#WIP – #AmWriting (I hope!) – #ColeCole&Dupree

Oh, I SO know how he feels! I’ve been dragging around in Subpar Mode for so long, it’s ridiculous. (And to think that at my age, I consider every minute of wasted time to be a cardinal sin!) But the good (or at least better) news is, I am going to fix this problem, one way or the other! 

Yes, yes, Snape! I should be writing and I’m GOING to be writing, because after all, Cole, Cole & Dupree cannot finish itself, now can it? But I wanted to share my earthshattering improved health news here on TWS first. Plus I thought maybe sharing here might get me even more in the mood to move on with this story. I mean, it’s got a lot going for it, I think. From a very strange mystery for CC&D to solve, to Rabbit’s astonishing find of a Fairy Cross (staurolite) on a wooded trail, to the fun (I hope) relationship between Rabbit and his adopted family, including his sort-of adopted big brother, Austin Dupree. 

Oh, fairy crosses, you ask? Well, they look like this, and are a completely natural and totally REAL (though very rare) rock formation, wherein a natural “twinning process” produces these amazing stones in every size. See:

And here’s one more: a precious little miniature one sent to me from my friend in Wales, Trish, alias Alex Craigie. (Thank you again, Trish!)

But putting all that aside, the main reason to post about what I hope will be my return to Cole, Cole, & Dupree is that it gives me an excuse to share an excerpt with you good folks, and perhaps find out if this prologue would make you want to turn the page for the rest of the story.  So without further ado, here you go:

