? Was he that desperate to be in the presence of others who were not friends? And why Sunday? That one was easy—his senseless rebellion against God.
Late the next afternoon in his kitchen, Carlos resisted the urge to drink a beer and turned to his breakfast dishes in the sink. He thought of Isabel, quietly singing to herself as she cleaned the dishes. Sweet songs—he wished he could remember them all— but one was the old favorite:
Ay, ay, ay, ay, Canta y no llores
He would sneak up from behind, wrap his arms around her, and she would laugh as he murmured Cielito lindo, mi corazón.” He could hear her even now in his empty kitchen—not her words, but that delighted, carefree laugh.
He ran a sponge over the plate, rinsed the coffee cup, and set them both on the counter. He left the frying pan in the sink. It would soon be cooking his dinner.
A knock on the front door.
As Carlos opened it, his stomach upended. The attractive woman on his front step looked so much like María—the María of all those years ago. But this one in khaki pants and a blousy red shirt was under forty and willowy.
She watched him as she spoke carefully in Spanish, “Excuse me. Im looking for Señor Carlos Montoya.
Youve arrived.
Great!” she said in English. And then Spanish again. Ive come from California, the United States, to find you.
The woman had Mexican blood, no doubt, and her Spanish was fluent, but she couldnt have been raised here. Shed referred to that all-consuming country up north as the United States” instead of the other side, a place you would enter in desperation,


seeking morsels for your family—a place where theyd persecute a man without cause.
Besides those dark brown eyes and long black hair, she didnt resemble María so much, did she? But the idea of María upset him.
He realized he was staring. Why me?”
Julie Booker sent me.
Julie, after all these years! He brightened at the thought and led the woman inside, where he gestured toward the pale green armchair near the door, the one with no coffee stain. Would you like tea? Lemonade? Ice water?”
Rather than sit, she stepped toward the side table, focusing on a photograph of Carlos with Isabel. Lemonade, if its no trouble.He hadnt wanted company, and her arrival reminded him again of those repulsive news stories from the North: helmeted police, angry Latinos. And now she followed him to the kitchen. As he opened the refrigerator, he asked, Did they drive you out of your country, those Anglos in California? They revile us now. I
see pictures on the news.
Theres no problem there, Señor Montoya.
Lying about California. Why?
Carlos poured from the jug, hoping she wouldnt notice his awkward right arm, the fingers that refused to straighten all the way.
He noticed the way the womans eyes scanned his kitchen— judging him for the dirty pan in his sink? Fidgeting a bit, but not doing badly for one whod invited herself into a strange mans home.
Back in the living room, she settled into the armchair, Carlos on the sofa. My name is Lilia Gomez. Im a kindergarten teacher. On weekends, I work for Julie. She gave him an enticing smile,


the way María used to do. Ha! Ive come to Mexico for two weeks to learn from some of your teachers.
“Excellent, Señorita Gomez. Theres much to learn here in Mexico that you wouldnt discover in that land of ignorance up north.
Lilia tensed. Its obvious you dislike the United States. Maybe you have reason. But Julie hopes you dont resent her.
I could never.
Good. She sent this note for you.” Lilia handed him a sealed envelope.
Inside Carlos found a letter written in neat cursive Spanish.

Dear Carlos,
Its been over 25 years since we saw each other, but I think of you every day.
I was sad to hear youd lost Isabel. My heart goes out to you. My life is screwed up now, too. Do you remember those English words I taught you? We really educated each other, didnt we?
Ive sent my friend Lilia to ask a favor of you. But first, please spend some time with her. Im sure youll enjoy her company. Tell her about our days in Santa Lucia back in 1967. The Summer of Love. Remember? As you think back to our passionate Wednesdays, maybe youll forgive the pain I caused, and then you will agree to grant me this favor. Its very important, or I wouldnt ask.

Con mucho cariño, Julie


Carlos seldom thought about the three women whod changed his life all those years ago—avoided the memories intentionally. Now two of them were reaching out: Julie, whose fingertips would have touched this letter, and María, in the dark eyes and delicate hands that delivered it.


ilia held her glass in front of her, the brim obscuring her chin. So, tell me about those days in Santa Lucia.
The North invaded Carloss life every day. Townspeople would speak of a son who crossed the border to work in a factory. He would hear of the way ranchers up there cheated Mexicans out of their wages; of people whod been arrested at the border or even after theyd begun to work in North American cities. Now that despicable proposed law in California and the protests against it. Please. Tell me what Julie wants from me.
She shook her head, black hair brushing her shoulders. I cant. Not yet.
And whats happened to her? Her letter said I cant speak of that.
You say nothing, and yet you ask for ?
Quite a bit. I know. She gave a little smile, those dark eyes coaxing. Its what Julie wants. Tell me what happened between the two of you.
Pretty smile, ugly question. My memories of that place are better left asleep.
Julie told me they treated you badly.He snorted. Its a cruel place.
Theres so much thats good. Im sorry you didnt see it. She paused, and said, Im proud of my country.


