Quincy Bishop’s Snowy Leap Release Blitz & Giveaway

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is quincy-453x680-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 70241-synopsis.jpg

Quincy watched the woman move through the crowd. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something just felt off. She was too close to the man in front of her not to be with him. When the man purposefully stepped out in front of an oncoming truck, it was all Quincy could do to stop her from the same fate. She was deaf. Her scent was familiar, but she wasn’t his mate.

Grace was upset with Quincy but didn’t know why. She was thankful that he saved her sister, but she felt pissy and needed to take it out on someone, and he made a good target. But when he didn’t retaliate, she regretted her actions.

It didn’t take but a second for Quincy to figure out that Grace was his mate. But would she be as happy about it as he was? Only time would tell….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/37oZQil
AMAZON UK https://amzn.to/3ObgEtP
AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/3xvcK9h
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/quincy-kathi-s-barton/1141352517?ean=2940160888392
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Quincy?id=215qEAAAQBAJ
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1142302
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/quincy-11
ITUNES http://books.apple.com/us/book/id1619135040
PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/37ZdxVq

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is goodreads_wide-e23f6858b6bf20dcaf8493237a214a0e.png

Add it to your booklist…
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60806936-quincy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 8af0d-other2bbook2bin2bthe2bseries.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sawyer-453x680-1.jpg

Raven Addington was happy with her life the way it was. She and her daughter, Molly, were doing just fine on their own, despite what her mother had to say about it. Merriam, Raven’s mother, never had anything nice to say about anything, so why should now be any different.

Sawyer Bishop had turned in his notice at the police force. No matter how bad he needed the money, he wasn’t about to let a hot-headed partner make him a mark for an early grave. His parents needed his help on the farm, so he was happy to leave the force.

Sawyer was supposed to be on desk duty, but they were shorthanded, so he took the call that came in from the 911 dispatch. It would be his last, and then he would be a poor but free man.

When Sawyer arrived on the scene, it was bad. The poor woman had been beaten until she was unrecognizable and barely breathing. Although he didn’t know her personally, he knew Raven Addington was extremely wealthy, and that bothered him more than he cared to admit. Being a Bengal tiger, he knew from her scent that she was his mate. Her station in life was so far above his, he didn’t think it was going to work. But when she coded in the hospital, he had to make a quick decision and hope it wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass later.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is chandler-453x680.jpg




Sasha Harvard had returned to the small town in Ohio because Hailey Riddle, a ghost, had led her there. Sasha had been speaking to the dead for as long as she could remember. In working with the police, Sasha had been in the field, helping to look for Melinda’s spirit when Melinda Havard had found her. Melinda told her that they were sisters, and the man that had killed her thought that she was Sasha. Melinda had done the best she could to deliver the child she was carrying before she succumbed to her wounds. The child was marked like Sasha, and the dead would find her when she was older. Melinda wanted Sasha to raise her child, and she warned Sasha that the man who had killed her would come after both her and the child because of what they could do. Sasha pulled out the business card of Sawyer Bishop, the officer in charge on the field, and told him that she’d like to meet him at his house and to send someone to pick her up.

Chandler Bishop knocked on Sasha’s door to pick her up. He heard a scuffle inside and broke down the door. A man was standing over Sasha with a baseball bat, and she had been beaten. When Chandler yelled at the man, he just disappeared. Sasha was shocked that he’d seen the man. Chandler thought the man was a vampire, Sasha told him the man was dead.

Chandler had found his mate and could see the dead now too apparently. And the little girl, Pip, her niece, would be theirs as well. A ready-made family and he couldn’t be happier. But would he and his tiger be able to keep them safe from both the living and the dead?

the living and the dead?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wesley-453x680-1.jpg

Wesley Bishop was helping out a friend by letting Emmie stay with him. He knew she wasn’t his mate, but she was good company. Emmie was hiding from her abusive brothers. When she asked Wesley to take her to the bank, she was meeting her best friend Penny and Penny’s grandfather, Joe, to go over their accounts, Wesley readily agreed.

Wesley thought Penny was about the prettiest woman he’d ever seen—feisty too, and when her scent hit him like a freight train, he was the happiest tiger shifter on the planet.

Penny, not so much. Like Emmie, Penny’s family had a way of getting their point across with a heavy fist. Trusting a man wasn’t easy for her.

Wesley was no quitter; he’d convince his new mate to trust him if it was the last thing he did. And keeping her safe was proving to be more difficult by the day.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gunner-453x680-1.jpg

It would take Hodge time to get used to Gunner’s family. She’d used a little magic to help Raven deliver her twins without any pain. The Bishops were crowding her, wanting answers Hodge wasn’t ready to give. She was a loner, and all these people around her would take some getting used to. Gunner felt the same way and told his family to just go home. His mom wasn’t too happy about that.

To the world, Gunner was retired from his service with the military, but he was too good at his job to just stop. Someone had placed a price on Gunner’s head. He just had to figure out who. They’d come close once, but Hodge had sensed the threat and took care of it. But more attempts were inevitable. Would Hodge be able to intervene the next time?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dwayne-rev-1800x2700.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 70241-synopsis.jpg

Brittany Handle was doing the best she could. She had just gotten out of a violently abusive relationship, and she was doing her best to get her business rolling. Having heard her sister died, she and her son, Jamie, went to Ohio to settle her sister’s affairs.
Dwayne Bishop was settling into his new job at Addington. The owner was grooming him to take over when she retired. He was walking back to his office when Jamie literally barreled into him. The boy was being chased by three bullies. He had given as good as he got until one of them had hit him in the head with a baseball bat. Dwayne stepped in and protected the boy. Once back at his office, the boy was hurt worse than Dwayne thought and collapsed. Panicking, Dwayne reaches out to his family for help.
Brit was doing her best to keep her shit together. Everyone kept saying it was bad, but she hadn’t seen Jamie yet, and until she did, she was doing her best to keep from snapping at everyone. But when Dwayne handed her what Jamie had had in his pocket, the jolt nearly knocked her off her chair. They were mates! She had just got out of one abusive relationship. There was no way she was bowing down to any man ever again….






Sawyer https://amzn.to/31RAKBo
Chandler https://amzn.to/38w7ouj
WESLEY https://amzn.to/3kzaLXU
Gunner https://amzn.to/3i8cUK6
DWAYNE https://amzn.to/3juCAl5


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4c99c-22188-images2b252812529.jpg

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A Signed Mystery Paperback or a Signed Coloring Book,
Tea Totaler, Signed Book Cover Tote or T-Shirt & Tote Bag Exlarge Only


https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is new-prizes.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ab532-winners.jpg

Congratulations to the winners !!!!!!!
Linda Brashears Signed Paperback
Tracy Kolberg Tea Totaler
Joyce Estelle T-Shirt and Tote

Packages will be mailed out on
Saturday, April 16th,2022

Pauline Westberry Mystery Prize
Wendy Bricker Signed Paperback
Elizabeth Bardorf Mystery Prize
Barbara White Signed Paperback
Shannon Vidak Mystery Prize
Rhonda Hicks Signed Paperback
Donna Chizewsky Signed Coloring Book
Trista Wagner Mystery Prize
Ann Ivey Signed Paperback
Joyce Mirabello Signed Paperback
Debbie Whitley Signed Paperback
Brenda Lukas-Jones Signed Paperback
Elizabeth Bardorf Signed Paperback
Jessica Spink Signed Coloring Book
Julie A Swaney T-Shirt and Tote
Linda Brashears Signed Paperback
Tracy Kolberg Tea Totaler
Joyce Estelle T-Shirt and Tote

If you have not gotten your prize
please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com

Happy Reading,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-cropped-a929a-e812d-03kathisbartonlogotransparent.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is quincy-cover-wrap.jpg

Prologue




Quincey moved to the middle of the pack. He supposed it was rude of him to call people, mostly humans, a pack, but to his way of thinking, saying it out loud and thinking it were two different things. Thinking things about people was what got him through the worst kind of patients. The light that told them when to walk was still red, but something just wasn’t right about the man and woman in front of him. He could tell they weren’t together if the glares the man was giving the woman were any indication.

Not to mention, he told her several times to get out of his space. Not that it did him any good—she never moved out of her place right behind him. Quincey saw the big truck coming down the road. It had been the safest and the quickest construction route for the new building going in on one of the properties they all owned. Even as he was thinking this was going to end badly, the man moved. Then the woman did. Grabbing her back from following the man, he was driven to the sidewalk by her turning on him.

Leaping up, he grabbed her again and buried her face into his chest to keep her from the horrors of what had just happened. She was still fighting for freedom as everyone around them backed from the dead man’s body and the truck that had ended his life. “I have you.” She fought free of him and then began signing at him. Putting his hands over hers, he stopped her, but only long enough for him to sign back to her that she needed to slow down.

“It’s been a while. I’m a little rusty. I didn’t want you to follow the man into moving traffic.” She turned then, looking where the rest of the people were looking. When she turned back to him, she thanked him as only a deaf person could. Her fingers to her chin, then pointing them toward him. Having her settled, he went to the man lying broken on the road. Even though he could see that his back was broken, as was his neck, Quincey tried his pulse on what was left of his throat. He was able to pronounce him dead. He then reached for his brother. There’s been an accident/suicide on Main Street, Sawyer. Could you please send help? He asked if anyone else was hurt.

No. Just the man. The truck driver couldn’t have stopped in time if he had seen the man. Whoever he was, he timed it perfectly to step in front of the truck and end his life. I’m on my way. I’ve called an ambulance too. He thanked his brother. You were there, I’m assuming. Are you sure he wasn’t pushed? Positive. There is a deaf woman here too. I managed to keep her from moving into the same accident. I think she was using him as a reference as to when she could cross the street. The woman was upset—anyone within two inches of her could tell that. Going to her, Quincey was careful to wipe the man’s blood from his hand as he got closer. He didn’t want to frighten her any more than she already was. When she looked up at him, he could also see fear there. Assuring her that she wasn’t going to be in trouble had her smacking his forehead.

“You’re very violent, aren’t you?” She told him to fuck off. “Rude. I was just going to let you know that the police are on their way and that my brother knows you weren’t involved.” Quincey had to think about some of the words he was signing to her, and when she laughed, not a sound moving past her upturned mouth, he grinned back at her. He explained to her that he hadn’t used ASL for a while. “I had no idea he was going to get hurt when he moved.” Quincey explained to her that he thought the man had committed suicide. And had she followed him, she would have been killed too. “I can’t hear the clicking.

There were too many people for me to see the other side, or this one, to tell me when I could walk.” “You’re fine now, so that’s all that matters, right?” She nodded and looked to his right. Turning that way as well, he saw Sawyer get out of his truck and walk toward him. “That’s my older brother. He’s the acting sheriff here until they find someone to replace him. He knows ASL too.” ASL, or the American Sign Language, had been something he’d been taught by his mom. All of them had been when she homeschooled them. Mom had learned it from her aunt, who was born deaf. It had, over the years, come in handy when he had to speak to someone that couldn’t hear.

Sawyer seemed to be doing all right now that he’d told her that he, too, was a little rusty, so Quincey started away. When his hand was grabbed, he turned back to the woman and said he wasn’t going to leave her. He needed to talk to the coroner. “Her name is Beth Stone. She’s new here in town to teach ASL to the staff at the hospital. Did you know anything about that?” He told Sawyer he no longer read the emails at the hospital, as they were stupid. “Be that as it may, could you check on it for me? Not that I don’t believe her, but she has literally only just arrived and hasn’t had a chance to figure out where they’re putting her while here.”

“Yes, I can do that.” Pulling out his cell phone, it didn’t bother him in the least that Beth was still holding onto him. Asking for the department that scheduled classes for the staff, he wasn’t just told about the woman, Beth, but was also told that she was late. “She’s been involved in an accident. She’s not injured or a part of it, but she was a witness to it.” “Is this the body that is coming to us soon, Doctor Bishop?” He told her he’d pronounced him dead at the scene and that he would be in later to sign the death certificate for him. “Thank you, sir. I’ll make sure I tell the others what has happened to her.

Also, if you’d not mind, when you come, I’d like you to take her housing information so she may have it. I’m to understand she’s deaf.” “Yes, she is.” There wasn’t anything more that he wanted to add to the conversation, so he closed his phone. Turning to Sawyer, he found himself alone again with Beth. She asked him what was going on. He explained to her what was happening with the hospital. “Thank you. To be honest with you, I’d forgotten about getting in touch with them.” She looked at her hand on his shirt but only released him long enough to sign. “You must think I’m a loony, holding you like this. But it anchors me.”

“I don’t think that at all. You’ve had something traumatic happen near you, and it’s understandable that you’re upset and need to anchor yourself.” Something occurred to him in that moment, and he felt his heart rate pick up. “Beth, are you seeing anyone? Married or something like that? I mean, do you have someone in your life right now?” “Why? Has someone contacted you? Did someone contact you to get in touch with me?” He said he didn’t know who she was, but no, no one had. “Then why do you care if I’m with someone or not?” “I’m a shifter. White Bengal tiger. Do you know anything about shifters?” She said she knew a great many shifters, but sadly, no tigers. “Yes, well, I’d have to figure it out, but I’m thinking the reason you feel so comfortable around me, and me you, is that you might be my mate. I’d have to get closer to you to find out.”

“How close?” He told her. “All right. You can sniff me. But nothing else. I know you won’t hurt me, or you would have already, but just don’t get too fresh with me.” Burying his nose into her neck, he knew immediately that she wasn’t his mate, but she had been around someone that might be. Instead of asking her who it was, he just told her she wasn’t, but that he was here for her. “I thank you for that. I know a few shifters, as I said. And a man that is a wolf nearly married the wrong woman when it was her mother all the time he was smelling on her. He didn’t realize it until the day of the wedding.” He told Beth that was something he’d been thinking too. Then asked her if she had anyone.

“Mom was in an asylum for the criminally insane until she killed herself. Mom killed my dad, sister, and brother, and a bunch of other people one night. It was much more than her putting a bullet in their heads. She— Well, that’s one you’ll have to look up on your own. Melody Stone. Five years ago.” “I’ll look into that. No one else then?” She smiled at him and told him she had two sisters, one younger, the other older. “I’m assuming they don’t live around here. If not, then I don’t think it could be them. This person you would have had contact with recently.” “Both of them do, as a matter of fact.” He smiled at her and said he might be better off letting it go.

“Doubtful you could survive that, Doctor Bishop.” “Doubtful that either one of them would want to attach themselves to a country doctor with no chance of moving on to something more. Not that I want that, but I’m not all that much where a woman would fall over herself for me.” She told him to behave, then the police asked to speak to her. Since Sawyer was working for the department, he let him take care of translating for her. However, he didn’t leave her side. She needed protection as much as his tiger did, he thought.

She was tough and seemed to be able to defend herself. Watching her as she answered their questions, he thought about her family as he looked it up on his phone. Melody Stone had made the front page in every newspaper around the world, it looked like. She’d killed not only two of her children but her husband, his mother, sister, brother, as well as a mailman, two men who picked up the trash, and two officers when they had tried to arrest her. Melody had, according to the report he was reading, just simply snapped one day.

After reading the accounting of what had happened to the people she had killed in her home, Quincey shivered. The only reason Beth and Joanie had been able to live was that they’d hidden in the basement. Hearing the screams of their mother’s victims, as well as the laughter from her the entire three days they’d been trapped with no way out, had been a lot to endure, the author of the article had written. Just as he was finishing the article, he was touched on the arm by someone. Looking at Beth, he asked her if she was all right. She asked him to call her sisters and that she’d buy him lunch. “I’ll call them for you, but you don’t have to buy me lunch, Beth.

I was joking when I said I was nothing but a country doctor. I have other means of making money.” She said she figured that but still wanted to have lunch with him. “All right. But I’ll buy. It’s a manly thing to do.” The place across the street from his office served a really good French dip sandwich. He ordered that, as well as a cup of their vegetable soup to go with it. Beth wanted the same, but instead of water, she wanted tea. Writing down the numbers after the server left, Quincey wondered what he was getting himself into. As soon as the phone was answered by someone cursing, he knew this person was going to be his mate. “My name is Quincey Bishop.

I was—” She told him she didn’t know him. “I’m aware of that, Ms. Stone, but your sister is here with me, and she’s—” “Is she hurt? I told her to take one of us with her. Damn it. Did you hurt her?” He said he’d not. “Well? What the hell are you doing with my little sister then? I’m telling you right now, you’re not going to get away with—” “Will you calm the fuck down for a minute and let me finish telling you the reason I called you?” No apology came from her end, but he was just pissy enough to let it go for now. “She was witness to an accident that claimed the life of a young man. She wasn’t involved or injured, but she’s understandably shook up. However, why she would think you’d be a comfort to her is beyond me.

We’re at the Dixie Restaurant on Main Street.” Closing the phone, he didn’t want to tell Beth what had happened, but she asked, so he told her the one that had answered the phone was a rude bitch. Beth smiled and told him it could have been either of her sisters. Neither of them were good with people. They ate their lunch and spoke about her job. He’d not been as excited about his job as she was about hers in a long time, he realized. Of course, she was just beginning hers, and he’d been a doctor for nearly eight years.

Christ, he thought, that was a long time. When two women sat down with them, just barged into their lunch, he watched the conversation the two of them were having with Beth. They were pissed. Not at her, but that she’d not called them right away. Beth told them both to fuck off and that she was a grown woman. That got him laughing, and the two newcomers glared at him. “You two are a great deal alike. I’m assuming you, boss everyone, around when you feel you’re in the right.” He spoke to the other two and signed for Beth to understand him. “I told you she was fine, yet there you are checking her out like she was some sort of kid you have to boss—” One of them told him it was none of his business. Quincey slammed his hands on the table and spoke again. “Stop interrupting me when I’m speaking. You’ve done that so many times I can only assume you’re used to people letting you ride all over them.

Well, I’m not going to allow you to beat up on her or me. So you can either calm the fuck down, or you can just get the hell out of here. Beth and I were having a nice lunch until you two arrived.” Neither of them said another word to him or Beth. When the server arrived, he asked them if they needed a menu. They both agreed to have whatever Beth was having. When the server walked away, he knew the woman talking was the one who had answered the phone. “I’m sorry. I’m not good around people. My name is Grace. My sister is Joanie. You’ve been really nice by taking care of Beth, so she wasn’t too traumatized, and we all appreciate that.” He told Grace it was his pleasure. “Thank you for that. And you were in the right when you yelled at us. Now and on the phone. We came here on a whim for Beth, and I’ve not had any luck getting things squared away for us to live here with her.”

“What sort of issues are you having? I’m assuming it’s housing.” She told him that was it. “Buying or renting? The reason I ask is that my family has both sitting empty right now.” “Buying. But you don’t have to go to any trouble for us. We’ll get it settled up.” Joanie told her to shut up and let him help. He noticed they were doing the same thing he’d been doing, speaking and using sign language so that Beth could be a part of everything. “All right. We’ll take your help. But you don’t have to go out of your way and make your family—” This time it was Beth that put her hand over her sister’s mouth.

She told him she’d take all the help he wanted to give them. She wasn’t as stubborn or as stupid as her sisters. Quincey laughed and called his brother Gunner. He knew he had several properties around town and could help these women out. Putting the phone on speaker when he asked his brother if it was all right, he explained who he was with as well as what they needed. He signed the conversation to Beth. ~*~ “I don’t understand. What do you mean he thinks one of us is his mate? I’m not going to settle down with someone that has to love me. No way.” Grace looked at Beth as they spoke. “You have to have that wrong. He never said a word about it.”

“Perhaps because you were so caustic to him the entire time he was trying to have lunch with me. You do understand that I’m an adult, the same as you and Joanie are, don’t you? I mean, I voted in the last election. I get to make my own money. All kinds of stuff.” She told her sister to be nice. “No, I won’t be nice to you. He was the perfect gentleman, despite the fact that I knocked him to the ground when he saved me from following that man into traffic. I hope he’s not either of your mates. I’m positive he can do so much better than you guys.”

After her sister left her, she stared at the work she’d been doing when the call had come in. Not that she didn’t know each and every line she’d drawn. Standing up, she stood over the drawing without seeing it anymore. All she could think about was how rude and bitchy she’d been to Quincey. Both her and Joanie had been. Making a decision, she grabbed her keys and told Joanie where she was going. Joanie asked if she could go as well. All three of them ended up going to find Doctor Bishop. The houses along his street were houses she’d always had an attraction for. The last two houses she’d drawn had been the same sort of antebellum homes.

As soon as his driveway came up, the house sitting far back from the road, she knew this man was a smart businessman. The house, along with the garden out front and the grounds, was well maintained. Getting out of the car, she was shocked to her core when a large white tiger came running at them from the side of the house. The larger-than-life cat stopped not a foot from where she was standing. She looked up at the house when a woman in a white apron asked if she wanted the doctor. “No. Not unless he tries to eat me. I’m assuming this is Quincey Bishop?” The woman laughed and made her way toward them. “I came to talk to him about my behavior earlier today. Is he going to hurt me?” “I’d say not. But he is Doc.

He wants me to tell you that you and your sisters are welcome to go inside the house, but he has to go to the barn to change into clothing. He’ll be naked should he shift right now.” The cat snarled at the woman, who told him to behave himself. “I just baked up some zucchini bread if you’d like some. The garden out back is just plum full of the little suckers.” When the woman turned, heading back to the house, Joanie and Beth joined her. When Grace started to move to join them, the cat blocked her path. After he blocked her twice more, she stood where she was. “I’m assuming you want me to stay here. I can do that. So long as you understand, I’m not going to let you hurt me. Or my sisters.” She thought of what Beth said to her about being mates.

“Am I your mate? I don’t even know if you can understand me or not.” Her cell phone ringing nearly gave her a heart attack. Grace wasn’t sure, but she thought Quincey was laughing at her. Answering the call from Joanie, she was laughing hard enough that it took her two tries to tell her why she’d call at this time. “He said for you to put out your hand so he can nip it. Beth said it wasn’t at all painful, but he can talk to you after he tastes your blood.

I’d do it, Grace. What harm could it do for you to be able to speak to a tiger when you need one?” She didn’t ask her how she thought she’d need him but put out her hand. The lick across her entire palm made her realize he was hiding a lot of teeth from her. When he nipped gently on her hand, she wasn’t hurt at all. Pulling her hand back, noticing that it was still trembling a good deal, she asked him if it had worked. It did. And yes, Grace, you’re my mate. She nodded and looked away. I won’t hurt you or your family. Not ever. I’ll protect them with my life, as I will you.

“I’m not asking for you to do that, Quincey. I’m a little overwhelmed right now.” He told her he was sorry for adding to her stress. “I came here to tell you how sorry I was for snapping at you so much. I’d like to tell you I was having an off day, but I’m snappish to everyone lately. I hate my job. I hate my life, and I just want to crawl into a cave and never come out. Nothing seems to be going right.” Is there anything I can do to help you? Shaking her head, she looked at him. I’ll do whatever you need me to do, Grace. Just tell me what has you overwhelmed. I want to know.

No, that’s not nearly enough. I need to know. “I draw houses. Pretty pictures of them so people can hang them in their homes and be proud of it. However, no one wants to see their house the way it really looks. They want me to make it look like something they’ll never be able to achieve. Not without a great deal of money and about five hundred years.” Quincey asked her if someone was disappointed in what she did for them. “Yes. They’re suing me for drawing a house that looks just like the one they sent me pictures of. No big trees out front, like they thought I’d just know they wanted there.

The broken-down fence wasn’t fixed, and lord have mercy, I should have read their mind and just assumed they’d want the yellow shutters to be black and the house to be white, not pink. I kid you not, Quincey. It’s the ugliest pink you’ve ever seen. But they’re suing me for the house they had in their heads and not what they have.” I can help you with that. I have a great many contacts to look into it for you. Or I could hire you a good attorney if you don’t already have one. She told him he was too nice. Thank you. She laughed when he didn’t tell her she was as well. She knew she’d not been.

But when she pointed it out to him, he stood up. Thinking he was going to attack her or something now that he was growling low in his throat, she bumped her head when he told her to get down behind her car. The car came out of nowhere and slid to a stop not a foot from her own car. Gravel sprayed everywhere and hit her against the back of her legs. Quincey didn’t move from his position, but two men came out of the house then and leaned against the posts. She didn’t have any idea who they might be, but she thought they were much too relaxed compared to Quincey’s fur standing on edge and his stiff stance.

“You need something?” The men came down the stairs from the porch and made their way to the new arrival, sauntering in a slow walk. “I asked you something, Mr. Jacobson. You’ll live longer if you answer me and put that gun away.” “He said it was suicide. That brother of yours, he told the police he’d seen my son jump into the front of that moving truck on purpose. He needs to take that back. Right now.” The sharp noise of a gun going off had her crying out, but she didn’t move when Quincey told her she was all right. “Where is he? Where’s Doc Bishop? I know he lives around here.” “You need to calm down and put that rifle away before you get hurt.” Mr. Jacobson pointed out that he was the one holding the rifle. “You are at that, but that tiger right there is going to kill you if you don’t calm down and put the rifle into your car.

We’ll talk to you then, but not with you waving that thing around like you’ve no idea who or what you’re going to kill with it.” Someone else pulled into the drive, and she was afraid it was reinforcements for Mr. Jacobson. A woman and a man got out of the car and walked toward the elderly man. The woman was dressed in business attire, the man in a suit. The other two men nodded at them when they were next to her car. “It’s William, isn’t it?” The man said he was, then told the woman talking that his son didn’t commit suicide.

“But he did. You know me, William. You know what I can do. I helped you a couple of weeks ago to find the paperwork your wife put up. I showed you what I can do, didn’t I?” “You speak to the dead.” Grace could hear the grief in the other man’s voice. “You got him there with you, Sasha? My son, he with you right now?” “He is, and he wants to speak to you. Are you ready to see him? He’s not able to glamour himself because of him only being dead for a few hours. Are you ready for what he looks like?” He said he wasn’t, but he would like to see him. “All right.” “Oh, Billy. Oh my, Billy. What did they do to you?”

Standing up, she stared at the man. It hurt her heart to see him like this. William went to his knees and asked over and over who had killed him. “You’re all I have in the world, son. Did they take you from me?” “No, Dad. No one took me from you. I did kill myself.” The sobbing was painful to hear. Before she could think what a dangerous thing she was doing, she made her way to the grieving man and took the gun from him. Then she held him to her breast as he cried for his loss. “You’re going to hear a lot of things about me, Dad, and most of them are going to be true. The woman I was seeing, however, is going to tell you the child she is carrying is mine. It’s not. However, if you could see your way to do it, I’d very much like it if you could find someone to care for him. Otherwise, she’ll sell him to someone, and you’ll never see him.” “I’ll raise him myself, Billy.”

Billy told his dad he didn’t want that. He knew his dad had failing health. “You left me, son. I don’t care what others are going to say. You left me here all alone.” “Dad, I was dying anyway. You knew that. The doctor I saw this morning, not Doc Bishop, but the guy I’ve been seeing said my cancer had advanced, and I didn’t have but a few weeks to live. I couldn’t let you do that, go through that again like you did with Mom.” He said he would have.

“I know you would have. I know that, Dad. But I didn’t want you to have to. So I ended it.” William sobbed, his body becoming weaker with each passing moment. When Billy said he had to go, it was all Grace could do not to demand that he stay. When he was gone, she held onto William tightly, knowing some of his grief like her own. “Grace?” She looked up at the man who’d been on the porch. “I’m Wesley, one of Quincey’s brothers. This is Gunner, and Chandler is standing over with his wife, Sasha. Quincey asked us to take you inside, and one of us will drive Mr. Jacobson home. All right?”

“Will he be all right?” Wesley said his dad was going to stay with him tonight and help him with arrangements in the morning. “He’s hurting very badly. I hurt for him.” “We all do. Come on now, honey. Let’s get you into the house, and Quincey said he’d join you in a few minutes.” Being led into the house, she stumbled a couple of times on the way up the stairs. “Steady there. You get hurt, and he’s going to have my head. I’ll get you settled and call your sisters for you.” As soon as she was seated, both her sisters came to sit with her. Grace was numb. She didn’t know what had happened with the man and his son, but she did hurt for them both. Not that she’d not thought the same thing over the years. Her mother had been arrested and put away. Everyone looked at the three of them like they might go off the handle, too, killing any and everyone that got in their way. When Quincey joined them in the living room, he sat across from them. She thought she could really love a man like him.



Joey Phillips By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz&Giveaway

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is joey-phillips-453x680-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 70241-synopsis.jpg

Yasmine Dennis was doing her best to make it on her own. She’d been blind since she was seven and had done rather well for herself despite her disability. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time resulted in a hospital stay, and a childhood friend, Caleb Anderson, came to her rescue.

Joey Phillips was just trying to help the beautiful woman avoid a fall when he met her. Despite her surly disposition, he was intrigued. She might think she was handicapped, but all Joey saw was a beautiful woman that he desperately needed to get

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3iB14Jq
AMAZON UK https://amzn.to/3iFPtsu
AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/3Dft66J
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/joey-phillips-kathi-s-barton/1141262160?ean=2940161003251
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Joey_Phillips?id=FYZlEAAAQBAJ
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/joey-phillips/id1615865014
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/joey-phillips
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1138940
Hardback https://amzn.to/3DfdlwP

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is goodreads_wide-e23f6858b6bf20dcaf8493237a214a0e.png
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60680773-joey-phillips
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 8af0d-other2bbook2bin2bthe2bseries.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is caleb-anderson-1800x2700-1.jpg

Caleb Anderson just lost his mother to cancer. He had never known his father, Howard Berkley, now deceased as well. Her final wishes were for Caleb to deliver a letter of her passing to her estranged parents, grandparents that he’d never met, and to find the other five boys sired by Berkley. Caleb would do anything he could to honor her wishes. Tabby Tillman had had enough of the Andersons. She was tired of running the company and their lazy son Shep taking all the credit and bonuses. Just pay her for her overtime and vacation, and she was out of there.
Caleb was impressed with Tabby. The woman didn’t curb her opinions, and he liked that about her. Moving to be closer to her was something he didn’t think twice about. A change of scenery would be just what he needed.