Just Past Midnight in a Frosty Winter Pasture
Sunday, January 11, 2015
~~~

“THOUGHT YOU NEEDED to see this, boss. Called as soon as I found ‘em.”

“You were right to call, Kip. Any idea what the hell happened here?”

“Not a one. Never seen anything like it.”

Alvy Ballard moved his flashlight in a slow arc across the scene in front of him, as he struggled to make sense of all the darkened forms humped along the ground. With a look of dread in his eyes, he turned back to his foreman. “Big Red?”

“Big Red, too, boss. He’s over by the east fence.”

“Show me.”

The two men walked around the fence line, stopping to check each bloody body along the way. Alvy gave a slow, stunned shake of his head. “All dead. Every single one of them dead. What could have done something like this, Kip?”

“I got no idea. Every throat torn out. All ten horses, gone. It ain’t natural.”

When they neared the middle of the east fence line, Kip stopped and laid his hand on Alvy’s arm. “You sure you want to look at him?”

Alvy nodded. “I need to see for myself.”

Kip watched as his boss continued along the fence to where the body of his prize stallion lay. For a moment the big man stood staring in shock, then he dropped to his knees. Draping himself across his horse, Alvy Ballard wept like a child, shoulders shaking with loud, heartbroken sobs.

Kip knew his boss well enough to understand his need for privacy, so he remained where he was until Alvy stood, wiped his eyes, and returned.

“I still don’t understand what happened to them,” Alvy said, his voice husky with emotion.

“Me, neither, boss. For sure, it wasn’t no animal I’ve ever seen. Animals don’t kill ‘less they’re hungry. All them horses are dead, all right, but not a single one’s been eaten on.”


Well, there you have it. I hope you are intrigued and ready to find out what the heck happened in Alvy Ballard’s pasture. And you can rest assured, when the good sheriff Raleigh Wardell shows up to consult with them, Cole, Cole, &  Dupree will be ready to take on this case!


Thanks for reading this morning,
and here’s to a GREAT start to your week!

#GuestDayTuesday – #Bold&BlatantSelfPromo – #Excerpt – #TheEmissary2: To Love Somebody

See, this is what happens when you guys don’t have any news or ideas you want to share: when #GuestDayTuesday rolls around, you just might get ME as the guest! Et voila! Here I am! 

Decided to share an excerpt from my second Emissary Trilogy novella. It’s a scene I hope you’ll find amusing, even without knowing all the particulars of the story at this point.  And for those who think they’d enjoy reading more, these three novellas should definitely be read in order.

But for now, Happy Reading!

 


EXERPT:

Sitting in a Booth Where Cracked Red Vinyl Had Run Amuck,
Ordering That Too-Late Breakfast or Too-Early Lunch,
While Studiously Avoiding Each Other’s Eyes. 

“WHY DO YOU supposed diners always have red plastic seats and red Formica tables? I mean, is it like a law, or somethin’? Part of the original blueprints? Or building code?”

Jake watched Dodger drumming nervous fingers on that very Formica tabletop and knew the boy wanted to talk. He wasn’t going to push him, however. As proven once again by this morning’s events, that never worked. When he was ready, he would talk. Until then, apparently diner décor was what interested him most.

“No idea. Maybe you can research that while we’re on the road so we’ll learn what’s what before we stop at another one.”

Dodger stared out the window. “You’re bein’ condescending, you know.”

“Sorry. Just trying to help you find something to talk about.”

“Well, don’t. I don’t really wanna talk about diners or Formica or anything else like that, and you know it.”

“Yeah, I guess I do. But to be fair, you did talk about it, so I was just playing along.” Jake took a sip of his iced tea, waited a beat, then tried again. “Dodger, you don’t need to explain anything to me. I’m in your corner, no matter what. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell me every detail from your life before we met.”

Finally, Dodger’s face swung back toward Jake. “But I do—at least I do, if it’s somethin’ I need you to understand. And this is.”

“Okay, then. As long as it’s what you want, I’ll always listen. And I’ll always help if I can.”

“I know that. I think I’ve known that since that day in the hospital parking lot, when you told me you wouldn’t take me back to the crap life I was livin’ before you rescued me. And I do trust you. It’s only that I’ve never talked about stuff like this to anyone. Ever. I don’t have any idea how to start.”

“Well, before you go any further, let me say that I didn’t mean to act like there was something wrong with you. Not at all. The honest truth is, as I look back on my own life and think about what was going on with young people around me, I suspect there were way too many of them having sex before they were emotionally mature enough to take that step. But the right time and circumstances are different for everyone, and I didn’t mean to sound like I was judging you.”

Dodger appeared to be inspecting the Formica all over again while his face turned just as red, but waiting was something Jake was good at. It was a skill the boy had helped him perfect.

A few minutes crept by, then Dodger plunged in. “Don’t know if I was ready for it or not, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Not at first, anyway. I was a shrimpy little kid, and way too young to interest the girls. A couple of years later, I’d put on some weight, and must have looked better. Next thing I knew, there was some coked-up, empty-eyed girl or another backin’ me into a corner every time I turned around.” He paused, then ground out, “I hated it!”

“Okay. Do you want to tell me why?”

It took three tries before Dodger was able to answer, and Jake wasn’t surprised at the pain in the boy’s voice.

“I had this dumbass idea when I left home that I’d find someone who cared about me. Someone I’d matter to.” He looked up, eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I guess I just wanted somebody, somewhere, to love me. No one ever had, Jake, and even as messed up as I was by then, one thing I knew for damn sure—none of those girls followin’ us runners around were gonna love me, either.” He paused, then stared out the window again.

“So, you waited?”

Nodding, Dodger went on. “Yeah. I waited. And kept waiting. Not like I was holdin’ out for something permanent or anything. I just wanted it to matter. I wanted me to matter. Stupid, huh?”

“No, Dodge. Not stupid at all. Love is the one thing in the world that truly does matter, above all else. Of course you wanted it. We all do. We’re born reaching for it, and the fact that you already knew the truth of that at the age of sixteen is one more example of how special you are. Azrael was right in telling me to save your life at all costs, and right again in bringing you back. You have so much to give this world, and you’re making a real difference in the lives of others every single day. And as for someone loving you, I know this isn’t the same, but I couldn’t love you more if you were my own son.”

