Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quarry Hall, Book 6: CHARLI

Years ago, Charli Carson and her father surprised a thief searching his laboratory. She was crippled and he died.

Nightmares plague Charli, so a reclusive life is easy. Joan Archer comes to the Carsons’ hidden forest lab, seeking to save her father’s life and prompting Charli and her mother to reevaluate choices they have made.

When they shelter the children of friends in danger, a chain of events leads to the enemy striking once more. Charli must conquer her fears and nightmares to protect the children and find answers before it is too late.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NIKKI: Excerpt

"Please, Lord, help me. Show me what to do." Nikki shook her head and watched the teardrops fall on the Bible's pages. "I know what I have to do, but I don't want to. I'm a coward. I'm selfish. I'm--" She slid to her knees again, resting her head on the open Bible, sobbing.

She didn't hear the door open, didn't feel anything until Brock caught her by her elbow and lifted her to her feet.

"You are pathetic! How long are you going to lay around, crying and talking to a God who sure isn't listening? Can't you figure out what you need to do? What's it going to be, Nikki? Me or that baby?"

Later, all that she could remember clearly was that he called it a baby, not a thing, a problem.

She knew what she had to say, what she should say, but the words still caught in her throat.

"Are you gonna abort it, or not?" He dropped her on the bed. "How long are you going to put us through this?"

"I can't--"

He swung back, agony twisting his face. Time slowed, but she couldn't move out of the way as his hand came down and connected hard with her face. Her vision shattered, her neck snapped back and half a heartbeat later she was airborne. The thud when she hit the wall seemed to deafen her and knock the air from her lungs. Nikki slid down, gasping and blinking.

Brock snatched up her Bible and tore it apart at the spine. He yanked and ripped and threw pages across the bed, then across the room.

"Choose!" He threw the cover into her face and stormed out.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Quarry Hall, Book 5: NIKKI

Nikki lives a faerie tale existence, but after a chance encounter with Joan Archer, she starts to rethink her choices. Brock has changed since convincing Nikki to run away from home. Now his goal is to protect her from his drug lord boss. When his DEA contacts say they can't protect Nikki, Brock must act. He must break her heart to drive her away to be safe.

Ashamed to be the prodigal, Nikki doesn't go straight home. Joan and the Quarry Hall sisters find her and start her healing and the journey home. When the drug lord decides to bring Nikki back use her to camouflage the organization's activities, he kidnaps her. Quarry Hall and its friends marshal their resources to find her before it is too late.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DARCY: Excerpt

"Coals," Josh murmured. "A new gang," he flung over his shoulder as he broke into a run. Vincent followed. They were only half a block away from Darcy, but right that moment it seemed like miles.

Knives flashed. The three Coals blocked Vincent's view of Darcy. The sidewalk cleared and the traffic on the cluttered street seemed to come to a standstill. A little old lady shrieked. It sounded more like injured pride than pain to Vincent's ears. Then he heard dull thuds and sharp smacking sounds; flesh against flesh.

"Darcy!" Josh shouted as he flung himself onto the back of the nearest Coal. The two went down in a heap.

A second gang member turned, swinging his knife at Vincent. From this close, it looked more like a short sword than a knife. Vincent ducked and turned, kicking high. His foot hit the target, bones snapped, and the Coal went down, shouting in pain, holding his hand. The knife went flying. Vincent turned, looking for the third -- Josh had his opponent well in hand, kneeling on his back and twisting an arm behind him.

The leader of the trio faced Darcy. He had her backed into a doorway, surrounded by barrels and crates of trash, with the Plinkney sisters cowering behind her. Darcy held a four-foot length of rusty, one-inch pipe in a two-handed grip, crouching low, eyes narrowed as she studied her opponent. Her sweatshirt sleeve gaped where it had been sliced and blood soaked into the material, radiating out in a spreading stain, turning the green cloth purple. Darcy seemed not to notice the wound.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Quarry Hall, Book 4: DARCY

Black Ops doesn’t begin to describe Vincent’s former paramilitary team.

When a friend of the Arc Foundation requests help for a rescue mission facing scandal, he learns two former teammates are involved. Vincent must investigate for the sake of his conscience, but can his instincts be trusted? Who has reformed, and who still waits to destroy those who betrayed him years ago, when their team disintegrated?

Joan comes along, to provide balance and a second pair of eyes. Josh is in charge of renovations. Karl is the fundraiser. Darcy, Josh’s daughter, is an idealistic young woman ready to give her life for what she believes. As Vincent and Joan track down the enemies of the mission, they uncover lies and an insidious scheme, with Darcy as pawn and prize.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

KATHRYN: Excerpt

Regina muttered her farewell and scrambled into the truck. Kathryn stayed leaning against the front of the truck, scratching Bea behind the ears and talking with Pastor Small. She knew her companion wanted to get out of there, but she also knew the minister had questions. He had been patient and helpful and accepted what she told him. She couldn't repay him any other way except with as many answers as she could safely give.

