Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ANNE'S OGRE -- Excerpt #2

"Sanctuary!" Su-Ma called. She dropped her multi-colored patchwork hooded coat on the threshold and flung her arms around Anne, almost knocking the platter and utensils from her hands. "You are a saint. I am starving!"

BooBoo, her Great Dane companion peered around the doorway. Snow still clung to the top of his head and the creases of his ears, making the black splotches on his gray-and-white face fainter. The big, lovable dog always looked to Anne as if he had rolled in spilled black and white paint. She could never figure out if he was white with black splatters, or black with white splotches. Argus stayed seated and tipped his head back, his nose barely touching the underside of BooBoo's jaw as the big dog towered over him. Anne muffled a chuckle. The two dogs were best of friends, but she always feared bruising Argus' dignity. BooBoo was as unself-conscious and clumsy as a dog could be, always with the air of a puppy that couldn't figure out how it had ended up in an adult body -- or how to run that body. He was perfectly paired with Su-Ma, who toned down her sometimes outrageous, exaggerated mannerisms and exuberance to keep her big companion out of trouble. In return, BooBoo helped Su-Ma with ordinary, everyday things that she couldn't seem to remember to do, always in a hurry to get on with the next task. She was notorious for forgetting to charge her cell phone or fill her gas tank before she headed off on a long trip, riding on fumes. The general consensus was that while everyone loved Su-Ma, they feared she would always be limited to courier duties.

"You're in luck. We had dinner guests, so Brooklyn went all out."


A clock silently clicked at the back of Anne's  mind as she filled Su-Ma in on the Porters and the vaguely revealed connection in the past between Josh and Vincent. Anne knew better than to urge Su-Ma to hurry, because the other girl would try her best and most likely make a mess. Joan, Nikki and Darcy would be settled in the lounge in their pajamas and wouldn't start the movie without them, and they wouldn't complain. Anne knew it was better to take a little more time getting the party started than to have to clean up a mess. Still, she hated being late, even when a specific starting time hadn't been set. She knew it was one of her coping mechanisms after all the chaos in her childhood, but knowing really didn't help her get over it. Someday, though, she knew she would be entirely healed. It would just take time.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

ANNE'S OGRE -- Excerpt #1

At the end of dinner, all the girls took care of cleanup, and Anne was pleased that Darcy just pitched in without being asked. Elizabeth had promised Geneva a walking tour of the grounds by moonlight, since the snow had stopped and the air was clear, while Josh and Vincent said they had an errand to run. The girls had the "agenda" for the pajama party all picked out by the time Nikki pushed the button on the dishwasher to get it started. Joan led the way down the hall to the back staircase when all their dogs went still, their ears pricked forward, and each let out a quiet huff-bark.

"Okay," Darcy said with a chuckle. "What just happened?"

"Someone's home," Anne said. She gestured at the stairs leading down half a flight. "My guess is Su-Ma decided not to stay overnight. She's going to be hungry, and since I know what leftovers went where…" She turned around and headed for the kitchen. "Just don't start the movie without me!"

The others laughed and promised and hurried up the stairs. Argus stayed in the hallway, posted near the stairs leading up from the back entrance. Anne had all the containers of leftovers open and lined up on the counter when her companion trotted up to the kitchen doorway and sat down with another huff-bark. The soft rumbling of the furnace stopped a moment later and she heard footsteps coming down the hall, accompanied by the scrape-clatter of big clawed paws thudding on the tile floor.

"You made good time," she called over her shoulder as she turned to pull utensils out of the big drawer of the cabinet that held the everyday dishes and glassware.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

NEW BOOK: Quarry Hall Series #7: ANNE'S OGRE

Announcing the NEW Quarry Hall book, due out in the middle of the month from Desert Breeze Publishing:


George, Quarry Hall's mechanic, is a broken man, haunted by dreams of a life he can't remember. Vincent fights to keep George from remembering the soulless killer he once was -- until a trip to distract George gets his picture in a magazine, and awakens the past.

Anne's past again haunts her and she struggles to regain her peace. The Ogre who molested her and killed her parents is gone -- isn't he? The Black Prince who rescued her returns, but her delight in seeing her hero is crushed when she learns the Ogre escaped and is closer than she could have guessed.

As Anne re-fights the battle of forgiveness and healing, Quarry Hall and Vincent's former commando team race to find the mystery man hunting George. Will his trail lead to an enemy from decades ago? At what point can a monster be considered truly dead and gone?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The two on the phone were definitely in a booth near a track. From the sound of the voice, Uncle Pauly's companion was a child, just tall enough to reach the phone to be heard.

There was only one Jason who would use the code word "Gethsemane." Somehow, the old phrase, "Speak of the devil," didn't fit this situation, but Vic couldn't think of anything else that fit. Jason -- as in FBI Agent Jason McCoy, who investigated Mob activities from the inside. Jason McCoy, who had helped a hood with a bright future break free to save the life of the computer geek who had become a liability to the Family.

"This is Tony, Uncle Pauly," Vic said, and smiled bitterly at the sound of his coldly steady voice. He hadn't used that voice in a lifetime. Three lifetimes, actually. "Where are you?"

