Thursday, February 23, 2023

Time and talent

I’ve often wished I could draw or paint.  I admire those who can take a pencil and with a few lines sketch a face or a scene or an object.  Art was never my forte.  As a small child, some of my older cousins managed to win a small prize for a simple drawing on the children’s page in my old hometown newspaper.  I wanted to do the same but I couldn’t draw.  Even in a coloring book, I often struggled to stay within the lines.  So I decided I would write.  I already made up stories in my head and created new versions of old games.  Playing house is an age old childhood game but I made sub specialties of the original.  I liked to play “Western Days” which was a version of house but one in which my cohorts and I were either traveling via wagon train or eking out life in a cabin, along the lines of Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

            My first published poem – actually my first publication of any kind – was a poem I wrote about the pioneer history of St. Joseph, Missouri, my hometown.  History always seemed close enough to touch and some of my ancestors had been pioneers en route to California when circumstances and preferences caused them to make the raw new city on the frontier home.  So I wrote about the old wagon trains and the pioneers.  The Saturday morning St. Joseph Gazette printed it on their children’s page and the rest is history.

            I learned that everyone has different talents.  At school, students would often tell me that they “can’t” do math or read well or learn history.  My answer is always, “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.” Then I ask what they can do, what they enjoy, what they do well.  And there’s always an answer.  A kid who despairs at understanding literature may turn out to be a math or science whiz.  The student who is almost as clumsy in gym as I was may be a genius in an academic subject or outstanding in one of the performing arts.

            I like to think writing is one of my talents.  I also believe I’m a reasonably good cook.  But since I’d rather not spend my working life in the kitchen, I rely on writing.  Some people can sing beautifully, hitting the right notes with little seeming effort but that’s another gift I didn’t receive.  I like to use words to paint my pictures in someone’s imagination or to inform or to persuade or education.

            Words are my tools.  I patch them together in a way similar to a quilt, piece by piece to create a whole.  Sometimes I’m fancy, like embroidery and at other times, I’m making something necessary to last.  There are times when I have to pick out words like missed stitches and put them together again until they are right.

            My Granny told me that her grandmother, my great-great grandmother, wove on a loom.  That fascinated me and I enjoyed imagining the way she wove threads into whole cloth, then used that fabric to make garments for her large family.  I’ve never used a large loom but I’ve had the small ones made for children to fashion pot holders and I’ve made a few simplistic looms to do something similar but it seems it would be both enjoyable as well as be powerful to view the work of one’s’ hands.

            Although I don’t write much poetry these days, having chosen other mediums to express myself and to use words, I wrote one once that included the line, “I work my words the way my grandmother’s grandmother worked her loom and like her, I create something that will last the


            I hope that I do and that everyone remembers we all have a talent or two.  We each have strengths and weaknesses.  It’s up to us, however, to discover what those may be.




Monday, February 6, 2023

Tall Dark And Cherokee !


It's release week for my latest, a fast paced romantic suspense set in southwest Missouri and Oklahoma, within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.  For those who aren't aware, I do have some Cherokee blood handed down through the generations from my Grandmammy, Sarah Mink although that has nothing to do with this story, just links my lifelong interest to the current release.

Let's start with the blurb:

Shane Raincrow is a U.S. Marshall. He's also tall, dark, and Cherokee.

Kaitlin Corbin is a bride who doesn't really want to get married to a man she suspects is dealing drugs and double crossing a cartel.

When gunfire interrupts her wedding, Shane takes her into custody as a material witness.

Instead of delivering her to a safe house, they hit the road but trouble follows so they head for the only place Shane thinks is safe – the Cherokee Nation where he was born.

By the time they get hitched in a one-hour wedding chapel and reach his grandfather's home deep in the Oklahoma hills, they're falling in love – for real.

The survival stakes are high, especially when the drug cartel comes after them and they make a stand, backed by Shane's family. If they can survive, maybe the marriage will too.

Now let's take a look at the gorgeous cover by Jay Aheer.



Now let's just jump into a sample - how about the first three chapters? Read it and you'll want to know how the rest of the story goes!


For Thomas B. Llafet, Pop, my beloved grandfather. Without his example, I couldn't have
created Shane's grandfather in this story. He gave me his wisdom, his unconditional love, and
was always there for me. He set the benchmark for all other grandfathers, always.

Chapter One

A deep growl of thunder rattled the windows in the church and did not bode well for a wedding. Kaitlin heard it and thought it sounded like the advance cry of a great dragon, one who winged across the stormy May sky to deliver ill luck and bring danger. She’d always heard that the sun shines on happy brides so a thunderstorm must mean the opposite. That suited her mood wellshe wasn’t a happy bride or one who wanted to be here.

The ivory ball gown style wedding dress fit as if made for her. The long sheer sleeves were trimmed with the same floral appliques that decorated the gown and veil. Kaitlin drew a breath, difficult since the bead-encrusted bodice fit too tight, and let it out slowly. The veil, attached to her head with a Juliet cap, extended down to her ankles. The skirt was tulle, edged at the bottom with the same floral lace, and boasted a train that belled out behind her several feet. She could walk in it unless she used mincing steps but she couldn’t run, not in the white Manolo Blahnik kitten heels with rhinestone toes.

Otherwise, she might have bolted from the church, leaving behind her bouquet, a cascade of white roses and pale pink peonies. She still almost ran but more thunder echoed and heavy rain battered against the windows, which kept her in place. Kaitlin didn’t want to marry Dr. Chad Cox today or any other time. The huge and gaudy-to-the-point-of-ugly engagement ring caught the light and she wanted to remove it. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Chardonnay, popped into the space where Kaitlin waited. Tiny tables and chairs along with Jesus-themed posters on the walls indicated it was usually a Sunday school classroom.

“You look absolutely gorgeous!” Chardonnay cried. “Oh my God, you’re a vision, a dream. You’re more beautiful than a movie star. Are you ready to make the walk down the aisle? Chad is there, waiting.”

Apparently, her lack of enthusiasm wasn’t obvious. As a high school English teacher in everyday life, she felt like an imposter in the fancy bridal ensemble. Although once Kaitlin had believed she could love the tawny-blond doctor with his flourishing clinical practice, she now loathed Chad. He had all the telltale habits of a drug user and she knew beyond doubt that he wrote opioid prescriptions for anyone who requested one. In the past few months, she’d suspected that the drugs he prescribed for his so-called patients came from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of the worst drug cartels operating out of Mexico. Over the last few days, she’d become certain, when she came to the clinic ready to plead to postpone the wedding and overhead a heated discussion about payment. Her fiancé, Dr. Cox, hadn’t been sharing the profits. Kaitlin slipped out before anyone saw her but she knew now.

