Tuesday, February 21, 2017

{Release Blast w/ #GIVEAWAY} Rainbows Bring Riches by Stacy Eaton


RAINBOWS TO RICHES
The Celebration Township, book 4
by Stacy Eaton

{Book Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Legion Series by K.C. Finn



Legion Lost
By K.C. Finn
Genre: Dystopian


One Underground girl escapes from a soldiers’ raid. Lost and above ground for the very first time, she has only one option to secure her survival: the Legion—a government organization for teenagers with no place left to run. Leave your identity at the gate, and join a life of military service until you reach adulthood. It sounds ideal, but the Underground girl knows that the System won’t stop looking for its female runaway. So, she tells a lie about her gender.
And it will change her forever.
Posing as Raja, a boy-soldier, the Underground girl is thrown into Legion life at its full, brutal speed. Here, she meets Senior Commander Briggs, whose savage authority reigns over the teenage soldiers. Amongst them are a band of oddballs known as the South Tower Rejects, led by Stirling, a tall, savvy stranger with bright copper hair and eyes that shine like oceans. There’s something hiding behind his cocky smile, and Raja wants to know what it is.


Legion Found

The heart-wrenching sequel to Kindle Press's LEGION LOST has arrived. As our heroine Raja suffers with intense grief, her new identity as a Highland rebel soldier is about to be put to the test. As part of an intrepid rescue mission, she and her fellow Highlanders will travel south to infiltrate the System itself, discovering the fresh horrors that Governor Prudell has subjected her people to. Death, destruction and all-out war awaits, and nothing can prepare them for the terror of the truth.
Goodreads * Amazon



“Whoa,” says a voice near the doorway to the chamber.
It takes me a moment to break the glare that Sun and I are sharing, but the sight of Goddie and Apryl is a welcome relief when I spot them entering the room. Apryl has a small bag of provisions which she hands me, and I sling it over my shoulder as my gaze rests on Goddie. He’s looking me over, his mouth open a little.
“I know. Don’t say it,” I tell him. “I look ridiculous.”
“No,” Goddie says gently. “I mean... ya don’t look like you, dat’s for sure. But ya look... good. Okay.”
“Wow,” Apryl adds dryly. “That was charming. You’re just full of backhanded compliments today.”
“I,” Goddie begins at once, wincing at me apologetically. “No, I don’t mean dat, I mean... Oh hell, ya know what I mean, right?”
“Seldom if ever,” I tell him.
But really, I do know. I must look different, so radically different from normal. And yet this is how I was supposed to turn out, I presume. Mumma’s little girl. Long hair and dresses. Pretty as a picture.
“So long as it gets me in and out unnoticed,” I add quickly, feeling the redness in my cheeks. “As soon as we know where Dad is, we can make a move.”
“Kip’s waiting for you on the surface,” Apryl tells me with a nod. “He’s going to tail you both back to the walls in case there’s any trouble. But I want you to take this.”
She reaches into her pocket, then forces something small and cold into my hand. It’s a brooch, apparently made of gold, and it has a black stone set in the centre that glistens a little strangely. The circular piece of jewellery has a pin on the back for it to be secured on clothing. When I don’t do anything with the brooch except stare at it, Apryl huffs and then takes it back. I watch her pinning it to one side of my dress, a little to the right of my heart.
“What’s that?” Sun asks sharply, eyeing the brooch.
“A camera,” Apryl explains. “Delilah and I rigged it up back at the base. Direct feed back to our computers and tablets here.”
“We’ll see everything you do,” Delilah adds.
When I glance towards her, I realise she’s looking directly at Sun Lin. Sun, for her part, seems to pale a little at the eyes on her, but soon she shrugs the comment off in that haughty way of hers.
“Enjoy the show,” she says with a curling smile.

K. C. Finn was born and raised in Cardiff, South Wales, where her love for storytelling grew at a precociously young age. After developing the medical condition M.E. / C.F.S., Kim turned to writing to escape the pressures of disabled living, only to become hooked on the incredible world of publishing.
Kim spends most of her time locked in the writing cave with an obscenely large mug of tea. When not writing, she can be found pursuing her PhD in Linguistics, watching classic British comedy, or concocting evil schemes in the secret laboratory in her attic.
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Amazon


***From February 17th to 23rd, my fantasy novel The Book Of Shade will be 99 cents, a 78% discount on the usual Kindle price.***

Buy it on Amazon!






Monday, February 20, 2017

{Book Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Dream Catchers Series by Sandy Lo


Dream Catchers
Dream Catchers Series Book 1
By Sandy Lo
Genre: Rock Star Romance


Dreams come true only if you believe in them...Haley Foster never bothered to believe in herself or find her dream. Growing up with a silver spoon in her mouth, her parents gave her everything she needed except freedom. Fate steps in at the bus station when Haley bumps into Jordan Walsh, literally. His unpolished manners and rock star attitude rile her, though she is oddly drawn to him. Haley and Jordan's opposing personalities clash while on the bus-before they wind up stranded together! Haley finds herself in quite a predicament with no way to get home. Jordan challenges her to escape her wealthy conformity and go with him to New York, despite their disgust for one another. Haley is enthralled with the carefree, in control and gorgeous Jordan, yet he remains a stranger to her in many ways. With his help, Haley begins to discover who she is and what she wants. She finds herself at a crossroads: go back to her old life where she merely exists or take a stand and chase her dreams.
The DREAM CATCHERS series is not just a rock star romance, but it's about taking chances, chasing dreams, and finding yourself.


Breaking the Moon
Dream Catchers Series Book 2

BREAKING THE MOON is the tumultuous tale of heartache and love, and how sometimes it’s just not enough.
A follow up to 2010′s DREAM CATCHERS, Sandy Lo continues Haley’s journey of self-discovery as she is faced with new obstacles all while trying to understand the tormented past of her boyfriend, Jordan.
In the beginning, love is as easy as breathing. After almost two years of dating, Haley and Jordan are the perfect couple. They’re young, carefree and on the brink of their dream careers. Life is perfect until their world is turned upside down by unexpected news: Haley is pregnant. The couple struggle with the news as well as Jordan’s demons and concepts on family. Will they be able to pick up the pieces after their world shatters?


Expressions
Dream Catchers Series Book 3

EXPRESSIONS is the third installment to Sandy Lo’s DREAM CATCHERS SERIES. The book is a series of vignettes written from the point-of-view of various characters throughout the book series. From letters to blog entries to song lyrics, EXPRESSIONS delves deeper into the minds of the characters. Sandy hopes fans of the series will enjoy this 52-page companion book.


