Read an excerpt from Death on the Boardwalk

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With Caleb Wygal’s new mystery, Death on the Boardwalk, set to release on Feb. 2, 2021, it’s time to pull back the covers and unveil the first chapter for you to read.

Enjoy!


Chapter One

There was a rug I wasn’t expecting awaiting me in the alcove by the backdoor of my bookstore as I arrived to start the day. The rug had an art deco pattern of periwinkle and sepia toned multi-colored squares with a tan border. Each square was different. Random. It was a nice rug.  

Except for the body rolled up in the middle of it.  

The rug rested at an angle across the cement slab in a recessed alcove. When I had grasped one end, I felt something odd. A squishy lump. A tremor ran through my hands, jostling the box of pastries I held. Focus. I set the pastries on the ground.   

Acid churned in the pit of my stomach. It was too heavy to be a normal rug.   

With a trembling hand, I reached down and pulled a corner back.  

I immediately knew who it was, despite the deformation that told me the cause of death. A blow to the head. It was obvious. I saw no other marks or injuries to the exposed area of her body.   

She was a regular at my bookstore, Myrtle Beach Reads, and a well-known figure in the local business community. We used to sit and have coffee in the store and carry on pleasant conversations about books, life, family, and various causes she involved herself in.  

I’ve read and watched enough murder mysteries to know not to disturb the body. I already had, but I didn’t think I had done anything to destroy or disturb evidence. I figured that most of the evidence lay wherever she got bonked on the head.   

I returned the corner of the rug to where I found it, covering her face. I rested a hand on the concrete wall to steady myself. Breathed in. Breathed out. 

I poked my head out from the delivery alcove and looked both ways down Flagg Street. In one direction, a woman emerged from a parking garage, head intent on her phone, and crossed the street to the Budget Inn. A golf cart receded in the distance past her. Looking to the south, I saw a golf cart cruising in the opposite direction. A beer truck pulled to a stop behind a bar.   

I checked my watch. 7:53. Karen wasn’t due in for another hour.  

My first call was to the police. The phone shook in my hand as I dialed 911. I told the dispatcher what I found, and she instructed me to stay there, but not to touch anything. I told her I had no plans of examining the body and hung up the phone. Then, I called Karen and asked if she could come in early. She answered halfway through the second ring and said she’d be in as soon as she could. I didn’t tell her why I needed her.  

A salty breeze blew across my skin. I don’t know if the wind or the dead body caused me to shiver. A siren wailed in the distance. Both the police station and fire department were about half a mile away. It wouldn’t take them long to get here. Especially at this time of day when many tourists were still asleep in their hotels.   

The rug was half-rolled over Paige’s body. I tried not to look but couldn’t help it. A smear of blood matted her blonde hair. I cringed. I didn’t like to watch when getting my blood drawn at the doctor’s office. I wasn’t a fan of horror or bloody movies and books. Besides that, her body and most of the inside of the rug appeared clean. Sections of the outside, or what would be the underside had the rug been unfurled, were filthy and streaked with what looked like grease.  

I tried to imagine a scene where she might have been killed. It looked like someone whacked her right on top of the head. She fell over. Thump. Maybe onto this rug, or the killer carried her to it before rolling her up like a burrito. I pictured it covering the floor of an office. Her office, perhaps.   

Then what caused the underside to be so filthy?  

The question evaporated from my mind as an MBPD cruiser with its lights flashing stopped at the bottom of the two stairs leading down to the ground. A MBFD Fire/Rescue ambulance pulled up a moment later. 

A male officer and a female officer saw me standing there and didn’t tell me to freeze and put my arms in the air when they exited their vehicle. Whew. The woman got out of the passenger side. She rested a hand on her gun as they surveyed the scene.   

“Hello,” the guy cop said, raising a dark pair of sunglasses.   

“Good morning,” I said. Not like there was a dead body at my feet or anything. I almost asked what brought them this way so early but decided against it.   

“I’m Officer O’Brien,” the driver said and then pointed at his partner. “That’s Officer Nichols.”  