Caleb Anderson https://amzn.to/2UtLw1R

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4c99c-22188-images2b252812529.jpg

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A Signed Mystery Paperback or a Signed Coloring Book,
Tea Totaler, Signed Book Cover Tote or T-Shirt & Tote Bag Exlarge Only


https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is new-prizes.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ab532-winners.jpg

Congratulations to the winners !!!!!!!
Elizabeth Bardorf Signed Paperback
Jessica Spink Signed Coloring Book
Julie A Swaney T-Shirt and Tote

Packages will be mailed out on
Monday, March 28th,2022

Pauline Westberry Mystery Prize
Wendy Bricker Signed Paperback
Elizabeth Bardorf Mystery Prize
Barbara White Signed Paperback
Shannon Vidak Mystery Prize
Rhonda Hicks Signed Paperback
Donna Chizewsky Signed Coloring Book
Trista Wagner Mystery Prize
Ann Ivey Signed Paperback
Joyce Mirabello Signed Paperback
Debbie Whitley Signed Paperback
Brenda Lukas-Jones Signed Paperback
Elizabeth Bardorf Signed Paperback
Jessica Spink Signed Coloring Book
Julie A Swaney T-Shirt and Tote

If you have not gotten your prize
please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com

Happy Reading,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-cropped-a929a-e812d-03kathisbartonlogotransparent.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is joey-phillips-cover-wrap.jpg

Prologue


Yasmine started to sit up, but the pain behind her eyes had her crying out. Stopping all movement other than to lie back on the pillow, she wondered not just where she was but what had happened to get her there. The squeak of shoes told her she was in some sort of medical facility. She’d been in enough of those over her life that even the smell of antiseptic would make her blood run cold. Not that anyone at any facility had ever been mean to her. It was just being there over and over that had her cringe whenever she smelled certain smells. “Yasmine Dennis?” Turning her head toward the voice, she said that was her name. “My name is Doctor Jerome.

Do you know where you are?” “Medical facility.” He asked her which one. “I don’t know. Has anyone notified my sister? Jasmine Dennis?” “We’ve called her, but she’s not arrived just yet. What can you tell me about what had you coming in here tonight?” Yasmine didn’t know, but she had a feeling that not only did this man know, but he wasn’t terribly happy about the turn of events that brought her here. “The police are here, Miss Dennis. They have a few questions for you about why you’re here.” “All right. But I’d like to wait on my sister, please?” Dr. Jerome told her they were only going to be a moment. “I’d rather you didn’t bring them in. I want to wait on my sister. You said you called her, but she’s not here. I want to wait on her.” “Miss Dennis? My name is Captain Sawyer. I’d like to ask you a few questions if you’d not mind.” She told him she did mind, and she wanted her sister there. “Miss Dennis, you’re not in trouble. We’re just here to ask you some things about last night. Do you own a car, Miss Dennis?”

“No. I will keep telling you until she’s here that I want to wait on my sister. It’s important that she be here with me.” He asked her two more questions, each of them sounding a little harsher like he was angry with her now. “I would like my sister, Jasmine Dennis, here before I answer any questions you put before me.” After about the fifth time she repeated her statement, they seemed to get the idea. They weren’t happy about it, but they no longer peppered her with questions. Hearing the door open, she knew it was going to be her sister. “Yazzie?” Thank goodness. “My goodness, what’s happened to you? Why are the police here? Tell me what’s going on.” “I don’t know. I woke up in here, and they’re asking me questions.”

Her sister asked someone what was going on. “Jasmine, just don’t get arrested.” “We’re just asking questions, for now, Miss Dennis. Some witnesses put your sister behind the wheel of a car that was the getaway vehicle for an armed robbery yesterday afternoon. There are seven dead plus three officers. We’d like to know where she was and who she was with.” “You’re joking right now, aren’t you?” Jasmine’s fingers tightened around hers before her sister continued. “Well, I guess I can see where you’d not know. Gentlemen, I can tell you right now that there isn’t any way the witness was telling you the truth.

My sister has been blind since we were seven years old. There isn’t any way she’d drive anything anywhere.” Jasmine made it sound like she’d won a marathon or something. That she’d come in first, too. Being blind wasn’t anything Yasmine had wanted, but it had happened, and here she was. While the police asked questions of her sister, Yasmine tried to focus on anything but the fact that she was a little excited that someone, even for a brief time, thought she could be a regular person and drive a car. “They’re gone.” Jasmine climbed into the bed with her and held her hands. “Your face is pretty beat up. There are bandages on your eyes. I told you to get one of those bracelet things that will tell people you’re blind. What would you have done had I not come in here and saved your ass?”

“Gone to jail,” Jasmine told her to be sensible. “I would have gotten around to it sooner or later, Jasmine. It’s not like I would have been able to hide the fact that I can’t see from them once they asked me to look at pictures or something. Just let me lie here in the quiet for a moment.” It had only been lately that Yasmine was getting annoyed with her twin. She was forever bossing her around about this or that. Usually, things that Yasmine didn’t want to do, or for that matter, didn’t think necessary. Like the shirt. Jasmine had gotten her a new shirt. She brought it to her apartment and had her try it on. She wore it for most of the first afternoon. It wasn’t until she was brought back to her place after being at the mall with her that Hal, her landlord, had told her what the shirt said.

“I’m blind, so pardon me for stumbling around.” The thing was, Jasmine wouldn’t have seen it as a joke. Getting her a shirt that pointed out her blindness and made a big deal out of it was something that Jasmine was really good about doing. No matter how much it embarrassed Yasmine, her sister thought the world should be aware that her twin was handicapped. A word that Jasmine loved as much as Yasmine hated. “You’ll come and stay with me for a few days.” Yasmine didn’t bother telling her no. She wouldn’t be bullied into anything at this point in her life. “That way, I can pamper you and care for you.” “I don’t need caring for, Jazzie.

I’m fine.” She told her that she’d been beaten. “Perhaps, but it’s not like I can see any more than I did before the bandages were put on my face. I’m not going home with you. I don’t like your menagerie of animals. Nor do I care for all the noises at your place. The sounds or the smells.” “My home does not smell. And you’ll stay with me, and that’s final.” Though it wasn’t nearly final, Yasmine didn’t say anything to her. “What is this world coming to when people are killed in a bank robbery?” “You sound like you’re rooting for the bank robbers.” Yasmine was feeling sleepy and asked Jasmine to move off the bed. Of course, she had to put up a fuss. “Jasmine, blind or not, I was hurt. Just let me rest.” Calling for the nurse, her sister was just pissed off enough that she wouldn’t speak to either of them. It wasn’t like anyone looking at the two of them would think they were anything but related.

The nurse winked at her when Jasmine didn’t answer her question about the two of them being related. The only difference between the two of them that Yasmine was aware of was that her sister was annoying, and she wasn’t. Laughing a little to herself, the door opened and closed before she felt the medicine kick in. “Do you need anything else, honey?” Yasmine asked the nurse, who she assumed was giving her the medicine, where her sister had gone. “I think she’s in a huff, that one. Upset because you called me in here, I guess. If you’re hurting, honey, don’t hesitate to call. Did they tell you how you’re injured? Someone should have guessed that you couldn’t see. Let me go get your chart and tell you.”

The door opened briefly then closed up. “Let me see here.” “You knew I was blind.” The nurse, Anna, told her she had been in the room when she’d awakened. “I don’t understand. I mean, I’m glad you figured it out, but how?” “You didn’t look around.” She laughed a little. “It says here that you have a concussion, as well as a sprained ankle. There are fifteen stitches in your forehead, as well as numerous lacerations to your face and neck. Nothing is broken. Is there anything else I can help you with, honey?” “No.” She thought about it. “Yes. Wait. I know this is going to sound very odd, but I was wondering if you could call a friend of mine. I know his number. His name is Caleb Anderson. But I don’t want you to tell my sister.

She’ll get all up in my face about calling someone else to help me out.” “I can do that for you.” The phone was picked up, and she heard the buttons pressed. “If you don’t mind my saying so, child, I think you should try and distance yourself from your sister for a bit. She’s trying very hard to control you. Yes. My name is Anna Dereck. I’m a nurse at Mercy Hospital. I have a patient of mine that would like to speak with Mr. Caleb Anderson.” Control her? Yes, she supposed it would look like Jasmine was trying to control her when all she was doing was trying to keep her safe. Sometimes she did take things too far, and there were times, like now, that she wanted to get away from her. But controlling her? The phone was put into her hand, and she said her name. “Hello, Yasmine Dennis. My name is Tabby Anderson.

I’m Caleb’s wife. He’s not here right now, but I can get a message to him if you’d like.” Yasmine told the other woman it was all right. It wasn’t important. “I think it is. You’re obviously in a hospital. Emergency room? No. It’s too quiet there. What is it I can tell Caleb so he can fix whatever is wrong?” “It’s nothing, Mrs. Anderson.” She said her name was Tabby. “Yes, I understand. We’re friends, Caleb and me. Or we were sort of friends. I’m not sure we still are. It’s been a long time, so he might not remember me at all. Well, I don’t know how many blind women he knows, but I’m sure that would be the only stand out that would jar his memory.”

“Are you finished ranting?” Yasmine told her she didn’t feel she was ranting. “All right. Then are you finished over-explaining why you’d be calling a married man? I’m assuming that’s why you’re rambling. I guess that would be a better word for it.” “I’ve been hurt, you see. I’m in the hospital with a concussion. A sprained ankle too, but since I’ve not gotten up, I don’t know if it hurts or not. The nurse who called for me just gave me some medication for pain, so that might be it.” She felt secure in talking to this woman because she knew the chances of meeting her were slim to none. “My sister, my twin, is driving me crazy. She’s…well, I was just told she’s controlling.

I didn’t realize that before. Or maybe I did, and that was why I called you. Or Caleb. Understand?” “I do. And even though you know you’re hurt and could use someone to help you along, you don’t want it to be her. Is that right?” Yasmine said that was it precisely. “You’re at Mercy, the nurse said.” “Yes. But please don’t bother Caleb. I was just having a moment, and now that I’m over it, I’m all right to go home with Jasmine.” Before she could stop herself, Yasmine spoke again. “She has four cats and two dogs. Last time I was at her house, she had a ferret and a bird. It’s very noisy at her house too. Like animals baying at the moon kind of noises.” The laughter alerted her that she’d spoken aloud. “I’m sorry. You must think I’m an ungrateful sister that needs to be slapped.” “I don’t, actually.

I find you totally honest and fun.” The door opened and closed, and she knew it was her sister by her smell. “I guess you have company now. I’ll see you later, Yasmine.” “Who was that?” She told her it was a friend of hers from college. “A better friend than I am a sister? Never mind. Don’t answer that. I’m sorry I got in a huff about you staying with me. But I do think it’s the only way to go. You’ll come and stay with me, and we’ll have some fun for a while. I’ll get on your nerves, and you’ll go home, and we’ll have a few days to reflect on how much we annoy each other before we’re calling again. All right?” Yasmine was saved from answering when her phone rang. Of course, her sister answered it and didn’t even bother handing the phone to her, but just started talking to the person on the other end. “She’s asleep.” Whoever it was laughed, and Yasmine had a feeling it was Tabby Anderson.

“When I tell you she’s asleep, then she’s asleep. Who is this?” “Give me the phone, Jasmine. I want to talk to her.” Of course, she didn’t. Nor did she stop telling the woman she was asleep when she had to be able to hear her talking to her sister. Then the phone slammed down on the cradle. “Why did you do that? I told you I wanted to talk to her. Jasmine, that was just rude.” “That woman was rude. She said to tell you she had your ass. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Then she laughed at me. Like it was some kind of joke that I was trying to let you rest, as you told me you wanted to do.” She did want her to let her rest, but as usual, Jasmine wouldn’t do what she wanted. However, it wasn’t worth fighting with her about what she wanted. “I’m going to talk to the staff and tell them you’re not to have any visitors.

It would be just like that rude woman to come here and try to take you from me.” “I’m not a child, Jasmine. There isn’t any way she’s going to kidnap me.” Jasmine told her it wouldn’t happen while she was there. “You’re being ridiculous. Next time she calls, you hand me the phone.” “I will not. It’s settled. I don’t know how you think you’re going to get along at home without someone there to take care of you, Yasmine. I told you it was settled, and it is. I’m responsible for you, and I take that very seriously.” Jasmine had said that to her before. A lot. “Now, tell me what she said and who her name is so I can take care of this for you.” “Linda Ashcraft. She and I went to school together.” Jasmine left her then, the door opening and closing told her that. Plus, she could no longer smell the cats on her sister’s clothing. Yasmine smiled. “She’s not going to be bothered by not coming to see me because she died some time ago. Good luck, Tabby, if you’re coming here. It’s going to be a nightmare for us both, I think.”



George Xavier’s Hatchling by Kathi S Barton Release Blitz&Giveaway

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is george-453x680-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 70241-synopsis.jpg

Imp had been alone in this world for so long she had forgotten what she was. It only took a little nudge from Winnie for her memory to come flooding back. She was a powerful earth fae and one of only three of her kind. She missed her siblings terribly, but it was too dangerous for the world for them to be in the same place. Imp was tired of being alone.

As soon as Hudson Manning realized who Imp was, the rest of the Mannings knew as well. Imp had created the first dragons. Cooper, the king of dragons, wanted to do something, anything, to repay her. Imp, however, didn’t want to hear any more about it and was getting pissy when he wouldn’t let the subject drop.

George knew almost immediately that Imp was his mate, but convincing the stubborn woman would take a little work. When the two come together, their combined magic will be more powerful than any of them could ever imagine….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3BOhTtk
AMAZON UK https://amzn.to/3paq9P5
AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/3IaNrMa
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/george-kathi-s-barton/1141041016?ean=2940160886138
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_George?id=0ylgEAAAQBAJ
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1133632
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/george-46
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/george/id1610953824
PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/3JMfBNY
GOODREADS https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60454050-george?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=GKs72dWPDa&rank=1

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 8af0d-other2bbook2bin2bthe2bseries.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is finn-453x680-1.jpg

Finn Manning had so much on his plate, he wasn’t sure which end was up. He’d been there six months, and the pile of work on his desk hadn’t diminished by one sheet of paper. None of the construction projects the family had lent the money for had even been started. The foreman was a bully, and Finn had had enough.

Rachel Merkel had literally felt the earth move from beneath her feet. The plates she had been stacking at the restaurant crashed around her when she hit the floor. Her sister-in-law Sandra, instead of being concerned, threatened to fire her. Rachel was wondering how that worked, considering she owned the majority share in the restaurant, but instead of arguing with her, she clocked out and went home.

After a heated argument with her brother, Chad, about Sandra, Rachel quit to keep the peace. Then, Rachel felt the earth move again. This time she was sick with it.

Finn had felt it too through an unseen connection and came to Rachel’s rescue. He didn’t know the woman, but he had an overwhelming need to help her. As soon as he caught her scent, he knew what she was to him.

Rachel, not entirely human herself, could sense Finn was a dragon, and she felt the connection when he did. What she wasn’t sure about was what all came with it—the Mannings—all the parents, brothers, aunts, and uncles—it was overwhelming….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is theodore-453x680-1.jpg

Pembroke Black had always had a lot on her plate. As a child, she could not tolerate her father, and Pem had moved in with her grandparents when her mother died. When she was old enough to move out, she joined the Army and served the front lines as a doctor. Stitching people up was what she did best. Coping with her own emotions was another story—Pem found little joy in this world.

When Pem’s grandda passed away, Theo Manning was there to help Pem’s grandma any way he could. That included keeping grandma safe. He had no idea until he met Pem that she was his mate. Theo wanted to protect her, too, from what was to come. Pem only had to touch his hand to receive the magic coming to her, but neither had any idea how much magic would flow between them.

Pem had always had her emotions take her under at times, but this was nothing like that. She was happy. She felt better than she had in years. Pem only hoped that Theo would not rush her. There was just too much going on for her to deal with a pushy man.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is milo-453x680-1.jpg
Jamie Darkhouse had inherited the large historical house when her parents had died. She had always hated living there and joined the Army to get away from the house and her parents. But when her parents died, she had things to take care of. So returning home seemed her best option. With the others gone, the house had lost the oppressive feeling, and she was now happy being home.
Jamie and Pem were good friends, and the Mannings were more than ready to accept Jamie into the family even if she hadn’t been Milo’s mate.
Milo Manning wasn’t a dragon shifter like four of his brothers. Yet, he wasn’t entirely human either. Immortal and magical, he still fit right in with the rest of his shifter brothers and large extended family. The Mannings were a large and well-respected family.
It only took moments for Milo to confirm they were mates, and Milo moved into the old house with her. Each discovering the new magic that came to them daily. What came to them as a shock, though, had Milo’s mother, Cindi, rolling with laughter. Neither Milo nor Jamie found seeing and talking to the dead the least bit funny.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg
Finn  https://amzn.to/305Li1g
Theodore https://amzn.to/36PYTMV
Milo https://amzn.to/2Uupsnk
George https://amzn.to/3BOhTtk
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4c99c-22188-images2b252812529.jpg

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A Signed Mystery Paperback
Or Signed Cup or Coloring Book Or a Mystery Prize!!!
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pick-your-prize-1.png
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ab532-winners.jpg

Congratulations to the winners !!!!!!!
Trista Wagner Mystery Prize
Ann Ivey Signed Paperback
Joyce Mirabello Signed Paperback

Packages will be mailed out on
Monday, Feb 28th, 2022

Pauline Westberry Mystery Prize
Wendy Bricker Signed Paperback
Elizabeth Bardorf Mystery Prize
Barbara White Signed Paperback
Shannon Vidak Mystery Prize
Rhonda Hicks Signed Paperback
Donna Chizewsky Signed Coloring Book
Trista Wagner Mystery Prize
Ann Ivey Signed Paperback
Joyce Mirabello Signed Paperback

If you have not gotten your prize
please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com

Happy Reading,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-cropped-a929a-e812d-03kathisbartonlogotransparent.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is george-cover-wrap.jpg

Prologue


Long ago, at a time when all creatures roamed the earth as only their true selves, working with and helping humans in whatever way they could. Where magic was celebrated. And dragons darkened the skies every day. It was then man figured out there was magic in the dragons and hunted them to almost extinction.
“I’m afraid there is no hope for us.” No one made a sound as their leader continued. “Once the humans found out about us and what we can do for them dead, we were doomed. I’m so terribly sorry.” Coop looked around the room. There were so few of them now he could easily count them. When he had been younger, thousands of years ago, there would not be enough room for all of them to share this room. Now they were down to having a quarter of them share the space because so many, his own wife included, had been murdered so needlessly. Coop was saddened by it all.

Turning to leave the large cave, he was stopped by his brother, Xavier. “The boys, they are well?” He nodded and smiled. Coop felt it all the way to his heart, a place that had been dead for so long, it seemed. “You have the spell? You are going to use it on them? I so wish I had thought of this before my own family was taken from me, Coop. You are a brave man and a good father.” “Thank you. And I shall use it tonight. It is the only way to save them.” Xavier nodded his own heart heavy with the losses they had suffered. “You know I would have shared should I have had it sooner. I am so sorry, brother. All of my heart, it’s sorry for you.” “I know that. I do.

But they are all gone now. My other half, my children. Killed for things not fair to our kind.” Coop knew all too well. “Ava was a good woman, Coop. A good woman and mother to your sons. She will be missed forever.” “Aye, in my heart and those of my sons.” Xavier stood there for several seconds, and Coop told him he must go. “They’re awaiting word on what is to happen with us all.” “One more thing, if you please. It will not take but a second. I have left them all I have. It is where you keep them hidden away, the boys. Deep within the cave, it’s all there.” Coop asked him what he meant. “I cannot go on, brother. I cannot. There is too much grief in my heart for me to live. I have left my things for them there. They might survive this, with the magic you have to give to them. And if so, they’ll need more than you have to help them.” “Xavier, please, you mustn’t do this.

They’ll miss you as much as I.” Xavier nodded and said it had begun. “You can come and stay with my sons. You’ll live with them in the caves, and they’ll care for you.” “Nay. I cannot. I must go. Just tell them I love them. With all of my heart.” There would be no stopping him once his heart was made up, Coop knew this, but it made his
heart no less full for it. “Goodbye, my brother. Take care you are not caught by the humans.” Coop made his way back to his hidden cave and sat before the fire. The boys, he knew, were resting, their bodies getting stronger daily with their age. Soon they would be as big as him, dragons of worth and size. When his eldest son came to him, his eyes full of fear, Coop knew it was well past time he did what he had been practicing. The magic would keep them safe. Gathering his sons, six of them of varying shades of blues and greens, he asked them to have a seat. He had a story to tell them. It was not a story, not truly, but a tale that would, hopefully, keep them safe.

“A witch told me once of a great magic only few can do. It takes a loving heart and a strong dragon to make it work. I have asked her, and she has told me how to make it so. In this magic, it will keep you all safe from the humans.” They nodded, each of them knowing it was a human blade that took the life of their dear mother. “I will perform this upon you, each of you at the same time, and give you some magic you will use when you need it. This magic, strong and powerful, will let you roam with the humans, and they’ll not know your true self is just below your flesh.” “You mean we’ll be humans as well?” He nodded, then shook his head at Cooper, his oldest. “I don’t understand, Father. Will you explain?” “Yes. The magic I will give you will let you change into your true self when you are alone. But when you are out in the world, you will need to be a human. A man.”

Cooper looked at his brothers, then back at him as he continued. “With this magic, I will also give you a gift. Something you will need to keep yourself safe should they find out. A stronger armor than any other dragon before you, as well as the same immortality you have now, as man or dragon.” Hudson stared at him for long moments. He was the thinker, and if he could think of a reason for this not to work, he would voice it loudly. He was much like his mother in that. She would be the first to say when she did or did not like something. And the first to say the plan was perfect. He only hoped she would have approved of this. “I think you are very smart, Father, to try and keep us safe. But I can only think this will not work on you. Or is that your plan?” The boy was much too smart, Coop thought. “If you change us, who will change you?” “There will be no one to change me, son. I will…. It is my wish to join your mother in this earth.”

He watched them, seeing if they understood the love he had lost when she was murdered. “Giving you this magic, it will be something I can tell her I’ve done for her sons. You know as well as I that she loved you more than anything on this earth, including herself.” “She died saving us.” Coop nodded at Lincoln. “I’m not happy you’re going to die, Father, but I understand wanting to be with Mother. I miss her more every day.” “As do I.” He looked at his sons, all of them growing into dragons of worth. “I must have an agreement from you all. Even if one of you does not want this, it will not work.


I would say you should think on this hard. For once I have given this to you, there will be no going back.” “I wish to have it.” He knew Cooper would be the first. Not that he did not love his father, but Cooper would see things in a way most would not. To not have this done would mean a certain death for them all. Dragons were too valuable dead not to be hunted for all time. “I will do whatever it takes to make sure you are proud of me as well.” “I am already, Cooper. Forever.” The others nodded too. They were ready for this as much as he was dreading it. Because once he started the process to change his sons into men, he would begin to die. It would take all he was to change them. Standing up, spreading his wings out behind him, Coop told them about the things their uncle had left them. They knew where the family jewels were, the things their mother had left them as well. Once they were standing, their bodies strong and healthy, he felt his heart swell and break for what he was about to do.

“I, Cooper Manning, of the Manning Dragons of the earth, give to my sons, Cooper, Hudson, Lincoln, Lucas, Tristan, and Xavier, all I am. Each of you will take a part of the earth with you when you are converted. The part of you that is unique in all ways will be strengthened and enhanced. You will be immortal, forever, and those you take to your hearts will be as well.” His sons bowed before him when he told them to. He said the words over them that would change them to men. Coop could feel his body shutting down, his heart beating a little less. But he had one more thing he wished to bless them with, and held himself upright to give it from his own dying heart. “One day, true love will come to you. And you will have more than you have ever known. It will fill you in ways you cannot ever imagine.

Love will be yours for all times. For only then will you become a true dragon, a Manning Dragon.” ~~ Cooper sat with his brothers while their father lay dying. His heart was weak from what he had done, and it was tearing him apart. Father was weak, yes, but he continued to tell them tales of their mother, of their adventures when they were only small dragons. They were going to be alone soon; their father was so close to joining their mother it hurt Cooper in ways he had not expected. “What shall we do with his body?” Cooper looked at Tristan and asked him what he meant. “He will not be able to lie here. If the humans were to find him, they would surely cut him up into pieces. I do not want that for him. We were never able to bury Mother in the proper way after what they did to her.” “We could burn his body.” Cooper wondered how it would work when Hudson continued.

“His scales will be worthless to them should they come upon his body. The magic he held within him also will be useless to them. He will be nothing more than a carcass. They’ll leave alone.” Burn his body. It was something to think about. But he did not want to, not while he was still breathing, his body still alive. When he laid his head upon his father’s chest, hearing his heart beating slower and slower, Cooper wondered what his father would think if he knew the magic he had given them had not worked. They were all still as dragons. “He gave his life to keep us safe. But it did not work.” No one said anything to him as they each watched their father. “Dragons such as we are, we’ll be hunted and killed by the humans. There is nothing we can do but wait for them.” “We will survive if we stay here,” Cooper told Xavier they would have to leave eventually. “To feed and to fly, yes. But perhaps we could do it only at night. To keep to the skies and not let them see us.”

“They know we are about and will have spies out looking for our lairs. We will have to kill any man should he come for us, and still, we will not be safe. We are, after all, dragons who have a great deal of magic.” Cooper stopped breathing. Cooper did not hear his father’s heart and knew it was at an end. He was quiet for a bit longer, waiting, hoping for just one more beat, one more sound that would mean he was still alive. But there was nothing. Their father was dead. Sitting up, he told them he had passed from this world into the next. None of them had ever seen a dragon die before. Their mother had been dead when they found her. Each dragon they had come upon when they were out had been dead long before they found them, their bodies stripped of every part, so they resembled less of a dragon than just a pile of bones. Their scales were used for roofs for their homes and for shields. The very meat of them was roasted and stored away so it could be used for medicines and potions. Hearts were cut up and dried, then ground into a powder to use for other things the humans would use to keep them from sickness, as well as magic to have a grand garden and trees heavy with fruit.

The only part that would be left was the bones, and sometimes even those were carried off and used for something. Cooper hated all humans. “We will do as suggested by Hudson. It is the only assured way we can—” Before he could finish, he felt the stirring of the earth. It shook so hard it knocked each of them off their feet. As they lay there, terrified someone was coming for them, their father appeared before them. His body was still aground. But instead of dark in death, he was brilliant in light. Faeries, thousands upon thousands of faeries, seemed to be covering him. Before Cooper could tell them to stop, to leave him alone, Father spoke. “I love you, my sons.” Each of them nodded, fear almost something he could touch. “I will now and forever join my true love, your mother. I must warn you when you find your other half, and you will, you will have to be careful of the slayers. They will know what you have found by the magic you both will share. My sons, you will leave this place and take your place among men. Becoming someone I will be proud of.” “Father, the magic didn’t work.

We’re still dragons.” Cooper felt shameful to say a thing like that to his father. To tell him his sacrifice had not worked. “We will be hunted and killed.” “Nay, you only need to think of being your other half. Becoming a man is simple. The same when you wish to be your true self.” Cooper was not sure what that meant, but his father continued before he could ask. “Go now, before men come here. The magic to hide me will draw them here. Be safe, my sons, and know I love you more than I do any other creature on this place.” Cooper stood then, the faeries still working, taking the body of his father apart. But as he watched, he could see they were not doing anything but preserving his body. Faerie ropes were all around him, and strings of magic were wrapped around him like a cocoon. It made him invisible to all. As Cooper stood there, his brothers beside him, he knew that, like him, they mourned the loss of yet another parent. “You are the eldest.”

He nodded to the faerie when she asked. “We have a gift for you. For all of you, but you will receive the most. Your father was a great man, your mother a queen among her people. We wish to bestow upon you all your father had.” “My brothers, they will need it as well. I should like to share.” She smiled at him and bowed. “What have you done with his body?” “He is being prepared to be moved. We will make a grand garden upon him. Flowers will be there for all to see, but only a few will know a dragon is there with his other half, his love.” He nodded. It was as it should be. “You will take this gift? You will share, but as I said, you will get more than the others.” “I don’t care. Please, just do what you must so we can hide.” She nodded again and touched her fingers, small, tiny ones, to his forehead. Then she did the same to the others before coming back to him. “It is done. You have shared it with us?” “I have, Lord Cooper. But you must leave here now. There are humans coming.

The magic we used to do this thing has given them cause to come here.” He nodded and looked at the ground where their father had been. “He is safe. Just as your mother is now. Go, before they find you here and murder you as well.” He thanked her for her help and left. The exit from this part of the cave was hidden so well only they knew about it. As they made their way into the night, he thought of the human inside of him, and the pain of it took his breath away. In seconds, he was down on his knees. Whatever was happening, he was surely going to die. “You’re a man.” He looked up at his brothers as they began to transfer to men themselves. “We’ll be safe now, all of us. We’ll be humans for them until we can find a place where we can be ourselves.” “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again.” Hudson nodded and held his head tightly as he did so. “We will need to train ourselves in their ways. Become what they are. But never monsters.” “No, never.” They made their way to a building; any would do for now. Hudson, like him, was staggering a little, but they were getting stronger as they moved. He turned to look at him as they were settling in the empty shell of a house.

“We will need to buy things, houses, and such.” “Yes. But tomorrow. I am too tired to think beyond how much we have lost.” Hudson and the others agreed. “When the humans are gone from our cave, we’ll go and find what Father was telling us about earlier, about the wealth that will keep us safe.” “I only hope there is a great deal of it. I don’t know how to work, much less walk around like they do.” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest brother, they would soon learn. “I hope so. I hope so.” He did as well. It was going to be hard enough for them to learn to eat and dress like humans, much less get around. Cooper hoped this worked. For he was as afraid as he had ever been in his life. ~~ After a time, thousands of years, each of the dragons turned into men, forging their way into a world that was so different than the one they had been born to it seemed a different planet. But survive, they did.

Having their mates come to them, children born to all of them, gave them hope. A small and fragile thing after such hardships they were born to. Cooper became, as his father had been before him, the king of dragons—his mate, Carson, their queen. It had been and still was a time for celebration. To this day, they commemorated often and hard at each new birth of the dragons turned men and women. The others, his brothers, prospered too, finding their other halves, making their magic stronger for having their love. They worked hard in keeping everyone safe and well-fed, humans or other dragons. No one, not anyone in need, would have ever been turned away from their help. The Manning Dragons, true to their father and mother, became the most powerful dragons ever born. Of the six sons, Xavier’s sons, four hatchlings, and two humans moved far away to be the next generation of Manning dragons who would open their hearts and doors for all creatures. Even the sons of their heart, the two human-born men, carried a powerful magic. They used it, with their brothers, to help as many creatures as possible, humans and dragons alike, to live in the ever-changing world. To help them not only succeed but to perhaps help someone else when they needed it. These boys, now men, have stories to tell.

Esmerelda Queen’s Birds Of Prey Release Blitz and Giveaway

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is esmerelda-453x680-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 70241-synopsis.jpg

Esmerelda, Esme to her friends, and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia. Their time of fighting wars and conquering kingdoms was now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

It had been many years since Esme had been home around her sisters. She was happy they found their mates but seeing them happy only reminded her she was alone.