Carloss heartbeat kicked up. All right, since she demanded it, he would give her a dose of truth. Proud? Norteamericanos are bloated with arrogant pride. We Mexicans are far more welcoming. In our culture, we open our homes to strangers.
Lilias smile vanished as she sipped her lemonade.
I can tell you how I was welcomed at the ranch of Julies father with my cousin Rafael, he continued Do you care to hear?”
She slid back in her chair, looking uneasy. Im listening.
A foreman—his name was Ruiz—he told us to wait in the dirt outside the big white house while he summoned his patrón. You know him? Señor Hiram Booker.
Julies father. We never met. He died years ago.
Carlos found images coming back, bitter feelings, and he told her.

April 1967, Santa Lucia

Señor Booker came halfway down the stairs and looked over Carlos and Rafael with haughty gray eyes, his mouth working as though he were chewing a bitter root. Booker was tall, about fifty, his sun-dried face creased like a squashed prune. Instinctively Carlos whipped off his hat, but Rafael gave Carlos a slow, ironic glance before removing his own.
After years of coming north for work, Carlos was used to getting surly looks, although his gut never failed to clench in response. Would there be work this time? If not, would this patrón sneer and insult them or wish them well before sending them off? Booker said something to Ruiz, who pointed to Rafaels sombrero de vaquero, and told him to, Toss it on the ground.


Bewildered, Rafael dropped the hat. Booker marched down the remaining steps and stomped on it. The hat was made of stiff cane, and it crunched as the patrón ground it under his heavy boots— right and left, right and left, all the time staring at Rafael.
Put it on, Booker said in English. Rafael was shaking, and Carlos didnt know if it was from anger or fear, or whether his cousin might lash out and put them both in danger. Rafael grimaced and picked up the filthy sombrero. He crammed his fist into it to put it back in shape and stuck it on his head, dirt flaking onto his face.
Next time dont be slow to show respect, Booker said. You want a job?”
Yes, sir, Rafael said.
He looked at Carlos. You?Yes, I do.
Later that evening, Rafael said, It doesnt bother me. Hes just displaying his big cojones for Ruiz, like the purple feathers of a prancing peacock. But Carlos saw the way Rafaels eyes narrowed whenever the patrón came around. He felt his cousins shame as well as his own for failing to object to their treatment, and for groveling to secure work.
Carlos carried that humiliation in his heart as Ruiz showed them the bunkhouse. Before leaving, Ruiz said, in his coarse Spanish, Youre lucky to have these bunks close by the latrine. And those fine lumpy mattresses Gracias a Dios. Then in English, Welcome to America.

“So that was our welcome to the Booker Ranch, and it wasnt the first time Id been treated that way during six years coming to your country, he told Lilia.


Carlos felt the tension in his jaw and saw Lilia sitting rigid. He lowered his voice. “So, when I speak of the Nortes disdain for us, I speak not just about the television news.
She frowned but didnt turn away. Not everyone in the United States is kind, and not everyones cruel. Mexicans can be mean, too. If you believe so deeply in hospitality, does it bother you that youre making me uncomfortable?”
He felt a twinge of guilt. This young woman was no weakling. She hadnt deserved an angry lecture. And truthfully, some of his patrones in the North had been cordial, if not generous. Im sorry
truly. Lilias arrival had caught him by surprise, but why had her defense of the North made him so angry? What can I do to make you feel better?”
Tell me about your time with Julie.
He shook his head. I apologize. My daughter expects me for dinner.
Oh, Lilia said. I would have called, but I couldnt find your phone number.
Of course, I have none.
Can I come again?” She gave him a smile he didnt deserve after his rudeness. So, she was insincere—first her assurances about California, and now this fake smile.
Are you sure you want to see me again? he asked.
She turned serious. Im doing this for Julie, and maybe you could, too.
Okay, that was honest. Maybe he owed Julie something, but he needed time to think it over. If he put her off and she went away, that would be fine. Im busy until Wednesday.
She looked into his eyes and said, I’ll be working in the daytime, but we could meet for dinner.
Empty flirtation, no doubt, but that look lit a little spark in