“Thank you for that,” Dodger whispered. “I can’t even put into words how much that means to me.” The boy stared at the Formica again, his face still forlorn.

“But?”

“But I still wish I’d managed to get laid. At least once.”


You can download The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody HERE
(But don’t forget, these 3 novellas are meant to be read in order.)


BLURB:

They’re back!

Jake and Dodger, the first (and so far, only) Emissaries to the Angels, are on the road again.

They’re looking for mortals about to take a wrong turn. You know the ones—the kid thinking about stealing from a corner market or the man planning to lie about a coworker and destroy her career. Yeah, them. People on the brink of making a mistake that could send them down that wrong road and jeopardize their mortal souls.

Of course, there are rules by which the emissaries must play, and the archangel Azrael stands ready to enforce them. First and foremost, a person’s free will must never be compromised. Emissaries are allowed to use only the smallest of mental nudges. Thankfully, a whispered suggestion here or images of a better course of action there is usually all it takes. The potential mugger walks on by. The thief drops the wallet back into the unattended purse. But whether the results are obvious or not, Jake and Dodger are fully committed to making a positive difference, even as they struggle with issues of their own.

Will Dodger get over losing his chance to learn what true love is all about? Will Jake survive the grueling angelic equivalent of Boot Camp? Will Azrael ever finish the Official Emissarial Guidebook—including the chapter titled Do Not Even Think About It?

One thing’s for sure—Jake’s and Dodger’s strengths are growing daily, as they help more and more people make better choices. But is the price for so much power higher than they’re willing to pay?


#Excerpt – #FindingHunter – #MegaSale – #AlertTheMedia

Still having fun sharing excerpts–something I seldom do on The Write Stuff. (At least not from my own books, though I do intend to get my #ExcerptWeek series for guest posters going again before long.) Today, I’m sharing one of the lighter scenes from Finding Hunter that I hope will make you chuckle. To say Hunter Painter has issues would be an understatement, but he’s a kind and gentle soul through and through, in spite of the things life throws his way. Happy reading!


Finding Hunter takes a look at the devastating effects of a family torn apart by a horrific tragedy, pitting brother against brother, and focusing on battling PTSD with the redemptive power of unwavering love and support.

EXCERPT:

HUNTER GROANED, PULLING his feather pillow over his head not only to block out the world, but just in case he started shouting in frustration.

What the hell happened? What the bloody hell just happened? Everything was fine. It was going better than I ever thought it would, and then suddenly it all went crazy. She kissed me! Why the hell did she kiss me? How the hell was I supposed to resist that?

The memory of that kiss rocketed into him so hot and fast, it scorched a path through his soul. Never in his life had a kiss transported him that way. He could still feel her mouth under his, sweet and yielding, and burning like fire. The raspberry scent of her hair lingered on his hands, and he would never, ever forget the taste of her skin. Every nerve ending in his body felt burned raw from the experience—so sensitive, the slightest breeze sliding over it would cause unbearable pain.

But somewhere in his torment, he also remembered how she had responded to him, moaning into that kiss, and whispering his name over and over as they clung to each other. She wanted him, too, a concept that had never once seemed a possibility in all the years he had loved her.

Doesn’t make it any better, does it, you stupid fool? Still never gonna happen. You don’t belong with Willow Greene, and nothing’s going to change that. All you’re doing here is torturing yourself.

He swore into his pillow. “’Take a chance,’ Gunn said. ‘Call her up,’ Gunn said. I’m gonna find that bastard and pound him to death with one of his own cameras!”

That image distracted him from his woes for about thirty seconds, and then he slid even deeper into the hole of misery he’d dug for himself.

Never gonna leave this room again. Can’t be trusted to go out into the real world and behave like a person with a single, functioning brain cell. Just gonna have my meals delivered right here, and Dad can walk Biscuit. I’ll tell him I’m sick—and keep telling him that for the rest of my life.

A sudden rap on the bedroom door interrupted his maudlin thoughts. “Hunter? Are you awake?”

“Yeah, Dad. You can come in.”

His father stuck his head in the door. “Sorry to bother you, son, but … well … there’s a young lady down here says she wants to talk to you.”

Horrified, Hunter bolted upright. “What? What’re you talking about?”

“I’m talking about this pretty little thing at the front door, says she has to talk to you. Real long hair, sweet smile, named … um …”

Hunter smacked his head. “Willow.”

His dad nodded. “That’s it. You wanna come down?”

“No! Did you already tell her I’m here?”

“Well, sure. Should I be lying to young ladies who are looking for you?”

“Yes! I mean, no, not generally. Just this one.”

“You do something to her, Hunter?”

“No, of course not. Well, not like you mean. It’s just … aw, it’s complicated, Dad. Can you just tell her I wasn’t up here, or I’m asleep, or I’m sick, or I’ve gone to China? Something? I’m not coming down there!”

His dad gave him a disapproving look. “Okay. Have it your way, but no, I’m not gonna lie to this little gal. I’m just gonna go tell her you don’t want to see her.”

Flinging himself back down on the bed, Hunter growled in frustration. “Fine. If that’s what you want to do, do it. I’m still not coming down.” He clamped the pillow back over his face, and refused to say anything else.

His dad sighed, closed the door a little too hard, and stomped down the stairs.

Two minutes later, Hunter heard a tap, and the sound of the door opening again.

This time, he didn’t bother to lift the pillow. “Did she go away?”

“No, I didn’t go away, Hunter. And I’m not going to.”

Once again, Hunter bolted to a sitting position. He dropped his pillow and stared at Willow, mouth agape. “Willow! You can’t just walk into my room. It’s … you … this isn’t …”

“Oh stop, Hunter. I’m here. And you and I are going to talk.”


Available on Amazon for only $.99 thru Valentine’s Day!
Download  Finding Hunter HERE


Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from the second Riverbend novel!  Thanks so much for reading and helping me get the word out!

#Excerpt – #TheEmissary – #MegaSale – #AlertTheMedia

I’ve been having so much fun finding excerpts to share with you guys, I decided to keep going. Hope you’ll enjoy this scene between the Archangel Azrael and his first Emissary, Jake Daughtry. (It was such fun writing about these two!) Happy Reading!



Chapter 1
“Angel Eyes”
The Jeff Healey Band

