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Ruby Release: Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones

fifth graveNever underestimate the power of a woman

on a double espresso with a mocha latte chaser high.

—T-shirt

 

Charley Davidson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper.  She’s more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire.  However, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main suspect in an arson case.  Charley has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth…but then dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond reason.  When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma, is the serial killer’s next target Charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes’ help.  Arsonist or not, he’s the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what came at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.

~#~

WOOHOO!!! Fifth Grave Past the Light has officially dropped!!!

Oops. Okay, sorry for the multiple exclamation points. I have such a blast writing about Charley and her antics that I kind of get caught up her world. Possibly a little too much. I get a little sassy when she’s in my head. A tad brazen, to which the server at Macho Taco can attest. In my own defense, anyone could have misinterpreted the question “Do you like it extra spicy?”

I’m telling you,  it’s Charley’s fault. She’s infectious.

To prove my point, I thought I’d offer an excerpt, a snapshot from the life of a reaper who believes sarcasm should be made the official language of congressional sessions and divorce court. Not sure why.

 

Fifth Grave Past the Light

Chapter One

 

Ask me about life after death.

—T-shirt often seen on Charley Davidson,

    a grim reaper with questionable morals

 

The dead guy at the end of the bar kept trying to buy me a drink.

Which figured. No one else was even taking a second look and I’d

dressed to the nines. Or, at the very least, the eight- and- a-halves.

But the truly disturbing part of my evening was the fact that my

mark, one Mr. Marvin Tidwell, blond real estate broker and suspected

adulterer, actually turned down the drink I’d tried to buy

him.

 

Turned it down!

 

I felt violated.

 

I sat at the bar, sipping a margarita, lamenting the sad turn my life

had taken. Especially tonight. This case was not going as planned.

Maybe I wasn’t Marv’s type. It happened. But I was oozing interest.

And I wore makeup. And I had cleavage. Even with all that going for

me, this investigation was firmly wedged between the cracks of no and

where. At least I could tell my client, aka Mrs. Marvin Tidwell, that it

would seem her husband was not cheating on her. Not randomly,

anyway. The fact that he could’ve been meeting someone in par tic ular

kept me glued to my barstool.

 

“C-come here often?”

 

I looked over at the dead guy. He’d finally worked up the courage

to approach and I got a better view of him. I figured him for the runt

of the litter. He wore round- rimmed glasses and a tattered baseball

cap that sat backwards on top of muddy brown hair. Add to that a

faded blue T-shirt and loosely ripped jeans and he could’ve been a

skater, a computer geek, or a backwoods moonshiner.

 

His cause of death was not immediately apparent. No stab wounds

or gaping holes. No missing limbs or tire tracks across his face. He

didn’t even look like a drug addict, so I couldn’t tell why he’d died at

such a young age. Taking into account the fact that his baby- faced

features would make him look younger than he probably was, I estimated

him to be somewhere around my age when he’d passed.

 

He stood waiting for an answer. I thought “Come here often?”

was rhetorical, but okay. Not wanting to be perceived as talking to

myself in a room full of people, I responded by lifting one shoulder

in a halfhearted shrug.

 

Sadly, I did. Come here often. This was my dad’s bar, and while I

never set up stings here for fear of someone I knew blowing my

cover, this just happened to be the very same bar Mr. Tidwell frequented.

At least if it came to a knockdown drag- out, I might have

some backup. I knew most of the regulars and all of the employees.

 

Dead Guy glanced toward the kitchen, seeming nervous before he

refocused on me. I glanced that way as well. Saw a door.

 

“Y-you’re very shiny,” he said, drawing my attention back to him.

 

He had a stutter. Few things were more adorable than a grown

man with boyish features and a stutter. I stirred my margarita and

pasted on a fake smile. I couldn’t talk to him in a room full of living,

breathing patrons. Especially when one was named Jessica Guinn, to

my utter mortification. I hadn’t seen her fiery red hair since high

school but there she sat, a few seats down from me, surrounded by a

group of chattering socialites who looked almost as fake as her boobs.