him. Damn. He was about to give in to his loneliness, and he knew it. All right. Ill make my famous enchiladas.
She seemed to relax, letting herself sink into the armchair. Great. Now tell me one thing about you and Julie before I go.
How much would Julie really want him to say? The letter mentioned things that happened in Santa Lucia, which definitely excluded that night near Delano.
Well at first, I thought she and her mother were crazy.Why?” Lilia focused on him, acting fascinated. Acting.
“The two of them, Julie and her mother, had all of us workers compete in a beauty contest.
I’ll bet you won, Carlos. Am I right?”
You asked me for one thing, and Ive given two. Its your turn. Whats Julies request?”
No. No. No. You read her letter. First, you’ll tell me all about 1967. She paused, looked him straight on, and said, And if you dont bite my head off, maybe I’ll tell you something I like about my country.
He blew out a skeptical puff of air and led her to the door. As he reached for the doorknob, Lilia touched his arm for just a moment, looking up into his eyes.
It felt good—better than he wanted it to feel—but this was calculated, wasnt it? A pretty woman knowing how to get her way. Manipulative.
As she drove off he shook his head, confused—tempted to give in to Lilias charms, angry at Julie for sending her. But Julie had been so good to him.
Back in the living room, he saw that his picture with Isabel lay face down on the table. Lilia? It must have been. But how? Shed never left his sight. And why?


April 1994, Santa Lucia

ulie gazed out the window at the avocado grove and mountains. She was half listening to her book on tape and half absorbed in rambling thoughts—two incompatible halves. Shed lost track of
the books plot.
Lilia had been in Mexico a week now, working not far from Carloss home on a project for her school. Had she met him yet? Did she like him? Did he find her beautiful? Why hadnt she called? Oh, yeah, Julie had told her not to worry about keeping in touch.
A tear of frustration trickled down her cheek. She longed to be there.
The phone rang, and a moment later, Felicia entered, still wearing her white apron.Its Lilia, just what youve been waiting for. The maid gave Julie a knowing smile before turning off her tape player, hitting the “speaker button on the phone and heading back toward the kitchen.
Hi, Julie said. Youve seen him?This afternoon.
Julie felt her heartbeat kick up a notch. Hes really nice, isnt


Not so much. I showed up unannounced, and I think it

ticked him off.”


He used to like surprises from pretty women.
He knows about the demonstrations in California, Lilia said. And he hates the US. He lectured me about your father and the Booker ranch.
Yeah, that was hard on Carlos, which is why I asked my gorgeous friend to charm him.
He kind of hurt my feelings.
Sorry. A fly buzzed by Julies face. She blew a puff of air to drive it away. Hows he doing physically? Any signs of injury?”
Theres something wrong with his arm. He tried to hide it.Oh. Julie swallowed a flutter of guilt and said, Hes gotta be
the most handsome man youve seen lately.He is good looking for an old dude.
Carlos was a bit older than Julie—forty-nine? Fifty? Julie chuckled. Too old to appreciate? I dont think so. Is he pissed at me?”
Not at you, Julie, but he wants to know your request.Too soon for that. What else did he say about me?” He mentioned a crazy beauty contest.
Right. Julie sighed, remembering Carloss confusion that day. One of my favorite memories.
I think he was touched by your letter, Lilia said. Thats hopeful.
Good. When are you going to see him again?” On Wednesday.
The crappy fly landed on her ear. She turned her head, and it buzzed off. Why not tomorrow?”
Hes not the most cooperative guy. Lilia sounded perplexed. Youre up to the task, Lilia. I know you are.
Julie, when he got angry, it brought bad memories.
“Steer him to happy thoughts, like you do with the kiddies


in your classroom. And dont talk about the lousy California proposition.
You havent said why you want this so much.
Julie laughed. Talk to Carlos. He knows sooo many of my secrets.
Lilia made a pfft sound. I touched him before I left, just a quick one. I did it for you.
Good girl! Well …? Did he like it?” He scowled and sent me out the door.
Next time, try a hug, okay? Thatll do the trick.” Lilia laughed, and hung up.
The phone droned out an annoying dial tone. Felicia came in and shut it off.
So things werent going well down in Mexico. But they would; Julie had to believe it. In Carlos, Lilia would find something she needed. And the young woman would entice him to offer Julie what she craved.

Other Works by the author


Edward D. Webster’s wide-ranging interests have led him to diverse careers from teaching Navajo students to managing regulatory compliance to helping establish a center for abused children. He is the author of an eclectic collection of books as well as articles appearing in publications from The Boston Globe to Your Cat magazine. His writing has been honored by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association, the Foreword Indies, the Boomer Times, and Ed’s favorite: Hackwriters.com, among others.

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