~~~

Cowering in Terror,
At That Still-Dark, Still-Deserted Truck Stop,
Halfway Between Here and There.

AZRAEL STOPPED ADVANCING. Jake squinted against the brilliant white glare that surrounded the angel towering over him.

“Do you have to be all bright like that in order to kill me?”

Cocking his head to the side, Azrael bellowed, “What?”

“It’s like staring into the sun. Go ahead and cleave, if you want to, but can’t you do it without first making me blind as well as deaf?”

Azrael grimaced. “Better?” He’d turned the volume down a hundred decibels or so, and the fiery aura surrounding him faded.

Jake nodded. “Okay. Cleave away.”

“You are not making an ounce of sense. Why do you keep going on about cleaving?”

“Off the top of my head, I’d say it’s because that big sword you’re swinging around looks like it was designed for cleaving all over the place.”

Azrael stared at the sword in his hand as though he’d never seen it before, and couldn’t imagine why he was holding it. In a nanosecond, it whooshed out of sight, faster than Luke Skywalker’s light saber.

To Jake’s amazement, Azrael flushed flamingo pink. His golden curls fell back into place around his face, and his size returned to something less monolithic in nature. For a moment, the angel looked as though he might even apologize, but he appeared to think better of it. Instead, he drew himself up straight, squared his shoulders, and cleared his throat.

“I am not going to cleave you in twain, Jake, but do not try my patience again. Perhaps you and I need to have a serious discussion. We do not seem to be . . . on the same page, I believe you would say.”

“A discussion? Is that angelspeak for telling me I can’t quit?” Jake tried to stand, but gasped as his back refused to follow through on that idea.

Azrael scowled. “Emissary in training or not, you are still too fragile. This will have to be corrected.” He waved a hand in Jake’s general direction, and the pain disappeared at once.

Jake scrambled to his feet. He preferred to face Azrael eye to eye, even though it didn’t increase his chances of being able to defend himself from the angel at all. The few bits of power he’d been given would be all but useless against that kind of strength, but standing still felt better than cowering on the ground at the feet of an infuriated behemoth.

“Is the pain gone?” For a fleeting moment, Azrael looked genuinely concerned.

“Mostly. What now?”

“Now we talk. I have put a Pass By compulsion on the entrance to this place, but it would still be more comfortable and quiet in your truck.”

Jake turned to follow Azrael back to the semi, then froze in his tracks. “What the—? You found time between all the thundering, and glowing, and . . . and . . . sword-waving to put the door back on?”

“Nonsense. I was focused on you. The door took care of itself.”

“Huh? What’s that mean?”

“It means your truck heals almost as fast as you do.”

“I heal fast? Since when?”

Azrael’s expression flip-flopped between anger and frustration, finally compromising on irritated resignation. He stalked across the parking lot, and Jake trailed behind, painfully aware he’d just had a narrow escape. Maybe more than one.

A hardheaded temperament and big mouth had gotten Jake in trouble throughout much of his life, and it looked like it would still be a problem in the afterlife, as well. He’d have to work on that—assuming Azrael did not accept his angry resignation.

“What exactly does a ‘Pass By compulsion’ do, if that’s not forbidden knowledge?”

“Knowing what one does is not forbidden. Performing one at your current status level is. Therefore, all I will tell you is that as long as you and I are here, drivers will not notice the exit road and will pass by.”

“Hence, the name.”

“What?”

“Never mind.” Jake shook his head. For a liaison angel, Azrael didn’t seem to understand humans all that well, especially their senses of humor, but antagonizing him wasn’t smart. It might be time to shut up, and let the big guy speak his piece. And he would. As soon as he sorted out one or two more things.