But that could be my bitterness rearing its ugly head.

 

Unfortunately, my forced smile only encouraged Dead Guy.

 

“Y-you are. You’re like the s-sun reflecting off the chrome bumper of

a f-fifty- seven Chevy.”

 

He splayed his fingers in the air to demonstrate, and my heart was

gone. Damn it. He was like all those lost puppies I tried to save as a

child to no avail because I had an evil stepmother who believed all

stray dogs were rabid and would try to rip out her jugular. A fact that

had nothing to do with my desire to bring them into the house.

 

“Yeah,” I said under my breath, doing my best ventriloquist impersonation,

“thanks.”

 

“I’m D-Duff ,” he said.

 

“I’m Charley.” I kept my hands wrapped around my drink lest he

decide we needed to shake. Not many things looked stranger to the

living world than a grown woman shaking air. You know those kids

with invisible friends? Well, I was one of those. Only I wasn’t a kid,

and my friends weren’t invisible. Not to me, anyway. And I could see

them because I’d been born the grim reaper, which was not as bad as

it sounded. I was basically a portal to heaven, and whenever someone

was stuck on Earth, having chosen not to cross over immediately after

death, they could cross to the other side through me. I was like a giant

bug light, only what I lured was already dead.

 

I pulled at my extra- tight sweater. “Is it just me, or is it really

warm in here?”

 

His baby blues shot toward the kitchen again. “Hot is m-more

like it. S-so, I— I couldn’t help but notice you t-tried to buy that guy

over there a drink.”

 

I let my fake smile go. Freed it like a captured bird. If it came back

to me, it would be mine. If not, it never was. “And?”

 

“You’re b-barking up the wrong tree with that one.”

 

Surprised, I put my drink down— the one I bought myself— and

leaned in a little closer. “He’s gay?”

 

Duff snorted. “N-no. But he’s been in here a lot lately. He l-likes

his women a little . . . l-looser.”

 

“Dude, how much sluttier can I get?” I indicated my attire with a

sweep of my hand.

 

“N-no, I mean, well, you’re a l-little—” He let his gaze travel the

length of me. “—t-tight.”

 

I gasped. “I look anal?”

 

He drew in a deep breath and tried again. “H-he only hits on

women who are more s-substantial than you.”

 

Oh, that wasn’t offensive at all. “I have depth. I’ve read Proust.

No, wait, that was Pooh. Winnie- the- Pooh. My bad.”

 

He shifted his non ex is tent weight, cleared his throat, and tried

again. “More v-voluptuous.”

 

“I have curves,” I said through a clenched jaw. “Have you seen

my ass?”

 

“Heavier!” he blurted out.

 

“I weigh— Oh, you mean he likes bigger women.”

 

“E-exactly, while I on the other hand—”

 

Duff ’s words faded into the background like elevator music. So

Marv liked big women. A new plan formed in the darkest, most corrupt

corners of Barbara. My brain.

 

Cookie, otherwise known as my receptionist during regular business

hours and my best friend 24/7, was perfect. She was large and in

charge. Or well, large and kind of bossy. I picked up my cell phone

and called her.

 

“This better be good,” she said.

 

“It is. I need your assistance.”

 

“I’m watching the first season of Prison Break.

 

“Cookie, you’re my assistant. I need assistance. With a case. You

know those things we take on to make money?”

 

Prison. Break. It’s about these brothers who—”

 

“I know what Prison Break is.”

 

“Then have you ever actually seen these boys? If you had, you

would not expect me to abandon them in their time of need. I think

there’s a shower scene coming up.”

 

“Do these brothers sign your paycheck?”

 

“No, but technically neither do you.”

 

Damn. She was right. It was much easier to just have her forge my

name.

 

“I need you to come flirt with my mark.”

 

“Oh, okay. I can do that.”

 

Nice. The F-word always worked with her. I filled her in and told

her the deal with Tidwell, then ordered her to hurry over.

