Re-release of Drawing the Devil

Pride Publishing contracted to re-edit and re-release Drawing the Devil. It will be the first of a rodeo series I will be publishing with Pride. I’m excited for the chance, I’ve been wanting to rework this manuscript for years. It will be out for general distribution December 5th.

Nothing like a hot rodeo story to keep you warm during the holiday season.

Watch for more on the:

Leather and Grit Series

and book number 2:

Wrestling With Destiny

Preorder and Cover Reveal for “Crossfire”

“Crossfire” has a major facelift and expansion for a new release from Pride Publishing. It has grown from a 9k short story to a 30k novella.

The story is available today for preorder and its early release from Pride Publishing on March 21st.

Want to read a little teaser? Okay.

Rick was going through his notes from the past few days, but nothing was coming to the forefront in their search. He’d been through the things they had found in Mark’s apartment and the results of the similar search of Rachel’s house. The damn topo map is the most promising lead, but narrowing the investigation down to around seven-thousand square miles still covers a lot of area, and we dont even know if the map has a thing to do with where Mark took Jacob.

Rick sat tapping his pencil against his office desk when someone knocked. He glanced up to find Liz standing at his door. He motioned her in, knowing from her expression that she had information he didn’t want to hear.

Not in the mood for small talk, Rick shot to the point. “What’s the bad news?”

“A rancher called into the hotline. He reported finding…something.”

“What? Come on, Liz, what did he say?”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “McCoy thought it was a child’s body. He thinks it’s Jacob, but this was never that kind of abduction. It makes no sense for Mark to hurt his son. It’s probably one of the weird false alarms we have from time to time. Info about Jacob has swamped the local media.”

Rick was already gathering what he needed from his office as he rapid-fired questions at Liz. “When did they find the body? Did anyone disturb the scene? Where did they find it?”

Liz took a deep breath and answered his questions. “The ranch hands found it on the McCoy place over in the western part of Grant County. They were riding the fence line this morning and saw buzzards circling the head of a canyon. They didn’t have cell reception, so he sent one of the boys back to call the sheriff’s office.”

She paused for a minute before continuing, “Gabe was the one on call there.”

Rick knotted with the tension Liz’s information sent through him. Before he could voice any concern, Liz cocked an eyebrow. “Gabriel’s their best investigator. He is the deputy sheriff. He’ll make sure no one will get close to the crime scene. He’s as meticulous as you are.”

Rick nodded as he double-checked that he had everything and realized he was missing his keys. He searched each pocket and came up empty. Rick pawed through the top of his desk for a second before realizing Liz was holding them. With a sigh of relief, he reached for the keys. “Thanks. I need to hurry. Gabe won’t be able to hold them off for long.”

Liz started out of the door with his keys in her hand. He scooted past the desk and chased after her. “Hey, Liz. I need my keys. Stop screwing around.”

“Get in the car. Im driving. You’re too emotional. And, yes, I get that you will spend the whole trip complaining about my driving.”

Rick twisted his lips and lifted an eyebrow at Liz’s comment. He checked again to make certain he had everything he needed before sprinting to catch Liz’s receding form. The silence in the vehicle was palpable through the early part of the trip. But by the time they’d made it to the foot of the mountains, Rick felt more at ease, and the need for more information began to gnaw at him. When they turned onto the gravel road leading to the ranch, he couldn’t contain his police-trained curiosity.

“What did they tell you about the body?” Rick asked.

“I already given you what I know.”

“Come on. You know more than you told me. I’m not a civilian, give me the details.”

Liz glanced at him and from the heat he knew I’d pressed too far. “I told you everything. Sit back and try not to piss me off again. We’ll be there shortly.”

They pulled the four-wheel drive into the remote pasture where they discovered the body. They rolled to a stop beside the Grand County Sheriff’s SUV. By this time, Rick’s nerves were shot. The dread of identifying the remains was making him sick to his stomach. He took a second to steel himself for the worst case. When he spotted Gabe coming toward him at a brisk walk, his apprehension grew. He wanted to rush forward, grab Gabe and hold him tight, but this wasn’t the time or place for a display. The whole area was crawling with members of a variety of law enforcement branches. Neither of them would make this anything but professional.

Rick moved to intercept Gabe until they were close enough to speak at a normal level. “What do we have, Gabe?”

“Dan McCoy and his boys were riding their west boundary fence and noticed something in the wash. Dan used the scope on his rifle and decided it was a body.” Gabe dropped his voice until only Rick could hear him. “Something’s fed on the corpse. It’s not pretty. But everyone’s stayed away to preserve any evidence, so I don’t know if it is Jacob. We can see a red plaid shirt. I never remember him wearing anything like that.” Gabe paused for a minute before continuing. “Maybe it’s just me being wishful, but I don’t think this is Jacob.”

.