Available on Amazon for only $.99 thru Valentine’s Day!
Download  The Emissary
HERE


Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Emissary. Thanks so much for reading, and for helping me get the word out! You guys ROCK!

Time for Some #BlatantSelf-promotion a/k/a #TootingMyOwnHorn #Excerpt

It’s Friday, and I have no guests today, not even Granny, so I decided to try something I seldom do: a bit of bold and blatant self-promotion. Today’s horn tooting features one of the poems from my book, Summer Magic. This time of year always makes me a bit emotional, hence the poem I’ve chosen. Hope you enjoy it!


Promises

Up we climb again, My Love
On yet another autumn day,
Our trail meandering, higher, higher,
Amidst October’s blazing glory.
The pines are dressed in mossy green,
And glowing maples shed flaming leaves,
Keeping us brilliant company
Under the blue silk sky.

Remember our first time
Climbing this trail?
My God, we were young, and
Filled with each other!
You held my hand, and urged me on.
Wait until we’re there, you said,
Just wait! You’ll see it’s worth the climb.
And it was, My Love.
Oh, it was!

We stood at the top,
Locked in warm embrace,
Our hair, whipped by the wind,
Our hearts triumphant.
Gazing across the rolling hills,
Your radiant face was lit with pride,
As though you had created
All this wonder
Just for me—a wedding gift!
A thing of splendor our hearts shared,
Over and over, every autumn.
Our place. Ours alone,
As though no other lovers
Ever climbed this way.

Years and years ago, it was,
That first ecstatic, heavenward climb.
Yet here we are once more, My Own,
Returning to this ancient spot.
Proving some things do prevail—
Deepest faith, and promises
Sworn in love
Abide,
Just as the land before us does,
Rolling on into eternity.

Take me back, you begged,
Back to our mountain.
I will, My Love, I swear it.
I will.
And here we are.
I’ll keep my promise. No tears today.
But oh, for another smile, another kiss!
Another chance to see your face,
To touch your cheek, to hold your hand.
Gone by so fast, like wind-blown leaves,
All our precious hours and minutes!
But didn’t we use them well, My Love?
Oh, yes! We used them well!

My heart in pieces, I let you go,
And watch as you drift away,
A swirl of grey against the blue.
Your soul soaring, riding the wind,
Then settling lower over the valley,
As you become one
With our hills.
And someday, My Love, my only love,
You’ll feel my soul come drifting down,
To rest with yours once more,
Part of the earth in this sacred place,
You and I, together.
Forever.


Thanks for your indulgence today, but brace yourself. I might do something similar again from time to time. Turns out tooting your own horn now and then is fun! 

Download Summer Magic HERE

#ReblogAlert – Swamp Ghosts featured on Smorgasbord Today!

Today, I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of one of Sally Cronin’s newest features, Sharing an Excerpt from a Previous Book.  I hope you’ll stop by and check out the excerpt I’ve chosen, part of the Prologue from my second book, Swamp Ghosts. It was a trip to write this scene, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. But rest assured, the entire book is not a walk through this guy’s mind. It’s an introduction to a small, Florida town, filled with mostly friendly, though often eccentric folks, who have no idea what’s lurking in the shadows. And oh, yeah, there IS a love story, too, as the wonderful review Sally included mentions.  

Hope you’ll head over and see for yourself, and will remember that this is an offer open to all, as well. Sally includes instructions on how to submit YOUR own excerpt from an older book, and you really should take advantage of the opportunity. 

My heartfelt thanks to Sally for all she does to help us promote our work! And to see what’s afoot in Riverbend via her wonderful post, click HERE. 

THANKS!

Guest Posting Over at Harmony Kent Online Today!

Just a heads up that I’m a guest on Harmony Kent’s lovely blog today, sharing an excerpt from The Light that’s not been seen anywhere else online. It features Rabbit explaining what he thinks the Brown Mountain Lights are all about, and I hope you’ll check it out. It would be lovely if you could find a minute to share a few places–like everywhere you can think of! 😀 I only visited with four (SUPER!) blogs for my mini-tour, so any and all help in spreading the word would be gratefully accepted. Thanks a million!

The Light by @MarciaMeara

The Call of the Woof, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mystery, #ExcerptWeek

by Kassandra Lamb

I’m playing catch-up this week after traveling last week, so I need to go back and read everyone else’s excerpts. The few I’ve read so far were really great.