Nichols nodded but did not speak, her hand still resting on the gun. A trickle of sweat ran down my back, despite the cool air. I had no reason to be nervous. I did nothing wrong, but to think they thought me a suspect didn’t sit well with me. They likely only knew the scant details I gave to the 911 operator. Which was: a guy found a body rolled up in a rug on Flagg Street between 4th and 5th Avenues.  

“Please step aside,” O’Brien said.   

“Sure thing, officer,” I said and did as he instructed.   

I’ve seen both of them around before, though I don’t recall ever meeting either. If I recognized them, I’m sure they recognized me. I tend to stick out.  

I stepped off the alcove towards them to get out of their path. It was a little tight with the front bumper of the patrol car parked within inches of the building. 

Two firefighters leapt from their truck, grabbed some equipment, and rushed to Paige. They ignored me and focused on her. 

Nichols finally took her hand off the gun. O’Brien stuck out a thick hand. I shook it. He had a strong grip I tried to match. He and his partner were in good shape under their bulletproof vests. I’d put on a few pounds over the summer and looked flabby compared to them. Too many visits to the Boardwalk Creamery will do that to you. I couldn’t help it. I walked past their back door every day. The baking waffle cones to me were like the Sirens to Odysseus.  

Nichols turned for a closer look at the body while O’Brien barely glanced at it. He expelled a breath and glanced up at the Myrtle Beach Reads sign above our heads. “You know, I can’t remember going in there before.”  

“Read many books?” I asked.  

“Nah, not really. Just police manuals and such.”  

“You should expand your horizons. I could recommend a good book or two to you sometime.”  

“I don’t know about that. Between three boys, two dogs, and a wife, I don’t get much free time.”  

“Do you like coffee?”  

That brought a brief smile. “Of course.”  

I hooked a thumb at the building. “Got that too.”  

“Is it good?”  

“I like to think so. I only brew locally roasted beans made within the last week.”  

His bottom lip puckered out. “I’ll have to stop in sometime.”  

“Do that. First cup is on me. Probably not today, though.”  

“Not likely,” he squinted. He pulled out a paper tablet, flipped a page, and clicked a ballpoint pen. “Tell me what happened.”  

“There’s not much to tell. I parked my Jeep back on Chester Street like I always do, grabbed my pastries,” I pointed at the box from Benjamin’s Bakery on the ground beside me, “and came around the corner. I said a few words to Theresa—”  

“Who is she?”  

“She owns the I Heart MB Tees place two doors down.”  

He made a note. “Did she act or seem like anything was amiss?”  

“Not that I could tell.”  

“Okay. Continue.”  

A rustling sound came from behind me. I turned to see one of the firefighters moving one corner of the rug away from the body. I quickly twisted back to O’Brien and Nichols. I’d already seen more than I wanted to.   

He put a calming hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay, man. We’ll take care of her. I’m sorry you have to experience this, but your help here could lead us to finding who did this.”  

By now, people started to gather around. Not too close, but far enough away that they could see that something was happening without being a part of it. The sight of a police car parked this time of the morning in this area was a rare occurrence. I saw a few familiar faces, and I knew that I’d be the talk of the Boardwalk, at least for today.   

I drew a breath.  

“There’s not much more to it,” I said. “I saw the rug as the recess came into view. I hadn’t ordered one, so I knew it shouldn’t have been there. I saw it was misshapen as I got closer.”  

“What do you mean by misshapen?”  

“It didn’t look right. It was fatter than a rolled rug, and it was lumpy.”  

O’Brien scrawled a few notes. “Go on.”  

“As I stepped up to it, I had a bad feeling. I unrolled it a little, and there she was. Dead.”  

His pen traced words on the notepad and finished with a pronounced jab that I figured emphasized the word “DEAD”.  

“Did you touch the body?” Nichols asked. 

“My hand might have grazed it as I unrolled the rug. I’m not sure.”  

“Okay. We’ll have to get your fingerprints, unless they’re already on file?” O’Brien cocked an inquisitive dark eyebrow at me.  

“No, officer.”  

He made a note. “No worries. We’ll get them.”   

I flexed my fingers. I always hoped I could stay out of the fingerprint database during my lifetime. Chalk up two firsts for today, and it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet.  

“I know who it is.” 

That got their attention. “Who is it?”  