Take Me Home
Dream Catchers Series Book 4

All Cami Woods has ever known was a hard work ethic and an unhealthy marriage that leaves her a single mother of her brand new baby. The story unfolds when Cami takes a vacation to visit friends in Florida and winds up having a hot and steamy affair with a major league baseball player.
That famous baseball player isn’t a stranger, however. He’s Cami's ex-boyfriend, Jordan's little brother, Drew Ashton. With leftover feelings for gorgeous rock star Jordan, Cami finds herself in quite a predicament as his equally irresistible baby brother starts to steal her attention more than just bases.
TAKE ME HOME is a story of loss, loneliness, renewal and true love, making it a wonderful addition to the romantic book series!


The Reunion
Dream Catchers Series Book 5

THE REUNION is the 5th part in the DREAM CATCHERS SERIES. It acts as a direct sequel to “Take Me Home“, following the storyline of music mogul Cami Woods and Yankee short-stop Drew Ashton.
Three years have passed and famed music manager Cami Woods finds herself engaged to the man of her dreams, New York Yankee captain Drew Ashton. While they struggle to balance their busy, high-profile careers, the couple are still smitten with one another and hope to have a baby by the time they marry.
With the pressure of conceiving, Drew’s college reunion approaching, and the confession of leftover feelings from her ex-husband, Cami finds herself once again reevaluating love, but this time, it’s not her feelings she’s concerned with, but rather both her fiance’s and ex-husband’s.
While Drew is pondering the path he has taken in life, which led him away from his first love, Katie, he finds himself pulling away from Cami, the one person who filled the hole in his heart. Drew feels Cami is too independent to be the wife he always imagined.
Faced with the realization she might lose Drew after he sees Katie again, Cami contemplates falling into old habits, like the temporary comfort in the arms of Danny, her ex.
THE REUNION is a journey through the ugly feelings of jealousy, suspicion, guilt and living in the past, but ultimately, it’s about learning from old mistakes and taking hold of your future before it’s too late.


Spotlight
Dream Catchers Series Book 6

Aylin Ashton always had a voracious heart and is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. At twenty-one, she wants more than the celebrity lifestyle her family is known for—she wants an identity of her own with friends who care about who she is and not her last name.
Most of all, Aylin wants the love story her parents have. In a world full of divorce, and a society that has made it hard for her to be “normal”, she is not sure if true love can be her reality.
She finds herself struggling to grow romantically and keeps hitting a dead-end with men. From the egotistical pop-rocker Rad Trick to hipster music critic Mike, Aylin is not particularly gaga for either of them, and can’t help to pine for too-old-for-her, Colin Houlihan, who happens to be her father’s tour manager.
The impetuous Aylin can’t help but make passes at the flirty, always doting on her Colin, and when he actually admits an attraction to her, the two are on dangerous ground.
The experience leaves Aylin wounded, but ultimately sends her on a journey to find out who she is and what she really wants, and maybe to the special someone she had hoped for.
*"Spotlight" is the 6th book in the "Dream Catchers" Series and is from the perspective of photographer Haley Foster and rock star Jordan Walsh's daughter, Aylin.*
**Releases March 1st, 2017!!**


Sandy Lo's personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, "Lost In You," followed by the "Dream Catchers" Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the "50 Writers You Should Be Reading" list by The Authors Show, and recently, both "Dream Catchers" and "Breaking The Moon" reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon's Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write "The Watch Dog," which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. She has true dedication to her craft!





















Friday, February 17, 2017

{Book Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Tapped by Liz Crowe


Tapped
The Brewing Passion Series #1
By Liz Crowe
Genre: NA Romance

When wealthy brewery owner Austin Fitzgerald meets sexy saleswoman Evelyn Benedict, angry sparks fly. They seem destined to clash, until a hot hookup in a cold beer cooler changes everything.
For Austin, it's a life-altering moment that sets him on a path away from his birthright, while Evelyn must face her fears about committing to a man considered the playboy of the micro-brewing world.
The power of preconceived notions nearly tears them apart—until they meet up with brew master Ross, who opens their eyes to a deeper, even more erotic connection.
But three strong personalities don’t always make for the best emotional mix and when a simple misunderstanding causes chaos, it’s up to Ross to somehow repair the tattered shreds of their relationship.
Goodreads * Amazon * Totally Bound


“Austin?” Her voice behind him made him stand and stretch, his cock already tingling in anticipation. “Where did you go? Jesus, what time is it? Get your ass back here.”
He grinned. “Think you can just boss me like that, woman?” He leaned on the door frame, drinking her in with his eyes. “Because you can’t.”
“I’m not bossing, dear. Just suggesting.” She let the sheet fall aside, revealing her completely naked body. His smile widened when she bent one knee and reached down to touch herself. “You know, only suggesting that you get your sweet self over here and help a girl out.”
He grinned, yanked off his shirt and shorts, and dove into the warm nest of sheets and Evelyn. The frustration at her most recent rejection was already forgotten in the amazing smell of her skin and the lovely sound of her moans as he did what she suggested, for an hour or two.
Later, when they lay tangled in damp sheets, catching their breath, their fingers clasped together between them, Evelyn sighed. “So, tell me something,” she said. Austin forced himself up to full consciousness as best he could.
“Hmm,” he said, turning to face her, taking in the flushed, well-fucked look on her face with more than a little self-satisfaction.
“How is it…I mean, with two, um, guys and a girl?”
Austin hesitated, then put her knuckles to his lips, buying himself some time.
She pulled her fingers free of his, sat up and wrapped the sheet around herself. One thing about his Evelyn, he mused, watching her. He would never accuse her of being indirect. About anything.
“Don’t baby me, Austin. I mean it. I want to know.”
“I have no doubt that you want to know, my love.” He propped himself on one elbow and ordered his thoughts.
“Don’t think about it, damn you. Just…tell me.” She swept her hair up off her neck, making his mouth water at the sight of her flushed skin. Making him want to grab her, hold her down, lick the sweat droplets and lose himself in her all over again. “Yo, earth to lover boy,” she demanded, snapping her fingers in front of his face. “Spill it. What’s it like? I mean do you… Would you… Oh hell, never mind.” She turned and started to climb out of bed before he reached out and grabbed her arm.
“Hang on a second. I don’t mind telling you. I guess I didn’t expect you to want to know. Most…women…aren’t that into it.”
She let him pull her back into the warm bed and curled into him so he was pressed up against her back, his lips on her bare, delicious shoulder. “Stop it,” she whispered. “Tell me what it’s like to have sex with a woman with another guy in on the act.”

He sighed and held onto her. “It’s…pretty amazing,” he admitted. “I mean, I can’t speak for the women I’ve… We’ve…well, you know what I mean.”

Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance: Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.












Wednesday, February 15, 2017

{Promo Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} Knights in Time by Chris Karlsen

KNIGHTS IN TIME
by Chris Karlsen

{Release Event} Coloring Under the Covers by Tiffany Fox and Deena Rae







COLORING FOR A CAUSE
PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT LIFEAFTER PROJECT

BUY IT NOW!