 

“And dress sexy,” I said right before hanging up. But I regretted

the sexy part instantly. The last time I told Cookie to dress sexy for a

much- needed girls’ night out on the town, she wore a lace- up corset,

fishnet stockings, and a feather boa. She looked like a dominatrix. I’d

never been the same.

 

See what I mean??? But while we’re on the subject, have you ever dressed as a dominatrix? Worn a feather boa? Fishnet stalkings? All anecdotes welcome.

Fifth Grave Past the Light is available everywhere! Click here to get  your copy of the latest in this New York Times bestselling series at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Ruby Release: Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones

FOURTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET IS HERE!

I have both the honor and privilege of hosting the celebration for the latest installment of the Charley series, which is authored by the lovely and talented Ruby sister, Darynda Jones.

This book is the fourth, and yes, I do like stating the obvious, book in the Charley series. It follows FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT, and THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD. If you’ve never read any of the Charley series, then I’m sorry for you because you’ve missed a boatload of laughter, romance, and entertaining relationships.

I must admit I’ve been concerned about Charley. Seriously. After what she went through in THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD, who wouldn’t be? Right? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to read the book.) I’m not only talking about her physical well-being, but also about how she’s dealing with the men in her life. Her father’s betrayal was bad enough, but Reyes? So heartbreaking. How will he ever redeem himself? How will she ever forgive him? And, then there’s Garrett. I want to know how he’s coping. And, I’m excited about Artemis. You gotta love Artemis.

In case you don’t know anything about Charley, (seriously, after reading and commenting on this blog, get the series and read it) I’ll introduce you. Charley is the Grim Reaper. Yeah. Really. She is. And, she’s a damn good one. She’s also a great juggler. Look at her relationships. They run from borderline psychotic to one with a devotion so intense it transcends the corporeal world. Speaking of corporeal, Reyes is so hot. I’m not saying that just because he’s the son of Satan. Although, he is. As in, he grew up in Hell. But, I digress. We were talking about the release of FOURTH GRAVE. You know I just realized Charley’s ADD could be why I like her so much. Not that I’m ADD or anything like that.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. The interview. I decided since Charley was recuperating, I wouldn’t bother her with a bunch of questions. (If you’re wondering why she’s recuperating, then <sigh> read the series.) Instead, I decided to interview the men in her life. Although, I’ll have to admit some weren’t very cooperative. Far be it from me to be petty and mention names, but like father, like son comes to mind. Anyway, I gave it my best shot.

Me:  LELAND, as Charley’s dad you’ve known about her gift for years. When she was only a child, you used her to help you solve cases for the APD. Now that you’ve retired from the force and your little girl is grown, you’re not too happy with her career choice as a private detective. Seriously, dad, what did you expect her to do with her life? Yes, it’s dangerous. Yes, she’s had her share of bruises. However, let’s not forget you almost got her killed when you painted a target on her back and sent a parolee her way. That was all on you, Daddy Dearest. We know you love and care for her, but trying to have her arrested and her license revoked wasn’t cool. A parent will do whatever to protect their children, but seriously, what were you thinking? Without giving us any spoilers, can you give us a hint if you’ll work to repair your relationship with your daughter, or if you still think you did the right thing?

Leland:  I agree and couldn’t be more saddened by my own behavior. Would it help to know that I had my reasons? One actually. And it’s a pretty good one. Without explaining completely, I will say that I just wanted to make sure she would be okay if anything were to happen to me. I wanted her out of that business (yes, the business I practically forced her into) and I just didn’t know what else to do. Charley is stubborn. I knew that if she was arrested and convicted of a crime, she couldn’t be a licensed PI. So I went about trying to get her to quit the wrong way. I am trying to make amends. Not an easy thing with my daughter, but I am trying.

