Saturday, 8 June 2019

Nefarious by Nicole Clarkston - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour - Nefarious by Nicole Clarkston
I'm delighted to be welcoming Nicole Clarkston back to the blog with her latest Pride & Prejudice-inspired story, Nefarious which is already receiving great reviews. It sounds like an angsty one. Let's take a look at the blurb and then I'll hand over to Nicole for an excerpt and giveaway.

Book Description

He hates everything about her.
She despises him even more.
So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?

Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.

He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore.

Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?

Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?

Wraparound Book Cover - Nefarious by Nicole Clarkston


Excerpt from Nefarious

I cannot believe Mr Collins touched me in such a way! I had almost persuaded myself that it was merely the effect of his terminal oafishness—that he truly was the clumsiest, dullest, most insensible man alive, and that he was likely unaware of what his hand had just done. But then, Mr Darcy had to call him out over the matter.

The nerve of that man! It was worse because all in the vicinity heard every word of his scathing remonstration. Even had they not seen what Mr Darcy had—and I did have to ponder a moment about why that man had been watching my posterior—no one could misunderstand that Mr Darcy was accusing Mr Collins of some impropriety towards myself. My shame was complete.

“Mr Darcy,” I snapped, “in the future, if you decide to take upon yourself the mantle of the knight in armour, I will thank you not to create so gauche a scene as you have just done.”

The miscreant, he gritted his teeth and leaned close, as if he thought the entire episode my fault!

“Then you make a habit of permitting gentlemen improper liberties?”

“I do not, but I could have taken the matter up with my father, without causing a public disturbance.”

He clenched his fists, his face changed colours, and he opened his mouth…

Well… I shall not think now of the scornful, shameful exchange that followed, save to recall that he had insulted my father, sneered at me, made a mockery of every chivalrous notion a proper gentleman ought to have expressed, and then… and then… I buried my heated face in my palms.

He dared me to dance with him.

It was no common banter, such as our precious skirmishes. No, this was nearly a hostile demand, an expressed doubt of my courage… a confrontation from which I could not back down.

After it was over, and he had stalked his sullen way back to the corner where he liked to stand, I fled to the ladies’ retiring room to fan my crimson cheeks and wash down my humiliation with great draughts of punch.

“Here, now, Lizzy,” Charlotte protested, “you will make yourself ill!”

“A capital notion,” I declared, and reached for another glass.

“But what is this?” she cried. “It is not like you to hide here in the retiring room.”

“Nor is it like me to accept a dance with Mr Darcy. What could I have been thinking?”

Charlotte’s eyes widened. “You did what?”

“Please, do not make me repeat myself, Charlotte. What am I to do? I cannot possibly stand up with him! How am I to do it?”

“It is simple,” she scoffed. “You place your feet side by side, and stand in the line facing the gentlemen…”

“Charlotte, I know you delight in teasing me, but I cannot bear it just now. I shall have to be civil to him for a full half an hour!”

“Why should you behave any differently than you have always done? It was he who asked you to dance, was it not? I suppose he knows you well enough by now to understand what sort of company he is to expect. You needn’t talk at all, if you do not wish to, you know. Why, when I danced with Jonathan Sanders, we said not a single word to each other.”

“Jonathan Sanders is not Fitzwilliam Darcy,” I groaned.

“Indeed, not! Mr Darcy is ten times as handsome. Come, Lizzy, I know very well that you admire the man’s person. How could you not? Now, surviving the dance shall be the simplest thing. All you need do is keep your mouth closed and look on his face. The time will pass agreeably enough.”

“How simple you make it sound!” I sighed.

There was nothing simple about it. All through the dinner, I felt his scorn for my family’s antics, but that was not the worst of it. I was partnered with the highly amiable Mr Bingley during the first set after dinner when we both saw Mr Darcy clasp Jane’s hands like a jealous boor. Poor Jane!

And poor Mr Bingley! I thought my partner would tear his friend’s head off right there on the dance floor, but he had the good grace to continue, as if nothing were amiss. However, as soon as the strains died away, no one had to encourage Mr Bingley to escort Jane away from Mr Darcy. He took her from the floor at once, leaving me standing there facing the brute alone.

For a moment—an instant, really—I saw a flash of something in his eyes that threatened to draw me, lead me on to some folly. It was fear, I am sure of it. I stiffened my spine. I was determined to punish him for his infamous behaviour to Jane, and I would begin by tormenting him.

It was easy… in theory. I knew very well how wildly uncomfortable he was whenever he was forced into proximity with me. If his feelings were anything like mine, I knew precisely how to play him, just as the violinist coaxed both sweet and discordant notes from the same instrument. A step near, a clash of gazes, a brush of hands, and his desolation would be complete.

Unfortunately, so was my own.