"Fleetwood Park." The old man chuckled, a ragged sound Vic knew well. "What you been putting me through? Don't you got no manners?"

"Did Jason tell you I've got a new life--"

"Yeah, yeah, I know all that. Can't expect my old head to hold onto everything. You got to get out here, Tony." Pauly took a loud, long, deep breath. "It's for a kid. I know I don't deserve no help, but there's a kid gonna get hurt."

"I'll meet you at the top of the grandstands closest to the gate. Give me an hour, okay?"

When Vic hung up the phone, he slumped back against the lowered blinds that covered the waist-to-ceiling window. The plastic and aluminum crinkled and rattled, but he didn't hear over the banging of his heart and the screaming of memories. Twice before, the past had reached out and grabbed him. But the past had never asked for help before. It never came with Jason's code word spoken in a child's voice.

Vic knew he should pray, but the pressure, the sense of drowning blocked all thoughts except those that had been trained into him so long ago.

"Help, God," he finally whispered, as he reached for his jacket -- automatic reaction to bring a jacket to alter his appearance, no matter how hot out it was today -- and headed for the door.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


The skills Tony Sutera had learned might have to come back into play, if anyone threatened Rene.

Please, God, I don't want to be Tony anymore, Vic prayed as he listened to Uncle Pauly wheeze and sigh, with a background of what sounded like race track hustle and bustle. What was the old man doing at the track? He wasn't allowed, because race track betting was like a crack addiction for him.

If this was a trap, wouldn't his enemies know that he would know Uncle Pauly had a price on his head if he went near the track? Meaning they would know he wouldn't trust anyone claiming to be Uncle Pauly, calling from the track. Meaning they wouldn't try such a trick. So maybe… maybe this was legit?

"This is his Uncle Pauly," the old man said on a moan. "You tell him Jason gave me a package to deliver to him. Jason says something about gabardine."

"It's Gethsemane, Uncle Pauly," a sweet little female voice corrected, the speaker standing close enough to get picked up by the phone. "Jason said the code word is Gethsemane."

Vic nearly dropped the phone. He turned to lean his back against the creaky plastic shelving and closed his eyes. Pieces of Tony resurrected, analyzing the sounds, while another part of him dropped to his metaphorical knees and started praying.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


The phone rang. Vic nearly leaped to his feet to answer.

"Gold Tone Gym. Vic speaking."

Silence from the other end. Or was it? Did Vic hear breathing? Something else... faint, muffled crowd sounds. Cheering?

"Yeah, lemme talk to Tony?" an old man's voice wheezed.

"Can I tell him who's calling?"

Vic's thoughts turned to his emergency bag, hidden behind the false back of his utility closet. It held another set of new identity papers and enough cash to get him and Baxter to Canada or Mexico and established in new lives.

"It's personal. An emergency." The old man's voice cracked. "Come on, fella. Don't you know when a guy's ready to fall apart?" He let out a gusting sigh, with a rattle of flabby lips at the end.

That sigh did it, as individual as a fingerprint.

Vic closed his eyes, feeling dizzy as the pieces all fell together. Some of his fondest memories as a boy were with Uncle Pauly at the tracks. The man wasn't his uncle, but one of the hangers-on in the Family who could be trusted to keep the sons of the big guys out of trouble, to train them to put the Family first and see the dirty work as glamorous.

Uncle Pauly had been put out to pasture by the time Vic graduated to the adult ranks. The old man had a weakness for the ponies. Any new system that came along got his attention.

Why was Uncle Pauly calling him here in Tabor, and how had he gotten his number?

"Is this a personal call?" Vic hated himself for putting the old man through this. He had to. He had Baxter to protect. More than Baxter, he had to think about the danger, the damage from a collision between his old life and his new life in Tabor.

What if someone came after Rene to get to him?

Sunday, September 20, 2015


"It's okay, man," Baxter murmured in that voice too smooth and deep for such a small frame. He glanced over his shoulder at Vic and grinned.

"What are you talking about?" Vic leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms, ready for one of those friendly bickering sessions; a tradition since their school days.

"You never check on me until closing time, unless you're dragging your sorry butt down Memory Lane again."

"Oh, really?"

"You need a new life, you know that?"

"No, thanks. Life number four suits me just fine." He chuckled when Baxter groaned and slumped in his ultra-deluxe leather desk chair to glare at the ceiling.

"Rene looks especially fine today. Stop playing the Cowardly Lion and ask her out."

"It's Wednesday. She has choir practice."

"So? Do I have to do everything for you? Come on, you two are perfect for each other. When are you going to stop giving each other those 'some enchanted evening' looks and get together?"

"Some enchanted evening? Somebody's overdosing on Broadway again." Vic straightened up and got off the doorframe. "I'll have you know someone said they smelled something burning. I was just checking to see you hadn't burned out half the circuits in here again."

"Uh huh. And you weren't drooling over Rene in that jade workout suit she bought last week." He waggled his pencil-thin eyebrows and turned back to his computer.

"Rene's too classy to drool over her." He tried to ignore the twinge inside that admitted Baxter was right. Would he have to wait another four years to get beyond the "best pals" stage? "I don't want to scare her."