Tristian had been through a lot, and nothing in his life so far had been as he believed. When he came into Esme’s life and his memories restored, Tristain’s head was spinning. However, nothing compared to how totally in love he was with his new mate.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg

Amazon USA https://amzn.to/3gD5j6n

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/34DvHKN

Amazon AU https://amzn.to/3HJjZN2

B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/esmerelda-kathi-s-barton/1140990049?ean=2940160712338

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Esmerelda?id=-MddEAAAQBAJ

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1132102
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/esmerelda-1
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/esmerelda/id1609338736
PAPERBACK USA https://www.amazon.com/Esmerelda-Queens-Paranormal-Shifter-Romance/dp/195678862X/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3HY66J50C4HRD&keywords=kathi+s+barton&qid=1644679202&sprefix=kathi+s+barton%2Caps%2C261&sr=8-2

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 8af0d-other2bbook2bin2bthe2bseries.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mercy-453x680.jpg

Mercy and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality. A gift that Mercy, to this day, was having difficulty coming to terms with. Living as a human was not what she was born to do, nor what she wanted to do. Being an immortal in a life she didn’t want left Mercy feeling angry at the world and turned her into a workaholic.

As an intervention, Blaze arranged an extended vacation and guilted her into taking it. She made all the arrangements and wouldn’t tell Mercy where she was going, just to be at the airport and do as she was told.

Joel Oliver needed this job. Finances were tight, and Blaze said all he had to do was chauffer a rich woman around town. What he would receive would catch him up on the mound of bills piling up and keep the roof over his—and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Miley’s—head for a few months longer. Miley was in a wheelchair—and as a result, had a lot of medical bills—but he loved her more than his own life. However, Joel was about to bite off more than he could chew.

The woman was gorgeous, and he found her snarky, hateful, attitude amusing until she interfered with how he was raising his daughter. Now, all bets were off.

Mercy would normally laugh in the man’s face for his hurtful remarks, but for some reason, her heart shattered instead. After a night of the most mind-blowing sex she could’ve imagined, he was treating her like it all meant nothing…. She had just realized he was her mate, and he hated her….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blaze-453x680.jpg

Blaze and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

Blaze, a hawk, had done many things in her immortal life. Now, making toys was a pastime she enjoyed. However, the owner of the print shop that made the blueprints for her designs had not only ripped her off but several other companies by giving them faulty blueprints and keeping the correct ones for himself to profit from. Blaze had caught the defect before she had put her project into production, the other firms hadn’t been so lucky and had lost millions. Given the opportunity, Blaze purchased the print shop.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is judith-453x680-1.jpg

Judith and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

Bryson had worked for the print shop for ten years. However, he had no knowledge of the owner’s dirty dealings. When the new owner stepped in, he was happy to still have a job and was eager to help in any way he could. What he hadn’t expected was the jolt he received when he shook the new owner’s hand. In that moment he knew two things, she wasn’t human, and she was his mate.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is piper-453x680-1.jpg

With two of their sisters mated, Jude and Piper were finding themselves a little envious of the large homes they had. Jude and Piper both were on the hunt for nicer accommodations. Christmas was just around the corner, and neither was sure if they wanted to attend the big gala that had been arranged this year in the old castle where they had all once lived.

Duncan was his mother’s son, thru and thru. He had inherited the gift of foresight as well as immortality and a few other magical traits. Jude being his mate, had been foreseen by his mother, Queen Dante, several millennia ago, and Queen Dante had kept Duncan’s identity a secret from them all.

When Duncan approached her, Jude didn’t know whether to stay put or flee. Being a warrior, she wasn’t afraid of any man, it’s what being with him represented, being a queen, Jude wasn’t sure she was ready for that. She wasn’t sure she would ever be ready for that.

Piper and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia. Their time of fighting wars and conquering kingdoms was now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

Piper wasn’t really happy with the way her job was going and how much travel that would be required of her in the near future. She liked the art that she made, but she wanted to do whatever she wanted, not fill specific orders. She wasn’t feeling the inspiration for that.

Grant had lived in Queen Dante’s kingdom since before the old king had died. He and his mother were fae and, therefore, immortal. He had done many things over his lifetime. Being fae and their unity with the earth, Grant and his mother were the healers for their community.

When Grant and his mother were invited to King Dante’s new castle for dinner, he was excited to see what the new king had done with the place. What he didn’t expect was the charge of magic he’d receive when he met Piper. It knocked them both on their asses. Neither knew what to expect from the other, nor what magic they had exchanged. Although Piper was wary, Grant couldn’t wait to find out.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is remington-453x680-1-2.jpg
Remington and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia. Their time of fighting wars and conquering kingdoms was now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.
Remi wasn’t unhappy with her life. She was just bored.
Harlin Tayler was working deep undercover, and he was thinking that hopefully, the case he was working on was about to come to an end. Sorrel was the worst sort of person, and Harlin was aiming to bring him to justice. But Sorrel wasn’t human at all. He was a powerful fae.
His case against Sorrel brought him to Remi, and from the moment they met, they both knew they were mates. Harlin also discovered that as a small child, his memory of who he really was had been erased for his own protection. Now that his memories had been restored, the cloak had been lifted, and they were all in danger. But with Remi by his side, they could face anything coming their way—he hoped….
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg
Mercy  https://amzn.to/2snmIHb
BLAZE  https://amzn.to/33Vued
Judith https://amzn.to/33VuedT
Piper https://amzn.to/3pa3C3s
Remington https://amzn.to/3ioUua3
Esmerelda https://amzn.to/3gD5j6n
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4c99c-22188-images2b252812529.jpg

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A Signed Mystery Paperback
Or Signed Cup or Coloring Book Or a Mystery Prize!!!
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pick-your-prize-1.png
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ab532-winners.jpg

Congratulations to the winners !!!!!!!
Shannon Vidak Mystery Prize
Rhonda Hicks Signed Paperback
Donna Chizewsky Signed Coloring Book

Packages will be mailed out on
Monday, Feb 14th, 2022

Pauline Westberry Mystery Prize
Wendy Bricker Signed Paperback
Elizabeth Bardorf Mystery Prize
Barbara White Signed Paperback
Shannon Vidak Mystery Prize
Rhonda Hicks Signed Paperback
Donna Chizewsky Signed Coloring Book

If you have not gotten your prize
please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com

Happy Reading,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-cropped-a929a-e812d-03kathisbartonlogotransparent.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is esmerelda-cover-wrap.jpg

Prologue


The castle was going down, thanks wholly to her birds. Queen Dante sat upon her horse and watched as stone after stone crumbled to the ground. In a matter of moments, not only were the walls of the fort destroyed, but the king inside his castle was dead as well. Turning her mount, she headed back to the encampment to ready herself for the long ride home. The birds joined her not half an hour later, their large bodies covered in dust and blood. “You have done well, my darlings.” They could understand her and she them, but no one else could. She had made them what they were, and she would be the only one to control them. “Have you fed well on his dying cattle? What serves a man to have his food dying? His people, they were fed no better, I saw.”

The falcon—she had never named them—told her the people were headed west. In a few months, probably less, they would all be dead too. It bothered them when the people suffered because of the king or queen of the castle. But it was to be. Dante could not care for anymore in her own keep. No one would attack her keep. If they tried, she knew them to be too stupid or too drunk on their own mead. She had her birds, all of them bigger than life, made large by magic that she gave them. Looking at them as they landed around her, forever keeping her safe, she wondered why she had not thought of it sooner when her king was still alive.

“I would have set you upon him. You could have eaten him for your dinner. Though I suspect it would have given you a great deal of belly pains.” The hawk told her she was lucky he had died the way he had. No one would come for her if she had killed him. “Yes, that is very true. But I suffered greatly when he was living. No children either, to give me comfort in my olden age. Though they might have been just like him, and that would have been too much to bear.” She would never marry again. Love wasn’t anything she searched for. Not that she didn’t have someone to warm her bed on occasion, but it was nice to be able to send them on their way when she had finished with them.

Her heart belonged to no one, and she would not have another man take her to bed by force. All would be well, and no one would threaten to come and take over her home. That was a certainty. The hawk used her beak to put delicate things upon the backs of the others. There was aplenty this time. Barrels and smoked meats. Pottery that they would use like it wasn’t worth a king’s gold. They raided the castle each time they conquered. Hawk was the best at getting in and out before they took the place to the grounds. The eagle took off toward home. She would let the people know the queen was returning simply by showing up. They would have a feast this night. The food upon her back would feed them for many days, and the barrels of spices, hoarded in the lower levels of the castle, would go a long way toward helping them trade for what they did not grow.

The phoenix, by far the deadliest of her birds, shed her feathers in anticipation of getting new ones. After a battle, she would become anew, each time getting stronger, and her feathers, brilliant now, would be brighter still. She could flame a fire so hot that stone would crumble under a man’s feet. The ground would no longer hold a seed within its belly to produce food, and she could kill a man with a single breath so that there would be nothing left of his body. She loaded the last of her things onto the back of the owl. She might be small, she had always thought, but she could carry more than her own weight. And she would pick up her horse, used to flying through the sky like a bird himself, and take him back to the castle.

He would be fed and groomed before the queen ever landed on the ground. The vulture squawked at her, and she turned to look at the two men there. They looked as if they might have been about to kill her, but the sight of such large birds threw them off their duty. In no time at all, the vulture snapped both of them up and ate them down. A gruesome sight, but one that filled her heart with joy too. She was safe again. The vulture took off, too, once she was loaded up. “Well, my falcon, it is just you and I left.” She told her she was still armed. “Yes, well, probably not too bad of an idea seeing that they nearly shot us.” The falcon laid her body to the ground. She was the only one fitted with a seat, one that Dante rode on. Scouring the area, Dante always made sure the places she camped were left as neat and clean as she’d found them.

Sometimes in better shape. As she climbed on the back of her bird, she held her breath. “I do hate the height. I should have thought this through when I turned you into my warriors.” Her laughter, should there have been someone around to hear it, might have caused them to think her insane. “Homeward, my love, and we shall eat well tonight.” She took no one with her on her fights except the birds. That was why she believed her people were so loyal to her. She protected them, fed them better than herself, and made sure there was plenty for them to trade and share for things that she did not provide for them. The soil was rich and would give forth a bounty like no other gardens. Flowers, too that were woven into pretty things and traded.

There was a smithy, as well as a doctor who doubled as a dentist. They had even acquired a gravedigger, who also made markers. There was a single merchant that came by, his wagon filled when he arrived, but it would be near empty when he left. The latest news came with him and any posts he had been asked to bring to them. He would also, for a small coin, take outposts for the next time he was in the keep of a relative or friend. And today, there was such a missive. But it was for her, from someone she had hoped never to hear from again—the king of the land, the only man she answered to, though it wasn’t with any kind of happiness on her part. After the others were settled down and the food that had been brought put into storage, she sat down and wasn’t surprised that the falcon came to see her. The room she was in—the throne room for lack of a better term—had no roof and six perches for the birds when they wished to see her. Otherwise, they sat upon the top of the castle turrets, watching for anything that might befall them.

“I am to wed. The king of the land, he has decided my castle is the best there is, and he will marry me himself.” The falcon asked about his castle. “He says it will be his son’s, of which he has none as yet. His last five wives have only given him daughters from what I have heard, and they did not last long afterward.” The falcon asked her what she would do. Dante knew what would happen to her should he come here. He would kill her. Being in her fortieth summer, she was much too old to bear any children now, and he would be better with a younger bride. One that could birth him the sons he wanted. “He will kill me; we both know that. And you six will kill him or be killed. I worry so much for the people here too.” She thought of several plans and threw them out. It was in her head that if she should die, then she would do so on her own terms. “I will need a day to think on this. In the meantime, he says he will be here in the new year.

That will give us a month to provide for the people and make sure they are not harmed.” ~*~ Dante worked as hard as the rest of her people. With her hair up in a rag, she didn’t look any different than any of the men and women that toiled with her. There was much to be done in the little time they’d been allotted. Today they were drying all the beef and goat meat they had. It would last them for several months, and where she was sending them for safety, they’d need that extra time. Long enough for them to breed more of their cattle and goats, so there would always be food for them to eat. “What of the dried herbs that are left, my lady? There are already barrels of it packed away for the trip. Shall we put them in bags to go?” She shook her head. “There are no more barrels until the morn.

The copper is working as fast as he can, making more. What shall we do?” “Leave them. There is very little, correct?” The man said that there wasn’t enough for a good strong stew. “Good. They will think you all died off from lack of planning, and that will keep you safe for a longer time. Leave it for them so that when the keep and castle are in ruin, the king will understand why.” Not that anyone was going to be coming to the castle to live, she thought. There were things in motion that would make sure everything here was gone well before the lands were walked upon again. She looked to the sky when a dark shadow fell over her. Her hawk was making her way to the village Dante had set up. Long ago, Dante had purchased the lands far from where she was now and put them in the name of Mercy Dante. She knew so much about all their futures that it made her so sad to know she’d never be there to see it happen. “My lady?” She looked at her man of arms, a man that had very little work to do but was brave and true to her. “We have plenty of things to go on the next load if you have a desire to send it on.

Do you still wish for some of the armed men to go with them this time? I’m to understand we’re to fell trees for homes.” “Yes, that would be good. How many men can you spare today?” He told her all she had. “Then send them on. I know some of you are frightened to ride the birds, but you should have no fear. They would no more harm you than they would me.” He nodded and looked at her hawk. “I shall send you all on her. She is the gentlest of the six of them.” The carrier had been fashioned a week ago. It had upset her that it had taken so long to get right, but it was safe now, and that was all she wanted. There were only a few short weeks to get the people gone from here with all that would keep them safe. Now all she had to do was make sure the birds didn’t know the last of her plans. The platform had been made from several drawbridges from castles they’d taken over.

She’d known that saving them would be helpful, but it had taken a great deal more work than she’d thought to put them together and have her fishermen weave a netting to carry it with. After several trials and failures, the carrier worked. Loading up the men on the first run of people, she noticed they had put the several men that were afraid of the ride in the middle. One of them, a hardy man otherwise, had been knocked out with much wine. It had been funny to all around that it had taken so little of the wine to do that to him. But they didn’t know she’d given him a bit of magic to help him travel. All was well when her hawk took off with the several dozen men to start on the homes that would be needed. Barrels would be next. They had been sealed by magic that would keep them well preserved.

The other birds, her warriors for all time, had been taking jewels and other items to a cave she had also covered in magic. It would help the people of the new village for as long as they lived, well beyond her body becoming nothing but dust. Dante watched as several more people were taken to the new village. She would allow them to name their new place as long as it would never be attached to the name of the castle. That would be bad for them and would bring much trouble onto their heads. When her hawk landed, she went to ask how things were progressing. “Well, my lady. They were no more off the platform for seconds when they started to work. I believe you were good to get them started on this.

‘Tis only late winter, so they should be able to have a few of the buildings up before the rest are moved.” Dante agreed with her. No one else could understand the birds but her and the other birds. It had, she knew, kept everyone safe all these years. “I can only make two trips there and back, my lady. ‘Tis not a long way by the way we fly, but the pack is heavy. Please forgive me for that.” “You have nothing to be sorry for, my bird of prey. You have done one more than I had hoped for this day. And when the others have finished their tasks for me in carrying away the riches and other things they will need, it will take no time at all to move the rest. Nay, you have done well this day in taking the men and then the food to feed them while there.” Her hawk, who would someday be called Blaze, bowed before her.

Stacking up the loads that would be going on the platforms, she could see that they’d be taking away the last of it only the day before the king was to arrive. Dante was glad now that she’d had such good people working for her. They asked nothing as to why they were doing this but did it for her. When in reality, it was all for them and her birds. Dante knew the king would never make it here. His ship and all his bounty would be deep in the waters he crossed to kill her and take her castle. The man was a fool to think she would easily do what he wanted. Wiping at a tear, she looked around the keep she’d worked so hard to keep everyone safe in. It was then she saw her son. Duncan was everything she was and more. Each time she saw her son, she would give him a little more of herself, teach him something of running a castle. He knew what he was to her and that Mary was doing her a great favor in keeping him safe.

Duncan would be a greater king than she ever was a queen. Just the way it should be. She was glad now that she’d told him he was to be mated to one of her birds. Leaving him to his work, she entered the castle to see what else was there that she could easily live without. There was very little left as it was, but she moved from room to room to make sure nothing was left behind of any value. The only thing she could see in the great room was the painting of herself. Dante wished so many times that she could have put her son there with her, but it was not to be. It would have been foolhardy to think she’d be able to keep him safe if she was to put out there that he’d been born. Other kingdoms would have done a great many things to have captured him to bring her to heel. Dante would do anything to keep him safe, including submitting to a man again.

A thing that she would never do again in her lifetime. “I shall give this to our falcon.” She turned her head enough to find Duncan behind her, and the doors closed to anyone walking around. “She will be a great person, I think. Sour to many but the one she will love.” “You have seen this?” Duncan said he’d seen a great many things. “Well, you know as well as I that it might not turn out the way we see it. There can be changes, you know.” “This I am aware of. As well as you not living past the last person that is taken from here.” She turned to look at him then, trying to see just what he was seeing. “I shall forever miss you, Mother.” It was the first time he’d called her that. Her heart was so tender of late that she would burst into tears at all that would be gone in so short of time. Hugging him to her, she felt his body was getting stronger daily. He knew how to work and did it without complaint. “I have been writing a book. It is just for you, my son.

You will know things I have known for some time. It will replenish your riches that I have put aside for you. Also, how to keep the birds safe should they need it.” He nodded. “I will give it to Mary on the day you travel. I do not want the others to know you are my son, even after all is finished here.”

“They will only know me as a man you trusted. But I will need to tell them at some point. This you know as well as I. I will be their king when they need me.” She nodded, tears flowing quickly now. “Mother, you do know I will take care that they are as safe as you made them here?” “I do, my son. I know that better than you could. You are not anything like your father. A cruel and terrible man. When you marry, and you will, I want you to know that she will only love you if you give her your heart. It’s important that you do that for her.” He said he would. “Let her strength help you when you know you are not armed to do it on your own. She will love you more and respect you forever for that.” “Will she be stronger than me, Mother?” Dante told him she was sure of it. “Then I will be for her what you have been for these people. A leader of worth. I will promise you I will also protect her forever.” “That is all that anyone can do for their mate, my child.” He hugged her, something neither of them were able to do often.

“I shall miss you, Duncan. Much more than I could ever explain to you. Go forth, protect all the people of your kingdom, and do what I say. Love your mate more than anyone, including yourself, and the two of you will be able to move mountains.” ~*~ New Town, what they had begun to call the new place they were living, looked like any other town in the country. The only difference was this one was only several weeks old. It, to Dante, looked as if it had been established long ago. She was pleased with the work her people had given the place she’d moved them to. “My lady? There is a problem in one of the homes we’ve put up. I know how to fix it, but the man living in it, he said he will be fine with it. To have his own home was more than he could have hoped for.” The queen of the people asked Barron what the issue was. “He has five daughters, my lady, and we’ve somehow put him into a house with only one bedroom.

There are ones he could use, but he insists that it be used for the other families.” “I shall speak to him. Is it Donald, the mule man?” Barron nodded, his face nearly touching the ground. He was bent so much. “Stand up, man. I believe I have pointed out this is not a time for formality. We must all work together for the greater good of the people. I shall speak to him now. Then I must, as you know, return to the castle for the final loading.” Along the way to speak to Donald, she was stopped no less than twenty times to be thanked for the things she’d provided for the people here. Without making the great move, Dante knew all of them would have been killed. Because of their loyalty to her as queen of the castle, the king of these realms, a tyrant of a man, would have ordered them all butchered as soon as he killed her on their wedding night. Of this, she was certain. “My lady? I have yet to put on a pot for tea, but you must join us in it.” Dante was not one to hold back when she had something to say. She told Donald she wanted him to take a larger home. “Oh, my lady. Barron should never have bothered you with this. We are quite happy with where we are.”

“But you have six people in a single man’s home, Donald. What, I ask you, will the man who was supposed to be in this home do with a home with many bedrooms? He will be overwhelmed in trying to keep them clean while you are smashed up in this one-bedroom chamber with your little girls.” Donald looked at his daughters, beautiful little ones that were the pride and joy of himself. “There is a home just over the road here you shall be moved to. I insist. Your daughters will share two bedrooms, and you will have your own.

I know for a fact, sir, that your snore is legendary. For your daughters to have a good sleep, you will need to be far from them. Do you not agree?” “Yes, my lady.” He moved just a little closer and, in a low voice, spoke to her. “I did not wish to cause you any undue trouble. You have given all of us a chance to survive this, and I wanted to be sure you knew I was ever so grateful for it. I’m as happy here with you and yours as I ever was in the castle keep, my lady. Incredibly happy.” “I’m glad you’re happy here, Donald. You are a good man and a man that cares well for his daughters. I shall have the men move you to the new home. It will give me a good feeling knowing you have plenty of room for yourself and your family.” He thanked her. “Your daughters, sir, they will be safe here. You need anything, you make sure you contact Barron.” “Thank you, my lady. If there is ever anything I can do for you, you need only to ask. I am and will be indebted to you for the rest of my days.” Dante felt her eyes water up with the man’s words.

Her life, she knew, was only a short time away from ending. “Thank you very much.” The little girls curtsied at her, and she had to move on. It broke her heart every time she saw small children. She so wanted to hold her own. Telling Donald once again that she’d have the men move him, she moved toward the longhouse that would serve as a church for the people and a meeting place for them to gather should they need to. Her eagle was awaiting her when she returned to the now all but abandoned castle. “You have done well, my heart. You, of all the birds I have, are the one I worry most about.” The eagle asked her why. “You are so much like me. Hard when you’re needed to be. Too soft when it comes to our people. I fear someday it will harm you in ways that not even I could fix.”

Her eagle, like the other birds, was a huge part of getting the people moved. If not for them, there would be no way she could have done this alone. It would have meant certain death for all of them, including her own son. Going to the throne room, she sat upon the floor. Dante had moved her chair to the caves for the others to sell off should no one want it. But because she could see into the future, just bits and pieces, she knew at least one of them would want such a monstrosity. “When this is finished, soon now, I will give you and the others magic to keep you safe from others who would try and capture you.” Her eagle asked what sort of magic. “You will be able to blend into situations you wouldn’t normally consider a problem. There will be problems, too. From the things I have seen, you all will have trouble from those around you.”

She laid back on the cold stone. The castle had been forged so long ago Dante could not remember who had been the person to have erected it. Now, as she looked up into the night sky, the roof here long since removed, she thought of what was going to happen in the coming days. “He has set sail and is nearly here. The king of all the lands is coming to claim not just my castle and my wealth but my birds as well. There are many people on the vessel that carts his bottom here who have no desire to be his servants. If only I could have saved them as well.” The eagle, standing upon her perch built just for her, reminded her she could not save them all. “In this, I wish it was wrong to have thought that. They will suffer, these people. They are suffering, for there is nothing to do to appease the king to find favor with him. There are so few that he has not made suffer by lashing them on their backsides. Too many of them have died in his foolishness to make me his wife for such a short time.” Listening to her eagle squawk at her about the king and idiocy, Dante thought of her impending death.

It would be a sad affair only to her son and the birds he would one day claim as his own. However, just knowing all would be safe from the king’s tyranny made the other things so worthwhile. “If I had to do it again, I would do nothing differently. I would still do what I am doing now so that all will live and live on. Even with you birds, I would do just what I have done to keep my kingdom here.” The eagle asked her if she’d been happy. “Happy? I don’t know that I have had that much in my lifetime. I have been content. Not the same, I suppose, but I have been content with my lot in life. If only I could have kept living the way we have, I do believe I could have made such a difference in things here and in the future. Before I forget this again, I have taken the time to write out the things t’will keep the new town with coin in their coffers. I know it will be aplenty, but I will worry until my last breath if it will be enough.” Her last breath.

It was only a few days away. Much too soon for her, but Dante knew it would be well worth the pain of dying to her. Sitting up, she looked at the birds, all six of them on their perches watching over her and the emptied lands they could see. They were the sole reason she was able to do this. This she knew more than anyone could have guessed. “I shall retire, I think. I have no bed to speak of now, so I will only lie upon the ticking. On the morrow, we shall have a feast. A great amount of food, as well as drink. ‘Tis fitting, I think, to celebrate this new way of life for so many.” Her beautiful phoenix asked her why she seemed so sad. “Sad? Aye, I am that and more. Things are moving at a pace I wish didn’t exist. But it is for the wellbeing of all that have called this place home. In that, I suppose I am sad that we shall never be able to return here in my lifetime.” But they would. All six of them and more will return someday and see the castle as it should have been. A lovely home to her son and his mate, the one that she herself had hand-picked for her beloved child. Oh, to be able to see them grow into love. But it was not to be.

Getting up before she made a fool of herself by crying over something she had no control over, Dante did indeed head to her bed. For tomorrow and the next day would be the hardest of anything she’d ever done before. ~*~ Dante didn’t sleep. She’d not closed her eyes to rest in more years than she could count on both her hands and then her toes. It was all right, she supposed. Dante was able to get more done this way. But she did pace herself. She’d never survive these last days if she were to fall apart now. “Mistress, there are two men here to see you. They wish to know who has carved your turrets. I did not tell him they were as real as he.” Mary shook her head at the folly of some men. “I should have called them down to talk to him about how they were made. I think he might well have soiled his britches.” “Mary, please tell them that the lady of the castle is busy and does not have time to tell him of the art he is looking at. What manner of person would ask such a thing? As if I didn’t have the sense of that turtle caught in the drain last week.

Nay, tell them to move on before I toss them into the sea.” Mary went to tell them just what she said. Dante was smiling when she heard Mary laughing. She’d no doubt take the way she’d told her to move them on to such extravagance. It would serve the men right if she really would call down one of her birds to take care that they didn’t bother her again. Dante made her way to the drying room at the back of the kitchen. She had been brewing a brew for several days now. “You’re not going to be going with us, are you, my lady?” She turned to look at her great phoenix. “If you do not explain to me what your plan is, I think to tell Mercy what I have figured out. She will not allow you to die. Nor will I be all right with your death.” “I must die, my beautiful friend. For if the king were to actually reach our lands and find this castle and all that was here when he set sail were gone, what do you think he’d say to his men?

That it was a good thing I left? That now he didn’t have to kill me? Nay, he would send them to find me. And my people. I do not wish anyone else to be harmed for what he wants from me.” The phoenix, Piper would be her name someday, asked her if she expected them to do the killing. “In a way. I have this brew here. It is nearly set for me to drink down. The castle and its walls, they must come down, or it will all be for naught. What I have made, it will have me dead before you drop the first stone upon the only home I have ever had. You as well, my dear bird.” “Mercy will not be willing to help.” Dante told her she would because she’d know what she said now was the truth. “Aye, you say that, but I think her to be most upset with the turn of events, my lady. It will break all our hearts to know you have left us behind.” “I shall never leave any of you behind. I will be forever in your hearts and you in mine as I take my last breath.” The phoenix nodded but didn’t say anything more for some time. “He will die before he gets to the land. This king who thinks to murder me in my own bed. And those that he brought with him, they too will perish. ‘Tis a folly on his part to think I’d just do as he wants as if I have no mind of my own. I know Mercy will kill him and all that have been forced to come here with him. It’s not such a bad thing, these deaths, Phoenix. It will be merciful to all that have ridden the seas to make their way here.”

After the bird left her, she pulled the large cauldron off the hot flames and covered it with a lid. Even though there were no children about or anyone working in the kitchens, she would feel terrible if any harm would come to anyone right now. Making her way back to the throne room, or what was left of it, she laid on the floor to look up at the sky. Dante hated heights. While she forever knew she’d never see the time when there would be airplanes in her sky, she knew they were set to come. She was content, for now, to bask in the beautiful view she’d miss more than she’d thought she might. Getting up, Dante made her way to the side of the castle that faced the sea. “Oh, to see the waterways filled with my own ships again. To see them sailing off to find new things to bring back to us.” There were ships out there. She could just make out their flags.

None of these were her tormentor, she knew. He would be visible in two days, still out to sea a long way. He would be nothing more than a small speck in the open waters, but she’d still be able to see him. “Why now? Why have you made your plans to include me at this time? I wish more and more I’d been born a male. Then no one would dare to come here. I might well have been the king of all the lands had it been so.” Her ships had been taken to the coves not far from here. By the time they were remembered, time would go by, and they would be nothing more than rotted wood and material. Dante wouldn’t want them to be seaworthy again. It might well be the thing that got her people killed. Even in the future, the bits and pieces she could see, the ships would only cause people to look harder for her remains and perhaps run into the New Town where her people lived. That, she knew, would be a danger to all. “Mother? Are you here?” She turned to look at her son.

Duncan had been coming to her of late to get more lessons, her thoughts on things, as well as how to manage a vast kingdom such as the one she was leaving him. “I thought for sure you’d be here. I have a favor to ask of you. ‘Tis a small one, but one I think you can give me. I should like to spend the night here, within these walls, once with you. I have spoken to Mary about it, and she thinks you will grant me this one wish. It will be the first and last time the two of us will be able to be under the same roof since I was born.” “I should like that. Very much.” He nodded and smiled at her. “There is so much to tell you and so much more I think I have forgotten to pass on to you. But for this night, I shall not speak of the king coming here. Nor of my life-ending. You are aware of it, my child. This I know. But to have you here with me this last night? It is more than I could have asked for.” They made their plans to sleep on the same ticking she’d been resting on since her bed had been taken away. As they curled up under a thick blanket, the two of them talked more than they rested. Tears were shed, of course. There was no way to avoid such a thing. But there was laughter, too, much more of it than just tears.

“I shan’t be here tomorrow when you are set. I cannot be of sound mind when I know what is to happen to you. I will tell you, Mother, that there couldn’t have been a better person to raise me. Nor one that has loved me as well as you have.” She kissed him on the forehead as he spoke again. “For as long as I live, Mother dear, I will keep you in my heart, along with the birds that will be mine as well. I love you. Much more than I think any child could their parent. You are the best there is. I shall kill anyone that says differently.” She had no words to give him after that. Her heart, already tender, was breaking more. It might well have done her better not to have spent the night with her son. But it would have been harder on her, she thought, to not have this time with him with no other around.

Finally, when she could speak without tearing up, even more, Dante told her son that she loved him. That he’d be a better king than she had been a queen. After saying that, they both settled into their thoughts until the sun came rising from the seas that surrounded them. Today, she knew, would be her last day to breathe in the air, take in food for her belly, and the very last time she’d order her birds to do something she knew they’d hate her for. ~*~ The last of the herbs were drying nicely. Along with the pumpkins and other squashes, Dante had added a little magic to them so that they’d produce quicker. Would also produce more for them to have when they replanted the seeds left from this bounty. The corn stalks had been bundled up too to take along for roofs, as well as fodder for the fires that would need to be lit.

As she looked over the ground she’d been working on with the others, she wondered if the future occupants of her home would plant and use the product coming from it as much as she had. Dante knew a great deal about the coming centuries. It had come to her in dreams or just single thoughts. She used this gift of magic to make it so her son and all the people that were going to be living around here would not have to worry about money. Not when there was so much more that needed to be done. Taking a large basket of still-green tomatoes that hadn’t gotten ripe as yet, she was smashing them into pulp to make sure that the seeds, a precious thing, were set aside to dry. Duncan joined her in the drying room with several more fruits that would need to be secured. “I have dug up all the trees you wished to be stored away.