At Beyond DEF and E-BookBuilders, we love books. We edit, design, ghostwrite, market, layout, and all things in-between. And don’t get us started on the books we read aside from the ones we see for work.

Tiffany Fox is the Redhead behind Beyond DEF; she’s the editor’s editor.

Deena Rae is the Amazon behind E-BookBuilders.

Between them, they have worked on some of the most amazing books on the shelves since 2010. They want to share their love of book covers with you in this coloring book.

Each two-page spread contains a cover for you to “design” as your own, as well as the book description and author information. We have included easy-to-navigate QR Codes to aid in purchasing the book or stalking the author.

Grab your fancy pencils and a glass of wine and prepare yourself to spend a relaxing time putting your artistic spin on some of the most beloved book covers on the market.




ABOUT THE BENEFICIARY


Our Mission

Our mission at the LifeAfter Project is to help others, plain and simple. We aim to support research and provide educational content designed to inspire and spread awareness for suicide prevention, substance abuse and domestic abuse throughout our nation and to all nations around the world.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Hours are 24/7. Toll free – 800 -273-TALK (8255).


Stats

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. 4th leading cause for adults 15 – 64
  • Each year 42,773 Americans die by suicide (Approximately 117 per day)
  • For each suicide, 25 others attempt it (Total of 1,069,325)
  • Suicide costs the US 44 Billion annually
  • Females attempt suicide 3 times more often than males
  • 90% of all who die of suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death
  • 25 million Americans suffer from depression
  • Over half of the suicides in America stems from depression
  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 – 90% of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. However, first, depression has to be recognized.




MEET THE CREATORS

Tiffany Fox is a graduate of Missouri Southern State University with a Bachelor of Science in sociology. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Arts in publishing. Since 2012, she has dedicated her life to her passion for literature. Tiffany has focused her skills on creative marketing strategies to further help authors achieve their literary goals. In the last couple of years, she has pushed her horizons in publishing and event coordinating with several successful author events called Indie Mashup. Along with her passion for marketing, her obvious obsession for books has allowed Tiffany to become a pivotal reference expert in editorial publishing. Authors are guided in an extensive, hands-on approach as she edits their manuscript, molding it into a beautifully polished novel. 






Deena Rae is the Digital Director of The Book Connection and owner of E-BookBuilders. With 20 years in the background of professional independent publishing, she took the plunge and decided to do it full-time in an effort to help move The Book Connection into the e-publishing arena. As a formatter who uses HTML, she has made E-Book Builders the company to depend on for difficult-to-format manuscripts and non-fiction. Even with a multitude of best-selling authors on her client list, she is more than prepared to take a new author and show them the process and answer any questions an aspiring author might have.








***ALL covers used with permission of the authors, publishers, AND cover designers.***

{#GIVEAWAY Event} No Chocolate for Me Chocoholics Valentine Giveaway~Ends 3/5

No Chocolate For Me Chocoholics Valentine Giveaway

Didn't get Chocolates for Valentines?
We've got some for you!!!!


When you just can't get enough chocolate, Two Rivers Chocoholic is the perfect sampler pack. It features multiple chocolate coffee flavors paired with caramel, coconut, mint and more. Indulge in the chocolatey hot cocoas that come in mint, butterscotch, salted caramel, toasted marshmallow, and of course milk chocolate flavors. They use the finest 100% Arabica beans that are carefully infused with rich chocolate flavors and luscious chocolate in their hot cocoas. Dive into decadence with this chocolate flavored coffee and creamy hot cocoa mix of cups.

Find out what I thought of this Variety Box!
See Complete Review HERE


Are you ready to enjoy some of our Valentine Chocolate? Want to indulge in some chocolate goodness for FREE? If you said YES to both questions! You're in luck! Thanks to this awesome sponsor THREE lucky readers are going to get the opportunity to do just that! Enter on the widget below for your chance to win. Remember the more entries you do the better your chances are!


No Chocolate For Me Chocoholics Valentine Coffee & Cocoa Giveaway Ends 3/5

Welcome To The
No Chocolate For Me
Chocoholics Valentine
Giveaway

Dates: February 15, 2017 at 12:01 am EST through March 5, 2017 at 11:59 pm EST

Prize: THREE lucky readers will win a 40 Count Box of Two Rivers Coffee's Chocoholic Sampler Pack.

Hosted By: PaulaMS' Giveaways, Reviews, & Freebies

Co-Hosted By: Deliciously Savvy and IMHO Views, Reviews, and Giveaways

Sponsored By: 

Two Rivers Coffee


Please show some our sponsor some LOVE!


I would like to give a big shout out to all the blogs participating in this giveaway! I couldn't do it without you. Thank you for bringing this promotion to your readers. 

Please take a minute to follow, subscribe, like, and share them so that we continue to bring you the best giveaways possible! 
If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified. Giveaway open to US residents 18 and older. Thanks!

GOOD LUCK!

No Chocolate For Me Chocoholics Valentine Giveaway


If you have any questions or are a brand/company and would like to work with Paula Stewart please contact us HERE.

As Always…. Thank You For Visiting Today ~ Please Leave Some Comment Love While You Are Here!



Disclaimer: PaulaMS' Giveaways, Reviews, and Freebies nor any blog promoting this giveaway, is not responsible for the awarding of the prize. Sponsors are responsible for prize fulfillment. Any Questions about this giveaway? Email Paula At paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: PaulaMS has received the product mentioned above for free to facilitate the writing of this review. *Some of the links on this blog post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, she only recommends products or services that she uses personally and believes will add value to readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

{Book Tour w/ #GIVEAWAY} War Hawk by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood

War Hawk

by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood

January 10, 2017 Book Blast

on Tour February 13 - 28, 2017

Synopsis:

War Hawk by James Rollins
Former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his war dog Kane are thrust into a global conspiracy in this second Sigma Force spinoff adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling author James Rollins and Grant Blackwood.
Tucker Wayne's past and present collide when a former army colleague comes to him for help. She's on the run from brutal assassins hunting her and her son. To keep them safe, Tucker must discover who killed a brilliant young idealist-a crime that leads back to the most powerful figures in the U.S. government.
From the haunted swamplands of the deep South to the beachheads of a savage civil war in Trinidad, Tucker and his beloved war dog, Kane, must work together to discover the truth behind a mystery that dates back to World War II, involving the genius of a young code-breaker, Alan Turing...
They will be forced to break the law, expose national secrets, and risk everything to stop a madman determined to control the future of modern warfare for his own diabolical ends. But can Tucker and Kane withstand a force so indomitable that it threatens our future?


Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date:December 27th 2016 (first published April 19th 2016)
Number of Pages: 544
ISBN: 0062135295 (ISBN13: 9780062135292)
Series: Tucker Wayne #2

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Spring 1940 Buckinghamshire, England
Few in the Abwehr’s military intelligence knew his true name or even his intent here on British soil. The spy went by the code name Geist, the German word for ghost, and for him failure was not an option.
He lay on his stomach in a muddy ditch, with ice-encrusted cattails stabbing at his face. He ignored the midnight cold, the frigid gusts of breezes, the ache of his frozen joints. Instead, he concentrated on the view through the binoculars fixed to his face.
He and his assigned team lay alongside the banks of a small lake. A hundred yards off, on the opposite shore, a row of stately rural mansions sat dark, brightened here and there by the rare sliver of yellow light peeking through blackout curtains. Still, he spotted rolls of barbed wire mounted atop the garden walls of one particular estate.
Bletchley Park.
The place also went by a code name: Station X.
The seemingly nondescript country house masked an operation run by British intelligence, a joint effort by MI6 and the Government Code and Cypher School. In a series of wooden huts set up on those idyllic acres, the Allied forces had gathered the greatest mathematicians and cryptographers from around the globe, including one man, Alan Turing, who was decades ahead of his peers. Station X’s goal was to break the German military’s Enigma code, using tools built by the geniuses here. The group had already succeeded in building an electromechanical decrypting device called The Bombe, and rumors abounded about a new project already under way, to build Colossus, the world’s first programmable electric computer.
But destroying such devices was not his goal this night.
Hidden upon those grounds was a prize beyond anything his superiors could imagine: a breakthrough that held the potential to change the very fate of the world.
And I will possess it—or die trying.
Geist felt his heart quicken.
To his left, his second in command, Lieutenant Hoffman, pulled the collar of his jacket tighter around his neck as an icy rain began to fall. He shifted, cursing his complaint. “Gott verlassenen Land.
Geist kept his binoculars in place as he scolded the head of the commandos. “Silence. If anyone hears you speaking German, we’ll be stuck here for the rest of the war.”
Geist knew a firm hand was needed with the eight-man team under his charge. The members had been handpicked by the Abwehr not only for their superb martial skills but for their grasp of English. Whatever the British might lack in military presence out here in the rural regions, they made up for by a vigilant citizenry.
“Truck!” Hoffman rasped.
Geist glanced over his shoulder to the road passing through the woods behind him. A lorry trundled along, its headlights muted by blackout slits.
“Hold your breath,” Geist hissed.
He wasn’t about to let their presence catch the attention of the passing driver. He and the others kept their faces pressed low until the sound of the truck’s puttering engine faded away.
“Clear,” Hoffman said.
Geist checked his watch and searched again with his binoculars.
What is taking them so long?
Everything depended on clockwork timing. He and his team had offloaded from a U-boat five days ago onto a lonely beach. Afterward, the group had split into teams of two or three and worked their way across the countryside, ready with papers identifying them as day laborers and farmhands. Once they reached the target area, they had regrouped at a nearby hunting shack, where a cache of weapons awaited them, left by sleeper agents who had prepped the way in advance for Geist’s team.
Only one last detail remained.
A wink of light caught his attention from the grounds neighboring the Bletchley Park estate. It shuttered off once, then back on again—then finally darkness returned.
It was the signal he had been waiting for.
Geist rolled up to an elbow. “Time to move out.”
Hoffman’s team gathered their weapons: assault rifles and noise-suppressed pistols. The largest commando—a true bull of a man named Kraus—hauled up an MG42 heavy machine gun, capable of firing twelve hundred rounds per minute.
Geist studied the black-streaked faces around him. They had trained for three months within a life-sized mock-up of Bletchley Park. By now, they could all walk those grounds blindfolded. The only unknown variable was the level of on-site defense. The research campus was secured by both soldiers and guards in civilian clothes.
Geist went over the plan one last time. “Once inside the estate, torch your assigned buildings. Cause as much panic and confusion as possible. In that chaos, Hoffman and I will attempt to secure the package. If shooting starts, take down anything that moves. Is that understood?”
Each man nodded his head.
With everyone prepared—ready to die if need be—the group set off and followed the contour of the lake, sticking to the mist-shrouded forest. Geist led them past the neighboring estates. Most of these old homes were shuttered, awaiting the summer months. Soon servants and staff would be arriving to prepare the country homes for the leisure season, but that was still a couple of weeks away.
It was one of the many reasons this narrow window of opportunity had been chosen by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence. And there was one other time-critical element.
“Access to the bunker should be just up ahead,” Geist whispered back to Hoffman. “Ready the men.”
The British government—aware that Adolf Hitler would soon launch an air war against this island nation—had begun constructing underground bunkers for its critical installations, including Bletchley Park. The bunker at Station X was only half completed, offering a brief break in the secure perimeter around the estate.
Geist intended to take advantage of that weakness this night.
He led his team toward a country house that neighbored Bletchley Park. It was a red-brick Tudor with yellow shutters. He approached the stacked-stone fence that surrounded the grounds and waved his team to flatten against it.
“Where are we going?” Hoffman whispered. “I thought we were going through some bunker.”
“We are.” Only Geist had been given this last piece of intelligence.
He crouched low and hurried toward the gate, which he found unlocked. The winking signal earlier had confirmed that all was in readiness here.
Geist pushed open the gate, slipped through, and led his team across the lawn to the home’s glass-enclosed conservatory. He found another unlocked door there, hurried inside with his men, and crossed to the kitchen. The all-white cabinetry glowed in the moonlight streaming through the windows.
Wasting no time, he stepped to a door beside the pantry. He opened it and turned on his flashlight, revealing a set of stairs. At the bottom, he found a stone-floored cellar; the walls were white-painted brick, the exposed ceiling a maze of water pipes running through the floor joists. The cellar spanned the width of the house.