Since then, Kaitlin had worried and stewed, debating whether to go to the police, leave town, or go through with the ceremony. After many sleepless nights, she was no closer to a decision than she had been at the start so here she was, about to walk down the aisle.

In addition to the major misgivings, she also had a dark intuition that something terrible was on the horizon. Kaitlin never claimed any psychic gifts but she had a touch of what her granny had called the “fey,” and her instincts were seldom wrong.

She moved like a woman caught in a dream, picked up her bouquet, and nodded as she followed Chardonnay into the sanctuary. Her two bridesmaids, Trina and Amber, were there, dressed in the champagne lace confections they’d chosen. The music began and she followed them down the aisle with measured tread, walking, pausing, and continuing. Kaitlin heard more thunder roll as lightning illuminated the stained-glass windows. Midway down she noticed a man seated on the bride’s side, one she didn’t recognize.

He wore a black Armani single-breasted suit with a crimson shirt and tie. His black eyes burned with an inner fire as they met hers and although his hair was short and well-trimmed, Kaitlin thought it should be flowing about his shoulders like a warrior. That was probably because he was Native American but she’d never seen him anywhere until now. There was a power in their shared gaze, some strange recognition, something she couldn’t understand.

Kaitlin squared her shoulders and advanced. At the end of the long aisle, Chad waited on the right, his groomsmen flanking him. The priest waited in white vestments trimmed in gold for the joyous occasion of matrimony. If only he knew, she thought. Once there, she handed her bouquet to Trina and stepped into place.

From rehearsal she knew they would light a family candle each, then the unity candle while the cantor sang the song they’d chosen. Right now, she didn’t even remember what it was. A sharp clap of thunder drowned out the music for a moment and the lights dimmed. Just as they did, she heard a shot. It whizzed past her by mere inches but missed. Instead, it struck the stained-glass window at the left of the altar. The multicolored pane shattered and bits of glass flew in all directions. Kaitlin gasped and glanced about.

Another shot followed the first and she tried to kick off her shoes but failed. The lights went out and the crowd erupted with noise. Kaitlin turned to seek shelter and considered diving under the closest pew when strong arms grasped her.

“Come with me,” a low voice whispered in her ear. “Let’s go.”

He smelled masculine and musky. Although Kaitlin couldn’t see him, she let him propel her toward an exit in the dim light. They entered an unfamiliar corridor and then out through a door she didn’t know existed, emerging at the side of the church. He hurried her a few more steps to where a late-model black Chevy Tahoe was parked. The man opened the door to the rear passenger area and pushed her inside, then dashed to the driver’s seat. He started the engine and they pulled away from the curb in one swift motion. The broken window in the sanctuary was visible as he drove away.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked, panting for breath. “And what happened?”

Kaitlin realized in addition to those major questions she didn’t have her purse, tucked away hours earlier, and she had no idea what this man’s name might be. Was he a hero or a villain? She had no clue.

“Protective custody,” he said. She could drown in his voicerich, smoky, and low-pitched, bass not tenor. “That was an attempt on your life, as a warning for your fiancé, Dr. Cox, from CJNG.”

“The Jalisco New Generation Cartel?” Kaitlin said. “Why would they come after me?”

Now that he drove, he’d donned a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses despite the stormy weather. “To teach him a lesson.”

Her brain seemed stuck. “With me?”

“Yes. Apparently, the good doctor has been failing to return the profits, stupid move on his part. If they kill you, it’s a warning that he’s next on the list unless he pays what he owes them.”

It matched what she’d overheard earlier. She still didn’t recognize him, though.

“Who are you? Why were you at my wedding? And how do you know?”

He laughed and her anger rose, combining with fear for a volatile emotional stew.

“Shane Raincrow, United States Marshal,” he said. With one hand he flipped open his ID and badge. “I was at your wedding because there were indications that a hit might take place, information provided courtesy of a little piggy who squealed to save his skin.”

“An informant?”

“A snitch, yes.”

Her heart was still racing and Kaitlin thought she might puke. Good thing she hadn’t eaten today, due to butterflies in her tummy. “Why didn’t you just come and tell me before the wedding?”

He switched lanes and continued to drive at breakneck speed as they headed west out of Springfield. “Would you have listened or believed me?”

She started to say that she would have but the truth was, she probably wouldn’t have paid any attention.

“Besides, you weren’t alone for more than a few minutes. The groom’s sister, what’s her name, Chablis…”


“Okay, Chardonnay was with you. There wasn’t an optimum moment.”

Kaitlin digested this and shook her head. “Are we being followed?”

There was no humor in his voice this time. “I hope not.”

“Are you taking me to jail?”

Raincrow glanced into the rearview mirror at her. “Why would you think that? Are you guilty of something?”

“I’m not.”

“So, no jail. You won’t have to wear an orange jumpsuit.”

His quip reminded her that she still wore her wedding gown, veil, and shoes. Kaitlin plucked the veil off and tossed it beside her on the seat.

“I don’t have anything else to wear.”

“It’ll be provided.”

He still hadn’t told her where they were headed.


Raincrow sighed. “At the safe house.”

“What safe house?”

“The one where I’m taking you,” he said. “That’s all I can tell you right now. It’s confidential information.”

Kaitlin wanted to stamp her feet against the floor, kick, and scream. He might smell wonderful and have a voice that resonated but this man was annoying. He frustrated her with his reluctance to tell her the tiniest fact.

“Well, was anyone hurt or killed at the wedding?”

“I don’t know … I pulled you out,” he said.

“Well, I imagine Chad is wondering where I went.”

She said it but wondered if he even cared. He hadn’t been very attentive lately, focused on his work at the clinic and his drug dealing. Maybe he never had been and she hadn’t noticed. For the last year, her focus had been her jobteaching literature at a local high schooland the wedding. Growing up in a household where if they weren’t destitute, they were poor, they always saved the margarine tubs to use in place of name-brand storage containers and wore hand-me-downs or thrift shop bargains. For Kaitlin, dating then being engaged to a medical doctor, had been a dream come true. Now, it had become a nightmare.

“I wouldn’t know,” Shane Raincrow said. Something in his voice warned that he did and that Chad didn’t miss her at all. “What about your family? Aren’t you concerned about what they think?”