“Her name is Paige Whitaker,” I said. “She worked in the office of the OceanScapes resort two blocks down. Ran their human resources.”  

“How do you know her?”  

“She comes in here every couple of weeks. She liked mysteries of all sorts. Patricia Cornwell, Agatha Christie, and the like. She was a big fan of Hope Clarke.”  

“Sure,” he said, not caring about the victim’s reading preferences. “Know who might have done this?”  

“No clue. I knew her but didn’t know her well enough to have an idea of who would do such a thing. It’s terrible. She came in here with her friends from work most of the time. She was a fun person to speak with.”  

O’Brien stared at me, chewed on his bottom lip, and closed his notepad. “Okay, I think I’ve got all from you I need for now. I’m sure the detectives will have you repeat what you told me to them when they get here and dive deeper. Try to remember anything out of the ordinary you may have seen on your way here. Even the tiniest detail might be important.”  

“I will.”   

“What time does your store open?”  

“Ten. One of my employees, Karen, should be here any minute. What do you want me to do?”  

He stepped around the corner and stared down the length of the building, leaning to the side. “It’s a fairly good distance from here to the front. We should be out of the way back here. It’s up to you if you still want her to open at your regular time. We’ll need you to be available later for further questioning.” 

“I’ll do that.”  

“Hang around inside for now. Try to go about your business as usual. The detectives and medical examiners should be here soon.” He regarded the gathering crowd. “We need to lock this scene down as much as we can and don’t need you calling all of your friends and relatives to tell them what you found.”  

“Absolutely. I’ll go around to the front and let myself in, if that’s okay by you?”  

“Yeah, man. That’s fine.”  

I turned to walk away, and my shoe scuffed up against the box of pastries.   

“Don’t forget those,” O’Brien said, “or Murph here will inhale them.”  

“Hey,” the hefty firefighter said defensively, looking up from the body.   

As I knelt down to pick up the box, Murph said, “O’Brien, check this out.”  

“Excuse us, Mr. Thomas,” Nichols said, “but we need for you to go inside while we investigate.”  

“Yes, officer,” I replied and walked away, but not before I saw what had interested them about Paige.  


Death on the Boardwalk, Book One of the Myrtle Beach Mysteries is available for preorder on Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover. Preorder today!

Jevon Carter does something not seen among WVU Pros since the 70’s

The Phoenix Suns have seen an ascendancy to the top of the NBA Western Conference in remarkable fashion this season behind the MVP-level play of PG Chris Paul and the scoring of All-Star Devin Booker.

Playing behind Paul, a future Hall-of-Famer, Jevon Carter has offered a steady hand in the Phoenix backcourt. The team can rely on Carter to come in and spell relief for Paul, while bringing his signature hard-nosed defense with him.

The Suns recently swept the Denver Nuggets to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Carter hasn’t played much, as the Suns have tightened their rotation. In the Playoffs, Carter averages 3.6 minutes per game where he averaged 12.0 during the regular season.

Don’t let that strike you as a slight against the beloved Mountaineer. Carter will get his shot. Remember, he’s spent this season learning from one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game in Paul. Carter is like a sponge, soaking up everything.

The Suns win over the Nuggets got me to thinking about something. When was the last time a West Virginia Mountaineer basketball player played in an NBA Conference Finals?

From what I can tell, you have to go all the way back to 1973 and the Los Angeles Lakers, who eventually advanced to the NBA Finals before losing to the New York Knicks behind none other than Jerry West.

*Correction thanks to John Antonik*

Jerome Anderson was the last player from WVU to play in a Conference Finals back in 1976 with the Boston Celtics. That team went on to defeat, coincidentally, the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

Now, that’s one more thing that moves Jevon Carter up has that in the pantheon of WVU players in the NBA.


My latest novel: Death on the Boardwalk – Book 1 of the Myrtle Beach Mysteries

“Plunge yourself into the world of Clark Thomas along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk when he finds the body of a prominent local businesswoman by his backdoor. What he discovers changes his life.”

Get your copy of Death on the Boardwalk here!