Here’s mine from my newest release, Book 3 in the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, about a woman who trains service dogs (Buddy is her mentor dog) for combat veterans with PTSD and other “invisible injuries.” In this book, the veteran, Jake Black suffers from traumatic brain injury. He and his wife have been accused of robbery because the culprits were seen leaving the scene of the crime on motorcycles that look like the Blacks’ bikes.

First the synopsis and then an excerpt from Chapter Three, when the police come to search the house and garage.

CallOfTheWoofSm

Synopsis:

Army veteran Jake Black has a new lease on life, thanks to service dog Felix and his trainer, Marcia Banks. Despite a traumatic brain injury, Jake’s able to ride his beloved motorcycle again, with Felix in the sidecar. But his freedom to hit the open road is threatened once more when he and his wife are accused of robbery.

Called in to dog-sit, Marcia can’t sit idly by. She and her mentor dog, Buddy, set out to clear the Blacks’ name, fighting misconceptions about bikers and the nature of TBI along the way. When murder is added to the mix, Marcia redoubles her efforts, despite anonymous threats and her sheriff boyfriend’s strenuous objections, both to her putting herself at risk… and to dragging him along on her wild ride.

Chapter Three:

Jake had a hand on Felix’s head, listing subtly in the dog’s direction. Jake was a big guy, but Felix was a big dog. His face and body were all Bulldog but his legs were longer, probably from some distant Labrador, or maybe a Weimaraner, in his family tree. He came up to Jake’s knee and had been trained to brace himself to take some of his master’s weight.

Most likely only Janey and I knew that Jake was using the dog to maintain his balance, which would have been a lot easier if the dog were wearing his specialized service vest with its stabilizer bar for Jake to grab.

I considered going inside to find the vest, but Jake’s body language had me worried.

His broad face was as red as I’d ever seen it. I was afraid he was about to have one of the “meltdowns” he’d told me about but I’d never witnessed. Anger control problems are common for people with traumatic brain injury.

The worry in Janey’s pale blue eyes said she had the same concern. Shoving shoulder-length blonde hair, frizzy from the humidity, behind her ears, she placed a restraining hand on her husband’s arm.

Jake shrugged her off. Not a good sign.

He snarled in the face of a dark-haired detective in an ill-fitting business suit. “I don’t care how many pieces of paper you got from some judge. How dare you come in here like a bunch of storm troopers…” He spluttered to a stop as Janey once again tugged on the arm that wasn’t using Felix for support.

He whirled on her—an even worse sign—and teetered dangerously on one foot.

Felix quickly shifted position and braced himself by spreading his legs. Once Jake seemed more stable on his feet, Felix leaned gently against his leg.

The maneuver, a type of deep pressure therapy, was meant to reduce anxiety, but it did little for Jake’s anger.

The firm look in Janey’s eyes did have an effect though. Jake froze, then took a deep breath.
“Come on inside,” she said softly. “Let Detective Wright and his men do their jobs.”

He patted her hand, just as the detective gestured to two deputies that they should head for the garage.

Jake pulled loose from his wife and followed as fast as he could, Felix keeping pace beside him. Detective Wright took off after him.

I followed in their wake, trying to decide whether I should report on the broken window in front of the officers or wait.

At the double-wide garage door, the detective gestured toward the big padlock and hasp on one side. “Unlock it.”

Obviously reluctant, Jake produced a ring of keys and removed the padlock, then unlocked a lock in the middle of the roll-up door. The thunk of metal bars releasing inside.

One of the deputies grabbed the bottom of the door and shoved it up, exposing the Blacks’ three motorcycles and the spotlessly clean workshop area.

A deputy began snapping pictures. “Bring in the trailer,” Detective Wright said to another one.

Janey had caught up with us, huffing a little from the extra weight middle age had bestowed upon her. Her peaches-and-cream complexion paled to ghost white at the detective’s words.

“Wha’?” Jake said, a bit slower to catch on to what was about to happen.

“We’re impounding the bikes.” Detective Wright waved impatiently at one of the deputies in the driveway.

Jake’s fists clenched. I could hear his teeth grinding from three feet away.

Both Janey and I jumped forward and grabbed his arms. Slugging a cop would not improve the situation.