If he had a file on her, he already knew she had none.

“I don’t have any family,” she told him. She was an only child and she’d lost her parents years ago in a car-versus-train accident, long before she began dating Chad. She had been fourteen and after, she lived with her granny until she died during her first year of college.

His voice softened as he said, “I know you lost your parents and I’m sorry. I can relate. I thought there might be someone else, aunts or uncles or grandparents.”

Kaitlin sat back and crossed her arms. She did have an aunt, a couple of uncles, and some scattered cousins. For now, she wouldn’t ask any more questions that he wouldn’t answer. She'd bide her time and see where they ended up. Her guess that they were headed for Joplin, Missouri, on the Oklahoma line proved to be wrong. For one, Highway 60 didn't go to Joplin and he never changed the route. The only time he slowed was when they came to one of several small towns along the way. He drove like the proverbial bat out of hell and they reached Neosho in thirty-four minutes, less than half the time it should take if he obeyed the speed limit.

He slowed down as they entered the city on the two-lane highway, through an older section of town. Kaitlin gazed at the homes they passed, many wedged beside businesses, and cringed. “Is this safe house nearby?” she asked. “This looks like anything but a safe neighborhood.”

“No, it’s not.” Raincrow hadn’t become any more communicative.

“What time is it?” She had removed her watch for the ceremony.

“Quarter till four.”

That had to be wrong. Her wedding began at 3:00 so more than forty-five minutes had surely passed. “It must be later than that.”

“It’s not.”

“How much farther until we get where we’re going?” she asked. “When do I get some clothes to change into?”

“The suitcase you had packed for your honeymoon is in the back,” the Marshal said. “Hopefully you packed some basic stuff. The rest will be waiting for you.”

They’d planned a vacation in Cancun so she had swimsuits, shorts, tank tops, and sundresses. There were a few pairs of jeans and two t-shirts which would have to do until she got something else. Kaitlin didn’t think she’d even packed a jacket, which now she would like to have. Her bag contained just a few of her things. Chad had insisted that the rest go in his much larger bag. The sheer sleeves on the tulle gown weren’t made for warmth and although it was May, it seemed cool.

“All right,” she replied. “How long till we get there? I don’t suppose you’ll tell me where.”

“Classified information, but we’re going to get a motel here tonight.”

Kaitlin started to ask why, then didn’t. He wasn’t going to tell her. At least in a motel room she could change, take a long, hot shower, and make some calls. She hoped for a comfortable room but he pulled into an old, one-story motel that dated from the 1950s with exterior corridors. She groaned. “We’re staying here? I saw signs for several chain hotels. Why can’t we go to one of them?”

“It’s just for one night,” Raincrow said. “I need a place to stay, one where I can watch to see if anyone trailed us. It’s cheap but clean. I’ve stayed here before.”

He pulled in near the office and turned back to Kaitlin. “Stay here. Don’t make me handcuff you.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

Shane Raincrow grinned and she saw how handsome he was. “I would, Kaitlin.”

“You know my name!” As soon as she spoke, she realized how dumb that sounded. Her name must be the bare minimum of what he knew.

“Of coursewhy wouldn’t I? Don’t go anywhere.”

She adjusted her attitude. If the man attended her wedding just to see if any snipers or hit men showed up, he’d have to know her name. He probably had a file on her. Kaitlin steamed as she waited for him to return. He was obnoxious. He was insufferable. He was a real pain even if he was good-looking, especially when he smiled.

He returned with one key. “We’re going to be roommates.”

“I won’t share a bed with you!”

“Then it’s lucky we got the last double room,” he told her. “Let’s get inside.”

The room, though small, was neat and there were two beds. A desk with three levels held a 20-inch television, a rotary dial phone, a microwave oven, a small coffee maker and a mini-fridge. Two beat-up chairs flanked a small table near the window. The sink was located outside of the small bathroom that had a commode and a basic tub/shower combination. A wobbly nightstand between the beds held a single lamp. The bedspreads smelled like laundry soap so Kaitlin figured they were clean. Raincrow rolled her suitcase inside and carried his sole bag.

“It’s after 4:30 and I’m hungry,” he said. “Another storm looks to be moving in so let’s get something delivered. Any preference?”

Right now, she could eat oatmeal and she wouldn’t care. If she didn’t eat, it wouldn’t be a problem. Food wasn’t a big priority.

“I don’t care.”

“Not on the menu. Pizza? Fast food? Burgers? Fried chicken? Deli sandwiches? Asian or Mexican? What sounds good?”

She shrugged. “I just want out of this dress.”

Surprise flitted across his face, as if he’d forgotten what she wore. “Tell you whatI’ll go take a shower. You can shuck it while I’m in the bathroom.”

He sounded almost kind so she nodded. “Okay. Thanks.”

Kaitlin waited until she heard the shower running, then she removed the gown which was difficult. The delicate fabric slipped beneath her fingers and she could have used a second pair of hands to work the tiny buttons. Asking Shane Raincrow to assist wasn’t an option, however. She managed to get out of the dress without tearing it or resorting to scissors. She did her best to hang it on the one rack in the room, then changed into a pair of denim capri pants and a hot-pink sleeveless blouse. She kicked off the Manolo Blahnicks and slid her feet into canvas shoes. He emerged, damp and dressed in a faded pair of gray sweatpants and a black t-shirt featuring the seal of the Cherokee Nation. As attractive as he’d been in the suit, Raincrow was hotter in casual clothes.

“You’re Cherokee,” she said.

“Totally,” he replied with a grin. “And starving now. Did you decide what you’d like to eat?”

“I’m not picky, whatever you’d like.”

Using his phone to access one of the delivery services, he said, “All right but no bitching if you don’t like what I order.”

Kaitlin figured he’d go for he-man food, rare steak or huge burritos or a giant burger, but when the food arrived, he’d ordered lemon chicken, Yushang beef, Kung Pau Chicken and Peking Shrimp with rice, egg rolls, and crab rangoons. The aromas rising from the cartons aroused her missing appetite and she decided she could eat a little. She ate a few bites because the food was delicious until she realized that by now her guests would have been sitting down for dinner.

“What’s wrong?” Raincrow asked. “You quit eating.”

She sighed. “It would have been dinner by now, Tuscan chicken or sirloin steak, then the cake.”

The confection had been four tiers, trimmed with real flowers and no cheesy topper with a bride and groom. She’d chosen a light and luscious lemon cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. It had been a beautiful cake and it would have tasted so good. And, it would have been the best part of the wedding.