I also added some things that seemed to be begging me for a second chance. I’ve got a feeling in my heart that their kind might not be long for this time we are in.” She told her son he was more than likely right if that was what he felt. He walked around the room. “There is plenty enough herbs here to fill an entire barrel. Are you leaving them?” “I will some. The rest will go back with all the others when you leave here tonight.” He nodded. “The trees will be stored away until such a time that they’re needed.

I have found a way to preserve them so they will not rot and die. I will let you know when it is time for you to get them. Also, there is—” “Mom, I have a question for you. You do not need to answer it if you would rather not, but I would so like the answer.” She nodded and sat in the only chair in the room with them. “No one will speak to me of my sire, my father. I have asked Mary, and she has told me when the time was right, I’d be able to know all there is to know about him. I believe in my heart that no one can tell me what sort of person he was but you. It’s important to me, you see. I would like to know why I was hidden from him. Not that I don’t believe you did the right thing. But I cannot imagine the cruelty he had without you telling me.” “It is a horrific telling, my son. One I hoped you’d never hear. But since you have asked, I will tell you of his deeds. Not just to me, but to the very people that work within and out of these walls.” He sat on the floor, and Dante produced a thick ticking for him to sit on while he listened.

She did the same for herself and leaned back against the tables used for the sorting of herbs. “When I was first wed to him, by order of the then king, he was cruel even then. I wasn’t a young maiden, but a maiden all the same. Yet his lying with me was like lying with a monster. He hit me, bit me, and then when he’d filled me with his seed, he would have me tied to the bed so I’d not be able to abort any child from him with the taking of herbs or such. I allowed that to happen to me only the one time. After that, using my magic, I’d be free and wandering around without his knowledge.” “Did you? Abort any other children by him?” She told him she’d never have done that.

Not even if she had ten children, all of them girls. “I’m glad to hear that, Mom. It would have been nice to have a sibling, but I understand that it would have been difficult to want to have a child by such a monster.” Duncan sat on her lap then, just there so that she could hold him. While sitting there with his head under her chin, she told him of the things his father had done to her. What he would have done had he ever found out about her having a son. “There were times, my son, that I would wish for death after he was finished with me. The healers had to work very hard to keep me from throwing myself from the highest peak. The wounds I would carry during my life cut harder than any other thing I have had to endure. Even a spear, which I have had plenty enough of, were nothing compared to his terror.” While not giving him a great many of the details, she did tell him of the whip he’d used. His fist, as large as her head, would slam into her body any time he saw her. Dante told her son some of the things she wished for him to remember.

The decision was his mate’s, and hers alone, as to when to have children or not. There were other things too that she imparted to him. The wisdom of keeping his mouth shut when he was angry. To not make decisions without discussing them with his mate. “Your mate will be smart, Duncan. And stronger than you will ever be. Not just in strength but also in mind. She will have knowledge that comes from being a warrior. Use that. All the birds will be able to protect you in ways I cannot see or even imagine.” He told her he’d treat his mate the opposite way from how Dante had been treated.

“Then that is all that I can ask of you, Duncan. I will die knowing you will be the greatest king that has ever lived.” “I will not disappoint you or my mate, Mom. I promise you on my heart and yours that I will treat her as the queen she will be.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Come with me now. I want to swim with you while the others are finishing up. One hour will make little difference in getting ready for a king that will not see this place.” The two of them played in the water for more than half the day. When they weren’t swimming, the two of them talked about the things she’d seen. The companies, what they were called in the future, would make him the most profit. Also, about when he was to sell them so as not to lose a great fortune. “There are things called market that are nothing like we have here. They are to buy and sell stocks—I believe that is what they’re called. The things I have written for you will tell you when to buy such stocks and when to sell them. One minute will make the difference in when you sell them, Duncan. Be on time for that.”

He told her he would. “Good. That is all I can ask you to do. It will be able to sustain you for years and years.” As Duncan made his way home, she mixed up her tea and took it with her to the towers. Duncan thought it would be tomorrow morning, but she didn’t know if she could go through with it if she knew he was standing not far from her. As she settled herself into the middle of the room, she looked up at the skies. The birds, all of them, were awaiting her signal. Drinking the brew straight down, she told her birds how much she had come to love them. “Once I am gone from this world, which will not be long now, you will receive a gift from me that you’ll need to survive under the conditions of the world beyond.” She didn’t tell her birds what she’d done, that she’d poisoned herself with her own brew. Nor did she tell them she’d made it so they’d be humans. Also, they’d be true immortals and not able to be killed.

Dante was afraid they’d not take down the castle but leave it for others to take over. There would be no one else to live here but her sons and the birds. Even though he didn’t know it yet, the castle would be ready for them to live in quite nicely. “You are angry. I can feel it. I’d rather you be happy that the other people that were living here are as safe as we could make them. That without you, I don’t know that I would have been as long for this world as I was. You not only saved the people here, my birds but me as well.” Her vulture asked her why she had to die. They could carry her away. “If there is even a hint of me being not at this castle when it fell, then I will be hunted down for treason. They will not only kill me, but they’ll have their sport with me, as well as torture me to find out where my people have gone. I know I cannot survive the sort of torture they would put upon my body.

I am old, and my body wouldn’t sustain as much as they will use against me to go and find them.” Her body was weak already from her magic being depleted as much as it was, but she held onto her mind for as long as she could. Telling her saviors about how she had known to find them. That they were, of all the birds around, the ones she knew would care for her and her lands. Telling them that it was time, well past the time, for the work to be done.

Then she told them one more thing before she succumbed to her death. “I love you all so very much. Had you been children of mine, I would have— You are my children. Created from me so that I could be a good queen to all that lived here. But I would have taken glory in your lives. Been a part of it that would have made me the happiest I have ever been. There has never been a greater friendship than the kind we have here. I do love you. Please, remember me fondly.” She tried to laugh a little, but she was too weak to even do that now. “Let it begin. I shall wish you all the blessings a queen can give to her mates, best friends and children that you are.” Dante was beyond feeling anything when the first stone tore into the building. It narrowly missed her, for which she was disappointed.

They were thinking she might change her mind. Even if she wished to do that, it was too late. Her last vision was of her great vulture carrying a large stone up and over her. Dante closed her eyes, letting death take her before the stone could do so. ~*~ Duncan knew of her plans, even though she’d not said anything to him. His mother, even now, was beyond him. Death had taken her from not just himself but all that loved her. And love her, they did. Telling Mary, the woman who had taken care of him these last ten years, she let him be alone for his grief. She was a good woman, kind to him, and also good at keeping his head out of the clouds when necessary. There was never a time when she didn’t paddle his bottom when he needed it, but she was just as quick to praise him when he did something good.

He thought he was getting more praise than he’d been getting paddles of late. Going out into the yard, knowing that the rain coming down was like the earth telling of its sorrow for having lost someone like his mother, Duncan went to the waterside, the inlet to the larger sea that was yet miles and miles away. Just as he made himself comfortable under the canopy of leaves just coming to their branches, one of the birds landed beside him. “She’s gone. The queen is gone, isn’t she?” The bird squawked, but Duncan knew they didn’t know who he was, so he pretended to not understand the beautiful phoenix when she told him she was indeed gone. “I shall miss her. Forever I think. I know she did the right thing today, for all of us, but I cannot help but be a little angry with her for dying like she has.”

The bird watched over him. He was sure that someone had seen him going this way, and feared he’d fall into the fast-moving waters. He could swim, unlike so many others in the village, but to be watched over even now made him think he would welcome any kind of kindness this day. “I know had it not been the king of all the lands coming, it would have been someone else coming to make their claim. Even now, they are going to die at the hand of one so broken. I have seen the beautiful falcon around the queen so much more than the others. I believe her to have been the first of her kind.” The phoenix nodded this time, and he was glad she made the effort. Reaching over, he barely touched one of the brightest feathers he’d ever seen before turning back to look at the waterways.

“If you think me to jump in, I shan’t. It might have been tempting some time ago, but no longer. The queen has deemed that none of us shall mourn her by causing our own death. It would break her, I believe, to know that so many would like to join her in her afterlife.” Again the phoenix nodded. Duncan knew he was treated well because of his mother. He wasn’t sure who had figured out who he was to the queen, but they knew him to be special enough that she would seek him out when she wanted. And though his mother visited all homes, all the time, she would stay longer at the home he stayed in with Mary and her son. He looked at the feather he’d been admiring when it fell to the stone underneath him. “You are in mourning as well, aren’t you? I don’t blame you. I think my heart has been crushed by this day. More than that, while I know it will heal, right now, it hurts me badly enough that I wish to let the earth go on without me. But, like you, I have a job to do, and I shall do it to the best of my ability.”

More feathers landed beside them, and he collected them before they scattered. “I’ve got a mind to make something beautiful with these if you’d not mind. Something to remind me of this day and you coming to watch over me. If you’ve better things to do, phoenix, you can leave me here to my own sorrow.” Instead of leaving, she nestled down and put out her wing to cover him more when the wind picked up. The water, just a few feet from him, began to gather up strength. Duncan knew it was from the death of the king and not the water pouring from the sky. The king was dead. Mercy, as she would be called, had dropped a stone on his boat larger than anything that could be carried by the best of trucks in the future. When the water was too swift for him to safely be sitting there, he stood up.

To be able to ride on the bird, just to make sure the bad king was indeed dead, was tempting. But he dared not. She wouldn’t allow it, he thought. As he made his way back to his home, the bird flew away to do whatever she’d been told by his mother. Duncan leaned against one of the few trees left standing when New Town was built. People were going about their business. He did notice that quite a few tears were being shed. Many a woman and man had their clothes out, wiping at the tears for his mother and her passing. They would go on, as she had begged them to do. Make this place a place of safety and happiness.

Making his way into the only home he’d ever known, he pulled out one of the books she’d given him to read and began his tasks. Duncan would not be the one to disappoint his mother. Even though she was gone, he knew she’d be watching over him to keep him learning how to be the best king that ever lived. It was going to be a hard place to go to, filling out the role of his mother, but he knew with the knowledge she’d given him, what was in the books, and his ability to see bits and pieces into the future, he’d do well. By the time dinner was called, he was well into the first of many books. Having to start over several times, he’d begun to make notes on paper he’d made for this occasion. Going to the long building, he could see that many of the people there were wearing flowers on their heads. Going back into the house, he gathered all but one

feather and set about giving them to those who had not come in festive wear. It was then that Barron made the announcement that the bad king was dead, and so was their queen. After a short prayer to whatever god they prayed to, they set about having their meal, and he was glad once again for the company around him. When night began to fall, he made his way to the broken castle. It was indeed nothing more than rubble. The turrets that were there for their birds were crushed too. However, it didn’t stop them, the larger-than-life birds, from continuing their watch over them all. Out in the sea, he could see that no boats were coming to their port, nor would there be for a great many years to come. This he knew to be a good thing.

If no one was there to trade, they too would think that the good queen had perished in the fallen castle, and her people gone to other kingdoms to be their slaves. “You are her son, are you not, good Duncan?” He turned and looked at the beautiful woman standing there. The queen of faeries. The only one he’d ever been able to speak to. “The others would have come too, but their hearts, even though we were told what was to come to pass here this day, are all still broken for you, little one.” “She wishes for me to carry on as if nothing has happened.” He looked at the castle again. “I will, but I don’t think one day of mourning will matter all that much. But she’d beat me about the head and shoulders should I do that.” The queen laughed. “I have more magic for you, Duncan, king of the lands. It is all our magic so that you may call upon us should you need us.

Your good mother, she made sure that we knew what to expect in the coming years and has given us plenty to do. She is not one to allow others to sit upon their bottoms, even though she is not here to bring us to task.” He told her he thought his mother would anyway. “Of that, I have no doubt.” She touched his forehead with her long shimmering hand, and he felt the magic come to him in waves. Holding onto the tree he was near, he felt every bit of his body fill even more for the magic. He also felt himself aging. Duncan was sure that should he look at himself by the seawaters, he’d see himself a grown man. Even his face was whiskered. “She did not want you to be idle, Duncan. But to do what has been told to you to keep everyone safe.” He said he understood that even as he made himself clothing to cover his now manly body. “When you return to the encampment, you will not have to tell ‘tis you.

They will understand what you are and who you are to them. It will be safe for you now. There will be a great many years, decades upon decades before you have a need for the birds. They’re going to have a lot to learn before then as well.” Nodding, he gleaned as much information from the queen as he could. When he turned to look at the broken castle once more, she assured him that even now, the earth was making it ready for when he needed it once again. The other magic he received from the others of the earth, he took it into his body with the knowledge that came with it. Duncan was as ready as he’d ever been to bring everything that he’d seen, his mother had seen, to fruition. He would make his mother proud.



Joel Tate’s Crossing Release Blitz&Giveaway

Caitlynne’s job was difficult. Doing what she did for the government not only put herself at risk but any friends or family she had could become a target. When her sister was hurt, she blamed herself even though it had nothing to do with her directly. It didn’t matter. It was time for her to quit before someone she cared about ended up dead. Joel Tate had been in the building to meet with Becca Jacobson when she was attacked. To save her, Joel had to change her into what he was, a wolf. More or less guarding her in the hospital, Joel met her sister, Caitlynne, when she was brought to the hospital to see her sister. As soon as Caitlynne was close enough to him to get her scent, he knew she was his mate. Caitlynne’s disappearing act from her job started things rolling. Her boss wasn’t taking I quit as an answer. When they tried to kill her by setting her apartment on fire, Joel thought it was time to take the situation into his own hands….

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3n8ztC2
AMAZON UK https://amzn.to/32YRnAk
AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/3JUGzUD
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/joel-kathi-s-barton/1140857339?ean=2940160969428
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Joel?id=MDhYEAAAQBAJ
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1125570
KOBO Coming Soon
ITUNES http://books.apple.com/us/book/id1603936261
PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/3JS6s7t

Add it to your Goodreads list
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60059395-joel

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A Signed Mystery Paperback
Or Signed Cup or Coloring Book Or a Mystery Prize!!!
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

Congratulations to the winners !!!!!!!
Pauline Westberry Mystery Prize
Wendy Bricker Signed Paperback
Packages will be mailed out on
Tuesday, Jan 11th, 2022
If you have not gotten your prize
please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com

Happy Reading,

Joel glanced at his watch when it vibrated on his wrist. Christ, he’d been here for nearly an hour longer than he had planned and still hadn’t talked to the manager of this place. Whatever was going on, it— “Mr. Tate, I’m so sorry about your wait, but I assure you, Ms. Jacobson only went to lunch. And she’s never late. There must have been a problem.” It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her she was going to have a bigger problem when someone touched his mind. Joel, I saw your car in the garage here. Please tell me you’re in the Jacobson Building. He said he was and that he was just about to leave, as Ms. Jacobson was late. Yeah, about that. Come to the garage.

There has been an attempt on her life. I need you to help me out, as I think someone interrupted the person before they could finish her off. “I have to go.” The secretary asked if he could reschedule, and he told her he’d contact her. Tell me what you need, and I’ll be on the outlook for it on my way down. As Officer Donnie Phillips filled him in on what he would need from him, he felt his wolf shiver in response to what had happened to the woman. Getting off the elevator, he could see he’d not only beaten the ambulance but there was only one cruiser in the lot. It was parked near what looked like, from where he stood, a puddle of blood. “Thank goodness you’re here.

I think she might well have gotten off a couple of shots when she was attacked. There is a blood trail to the other elevator that I would like you to, if you’d not mind, follow to see if you can sniff this person out.” He said he could do that. “Thank you. If you wanna shift behind my ride, no one will see you. It’ll give you the opportunity to save your clothing too.” As soon as he was his wolf, he made his way to the woman again. At first, all he could smell was fresh blood, then he got the scent of something else. Male. Human. As he told his friend what he’d been able to find out, he was taken to the elevator to see if he could find what floor the person got off on and if he was still in the building.

“I have no reason to believe he was able to just walk away. There are only two entrances to the place from here—the elevator you took and the service elevator. Can you manage the buttons? If you can, I’m going to wait on the ambulance and backup. My captain knows you’re helping out.” Going to the elevator, he pressed his paw against the up button. As soon as it opened, he turned to Donnie.

“You’ll be fine. If anyone sees you, it’ll help me clear the building.” Donnie was still laughing as the doors closed behind him. Shaking his head, he got off on the first floor and didn’t find the man’s scent anywhere in the hallway, so he got back onto the elevator. Joel didn’t find anything on the second or the third floor. Just as he was going to press the button for the next floor, a man, a vampire, appeared in the opening with him. As soon as the door closed, he turned to him.

“Joel Tate, I presume.” Joel nodded. “The young woman is a dear friend of mine, and I should like to help you on your search. I also would like to exchange a little blood with you so I can speak to you.” He put out his hand, and Joel eyed the cut and the oozing blood there. “I shan’t hurt you, Joel. On my honor as a very old vampire, I shall never harm you. But I cannot help without being able to speak to you.” Licking the blood at the same time, the man bit into his paw, the power of it knocked him back to the other wall. Before he could stand, Joel, staggered to his feet twice before realizing a couple of things.

He was his other self again, and he was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. “What the hell did you do to me?” The man said nothing, but he was a little off-balance as well. “That was more than just an exchange of blood. I feel like I’ve stuck my finger in a light socket while standing in a puddle of water.” “I feel the same, young Joel. You’re more than a simple wolf, as I first thought. Aren’t you?” He said nothing but did stand up. “If I’m right, and about magic, I’m rarely wrong; you’ll be able to shift now and have your clothing on when you shift back. Something I didn’t count on, but a good thing, I believe.”

When nothing more was said, and they both could stand on their own two feet, the man pressed the button for the ninth floor. When the elevator stopped again, he turned to him, and Joel could see that he was indeed a very old vampire. Magic seemed to surround him from head to toe. “My name is Hudson. I no longer remember if it is my first or last name, but that is what I go by. When pressed, I simply use Smith. Much easier to remember for me. The young woman, her name is Rebecca Jacobson, saved my life a very long time ago and has come to mean a great deal to me. By the way, she goes by Becca.” He asked him if he was going to help Becca live. “I cannot. She made me promise her I would not enhance her life, nor would I save it when it is her time to go. She has…Becca has lost a great deal in her lifetime, and I think she wishes her life to end sooner rather than later.

Hurt is the only thing she knows, I believe. But the man who has dared touch her, he is dead. Not by my hand, though I wish it were so, but by Becca. She was able to shoot him three times before he ran off like the mongrel he was.” “Then why are you bringing me up here? I mean, I don’t mind helping out the police, but you could have found him for them.” He said he didn’t want the publicity. “All right. I can understand that. I’ll let Donnie know he’s dead and that he’s up here. Where am I going to be leading them?” The man had managed to make it all the way to the bathroom door before he finally died from his wounds. She’d gotten him in the chest twice and once in the neck. He would have to tell her she’d done a great job of it, too.

The man had suffered badly, Joel would bet before he finally crawled away just as Hudson had told him he had. The police were on their way up to the floor when Hudson said he was going to check on Becca. As soon as he disappeared, Joel sat down on the floor with his hands where the police could see them. He knew all the men and women on the force, but this could get his ass killed if someone was a little jumpy.

As soon as he was cleared, he stood around waiting for someone to tell him what he needed to do. There was talk about him going to fill out a report on what he’d seen, but Donnie said he’d done them a solid and wasn’t to be mentioned as being there. “Thanks for that.” Reaching out to his brothers, all five of them, Joel made his way home. There wasn’t going to be a meeting with Becca, so there wouldn’t be any reason for a follow-up. He was going ahead with the plans he and Becca had made via email. Calling in the construction company they used, he got them set up with credit at the local lumber stores as well as two more places they’d used before when working on projects. He’d been planning to lend her the money anyway, so he was thinking while she was laid up, he’d get things going for her.

He would cover her expenses, what she’d been wanting to borrow money for in the first place, so they could start on the improvements. The company, Jacobson Toys, had been stuck in the same building for the last thirty or so years. She’d told him the plans she had to expand. Also, what she planned on doing with the extra room. The toys were wonderfully whimsical and well made. He had a few of them on his desk at the office. Joel headed there now. When he got there, both Saul and Loren were there waiting on him. It wasn’t unusual for any or all of his brothers to be at the office, but he’d had a weird morning and had shit to do. Not bothering to interrupt their argument, he headed to his office and turned on his computer. Saul flopped down in the seat to his left, and Loren headed to the fridge.

Taking out three bottles of water, he handed one to him and to Saul before he started talking. “There is a great number of foreclosed buildings and houses going up for auction in the next couple of days. Loren and I have the addresses of the homes. We’re going to go in the morning to have a look at them. The bank holds the note on those.” He asked him about the buildings. “There is where it gets tricky. The city is holding onto those, but they want them gone. Problem is, they put so many stipulations on them it’s not worth the purchase even if you could get them for a hundred thousand bucks. The two buildings that are nearer to us that I’d be interested in are well over four million dollar buildings. One of those is only a few years old.” “What sort of stipulations? Anything we can just agree to?”

“Because they’re greedy, or they are worth whatever they’re wanting?” “They’re worth it. But they’re demanding that each of the buildings be purchased as a unit. Then there are the improvements that have to be made to each building. Joel, as I said, one is new, and one of them won’t take much to bring it to code. However, two of the others need to be torn down. They’re old and outdated, not to mention the cost of upgrading them, if someone wanted to try, would be triple what the place would be worth. They’re not in a good neighborhood. No parking to speak of, and we’d be responsible for sidewalk improvements and paying for water and sewage to be brought in. Wiring alone would be astronomical.” Loren said it would cost more to do that.

“Sounds to me like you’ve made your decision.” He nodded but didn’t look like he’d actually decided anything. “What is it, Saul? You know something more. Tell me or get out. I’ve so much to do now that I’ll be here until midnight as it is.” “I heard about the attempted murder. I’m sorry you were involved. But it did turn out well.” Joel thanked his brother. “No, I’m not sure about the buildings. The newer building would be great for several companies wishing to expand. The building is over two million square feet, not counting the parking garage. It’s in mint condition as well. When it was finished, the people didn’t get to move in because of billing issues or something.” “That’s a big building.” Joel leaned back in his chair.

“Say we do this with the city and the two buildings we’re not wanting aren’t up to code. What happens then?” While Saul looked over the contract on his laptop he was never without. Joel asked Loren if he had any plans for the houses. Loren smiled at him with what his dad would have called a shit-eating grin. “There are two streets of houses we’re going to purchase. Eighteen homes in all. Most of them have been rentals for a long time and need some major overhauling. After we finish up on that, we’d be able to get about four times the amount of rent from them.” He asked what his plans were for the people living in the houses. “For the most part, they’re empty.

There are a couple of renters in three of them. An older man that is willing to be put in a nursing home if he can afford it. He told me he’s been saving for it all his life. Another one has an older couple in it. The missus is very ill and needs constant care. Their rent is only about two hundred a month—that’s how much they’ve been paying since moving in. But it will be difficult for them to make any kind of nursing home rent with their income. I’m having Dad look into a couple of charities to help out.” “That’s a good idea. And the third one? What sort of people live there?” Loren handed him a file. Opening it up, he could see the house was literally falling down around the edges.

The roof was nearly collapsed. There was plastic on the windows. “How the hell is anyone living in this place? Christ, I don’t think I’d allow anyone to live under those conditions.” “I wouldn’t either. The man that lives there is a cat. Lion, I believe he told me. He’s been living there, squatting, for the last five or so years. He’s afraid to complain about the house for fear that someone will make him pay rent for the time he’s been there. Joel, he’s in terrible shape.

Not just because of how he’s living, but he’s malnourished, as well as badly dehydrated. I was going to call the local leap, but I wanted to see if you’d do it. I don’t know the history there, but I have a feeling he’s hiding out from them.” “We’ve all heard the stories that are going on with the leap,” Loren said that was another reason he’d not called. “Let me think on it for a bit. In the meantime, have someone take him some food and a case or two of water. Better yet, get him set up in one of the houses we have. Then feed him. Anyone else I should be made aware of? Unless you’ve already done that.”

“I have. But I do appreciate that we’re on the same page with it. There is also his daughter, Harlin. I don’t know her at all, but Mr. Jason Lambert, the lion I was telling you about that is living in one of the falling down houses, said Harlin works for the leap leader and is terrified of him. I’m going to move her as well if you don’t mind.” Joel nodded just as Saul laughed. “I’m assuming you’ve found a loophole?” “I have. Just as you said, Joel. If they’re not up to code, we’ll be required by law to take the buildings down. We’re only buying it for the land anyway. So the improvements they’re requiring us to make are to knock the ones down that aren’t up to code.” Joel told Saul to wait until they made the purchase before he called them in.

“Can do. Thanks. You’ve just made us about fifty million. When I sell off the building, and I have a couple of buyers already lined up, we’ll make all of our money back, and then some.” ~*~ Caitlynne was tempted to pull out her gun and blow the five men in front of her to hell. They’d been called to her office an hour ago, and all she’d been able to say was that she wanted them to report on the shipment that was to go out in four days. Now they were arguing about who was going to tell her. Mother fuck, there were days she hated being a boss. “Ms. Jacob, there is a phone call for you on line three. Also, I’m told they’ve been trying to reach you on your cell. Whichever way you’d like to talk to them.” She asked what it was about.

“I don’t know. All he’d tell me was his name was Hudson.” Every hair on her body seemed to dance with fear. Putting her fingers in her mouth, she let go of the loudest whistle she could manage, which was saying a lot. Someone had told her once that she could shatter glass when she did it. The five men turned to her. “I thought we had a meeting.” She told the first man she’d thought so too, but she was moving on. “But we need to make sure the shipment is going out as planned. Don’t you want to know what is going on?” “The shipment is weighed and packed, correct?” Like stupid puppies, they all nodded. “Is the paperwork filled out? Filed? The addresses have been triple-checked?” “Yes, all of that. Like we do every time.”

His face flushed. “Except for that one time. But we don’t skip steps anymore. I like this job.” “Good. It sounds like you’ve taken care of it just the way you’re supposed to. However, if one thing isn’t right, the five of you will lose your jobs. This contract is important to me, and if you fuck it up again, there will be heads rolling. Understand?” Again with the nodding heads. “Now get out. I have shit to get done, and I can’t with you bickering all the time.” Picking up her phone, she had to put it back down before she could hold it steady. When she thought she was able to handle it, she decided to lock her door and then call. After returning to her desk, she turned on the white noise generator. Picking up the phone again, she called the last number that was there. She glanced at her clock to see it was well after sunset, so Hudson would be awake.

“Hello? Are you there? Who is this?” “It’s Caitlynne. You called here and asked for me to call you. Hudson?” The man said his name, but she didn’t catch it. Before she could ask him to repeat himself, he started talking. “I didn’t know she had a sister until this morning. Before I get too much further into what happened, you should know she’s on the mend. Beaten to shit, but she’ll be all right in a few weeks.” She let out a breath she’d been holding since Mary had told her about the call. “She was coming back from lunch—we know that because she had it in a bag with her. Someone, a man by the name of Benson Tuple, caught her off guard, or she might well have killed him before he hurt her. As it was, she shot him three times, twice in the chest and once in the neck. He died of his wounds.” “Where is she—?

Wait. Hudson was the one that called here. Is he all right too? I’ve never met him, but Becca talks about him a great deal. We, Becca and I, can’t make it public that we’re related. My business would get her killed.” The man said Hudson had stayed at the hospital and he’d come back to work. “I didn’t catch your name. I’m sorry. You also said Becca is all right. Can I speak to her? When do you go back to see her? I can’t acknowledge her in any way, but I need to hear her voice.” “Joel Tate. And sure. I was going to go in and spell Hudson for a little while anyway. You said you didn’t know him. I wanted to let you know Becca had told him a while back that he wasn’t to save her if she was close to death. I…so I did it. She was as near to death as anyone I’ve ever seen. If that pisses either one of you off, then I’m all right with that too. She does some fantastic work, and it would be a shame for her to die and not be able to work on her dream.”

Caitlynne started crying as she spoke to the stranger. “I don’t know what her dreams are anymore. I work for the government in inspecting cannabis and then shipping it out to distribution centers. If people were to know I have a sister, they’d hurt her to get at me. I’m so stressed out all the time I don’t know which way is up or down. I practically live here. I even have a cot in the other room that I use when I’m too exhausted to go home. Now my baby sister is hurt, and I’m sitting here at my desk wondering if it’s worth all this.” He didn’t say anything, for which she was grateful as she continued to sob. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

You could very well do the same thing I was just talking about. Don’t hurt her. Please?” “I’d never do that to either of you. However, you should take some time off, even if you only go home for a day or two. I was like that until recently. It took me having a panic attack in the middle of a meeting for me to realize I’m working myself into an early grave. Just breathe, honey. You’re doing just fine now.” She did as he said, breathing in and out with each command. “You’re going to be all right. Becca is in good hands. And when I’m not there with her or Hudson, one of my brothers is. Nothing will harm her.” “Thank you for that.” He said it was fine. “You said you helped her to live. I’m assuming you’re not human. What are you?”

“Wolf.” She asked him what sort of wolf. “No one has asked me that before. We’re timberwolves. Or I guess you could call us grays. My dad is a wolf as well, as all of us are purebloods. As I said, no one will harm your sister while we’re around.” “Thank you again for that. I’d love to go and see her, but things here aren’t the best.” He said he understood that so long as she remembered no job was worth dying over. “I guess that’s true, but my bosses at the White House think that way.”

She glanced at her calendar as he laughed. “You’re like my dad, I think. He has this thing about him that makes you either want to punch him to death or hug the stuffing out of him. I have no idea why, but I just think that.” She smiled. It was the nicest thing that had been said to or about her for a long time. “I tell you what. Hudson is good at popping in and out of places. He’s gotten us some really good—never mind. But dinners have been hot. Anyway, maybe I can see if he can come and get you and pop you here. Becca is still in a coma to keep her from fighting the meds, but you could just come and see her at least. I could keep you updated on her progress as well. I more than likely should have said this from the start, but she had a broken wrist and elbow. Fifty stitches in her head, mostly caused by her falling.

She has a great many superficial wounds all over her body that are healing, thanks mostly to my blood. Her left leg is broken, and her right ankle is sprained badly. She’s doing well now that they have her stitched up and put into casts. The doctor said she would make a full recovery.” “I’d like for you to talk to Hudson for me. I’d love to just reassure myself that she’s doing well.” He said he was going to the hospital in a few minutes, and he’d talk to him then. “Thank you for that. You’re a very kind man. I hope someone tells you that daily.” “Mostly, my brothers are there to point out the shit they think I’ve done. But they’re all right. Okay, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” She thanked him for what seemed like the hundredth time.