Deleted Scene from Death on the Boardwalk

I’m writing this post today because I realized that I had left something on the cutting room floor (or editing room) for Death on the Boardwalk: the original opening scene! 
   “Why did he cut this?” you ask. 
   Two reasons. One, because I wrote it in third-person perspective. Death on the Boardwalk is told through the eyes of the main character, Clark Thomas. The second reason is that I wanted to plunge readers straight into the mystery from the opening paragraphs. That immediately you know that Clark’s world is forever changed.
   The opening in the published version of Death on the Boardwalk begins thusly:

   “There was a rug I wasn’t expecting awaiting me in the alcove by the backdoor of my bookstore as I arrived to start the day. The rug had an art deco pattern of periwinkle and sepia-toned multi-colored squares with a tan border. Each square was different. Random. It was a nice rug.
   Except for the body rolled up in the middle of it.”

Here is the deleted scene that would have preceded the above:


 Palm fronds whipped in the salty breeze on the far side of the parking lot. Soft rays of morning sunlight light cascaded over the waves and cast the tall, oceanfront tower in orange and pink. A tang of salt clung to the air.  

An old, scratched, brass key rattled in the lock and twisted forty-five degrees to the right for about the millionth time in its life. Paige Whitaker took a sip of coffee from a McDonalds cup and took a moment to appreciate the rising sun beyond the trees and across the street in the sliver of a view she had of the ocean. 

   She needed to process the payroll reports for this past week and then head out on a much-needed vacation. Her goal was to arrive in the office before anyone else. The task would take her, perhaps, thirty minutes.  

Paige had been with the resort since its inception twenty years ago. She saw the resort built, literally, from the ground up. The OceanScapes Resort was the first hotel over fifteen stories tall in this section of Myrtle Beach. Since then, others popped up around it that rose above the level of OceanScapes, but few had the aesthetically pleasing architectural lines and offered similar grand views of both the sunrise and sunset.  

She thumbed the latch and opened the door. She flicked a switch bringing the hallway to light. The hall had white, textured walls and tile flooring. It extended ten feet before disappearing around a bend to the left leading to the lobby. A large aerial photo of the resort being built and several “Best of the Beach” plaques dominated the wall to the right beside her office door. She’d chosen this office because of its proximity to the employee entrance. She could slip in and out as she needed while avoiding interaction with the employees. Paige didn’t keep regular hours, so no one, not even the owner, knew when she’d be in the building.  

He was fine with that. As long as she handled the payroll and other human resources-related tasks in her efficient, cost-effective manner, he didn’t care. They went way back.  

She opened her office door, turned on the lights, and dumped her pocketbook in the visitor’s chair against the near wall. She set her coffee cup beside a stack of papers held down by thick, square, pewter paperweight that had been given to her upon her tenth anniversary with OceanScapes. She exited the office to the hall and went around the corner to retrieve the basket containing this week’s time cards beneath the time clock. 

Ten minutes later, she was half done. This might not take as long as she figured. She might be able to grab her husband and get their trip started early. 

The resort had thirty-four hourly employees during this time of year. Fifteen on the housekeeping staff, three concierges, seven at the front desk, four janitors, two in building maintenance, one in back-office support, and five in guest experience around the pool area. 

She finished one entry and picked up the next time card. As she began punching in the times punched on the clock for this particular employee, she noticed something. Or thought she did. Paige set the time card aside and leafed back through the others she had already completed. She found the one she was looking for and compared it with the one she was currently processing.  

“Hmm,” she grunted beneath knitted eyebrows. That was odd.  

She set that time card down and finished inputting the one she’d half-completed. Using a paperclip, she stuck the two cards together and set them aside. She’d have to ask those employees a few questions when she returned from vacation.  

She heard the door to the employee entrance open. She wrote the employee schedule and knew who came and went at particular times of the day. That was what was so odd about the two timecards she’d separated from the pile.  

Paige tried to recall who she had coming in first today. This schedule was written two weeks ago, but the employees generally worked the same times and days of the week. The only times that changed was when someone needed some time off. It made her job easier if she could just copy and paste one week’s schedule to the next. She liked easy. 

Her office door opened and she looked up in surprise. 

“Hey,” she said, smiling. “What are you doing here?” 

The person at the door neither answered nor smiled.  

Paige was dead three minutes later. 