Me:  UNCLE BOB, as an APD detective, like your brother, you call upon your niece to help you solve cases. The difference is you respect what she does, and you don’t coddle her. You’re more aware of the extent of her gift than her father is. I know you were upset with your brother for the stunt he pulled in the hospital. However, let’s face it, Charley is the Lucy Ricardo of detectives. If it’s going to happen, you can rest assured it will happen to Charley. How do you deal with her on-the-job pain and suffering while using her as her dad did?

Uncle Bob:  The way I see it, Charley is going to do what Charley wants to do. I worry about her, especially after what she’s gone through. But she has this way of pulling through the most life-threatening situations virtually unscathed. At least until recently. And her gifts have saved countless lives. I do call upon her but she does the same with me. I see our relationship as mutually beneficial. She helps me solve cases and I come to her aid in legal situations. It works out well, albeit more for me than her. And I not only respect her but am in awe of her. While I would love to know what she isn’t telling me, the whole story of who and what she is, part of that respect is recognizing her right to privacy. I figure she’ll tell me when she’s ready.

Me:  GARRETT, you’ve come a long way, baby. When you were first told about Charley’s gift, you tormented her. You really were an S.O.B. Yet, underneath all that closed-minded derision, you were like a schoolboy afraid to let a girl know he likes her. Between coming to terms with her being the Grim Reaper and having to deal with her obsession over Reyes, you still toyed with relationship thoughts. You still adored her. Above all, you still had her back.  Oh, how I love a man who has a woman’s back. Things drastically changed in THIRD GRAVE. You saw first-hand her Grim Reaper capabilities. Heck, you even saw Mr. Wong. With this huge insight into Charley’s world, how will this change your relationship with her?

Garrett:  That is a very loaded question, one that even I can’t answer. I saw a lot more than Charley as the grim reaper. I saw a lot more about this love interest of hers. Of what he’s capable of. Of what he was sent to do. I am still coming to terms with everything I’ve seen and learned, but I will say one thing: If Reyes Farrow thinks he will use Charley in the way that his father wishes, he will die knowing otherwise. <Interviewer’s comment: See? What did I tell you? He has her back.>

Me:  REYES, aaah Rey’aziel. Son of Satan. Where do I begin? I know you love Charley. I mean, you defied your heritage and took on a human form just to be with her. Maybe things didn’t turn out exactly as you’d planned, and yes, maybe she did bind you for all eternity, but in spite of all that, you love her. I know it. You know it. Yet, you don’t trust her. In fact, your distrust brought her a pain that no one should have to bear. Why was it so difficult for you to trust her? That is something that has me baffled. And, don’t give me some cop out by saying it was because she bound you. Son of Satan or not, that won’t fly, buddy. Oh, and notice I let you off the hook by not asking how you plan to woo yourself back into her heart. You just better be sure you do.

Reyes:  I’m surprised you’d talk to me in such a way knowing what you know, but I’ll let it slide for now. You seem to have Charley’s best interest at heart, something we have in common. Trust does not come easily for me. Her binding me did affect my perception of her, but not in the way that you think. I thought she knew what she was capable of, what she could do to me with the slightest wish. She didn’t. She still doesn’t realize her true potential, but at the time I was afraid she did. Or would soon. And I had that one blinding goal driving me, to find the man who sent me to prison, to prove my innocence, to sever his spine. I was afraid she would stop me. She is the only one who could. I’m not out to woo myself back into her heart. I have ruined that and I know it. But I am out to keep her alive. To keep her safe from others like me, others from my world. She may not like it, but when she sees what has come after her now, she won’t have a choice. And if she just happens to end up in my arms in the process, if my mouth just happens to find hers, then that just makes my job all the more pleasurable, because while I want her safe, I want her just a little bit more. <Interviewer’s comment: Fanning self…and that’s why I LOVE Reyes.>

How do you feel about the men in Charley’s life? Aside from Charley, who is your favorite character in this series?

One lucky non-Ruby commenter will be placed in a drawing for an autographed copy of FOURTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET.