“Missing Dr. Golden Boy?” he asked, raising one eyebrow as he reverted to rude.

Hot words bubbled into her mouth but she didn’t say them. She didn’t miss Chad, not at all, but the wedding she’d spent more than a year planning had fallen apart and she’d almost died. Until she’d overheard the argument at his clinic, Kaitlin had believed her future was secure. She had known the life she’d live, one with the security of a doctor as the main breadwinner, in a lovely Mission-style house. Now her future was as uncertain as the weather, uncharted and more than a little scary.

“No,” she managed to say. “No.”

Then she pushed away her paper plate and began to cry, the tears she’d held all day erupting into reality. Kaitlin put down her head and sobbed.

Chapter Two


Tired to the bone, Shane Raincrow had been enjoying the Chinese takeout until Kaitlin began to cry. He’d expected tears much earlier and her stoic reaction to the terrible day had impressed him. Few women could come within inches of being shot to death at their storybook wedding, be snatched away by a stranger, and driven miles away to an unfamiliar place without breaking down. Kaitlin hadn’t.

Although he’d had her file in hand for more than a week, her beauty at the wedding had stunned him. Few things made him speechless but Kaitlin with her hair swept into a messy bun, makeup done to perfection, and wearing the gorgeous gown robbed him of coherent thought. He’d known she was pretty but he’d expected a run-of-the-mill high school teacher, not a beautiful woman. There were photos within the file but in her full bridal glory, she didn’t seem real. To him, she had resembled a fairy princess or a goddess come down from the clouds.

He’d worn his best Armani suit, that had cost him a small fortune, to impress and blend but when he caught sight of her, Shane had stared. He hadn’t expected her to return the look he gave her as she passed down the aisle. If he wasn’t mistaken, she’d looked straight back at him, odd for a bride on her way to the altar. That had been his first inkling she wasn’t as invested in the marriage as he’d believed.

If he hadn’t been gazing at her with calf eyes, Shane would have made the shooter sooner but he never saw the hit man until after the shot almost killed Kaitlin. He’d moved before the window shattered into a thousand multicolored pieces and had grasped her before the second shot echoed.

Tasked to protect a possible witness, Shane did his duty and got her out of danger. He hadn’t expected the shooter to fire before the ceremony—the snitch had been wrong about that but he’d missed. He figured he might have to carry her out but she’d hustled when he snatched her. Although he’d threatened to use the handcuffs if she tried to run when he checked into the motel, he had them ready from the first if needed.

As lovely as she was in her finery, when he came out of the shower to find her in casual clothing, his heart skipped a few beats. She’d washed away the cosmetics and let her hair down. It cascaded past her shoulders, a blend of light brown and dark blonde. Get a grip, Raincrow, or you’ll cross an invisible line here.

He’d tossed out the sarcastic crack about Dr. Golden Boy from pure snark, more than a little jealous to think this exquisite woman had been about to tie the knot with him, despite knowing he played a major role in the opioid epidemic. If she missed that bastard, he’d lose some of the respect he had for her. Maybe she’d longed for the sophisticated dinner at a country club, preferring it to eating Chinese food out of paper cartons with a Cherokee.

Or maybe it had just been a hell of a long day and it all caught up with her.

When Kaitlin began to cry, he couldn’t swallow another bite. The food he’d found so tasty moments before stuck in his throat and he wished he could take back the caustic question. Instead, Shane rose and came around behind her. He placed one hand on her back as she sobbed.

“Kaitlin,” he said. “Kaitlin.”

He said her name because he didn’t know what else to say, awkward around emotional women. She sobbed harder, then shot up out of the chair and turned to him. He caught her and she put her head down on his chest, still crying. Shane held her, inhaling the scent of her hair and perfume. He stroked her hair, which seemed to calm her and said meaningless things like, “Hush,” and “It’s okay.” Her proximity lit his passion and he wanted to kiss her. It took all his restraint not to plant his mouth on her lips and take what he craved. He might have done it anyway if he hadn’t realized that the curtains were not completely closed.

Because the lights were on in the motel room, they were spotlighted in the window. As he reached around Kaitlin to pull the drape, he caught sight of a red laser dot dancing on her back. Somewhere, out in the dark, a sniper had his sights aimed on her through the window. Shane reacted and threw her to the floor, covering her body with his. She made a muffled protest but went silent when the window imploded, showering both with glass fragments. Kaitlin started to try to rise and he shoved her flat.

“Fuck! Stay down,” he told her. “Don’t move.”

He’d removed his weapon when he showered. Shane crawled across the floor to retrieve it, made sure the magazine was in place, and slid it off safety. He returned to her as a barrage of gunfire blasted the room. The curtains danced as they tattered with the onslaught and bullets pinged off every surface. Shane managed to pull the lamp over, thrusting the room into darkness.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” he said. “Are you hurt?”

She groped to find him and then grasped his hand. “No, just scared.”

If he could get to the desk phone, he’d dial 911 but he figured someone in the office surely had. A faint wail of sirens in the distance grew louder and he could breathe.

“Hear that?” he whispered to Kaitlin. “It’s the cavalry.”

Problem was, they needed to be gone before the law enforcement arrived or there would be too many questions. He had repacked his stuff into his duffle, an old habit. He groped for her suitcase and working blind put her things back into it. There was no room for the wedding gown and he decided it would have to stay. If it had suffered half the damage the curtains had, it would be ruined anyway.

“Let’s roll,” he told her. Still holding her hand, he managed to toss his duffle over one arm and roll her suitcase with the other. “The vehicle is right outside the door. I’ll put you in the front passenger seat and we’ll get the hell out of here.”


It was the first time she’d called him by name and he marked it.

“Ask me questions later.”

He counted the seconds as they made a wild run for the Tahoe. Shane boosted her into the seat and threw their bags into the back. Then he ran for his life around the front of the vehicle, weapon ready, and climbed in. The moment he shut the door, the firing began again and Kaitlin screamed.

“Hush,” he told her. “This buggy’s bulletproof, including the window glass. Fasten your seat belt because we’re gonna rock and roll.”

Shane didn’t bother with his but fired the engine and backed out without using the headlights. He propelled the Tahoe to the highway and darted across it to a roadside park, the kind with a history marker and a few tables. He pulled into the very back of it and waited.