Upcoming Appearances:

April 8 from 10am – 3pm: Discover Surfside Weekly Market, Surfside Beach (by the library)

April 25th from 11am – 5pm: Spring Craft and Vendor Event at Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach 



If you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, then I have a promotion for you! Three of my books, Death on the Boardwalk, Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure, and The Search for the Fountain of Youth are all included with this awesome April is For Adventure! Promotion. Check it out here!


Video: Caleb Wygal talks Death on the Boardwalk with WBTW News 13

I recently did an interview with Aaron Rhody of WBTW News 13 CBS in Myrtle Beach, SC. We talked about my inspiration for Death on the Boardwalk, the start of my writing career back in the mid-2000s, and my son. Watch and enjoy my babbling.

You can preorder Death on the Boardwalk on Kindle and in Hardcover and Paperback. It releases on Feb. 2, 2021.

On turning 40 and joining the “Over the Hill Club”

I remember when my parents turned 40. I was 10-years-old. I remember this because they were born in 1950, me in 1980.

I’ll save you the mental math. I turned 40 this year in 2020, they’re now both 70.

Most of my life I’ve had this fear of turning 40. I’ll tell you why. It’s because of my aunt, Karen. Now, don’t take this as being any life-long ill will or resentment to her or anything. In fact, I love her very much. She was a big part of my childhood.

She also possessed a cheeky sense of humor.

It all began when my Mom turned 40, in July of 1990. Yeah, I know I’m breaking a silent code in telling her age. So be it.

Anyway, Karen and a few of Mom’s friends got together and did two things as I recall: one was having a shirt that read “39.999999 and counting” on it. I wore it earlier this year if you recall.

The second was more diabolical and public. They placed an ad in our local county newspaper during the week of her birthday that proclaimed her as being the newest member of the “Over the Hill Club.”

I remember being 10 and thinking how old that made Mom sound. Dad was only a few months behind.

“Over the Hill”? I figured their next step was to have their wills finalized and grave sites picked out.

For the 29.99999 years after that as I approached 40, I kept that club in the back of my mind. I dreaded it. I figured that turning 40 was one step away from the end and, like the club title refers to, everything goes downhill after that.

Then I turned 40. Nothing happened. I celebrated the occasion with a nice oceanfront seafood dinner, and that was it.

My body didn’t go into decay. I didn’t get dementia and loose my mind. And although I did have to get progressive lenses in my glasses for the first time, not much about being 40 has made me feel like I’m tumbling down the hill of life, getting ready to crash land and end the whole darn thing.

Having a 3-year-old helps. He makes me feel young and keeps me on my toes. He’s gotten into building blocks with LEGOs and DUPLOs over the past couple of months. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t enjoyed participating in his constructions. Teaching him how to throw and catch a ball, while watching him run and jump outside also takes me back to my childhood.

But I digress. I’ll get to the so-called point.

Getting older isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the creaks and aches and pains are more frequent. Yes, I have to get up and pee at night more often. Yes, I’m aware of the question a cashier at Wal-Mart gets asked by the register every time they scan alcohol: DOES THIS PERSON LOOK OLDER THAN 40?

Yeah, I’m older. I’m less than a month from turning 41. Now I can say, “So what?”

My son is growing up more every day, and he’s an absolute delight and awesome. We have a new house near the Atlantic we’re getting settled into. I have my fifth book coming out in a little over a month.

If turning 40 means you’re now speeding to the end of your life, I’m thrilled to be rolling along, even with the aches and pains and new-fangled bifocals.

I never looked forward to turning 40. Now that I have I can say this in all sincerity:

“Thanks, Karen.”

Death on the Boardwalk now available for hardcover preorders

 

My wife and son throwing rocks in the Broad River in Lake Lure, NC.

It’s good to get away, isn’t it? For years, every time my wife and I went on vacation (usually to a beach), we dreamed of living there. Then last year, my wife had a job offer in Myrtle Beach that we jumped on. Sold our home just outside of Charlotte, NC, and moved in less than two months. 
   Now that we’ve been here going on two years, we’ve been on vacation once to Edisto Island. One of our favorite places. We love it so much that I based much of Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure there. But I digress, we went inland for vacation this year and traveled to Lake Lure, NC last week for a stay.
   The weather couldn’t have been more agreeable for early November in the mountains. The leaves were just past their peak, but still beautiful. We had several activities lined up for my 3-year-old: going to an apple orchard, panning for gold, hiking through the woods, etc. But what he loved the most was throwing rocks in the Broad River (pictured). 
   It’s funny how a toddler can give you perspective on what is important and what isn’t, isn’t it?
 