"I really appreciate this," she said. "Not many people these days will help strangers with such a flimsy explanation."

"That isn't reason enough?" Pastor Small laughed and gestured over his shoulder at the white steeple with the gray metal cross on top.

"It should be, but--" She decided not to get into that area.

Sometimes the nastiest, most uncooperative people she had run across in her journeys were people who claimed to be Christians. Nine times out of ten, they based their long lists of what a "real" Christian should be on their own opinions and schemes to earn their way into heaven, and never checked what the Bible said.

"What really convinced you? Back when we were talking in the sanctuary, there was a moment when I thought you were going to throw us out or call the police, then you changed your mind."

"Those." He pointed at the shoes the custodian had given her.

"Oh. Sorry." She went to one knee and started to untie the paint-spattered sneakers.

"No, you ought to keep them." Pastor Small bent down and caught hold of her arm, tugging her upright again. "Four years ago, our youth group put together a time capsule as a joke when they renovated their classroom. Those are my shoes. It was quite a mess, with all the painting we did. We had a great time." He winked. "Those shoes should be in a locked metal box three feet underground, sealed in plastic wrap and cement."

"You're kidding." Kathryn felt a chill race up her back, but it was a good chill.

"Plus," he continued with a lopsided smile, "we don't have a custodian right now. The deacons and trustees and the ladies mission groups and other committees take turns with the upkeep and cleaning. The place hasn't looked this good in years..." Pastor Small tried to laugh. "Whoever -- or whatever -- helped you, he wanted you to be here. Who am I to argue?"

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Quarry Hall, Book 3: KATHRYN

Kathryn's retreat for relaxation and contemplation is interrupted to take a fugitive to safety, beyond the reach of authorities who may be compromised. The injured woman knows her name is Regina, but not why people were shooting at her. The journey to reach a friend in the FBI is complicated when Kathryn's illness requires frequent stops, permitting Regina's pursuers to nip at their heels.

When the mountains interfere with cell reception, and she can't stop long enough to make a call for help and advice, Kathryn has only her companion dog, her own wits, and prayer to depend on. Deception waits around every corner and Regina's attitude tests Kathryn's sympathy and her faith.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

NIKKI'S TEST -- Excerpt #15

Nikki sighed when she put her phone back in her pocket, caught between a flicker of resentment and that odd, full-chest-and-can't-breathe feeling that came over her sometimes when dealing with Joan. So this was what it was like to have a big sister. She liked having a big sister, instead of being big sister, as she had been all her life to the constantly changing stream of foster-children the Holwoods had taken in over the years. Sometimes Joan got overly protective of her -- or at least that was how Nikki felt. Sometimes she liked it, sometimes she resented it. Especially when it seemed like Joan was still trying to make up for all the years they hadn't been together. Or even make up for not stopping their mother from putting Nikki in the car and shoving it into the storm-swollen Rocky River to drown her when she was a baby. How could Joan have stopped her? She had been only thirteen at the time.

"We are major league messed up, huh?" Nikki murmured to Gray. "Come on, help me find signs of Brooklyn."

She stepped off the tiny front porch of the neat white and blue-trimmed bungalow, and went clockwise around the house. The garage was detached, set back ten feet, so she made a separate circle around it, trying to watch Gray, for any signal of something to investigate, while she studied her surroundings. The neatly trimmed flowerbeds and immaculate mulching looked and smelled fresh enough, that was probably what Brooklyn had been doing for the last two weeks of her visit.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

NIKKI'S TEST -- Excerpt #14

"That was fast," Joan greeted her as soon as the connection opened.

"Brooklyn's not here. Did she call you with any changes?"

Silence for three thuds of her heart. Nikki had enough time to wonder if this was what happened to Brooklyn's phone -- someone nearby had some futuristic gizmo that George hadn't thought of yet that could interrupt the phone signal.

"Maybe they went to the sheriff's office. If there's something wrong at his house, maybe they don't want anyone to see you picking her up. Lose you in the traffic. Brooklyn said it was in the center of town."

"That makes sense." A nervous chuckle escaped her. "And here I stand, knocking and ringing the doorbell and getting the attention of every busybody on the street." Nikki looked up and down the street, both sides as she spoke. "Not that there's a single sign of life. Actually, kind of creepy."

"How does Gray feel?"

Nikki's face heated as she glanced down at her companion. Gray sat on his haunches next to her, looking perfectly calm. If anything, as he tipped his head up to meet her gaze, he wore his "So, what are you waiting for?" expression. He definitely showed no signs of alertness or awareness of any trouble or threat.

"He's just about to get bored." She felt better when that earned a chuckle from her sister. "I'll go check the sheriff's office and let you know."

"I'd take a walk around the house, in case Brooklyn left you any kind of message."

"Hey, I was just about to do that."

"Uh huh. Be careful, Nikki."

"I will."