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a RITA®, and a Daphne du Maurier. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

 

Our First Ruby RITA!!! (And Other Thrills from the 2012 Nationals Awards Ceremony)

RWA Nationals 2012 ended nearly two weeks ago, but we’re still buzzing with excitement over the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.

In addition to being in a ballroom with Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, Robyn Carr, Joanna Bourne, Deanna Raybourn, Victoria Alexander, Kristan Higgins, Cherry Adair and many, many more romance superstars (including RWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Brenda Jackson!!), we had SIX Rubies up for awards, including our very first Rita nominees, Elizabeth Essex and Darynda Jones.

Given the size and strength of the competition, we’re delighted to report that fully HALF those Rubies took home the prize, and Darynda won our VERY FIRST RUBY RITA!!!!

For those of you who’ve never been, the Awards ceremony is rather like the Oscars (minus the goofy dance numbers), with dazzling colored lights, huge swathes of silky, velvety curtains, orchestral music, a baritone-voiced announcer, and a raised stage that nerve-wracked nominees have to climb up to to give their acceptance speeches, with a video crew filming everything and blowing it up on FOUR, count-em, FOUR enormous Jumbotrons.

Attendees are dressed in their fabulous best, as you can see here (left to right: Brenda Jackson and the model for all her heroes: her husband; Ruby Sally Eggert, looking gorgeous with fellow Firebirds Heather Nickodem, Diana Belchase, Kathleen Bittner Ross, and Talia Quinn Daniels; and a radiant Elizabeth Essex enjoying the glam).

 

 

As the nominees are announced, the Jumbotrons show special screens for each one with her author photo and book title, and for the Rita nominees, their beautiful covers. Behold some Ruby-licious examples:

 

 

If you’re lucky enough to win your category, up you wobble to the podium, trying to keep breathing, and praying your Spanx don’t spontaneously roll to the floor while you express your gratitude to all the amazing people who make your writing life possible. So, yeah, here are pictures of me and Liz Bemis and NORA FREAKIN’ ROBERTS all at the same podium. Really. NORA. Although her jewelry was maybe ever so slightly fancier than ours (Liz had to go with stuff safe for baby Riley to gnaw on, and mine was picked out for me by my teenage daughter at Claire’s). (Did I mention Liz got to SIT with Nora during the ceremony? And word is Nora spent more time cooing over baby Riley than paying attention to her shiny new Rita??? ‘Cause Nora is just that chill, and Riley is just that adorable.)

 

But, for the Rubies, the really big story of the evening was watching our wonderful Darynda snag that precious golden statuette!!!!

Here, recorded for posterity, is the story in pictures:

Left: One of the TWO times Darynda’s nominee screen popped up on the Jumbotron. (The other was for her nomination for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements).

Right: Darynda stands up under the dazzling lights when HER NAME IS CALLED as the winner!!!

 

 

 

Left: Darynda makes her gracious speech, which includes a shout-out to her adorable Street Team, the Grimlets, and ends with a war cry of “RUBY DOMINATION!!” (Yay!!! You rock, Darynda!!)

Right: Darynda generously passes her Rita around to everyone for good luck, and gorgeous Ruby Vanessa Barneveld gets a special snuggle.

 

 

 

 

 

Left: a passel of Rubies (and no doubt future Rita winners), including Anne Marie Becker, Rita Henuber, Darynda, triple-Prism-award-winner Tamara Hogan, Laurie Kellogg, Liz Talley, and me, form a Wall of Ruby Pride.

Right: Darynda’s Rita at home, along with flowers from the proud folks at St. Martin’s Press, and her newly-minted Daphne.

 

 

Can we all just say WOW??!!!!!!!!!

 

Your Ruby Sisters are so proud of you, Darynda!!!

 

Here’s to many Ruby Ritas still to come!!!

 

Woo-hooo!! Our First Ruby on the NYT Bestseller List!!

When the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood first came together in March of 2009 (when we were all named finalists in RWA’s 2009 Golden Heart Contest), none of us were published yet–as befits the Golden Heart rules–but we knew we were on our way.