Three cruisers, red lights blazing, blasted past and turned into the motel. The moment they rolled to a halt, Shane hit the highway and headed toward the Interstate. He blew through several red lights before hitting the entrance ramp at better than eighty-five miles an hour, then slowed so they wouldn’t crash.

The storm he’d anticipated hit with heavy rain, frequent lightning, and thunder. A few pellets of hail struck the windshield. Despite the weather he rocketed down the Interstate as fast as he dared and was almost to Arkansas when he realized Kaitlin hadn’t said a word since they left. In full Federal Marshal mode, Shane glanced over and noticed she was shaking. Her arms were wrapped tight around her torso and tears slid down her cheeks. She stared straight ahead at the road but she appeared withdrawn.

“Hey,” he said. “Kaitlin?”

When she failed to respond, he became anxious. Had she been hit by a stray bullet or cut by glass fragments? “Kaitlin, talk to me. What’s the matter?”

He slowed as much as he dared. She lifted her head and turned toward him.

“I’m cold,” she said in a whisper. “I hurt all over and I don’t feel well.”

Her shivering increased and he recognized traumatic shock. The professional law enforcement officer faded as Shane acted on his own instincts. He took the next exit into Bentonville. The first stop he made was at a discount store where he dashed inside through the downpour long enough to buy a soft blanket and a sports drink. He wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and suggested she drink what she could. He could eat again although it’d been a short time since they had and she had eaten very little. Shane pulled into the first drive-in he saw, then ordered burgers, onion rings, and sodas.

Kaitlin had stopped shivering but she clutched the blanket around her. Once she’d sipped some of the sports drink, she roused a little more.

“It’s raining,” she said. “You’re soaked.”

He was but it didn’t matter. “I’ll dry.”

“You’ll catch cold.”

Shane laughed. His mother would have echoed the same sentiment and often had during his childhood.

“Doesn’t work that way. I won’t but we both need some hot food. I didn’t get a chance to eat much so I’m still hungry.”

He also needed time to think. The orders had been to remove Kaitlin from the wedding, if possible, and bring her to a safe house located in the suburbs of Kansas City. A gut feeling had prompted him to drive west instead. Neosho had been his choice, not an official one. It had also been a test to determine if they’d been followed. Until he saw the laser point on her body, Shane had been almost certain they hadn’t. Now he had to determine how they’d been located. He’d swear on his badge that no one tailed them out of Springfield so he wondered how CJNG, the Jalisco Cartel, had found them.

Shane divided the food and handed her a burger. He put her onion rings on the dash where she could reach them and the shakes in the beverage holder between the seats.

“You need to eat while we have a chance,” he told her, noting her skin remained colorless, her lips white. What he didn’t say was, Eat before they catch up to us again.

Kaitlin unwrapped her burger and nibbled at it. “Thank you,” she said after she’d swallowed several bites. “It’s actually pretty tasty.”

By then, he’d wolfed down half of his. His body needed the fuel. Fatigue hung over him like smoke from a campfire built with green wood, and a headache hammered his skull. Shane needed food and sleep, but most of all, he required answers and those he lacked. After he finished his first burger, he paused to rub his forehead and she noticed, which surprised him.

“If I had my purse, I’d offer you something for your head,” she said.

Shane reached beneath the driver’s seat and pulled out the small dark-green Michael Kors bag and handed it to her. Her eyes widened with surprise.

“You have it!”

He nodded. He’d surveyed the church before he took his seat. He’d found her purse tucked away on a table in the vestibule, apparently positioned so she could grab it on the way out of the church after the ceremony.

“Thank you,” she said as she opened it. She pawed through the contents, pulled out a small bottle of naproxen sodium and handed it to him. “Take two for your headache.”

His head ached too much to debate so he did, washing the tablets down with soda. Then he finished his food, waiting for the medication to tone down the pain.

“My phone’s not in here,” Kaitlin said, her voice a little shrill. “Where’s my phone?”

“I have it,” he said. “But you can’t call anyone and I took the battery out so no one could ping it.”

Shane had done the same with his work-issued cell. His personal phone was in his pocket but just his closest family members had the number. As his weary brain sought a connection to the shooter locating them at the motel, he realized they’d been tracked. If not by cell phone, then it probably was a tracking device on the Tahoe. They needed to ditch it and soon but they would need transportation.

As if she divined his thoughts, Kaitlin asked, “How did they find us at that motel? And won’t the police be after us for it?”

“I’m still figuring that out,” he said. “I suspect there’s a tracking device on the vehicle and no, they won’t be looking for us by name anyway—I used an alias when I checked in and paid cash.”

“An alias?”

He nodded. “I’ve been undercover a few times and still had the name and ID from one of those times. I’m not concerned about law enforcement anyway—it’s the cartel that worries me. If they trailed us to Neosho, they’re not giving up easily.”

“Then I’m still in danger?”

“Very much, yes.”

“How far to the safe house? And will I be safe there?”

Shane hesitated, then told her the truth. “The safe house is near Kansas City and we’re not going there because I’m not confident it’s secure. I headed in a different direction on purpose and you know what happened.”

Kaitlin put down the onion ring she’d been about to eat. “We were found but what does that have to do with the safe house?”

He sighed and wished he’d shake the headache. Nothing but sleep would probably cure it, though. “A snitch informed us that there was a hit out on you from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel to get Dr. Feel Good’s attention so he’d quit skimming the profits. It was taken as valid information but I have this gut feeling there’s more to it than that.”

“I don’t understand.”

“There are several possibilities. One, the doc is in deeper than anyone, you or the feds have any idea. The other is that CJNG thinks you know more than I think you do and they want to eliminate you. Or there’s an insider, FBI or DEA, working with the cartel. It’s been known to happen. It’s a theory at this point but if any of this might be true, there’s a serious threat to you.”

“To both of us.”

Shane nodded. “Yeah.”

“Then what happens? What do we do?”

“I’m working on that,” he said. “We need to get rid of this vehicle and get somewhere safe, without leaving any trail.”

“Will we get another hotel room?”

He shook his head. “Not yet, not until I can be reasonably sure we won’t be followed there. I don’t want another shoot-out or anything else to happen. Are you finished eating? We need to go.”

She wrapped up her trash and put it in the paper bag. “Yes.”

The rain continued as he pulled out onto the highway loop that wound through Bentonville. Shane didn’t return to the Interstate but meandered through the city, then along the business route that led to first Rogers, then Springdale. Near Springdale, he left the highway and parked near a restaurant. Then he took out his phone and made a call to one of the few people he trusted—his cousin, Wesley Raincrow.