He led his team past stacks of boxes and furniture draped in dusty sheets to the cellar’s eastern wall. As directed, he pulled away a rug to reveal a hole that had been recently dug through the floor. Another bit of handiwork from Canaris’s sleeper agents.
Geist shone his flashlight down the hole, revealing water flowing below.
“What is it?” Hoffman asked.
“Old sewer pipe. It connects all the estates circling the lake.”
“Including Bletchley Park,” Hoffman realized with a nod.
“And its partially completed bunker,” Geist confirmed. “It’ll be a tight squeeze, but we’ll only need to cross a hundred meters to reach the construction site of that underground bomb shelter and climb back up.”
According to the latest intelligence, those new foundations of the bunker were mostly unguarded and should offer them immediate access into the very heart of the estate’s grounds.
“The Brits won’t know what hit them,” Hoffman said with a mean grin.
Geist again led the way, slipping feetfirst through the hole and dropping with a splash into the ankle-deep dank water. He kept one hand on the moldy wall and headed along the old stone pipe. It was only a meter and a half wide, so he had to keep his back bowed, holding his breath against the stink.
After a handful of steps, he clicked off his flashlight and aimed for the distant glow of moonlight. He moved more slowly along the curving pipe, keeping his sloshing to a minimum, not wanting to alert any guards who might be canvassing the bunker’s construction site. Hoffman’s teammates followed his example.
At last, he reached that moonlit hole in the pipe’s roof. A temporary grate covered the newly excavated access point to the old sewer. He fingered the chain and padlock that secured the grate in place.
Unexpected but not a problem.
Hoffman noted his attention and passed him a set of bolt cutters. With great care, Geist snapped through the lock’s hasp and freed the chain. He shared a glance with the lieutenant, confirming everyone was ready—then pushed the grate open and pulled himself up through the hole.
He found himself crouched atop the raw concrete foundations of the future bunker. The skeletal structure of walls, conduits, and plumbing surrounded him. Scaffolding and ladders led up toward the open grounds of the estate above. He hurried to one side, ducking under a scaffold, out of direct view. One by one the remaining eight commandoes joined him.
Geist took a moment to orient himself. He should be within forty meters of their target: Hut 8. It was one of several green-planked structures built on these grounds. Each had its own purpose, but his team’s goal was the research section overseen by the mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing.
He gestured for the men to huddle together.
“Remember, no shooting unless you’re intercepted. Toss those incendiaries into Huts 4 and 6. Let the fire do the work for us. With any luck, the distraction will create enough confusion to cover our escape.”
Hoffman pointed to two of his men. “Schwab, you take your team to Hut 4. Faber, you and your men have Hut 6. Kraus, you trail us. Be ready to use that machine gun of yours if there is any trouble.”
The lieutenant’s men nodded in agreement, then scaled the ladders and disappeared out of the open pit of the bunker. Geist followed on their heels with Hoffman and Kraus trailing him.
Staying low, he headed north until he reached Hut 8 and flattened against the wooden siding. The door should be around the next corner. He waited a breath, making sure no alarm had been raised.
He counted down in his head until finally shouts arose to the east and west. “Fire, fire, fire!
Upon that signal, he slid around the corner and climbed a set of plank steps to reach the door into Hut 8. He turned the knob as the night grew brighter, flickering with fresh flames.
As more shouts rose, he pushed through the doorway and into a small room. The center was dominated by two trestle tables covered in stacks of punch cards. The whitewashed walls were plastered with propaganda posters warning about ever-present Nazi eyes and ears.
With his pistol raised, he and Hoffman rushed across and burst through the far doorway into the next room. Seated at a long table, two women sorted through more piles of punch cards. The woman to the right was already looking up. She spun in her chair, reaching for a red panic button on the wall.
Hoffmann shot her twice in the side. The suppressed gunfire was no louder than a couple of firm coughs.
Geist took out the second woman with a single round through her throat. She toppled backward, her face still frozen in an expression of surprise.
They must have been Wrens—members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service—who were assisting in the work being conducted here.
Geist hurried to the first woman, searched her pockets, and came up with a thumb-sized brass key. On the second woman, he found a second key, this one iron.
With his prizes in hand, he hurried back to the main room.
From outside, there arose the wonk-wonk-wonk of an alarm klaxon.
So far our subterfuge seems to be—
The rattling blasts of a submachine gun cut off this last thought. More gunfire followed. Hoffman cursed.
“We’ve been discovered,” the lieutenant warned.
Geist refused to give up. He crossed to a waist-high safe along one wall. As expected, it was secured by two keyed locks, top and bottom, and a combination dial in the center.
“Need to hurry, sir,” Hoffmann rasped next to him. “Sounds like we got a lot of foot traffic outside.”
Geist pointed to the door. “Kraus, clear a path for us back to the bunker.”
The large soldier nodded, hefted up his heavy weapon, and vanished out the door. As Geist inserted his two keys, Kraus’s MG42 opened up outside, roaring into the night.
Geist focused on the task at hand, turning one key, then the other, getting a satisfying thunk-thunk in return. He moved his hand to the combination lock. This was truly the test of the Abwehr’s reach.
He spun the dial: nine…twenty-nine…four.
He took a breath, let it out, and depressed the lever.
The safe door swung open.
Thank God.
A quick search inside revealed only one item: a brown accordion folder wrapped in red rubber bands. He read the name stenciled on the outside.
The ARES Project
He knew Ares was the Greek god of war, which was appropriate, considering the contents. But that connotation only hinted at the true nature of the work found inside. The acronym—ARES—stood for something far more earth-shattering, something powerful enough to rewrite history. He grabbed the folder with trembling hands, knowing the terrifying wonders it held, and stuffed the prize into his jacket.
His second in command, Hoffman, stepped over to the hut’s door, cracked it open, and yelled outside. “Kraus!”
“Komm!” Kraus answered in German, forsaking any need for further subterfuge. “Get out here before they regroup!”
Geist joined Hoffman at the door, pulled the pin on an incendiary grenade, and tossed it back into the center of the room. Both men lunged outside as it exploded behind them, blowing out the windows with gouts of flames
To their left, a pair of British soldiers sprinted around the corner of the hut. Kraus cut them down with his machine gun, but more soldiers followed, taking cover and returning fire, forcing Geist’s team away from the excavated bunker—away from their only escape route.