The dance was the Allemande, which required more physical intimacy than many others. That I should have had to dance it with Mr Darcy was nothing short of a celestial injustice! We clasped each other's fingertips and twirled together, then fell into step dos à dos. His face was so near, and I could feel the heat of his body through the thin fabric of my gown sleeves. He was indignant, provoked by my challenges, and his good sense—or whatever sense he possessed—was ebbing.

“Are you so determined to view each of my actions in the worst possible light?” he demanded of me at length. “Do you so readily discount my position and understanding?”

“Your understanding is woeful, at best,” I shot back, “and always has been regarding my sister. As for your position, it means less than nothing to me against the interests of one I love. Indeed, sir, your arrogance knows no bounds!”

“You mistake me yet again, Miss Elizabeth. I meant to say that I am no wet-behind-the-ears lad. I have moved among Society for many years, and never have I slipped so grievously as to offend a lady during a ball. My actions earlier were as startling to me as they were to Miss Bennet, and I deeply regret any discomfort I may have caused her.”

“May have! Sir, the only reason I remained here on the floor with you rather than rushing to attend her is that I did not wish to deepen her humiliation any more. What cause could you have had for taking such a vulgar liberty and frightening her so?”

“I… I cannot tell.”

“You do not even know!” I cried.

“I do. I simply cannot tell you.” He sealed his lips and looked, for just a second, miserably unhappy.

“Then, sir, I am afraid we have nothing more to say to one another.”

We separated for the moment to face another couple, and I tried with all my might and main to act as if the man had not triggered something deep within me. I could not decide if it were rage, or something uglier. Destructive fascination? Much as I loathed the man, there was some mystery at work that caught at my thoughts, tugged all my feelings, and made me itch to piece together the puzzle of his existence.

We returned to our places, and I stared back across the set at the man I could not help but despise. Surely, I must despise him… mustn’t I? I fixed my glare, readied my tongue for the next sally, but something in his look drew me in. There was something so broken, so lost in his expression, that I found myself studying him once again.

His lips were moving—very faintly. No sound emerged, but he looked for all the world like a man whispering a deep confidence to one he hoped might listen. I could almost swear the words shaped by his mouth were,  “I regret…”

Curiosity burned within me, and I mouthed back, “What did you say?”

He did not answer, of course, but his expression appeared startled. He blinked, and then it was our turn to come together again. With each pass, each step, his movements were more sluggish, more hesitant.

 “Miss Elizabeth,” he faltered at last, “I pray you, let us have some conversation.”

“Do you seek to relieve your own feelings on the matter, or flatter mine?” I asked.

“I seek to make myself understood, and to mitigate our obvious discord. Or do you prefer that everyone believes us both to be unsociable and taciturn?”

“Surely you cannot claim such a criticism for yourself!” I protested. “Or do you imply that we share such a fault, both of us unwilling to speak unless we can say something that will amaze the whole room?”

“Faith, I imagine we have more than certain faults in common, but for now I seek only to make what amends I may.” His figure seemed to darken, his entire body leaning close, hanging on my response.

I felt my own face heating, for there was something not unwelcome in the way he seemed so desperate for my absolution. He was nearly likeable in that moment, and that revelation unnerved me so greatly that I fell back to my defences.

“Then you are to be pitied,” I retorted, “for you shall be disappointed on both counts. We, sir, are nothing alike, and it is too late for you to make your amends. A man such as you ought to have every advantage, every natural feeling of kindness for others. But from our first introduction, you have impressed me with your arrogance and conceit. I have told you this before, and you do not improve with correction. You hate everyone but those who you see as useful, for they are merely objects for your amusement! You take no pains to truly understand others—you simply expect them to conform to you. And you have the audacity to think yourself above reproach!”

“Are you so blameless?” he shot back. “You wilfully misunderstand me, and then refuse to hear any sort of justification. Has it ever occurred to you, Miss Elizabeth, that no man lives or acts independently of his experiences? That simply…”

The dance called for another pirouette just then, so I spun about, his arms surrounding me in a way I found distractingly appealing and looked over my shoulder at him. “Simply what? What excuse have you to offer?”

“Simply…” he choked, “… seeing you… being in the same room with you… I cannot bear it.”

That one brutal statement was the culmination of all my embarrassment, all my feelings of inferiority.

His words scalded my pride and reminded me once again that fascinating as he was, striking as I might find him, Mr Darcy was truly a swine, and his company toxic for me.  “Then I shall not ask it of you any longer!” I cried, snatching my hands away. “Good evening, sir.”

I fled the room, tears of humiliation pricking my eyes. Once—just once—could I not pass the time with an amiable gentleman who was a pleasure in company, appealing to the eyes, and perhaps even found me agreeable? And would it be too much to ask that he not flirt with other women like Mr Wickham or insult me like Mr Darcy while we danced?