Meanwhile, the detective was walking away, acting as if he hadn’t been about to get flattened by a six-two, two-hundred-forty-pound combat vet. He crouched down beside one of the bikes, the black one. Then he gestured to the deputy with the camera and pointed to the side of the bike.

Jake moved forward, dragging us with him.

My eyes followed the detective’s pointing finger to the rounded side of the gas tank, and a ragged long scratch in the black paint.

Jake’s mouth fell open. “No!” he yelled.

I gestured toward the broken window. “Maybe whatever broke the window hit it.”

Everybody’s gaze turned to me, then to the window.

“When did that happen?” Janey said, a touch of wonder in her voice that some rock would dare to penetrate her husband’s sanctum.

“Just before you all got here,” I said. “I checked the outside of the garage earlier and that window was fine. Then Felix started barking and I came out and checked again and…”

The detective was glaring at me. “And you are?”

I gulped a little. “Marcia Banks, dog- and house-sitter.” I told him what little more I knew, including about the guy getting into a white pickup, who might or might not have been hanging around the garage when I arrived.

He was a stony-faced audience but he did let me finish. And he did check the scratches around the lock on the side door, even had the deputy take pictures of them.

All this gave Jake time to calm down. That is until they began to load two of the motorcycles into the large trailer they’d backed into the driveway.

Again Janey and I grabbed his arms. “Let them take them,” she hissed in his ear. “We’ve got no choice.”

He let us hold him back while they loaded Janey’s red three-wheeled bike—she said it was called a trike. I realized that indeed we were only holding him with his permission when he suddenly shook us loose like we were an old shirt he was shedding. “Wait!” He stepped forward.

Felix was beside him in a flash.

I indulged in a moment of maternal pride. That’s my boy, doin’ his job!

Jake was pointing to the black leather bag on the side of his black bike, which was halfway up the ramp. “That’s not my saddlebag.”

The detective held up a hand and the two deputies who’d been rolling the bike up the ramp between them stopped.

Jake walked around the ramp to the other side, Felix practically glued to his jeans leg. “This one too. They’re not my bags.”

The detective stepped forward and made a show of examining the bag on our side. Then he snapped on blue latex gloves, like those the deputies handling the bike were wearing. He leaned forward, tentatively touched the end of what looked like scrape marks in the leather.

He held his finger up close to his face, rubbed it and his thumb together. A few grains of sand caught the sunlight as they drifted to the pavement.

He gestured to a third deputy. “Put a bag around all that.” He pointed to the saddlebag. “We need to analyze the sand.”

Now that he mentioned it, I could see some tawny grains embedded in the leather.

“That’s not my bag,” Jake said emphatically. “Janey get the photo from the living room.”

I knew which one he meant. I’d noticed three photos earlier, front and center on the mantel. Their wedding picture had caught my eye first, with Janey standing tall and proud, forty pounds lighter and drop-dead gorgeous. On the right of it was their daughter, Andrea, smiling and holding a high-school diploma, and on the left, Jake, fifteen years younger and grinning like a kid on Christmas as he stood next to a shiny black bike.

This bike in front of us.

Janey took off at a trot for the house. She was well padded, but she could move pretty fast when motivated.

Buddy and I should have followed. This really wasn’t my business. But I didn’t move.

Curiosity killed the cat. My mother’s voice in my head.

She had a point. My curiosity…okay, my nosiness, had gotten me into trouble more than once. I figured that if I were that proverbial cat, I had about four of my nine lives left.

Janey returned with the photo.

Jake grabbed it and stuck it under the detective’s nose, then threatened to take out said nose by jabbing at the picture with a large index finger. “There! Those are my bags.”

I craned to see but couldn’t make out more than a blur of black and tan, and the younger Jake’s big grin. My throat closed. Life hadn’t treated him all that well since then.

The detective looked at the picture and then at Jake. “Side bags can be changed.”

Then he broke Jake’s heart and endangered his own life by confiscating the photo.

 

Kassandra Lamb head shot

Writing and psychology have always vied for first place on Kassandra Lamb’s Greatest Passions list. In her youth, she had to decide between writing and paying the bills. Partial to electricity and food, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe with her characters. The magic portal to this universe (i.e., her computer) is located in Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, The Kate on Vacation novellas, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, about a service dog trainer and her mentor dog, plus a guidebook for novice writers, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book.

Kass’s e-mail is lambkassandra3@gmail.com and she loves hearing from readers! She’s also on Facebook and hangs out some on Twitter @KassandraLamb. She blogs about psychological topics and other random things at http://misteriopress.com.