Double Trouble: Chapter 108

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 108

The sound of a handbell ringing echoed through the entire house. What idiot gave Cody that damn bell? Mitch heated the skillet, focused on getting the meal cooked right. Sunny-side-up eggs and whole-wheat toast. That’s what he wanted for breakfast, and what Mitch was making. As the last of the butter melted in the skillet, he cracked in three eggs. But as soon as they sizzled, the peals filled the house again.

Mitch yelled out. “That damn bell isn’t going to make this faster. It’ll get your breakfast burned, and both of us end up pissed.”

“I don’t want eggs! I’m sick of eggs.”

“Five minutes ago you loved eggs.”

“Yeah, well, now they sound gross.”

Mitch took a deep breath and let it seep out to control his temper. He slipped the eggs to the plate where he’d put the toast. Either I’ll eat them or the dog is going to get a treat. He left Cody waiting the few minutes it took to finish the meal he’d started. Time to cool down wouldn’t be a bad idea. After checking to make certain he’d turned everything off, he made his way to Cody’s bedroom.

He stopped at the door and leaned against the frame. He felt sorry for Cody, he wasn’t able to do much for himself. But battling with Mitch wouldn’t help, and both of them understood it. Mitch knew Cody’s anger came from the frustration of being unable to do anything for himself. His family helping was bad enough, but that Mitch had arrived out of the wild blue and took over Cody’s care left him angry.

Mitch struggled to create an easier situation. Right now he wasn’t having much luck. Cody spotted Mitch at the door.

“What?” Cody snarled.

“You need to eat. It will be oatmeal again if you don’t figure out something else.”

Cody made a sound Mitch couldn’t identify with accuracy, but it left no question as to the ire of the person making it. Trent stood still and chuckled. “What the hell was that? It sounded like a cross between an elk in rut and a wet cat.”

Cody tried to reply several times, but each time he would abort the effort. Then his chest wiggled and a small laugh escaped his lips. After a few seconds more he laughed in earnest. The laughter might was tinged with a note of hysteria, but at least it meant Cody was making noises that didn’t consist of bitching at Trent. But the humor shifted to sobs. This was Cody’s realization of the severity of his injury.

Mitch moved close, trying not to touch anything that would cause more pain, but pulled Cody’s head against his shoulder, trying to comfort Cody. Between his tears Mitch made out “I almost died. They told me they thought I wouldn’t make it.”

“But you did. That’s what matters. Once the casts and stuff are off, and you have a few months of rehab, you’ll be fine.”

Cody groaned against Mitch’s shoulder. “Months?”

Mitch couldn’t keep from laughing at the reaction. “Do you want me to lie? Would that be better?”

“Yes! Lie!”

“Okay, everything will be fine tomorrow and you’ll be back to one-hundred percent. Now, eggs and toast, or yummy delicious oatmeal?”

 

[If you want to know more about Sam and Gordy don’t miss “Tackling the Subject” the story of how they met. Preorder is June 20th and Early Release slated for July 4th.]


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

 

Double Trouble: Chapter 107

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 107

Mitch drove up to the front gate of Gordy and Sam’s ranch. Other than a few bathroom and food stops, he’d been driving since before dawn. Now his butt had been pounded into a numb lump of ass muscle. But he’d made several calls and a couple of text messages to their friends. So far Cody was progressing well. He’d been moved from Intensive Care yesterday, and Sam had told him the doctor said the hospital would release Cody in a few days. When he was about a hundred miles away from his friends, Mitch had called, and a frantic Sam informed him that the doctor decided it would be okay for Cody to go home—if he had constant care.

Mitch had reassured Sam he’d be arriving in a few hours and was ready to stay for as long as they needed him. The relief in Sam’s voice was unmistakable. The conversation lasted only a short time longer—Sam was anxious to get back to the hospital, and Mitch needed to hit the road.

The final few hours of driving wore on Mitch’s nerves, but now that he’d arrived the urgency lessened and he began to think through what he needed to accomplish. Mitch understood he didn’t have the most developed skills for caring for other people. But years ago when he was thrown from his horse during a tornado that hit the ranch, Darrin took up the role of full-time caretaker for him. Was it embarrassing and uncomfortable—hell yes? But there comes a time when you have to suck it up and do what needs to be done. Sam and Gordy would do the same for Mitch’s family. It wasn’t like Mitch was going to be the only caretaker, but Sam and Gordy needed a break. It is going to take a village—a masculine village filled with folks who will help regardless. Now was time for his family, as unique as it was, to help.

As Mitch sat in the driveway, a slender figure stepped onto the porch, shaded his eyes against the bright sun and waved. It was good to see Sam again even if it wasn’t in the situation Mitch would have liked best. They kept in touch though, so he and Darrin kept up with their friend’s lives. Their reunion wasn’t under the best of circumstances, but it could have been worse.