“It’s Shane,” he said when his cousin answered. “I need your help.”

“You got it, man, you know that. What do you need?”

“Meet me at the Northwest Arkansas Airport in a couple hours,” he said. “I’ve got someone with me and we’ll be in one of the sitting areas before Security.”

“I’ll be there.”

He had a plan. It might be imperfect but it was all he had for now. Shane drove around northwest Arkansas, down to Fayetteville, back through Springdale, out to Beaver Lake and back before he headed for XNA, the airport at Bentonville. Large for a small city like Bentonville, it offered connecting flights to destinations all over the country but he didn’t plan to fly. The rain slacked not long before he drove into the airport and headed for the long-term parking area. Kaitlin, who had dozed as they drove, sat up.

“Where are we?”

Shane explained and she asked, “Are we getting a flight somewhere?”

“No, just ditching the Tahoe,” he said. “Gather up what you need and we’ll leave the rest.”

They combined the few practical items from her suitcase into his duffle and once parked, he led her over to the terminal. Wesley waited there, unremarkable in faded jeans, a ball cap, and a long-sleeved chambray shirt.

“I’m here, what do you need to do?”

“We need to get out of here as fast as we can,” Shane said. He worried that their enemies might track the SUV while they were still close. “Then we’ll talk. This is Kaitlin. Kaitlin, this is my cousin, Wes.”

“Then let’s go,” Wesley Raincrow said.

They followed him to a well-worn vintage Ford F-150 pickup truck. Shane tossed his bag into the back and motioned for Kaitlin to sit in the middle. He took the passenger seat by the window, sandwiching her between the two men for safety. He didn’t expect anyone to detect their presence yet, especially not in Wes’s truck but being cautious came as second nature.

No one spoke until they left the lights of Bentonville behind.

“I’m heading for home unless you tell me different,” Wes said. “It’s late and whatever you need to tell me can be done there.”

Shane nodded. “That’ll work but we’ll have to be gone early in the morning.”

They passed through Decatur, a small town dominated by a large poultry processing plant, then left the highway for a narrow road. After a mile, they came to a crossroads, turned west, and ended up at an older mobile home sitting beneath tall trees.

Once inside, Kaitlin sat down on the vinyl-covered love seat with a sigh. Shane carried in their sole bag and sat down at the tiny kitchen table with his cousin. Wes opened the aged avocado-green fridge and handed him a beer. “Now, tell me.”

Shane sketched out the basics of their situation, including both shooting attempts.

“The first time she was the target,” he told him. “But at the motel, they were after both of us.”

Wes gave a low whistle. “That’s why you ditched the government ride.”

“That’s why. I think it had a tracking device but it could just as easily have been a bomb. Getting off the grid will slow them down, at least. I need something to drive so if you have a spare, I could use it.”

His cousin grinned. “I own an auto shop, dude. So, yeah, I can give you something but it won’t be pretty.”

“As long as it’s dependable, that’s fine,” Shane said. “Thanks.”

Wes waved one hand. “It’s family, it’s cool. If you’re staying, there’s the couches or you can take my bed.”

Kaitlin was already asleep, curled into a corner of the love seat. “Couch is fine, if you can spare a couple of blankets, maybe a pillow.”

He spread one of the blankets over Kaitlin, pausing to touch her beautiful hair. He kissed her fingers, then touched her lips. Although he knew better, he’d let his emotions be engaged. He liked her and he wanted her. Hell, in another time and place, if conditions were better, he thought he could have fallen in love with her.

Fifteen minutes later, after covering Kaitlin, Shane sprawled on the couch, a pillow under his head and tried to sleep. He didn’t until almost morning but a little rest was better than none and he could sleep when they got where he planned to go.

Until then, he needed his wits and to be vigilant.

Their lives depended on it.


Chapter Three


Kaitlin woke, stiff and more than a little cold. When she opened her eyes, the unfamiliar place confused her and when she saw the mounted stag head on one wall, she stifled a scream. Shane, rumpled and hair sticking in every direction, bolted up from the couch nearby with his weapon in hand.

“What’s wrong?”

She felt like the worst flavor of a fool. “That deer startled me.”

He lowered the weapon. “Damn. You scared the bejesus out of me, woman.”

His cousin burst into the room from the bedroom toting a .410 shotgun. “Everything okay?”

“Kaitlin doesn’t care for the deer.”

“He was tasty, though,” Wesley said with a faint grin. “So, there’s no emergency? I figured we were under attack.”

“Not just yet. Can I make coffee?”

“Be my guest.”

Kaitlin spoke up. “I’ll make the coffee and cook some breakfast. I’m sorry I woke both of you.”

Shane offered her a wide smile, the first real one she’d seen since meeting him. She already found him incredibly attractive with his dark eyes, black hair, high cheekbones, and face chiseled as if from granite, but the smile sent a warm rush through her. His lips were generous and his mouth wide. For a split second, she imagined kissing those lips, then pushed the image away. She thrust off the blanket and groped her feet into shoes.

“We needed to be up anyway,” he said. “We have to leave soon but we can eat first.”

Kaitlin found a package of bacon in the fridge, enough eggs to scramble, and bread for toast. As soon as the coffee began to drip in the pot, she cooked the food. Chad had never appreciated her domestic skills but she’d grown up in her grandmother’s home. Granny taught her to cook at an early age, talking her through meal preparation step by step. Now the simple task offered comfort.

“Thank you,” Shane said after he’d cleaned his plate. “I didn’t figure you for a cook, though.”

“I’m full of surprises,” she replied and he laughed. Whether it was because he’d had some sleep or that he was in a familiar place, Kaitlin had never seen him as relaxed.

“That’s no lie,” he said. If only he had the leisure to explore the depths of this woman.

After she poured him a second cup of coffee, which he drank black, she broached the question she’d wanted to ask. “What happens now?”

“I’ll take you someplace safe.”

“And where is that?”

Shane shook his head. “I’m not saying.”

“I need to stop somewhere and buy some things,” she said. “A jacket, for one, some more appropriate clothes, some socks and underwear…”

She didn’t finish when he shook his head again.

“No. For one thing, it could be risky if anyone is looking for you. And for another, unless you have cash, you can’t go shopping. A credit or debit card is easy to track. If they don’t know your location, they can pick it up from that.”

“I’m cold,” she said. “I need a sweater or something.”

“If you need a jacket, I’ll get you one,” Shane said. “Unless Wes has something that will work. I thought I’d borrow a flannel shirt to wear myself.”