As they retreated deeper into the grounds, smoke billowed more thickly, accompanied by the acrid stench of burning wood.
Another set of figures burst through the pall. Kraus came close to carving them in half with his weapon, but at the last moment, he halted, recognizing his fellow commandos. It was Schwab’s team.
“What about Faber and the others?” Hoffman asked.
Schwab shook his head. “Saw them killed.”
That left only the six of them.
Geist quickly improvised. “We’ll make for the motor pool.”
He led the way at a dead run. The team tossed incendiaries as they went, adding to the confusion, strafing down alleyways, dropping anything that moved.
Finally they reached a row of small sheds. Fifty meters beyond, the main gate came into view. It looked like a dozen soldiers crouched behind concrete barriers, guns up, looking for targets. Spotlights panned the area.
Before being seen, Geist directed his group into a neighboring Quonset hut, where three canvas-sided lorries were parked.
“We need that gate cleared,” Geist said, looking at Hoffman and his men, knowing what he was asking of them. For any chance of escape, many of them would likely die in the attempt.
The lieutenant stared him down. “We’ll get it done.”
Geist clapped Hoffman on the shoulder, thanking him.
The lieutenant set out with his remaining four men.
Geist crossed and climbed into one of the lorries, where he found the keys in the ignition. He started the engine, warming it up, then hopped back out again. He crossed to the remaining two trucks and popped their hoods.
In the distance, Kraus’s machine gun began a lethal chattering, accompanied by the rattle of assault rifles and the overlapping crump of exploding grenades.
Finally, a faint call reached him.
Klar, klar, klar!” Hoffman shouted.
Geist hurried back to the idling lorry, climbed inside, and put the truck into gear—but not before tossing two grenades into each of the open engine compartments of the remaining lorries. As he rolled out and hit the accelerator, the grenades exploded behind him.
He raced to the main gate and braked hard. British soldiers lay dead; the spotlights shot out. Hoffman rolled the gate open, limping on a bloody leg. Supported by a teammate, Kraus hobbled his way into the back of the lorry. Hoffman joined him up front, climbing into the passenger seat and slamming the door angrily.
“Lost Schwab and Braatz.” Hoffman waved ahead. “Go, go.”
With no time to mourn, Geist gunned the engine and raced down the country road. He kept one eye on the side mirror, watching for any sign of pursuit. Taking a maze of turns, he tried to further confound their escape route. Finally, he steered the lorry down a narrow dirt tract lined by overgrown English oaks. At the end was a large barn, its roof half collapsed. To the left was a burned-out farmhouse.
Geist parked beneath some overhanging boughs and shut off the engine. “We should see to everyone’s injuries,” he said. “We’ve lost enough good men.”
“Everybody out,” Hoffman ordered, rapping a knuckle on the back of the compartment.
After they all climbed free, Geist surveyed the damage. “You’ll all get the Knight’s Cross for your bravery tonight. We should—”
A harsh shout cut him off, barked in German. “Halt! Hände hoch!
A dozen men, bristling with weapons, emerged from the foliage and from behind the barn.
“Nobody move!” the voice called again, revealing a tall American with a Tommy gun in hand.
Geist recognized the impossibility of their team’s situation and lifted his arms. Hoffman and his last two men followed his example, dropping their weapons and raising their hands.
It was over.
As the Americans frisked Hoffman and the others, a lone figure stepped from the darkened barn door and approached Geist. He pointed a .45-caliber pistol at Geist’s chest.
“Tie him up,” he ordered one of his men.
As his wrists were efficiently bound in rope, his captor spoke in a rich southern twang. “Colonel Ernie Duncan, 101st Airborne. You speak English?”
“Yes.”
“Whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?”
Schweinhund,” Geist answered with a sneer.
“Son, I’m pretty sure that isn’t your name. I’ll assume that slur is intended for me. So then let’s just call you Fritz. You and I are going to have a talk. Whether it’s pleasant or ugly is up to you.”
The American colonel called to one of his men. “Lieutenant Ross, put those other three men into the back of their truck and get them ready for transport. Say good-bye to your team, Fritz.”
Geist turned to face his men and shouted, “Für das Vaterland!
Das Vaterland!” Hoffman and the others repeated in unison.
The American soldiers herded the commandos into the back of the lorry, while Colonel Duncan marched Geist over to the barn. Once inside, he closed the doors and waved to encompass the piles of hay and manure.
“Sorry for our meager accommodations, Fritz.”
Geist turned to face him and broke into a smile. “Damned good to see you, too, Duncan.”
“And you, my friend. How’d it go? Find what you were looking for?”
“It’s in my jacket. For whatever’s it worth, those Germans fight like the devil. Bletchley’s burning. But they should be up and running again in a week.”
“Good to know.” Duncan used a razor blade to free his bound wrists. “How do you want to play this from here?”
“I’ve got a small Mauser hidden in a crotch holster.” Geist stood up and rubbed his wrists, then unwound his scarf and folded it into a thick square. He reached into the front of his pants and withdrew the Mauser.
Geist glanced behind him. “Where’s the back door?”
Duncan pointed. “By those old horse stalls. Nobody’ll be back behind the barn to see you escape. But you’ll have to make it look convincing, you know. Really smack me good. Remember, we Americans are tough.”
“Duncan, I’m not keen on this idea.”
“Necessities of war, buddy. You can buy me a case of scotch when we get back to the States.”
Geist shook the colonel’s hand.
Duncan dropped his .45 to the ground and smiled. “Oh look, you’ve disarmed me.”
“We Germans are crafty that way.”
Next Duncan ripped open the front of his fatigue blouse, popping buttons off onto the straw-covered floor. “And there’s been a struggle.”
“Okay, Duncan, enough. Turn your head. I’ll rap you behind the ear. When you wake up, you’ll have a knot the size of a golf ball and a raging headache, but you asked for it.”
“Right.” He clasped Geist by the forearm. “Watch yourself out there. It’s a long way back to DC.”
As Duncan turned his head away, a flicker of guilt passed through Geist. Still, he knew what needed to be done.
Geist pressed the wadded scarf to the Mauser’s barrel and jammed it against Duncan’s ear.
The colonel shifted slightly. “Hey, what are you—”
He pulled the trigger. With the sound of a sharp slap, the bullet tore through Duncan’s skull, snapping his friend’s head back as the body toppled forward to the ground.
Geist stared down. “So sorry, my friend. As you said before, necessities of war. If it makes you feel any better, you’ve just changed the world.”
He pocketed the pistol, walked to the barn’s back door, and disappeared into the misty night, becoming at last…a true ghost.