Excerpt Week—Medici Protectorate Series by Staci Troilo

I’m honored to have been asked to participate in Excerpt Week. Marcia, thank you for arranging this and letting me hop into the schedule.

I’m finishing up my Medici Protectorate series. Book 3 is with the publisher and will release soon. Book 4 is partially written, and then I have to say goodbye to this beloved series. Instead of providing you with lengthy excerpts from the novels, I’m going to give you a teaser from each of the three completed ones and a printed excerpt from the fourth.

Book 1, Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart teaser

Book 2, Mind Control

Mind Control teaser

Book 3, Body Armor

Body Armor teaser

And finally, from my WIP, a never-before published excerpt…

Book 4, Tortured Soul

She opened the door and glanced at the water. Coz treaded in the deep end, but mercifully, he faced the windows, his back to the door.

Good luck or consideration? She wasn’t sure, but she was grateful for the opportunity to divest herself of the roomy shirt and slip into the water unnoticed.

The cool water felt refreshing on her overheated skin. When she surfaced in front of him, she again took in his shirtless torso, distorted by the rippling water yet no less appealing. His light blond hair, slicked back and wet, had darkened to champagne and his bright blue eyes deepened from the reflection of the pool.

Adonis, come to life.

Her face heated, and she dipped under the surface with the pretense of getting her hair out of her face. Even immersing herself in the cool water didn’t soothe her burning cheeks.

As she came up, she was only inches from him, and the proximity caused her to suck in too soon. She got a lungful of water, then choked and sputtered while trying to catch her breath.

He grabbed her waist, and she flinched. “Can’t you tread? We can go to the shallow section.”

His hands on her did nothing to settle her breathing. “I can tread. I love to swim. Just somehow managed to suck down some water.”

Coz raised an eyebrow but didn’t reply. Instead, he flipped onto his back and swam toward the opposite end of the Olympic-sized pool, pulling Toni along on top of him as he sliced through the water.

The motion was far more erotic than she was prepared for. It wouldn’t have surprised her if steam billowed around them.


There you have it—a brief look at the four novels of the Medici Protectorate series, a saga about four sisters who discover they are Medici descendants, the warriors sworn to protect them, and the diabolical forces determined to use them… or destroy them.

I hope you enjoyed these quick peeks. You can find out more about the series or the individual books by clicking on any of the links above. And if you have any questions or comments, leave them below and we’ll talk about it. Thanks!

Staci Troilo bio

Connect with Staci: Website | Blog | Newsletter | Social Media

#WakeRobinRidge by @marciameara #Excerpt

WRRnewsmall

Still trying to catch up after so many interruptions this fall, so not back on my normal posting schedule. Since we have no guest blogger today, I thought maybe I’d just share an excerpt from my first novel, Wake-Robin Ridge, available on Amazon for the permanently low price of $.99.

“Wake-Robin Ridge, where ghosts walk,
ancient legends abound, and things still go bump in the night.”
~~~
EXCERPT

A slow, cold mile later, he could see the faintest hint of dawn through the trees just ahead, and knew he was approaching the clearing. The trick was to get close enough to see without being seen. He found a spot behind some thick but low-growing bushes. It was a perfect place to hunker down and wait. In the gray light of early morning, he pulled out his favorite filleting knife and a small whetstone, spat on the stone, and began to slide the knife back and forth across the surface. Falling into a rhythm, eyes half closed, he continued to hone the knife, metal caressing stone again and again. His excitement rose as he thought about the damage the razor-sharp edge was going to do, slicing deep into tender flesh, and releasing spray after spray of coppery-scented blood into the air. He smiled, already hearing the terrified pleading and the screams that would follow.

The soft noise of blade on stone kept him company as time passed. At last, morning broke in full, and spilled pink and gold daylight into the world, but his thoughts were not on the beauty of the new day opening in front of him. Instead, his hatred morphed into a cold fury as he thought about the full extent of the treachery committed against him, and the bloody revenge he planned to extract.

Lloyd crouched low in the bushes, peering at the little cabin in the clearing. This is what she chose to do with his money? Hide out on a deserted hillside in a stinkin’ little wooden shack that looked like it should have belonged to the Beverly Hillbillies, before they struck it rich? God, he could kill the bitch. “Oh, that’s right,” he said. “I’m going to.”

~~~

Download Your Copy Today!
Wake-Robin Ridge Book 1