Kaitlin turned her attention to the other Raincrow.

“She can pick out a flannel shirt too,” he said. “I do have a few ladies’ things, though. Last summer, I wanted some stuff from a yard sale and the lady wanted to be done so I bought it all.”

“You bought out a yard sale?” Shane asked.

“Yeah, I did. I think some of the stuff might fit her.”

By the time she’d washed the skillet and dishes, he’d brought a box of clothing for her to consider. Most were what she’d call “ragbag rejects” but there was one light-green sweatshirt with both zipper and hood. It fit when Kaitlin tried it on. She also picked out three t-shirts in her size, one bright-red Arkansas Razorbacks shirt, a Beatles tee, and one that read “Witchy Woman” in glitter. There was one pair of jeans too. Since that tripled her current wardrobe, she thanked Wes and didn’t complain.

Since Shane’s duffle was at capacity, she wore the jacket and put the rest in an Aldi’s bag Wesley provided. When Shane pulled up outside the front door driving a road-scarred late 1990s Ford Escort, she almost cringed. One fender was crushed and the hood was a darker shade than the body. Still, she lacked options so she thanked Wes again, then climbed into the car. The cloth bucket seats were worn and torn in places. The dashboard sported a few splits in the vinyl and there was one hairline crack across the top of the windshield.

In the east, the sun rose, golden sunshine highlighting a few lingering clouds.

“It’s going to be a pretty day,” Kaitlin told him.

Shane shot her a questioning look, then nodded.

“At least it’s not raining but we’ll be on the road most of it.”

“Do we have that far to go?”

He hesitated before he answered the question. “No, but we’re taking the long way.”

She didn’t like the idea. “Do we have to?”

“Do you want to stay alive?”

A cold rush of fear drowned the bright mood she’d managed. “Yes.”

“Then we do it my way and you don’t ask questions,” Shane told her. “We’re not on a pleasure trip.”

Stung by his harsher tone, she responded, “I know that.”

Kaitlin shut her mouth. The tension absent earlier had returned. She saw it in his rigid posture and the way he gripped the steering wheel of the small car. He wasn’t smiling now and his features were set in a grim expression that she didn’t like. She’d made the mistake of forgetting the events of the past day. Her thoughts darkened as she remembered she’d almost been shot twice, once at her wedding yesterday. She hadn’t wanted to be there but she didn’t want to die either. The past few months haunted her. Chad, never the true love or shining prince of fairy tales, had changed toward her. Once, he’d been eager to spend time together. They’d dined out, visited a few clubs, made trips to places both enjoyed. During spring break, he’d taken her to Branson and for a dinner cruise out on Tablerock Lake. Kaitlin had loved it but Chad had been distant and bored. He’d slipped away often to make furtive phone calls and hardly spoke to her. He either ate little or went on wild, indulgent food binges. Chad craved what she considered weird things at odd times. Once, at a buffet he had eaten nothing but desserts—cake and pie and cookies, and bowls of ice cream. Another time, he’d wanted a St. Paul sandwich, available only in St. Louis and drove there to get several. Not a fan of egg foo yong on white bread topped with pickles, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, Kaitlin skipped that trip.

He’d been eating pills, she had noticed, popping them from unmarked bottles he always kept in his pocket. If she’d been wise to the drug abuse sooner, she would never have accepted the engagement ring or continued to date Chad. By the time she’d noticed, the wedding had been planned and was set in concrete. His once even temper had vanished, making him often volatile and on a few occasions verbally abusive. Her doubts had grown as the wedding approached and the argument she’d overheard had increased them.

Sunlight caught the sparkling ring she still wore and reflected on the car’s ceiling. Kaitlin tugged it off and put it in her purse.

“Tired of wearing his rock?” Shane asked. The man never seemed to miss anything.

“I was, a long time ago.”

He snorted. “Then why didn’t you call off the wedding?”

His question hit her in the gut. “I thought about it, even that day.”

“But you couldn’t resist Doc Goldilocks’s sex appeal,” Shane said. “Or was it his bank account?”

“Neither one,” she replied with more than a little snark. “I was a little concerned how he’d react, for one, and two, you wouldn’t understand, but I wanted to belong somewhere.”

Shane mumbled something she couldn’t quite hear. Kaitlin wasn’t sure if it was an apology or another sarcastic remark. She brushed away a stray tear from her left eye, then said what she’d wanted to several times. “You really have issues with Chad, don’t you?”

His focus shifted from the highway to her. “I do and you don’t?”

“Well, yes, I do.”

“You should. Remember, there’s a lot about him in the files I have and none of it is positive.”

“Calling him snide nicknames isn’t very professional, that’s all,” Kaitlin said although she found some of them highly amusing. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were jealous or something.”

“Maybe I am.”

His answer shocked her and she wondered if he was serious. If he was, she both liked the idea and was frightened by it. Shane captured her attention, much more than he should have. One day ago, she started down the aisle to say “I do” to another man but now she longed to kiss Shane. Those few moments in his arms at the motel in Neosho had been sweet and she’d felt safe, until the bullets flew.

Kaitlin gave up on conversation for the moment. She stared out the passenger window and watched the scenery pass—farms, woods, hills and valleys, small towns, and convenience stores in the middle of nowhere. Any other time, she would have enjoyed the view but now she had little interest. After an hour, they approached Neosho and she recognized the motel on one corner of a four-way stop where they’d been ambushed. At that distance she saw the blue tarp covering the broken window and the bright yellow of crime scene tape. She shuddered, remembering.

Once they headed to another highway, Shane wheeled into a convenience store and pulled up to the gas pumps.

“Do you want anything?” he asked.

“No, thanks.”

After he fueled the Ford, she watched as he headed inside to pay, admiring his rear view. He returned with a paper, wearing a dark frown.

“What’s wrong?”

“We made the paper,” he stated and handed her the unfolded newspaper.

Shoot-out at Local Motel, the headline screamed. The story, light on details, was filled with sensationalism and stated that an unknown couple were cornered by armed individuals at the budget motel. No injuries were reported and the identities remained unknown.

“It doesn’t mention us.”

“No, but if someone’s still looking, and I have no doubt they are, it’s there in black and white.”

A photo accompanied the story, one clear enough that she could see her tattered bridal gown hanging in the background, recognizable to anyone familiar with the wedding. “I get your point,” she told him.

Kaitlin folded it with extreme care and put it on the floorboard with a sigh.