“No need for that, Ms. Jacob. I’m sure if you were in the same situation, you’d do the same for me. I’ll call you back.” When they hung up, she felt like she could take on the world and come out a winner. She’d not seen Becca in a couple of years now. It was dangerous for them to be seen together. Caitlynne had had that happen before, where someone decided to take a friend of hers hostage and try to get her to do what they wanted. It didn’t end well for the man. Caitlynne was clearing her desk of all paperwork when a man just suddenly appeared in the room. Glancing at the white box, what she called the device that the government had given her to use in the event someone was using a recording device when in this room, she could see it was still turned on so no one would ever be able to repeat what was said in here. Good. She had a feeling she was staring at Hudson. “Will you come with me willingly?” It was an odd way of putting things, but she nodded. “I should like for you to quiz me, young lady. Just to make sure you’re not going with anyone else. The man you spoke to, what was his name?” She told him. “Very good. He told me something you admitted, and it hurt him, so you understand. Can you tell me what that was?”

She had to think. “That I’ve not seen my sister in some time.” He nodded, and she stood up this time. “Will this hurt me? I mean, will I have any ill effects from this?” “Not at all.” Suddenly she was in a bathroom. Turning toward an odd sound, she saw a half-naked man taking a piss. “Joel, cover-up.” “Holy fucking Christ, Hudson. You couldn’t allow me a few seconds’ warning? I’m taking a leak here.” She couldn’t help it. Caitlynne started laughing. “This isn’t funny. He never warns me about shit when he’s…could you please turn around while I redress myself?” She couldn’t help but stare at the man when he turned at his shoulder and looked at her.

Christ, he was the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on. And his body? Well, hell, she’d be glad for just a touch. Hudson took her chin into his fingers and turned her head. As he washed his hands at the sink, Joel bitched at Hudson, mostly telling him what a cad he’d been, a word she’d not heard in a long time. Also that he should be banned from entering a bathroom when there were plenty of other places he could pop in and out of. “But, and pardon me for being so wrong, I thought this the safest place for me to pop, as you called it. I hadn’t any idea you’d be in here. Though I will admit, you’ve given this old man a great deal to laugh about.” Joel glared at the vampire. “Oh, come now, young man. You do have to admit this was very funny.” “For you, perhaps, but not me. Damn it. I was peeing.”

Hudson left the two of them standing there, and she put out her hand. “I’m Joel, in the event you didn’t get that.” “Yes, I heard. I’m Caitlynne Jacobson. But I go by Jacob. I’m so happy you talked him into coming to get me.” Joel said he was, too, as a matter of fact. “Good. Do you think it’s safe to see my sister now? I promise the next time I pop in, I’ll make sure it’s clear in here.” “You can try to tell him that, but even after spending only a few days with the man, I’ve come to the conclusion he pretty much does what he wants.” She started for the door. “Caitlynne, there is something else you should know before you go out there to your sister. I’m your mate.” He moved around her to be standing in front of her. With a quick kiss on her mouth, so quick she didn’t have time to react, he was gone.

It took her befuddled mind a few more minutes and a knock on the door for her to get moving again. He was her mate? Not the other way around, but that he was hers. Like he belonged to her. Going to the bed to see Becca, she let her thoughts go out of her head. Her sister was here. She was breathing but hooked up to all sorts of monitors. Gently taking her hand into hers, Caitlynne kissed it and held it to her cheek. “I’m here, Becca. Get better for me, please? I’ve missed you so much.” She decided right then and there that she was finished with her job. It was taking too much from her. Not just her health, but her sister as well. “I’m going to go back to work and send in my resignation. I’ve missed so much, and I want to be with you.

I love you, Becca. So much.” She was able to sit with her sister for an hour. The staff came in and out, but Hudson had made it so that they’d not see her. They were taking good care of her, very gentle when they needed to move her or anything, even telling her what they were doing and how it would affect her. She looked at Joel when they were alone in the room. “My family donates a great deal of money to this place. Not that she’d not be getting good care anyway, but they’ve put on extra staff just so they could take care of her. I told them she was my cousin. I hope that was all right.” Caitlynne said it was wonderful. Then she asked him what he’d meant by him being her mate. “We can hold off on that for now. I will tell you anything you want to know, but you visit with your sister now. My brother Jeremiah is bringing in dinner for us. I hope you like pasta.”

“I do. It goes straight to the hips, but I love it.” He told her she’d not gain any weight from now on because of him. “Well then, bring it on. Thank you for this. It seems so inadequate for me to keep saying that, but you’ve no idea how much I needed this. I just wish she’d wake and talk to me so I’d feel better.” “She will. She’s doing well.” He sat down across from her on the other side of the bed. “I’m going to just sit here. If you have any questions, just ask. But I will give you the straight-up answer.” “Good. I’d have it no other way.” Caitlynne tried not to think of the beautiful man sitting there with her. He was, too, from his long dark hair that he’d pulled back in some kind of ponytail to the five o’clock shadow on his face. She found herself staring at him several times throughout the rest of the evening. Then his brother showed up. Christ, they must have been cut from the same mold. They were both like looking at candy you couldn’t get enough of.



Mark A Cross To Bear Release Blitz and Giveaway

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mark-453x680-1.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 70241-synopsis.jpg

Jamie Kemp was good at her job. Working for the FBI in search and rescue as a dog trainer and handler was fulfilling work. Never laying down many roots, Jamie was ready to head out on assignment with her dogs at a moment’s notice.

Mark Cross and his family had lived in the Smoky Mountains for ten generations, and he loved the land, but of late, he was feeling rather lonely. Mark and his entire family were bears, black bears that blended into the wooded areas better than any wild ones in the park.

Jamie and her dogs were called in to find a missing woman. Instead, Jamie found herself in the crosshairs of a serial killer. Mark showed her pictures of the women this maniac had killed, and she could be their twin. And to complicate things more, Mark was her mate….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 53846-buy2blinks.jpg

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3DC8pBk
AMAZON UK https://amzn.to/3FCA7P3
AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/3x7Vkxi
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mark-kathi-s-barton/1140547149?ean=2940161052648
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Mark?id=_QpQEAAAQBAJ
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1116399
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/mark-75
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/mark/id1596607828
PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/3HMAYhS



This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4c99c-22188-images2b252812529.jpg

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A Signed Mystery Paperback
Or Signed Cup or Coloring Book Or a Mystery Prize!!!
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pick-your-prize.png
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5c8b0-winners.jpg
Congratulations to the winners
Joyce Mirabello Signed Paperback
Donna Steppig Mystery Prize
Your prizes will be mailed
Tuesday, Nov 23rd, 2021


Wendy Bricker Mystery Prize
Tracy Kolberg Signed Paperback
Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery
Julie Swaney Mystery Prize
Susan Thomas Mystery Prize
Courtney Kinder Signed Paperback
Karen Bradburu Signed Cup
Elaine Thomas Mystery Prize
Julia Bystedt Signed Coloring Book
Sarah Black Signed Coloring Book
Linda Brashears Signed Cup
Annie Kavanagh Signed Paperback
Nicole Morgan Signed Paperback
Nicole Morgan Signed Cup
Trista Wagner Mystery Prize
Brenda Lukas Signed Paperback
Tracy Kolberg Mystery Prize
Maria Dalmau Signed Paperback
Jaunita James Signed Cup
Robin Dennison Mystery Prize
Ann Ivey Signed Paperback
Jessica Spink Signed Cup
Sonja Zucker Mystery Prize
Pauline Westberry Mystery Prize
Linda Brashears Signed Paperback
Wendy Bricker Mystery Prize
Tracy Kolberg Signed Paperback
Joy Lanham Mystery Prize
Renee Johnson Mystery Prize
Katy Bennett Mystery Prize
Robin Brockett Signed Cup
Stephanie Simeon Signed Paperback
Debbie Hudson Signed Coloring Book
Reda Blair Signed Cup
Donna Steppig Signed Paperback
Wendy Bricker Signed Paperback
Joyce Estelle Mystery Prize
Brenda lukas Signed Paperback
Ruthenia Dillon Mystery Prize
Joyce Mirabello Signed Paperback
Donna Steppig Mystery Prize



If you have not gotten your prize
please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@kathibarton

Happy Reading,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-a929a-e812d-03kathisbartonlogotransparent.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mark-cover-wrap.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0b6cf-chapter2bone.jpg

Mark counted to ten, then counted again. Looking at the mother and the three kids with her, he could only think they had been told to be like this. There wasn’t any way he would believe someone could allow their children to behave like these were and think it was all right. It wasn’t. “Ma’am, you’re going to have to control your children. We’re walking into dangerous territory, and I wouldn’t want to see them get hurt.” He might if he had to put up with this much longer. “Could you please restrain—?” “Are you telling me I should lock my children up?” He said he’d not said that. “Yes, you did. You told me to restrain them. Well, I’m not going to. We’re outside.

They’re not hurting anyone, and I’d think you’d be thrilled to have someone come on this walk with you. You’ve been quite boring if you ask me.” “He didn’t.” They all turned to the elderly man that had come on the tour too. “And if you would pay attention to what is going on around you, you’d see it’s not the least bit boring at all. Don’t you see what a wonderful treat we have right here in this man? He’s very knowledgeable. If you’d listen.” “Whatever.” She looked at her three children, two boys and a little girl. Mark figured they were about the same age, twelve to fourteen.

Tall for their age if they were any younger. “My kids are here because they wanted to be out in nature. We’re in nature. In the event that it slipped your mind, it is your job to entertain them. You should be doing a better job of keeping their attention rather than complaining about how they’re acting. Again, we’re outside. A little noise is to be expected.” “Ma’am, I’d really appreciate it if you and your children would keep it down. Loud noises will attract the bears. They’ll want to come out and see what the commotion is all about, and that—” “Did you hear that, kids? You’re doing a better job than Ranger Rick here in showing us nature at its finest.”

The woman looked at him. “That’s the only reason we’ve come on this little walk of yours. To see some bears. It’s what we all want. I would love to have a great big bear not only come and see what is going on but to come up close and personal with us. How about any of the rest of you?” Mark pulled out a bear claw he’d found earlier today. He showed the woman how large it was. Even compared to his own hands, it was massive. Mark took a step toward the woman, hoping to scare her, but she just grinned at him.

“This would cut out your throat in a split second. The bears here aren’t domesticated. They’re dangerous killers. This is their land we walk upon. Their territory that they eat and sleep in. We’re only visitors to them. And if we, any of us, gets in their way, disturbs their sleep or whatever they’re doing at the moment, they’ll not come up and thank you politely for making them nervous.” “I know better.” He asked her what she knew better. “I’ve seen online how people get their pictures taken with all kinds of animals around here. And we’d better see a bear today, Ranger Rick, or I’m going to complain to your boss.”

“My name is Federal Wildlife Officer Mark Cross. Not Ranger Rick.” He looked at the others and decided he’d had enough of the family. “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to go back to your car. This trip is too dangerous for you to be on if you’re not going to follow—” “Listen here, buster. I am not going back to my car or my cabin. I am not going to do anything but stay on this shitty walk with you. There is nothing for them to do there but whine and drive me up the wall. We’re here, and you’d better be getting a move on.

I have shit to do later. You’d better pray I see a bear, or I’m telling you right now, we’ll make such a ruckus on our way back that the dead animals will come to investigate what’s going on.” Counting to fifty didn’t help. Turning on his heel, he drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly four times before he turned back to the group. He was finished with the family and wasn’t going to let them bother them one more minute. He hoped. Pointing out the vegetation was one of his favorite things to do. Even as he walked this particular path a thousand times a season, he still found things to marvel at. His family had lived in the Smoky Mountains for ten generations, and he loved every aspect of it. You all right, big brother?

Sighing, he told Gibb what was going on. I think I might have encountered them the other day. Three brats and a woman? Yes, that’s them. Mark let the others view the area from where they were, high atop the mountain. She threatened me and said she’d better see a nice cuddly bear, or she was going to go over my head. I really don’t care. I know for a fact that this group was told four times that I wear a body camera with sound on it. Let the higher ups come out here and deal with her if they think I messed up. Frazier is out running this morning. An idea came to him, and he loved what Gibb was suggesting. Let me find him and get right back to you.

She’ll get her bear and the scare of the lifetime if I tell him what’s going on with your people. Mark and his entire family were bears, black bears that blended into the wooded areas better than any of the wild ones here in the park. And because they were protected, they could run in any field or pasture they wanted and not have to worry about being seen. Mark did wonder what his grannie would say if she found out what he and Gibb were planning. Grandda would think it the funniest thing ever, but Grandma would be— He’s not too far from where you are on the trail at Abrams Falls.

Frazier and Ewing are out there playing in the water. There aren’t any humans around, he told me, but he can hear those kids coming. Mark said he was about fifty yards from the falls. Good. Just keep on the path for a few more minutes, and he said they’d be ready for you. They’d done this before, come to the park for a person to see a bear. Mostly they did it for children, never getting too close but letting them see them. Mark would bet most of the millions of pictures taken of bears in the park included one of them. Today was going to be something none of them had ever done before—scare someone that had come to the park for a visit. “Look, I see a bear.”

He was startled from his thoughts when one of the men spoke in a whisper. Of course, the mother and her brats didn’t do anything like that but started whooping and yelling for them to come to them. One of the kids even pulled out a large cow bell and started shaking it like his life depended on it. “Christ, they’re big, aren’t they?” Before he could take action in getting the humans to remain quiet, the bears, three of them, charged. Mark knew immediately that they were not his brothers, nor were they going to stop until he killed them. Pulling out his rifle, he shot the first large male in the head.

He dropped quickly. The second bear, this one limping, was coming at an alarming rate that had him wondering if he was going to be able to put the other one coming down on time. Number two dropped too—he was only about four feet from them. A third shot and the third bear dropped as well, sliding to his death no more than six inches from his booted foot. There wasn’t a sound in the air. Nothing was chirping, singing about the beautiful weather. The three kids were finally not acting up. Mark let what he’d just had to do settle around his mind. He’d killed three bears, his kind. Ones he shouldn’t have had to murder because of the people with him.

He was turning on his heel. Mark was ready to blast the family when the elderly man from the beginning of the walk beat him to it. Christ, he was glad for the camera on his vest. Mark thought he could go on watching this for the rest of his life. But he had to take care that the animals were cared for first. Calling it in, it was Gibb that he spoke to. All his brothers worked for the forestry in some way. Even their grandparents. Gibb was the dispatcher. Mark, as calmly as he could, told him what had happened. “Are you all right?” He said he thought he was. “Grandda was here.

He heard what you said when calling it in. He’s going to go out with the rangers.” Then through their link, he asked Mark about their brothers. They weren’t here. I knew these were wild bears as soon as they started after us. I hope they’re far away about now. He told him they’d both gone home when they heard the shots fired. Good. I should have known this was going to be a bad idea. Hopefully, however, the kids got a scare out of it. Just as he was closing the connection to Gibb, the mother of the brats slapped him hard, enough to make him off balance a little. Had it not been for the tree behind him, he would surely have fallen. He asked her what she thought she was doing. “You killed those innocent bears. Don’t you think you could have just wounded them?”

He said no, that would have made them twice as dangerous. “You fucking bastard. How am I supposed to explain this to my children? They’ll have nightmares for a month. They were only coming to see us. You just had to shoot them and ruin all our fun. You fucker. I’m going to make sure you lose your job over this.” “Ma’am.” She turned and looked at his grandda. Every part of his body was tense in the event this bitch took her anger out on him. “Fifty years ago now, I was out with a bunch of my buddies when we came across some bears getting their fill at the falls.

Catching salmon, they were. We didn’t think anything of it—it was a cold day, and we were downwind from them.” “So? Why do I care what you did fifty years ago, you old man? This person here, he killed those bears like they were nothing. They weren’t going to hurt anyone. I even have some jerky I brought to feed them. See?” Mark knew then that was what made them charge. They could smell the opened package of fish jerky because they weren’t downwind of them. Grandda asked if she’d had it out when they arrived at the falls. “Yes. Duh. How were we supposed to attract them to us if we didn’t wave it around all the time? You people need to take a chill pill.

Nothing was going to happen. You all know, too, if you’d think for one moment that my putting out a bad review for this place would totally shut you down. I’m an influencer. That’s right. I make or break companies like this one every day with just my review alone. I can take a five-star place, give it one bad review, and they’re out of business.” “Excuse me. You think that because you put out a bad review about this national forest, no one will come here again? Just all by yourself?” The elderly man looked at him, then at Grandda before he laughed.

“Go on, mister. You show her what a bear will do to you when they’re angry and denied whatever some idiot is waving around them. Because as surely as I’m standing here, that woman right there killed those three bears as surely as if she pulled out a gun and fired it.” “I wasn’t worried about that shit. I have my own gun.” She was on the ground with dirt in her mouth before she got her gun all the way out of the back of her pants. When it went off, hitting his grandda in the foot, all hell broke loose. “What the fuck are you doing to me now? Christ, it’s not like I killed him or anything. It was a fucking accident.

Get off me, you shits. I’m going to sue you all for this.” The other guests were taken back to the parking lot where they’d started out this adventure. Mark stayed with his grandda until the other rangers came back and took pictures. Of course, it was all on all their cameras, from different views, as a matter of fact, but they’d need to document this so that when the arrest warrant was filled out for the woman, they’d have all their shit together. “You all right, son?” He told his grandda he didn’t know. “Yeah, I can see that written all over your face. Seems to me people are getting more salty daily.

What do you think?” “Salty? I suppose that’s as good a term as any. Are you all right, Grandda?” He lifted up his foot to show where the bullet had gone right through the top. “Grandma is going to be seriously mad at you. I’d not expect her to make you any pie for dinner tonight either. She doesn’t like you or any of us to be hurt.” “You think she’ll be a little less fussy with me if I tell her a madwoman did this to me? And that you had to kill three bears to save the life of eight people, three of them kids?” Mark pretended to think about it and then told his grandda he didn’t think it would be any different. “Yeah, I don’t think she’ll be any happier anyway I tell her.” ~*~ The body was still where he’d left her. The rangers, he knew, were busy this time of year—early spring meant spring breakers of all sorts. Deciding he’d have to do a better job of putting them out in the open, he decided to find himself another woman to kill.

Women were too stupid to realize they were being targeted. The Smokies were the perfect place for him to have his fun. He’d been out west at one of the larger parks, but that had become boring. There were too many visitors out there year round to make it so he could do his thing. Really, all he did was murder women, lay them out in an open field, and watch as the other animals tore into them. He didn’t rape them or mutilate them in any way that would get him caught. Just popped them in the head or heart with a bullet, then he’d lay in waiting while something found them. Usually, it was a wolf, but lately, in early spring, there had been a lot of other animals coming around to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Making his way back to his truck, he saw the commotion going on near one of the falls. Just wandering over there to see what had happened, he saw that someone had shot three bears. He thought of their size. Most people thought of black bears as being huge. He supposed the bigger ones could be six hundred pounds tops, but little did they realize there were much bigger bears in the wild that were not only larger but more vicious than a black bear. Grizzlies were large, but the Kodiak bear was bigger by far. They were taller, being as large as ten feet tall when standing, and had a larger bone structure as well. The most dangerous bears were the grizzly and the polar bear. However, there were none of either of these bears in this park.

Sadly. When the ambulance showed up, and an old man was loaded into it, he watched for a few more minutes to see if anyone would say anything he might be able to use. But all they did was do their job quietly and with a great deal of efficiency. He knew the bears would be left where they were. The path would be closed to visitors until such time as they were taken care of by the other animals in the park. The eco system worked well here.

Watching while they drew blood, skin tissue, and other things he’d not seen them do before, he found himself a better place to watch, which had him backing into a tree and sliding down it. There hadn’t been a sound made. He was sure of it. Not a whisper of a leaf falling. Nothing shifted under his feet. Yet right now, he would swear the younger man in a ranger uniform was looking directly at him. As if he had peeled back the veneer of the forest and seen right into his head. Staring back at him, making sure not to even breathe too quickly even though he was terrified for the first time in longer than he could remember, he sat that still.

Finally, when the man broke his peering into his head—what it seemed like even now— he found himself breathing harder than he had since he’d first come to this place and had to climb the mountain. Getting down on his hands and knees, he made his way out of the area. Not sure if he was being watched anymore, he made sure he was careful where he’d put his hands and knees, never breaking a twig or crushing a leaf. As soon as he was over the hillside from them, he stood up. It took all of his willpower not to take off running the rest of the way into the town.

It was busy this time of the day, but not nearly as bad as it would be later tonight. Careful not to get too close to people, he knew that in the short walk to his favorite place to eat, he’d been brushed against by at least two dozen people. Slipping inside, he was seated right away and brought a large glass of sweet tea. The nectar of the gods as far as he was concerned. “What are you having tonight, Jon? We’ve a special running on chili mac.” He’d nearly looked around when his waiter called him Jon. It startled him that he knew his name. Not that he really knew his name, not really, but he’d been going by Jon Smyth for a few weeks now, and it seemed to suit everyone’s curiosity.

Jon told the waiter he’d have lasagna. “Yes, sir. Coming right up.” Jon Smyth. Such a stupid name now that he thought on it. However, no one questioned why he was called such a fake name. Going with it at the time had seemed like a brilliant idea. But his name, his first anyway, was really Jon. He’d have to be more careful in the future. His salad was set before him, and he picked at it. Jon wondered why anyone would eat a special in a place. Basically, it was whatever crap they had left over from the night before—or worse yet, something that was nearly ready to turn green. They’d mix it with other crap they had, and poof, they had a special.

Some people would fall for just about anything, he supposed. Like him. Jon didn’t have much in the way of confidence in people telling the truth. It stemmed, he supposed, from his mom telling him that his daddy was coming to get him and the bastard never showing up. Lies—all of them lied to him. When he’d been old enough, just barely into his teens, he’d hunted his father down and killed him. Precisely what he’d done was shove him into moving traffic, but he had done the pushing. He’d wanted to kill off his mom too, but he needed her more than he wanted her dead. There had been a couple of times he’d made her suffer at his hands. She would sometimes not give him what he wanted. Or would make him do something he didn’t think was his job. Like cleaning his room.

Christ, why did parents want you to clean your room all the time? So what if it was messy? Don’t open the door if that was your issue. Laundry wasn’t getting done? Okay, who cares? It’s his stuff. If he wanted to stink all day, then that was his problem, not hers to harp on. Besides, if he wanted clean clothing, he only had to go down to the local stores and steal what he wanted. They, too, knew better than to fuck with him. Everyone did by the time he was sixteen. His food was put in front of him, and his drink was refilled. Then the pitcher was set on the table with him. It had taken only one time of him not being happy with being hovered over while he ate before they just left him alone. No asking if everything was all right.

He was eating it, wasn’t he? There was no seeing if he needed anything else with his meal. Had he wanted anything else, he would have ordered it when he sat down. Jon often times wondered if there was a person that told the waitstaff to bother the fuck out of someone while they were eating. He didn’t get it at home, so why did he have to put up with it when he paid someone else to cook for him?

Even his check was put down without any fanfare. No pointing it out—just drop it off and take themselves elsewhere. Just the way he liked it. After eating his big lunch, he made his way back to the other end of town. There were as many attractions at this end as there were at the park entrance, but he would walk this way, head up in the woods, and make his way back to his place through the wooded mountain tops. Smiling to himself, he thought of the first time he’d done this. Jon had thought himself in fairly good shape. He didn’t exercise at all, but he did chop wood for himself. Climbed stairs when he needed to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b.’ Then he’d moved here. The very first time he had to go through the woods to his shack, he thought he was going to die.

The air was thinner the higher you got. He knew that. But what he’d not counted on was just how difficult it was to do simple tasks, like chopping wood, building himself a better shelter, or digging a hole. Christ, he thought for sure when he got out of bed that first morning, after digging a hole deep enough to put a refrigerator in, that he’d pulled every single muscle in his body. Some he was sure that even scientists hadn’t ever encountered. After digging the second hole to put his refrigerator in, lying on its side with the lid to open up for him to store things in, he didn’t hurt as badly. The blisters had even turned to callouses, and he felt better.

The third and fourth ones were a piece of cake. Now he had a cooler system that needed no electricity to keep his perishables cold. It had been the heat that had caused him the most issues. The first time he’d set a fire in the new digs he’d built, it had smoked him out. It had taken him three more tries to figure out how to make it smokeless, so he’d not draw attention to himself. Small fires, using only dried wood, had been the trick. So when winter set in, which was earlier up here in the mountains, he was as prepared as he’d ever been. Walking along the path he’d made for himself, he was just about to cross over the fence when he heard a noise behind him. Dropping to the ground, he laid still as he waited for the sound to come again. It hit him almost as soon as he saw them that it was a sleuth of bears. A large group of them, too. He’d never seen a bear play around like these seemed to be doing. Wrestling around in the dirt, they seemed to be having a great time.

As he watched them carefully, he made his way back by sliding his body along the rocks and dirt. When he was out of sight of them, he still crawled for another fifty feet or so until he was sure they couldn’t see him. Christ, that had been scary. Getting to his home a little later than he’d thought he would, Jon was happy for the bed he’d brought up with him. The fact he’d had to bring things up in the summer made it difficult, with all the tourists around, but he’d managed to get not just a stove for his heat, but a cot with a good mattress, the refrigerators, as well as a chair. He’d made his own table, but the chairs he’d tried weren’t cutting it. Lying on his bed, he thought about what he was going to do tomorrow. The first thing he was going to have to do was find himself another woman to kill.

This time, he was going to make sure her body was found sooner. It was one thing to get his jollies in killing them, but he wanted someone to find them so they’d be worried. Rolling to his side, he thought of the first woman he’d killed since arriving here. She’d been too easy to follow. Oblivious to her surroundings, he’d killed her without much in the way of thought as to why she might be standing so close to the edge of the falls.

Hitting her in the back of the head with an ax he’d just happened to be carrying around, she was considered an accident. Falling into the water, she’d been beaten up badly, he supposed, and his hitting her hadn’t been an issue. Damn it. He’d not gotten the attention he so desperately wanted. Jon wasn’t stupid enough to think he’d not be caught killing women. He had a backup plan he carried around with him all the time. It had cost him a great deal of money and pain to have one of his teeth drilled out so the little capsule would fit inside of it. A cyanide pill that would kill him instantly.

Well, not instantly, but he’d be dead all the same. He wasn’t going back to prison. Juvie hadn’t really been a prison, he supposed, but it had been prison-like. He was monitored all the time. He didn’t get to sleep when he wanted or eat when he was hungry. It was no less than he deserved, he continued to tell himself. When you act out, as they called it, there were consequences to your actions. His had been a consequence he never wanted to repeat. Closing his eyes, he let sleep take him under. Jon wasn’t plagued with nightmares about his deeds. Nor did he have a moment’s hesitation in thinking he was some sort of monster. He did what he did because women were too stupid to realize they were the lesser sex and should have a man at their side to keep them safe. It was exactly what got his mom killed.

She’d been too carefree with her body, and someone, not him, had killed her when she didn’t put out when he was there to save her. Of course, he’d been the one that had been beating her up and only stopped when she was unconscious. But his mom hadn’t been grateful enough, as the man had thought she should have been, to suck him off. Yet another prime example of women being stupid. Waking in the middle of the night, he went out into the moonlit night to take a piss. There were creatures close by—he could see them scurrying around. Jon never bothered with a light. That would get him caught. But he did keep an eye out for anything larger than he was, as well as sliding snakes that would crawl up his pant leg in a minute. Going back inside, washing up at the water bowl he’d rigged up to take in water off the roof, Jon went right back to bed and to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a good day. He could feel it in his bones.

Carroll By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

 

Carroll Golden and his five brothers were the first of their kind. Born leopards, they were blessed with the magic of being the first leopard shifters. Morgan, their mother by proxy, raised them to blend in with humans and to be good men. Blessed with immortality, they all lived together on Morgan’s Leap, a sanctuary for all nature.

Hanna March worked for the FDA. She had always wanted to visit Morgan’s Leap, but it was closed to the public, so when she was given the opportunity to inspect their orchard on some bogus complaint, she jumped at the chance. The place was beyond anything she ever expected, and Morgan was the perfect host. But when someone took a pot shot at Morgan from the field, a huge leopard came out of nowhere and took them both down. Hanna, hitting her head on the way to the ground, was down for the count.

Carroll shifted back to human as soon as the women were out of danger, but finding out the pretty FDA agent was his mate took Carroll by surprise, and boy was she going to be mad when she woke up.

 

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3t2gqtN
AMAZON UK http://amzn.to/3qnmyeo
AMAZON AU http://amzn.to/3cap7eD
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/carroll-kathi-s-barton/1138978283?ean=2940162249023
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Carroll?id=xN8hEAAAQBAJ
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1072995
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/carroll
ITUNES
PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/3v2HRoV

 

 


 

 

 

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A   Signed Mystery Paperback Or Signed CupOr Coloring Book ADD MYSTERY PACKAGED to pick your prize

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

 

 

 

Congratulations to the  winners

Julie Swaney Mystery Prize
Courtney Kinder Signed Paperback

Your prizes will be mailed on
Tuesday, March 8th, 2021

 

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery

Julie Swaney Mystery Prize
Courtney Kinder Signed Paperback

Karen Bradburu Signed Cup
Elaine Thomas  Mystery Prize
Nicole Morgan Signed Paperback

Julia Bystedt  Signed Coloring Book
Sarah Black  Signed Coloring Book
Linda Brashears Signed Cup
Annie Kavanagh Signed Paperback

Nicole Morgan Signed Cup
Trista Wagner  Mystery Prize
Brenda Lukas Signed Paperback

If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,

 

 

Prologue

Morgan made herself into a tight ball as she hid herself in the tall grasses in the field. She knew the men chasing her would find her soon enough, but for now, she was going to make them work for it. Closing her eyes, trying her best to calm her breathing, she did the only thing she could to not think about what was going on around her. Morgan counted to fifty in all the languages she knew. She had awakened out here. All she remembered was having dinner in the kitchen with the staff and then waking out in the middle of the moonless night. She did not remember going to bed or putting on the nightgown she had on now. Nor did she remember waking when brought out here in the cool night. Soon after waking, she heard the voices of the men, six she thought she’d counted, saying the first one that found her could have her. At fourteen, Morgan knew exactly what that meant. They were going to rape her, then more than likely kill her. Her parents would be looking for her. She would admit, only to herself, that they’d not be too upset about her being gone. Morgan had a habit of getting up in the middle of the night to see to one creature or another. So it might be days before anyone— The hot breath of air on her forehead had her whimper just a little. Lifting her head without opening her eyes, she felt it once again. It was hot but not sour-smelling. Opening her eyes, she looked right into the golden eyes of a leopard. Their noses touched. They were so close. The lick to her face scared her. While she’d seen the wild animals around the compound where she lived, she’d never been this close to one so dangerous. The farmers would kill them when they would take down a cow or something they raised, but no one could have prepared her for their beauty being this close.