At least there was one other in this whole house who could sympathise with my plight. I dashed the tears from my cheeks and set out to find Jane. In comforting her, I might salve my own wounds. I set my teeth in determination and resolved to forget all about Fitzwilliam Darcy.

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Book Cover - Nefarious by Nicole Clarkston
Buy Links

If you can't wait to read this, the good news is that Nefarious is available to buy now, both in ebook and paperback - Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads 


Author Bio:

Author Nicole Clarkston
Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole is part of Austen Variations, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook  Twitter, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Giveaway Time!

Book Cover - Nefarious by Nicole Clarkston
Nicole is generously offering a giveaway to you. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post. If you have difficulties commenting then drop me an email with your comment and I can add it on your behalf and enter you into the draw - my email address can be found here. Leave your comment by the end of the day on Saturday 15 June to be included. This giveaway is open to international entrants.

Option 1: $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice; International
Option 2: Signed Paperback of winner’s choice; US only

Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour - Nefarious by Nicole Clarkston
Nicole is also visiting some other blogs. Why not check out their stops on the blog tour to find out more about the book and increase your chances of winning?

June 3rd - More Agreeably Engaged; Vignette, Giveaway
June 4th – From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway
June 7th - Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
June 8th – Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
June 11th – So Little Time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 13th - Savvy Verse & Wit; Guest Post, Giveaway
June 15th – Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway

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47 comments:

  1. Oh Elizabeth! And even more, Oh Darcy!!!
    Even I admit that he rather messed up with that line and I’m a devoted Darcy fan.
    If she’d given him chance he should have added ‘without kissing you senseless’ to his declaration ��.
    I understand how upset she was but she had also seen how desolate he was!
    I am loving this alternate view point to this fabulous story, thank you Nicole.
    Please don’t enter me in the giveaway. I have all the books, don’t have audiobooks and don’t shop on .com

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    1. I think they are both pretty messed up and confused after that dance, Glynis! Poor Elizabeth, she has no idea of all the things Darcy is thinking of her. Thank you for stopping by, dear friend!

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  2. I try to stay away from excerpts because the first time I read the first chapter online I felt a certain image forming in my mind regarding this story.
    Writers probably know what I mean. We tend to fill in the blanks and this first Mrs Darcy sounds to me like Rebecca in…Rebecca. You have set this man for an impossible task!
    So I want to see what you have thought about it. The very concept is intriguing.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

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    1. She truly was a piece of work. Elizabeth has a big job in front of her to convince Darcy that not everybody is so twisted as the other… Elizabeth. I hope your picture of the story holds true for the book!

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  3. Elizabeth has always been bad at sketching people's characters, she seems even worse here

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    1. She probably could do better if her subject were not so frustrating! Our sheltered Elizabeth has no clue what is going on in that man’s mixed up head... poor girl.

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  4. Both Elizabeth and Darcy have a l-o-n-g way to go before seeing the other in a positive light. I've read the e-book and it is wonderful! Thanks for a chance to enter the drawing.

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    1. Boy, you said it! We are far from an HEA here, but eventually... maybe Darcy’s bad luck will run out?

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  5. I have read the entire book and I loved it! This is just another of the delicious scenes and I could not help but read it again. So proud that Nefarious is garnering the praise it deserves as it may be my favorite book this year! Brenda Webb

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    1. Thank you, Brenda! You are so sweet to follow the tour. Thank you for all the support 💕

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  6. This little teasing bits are really making me even more eager to read the book!

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    1. Grrrr. "These"! Not "This".

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    2. I hope so! 😂 The ball looks a lot different through Darcy’s eyes. Hope you get to read it soon!

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  7. Whoa! That's angsty, just like I like it! Good on you, Nicole. Thanks, Ceri, for hosting so we get excerpts like this to tease us!

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    1. Hah! I aim to please, my fair lady! Thank you for stopping by 🥰

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  8. Sophia Simeonidou8 June 2019 at 19:05

    Well, it seems Darcy and Elizabeth are going to have a very turbulent relationship! Thank you for the giveaway.

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    1. Probably! Even after reaching an understanding, I bet there will be days. Good luck in the giveaway, Sophia!

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  9. Really enjoyed reading the posts of this story. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  10. Oh man, what a scene! It’s even more emotionally charged coming from Elizabeth’s POV! Nicole, you should definitely consider a companion piece to Nefarious from Elizabeth’s POV! I would totally buy it and devour reading it!

    Congrats again on this highly anticipated release!

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    1. Thank you, Dung! Darcy certainly has his work cut out for him if he wants to earn her good opinion. I’ll have to think about that companion novel. 🤔

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  11. I loved charlotte in the excerpt!