FIRST

Ghost Hunt
1
October 10, 6:39 p.m. MDT Bitterroot Mountains, Montana
All this trouble from a single damned nail…
Tucker Wayne tossed the flat tire into the back of his rental. The Jeep Grand Cherokee sat parked on the shoulder of a lonely stretch of road in the forested mountains of southwest Montana. These millions of acres of pines, glacier-cut canyons, and rugged peaks formed the largest expanse of pristine wilderness in the Lower 48.
He stretched a kink out of his back and searched down the winding stretch of blacktop, bracketed on both sides by sloping hills and dense stands of lodgepole pines.
Just my luck. Here in the middle of nowhere, I pick up a nail.
It seemed impossible that this great beast of an SUV could be brought low by a simple sliver of iron shorter than his pinkie. It was a reminder of how modern technological progress could still be ground to a halt by a single bit of antiquated hardware like a roofing nail.
He slammed the rear cargo hatch and whistled sharply. His companion on this cross-country journey pulled his long furry nose out of a huckleberry bush at the edge of the forest and glanced back at Tucker. Eyes the color of dark caramel looked plainly disappointed that this roadside pit stop had come to an end.
“Sorry, buddy. But we’ve got a long way to go if we hope to reach Yellowstone.”
Kane shook his heavy coat of black and tan fur, his thick tail flagging as he turned, readily accepting this reality. The two of them had been partners going back to his years with the U.S. Army Rangers, surviving multiple deployments across Afghanistan together. Upon leaving the service, Tucker took Kane with him—not exactly with the army’s permission, but that matter had been settled in the recent past.
The two were now an inseparable team, on their own, seeking new roads, new paths. Together.
Tucker opened the front passenger door and Kane hopped inside, his lean muscular seventy pounds fitting snugly into the seat. He was a Belgian Malinois, a breed of compact shepherd commonly used by the military and law enforcement. Known for their fierce loyalty and sharp intelligence, the breed was also well respected for their nimbleness and raw power in a battlefield environment.
But there was no one like Kane.
Tucker closed the door but lingered long enough to scratch his partner through the open window. His fingers discovered old scars under the fur, reminding Tucker of his own wounds: some easy to see, others just as well hidden.
“Let’s keep going,” he whispered before the ghosts of his past caught up with him.
He climbed behind the wheel and soon had them flying through the hills of the Bitterroot National Forest. Kane kept his head stuck out the passenger side, his tongue lolling, his nose taking in every scent. Tucker grinned, finding the tension melting from his shoulders as it always did when he was moving.
For the moment, he was between jobs—and he intended to keep it that way for as long as possible. He only took the occasional security position when his finances required it. After his last job—when he had been hired by Sigma Force, a covert branch of the military’s research-and-development department—his bank accounts continued to remain flush.
Taking advantage of the downtime, he and Kane had spent the last couple of days hiking the Lost Trail Pass, following in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and now they were moving onto Yellowstone National Park. He had timed this trip to the popular park to reach it in the late fall, to avoid the crush of the high season, preferring the company of Kane to anyone on two legs.
Around a bend in the dark road, a pool of fluorescent lights revealed a roadside gas station. The sign at the entrance read
Fort Edwin Gas and Grocery. He checked his fuel gauge.
Almost empty.
He flipped on his turn signal and swung into the small station. His motel was three miles farther up the road. His plan had been to take a fast shower, collect his bags, and continue straight toward Yellowstone, taking advantage of the empty roads at night.
Now he had a snag in those plans. He needed to replace the flat tire as soon as possible. Hopefully someone at the gas station knew the closest place to get that done in these remote hills.
He pulled next to one of the pumps and climbed out. Kane hopped through the window on the other side. Together they headed for the station.
Tucker pulled open the glass door, setting a brass bell to tinkling. The shop was laid out in the usual fashion: rows of snacks and food staples, backed up by a tall stand of coolers along the back wall. The air smelled of floor wax and microwaved sandwiches.
“Good evening, good evening,” a male voice greeted him, his voice rising and falling in a familiar singsong manner.
Tucker immediately recognized the accent as Dari Persian. From his years in the deserts of Afghanistan, he was familiar with the various dialects of that desert country. Despite the friendliness of the tone, Tucker’s belly tightened in a knot of old dread. Men with that very same accent had tried to kill him more times than he could count. Worse still, they had succeeded in butchering Kane’s littermate.
He flashed to the bounding joy of his lost partner, the unique bond they had shared. It took all of his effort to force that memory back into that knot of old pain, grief, and guilt.
“Good evening,” the man behind the counter repeated, smiling, oblivious to the tension along Tucker’s spine. The proprietor’s face was nut brown, his teeth perfectly white. He was mostly bald, save for a monk’s fringe of gray hair. His eyes twinkled as though Tucker was a friend he hadn’t seen in years.
Having met hundreds of Afghan villagers in his time, Tucker knew the man’s demeanor was genuine. Still, he found it hard to step inside.
The man’s brow formed one concerned crinkle at his obvious hesitation. “Welcome,” he offered again, waving an arm to encourage him.
“Thanks,” Tucker finally managed to reply. He kept one hand on Kane’s flank. “Okay if I bring my dog in?”
“Yes, of course. All are welcome.”
Tucker took a deep breath and crossed past the front shelves, neatly stocked with packets of beef jerky, Slim Jims, and corn chips. He stepped to the counter, noting he was the only one in the place.
“You have a beautiful dog,” the man said. “Is he a shepherd?”
“A Belgian Malinois…a type of shepherd. Name’s Kane.”
“And I am Aasif Qazi, owner of this fine establishment.”
The proprietor stretched a hand across the counter. Tucker took it, finding the man’s grip firm, the palm slightly calloused from hard labor.
“You’re from Kabul,” Tucker said.
The man’s eyebrows rose high. “How did you know?”
“Your accent. I spent some time in Afghanistan.”
“Recently, I am guessing.”
Not so recently, Tucker thought, but some days it felt like yesterday. “And you?” he asked.
“I came to the States as a boy. My parents wisely chose to emigrate when the Russians invaded back in the seventies. I met my wife in New York.” He raised his voice. “Lila, come say hello.”
From an office in the back, a petite, gray-haired Afghani woman peeked out and smiled. “Hello. Nice to meet you.”
“So how did you both end up here?”
“You mean in the middle of nowhere?” Aasif’s grin widened. “Lila and I got tired of the city. We wanted something that was exact opposite.”
“Looks like you succeeded.” Tucker glanced around the empty shop and the dark forest beyond the windows.
“We love it here. And it’s normally not this deserted. We’re between seasons at the moment. The summer crowds have left, and the skiers have yet to arrive. But we still have our regulars.”
Proving this, a diesel engine roared outside, and a white, rust-stained pickup truck pulled between the pumps, fishtailing slightly as it came to a stop.
Tucker turned back at Aasif. “Seems like business is picking—”
The man’s eyes had narrowed, his jaw clenched. The army had handpicked Tucker as a dog handler because of his unusually high empathy scores. Such sensitivity allowed him to bond more readily and deeply with his partner—and to read people. Still, it took no skill at all to tell Aasif was scared.
Aasif waved to his wife. “Lila, go back in the office.”
She obeyed, but not before casting a frightened glance toward her husband.
Tucker moved closer to the windows, trailed by Kane. He quickly assessed the situation, noting one odd detail: duct tape covered the truck’s license plate.
Definitely trouble.
No one with good intentions blacked out his license plate.
Tucker took a deep breath. The air suddenly felt heavier, crackling with electricity. He knew it was only a figment of his own spiking adrenaline. Still, he knew a storm was brewing. Kane reacted to his mood, the hackles rising along the shepherd’s back, accompanied by a low growl.
Two men in flannel shirts and baseball caps hopped out of the cab; a third jumped down from the truck’s bed. The driver of the truck sported a dirty red goatee and wore a green baseball cap emblazoned with
I’d rather be doin’ your wife.
Great…not only are these yokels trouble, they have a terrible sense of humor.
Without turning, he asked, “Aasif, do you have security cameras?”
“They’re broken. We haven’t been able to fix them.”
He sighed loudly. Not good.
The trio strutted toward the station entrance. Each man carried a wooden baseball bat.
“Call the sheriff. If you can trust him.”
“He’s a decent man.”
“Then call him.”
“Tucker, perhaps it is best if you do not —”
“Make the call, Aasif.”
Tucker headed to the door with Kane and pushed outside before the others could enter. Given the odds, he would need room to maneuver.
Tucker stopped the trio at the curb. “Evening, fellas.”
“Hey,” replied Mr. Goatee, making a move to slip past him.
Tucker stepped to block him. “Store’s closed.”
“Bull,” said one of the others and pointed his bat. “Look, Shane, I can see that raghead from here.”
“Then you can also see he’s on the phone,” Tucker said. “He’s calling the sheriff.”
“That idiot?” Shane said. “We’ll be long gone before he pulls his head outta his ass and gets here.”
Tucker let his grin turn dark. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”
He silently signaled Kane, pointing an index finger down—then tightening a fist. The command clear: threaten.
Kane lowered his head, bared his teeth, and let out a menacing growl. Still, the shepherd remained at his side. Kane wouldn’t move unless given another command or if this confrontation became physical.
Shane took a step back. “That mutt comes at me and I’ll bash his brains in.”
If this mutt comes at you, you’ll never know what hit you.
Tucker raised his hands. “Listen, guys, I get it. It’s Friday night, time to blow off some steam. All I’m asking is you find some other way of doing it. The people inside are just trying to make a living. Just like you and me.”
Shane snorted. “Like us? Them towelheads ain’t nothing like us. We’re Americans.”
“So are they.”
“I lost buddies in Iraq—”
“We all have.”
“What the hell do you know about it?” asked the third man.
“Enough to know the difference between these store owners and the kind of people you’re talking about.”
Tucker remembered his own reaction upon first entering the shop and felt a twinge of guilt.
Shane lifted his bat and aimed the end at Tucker’s face. “Get outta our way or you’ll regret siding with the enemy.”
Tucker knew the talking part of this encounter was over.
Proving this, Shane jabbed Tucker in the chest with the bat.
So be it.
Tucker’s left hand snapped out and grabbed the bat. He gave it a jerk, pulling Shane off balance toward him.
He whispered a command to his partner: “grab and drop.”
* * *
Kane hears those words—and reacts. He recognizes the threat in his target: the rasp of menace in his breath, the fury that has turned his sweat bitter. Tense muscles explode as the order is given. Kane is already moving before the last word is spoken, anticipating the other’s need, knowing what he must do.
He leaps upward, his jaws wide.
Teeth find flesh.
Blood swells over his tongue.
 