The big cat put her paw on her head and pushed it back down, so it rested on the dirt. When she started to lift it again, the cat pushed her down again. Understanding that she was to stay where she was, Morgan closed her eyes. If she was going to be eaten, she was glad the cat was sparing her from knowing when it was coming. The sound, soft as a coin dropping onto the dusty ground, was all she heard before the large cat screamed. There was gunfire too. Something frighteningly close stirred up some of the dirt she was hiding on. The screaming of men was next. It wasn’t long before it was quiet, and she knew on some level that the cat had killed the men. The paw to her head again had her lifting it up to see if she was next. The cat had been hurt. Blood was pouring from her shoulder at an alarming rate. Sitting up, unmindful of whether it was safe to do so, Morgan tore at her nightgown to staunch the blood as she spoke to the leopard. “I think you saved me.” The cat just let her poke around at her wound, soon lying down when she asked her to do so. “The bullet needs to come out. If it doesn’t, I’m afraid you’ll get sick and die from it. I wish I had my knife here. But I think I can see it enough to get it out with my fingers. I won’t do any more than I have to. All right?”

Morgan worked for fifteen minutes in getting the bullet out. The cat never hurt her. Never tried to get away from her as she worked. Sweat poured off Morgan’s forehead as she finally got it free. When she was finished, she showed it to the cat. “See? Someone got a shot in. I promise you, I’ll make sure you’re all right. Do you have a lair? Someplace you can rest?” The cat stood up, and that was when she noticed she’d had kittens recently. “Oh no. Where are they? You left your den to come to save me? Come on. I’ll help you back.” It wasn’t far, only about a hundred yards from where the cat had come to her. It occurred to her that the cat was more than likely saving her kittens from being found when she killed the men, but Morgan was ever so grateful she’d spared her. Helping the cat into the den, she saw that she had three of the pudgiest little kittens she’d ever seen. “They’re beautiful. Oh, look at them. You are a good momma, Golden Eyes. They’re very fat. I’ll stay with you until you need to eat again. Then I’ll hunt for you.” The cat didn’t seem to mind when Morgan picked one of the kittens up, so she touched each of them in turn. “You’re very lucky those men didn’t find you too. But I guess you knew that.” She stayed with the family overnight. There wasn’t any way she’d be able to make her way back home in the darkness, so it was fine with her to be in the cave for the night. The kittens woke hungry a couple of times in the night. Instead of having Golden go to them, Morgan carried them back and forth to their mother. She seemed to be all right with her helping that way.

When the sun was coming up, Morgan not only made sure the family had water, but she also scavenged as much as she could from the horses the men had come out here on. Hardtack was in abundance, but she was also able to get herself some much-needed flint, as well as some blankets. Taking it to the cave, she put the kittens on one of the blankets and then sat down to watch them fall over each other until they had their spot picked out. It was calming to watch them, she thought. They were just too little to do much more than be roly-poly little kittens. Giving the hardtack to Golden, she made her way to her home. It was further than she’d thought it might have been, and she didn’t arrive there until the sun was nearly down. Going into the house by way of climbing up the back stairs, she heard her parents speaking from their balcony. Sliding out onto her own, she stood deep in the shadows to listen to what they might be saying. Her mother was standing at the railing, her father deeper in the room. “I cannot believe she’s gone.” Morgan started forward, wanting to assure her mother she hadn’t been hurt at all. “This was a brilliant idea you had, Malcomb. To have it look as if she’d been kidnapped, then killed. I have never wanted anything more than that child dead.” Her heart hurt. Her mind didn’t know how this was really what her mother was saying. They weren’t close, but she never thought she’d want her dead. But when her dad came out to the balcony too, she watched the two of them as they stood there in an embrace.

“Well, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be to get some men gathered up to take her. As you said, it’s a good thing now that she’s gone. When they find her body, it will be blamed on anything but me.” Mother said it wouldn’t be her fault either. “No. No one will bother with blaming you, my dear. For all they know, you’ve committed suicide because your daughter is gone.” It took her less time than it apparently did her mother to understand what her father was saying. As soon as he nearly pushed her mother over the railing, intending, she was sure, to make it look as if she had fallen to her death by her own hand, Mother grabbed her father’s coat. The two of them hung there for what seemed like forever. Would they both fall? Would they be able to save one another? She didn’t care. So when her mother’s weight took them both over the edge, Morgan stood there for several minutes, thinking about what had just befallen her family. Looking over the edge of her own balcony, she saw them there, tightly embraced as if in a lover’s hug and dead. Blood spread out beneath their heads as if a bucket of it had been poured over the two of them. Making her way to the kitchen area, she staggered twice in her grief. Not that they were dead—no, it was that they had planned her demise in such a cold way. Lincoln was there, the butler of the house when she entered. He took one look at her and sat her in the chair she’d spent more time in than the ones in the formal dining room. Lincoln, she knew, would be her family from now on. “Child, what is it?” She must have been a mess. Or looked on edge. The slap to her cheek stung enough that she was brought out of whatever thoughts she’d been having.

“What’s happened? Your parents, they told the household you’d been kidnapped. Are you hurt?” She told him everything, not leaving out anything, including the cat that had saved her. Also, leaving no doubt to the older man that her parents had planned for her to be killed this night. Lincoln sat down across from her after making her a cup of tea that was mostly bourbon. “You are mistress of the house now. Tomorrow we will find their bodies whilst you are still abed. You will say you were out with the creatures of the field. They will believe that well enough. That is where you are most of the time.” She asked him about the cats. “’ Tis your decision. However, if you were to bring them here, none of the rest of the staff will mind. It is you we stayed for all these years, and not your parents.” “I’ll need help bringing them here.” He said he’d go with her. “They’re far. Much further than I had thought. But I wish them to be safe, Lincoln. She saved my life, and I will do the same for her and her family.” “You have a good heart, child—a very good one. We shall leave now and take lanterns with us. A basket too so we might carry the little beasts.” She asked him if he didn’t want them here. “Nay, I want what you want. We all do. Tomorrow after your parents are found, we’ll be as we should have been. A good home and a safe one. Mark my words on that. I will talk to you, as we go about now that you are mistress of the house, what men will do to get to you.

They’ll want you, but you’re too stubborn to be a good wife to anyone seeking your hand. It might be well that there are cats here to protect you. You have become a very wealthy woman.” As they were making their way to the cave, she wondered if he knew how safe the house would be with leopards in it. Once the kittens grew up, they’d be as big as she was now. Smiling, she thought perhaps she wasn’t all that upset about her parents being dead. They’d been treating her as if she were dead for as long as she could remember. Golden seemed happy to see her. She licked her face and brushed her with her large paws. As Lincoln gathered up the kittens, she helped Golden outside to do her business. It took a great deal out of her, and Morgan had to carry her back into the cave. Once they were all loaded up in the buggy, she sat down with Golden to tell her what had happened. “So I’m motherless except for you. I know you’re a cat, and I’m only a human, but I think we can get along. When the men start to come—and according to Lincoln, they will—I’ll need you to protect me too. I shan’t ever marry. Not only that, but I’m also going to make it my life’s work to make sure animals such as yourself are as safe as I can make them.” Arriving home well after the sun had settled in the sky again, she made sure the mother and kittens were safe in her parents’ big bed. There was a fire in the fireplace for them should the night turn too cold. Morgan also made sure the mother had plenty to eat, having given her one of the steaks her father would treat himself to daily, while she had whatever else he had with his meal. Sleep didn’t take its time capturing her, luring her to a night’s rest. It hit her right between the eyes and had her nearly sick with exhaustion. As she closed her eyes, sleeping in her own bed as if nothing had happened, she knew she’d keep her promises to not just Lincoln and the other staff but to herself as well. The animals here would need her, and she was going to make sure they were as safe as they could be while she was still living. ~*~ Four years later Morgan watched the man as he ran out of her home.

How he’d gotten in was beyond her, but now that he was gone with a little less of his fancy clothing, she sat down on the front veranda and waited for the cats to come to her. Over the last month or so, men had been showing up at the oddest times to tell her she must marry them. They would all come around sooner rather than later. All of her leopards, as well as a plethora of other such creatures, would come to make sure she’d not been harmed or taken away from them. None of the animals would be harmed here, and daily another one or two would come limping into the compound and be welcomed. Golden came to sit at her feet, and she smiled at her when she looked at her. “He had it coming. We both know that. The pompous ass thought if he could tear at my clothing, I’d allow him to marry me so I’d be happy. He said I’d need someone like him to watch over my money and keep me from dying an old spinster.

Apparently, women aren’t meant to think beyond having a man around. I’m much happier without him, I think. What did he think I’d been doing here all alone since my parents died? Waiting on someone to rescue me? Not likely.” Morgan slid to the floor and put Golden’s head on her lap. Running her hand down the length of the cat, she could feel her newest litter wiggling around. “I am worried about you, mistress cat. You’re heavier this time with your brood. Not to mention, I know the wound you suffered for me so long ago bothers you more daily. The babes you brought here that night, they have gone on to have their own children. I cannot believe so much time has passed since that night.” She thought of something and put her forehead to Golden’s. “I just realized you’re a grandmother. Congratulations.” “That would make you an aunt in her eyes.” Morgan reached for her gun, something she’d been carrying since that night, and found it gone. “You cannot kill me, mistress, but I would prefer that you not harm me either. I have come to speak with you about the good works you are doing here. The one you call Golden, she has asked me to come to speak to you about a great many things. In addition, I have some things I need to ask of you.” “Who are you?” The beautiful woman asked if she could tell her in a moment. “So long as you know that whatever it is you’re hawking, I want no part of. We’re doing very well here on our own.” “You are doing better than well, I think. The ground is fertile here, thanks to your way of doing things.

Not all humans would leave an animal to rot on their land without doing something with it.” Morgan told her that other animals took care of it. “They have indeed. Even the things the larger breeds cannot eat or use, the smaller creatures come to salvage what they can. You have a good system here. A system that will not be popular for a great many years.” “I don’t want to have to go into town.” The woman nodded, her smile something she thought more than beautiful. “You said you came here because of Golden. She is a cat. How is it possible that she would call to you?” “Let me start at the beginning, please. The night your parents died, the night you came to help Golden, it was thought that you should have died along with them. Sometimes, with humans, the apple does not fall far from the tree. But you are nothing like them, are you, sweet child? You were not only different from them, but a kinder, gentler person than any of us have ever seen before. We have all been watching you these last years.” Morgan asked her who they were. “Ah, that brings me to your first question. I am Tellus, the terrestrial being that cares for and is wholly a part of the earth. The earth and the land that you have here. Not from my doing but your own, this land is rich beyond anything man has ever seen before.” Morgan didn’t speak, letting all the woman told her to settle into her mind. She’d been alone for most of her life now and had learned not to prattle on when there was no one to talk back to her. Petting Golden, she was glad to hear her purring. The rumbling of her throat was soothing to her for some reason.

“Mother Earth. I’ve read about you. You’re Roman.” She said that was correct. “All right. So you’re here because I have good land. However, I still don’t know why you took time out of your…what I’m sure is a busy day to tell me that.” “You are a jewel among all the stars in the sky, Morgan.” Confused at the words and their meaning, Morgan continued to pet her cat. “We, the other earth creatures, have been watching what you were doing here since that night. We’ve not once had to intervene in helping you care for the animals, all that you protect here. You have lifted a great burden from all of us. Even creatures you may not yet be aware of have found a home here among the others and have been safe from harm. One such creature sits there on your leg. His name is Button.” Morgan looked down at her leg and saw the tiny creature standing there. She put out her free hand, and when he hopped upon it, she brought him closer to her face. Yes, he was a little man, just like the men that had been coming around except for his size. Then while she was watching him closely, he spread out his wings and fluttered above her palm for several seconds before settling down again. “Faerie.” He bowed before her. “I have read of such creatures as this one. They are thought to be a myth. Such as you are, Lady Earth. I have either hit my head, or I’m being visited by creatures as magical as the sun coming up and then resting in the other sky.” “You are seeing magic, my child.” Nodding, she laid her hand back on her leg. Button didn’t sit on her leg again but stayed on her palm. “He wishes to be with you.

To help you in the coming years. For as much as I’d like to say your life will be filled with only riches, we both know it is never that way.” “Nay, it is not. The banker says I owe him great funds for a loan my parents took out before they died. Also, I have a man who is trying his best to catch me unawares, so he might rape me to take my lands. I don’t think he means to keep me around much longer than it takes for me to say, ‘I do.’ They only want what I have.” Tellus said she could help her with those things. “Thank you, my lady. But I’m sure you have enough to do now with the earth as large as it is.” “I do. But helping you is not something I take lightly, my child. We, all the creatures in charge of the parts of the earth you now own, are happy to help you. And in doing so, they will get the help they need as well.” Morgan asked her what they wanted her to do. “You will do it, will you not? Even not knowing what it is we ask of you.” “I will help the earth for as much as it gives back to us here. And that, as you know, is a great deal. We are self-sufficient here. Water is ours to use as we see fit. There is a roof over our heads when necessary. The fields, as you have pointed out, are rich and give us back so much more than we can eat. I share what I cannot have put up or preserved.” Tellus told her she knew that as well. “If you need me to do more, I will do it to the best of my ability.” “Thank you.” Tellus looked at her, then at Golden as she continued. “Golden will stay with you until the kittens are born. Her children will be the first of many creatures that will take on this new magic we wish you to help with.”

“She’s going to die.” Tellus nodded but didn’t look at her. “I thought when I’ve seen her around this time, she wouldn’t make it for long after. You do know she’s the only friend I have besides the people that work here? I’ve thought about, for long hours, how I will make it without her counsel. Without her snuggling up to me when I need it. I don’t know that I want to. But I must, for the others.” “Yes, you will,” Tellus told her of the magic that would be given to her. About the babes Golden would have, and how they would go on to be great men, to help her in ways that Tellus and the others hadn’t thought of yet. “The magic they will get will help them to be a part of the world of men. To breach such places that even now frighten us a little. We will need you to help them blend into such places. To walk, talk, and act like real men. The abilities we will give them will make them a prize should anyone find out. So it is important they do not give themselves away while men. Do you understand?” “Yes. I’m to be their teacher.” Tellus told her that she would also be their mother. “I have questions now, but I know I will have so many more when the time comes. I will teach them everything I can. Give them whatever step up they’ll need so long as I live. I promise you they will be the best of men. Not like the ones that come here sniffing out an easy way to my home.” “You will not die either, Morgan.

You will be around for their children to come into the world, as well as all the shifters that are to be born.” Morgan asked her about the men coming around. “They will not come around again should you wish it. Button will have an army of faeries that will come to your aid in that and anything else you might need them for. Do not be fearful of using them either. Rightly so, they are excited to serve one such as yourself. You have been titled with the name Queen of Shifters.” “You don’t have to do that, my lady. I said I would help you.” Tellus laughed, and it made Morgan smile. “I will do as asked. The rest I will accept as part of my duties, but I don’t see myself using it overly much.” “I foresee you using the magic given to you much more than you think you will.” Tellus laughed again, bringing yet another smile to Morgan’s face. “I will also give you a list of things you will need to invest in. They will fund you better than a bank will, and you will remain self-reliant at the same time. Also, the bank has been taken care of. He will no longer bother you about funds he thinks you owe him.” “Thank you for that.” Morgan looked down at her friend and ally in all this. “What will become of me when you no longer have a use for me, my lady?” “There will always be a use for you, child. A creature such as you will forever bond with the earth and make everything around you a better place. I have such faith in you.” Morgan told her she could only do her best. “And that, my child, is all I could ask for.” The two of them talked throughout the morning and into the evening. Ending up in the living room where there was a fire roaring in the hearth, they were served their tea there, as well as juice. She was told she’d need to be drinking a great deal more of the elixir. And that the fresher it was, the better it would be for her after using magic.

At some point, Tellus took her hand into hers and gave her the magic she’d need. The power of it washed over her in waves. So much so that for several minutes she had to sit still in her seat and wait for it to settle out. Not only did she receive the magic, but the knowledge of how to use it. Also, things she’d been told she must invest in. Things that Tellus told her would be worth a great deal in the future. After Tellus left her to rest, she was told, Morgan sat in the yard at the back of her house. Lincoln came to sit with her a spell, telling her there were faeries in the kitchen now that would make sure the household was safe. Also, he said, he’d been given magic as well. “It is to keep the house in order. To build out, when you need it, my lady.” She said she’d been told she’d need to have a larger house. “I find that hard to believe, but I will do what it takes to have you safe.” “I now have more land as well. Tellus told me there are now five thousand acres here that will be used for the animals in need. No one will be able to enter the land if they wish to harm anything that calls this place home. What am I do to with all this knowledge and wealth, Lincoln?

I know I’m to teach the next generation of cats born to Golden, but how much do you think they’ll need from me? What am I to do when they go out and have their own leap? I shall be an old woman with only you to keep me company.” He asked her if he was immortal as well. “You are. But I was told if at any time you wish to die, I could take it from you. No harm will come to you with it either.” “I think I shall stay with you, my lady. I think we will need each other in the coming years, don’t you think?” She said she needed him every day. “You are so kind to me, Morgan, that I wonder at times why your parents wanted you dead.” “They were in love with themselves.” She knew that to be true as soon as she said it. Looking at the older man, she smiled at him. “You and I will do the best we can and hope it’s right. Someday, I think we’ll look back on this and wonder what all the fuss was about. Don’t you?” “I think I will hold my thoughts on that until such time as it comes to an end.” He laughed a little. “Do you believe it will come to an end, my lady?” “No. I don’t. I don’t have any idea why, but I think we’re going to be having something new and strange happening as a daily routine.” She stood up when he did. “Let us begin this new phase of our life, Lincoln, and hope we make it work better than the thoughts in my head are making it. All right?” “Whatever you wish, my lady. We will do well together, I believe.” She hoped so. It seemed like a great deal was depending on her doing just that, making it work for the safety of all involved. She only hoped she knew enough and was strong enough to make it work for all of them.

Joey By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz&Giveaway

 

Autumn was born the seventh child of the seventh child, and what no one else realized, she was also the seventh generation to be born, making her the seventh of seven. That alone brought her a great deal of magic. But her parents mistreated her as a child because she wouldn’t share her magic. After her mother made an attempt on her life, she grew up living with a kind uncle. As a result of the abuse she received from her parents, Autumn was dying from cancer.

Joey Whitfield wasn’t the biological son of Blake and Shadow, but they loved him just the same. Joey was different. He had always been a loner, but a near-death experience as a teenager had granted him powers and abilities so strong even he didn’t understand. It wasn’t safe to be around others. Rather than hurt those he loved the most, Joey had struck out on his own until he could discover exactly who and what he was. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into years. Joey couldn’t bring it upon himself to face his family.

Even from afar, Joey knew what Autumn was to him. But he’d been alone for so long, could he trust himself to be around others? He knew he should and could save her, but that would require getting past his comfort zone to do it.

Joey was at a crossroads in his immortal life. It was do or die. He just needed the courage to do what had to be done or risk living an eternity alone.

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3iNEmx8
AMAZON UK http://amzn.to/39V7TRa
AMAZON AU http://amzn.to/36bS5bU
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Joey?id=TdYWEAAAQBAJ
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/joey-kathi-s-barton/1138677686?ean=2940162303602
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/joey-20
I TUNES COMING SOON
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1065798
PAPERBACK https://amzn.to/3a6wi6J

 

Dylan Hutchinson lived and breathed Army, and she’d been undercover so long she’d forgot what it felt like to be a civilian. But the last mission took a turn for the worse and not only was she hurt, but she’s been informed that she could no longer do her job. It’s either a desk job as a recruiter, or she’s out.

Evan Whitfield didn’t have to work, but he loved his job as a surgeon. And when as his tiger he found an old man wandering in the woods with Alzheimer’s and confused, he wanted to help the family. The family had a daughter in the hospital too, and they were struggling. Evan thought the daughter might be not as sick or hurt as she claimed to be, so he took it upon himself to check her out. Evan was surprised to find that she was not only hurt worse than they claimed, she was also his mate.

For a doctor, Dylan thought Evan was dense. What part of go away didn’t he understand? She wasn’t the mate or marrying kind. Her life was over, not beginning. He needed to just go away….

Sunny, or Sunshine Davis, is a well-known investigative reporter. After her recent article shuts down a drug lab, she just disappears. People everywhere are looking for her. Truth is she’s been shot and left for dead. Tanner, a vampire, has other plans for the feisty reporter. He needs her help, so he saves her. His old friend, Ollie Whitfield, owes him a favor, so he sends her there to lay low for a while.

David Whitfield is on a deadline with his publisher. When he’s writing, he’s in a world of his own. When his grandda, Ollie, asks him to hide out a friend, he’s all for it. He’d do anything for his grandda. What David doesn’t expect is for the woman he’s supposed to be hiding out to be his mate. A very hurt mate that has his tiger in a possessive uproar.

Because Sunny technically died before Tanner could revive her, she has a little difficulty remembering the events just prior to her death, but when she does the revelation rocks her to her core. And her baggage can put all the Whitfields in danger.

Josh had taken a month off from his Realtor job to get the construction finished on his house, but he was leaning toward it being a permanent vacation. He still liked selling houses, but something was missing. It didn’t excite him anymore and he was tired of the rat race.

All Carter wanted was to get a job and start her life over again. She had just spent the last ten years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, and that made finding a job difficult, if not downright impossible. She didn’t want to go back to the halfway house, but things weren’t looking good.

Ollie Whitfield took an instant liking to the young woman and her sister, Rachel. He’d make sure his grandson gave her a job in the new greenhouse he was opening up. There was no since in her beating the pavement for a dead-end job when he had one for her. He just had to convince her of that. She had some dad-blamed notion in her head that she’d bring danger to the family.

Josh’s grandda had already told him of the scary things the woman could do, and he was worried that Carter and her sister might be taking advantage of an old man. But when Josh walked behind her at the dinner table and caught her scent, he was floored. He had found his mate and neither of them were prepared for it.

Carter knew he was a shifter, but the things she could do would get them all killed, and she wouldn’t allow that. She would somehow convince him that this mate thing was a bad idea.

Ivy Walton loved her job as a surgeon but hated her boss. What part of “I’m on vacation” couldn’t the woman understand? She’d just lost her house to a fire, and she needed this time away with her sister. They’d been on their way to the coast when Ivy’s car broke down, and this little town they’d found for repairs was a breath of fresh air. Ivy found the non-hectic life of a small town to be appealing to her raw nerves.

Adam Whitfield was a farmer and, like his brothers, a Bengal tiger. He had just purchased his grandparents’ home and was putting on the finishing touches. The home was large, too large for a single man, but he liked it. Furniture was still sparse, but he figured he could add to it in time.

When Adam met Ivy at a family dinner, he knew instantly who she was to him. But could a renowned surgeon be happy with a simple farmer? He hoped so. He hadn’t been looking for his mate when he found her, but now that he had, he wasn’t letting her go. If she went back to the city, he’d go too whether she liked it or not.

Mason Jane Barnhart had nothing left to live for. She was dying and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Rather than suffer a long agonizing death, she wanted it to be on her terms. She’d let the icy water claim her, and if she was lucky, she wouldn’t suffer.

Oliver Whitfield had been watching the girl. He couldn’t believe that anything could be so bad as to want to take her own life. But when she jumped from the bridge he had to go in after her. His tiger, bigger and stronger, would have to save her. When they got her to shore, Evan said that changing her was the only thing that would save her. Oliver didn’t want to, but he couldn’t let her die. He had a strange feeling that she was supposed to be the mate to one of his sons.

Adrian wasn’t sure he was ready for a mate. The timing wasn’t right. He still had so much left to do while running for public office, and if word got out that she tried to take her own life, he’d have that scandal to deal with too. But when he caught her scent, he knew, she was his and all thoughts of not being ready for a mate fled his mind.

When Mason opened her eyes, she was fit to be tied. She wasn’t supposed to be here, she was supposed to be dead. That’s what she wanted. What had those meddling Whitfield’s done now?

Shadow Henderson was grateful to the Whitfields for taking them in. She had to keep her mother and grandmother safe from her Uncle Thomas. The man was heavy fisted and had kidnapped her mother and was set to starve her to death just because he was embarrassed by her, he had his sights set on becoming the next president. His sister’s affliction with Altzheimers was an embarrassment to him. Shadow even suspected that he had killed her husband, but she couldn’t prove it.

Blake Whitfield was trying to adopt two boys he had taken into his home to foster, but with being a single parent, the judge went off on him, and Blake wound up taking a bullet for his troubles. Blake was immortal so the bullet wouldn’t kill him, but it still hurt like hell. His parents insisted that he recuperate in their home.

Several of the Whitfields had been pushing Shadow to meet the yet unmated Blake just to see if they were mates. Shadow wanted no part of it. She wasn’t happy in her last marriage and had sworn to never marry again. There was no way she would let anyone push her into anything she didn’t want to do ever again. That included the high and mighty Blake Whitfield.

 

Autumn was born the seventh child of the seventh child, and what no one else realized, she was also the seventh generation to be born, making her the seventh of seven. That alone brought her a great deal of magic. But her parents mistreated her as a child because she wouldn’t share her magic. After her mother made an attempt on her life, she grew up living with a kind uncle. As a result of the abuse she received from her parents, Autumn was dying from cancer.

 

The Whitfield Rancher
1.Evan http://amzn.to/2vCYKM5
2.David http://amzn.to/2fOK6dk
3.Joshua https://amzn.to/2IdH4wT
4.Adam https://amzn.to/2znvmcI
5.Adrian https://amzn.to/2HsBl5k
6.Blake  https://amzn.to/2pzDvZK
7
. Joey  https://amzn.to/3iNEmx8

 


 

 

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A   Signed Mystery Paperback Or Signed CupOr Coloring Book ADD MYSTERY PACKAGED to pick your prize

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

 

 

 

Congratulations to the first winners of the year

Julia, Sarah, Linda, and Annie your prizes will be on

Sometime this week 27th thr 30th

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery

 

Julia Bystedt  Signed Coloring Book
Sarah Black  Signed Coloring Book
Linda Brashears Signed Cup
Annie Kavanagh Signed Paperback

If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,

 

 

Prologue

“Autumn Hunter?” Autumn stood up and made her way to the medical assistant. “Your name is really Autumn? Your parents hate you or something?” The same question, along with a few others she got every time she met someone new. Smiling, she did not tell the assistant they did indeed hate her, but not until later, after she’d been older. Instead, she stepped up on the scale and thought about how much weight she’d lost in the last year and a half. Being terrified of being caught up in shit and on the run, all the time would do that, she supposed. “You’re here about your belly issues and the results of the test, correct?” Autumn told her she was also out of her pain medication, could she get a refill. “We’ll have to clear it through the doctor first. Once he’s told you—” The assistant looked at the folder in her hand, then at Autumn. She knew it was bad, but how bad was something she was about to learn. Reaching over to take the folder from her, Autumn read the words there before the woman asked for it back. Handing it to her, Autumn was at a loss for words. “He’ll be able to explain your options.” It was on the tip of her tongue to tell her she knew what her options were. There was only one. Death. It was just how she chose to do it. “You’ll need those pills. I’ll make sure you have samples before you leave.” Nodding, Autumn wondered if she should even stay. They’d told her— Well, she’d found out she had stomach cancer. She supposed knowing how she got it would be good, but it wouldn’t change the outcome. Standing up, Autumn was ready to leave when the doctor came into the room.

“I’m sorry, Miss Hunter.” She nodded, sure that he knew she’d read the notes on her chart. “There are things we can do to make things easier on you. A great many more than we had even ten years ago. We’ll make you as—” “How long do I have? I mean, you know that, don’t you?” He nodded. “I don’t know if you remember my first visit with you, but I don’t care for bullshit answers. Just tell me how long I have and whatever pertinent information I need right now. The rest of whatever you tell me is going to go in one ear and out the other otherwise.” “Yes, I remember. You have just about a month. I don’t know how far you got to read, but it’s spread all through your body. Had someone bothered to give you good care when you were ill the first time, you would have had better chances of survival than you do now, two years later.” She asked him what he thought caused it. “Someone tried to poison you, as you know. And that weakened your immune system, which was ripe ground for cancer to dig in. I’m really sorry, Autumn.” “I need to go.” He nodded and told her to come back in a week. “Do you think I’ll be around then?” “I hope so. You’re going to hurt a good deal more than you are now. I’ll make sure you have what you need to deal with it. Autumn, whoever did this to you, it’s the same as if they’d used a gun to kill you.

In fact, as you like it right to the truth, a bullet would have been much faster and far less painful for you.” “I know, but there is nothing I can do about that now.” Autumn got off the table and started to pull on her jacket. “I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, so I’ll call you soon and set something up.” “Autumn, please don’t end your life.” She looked at him and realized he had every right to think that would be something she’d do. “I promise you, when the time comes, you’ll not feel a thing. I’ll be there with you to make sure of it.” “I promised someone once that I’d not do that. And even though she’s gone, I won’t break my promise to her.” She could feel the tears building up in her eyes. “I need to go and think. Your assistant said she had some samples I could have, maybe.” The woman came in and handed her a white bag. It was heavy, but Autumn didn’t bother looking inside. She had enough to think about instead of whether or not she had been given a bag of rocks. Once out in the sunshine—the rain had stopped for now—she pulled on her sunglasses and made her way to her car. Crying without anyone seeing was an easy way to avoid the strange looks that she got. Getting inside her car, she drove to her home. There had been a plan to pick up a few things at the grocery store, but Autumn didn’t feel like that now. As she pulled into the driveway, she saw a car there that she recognized and decided she wasn’t in the mood for her sister either. Moving up to the porch, she saw April sitting there with an angry look on her face. “You locked the door. And my key doesn’t work anymore.”

Pulling out her keys, Autumn unlocked the door and slipped them in her pocket rather than her purse. “Why would you change the locks? I’ve been coming and going out of this house since before you were born.” “Only because someone carried you in and out. You’re only eighteen months older than me. I changed the locks because it’s my house now, and not everyone’s drop in whenever you’re in town place. What do you want, April? I’ve had a shitty day, and you’re not going to make it any better.” “Well, aren’t you in a shitty mood?” She didn’t point out that she’d just told her that. When April opened the refrigerator door, Autumn pushed her own body against it and shut the door. “I want some juice. You always have the best kind.” “I have the best kind because I like the best kind. I don’t care for sharing it today. What. Do. You. Want?” April sat down. Flopped would have been a better word for it, she supposed. “This is getting you no closer to leaving me alone. I want to think.” “Grant is kicking me out of the house,” Autumn asked her why she thought she’d care. “I know you never liked him, but he was my husband. We have a child together.” “First of all, I like Grant. It’s you I don’t care for. And it’s debatable if the child is his or not. I told you he wasn’t as stupid as you seemed to hope he was. For Christ’s sake, April, the man is a doctor. It’s doubtful to me that they allow you to practice medicine when you’re stupid.” April asked her why she was taking his side in this.