Mitch drove the remaining short distance to the house, parked and climbed out of the pickup. What started as a quiet walk to greet his friend changed into a sprint at each other ending with a long overdue embrace. They held each other tight, and Mitch slapped Sam on the back until he wriggled away from Mitch’s enthusiastic greeting. Sam held his palm toward Mitch and grinned.

“Damn, Mitch. We’re getting to be old timers, and you’re still beating the hell out of me every time we see each other.”

Mitch stepped close and put his arm around Sam’s shoulders. “You guys are our oldest friends. I’m ecstatic Cody is getting better, and I’ll do anything he needs.”

“Gordy went to the grocery store. We didn’t have any food after living at the hospital for all this time. Come in, and I’ll introduce you and Cody.” He paused before turning back to Mitch. “I’ll warn you though. He’s not dealing with all this very well. He’s in pain and a lot like dealing with a foul-tempered rattlesnake.”

Mitch laughed. “I’m the perfect nursemaid then!”

Sam looked a little guilty but smiled. “Yeah, that’s what we thought too.”

[If you want to know more about Sam and Gordy don’t miss “Tackling the Subject.” It’s the story of how they met. Watch for its release in July.]


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 106

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 106

Mitch bolted from his fitful sleep by his phone ringing. He almost fell off the couch where he’d ended up sleeping after Darrin threatened him violence after he’d kept both of them awake for most of the night with his tossing and turning. Trying to become coherent, he stared at the screen on his phone until the individual letters formed words for him.

It was Sam.

This time his motions were frantic to push against the right part of the screen. There were times when Mitch missed the old days and the phones that were not so technological demanding—especially when he was not awake. He finally hit the right button, and a voice came from the phone.

“Mitch?”

Joy, happiness, numbness, horrible loss. Mitch wasn’t sure what he heard in those few words. But it didn’t matter, Sam and Gordy were their oldest friends, and they’d do whatever needed to happen to help them. A crisis like this was when friends stepped in to help.

“Yeah. I’m here.”

With no extra words, Sam plunged into his news. “He made it through the night. He’s still not out of the high-risk category, but he’s responding to voices. I’m trying to get Gordy home, but am not having too much luck.”

“Have either of you had a break?”

There was a pause that drew a little smile from Mitch because he knew Sam was shaking his head. A second later Sam began speaking again. “No. We’ve all been at the hospital since the wreck. They’ll only let one of us back at a time, so the other sat in the visitor’s room with everyone.”

Mitch tensed. He knew how independent Sam and Gordy were about taking care of their problems. Mitch recognized a kindred soul. But at this point, it was time to help, regardless of whether they thought they needed the help or not. Both Gordy and Sam’s family was back in Oklahoma. At that point, it only took a second for Mitch to make up his mind.

“Sam. I’m coming to help. I know you don’t want to take anyone’s help, but with everything that’s happening, I can get food or something. I can stay in a motel so I’m not in the way if that would help.”

The pregnant pause that followed was all the confirmation I needed. “See! Now I know you can use the help.”

Sam cleared his throat and paused for a few seconds before he started talking. “If you’re sure—I don’t think we can continue juggling everything. Both our mother’s offered to come. Gordy’s practically had to be locked up to keep her from coming.” There was a brief pause, and Sam chuckled. “She can be a little strong willed.”

Mitch flashed back to his graduate school days and chuckled. “It does seem like I remember that about her. A very determined woman—especially about her kids.”

Mitch moved with determination as Sam wrapped up the conversation. He wasn’t terribly surprised to find Darrin up, packing a couple of travel bags for him. His attention was brought back to the present when he realized Sam was wrapping up the conversation.

“Okay, sounds fine. Darrin is already getting me ready. I should be there in late afternoon.”

He clicked the phone off after a few final pleasantries and turned to Darrin. “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you up. I guess you heard that I’m going to help.”

“Of course you are,” Darrin said as he packed another bag with underwear. “We both knew one of us was going if Cody survived.”

Mitch stood a little surprised when Darrin turned to him. “Get your ass in gear and get dressed. You have a long drive ahead of you.”


The links listed below go directly to the individual stories.

Double Trouble: Chapter 105

 

Wednesday Briefs

The continuing saga of three generations of ranching family. Below the story you’ll find links to other flash fictions.


Chapter 105

“Your grandfathers aren’t doing very well. A kid of one of their friend’s totaled his pickup, and they don’t expect him to make it.”

Danny leaned up from the backseat. “Is this the people they went to college with?”

Trent replied without glancing back at the twins. “Gordy has a Ph.D., like Darrin. But he works for some organic agriculture thing around Denver. They’ve kept in touch since college. Gordy is a genius according to Darrin.”

Danny considered what Trent said briefly before plunging in with more questions. “He must be hurt bad. What happened? What’s wrong?”

“They didn’t ask,” Trent said. “All we know is it was an automobile accident.” Continue reading