A few months later, when we first launched this blog, our motto was, “There’s No Place Like the Bestseller Lists!” And we knew we were on our way there, too!

Well, the Rubies collectively have more than 100 books on the shelves (or available for e-readers), and as of February 19, 2012, we have our first Ruby NYT Bestseller!

Barely more than a year after the publication of her fabulous debut novel, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Ruby Sister Darynda Jones has hit the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Extended Bestseller List at #26 with the wonderful, sexy, suspenseful and hilarious (not to mention fortuitously Ruby-colored)  THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD!!

 

You can see the good news reported directly at the New York Times.

We’re so darned proud we could burst!!

Congrats, Darynda! Well deserved!

May the Rubies make this a regular habit!

 

RUBY RELEASE: Third Grave Dead Ahead — Darynda Jones

Today, I have the pleasure of announcing the release of Darynda Jones’s third Charley Davidson book,

Third Grave Dead Ahead

 

I admit, paranormal isn’t my usual read, but I have to say, I’ve loved the two previous books.  And once my husband discovered Charley Davidson and her sassy, irreverent humor, I had to hide Second Grave on the Left so I could read it first!

Now, he counts himself one of Darynda’s biggest fans and is as antsy as I am to read Third Grave.  Since he’s watching the mail, I’ll just have to be a bit more creative to outflank him yet again.  No way I’m waiting for him to finish reading it first.  When that book makes it into this house, it’s mine!

Okay, enough gushing.  Let’s get on to the good stuff.

HEEEEERRRRRRE’S  Darynda!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Gwynlyn!

So, yes, today the third in the Charley Davidson series, THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD, drops. This has been an amazing journey, one that started with that Golden Heart final and led me to the phenomenal life of a Ruby Slippered Sister. A fact for which I am forever grateful.

And, as one reader pointed out, those same Rubies know my story through-and-through, God bless ‘em, But some don’t. For those who don’t know the story of how Charley Davidson was born, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version.

Before I even started, I knew I wanted to write paranormal. I knew I wanted to write a female lead who could deliver a series of one-liners while applying mascara without missing a beat. Or getting a smudge. And I knew I wanted her to be very down to earth despite any paranormal powers she might have. So I was lying in bed one morning, waiting for my turn in the shower, when Charley hit me. Not literally, but you understand. I wanted a little bit of Buffy, a smidgeon of Stephanie Plum, and a LOT of Lorelei Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls. Actually what I wanted was that back-and-forth banter, the lightning-fast dialogue that I love so much. And Charley Davidson was born.

Here is a quick excerpt of Third Grave.

Rubies at RT and SWAG

This is Jeannie reporting live from the Romantic Times Convention in Los Angeles.First of all, check out the awesome setting. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel has been featured in many movies due to their interesting architecture and distinctive glass elevators. Every time I’m in them, I think of the first chase scene from True Lies. Here’s a view from the elevator:

Darynda Jones: First Grave on the Right

Today is release day for Darynda Jones’s debut novel, First Grave on the Right!! We’re here to celebrate with virtual applause and confetti, and find out all about Darynda and what makes her tick.

Darynda and I have known each other for years. We belong to the same RWA chapter and have exchanged stories a few times. Nothing earth shattering, just the random, “Does this suck?”

Mine? “Yes.”

Hers? “Heck no!”

*Shea seems to be “projecting” here, as she can write me under the table on her worst day. Blindfolded. With her hands tied behind her back.

Oh, if that were only the case. (sigh) Darynda’s awesomeness surpasses mine by leaps and bounds. Her witty dialogue and paranormal hijinks will have you begging for more.

I’ve been lucky enough to read First Grave on the Right and loved it. I’m cross-my-heart-hope-to-die excited about Darynda’s book – I shall love it and pet it and call it my own, the cover is that pretty – and I’m equally excited about this interview, so let’s not waste any more time!

[If you're on the Festival site, click the blue title line, above, to read the rest of the interview]

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