“Because, and this should be no surprise to you, you’re a bitch. You cheated on him several times in his own bed. The kid you shove aside for some other rabble isn’t his, and he’s a nice man. I said I like him.” “Uncle Ross should never have left you this house. There are seven of us girls from his sister, and it should have been divided between all of us and not just you.” Autumn explained to her, yet again, that he didn’t like her either. “You’re very obtuse today. What’s up with you?” “I have cancer from the poison Mom and Dad gave me, and it’s spread throughout my body.” April just stared at her for a moment, then asked her who she was leaving the house to. “Get out, April. Now, before I hurt you. You’re wondering why Grant kicked you to the curb? Perhaps you should record yourself having a conversation with someone and listen to it. Maybe that will give you a clue. You certainly don’t have any compassion anywhere in you. And the word you meant to use isn’t obtuse. It’s fucking rude. Get your insults correct. Get out and don’t come back. Ever.” Shoving her sister out the door, she locked it after checking to make sure she had the keys. Then she bolted the door, going to the back and side doors to do the same. If anyone came around now and thought to get in, she was going to blow them away with her uncle’s shotgun in the cupboard.

“He left me the house because I stayed with him for four years while the rest of you acted like he was nothing more than a bank account for yourself.” She was glad he’d pulled his money from the bank after having a wall safe put in the house. There were no credit cards for them to steal. No checks to write out for cash. And everything he owned had been changed to her as the owner with him so no one could take whatever they wished from a dying old man. The house wasn’t much—two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and a single bathroom. What it did have going for it was the three hundred acres surrounding it, as well as the rigging that pumped out oil, the wide creek that supplied water to several towns below it, as well as a mine. The mine alone produced coal and gems, such as gold and diamonds, at a nice rate. No one, just her and Uncle Ross’s attorney, knew the amount of land she’d been left, nor the other operations supplying her with a good amount of income yearly. Autumn sat down on the couch and thought about her day. She had had so much planned for the afternoon after her appointment, but all that had gone to shit. Knowing you didn’t have long to live sure put a damper on things, she thought. The seven of them that April had been talking about were her sisters, all but one older than her—April was the closest to her in age—and all named for a month in the year. Autumn had always wondered if they’d planned to have twelve children. The sisters were named January, February, and April. There was May, June, and July, September, and then her, Autumn. The reason she was the odd one out was because she’d been born in September too—the thirtieth, as a matter of fact. Her name would have been October had she been born just twelve hours later. That was only one of the reasons her parents had hated her.

Autumn was also the seventh child of a seventh son. It might not have made a lick of difference that she’d been born in September if she’d been a boy, what they’d been told they were to have. But being a daughter, the seventh one, it caused all kinds of shit to happen. Her father had a long line of sevenths born to his side of the family. It would only be skipped over when there was a different sex born to that line as the seventh child, such as her being a boy. Autumn was the seventh of a long line of seventh same-sex children. Autumn was magical. “But not magical enough to keep from getting cancer.” Trying not to think about what her parents had done to her so they could, she supposed, cut off her magic, she looked at the things from her mailbox. Credit offers were nothing new to her, and she made sure they were shredded. With those applications in the wrong hands, her sisters would cause a disaster. She had a cell phone bill, as well as a bill for something called Dispatchers. Opening it up, she knew just who had put her name on the billing. It was really too bad on January’s part. Autumn had made it perfectly clear that any bills not okayed in writing by her would not be paid. She would have thought all her sisters would have figured this out by now. Pulling out her phone and making the call come from a restricted number, she didn’t think January would answer. When she did, Autumn asked her about Dispatchers. “Oh, they’re this amazing company that will pick up anything you order from anywhere in the state and bring it to you within twenty-four hours. That way, with me, just having a baby, I don’t have to bundle her up and take her out. It’s so she won’t get sick.” Autumn pointed out that it was eighty-five degrees where she lived. “I know that, silly.

But she could still get germs. Why do you ask?” “I’m not paying this bill. Not one dime of it, January. I made that clear to you guys when Uncle Ross died.” January tried telling her about germs and the baby. “Since I didn’t knock you up, nor did I have her for you, she is not my responsibility. Not now, not ever.” “You got the house, Autumn. The least you can do is pay for a few things extra for the rest of us. What’s it going to take for you to realize you’re not all that special?” Autumn thought about her sister’s house and tossed an expensive glass vase to the floor. “Did you do that? Damn it, Autumn, that was a wedding present from his parents. You’ll pay for that.” “Yeah, good luck on trying to prove I did it from Ohio when you live in California. I’m not paying this bill. And I have no idea how many things you’ve had delivered, but for six grand, I would have thought it would have been cheaper to let the baby have a cold instead of paying this bill.” January called her a bitch. “Perhaps, but you’ll be hearing from my attorney.” Hanging up on her felt wonderful. When the phone rang again, her sister’s number, she turned the phone off and put it back in the coffee table drawer. It was only used to call them anyway. Feeling better about herself and what had happened, Autumn decided to have a salad for dinner. ~~~

“It’s been two years. How do you feel now?” Joey told Tanner he felt like he could hold his own with his magic now. “Good. I’m sorry to spring this on you, but you don’t have a lot of time to get to your mate. She’s having issues.” “What sort of issues?” When Tanner didn’t tell him, it left him to guess or rape his mind again. “Tell me, Tanner, so I can tell if I really do need to hurry along to get to her.” “She’s dying. And soon, from what I’ve found out.” Joey asked him what she was dying from. “I don’t have all the details just yet, but some form of cancer. She’ll need you to heal her before the big guns, as Ollie used to say, come for her.” “How long will it take us to get to her?” Tanner pointed to the tiny looking house that sat back from the road a good way. “We’ve been here the entire time?” “Yes. I didn’t know she was so bad when we came here. But I thought it could do us no harm by being as close as we could in the event she needed you. I should have told you, I suppose, but I don’t like having things changed around when I have no say over them.” Joey just cocked a brow at him. “Saving you from the flames is not the same thing. We needed to make sure of your abilities, and in the end, we were so wrong about that.” “Yes, no shit.” Joey had been sleeping in his tent for the entire time they’d been here. With the magic he had, he’d been warm and toasty when the cold came in. Now it was summer again, and he was starting to feel the heat at night. He also wanted a meal he didn’t cook over the grill and a long hot shower. As he packed up his gear, he realized Tanner was gone again. It was just as well. They had worked hard in the two years, and he wanted to move on as well. Gathering up his gear, he started toward the house. Might as well get this over with. Meeting his mate might be good or bad, but he’d not know until he got there. The screaming had him dropping everything he had and taking off at a run. His tiger took him over before they got too far, and the screaming was cut off. Whatever was going on, he knew it was pain and not just someone letting off some steam.

Beckett By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Allie Langley was upset about losing her job. It wasn’t the teaching job she wanted, but it helped pay the bills. It was just how her luck had been running since she’d moved to that town: first, she’d been kidnapped and tortured, now the job. What next?

Becket Robinson’s car had broken down, and he needed to use the phone. He hadn’t expected to find his mate when he knocked on the door, but now that he had, he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. It didn’t matter how much she ranted and raved about it either. She would fit right in with the rest of the family.

But when Becket discovered her injuries and how infected they were, he called in Thatcher, one of his brothers, to help.

Allie collapsed in Beckett’s arms when her fever spiked. Allie’s brother begged Beckett to change Allie into a tiger to save her. Thatcher agreed that converting her would be the only way to save her. Beckett knew he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. But, he couldn’t let her die…. He knew he was going to have one pissed off mate when she finally woke up. If she woke up….

 


AMAZON USA http://amzn.to/34ueKzj
AMAZON UK http://amzn.to/3p9NNbX
AMAZON AU http://amzn.to/3mAqJS9
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beckett-kathi-s-barton/1138495433?ean=2940162652229
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Beckett?id=T_cPEAAAQBAJ
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/beckett-4
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1060101
I TUNES
PAPERBACK  http://amzn.to/2J4yMZA

 

A fresh start was what Rogan Hall needed. A small town, out of the way, where no one knew her or her brother was where they’d start over. She worked from home, and they kept to themselves. The only thing Rogan couldn’t give up was her early morning run.

Like clockwork, she ran every morning, and again, like clockwork, the same family would pass her on the country road heading to who knew where. The little boy in the back seat would wave at her with such enthusiasm, it made her heart melt. However, that morning, everything would change. Only moments after the car passed her and drove around the bend, she heard a loud commotion. Another car barreled past her, and she found the quaint family’s car overturned and on fire. Rogan did the only thing she could do, she saved them.

Thatcher Robinson was on duty at the hospital when his parents contacted him through their link and told him about the accident and what to expect when the ambulance arrived. Thatch, his dad, told him they had to save the woman by changing her, but her burns were severe, and his dad wasn’t sure that the new tiger would survive.

When Rogan regained consciousness, she was unsure where she was, but she knew she was different. She could feel the tiger move just beneath her skin. Rogan knew very little about shifters, but what she did know had her cringing. Why someone would take it upon themselves to change her, she didn’t know, but when the young doctor, Dawson, said his brother was her mate, she was furious. If the big, bad, Thatcher thought he was going to order her around, he had another thing coming….

 

 

Anna didn’t know what to do with the man who acted like he was attached to
her hip. Every time she moved, just to get up and move to the bathroom,
he’d be right there with her, helping her into a panic attack. Not really,
but that was what it felt like to her.

Morgan wasn’t sure what he’d have to do to convince Anna that he wouldn’t
just up and leave her. She was a tiger too, and she knew they were mates
just as well as he did. But for some reason, he couldn’t get her to trust
him.

“I don’t think that I’d offer you my hand. You’d more than likely bite
it off.”

She growled at him.

“I’m not sure if you feel the same way I do about me growling at you,
but all it does when you do it is making me want to spread you out before
me and lick every square inch of you.”

 

Trudy Justice was good at her job, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t vulnerable. Caught unaware by a fellow FBI agent, the gunshot wound to Tru’s gut nearly did her in. To the world, Tru was dead. Rogan was hiding her out until they could figure out who had marked her to be a target.

Houston Robinson, a tiger shifter, was preparing to shift and take a much-needed run when a strange woman’s voice interrupted him before he could remove his pants to shift. At first, he was irritated, but when he saw the blood, he wanted to help.

Hurting bad and suspicious of everyone, Tru was in no mood to listen to anyone, especially a shapeshifter claiming to be her mate. She didn’t care how nice he pretended to be….

 

Thatcher  https://amzn.to/2sxdJmK
Morgan  https://amzn.to/2kCfxKI
HOUSTON https://amzn.to/2Z6v0ob

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Spink  Signed Cup
Suzanne Roberts Signed Coloring Book
Meghan Kinch Signed Paperback

Your prize  will be  mailed on Monday, Dec 21st, 2020

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A   Signed Mystery Paperback Or Signed CupOr Coloring Book

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeW1YKjLULnu7B7M4tlxYyvErItxTLIIUvlGrlJFi9t5MQR9w/viewform

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Dalmau
Katherine Humphreys
Sarah Black
Sonja Zucker
Niki Driscoll
Cheryl Lopez
Teri Bellville
Joyce Mirabello
William Cheney
Elizabeth Cranage
Kaylee Rankins
Hena Rahman
Angel Young
Joyce Mirabello Paperback winner
Karen Pimlott Signed Cup Winner
Sarah Black Signed Cup Winner
Becky Eiden  Signed Cup Winner

Heather Hudson Paperback winner
Donna Chizewsky Signed Cup Winner
Susan Petty Signed Cup Winner
Debbie Hudson   Signed Cup Winner

Debbie Whitley Paperback winner
Cheryl Lopez  Signed Cup Winner
Julia Bystedt Signed Cup Winner

Linda Brashears  Signed Coloring Book
Buffy Bourne  Signed Cup Winner

Julie Swaney Christmas Drawing

Jennifer Bell Christmas Drawing
Robin Brockett Signed Cup
Patricia Edwards Signed Coloring Book
Susan Thomas Signed Paperback
Eva Miller  Signed paperback

Jessica Spink  Signed Cup
Suzanne Roberts Signed Coloring Book
Meghan Kinch Signed Paperback

 

 

If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,

 

Houston finished up the paperwork that had been piling up on his desk while they’d been gone. Three of the most fabulous weeks skipping around the world, and he’d not wanted to come home. He didn’t think he could have stayed forever, but a few more weeks wouldn’t have been too bad. Looking up when he heard a noise, he smiled at Sam when he came into his office and flopped down on the chair. Looking up at him again, he nearly had a massive heart attack when he saw his face. Taking a deep breath before speaking, he asked him what had happened. “The school nurse said it was my fault. It wasn’t. I have to have a meeting with her and my grandpa tomorrow.” Houston asked him why he was stitched up. “This kid, he’s in a higher grade than I am. He said I was stupid. I’m not. But when I tried to prove to him that I was smart, that ticked him off something terrible, and he used his notebook to beat me up. Why? Why does everyone have to think that beating someone up is a good way to solve something?” “I don’t know. But I’d say you’re going to have to talk to your aunt about those bruises too. Did you know she’s here today?” He looked around like his aunt was going to jump out of the woodwork at any second.

“Who did the work, Sam? Was it the school nurse?” “Yes. She said it was too distracting for her to fill out paperwork on me while I had this gaping hole in my face. I wanted her to call Uncle Thatcher or Uncle Dawson, but she told me they more than likely had better things to do than to come down there and mess with me.” Sam looked upset. “They’d not think that, would they, Uncle Houston?” “Never. I’m going to contact them now and tell them they need to have a look at you. Are you hurt anywhere else?” When Sam stood up, Houston had a very difficult time holding onto his tiger. The kid looked like he’d been run over a couple of times, then once more just for the fun of it. “Did the school nurse see these as well, son?” “She didn’t let me show her. I told her I was hurting, but she said that since I’d started the fight, I’d have to deal with a little pain. Nurse Calendar sent me back to class after she fixed my face. Uncle Houston, do you think the aunts will have a hissy fit and kill her?” It was tempting for Houston to run out and do just that himself. “They sure do get powerful mad when they figure someone is getting the shaft, don’t they?” “They do at that. I’m assuming they didn’t notify your grandparents either, did they?”

Sam started to shake his head and put his hands to his temples. “Right. All right, we’re going to the hospital. And I’m calling the police as well as the family. There are some important laws being broken right now, and I want someone’s ass to be roasted for it.” Sam started to laugh but stopped. Houston was so pissed off right now he had to take in and let out several long breaths before he could speak. Yelling for Tru because it gave him a way to let off a little of the steam, he was glad to see her almost as soon as he finished saying her name.

While she fussed over Sam with him telling her what he’d told Houston, he reached out to his family. I’m going to take Sam to the hospital. Would someone please take his grandparents? I don’t want them thinking the worst. It is bad but not life-threatening. At least not his life. He told them what he’d heard from Sam. She didn’t notify anyone and put the worst looking stitches in his cheek and forehead that I’ve— She didn’t have permission to do that, did she? Houston told Thatcher that, as he was saying, he didn’t believe she’d even called anyone. I’ll meet you at the emergency room. I’d say bring him here to the clinic, but I think this needs to be done with the police involved. The police are going to have to question Sam. Is he going to be all right with that? I would think so. He didn’t have any trouble telling me. I think that with him having Tru there, he’s going to be a little better. She will also be able to make sure he’s not bullied. Thatch thought that was a great idea. He’s pretty beat up, guys. And the longer he sits here, the more the bruises are showing up. And his back. Christ, it looks to me like he was dragged through gravel. Or was beaten with a whip. I’ve not asked him which. I’m barely holding on here as it is. Tru sat in the back seat with Sam and Jacob. He could tell that Jacob was upset, but he was trying very hard to be brave for his brother and aunt. Every time Houston got a spare second, he would turn and speak to the younger one. Jacob was the most tender little guy he knew. Something occurred to him while he was sitting at a light, and he turned to ask him about it. “You’ve not had any trouble with the school, have you, buddy?” When he didn’t answer right away, Houston glanced at Tru. “Jacob, is there trouble with your teachers as well? We don’t want to have you suffering if you don’t have to.” “Tell them, Jake. You have to tell them too.” So, his brother knew as well. This was beginning to be serious now. Pulling over into the grocery store lot, he waited on Jacob to see what he had to say. “I told them. Now you have to do it. It’s not right like he said.”

“Some of the other kids knock me around when I’m going to my lunchroom or class.” Houston knew it was more than that, so he waited for him to get things in his head organized so he could tell him. “I don’t tell the teachers anymore. They said I’m lucky anyone wants to have me around them. That my dad is a womanizer and that my mom didn’t even want us. They were going to sell us off, so we’re nothing to anyone. I don’t know what that is, but I think it’s a bad word.” “It is the way they’re using it. Houston, please take us to the hospital. Please.” Tru touched his mind, and he could almost feel her anger. I’m not going to go to the school. I’m not going to go to the school and kill every last one of those fucking bitches. I know just what you mean. He pulled out into traffic again and told her what he’d done. I didn’t want your parents to freak out, so Beckett is going to pick them up so they don’t drive. It’s bad enough that they’ve hurt Sam, but Jacob is about the sweetest kid in the world. Why would anyone want to hurt him too? I’m so pissed right now. I don’t know how you’re driving so calmly. I’d be driving too fast and running every red light. He told her he was having a hard time of it as well, but he was concentrating hard on driving safely. Not me.

Those fuckers are going to pay for this. You wait and see. Both his brothers were at the hospital when they arrived. Thatcher took one look at Sam and ordered an entire set of X-rays, as well as a CAT scan. Dawson had to keep breathing deeply in and out to keep his cat under control. The Justices showed up just as his parents did. Hell was going to be paid if the looks on their faces were any indication. Then Andrew, chief of police, showed up with two deputies. “Don’t say a word.” He smiled at Tru when she got up in his face. “I want to do this by the books, and if I have to arrest you to keep you from telling my men what to do, you know I’ll do it. You have to lay low because everyone is going to say you’ve forced my hand in this. All right?” “Yes. I understand. I don’t have to like it, but I do understand. Wait until you see them, Andrew. They’re a fucking mess.” He said he’d sent two of his men to pick up not only the nurse at the grade school but also the principal and the lady that ran the desk in the office. “Thank you. I do appreciate you doing this.” When the other two women showed up, Andrew told them the same thing. Houston thought he was lucky to have been the one to tell them. He’d have not wanted to be anywhere near any of them right now. They were as pissed off as he’d ever seen them. A message came from Jacob to have him come and see him. “Hey, buddy. What’s wrong?”

He’d been crying, and it hurt Houston in ways he couldn’t explain to anyone if asked. “Your grandparents are out there. Do you want them to come and see you too?” “I’m not going to prison, am I? I don’t want to be there where the other parents are that gave birth to us.” They’d decided that even though Trudy and Blake had adopted their grandsons, they’d continue to call them their grandparents. “That kid that hits me all the time, he told me that if I told on him, I’d go to prison just like the other parents did. And the nurse, she told me I’d better be keeping my mouth zipped, or I’d be just another name in a book. I don’t know what that means, but I don’t think she meant it in a good way, do you? Don’t tell my grandparents. I don’t want them to have a stroke or something and leave us behind. We do worry about them all the time, Sam and me.” “That’s very good of you, but I think you need to keep them in the loop from now on. But no, I don’t think she meant that as anything but a bad word. But you’re not going anywhere except home when they release you. The police are here too. They’re going to ask you some questions about what happened. Jacob, you tell them the truth about all this, even if it embarrasses you or makes you feel bad. I swear to you, nothing is going to happen to you or Sam.” He asked if his aunt could be there with him. “Yes. She’ll like that. But don’t let her yell at the police too much. You and I both know she’s a little protective of the two of you.” “She sure is.” They both smiled. While he was telling him about the work he was doing at home, Tru and Andrew showed up. Houston stood up to leave. “Uncle Houston, can you make sure that my brother is all right? And tell Grandma and Grandpa that I’m all right?

I don’t want them to worry too much. They’ve been really good to me and Sam.” Houston said he would and had to leave the little area quickly. He was so close to sobbing about how much he loved these kids that he was sure he’d be a soggy mess before talking to the Justices. Finding them in one of the private rooms in the emergency room, Houston told them what he knew and what had been done about it. “Thatch was in here a few seconds ago. He’s going to find out what he can about Sam. I didn’t know any of this was going on.” Houston assured Blake that he’d not known either. “It does explain a lot, though. The last week or so, the two of them have been spending a lot of time in their rooms. I was thinking they were regretting that we took them. But now, I think they were nursing their wounds. Don’t you?” “Someone told Jacob that he’d end up in the same prison as his parents if he were to tell anyone.” Trudy started crying softly when he told them that. “Did Sam come and ask you if he could come to our house?” “We weren’t home when he got there. We told him so long as he gets his homework finished up, he could always go to one of your homes. I found his bookbag outside of the house like he’d never even gone in when your brother showed up to bring us here. I think he’d had enough and decided to get you and Tru involved. I hate to ask you this, but why didn’t the two of them come to us?”

Houston told him what the boys, both of them, had said to them. “They think that we’ll have a heart attack and leave them? I guess I can understand that. I went to the doctor the other day, and neither of them believes I got a clean bill of health. I’ve been sort of acting my age lately. You know, moaning and groaning about every little thing. I was doing it just to be funny. I won’t do that anymore.” “No, I don’t think you should. Not until the two of them are a little more secure with you and themselves.” Houston looked up when the elevator dinged for this floor. “When you see Sam, just know that he’s getting the best of care. Thatcher and Dawson are working together to make sure of that.” Sam was laying back on the gurney when he was brought out of the elevator. He thought that every time he saw him, he looked a little worse for wear. Neither Blake nor Trudy moved to follow him back to a room. He thought they were just as upset as Sam was right now. In pain too—a different sort of pain, but still hurting. Houston followed Dawson when he went by him. He didn’t pepper him with questions like he wanted to but just stayed with him. As soon as he entered the little room with Sam, he got word that Jacob was going up for X-rays as well. Dawson sat down on one of the little stools that he moved closer to Sam’s bed when he was ready to speak.

“Do you want this like a man, or do you want me to sugar coat it a little for you?” Sam looked at Houston, and he told him that Dawson was good at both ways. “I’m a sight better than your aunts would have been. You tell me, and I’ll tell you what I’ve found out. Thatcher is working with your brother if you’re going to ask me.” “I was. He’s hurt too.” Dawson said he’d found that out. “I want to be a man about it, but I’m still afraid. I didn’t start this fight, Uncle Dawson. I swear I didn’t.”
“I know that, son. We all know that. All right?” Sam nodded. “You have a fractured wrist and a couple of cracked ribs.” Houston had to sit or lean onto something, or he might well have fallen over. “Also, this is going to suck, but I’m going to have to redo the stitches that were put in. Do you know if she washed them out before she did it, Sam?” “No. She told me I was making a mess and distracting her, so she laid me down on the bed and put them in. It hurt too.” Dawson looked at him before Sam spoke again. “I don’t want to have to go back to that school. I don’t care if I have to be a deadbeat. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.” A nurse came in and gave Sam something to relax him. It was enough that it also knocked him out. Dawson had to leave the little room before he could work on Sam— he was that angry. Houston was close to hunting down the woman who had done this and tearing her apart. That wouldn’t be a figure of speech either.

~*~ Tru sat with the boys after they’d been admitted. They were both in the same bed in Sam’s room. She was glad for it. The two of them needed each other now more than ever. Sam was still out from earlier, and Jacob had been given something as well. The two of them were so stressed out having to deal with this on their own, Dawson said he didn’t think that either of them had gotten a good night’s sleep lately. She was still sitting there with the boys when her mom came into the room. “I feel like the worst kind of parent to these two,” Tru told her it had nothing at all to do with her and Dad. “I know that in my head, but my heart isn’t having any of it. Do you suppose this has been going on from the very beginning? Them being bullied, I mean?” “I don’t think so. They’ve been going there for a month and a half. What I think happened is that the kids were having their fun with them, and when the teachers didn’t say anything, they went for the big time. The kid that hurt Sam is going to be put in jail. I don’t know for how long, but long enough that he sees the error of his ways. Five boys had been hurting them, with the encouragement of their parents. I’m taking care of them.” She expected her mom to tell her not to kill them, but all she said was good.

“Mom, they didn’t want you and Dad to worry. They have it in their head that if anything happens to the two of you, they’re going to be taken to prison to live with their parents. I don’t know who told them that bunch of bullshit, but you can bet that I’m going to find out.” “I hope you make them see the error of their ways as well.” She put her hand on Jacob’s head as it rested on his brother’s pillow. “They look so tiny right now. I thought they were beginning to come out of their shells around us. Not that they’ve been terrible to us. In fact, they’ve been as good as gold. We couldn’t have asked for better children. But I always felt that they were holding back some part of themselves. I wish it had only been that they were not trusting us in some way. Holding back on being hurt like they have been makes me feel like I failed them.” “There is no telling what Shasta told them about the two of you. Or me, for that matter. She wouldn’t have been happy with anything that we supposedly did to her by not giving her money or anything else.”

Mom said she’d not thought of that. “Also, they would have heard her bitching with Mike about all of us, and you know as well as I do that kids hear more than anyone thinks they do. I can’t imagine how much shit we’re going to have to fix because of them.” “I should have thought of that myself. I used to tell Shasta that she shouldn’t say things like she did in front of them. That they’d hear her and take it to heart. When I think of all the things they heard about you when you were away, I could just scream. I’m so sorry, honey.” Tru told her she didn’t care that she had made her peace with Shasta hating her. “When you told me she said that she hated you, I could have just sobbed. My goodness, when I think of all the things I’m finding out now about her and Mike and what they did, I want to bury my head in the sand. You were right about telling us to never lie to the boys about anything that we find out. It’s difficult at times, but we do it. Simply because we want them to be able to handle anything that comes along.” There was a very timid knock at the door, and a little boy came into the room. He looked lost for a second, then saw the boys. Clark, she thought his name was, and she asked him if he was there to see the boys. “Yes, ma’am. I am. I didn’t know they was having trouble. I’m going to a different school now, and we don’t see each other as much. I’m doing my homework.” Tru told him that was wonderful and moved so he could sit next to the bed to see them. “I surely wish I’d known what was going on. I would have been in trouble for them. They’re my best friends, you know.”

Overnight, after one night of staying with the boys, Clark really had become a different child. He started studying his homework, paying attention in class, and was no longer a bully. In fact, Tru had heard that he was making a name for himself, telling others to straighten up their act. Tru stepped into the hallway while Clark talked quietly to her mom. She’d been missing the little boy too. Rogen was coming down the hallway, almost as if she knew she’d be standing there. “I have some news. Want to go and get something to drink with me so I can talk to you?” Tru asked her if she could tell her mom. “Yes. If she wants to come too, that’s fine with me.” Mom didn’t want to leave the boys. Plus, she and Clark were talking about his new school. Tru would bet anything that by the end of the day, not only would Sam and Jacob be pulled from the other school, but they’d be joining their best friend at his. “I’ve found the video of the nurse putting the stitches in his head. Christ, she didn’t even give him anything for the fucking pain. You can see him gripping the side of the bed hard enough to leave an impression on it. Fucker is going to pay.” She asked her if she’d been picked up yet. “Yes. Thankfully, or not so much, without any incident. The principal was telling the officers that picked her up that she had nothing to do with the failure to report. I didn’t know that was a state rule until then. Did you?” “Yes. I did a stint as a teacher once. They have all kinds of rules like that. Also, that a nurse cannot administer pain medications to any child unless an adult that is related to them is there. She gave Jacob an aspirin yesterday when he was in the office for his injuries.” Rogen asked her if she’d heard about what had happened to Jacob.

“Houston told me that he has a sprained wrist as well as some deep bruises. His back is torn up like his brother’s as well. Apparently, the teachers are using flyswatters and a smallish whip on them when they’re called upon in class. Not to answer questions, but to have them stand up and tell them about their parents. The boys wouldn’t do that, and it would make the teacher pissy enough that she took her frustrations out on them.” “I have had them arrested too. The entire school is closed down for a few weeks. Long enough for me to get the lowdown on all of them. I did hear from one of the kids that the custodian would hide the boys in his closet so they’d not have to go out on the playground. That is where most of this shit happened. I’m so sorry, Tru. I know you well enough by now to know that this is killing you inside.” “It is. But more than that, I want to hunt them down and take them out. Not even say a word to them, just kill and move on.” She looked around when she realized they weren’t alone in the cafeteria. “What have you figured out so far? I’m sure you didn’t bring me down here for a glass of the nastiest tea I’ve ever drank.” “No—not only that, anyway. And I’m sort of glad your mom decided not to come. I have two things to tell you that are going to make you madder than you already are. Jacob’s teacher is an ex-con—for child abuse. How she got by the background test is something else that I’m looking into. You can bet that heads are going to roll with that one.” Tru asked if she could take care of her. “Seriously, it might well come to that. I’m looking into things. The second thing I have to tell you is that your nephews aren’t the first to get treated this way. Not nearly as bad, but almost so. I have six grown men coming to me about the treatment they got while in school there.

It’s going to close this school up faster than anything when it gets out that they covered things up. Same principal, same nurse.” “What else?” Rogen told her she was working up to it. When Anna joined them, she turned a file that she had in her hand over to Tru. Tru opened the file and stared at the pictures she saw there before looking up at her friend. “Is this who I think it is?” “It is if you think that’s the president of these here United States. He was a child in one of the earlier schools that these two worked at early in their career of harming children. I put in a call to him about it, and I’m waiting for a callback. He’s running the country, I was told, and couldn’t be bothered. I’d like to hear what he has to say about that when he finds out what has happened here.” They both laughed, and Anna came back from getting a bag of chips and some juice. “I was bringing her up to date on the names of some of their victims. Especially our president. He still has a hard-on about having us work personally with him. I believe that’s just too much power to give to one person. If he keeps hounding me about it, I’m going to up and quit. See how he likes that. The fucking bastard isn’t taking no for an answer.” “Word has it that these two change their name and move on when things start to get hot. Someone warns them that there is going to be a police call, and they both skip town. They’re roomies, not lovers that I can find, but they do live in the same household most of the time. Not this time, for some reason that I’m looking into, but they do spend a great deal of time together. Anyway, have you tried this new brand of chips? They taste like horse hay.”

Tru was getting used to Anna’s way of drifting in a conversation if she had things that she didn’t think you’d be happy with. “I have seventeen people that are going to be given their summons to appear in the morning. Everyone at the school, including the cooks, is going to have to appear at some point when this hits the court system.” “Do you think they were all involved?” Anna told her they were and why. “So just knowing about the abuse is going to get them shit canned. Good. I’m betting that in a few weeks, there are going to be a lot of people demanding their money back. I think my parents are wishing they’d not put them in this private school now. I know I didn’t even look at anything about it when I should have. I take some of the blame for that.” “As I said, the school will close down, and then maybe—and that’s a big maybe—it will reopen when they have a new set of teachers. I was going to ask Morgan if he’d mind helping us with that for a few months. Not teaching, but just interviews.” Tru asked if she thought he’d do it. “I do now. Perhaps not before this happened, but he will now.” Nodding, the three of them were still talking when Houston joined them. Her dad was with him, and they seemed to be having a very serious conversation.