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    1. It was fun to see a bit of her, wasn’t it? Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Oh I agree with Dung! You should definitely do a companion piece from Elizabeth's POV, even if you just post it over at JAV. I'm loving all of these so far. I'm hard to put to think of a way that last conversation could have ended any more badly, and can't! At least Elizabeth is beginning to acknowledge that something about Darcy fascinates her, even though she still hates him. Bring on the angst!

    (P. S. How high do the settings go on your Angst-O-Meter?)

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    1. You know, Anji, I don't always know how the angst will come out for a reader. I know the ending, so to me, it's no big deal. I must say, however, that I loved writing a hate-to-love story, and planting all those little nuggets of fascination early on. Who frustrates you more than someone you wish you could like, but just can't?

      As for some postings over at AV, now you might be on to something! Thanks for stopping by, Anji!

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  13. I just love the way you write! I can’t wait to read this book! ❤️

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    1. Aw, thank you, Claire! That is very sweet of you to say. I hope you enjoy it when you get a chance to read it!

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  14. Wow what an impassioned scene! Funnily enough I really for Darcy. He's going through so much but can't communicate his feelings properly. It's all going so wrong! He just wants Elizabeth to understand him, but instead he's pushing her away. Really enjoying reading this at the moment. It's a nice twist to read this scene from Elizabeth's POV. Best of luck with the rest of the blog tour Nicole.

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    1. That should be 'really feel for Darcy'!

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    2. He's about as inept as a man can be, isn't he? You want to slap him and hug him all at once, because the goofus deserves both in equal measures. Thanks for saying hello, Elaine!

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  15. Carole in Canada9 June 2019 at 14:16

    Oh yes, Elizabeth completely misunderstands him and Darcy cannot control 'how' he speaks to her which only compounds the problem! Wicked...just wicked!

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    1. If only he could leash that tongue of his! He had quite a mouth on him in JA's original, but this time around, he is less concerned for his dignity and more for his happiness. *sigh* That lip!

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  16. What a tangle! They brush against understanding and then self-sabotage sets in. Thanks for the excerpt!

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    1. Don't you wish you could just lock them up and give them each a "Be Nice for Five Minutes" pill? Seriously!

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  17. My goodness. That scene is about as 'Crisis Time' as it gets, but then I've read the book (holy cow, what a book!) and I know it just gets even MORE angsty than this scene....and it's just around the corner! Reading the scene from Elizabeth's point of view was quite interesting. Ick, that slimy Mr. Collins.

    For anyone on the fence about this book, here, let me give you a shove over the edge. You've got to read this!! Like NOW.

    Whew, Nicole. I get all nervous and needy and whiny....to myself....well now I just publicized it, umm. Waiting for your next book, wanting it right now! And hoping it will be as wonderful as your other books. I've never been disappointed yet. You're a Queen, Wonder Woman. I just absolutely adore your books. I wish you every success, so well deserved. Thank you for the generous chance at the giveaway.

    Thank you Ceri, for hostin a blog tour stop! :D

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    1. Whew, thank you, Michelle! Sorry about your angst-o-meter. It's always fun chatting with you, and it makes writing so much more pleasant when I know people enjoyed it. Thank you for your wonderful friendship and support!

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  18. This scene was fascinating from Elizabeth's POV. Great complement to the original. Thank you for allowing us to get inside Lizzy's head too. It is such fun! They cannot keep from misunderstanding one another, can they? (especially Lizzy)

    Thanks for hosting, Ceri!

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    1. Boy, they can't! They just insist on seeing the wrong. Thanks for stopping by, Janet, and for organizing the tour!

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  19. I read and enjoyed this story as I have also enjoyed Nicole's other stories. Well done!

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  20. I had a comment emailed in from Eva Edmonds:

    I have enjoyed reading the blog posts from Elizabeth's POV. I have read the ebook and would love to win the audiobook. The tension between Darcy and Elizabeth is very prominent. Thank you for another wonderful book!

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    1. Thank you, Ceri! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and the vignettes. Those were fun to write. Audiobook should be ready in early 2020, as per the narrator's schedule!

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  21. This was a roller-coaster of a scene.
    What a mess these two are. Can't wait to see Darcy's own POV.

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    1. Ah, yes, they are a train wreck, aren't they? I hope you get to read Darcy's POV soon!

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  22. Goodness what a scene! Loved it!

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  23. I'm enjoying this vignette from Elizabeth's point-of-view. Nicole, you wrote such a fantastic scene and I can't help but side with her. Poor, Elizabeth. To be humiliated and shamed in front of everyone and then Mr Darcy has the nerve to pile on the insult. It's no wonder that she broke down and cried.

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  24. This has been so much fun reading everyone's comments. Love this tour. Thanks to Ceri for hosting. Love you Nicole. Blessings on the success of this work. You deserve it. Only I know how hard you have worked on this.

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