In a few miles, he switched highways and headed east. She stopped slouching and sat up.

“We’ll be in Granby soon.”

“Congratulations, Navigator. Yeah, that’s right.”

She grew up in Aurora so this was familiar country. “Are we going back to Springfield?”

“Republic. I need to call into the local office and see if there are any developments. I’m sure questions have come up since I didn’t take you to KC.”

Her tummy rolled and she struggled not to vomit breakfast.

“Does that mean we’re going to Kansas City? Are you going to really arrest me?”

“No and no. You’re already in protective custody, Kaitlin, as a material witness, but it’s my custody.”

“If we’re not heading to The Lou, then where are we going?”

“You’ll find out when we get there,” Shane said as he sipped from a can of soda. “So will I.”

The towns flew past like pages in a book, the oldest mining town in Southwest Missouri, Granby, Monett, where they passed a golf course, park, a big discount store, and several chain restaurants, then Aurora. They didn’t go into town, just traveled the highway corridor, but now Kaitlin paid attention.

“Can we stop here?” she asked. “I’d like to use the bathroom.”

“This is the one place we can’t stop,” Shane answered. “It’s your hometown and you’re likely to see old neighbors or classmates, which would create questions.”

At Billings, Kaitlin wished they could stop at a small diner with a tiny motel. She’d slept a little at Wes’s place but her body craved rest. Her eyes burned as if they were filled with sand. She almost pointed the place out to Shane but didn’t. One look at his serious expression shut down the possibility and her desire to ask.

When they reached Republic, the road stretched into multiple lanes with access to more retail businesses than she could count. Familiar fast-food logos stood out among the discount store signs, and businesses that dealt in everything from jewelry to home improvement and furniture. They hit morning drive time traffic, what passed for rush hour in a small town so the car inched forward. He appeared to be familiar with the small town and when she asked, he told her he lived a little south. At the first easy exit, Shane entered the lot for a large convenience store.

“If you still need a restroom, here’s your chance.”

Kaitlin nodded and headed inside. When she returned to the vehicle, he had the Springfield paper spread out over the steering wheel. His forehead was creased with a worry line and his lips were ruler straight.

“Did the shoot-out make the paper this far away?” she asked, as she slid into the seat.

He folded the paper back and shook his head. “No, but your death did.”

Her lungs ceased working and she had no air to breathe. Kaitlin’s chest tightened and she stared at him. Maybe her ears had quit too because she couldn’t believe what he had said.


“According to that, you died after the shooting,” he told her. “The story, with no byline except From Staff Reports, says that ‘the bride, 29-year-old Kaitlin Joy Corbin, was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital after a random shooting at her wedding. Corbin’s fiancé, Dr. Chad Cox, was not injured in the attack. Three guests were treated and released for minor injuries.”

 “That’s not true!” If she could talk, she must be breathing but it didn’t feel that way“Of course it’s not,” Shane said. “But it means you’re in even more danger than I thought. Somebody knows you’re alive or they wouldn’t have tried to kill you night before last at the motel.”

            “Chad thinks I’m dead?”

            Shane shrugged. “That remains to be seen. I’m glad I saw this before I called the marshal’s office, though.”

            “You have to tell them I’m alive,” she said. Her heart had climbed into her throat where it froze into a hunk of ice.

            “Let’s see what they say first.”

            He had to be joking and she didn’t find it funny, not at all, and told him so.

            “I’m not amused either. If they also think you’re dead, then this thing just got more complicated and confusing.”

            Shane drove to a larger parking lot where multiple stores ringed the concrete. Most had not opened yet or were just unlocking the doors. Kaitlin watched as he took out his work cell and turned it on. Immediately it beeped to indicate messages, which he ignored.

            “It’s Raincrow,” he barked into the receiver when someone answered. “Let me talk to Mickelberg. Yeah, it’s urgent.”

            “Put it on speaker,” Kaitlin whispered. She needed to hear this as much as he did.

            “Mickelberg,” a gruff voice said. “This had better be good, Raincrow. You’ve been AWOL since the wedding shooting. I had begun to think you were as dead as the material witness.”

            “I’m alive and kicking but I wasn’t aware Ms. Corbin was deceased.”

            “She died that night and our case with her. Where in the name of the Devil have you been?”

            “I was attempting to locate her, as ordered.”

            “You wasted your time, then. There’s no need to protect a dead witness.”

            “Will there be a service? I’d like to pay my respects.”

            Kaitlin listened, desperate for answers.

            “None. She had no family, no last wishes, no funeral plans in place. Her fiancé donated her body to science so she was shipped to the UMKC Medical School. Her cadaver will help students learn anatomy.”

            “I see,” Shane said. If he did, Kaitlin didn’t and she parted her lips to speak. Shane clapped his large hand over his lips and shook his head. “Did she have a will?”

            “No, but Dr. Cox said he’d let it go through probate. I have a new assignment for youa money laundering case down in Forsythe. Word is that the perps are usingget thisa laundromat as their base. Get your ass in and I’ll get the file for you.”

            “I’ll be there later today, maybe tomorrow.”

            “Don’t try me, Raincrow, and don’t go rogue. I need you in my office by noon.”

            The call ended. Shane swore as he popped the battery out of the phone, then drove to the nearest trash receptable. He tossed the battery into it, then crossed the lot to another and threw the phone inside.

“Don’t you need a phone?” she asked.

“Not that one,” Shane replied. “They could track me with it. I have a burner cell. Only my family has that number.”

He drove at speed to the highway and turned back west.

            “Shane, why didn’t you tell him I’m alive?” she asked.

            “It would put you in greater danger if I did and at this point, he wouldn’t believe me unless I delivered you to the office or the safe house in Kansas City. Then you most likely would be killed.”

            “I don’t understand.”

            He reached over and took her hand. His skin radiated warmth. “Honey, I don’t either,” he told her. “I wish I did but I’ll keep you safe.”

            Kaitlin held his hand and started to cry. She’d cried more in the last two days than she had in years. “I want to believe you.”

            “You can,” he said. “Just trust me to get this all figured out.”

            She nodded because her options were scarce and what else could she do?


           Pick up a pre-order until Wednesday February 8, then order. Here are the links:

Tall Dark And Cherokee links:



Coleman Raincrow's dog Waya:

 Shane's ancestor, Ned Christie

         Grandfather's place


Happy reading!!!


Time and talent

I’ve often wished I could draw or paint.   I admire those who can take a pencil and with a few lines sketch a face or a scene or an object...