However, when they sat down, they talked about how the boys were holding up well and would more than likely be going home in the morning. “My parents are going to help with some of the care they’re both going to need. Not a great deal, but Thatcher wants them to have a good bit of fun for the next couple of weeks. After they heal up a little. Then they’re going to go to the pack school with their buddy Clark.” Tru had forgotten about that and was glad that Houston mentioned it. She knew that Clark was going to a different school and that his mom worked for the packhouse. Tru had simply forgotten. “There will be a lot of arrests over the next few days. Even some parents are going to be taken in concerning this. The two main people are in jail now. I’ve never been so glad of someone being arrested as I am the two of them.” Everyone agreed. When Tru made her way back to the room, she thought about what other things had been in the file. There were pictures of other abused children, each picture accompanied by all the information of the now adults. The one that bothered her the most was the one of the young boy that looked to be about seven. His death certificate said he’d committed suicide when he couldn’t handle what they were doing to him anymore. Tru was going to make sure that no matter what happened, the boys were going to be all right mentally. She might talk to her parents about having them see someone now before they got in any deeper. Making herself a note on it, she was happy to find the boys both awake and talking to Clark. Kids could bounce back from just about anything, she thought.

 

Piper Queen’s Birds Of Prey By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Piper and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia. Their time of fighting wars and conquering kingdoms was now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

Piper wasn’t really happy with the way her job was going and how much travel that would be required of her in the near future. She liked the art that she made, but she wanted to do whatever she wanted, not fill specific orders. She wasn’t feeling the inspiration for that.

Grant had lived in Queen Dante’s kingdom since before the old king had died. He and his mother were fae and, therefore, immortal. He had done many things over his lifetime. Being fae and their unity with the earth, Grant and his mother were the healers for their community.

When Grant and his mother were invited to King Dante’s new castle for dinner, he was excited to see what the new king had done with the place. What he didn’t expect was the charge of magic he’d receive when he met Piper. It knocked them both on their asses. Neither knew what to expect from the other, nor what magic they had exchanged. Although Piper was wary, Grant couldn’t wait to find out.

AMAZON USA https://amzn.to/3pa3C3s
AMAZON UK https://amzn.to/3lknK04
AMAZON AU https://amzn.to/3lbDWRA
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/piper-kathi-s-barton/1138033031?ean=2940162706557
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1052855
GOOGLE PLAY https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kathi_S_Barton_Piper?id=xgUHEAAAQBAJ
KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/piper-15
ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/piper/id1538999297
PAPERBACK  https://amzn.to/3k8V2hA

 

 

Mercy and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality. A gift that Mercy, to this day, was having difficulty coming to terms with. Living as a human was not what she was born to do, nor what she wanted to do. Being an immortal in a life she didn’t want left Mercy feeling angry at the world and turned her into a workaholic.

As an intervention, Blaze arranged an extended vacation and guilted her into taking it. She made all the arrangements and wouldn’t tell Mercy where she was going, just to be at the airport and do as she was told.

Joel Oliver needed this job. Finances were tight, and Blaze said all he had to do was chauffer a rich woman around town. What he would receive would catch him up on the mound of bills piling up and keep the roof over his—and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Miley’s—head for a few months longer. Miley was in a wheelchair—and as a result, had a lot of medical bills—but he loved her more than his own life. However, Joel was about to bite off more than he could chew.

The woman was gorgeous, and he found her snarky, hateful, attitude amusing until she interfered with how he was raising his daughter. Now, all bets were off.

Mercy would normally laugh in the man’s face for his hurtful remarks, but for some reason, her heart shattered instead. After a night of the most mind-blowing sex she could’ve imagined, he was treating her like it all meant nothing…. She had just realized he was her mate, and he hated her….

 

Blaze and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she’d graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

Blaze, a hawk, had done many things in her immortal life. Now, making toys was a pastime she enjoyed. However, the owner of the print shop that made the blueprints for her designs had not only ripped her off but several other companies by giving them faulty blueprints and keeping the correct ones for himself to profit from. Blaze had caught the defect before she had put her project into production, the other firms hadn’t been so lucky and had lost millions. Given the opportunity, Blaze purchased the print shop.

Bryson had worked for the print shop for ten years. However, he had no knowledge of the owner’s dirty dealings. When the new owner stepped in, he was happy to still have a job and was eager to help in any way he could. What he hadn’t expected was the jolt he received when he shook the new owner’s hand. In that moment he knew two things, she wasn’t human, and she was his mate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith and her warrior sisters had been around for several millennia, their time of fighting in wars and conquering kingdoms now a distant memory. Before Queen Dante passed, she graced her prized warriors—the falcon, hawk, eagle, phoenix, vulture, and owl—with humanity as well as immortality.

With two of their sisters mated, Jude and Piper were finding themselves a little envious of the large homes they had. Jude and Piper both were on the hunt for nicer accommodations. Christmas was just around the corner, and neither was sure if they wanted to attend the big gala that had been arranged this year in the old castle where they had all once lived.

Duncan was his mother’s son, thru and thru. He had inherited the gift of foresight as well as immortality and a few other magical traits. Jude being his mate, had been foreseen by his mother, Queen Dante, several millennia ago, and Queen Dante had kept Duncan’s identity a secret from them all.

When Duncan approached her, Jude didn’t know whether to stay put or flee. Being a warrior, she wasn’t afraid of any man, it’s what being with him represented, being a queen, Jude wasn’t sure she was ready for that. She wasn’t sure she would ever be ready for that.

 

 

Mercy  https://amzn.to/2snmIHb

BLAZE  https://amzn.to/33Vued

Judith https://amzn.to/33VuedT

 


 

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning  this open to everyone

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeY7nkIAHQCgnvBKbIjj6Sws3yR4e98oH-xU2NYb_UNRtqEUQ/viewform

 

 

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning  this

 

 

 

Maria Dalmau
Katherine Humphreys
Sarah Black
Sonja Zucker
Niki Driscoll
Cheryl Lopez
Teri Bellville
Joyce Mirabello
William Cheney
Elizabeth Cranage
Kaylee Rankins
Hena Rahman
Angel Young
Joyce Mirabello Paperback winner
Karen Pimlott Signed Cup Winner
Sarah Black Signed Cup Winner
Becky Eiden  Signed Cup Winner

Heather Hudson Paperback winner
Donna Chizewsky Signed Cup Winner
Susan Petty Signed Cup Winner
Debbie Hudson   Signed Cup Winner

Debbie Whitley Paperback winner
Cheryl Lopez  Signed Cup Winner
Julia Bystedt Signed Cup Winner

Linda Brashears  Signed Coloring Book
Buffy Bourne  Signed Cup Winner

 

 

If you have not gotten your prize please contact my PA Denise at denisek0319@gmail.com  

Happy Reading,

 

Prologue

 

 

The castle was going down, thanks wholly to her birds. Queen Dante sat upon her horse and watched as stone after stone crumbled to the ground. In a matter of moments, not only were the walls to the fort destroyed, but the king inside his castle was dead. Turning her mount, she headed back to the encampment to ready herself for the long ride home. The birds joined her not half an hour later, their large bodies covered in dust and blood. “You have done well, my darlings.” They could understand her and she them, but no one else could. She had made them what they were, and she would be the only one to control them. “Have you fed well on his dying cattle? How does it serve a man to have his food dying? His people, they were fed no better, I saw.” The falcon—she had never named them—told her the people were headed west. In a few months, probably less, they would all be dead too. It bothered them when the people suffered because of the king or queen of the castle, but it was to be. Dante could not care for any more people in her own keep. No one would attack her keep. If they tried, she knew them to be stupid or drunk on their own mead. She had her birds, all of them bigger than life, made large by the magic that she gave them. Looking at them as they landed around her, forever keeping her safe, she wondered why she had not thought of it sooner when her king was still alive.

“I would have set you upon him. You could have eaten him for your dinner. Though I suspect it would have given you a great deal of belly pains.” The hawk told her she was lucky he had died the way he had. No one would come for her if she had killed him. “Yes, that is very true. But I suffered greatly when he was living. No children either to give me comfort in my olden age. Though they might have been just like him, and that would have been too much to bear.” She would never marry again. Love wasn’t anything she searched for. Not that she didn’t have someone to warm her bed on occasion. But it was nice to be able to send them on their way when she had finished with them. Her heart belonged to no one, and she would not have another man take her to bed by force. All would be well—no one would threaten to come and take over her home. That was a certainty. The hawk used her beak to put delicate things upon the backs of the others. There was aplenty this time. Barrels and smoked meats. Pottery that they would use like it wasn’t worth a king’s gold. They raided the castle each time they conquered. Hawk was the best at getting in and out before they took the place to the grounds. The eagle took off toward home. She would let the people know Dante was returning simply by showing up. They would have a feast this night. The food upon her back would feed them for many days. The barrels of spices, hoarded in the lower levels of the castle, would go a long way toward helping them trade for what they did not grow.

The phoenix, by far the most deadly of her birds, shed her feathers in anticipation of getting new ones. After a battle, she would become anew, each time getting stronger, her feathers, brilliant now, would be brighter still. She could flame a fire so hot that stone would crumble under a man’s feet. The ground would no longer hold a seed within its belly to produce food, and she could kill a man with a single breath so there would be nothing left of his body. She loaded the last of her things onto the back of the owl. She might be small, Dante had always thought, but she could carry more than her own weight. And she would pick up her horse, used to flying through the sky like a bird himself, and take him back to the castle. He would be fed and groomed before she ever landed on the ground. The vulture squawked at her, and she turned to look at the two men there. They looked as if they might have been about to kill her, but the sight of such large birds threw them off their duty. In no time at all, the vulture snapped both of them up and swallowed them down. A gruesome sight, but one that filled her heart with joy. She was safe again. The vulture took off once she was loaded up. “Well, my falcon, it is just you and I left.” She told her she was still armed. “Yes, well, probably not too bad of an idea seeing that they nearly shot us.” The falcon laid her body to the ground. She was the only one fitted with a seat, one that Dante rode on. Scouring the area, Dante always made sure the places she camped were as neat and clean as she’d found them—sometimes in better shape.

As she climbed on the back of her bird, she held her breath. “I do hate the height. I should have thought this through when I turned you into my warriors.” Her laughter, should there have been someone around to hear it, might have given the impression that she was insane. “Homeward, my love, and we shall eat well tonight.” She took no one with her on her fights, except the birds. That was why she believed, her people were so loyal to her. She protected them, fed them better than herself, and made sure there was plenty for them to trade for things she did not provide for them. The soil was rich and would give forth a bounty like no other gardens. Flowers woven into pretty things were traded as well. There was a smithy as well as a doctor, who doubled as a dentist. They had even acquired a gravedigger, who also doubled as a man who made markers. A single merchant came by on occasion. His wagon, filled when he arrived, would be near empty when he left. He brought the latest news with him and any posts he had been asked to bring. He would also, for a small coin, take outposts for the next time he was in the keep of a relative or friend. And today, there was such a missive. But it was for her, from someone she had hoped never to hear from again—the king of the land, the only man she answered to, though it wasn’t with any kind of happiness on her part. After the others were settled down, the food that had been brought put into storage, she sat down and wasn’t surprised that the falcon came to see her. The room she was in—the throne room, for lack of a better term—had no roof and six perches for the birds when they wished to see her.

Otherwise, they sat upon the top of the castle turrets, watching for anything that might befall them. “I am to wed. The king of the land, he has decided my castle is the best there is, and he will marry me himself.” The falcon asked about his castle. “He says it will be his son’s, which he has none of as yet. His last five wives only gave him daughters, from what I have heard, and they did not last long afterwards.” The falcon asked her what she would do. Dante knew what would happen to her should he come here. He would kill her. Being in her fortieth summer, she was much too old to bear any children now, and he would be better with a younger bride. One that could birth him the sons he wanted. “He will kill me; we both know that. And you six will kill him or be killed. I worry so much for the people here too.” She thought of several plans and threw them out. It was in her head that if she were to die, then she would do so on her own terms. “I will need a day to think on this. In the meantime, he says he will be here in the new year. That will give us a month to provide for the people and make sure they are not harmed.” ~*~ Dante worked as hard as the rest of her people. With her hair up in a rag, she didn’t look any different than any of the men and women that toiled with her. There was much to be done in the little time they’d been allotted. Today they were drying all the beef and goat meat they had.

It would last them for several months, and where she was sending them for safety, they’d need that extra time. Long enough for them to breed more of their cattle and goats so there would always be food for them to eat. “What of the dried herbs that are left, my lady? There are barrels of it packed away for the trip and already on its way to the new home. Shall we put what is left in a bag to go tonight?” She shook her head. “There are no more barrels until the morn. The copper is working as fast as he can, making more. What shall we do?” “Leave them. There is very little, correct?” The man said that there wasn’t enough for a good strong stew. “Good. They will think you all died off from lack of planning, and that will keep you safe for a longer time. Leave it for them, so when the keep and castle are in ruin, the king will understand why.” Not that anyone was going to be coming to the castle to live, she thought. Things were in motion that would make sure that everything here was gone well before the lands were walked upon again. Dante looked to the sky when a dark shadow fell over her. Her hawk was making her way to the village Dante had set up. Long ago, Dante had purchased the lands far from where she was now and put them in the name of Mercy Dante. She knew so much about all their futures that it made her so sad to know she’d not be there to see it happen. “My lady?” She looked at her man of arms, a man that had very little work to do but was brave and true to her. “We have plenty of things to go on the next load if you have a desire to send it on. Do you still wish for some of the armed men to go with them this time? I’m to understand we’re to fell trees for homes.”

“Yes, that would be good. How many men can you spare today?” He told her all that she had. “Then send them on. I know some of you are frightened to ride the birds, but you should have no fear. They would no more harm you than they would me.” He nodded and looked at her hawk. “I shall send you all on her. She is the gentlest of the six of them.” The carrier had been fashioned a week ago. It had upset her that it had taken so long to get right, but it was safe now, and that was all she wanted. There were only a few short weeks left to get the people gone from here with all that would keep them safe. Now all she had to do was make sure the birds didn’t know the last of her plans. The platform had been made from several drawbridges from castles they’d taken over. She had known that saving them would be helpful, but it had taken a great deal more work than she’d thought to put them together and have her fishermen weave a netting to carry it with. After several tries and failures, the carrier worked. Loading up the men on the first run of people, she noticed they had put the several men that were afraid of the ride in the middle. One of them, a hardy man otherwise, had been knocked out with much wine. It had been funny to all around that it took so little of the wine to do that to him. But they didn’t know she’d given him a bit of magic to help him travel. All was well when her hawk took off with the several dozen men to start on the homes that would be needed. Barrels would be next. They had been sealed by magic that would keep them well preserved.

The other birds, her warriors for all time, had been taking jewels and other items to a cave she had also covered in magic. It would help the people of the new village for as long as they lived, well beyond her body being nothing but dust. Dante watched as several more people were taken to the new village. She would allow them to name their new place so long as it would never be attached to the name of the castle. That would be bad for them and would bring much trouble onto their heads. When her hawk landed, she went to ask how things were progressing. “Well, my lady. They were no more off the platform for seconds when they started to work. I believe you were good to get them started on this. ‘Tis only early winter, so they should be able to have a few of the buildings up before the rest are moved.” Dante agreed with her. No one else could understand the birds but her and the other birds. It had, she knew, kept everyone safe all these years. “I can only make two trips there and back, my lady. ‘Tis not a long way by the way we fly, but the pack is heavy. Please forgive me for that.” “You have nothing to be sorry for, my bird of prey. You have done one more than I had hoped for this day. And when the others have finished their tasks for me in carrying away the riches and other things they will need, it will take no time at all to move the rest. Nay, you have done well this day in taking the men, and then the food to feed them while there.” Her hawk, who would someday be called Blaze, bowed before her. Stacking up the loads that would be going on the platforms, she could see that they’d be taking away the last of it only the day before the king was to arrive. Dante

was glad now that she’d had such good people working for her. They asked nothing as to why they were doing this but just did it. When in reality, it was all for them and her birds. Dante knew the king would never make it here. His ship and all his bounty would be deep in the waters he crossed to kill her and take her castle. The man was a fool to think she would easily do what he wanted. It would not be her that killed him—it would be her bird. But in the event that it didn’t go the way she’d seen it, the plan to move her people was the best way to keep them safe. Wiping at a tear, she looked around the keep she’d worked so hard to keep everyone safe in. It was then she saw her son. Duncan was everything she was and more. Each time she saw her son, she would give him a little more of herself, teach him something of running a castle. He knew what he was to her and that Mary was doing her a great favor in keeping him safe. Duncan would be a greater king than she ever was a queen, just the way it should be. She was glad now that she’d told him he was to be mated to one of her birds. Leaving him to his work, she entered the castle to see what else was there that she could easily live without. There was very little left as it was, but she moved from room to room to make sure nothing of any value was left behind. The only thing she could see in the great room was the painting of herself. Dante wished so many times that she could have put her son there with her, but it was not to be. It would have been foolhardy to think she’d be able to keep him safe if she was to put out there that he’d been born.

Other kingdoms would have done a great many things to capture him to bring her to heel. Dante would do anything to keep him safe, including submitting to a man again. A thing that she would never do again in her lifetime. “I shall give this to our falcon.” She turned her head enough to find Duncan behind her, and the doors closed to anyone walking around. “She will be a great person, I think. Sour to many except the one she will love.” “You have seen this?” Duncan said he’d seen a great many things. “Well, you know as well as I that it might not turn out the way we see it. There can be changes, you know.” “This I am aware of. As well as you not living past the last person being taken from here.” She turned to look at him then, trying to see just what he was seeing. “I shall forever miss you, Mother.” It was the first time he’d called her that. Her heart was so tender of late that she would burst into tears at all that would be gone in so short of time. Hugging him to her, she felt the strength in his body, which was getting stronger daily. He knew how to work and did it without complaint. “I have been writing a book. It is just for you, my son. You will know things I have known for some time. It will replenish the riches I have put aside for you. Also, tell you how to keep the birds safe should they need it.” He nodded. “I will give it to Mary on the day you travel. I do not want the others to know you are my son, even after all is finished here.”

“They will only know me as a man you trusted. But I will need to tell them at some point. This you know as well as I. I will be their king when they need me.” She nodded, tears flowing quickly now. “Mother, you do know I will take care that they are as safe as you made them here, don’t you?” “I do, my son. I know that better than you could. You are not anything like your father, a cruel and terrible man. When you marry, and you will, I want you to know she will only love you if you give her your heart. It’s important you do that for her.” He said he would. “Let her strength help you when you know you are not armed to do it on your own. She will love you more and respect you forever for that.” “Will she be stronger than me, Mother?” Dante told him she was sure of it. “Then I will be for her what you have been for these people. A person of worth. I promise you I will also protect her forever.” “That is all anyone can do for their mate, my child.” He hugged her, something that neither of them was able to do often. “I shall miss you, Duncan. Much more than I could ever explain to you. Go forth, protect all the people of your kingdom, and do what I say. Love your mate more than anyone, including yourself, and the two of you will be able to move mountains.” ~*~ New Town, what they had begun to call the new place they were living, looked like any other town in the country. The only difference was, this one was only several weeks old.

To Dante, it looked as if it had been established long ago. She was pleased with the work her people had given the place she’d moved them to. “My lady? There is a problem in one of the homes we’ve put up. I know how to fix it, but the man living in it, he said he will be fine with it. To have his own home was more than he could have hoped for.” The queen of the people asked Barron what was the issue. “He has five daughters, my lady, and we’ve somehow put him in a house with only one bedroom. There are ones he could use, but he insists it be used for the other families.” “I shall speak to him. Is it Donald, the mule man?” Barron nodded, his face nearly touching the ground; he was bent so low. “Stand up, man. I believe I have pointed out this is not a time for formality. We must all work together for the greater good of the people. I shall speak to him now. Then I must, as you know, return to the castle for the final loading.” Along the way to speak to Donald, she was stopped no less than twenty times to be thanked for the things she’d provided for the people here. Without making the great move, Dante knew all of them would be killed. Because of their loyalty to her as queen of the castle, the king of these realms, a tyrant of a man, would have ordered them all butchered as soon as he killed her on their wedding night. Not that she was assured of him coming here. This was her plan, a way to keep them safe if she had read her dreams incorrectly. “My lady? I have yet to put on a pot for tea, but you must join us in it.” Dante was not one to hold back when she had something to say. She told Donald she wanted him to take a larger home. “Oh, my lady.

Barron should never have bothered you with this. We are quite happy with where we are.” “But you have six people in a single man’s home, Donald. What, I ask you, will the man who was supposed to be in this house do with a home with many bedrooms? He will be overwhelmed, trying to keep them clean while you are smashed up in this one-bedroom chamber with your little girls.” Donald looked at his daughters, beautiful little ones that were his pride and joy. “There is a home just over the road that you shall be moved to. I insist. Your daughters will share two bedrooms, and you will have your own. I know for a fact, sir, that your snore is legendary. For your daughters to have a good sleep, you will need to be far from them. Do you not agree?” “Yes, my lady.” He moved just a little closer, and in a low voice, spoke to her. “I did not wish to cause you any undue trouble. You have given all of us a chance to survive this, and I wanted to be sure you knew I was ever so grateful for it. I’m as happy here with you and yours as I ever was in the castle keep, my lady. Incredibly happy.” “I’m glad you’re happy here, Donald. You are a good man and a man that cares well for his daughters. I shall have the men move you to the new home. It will give me a good feeling knowing you have plenty of room for yourself and your family.” He thanked her. “Your daughters, sir, they will be safe here. You need anything, you make sure you contact Barron.” “Thank you, my lady. If there is ever anything I can do for you, you need only to ask. I am and will be indebted to you for the rest of my days.” Dante felt her eyes water up with the man’s word. Her life, she knew, was only a short time away from ending. “Thank you very much.”

The little girls curtsied at her, and she had to move on. It broke her heart every time she saw small children. She so wanted to hold her own. Telling Donald she’d have the men move him once again, she moved toward the long house that would serve as a church for the people and a meeting place for them to gather should they need to. Her eagle was awaiting her when she returned to the now all but abandoned castle. “You have done well, my heart. You of all the birds I have are the one I worry most about.” The eagle asked her why. “You are so much like me. Hard when you’re needed to be, too soft when it comes to our people. I fear someday it will harm you in ways that not even I could fix.” Her eagle, like the other birds, had been a huge part of getting the people moved. If not for them, there would be no way she could have done this. It would have meant certain death for all of them, including her own son. Going to the throne room, she sat upon the floor. Dante had moved her chair to the caves for the others to sell off should no one want it. But because she could see into the future, just bits and pieces, she knew at least one of them would want such a monstrosity. “When this is finished, soon now, I will give you and the others magic to keep you safe from others who would try and capture you.” Her eagle asked what sort of magic. “You will be able to blend into situations you wouldn’t normally consider a problem.

There will be those situations, too. For the things I have seen, you all will have trouble from those around you.” She laid back on the cold stone. The castle had been forged so long ago, Dante could not remember who had been the person who erected it. Now, as she looked up into the night sky, the roof here long since removed, she thought of what was going to happen in the coming days. “He has set sail and is nearly here. The king of all the lands is coming to claim not just my castle and my wealth, but my birds as well. There are many people on the vessel that carts his bottom here who have no desire to be his servants. If only I could have saved them as well.” The eagle, standing upon her perch built just for her, reminded Dante she could not save them all. “In this, I wish it was wrong to have thought that. They will suffer these people. They are suffering, for there is nothing to do to appease the king to find favor with him. There are so few that he has not made suffer by lashing them on their backsides. Too many of them have died in his foolishness to make me his wife for such a short time.” Listening to her eagle squawk at her about the king and idiocy, Dante thought of her impending death. It would be a sad affair to her son and the birds he would one day claim as his own. However, just knowing all would be safe from the king’s tyranny made all the other things so worthwhile. “If I had to do again, I would do nothing differently. I would still do what I am doing now so that all would live and live on. Even with you birds, I would do just what I have done to keep my kingdom here.”

The eagle asked her if she’d been happy. “Happy? I don’t know that I have had that much in my lifetime. I have been content. Not the same, I suppose, but I have been content with my lot in life. If only I could have kept living the way we have, I do believe I could have made such a difference in things here and in the future. Before I forget this again, I have taken the time to write out the things t’will keep the new town with coin in their coffers. I know it will be aplenty, but I will worry until my last breath if it will be enough.” Her last breath—it was only a few days away. Much too soon for her, but Dante knew it would be well worth the pain of dying. Sitting up, she looked at the birds, all six of them on their perches watching over her and the emptied lands they could see. They were the sole reason she was able to do this. This she knew more than anyone could have guessed. “I shall retire, I think. I have no bed to speak of now, so I will only lie upon the ticking. On the morrow, we shall have a feast. A great amount of food, as well as drink. ‘Tis fitting, I think, to celebrate this new way of life for so many.” Her beautiful phoenix asked her why she seemed so sad. “Sad? Aye, I am that and more. Things are moving at a pace I wish didn’t exist. But it is for the wellbeing of all that have called this place home. In that, I suppose I am sad that we shall never be able to return here in my lifetime.” But they would. All six of them and more would return someday and see the castle as it should have been, a lovely home to her son and his mate. The one, she herself, had hand-picked for her beloved child. Oh, to be able to see them grow into love.

But it was not to be. Getting up before she made a fool of herself by crying over something she had no control over, Dante did indeed head to her bed. For tomorrow and the next day would be the hardest of anything she’d ever done. ~*~ Dante didn’t sleep. She’d not closed her eyes to rest in more years than she could count on both her hands and then her toes. It was all right, she supposed. Dante was able to get more done this way. But she did pace herself. She’d never survive these last days if she were to fall apart now. “Mistress, there are two men here to see you. They wish to know who has carved your turrets. I did not tell him the birds atop the castle are as real as he.” Mary shook her head at the folly of some men. “I should have called them down to talk to him about how they were made. I think he might well have soiled his britches.” “Mary, please tell them the lady of the castle is busy and does not have time to tell him of the art he is looking at. What manner of person would ask such a thing? As if I didn’t have the sense of that turtle caught in the drain last week. Nay, tell them to move on before I toss them into the sea.” Mary went to tell them just what she had said. Dante was smiling when she heard Mary laughing. She’d no doubt make the way she’d told her to move them on to extremes. It would serve the men right if she really would call down one of her birds to take care they didn’t bother her again. Dante made her way to the drying room at the back of the kitchen. She had been brewing a brew for several days now. “You’re not going to be going with us, are you, my lady?”

She turned to look at her great phoenix. “If you do not explain to me what your plan is, I think to tell your falcon what I have figured out. She will not allow you to die. Nor will I be all right with your death.” “I must die, my beautiful friend. For if the king were to find that this castle and all that was here when he set sail were gone, what do you think he’d say to his men? That it was a good thing she left? That now he didn’t have to kill her? Nay, he would send them to find me and my people. I do not wish anyone else to be harmed for what he wants from me.” The phoenix, Piper, would be her name someday, asked her if she expected her birds to do the killing of Dante. “In a way. I have this brew here. It is nearly set for me to drink down. The castle and its walls, they must come down, or it will be all for naught. I might have misjudged something in my dream, so I wish to make sure that all is taken care of, including my people. This, what I have made—it will have me dead before you drop the first stone upon the only home I have ever had. You as well, my dear bird, must be gone should he arrive.” “Mercy will not be willing to help,” Dante told her she would because she’d know what Dante said now was the truth. “Aye, you say that, but I think her to be most upset with the turn of events, my lady. It will break all our hearts to know you have left us behind.”

“I shall never leave any of you behind. I will be forever in your hearts, and you in mine as I take my last breath.” The phoenix nodded but didn’t say anything more for some time. “He will die before he gets to the land. This king who thinks to murder me in my own bed. And those that he brought with him, they too will perish. ‘Tis a folly on his part to think I’d just do as he wants as if I have no mind of my own. I know Mercy will kill him and all that have been forced to come here with him. It’s not such a bad thing, these deaths, Phoenix. It will be merciful to all that have ridden the seas to make their way here.” After the bird left her, she pulled the large cauldron off the hot flames and covered it with a lid. Even though there were no children about nor anyone working in the kitchens, she would feel terrible if any harm would come to anything right now. Making her way back to the throne room, or what was left of it, she laid on the floor to look up at the sky. Dante hated heights. While she forever knew she’d never see the time when there would be airplanes in her sky, she knew they were set to come. She was content, for now, to bask in the beautiful view she’d miss more than she thought she might. Getting up, Dante made her way to the side of the castle that faced the sea. “Oh, to see the waterways filled with my own ships again. To see them sailing off to find new things to bring back to us.” There were ships out there—she could just make out their flags. None of these were her tormentor, she knew. He would be visible in two days. Still a long way out to sea. He would be nothing more than a small speck in the open waters, but she’d still be able to see him. “Why now? Why have you made your plans to include me at this time?

I wish more and more I’d been born a male. Then no one would dare to come here. I might well have been the king of all the lands had it been so.” Her ships had been taken to the coves not far from here. By the time they were remembered, they would be nothing more than rotted wood and material. Dante wouldn’t want them to be seaworthy again. It might well be the thing that got her people killed. Even in the future, the bits and pieces she could see, the ships would only cause people to look harder for her remains and perhaps run into New Town, where her people lived. That, she knew, would be a danger to all. “Mother? Are you here?” She turned to look at her son. Duncan had been coming to her of late to get more lessons and her thoughts on things, as well as how to manage a vast kingdom such as the one she was leaving him. “I thought for sure you’d be here. I have a favor to ask of you. ‘Tis a small one, but one I think you can give me. I should like to spend the night here, within these walls, once with you. I have spoken to Mary about it, and she thinks you will grant me this one wish. It will be the first and last time the two of us will be able to be under the same roof since I was born.” “I should like that. Very much.” He nodded and smiled at her. “There is so much to tell you, and so much more, I think I have forgotten to pass on to you. But for this night, I shall not speak of the king coming here. Nor of my life-ending. You are aware of it, my child. This, I know. But to have you here with me this last night? It is more than I could have asked for.”

They made their plans to sleep on the same ticking she’d been resting on since her bed had been taken away. As they curled up under a thick blanket, the two of them talked more than they rested. Tears were shed, of course. There was no way to avoid such a thing. But there was laughter too, much more of it than tears. “I shan’t be here tomorrow when you are set. I cannot be of sound mind when I know what is to happen to you. I will tell you, Mother, that there couldn’t have been a better person to raise me. Nor one that has loved me as well as you have.” She kissed him on the forehead as he spoke again. “For so long as I live, Mother dear, I will keep you in my heart, along with the birds that will be mine as well. I love you—much more than I think any child could their parent. You are the best there is. I shall kill anyone that says differently.” She had no words to give him after that. Her heart, already tender, was breaking more. It might well have done her better not to have spent the night with her son. But it would have been harder on her, she thought, to not have this time with him with no others around. Finally, when she could speak without tearing up, even more, Dante told her son that she loved him. That he’d be a better king than she had been a queen. After saying that, they both settled into their thoughts until the sun came rising up from the seas that surrounded them. Today, she knew, would be her last day to breathe in the air and take in food for her belly, and the very last time she’d order her birds to do something she knew they’d hate her for.