Now for the bookish items on the agenda. 
Death on the Boardwalk is now available for preorder in hardcover here! That is also in addition to Kindle on Amazon. It is now also on-sale at Barnes & Noble here. Paperback preorders should be available this week as soon as Amazon adds it to their store. The release date for all versions is 2/2/21.

My most recent Lucas Caine action/adventure, The Search for the Fountain of Youth, is part of this HUGE Mystery & Thriller promotion for books available on Kindle Unlimited. Check out the books here.

Get Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure for $.99 for a limited time!

Welcome to October! We’re nearing the end of 2020 (finally). The air is cooler. Leaves are changing colors. The air seems cleaner. Ahh.

I’m celebrating by completing the behind-the-scenes actions needed to have my upcoming mystery, Death on the Boardwalk (preorder here), finished and by offering my action-adventure novel, Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure, on Kindle for just $.99!

Amazon is running a sale on the book from October 2-9, 2020!

Here’s a recent review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Adventure Mystery – “Mr. Wygal’s book was a great adventure/mystery story. I couldn’t put it down. It was easy to read and kept me guessing.”

Get it on Kindle here!


Upcoming Appearance

I will be signing copies of my books at the Myrtle Beach Fall Fest on October 11, 2020 from 11-4. Get more information about the event here.

Death on the Boardwalk is now available for Preorder!

Caleb Wygal’s new Cozy Mystery, Death on the Boardwalk, is now available to preorder on Kindle! Preorders for the hardcover and paperback versions will likely come in November.

In case you missed it, here is the description of Death on the Boardwalk:

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is normally an idyllic place. Until death arrives on recently widowed bookstore owner Clark Thomas’ doorstep.
When the body of a local businesswoman and environmentalist gets dumped by the back door of his shop, Clark finds himself in a unique position to investigate the crime. But should he? When it comes to murder, something else drives him he doesn’t want to admit.
As he launches his own search for the killer, Clark comes across a variety of colorful Boardwalk inhabitants who might have had reason to kill an otherwise beloved person.
Can he do it and start putting his wife’s death behind him in the process, or will it open up a fresh wound?

Death on the Boardwalk Book Description Revealed!

I hope you are doing well this weekend. It’s a gloomy, rainy day here in Myrtle Beach. I hope the weather is better where you are. 
   After a couple weeks of writing, erasing, workshopping with other authors, and my publisher, we have the book description for my next mystery novel, Death on the Boardwalk, ready to reveal! Without further ado, here it is:

   The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is normally an idyllic place. Until death arrives on recently widowed bookstore owner Clark Thomas’ doorstep.
   When the body of a local businesswoman and environmentalist gets dumped by the back door of his shop, Clark finds himself in a unique position to investigate the crime. But should he? When it comes to murder, something else drives him he doesn’t want to admit.
   As he launches his own search for the killer, Clark comes across a variety of colorful Boardwalk inhabitants who might have had reason to kill an otherwise beloved person.
   Can he do it and start putting his wife’s death behind him in the process, or will it open up a fresh wound?


The book is slated for release in mid-January. I should have an exact release date nailed down within the next few weeks. 

Until then, you can pick up my other mystery novel, A Murder in Concord, on Kindle as part of this $.99 Book Mega-Sale! Check it out here!

Death on the Boardwalk Cover Reveal!

I’ve had this day circled on my calendar for a while now. For many authors, choosing the cover of their next book is a hand-wringing, nerve-wracking experience. They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and book covers are our introductions to you. 
   My next book, in case you missed it, is the first of a mystery series set in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It takes place through the often offbeat eyes of bookstore owner Clark Thomas. I’m still working on the final book description (which is going through its third draft at present), and I will reveal that to you soon. It should be released in January of 2021.
    For now, here is the cover! Let me know what you think.