* * *
 
With satisfaction, Tucker watched Kane latch on to Shane’s forearm. Upon landing on his paws, the shepherd twisted and threw the combatant to the ground. The bat clattered across the concrete.
Shane screamed, froth flecking his words. “Get him off, get him off!”
One of the man’s friends charged forward, his bat swinging down toward Kane. Anticipating this, Tucker dove low and took the hit with his own body. Expertly blunting the blow by turning his back at an angle, he reached up and wrapped his forearm around the bat. He pinned it in place—then side kicked. His heel slammed into the man’s kneecap, triggering a muffled pop.
The man hollered, released the bat, and staggered backward.
Tucker swung his captured weapon toward the third attacker. “It’s over. Drop it.”
The last man glared, but he let the bat fall—
—then reached into his jacket and lashed out with his arm again.
Tucker’s mind barely had time to register the glint of a knife blade. He backpedaled, dodging the first slash. His heel struck the curb behind him, and he went down, crashing into a row of empty propane tanks and losing the bat.
Grinning cruelly, the man loomed over Tucker and brandished his knife. “Time to teach you a lesson about—”
Tucker reached over his shoulder and grabbed a loose propane tank as it rolled along the sidewalk behind him. He swung it low, cutting the man’s legs out from under him. With a pained cry of surprise, the attacker crashed to the ground.
Tucker rolled to him, snatched the man’s wrist, and bent it backward until a bone snapped. The knife fell free. Tucker retrieved the blade as the man curled into a ball, groaning and clutching his hand. His left ankle was also cocked sideways, plainly broken.
Lesson over.
He stood up and walked over to Shane, whose lips were compressed in fear and agony. Kane still held him pinned down, clamped on to the man’s bloody arm, his teeth sunk to bone.
“Release,” Tucker ordered.
The shepherd obeyed but stayed close, baring his bloody fangs at Shane. Tucker backed his partner up with the knife.
Sirens echoed through the forest, growing steadily louder.
Tucker felt his belly tighten. Though he’d acted in self-defense, he was in the middle of nowhere awaiting a sheriff who could arrest them if the whim struck him. Flashing lights appeared through the trees, and a cruiser swung fast into the parking lot and pulled to a stop twenty feet away.
Tucker raised his hands and tossed the knife aside.
He didn’t want anyone making a mistake here.
“Sit,” he told Kane. “Be happy.”
The dog dropped to his haunches, wagging his tail, his head cocked to the side quizzically.
Aasif joined him outside and must have noticed his tension. “Sheriff Walton is a fair man, Tucker.”
“If you say so.”
In the end, Aasif proved a good judge of character. It helped that the sheriff knew the trio on the ground and held them in no high opinion. These boys been raising hell for a year now, the sheriff eventually explained. So far, nobody’s had the sand to press charges against them.
Sheriff Walton took down their statements and noted the truck’s blacked-out license plate with a sad shake of his head. “I believe that would be your third strike, Shane. And from what I hear, redheads are very popular at the state pen this year.”
Shane lowered his head and groaned.
After another two cruisers arrived and the men were hauled away, Tucker faced the sheriff. “Do I need to stick around?”
“Do you want to?”
“Not especially.”
“Didn’t think so. I’ve got your details. I doubt you’ll need to testify, but if you do—”
“I’ll come back.”
“Good.” Walton passed him a card. Tucker expected it to have the local sheriff’s department’s contact information on it, but instead it was emblazoned with the image of a car with a smashed fender. “My brother owns a body-repair shop in Wisdom, next town down the highway. I’ll make sure he gets that flat tire of yours fixed at cost.”
Tucker took the card happily. “Thanks.”
With matters settled, Tucker was soon back on the road with Kane. He held out the card toward the shepherd as he sped toward his motel. “See, Kane. Who says no good deed goes unpunished?”
Unfortunately, he spoke too soon. As he turned into his motel and parked before the door to his room, his headlight shone upon an impossible sight.
Sitting on the bench before his cabin was a woman—a ghost out of his past. Only this figment wasn’t outfitted in desert khaki or in the blues of her dress uniform. Instead, she wore jeans and a light-blue blouse with an open wool cardigan.
Tucker’s heart missed several beats. He sat behind the wheel, engine idling, struggling to understand how she could be here, how she had found him.
Her name was Jane Sabatello. It had been over six years since he’d last set eyes on her. He found his gaze sweeping over her every feature, each triggering distinct memories, blurring past and present: the softness of her full lips, the shine of moonlight that turned her blond hair silver, the joy in her eyes each morning.
Tucker had never married, but Jane was as close as he’d come.
And now here she was, waiting for him—and she wasn’t alone.
A child sat at her side, a young boy tucked close to her hip.
For the briefest of moments, he wondered if the boy—
No, she would have told me.
He finally cut off the engine and stepped out of the vehicle. She stood up as she recognized him in turn.
“Jane?” he murmured.
She rushed to him and wrapped him in a hug, clinging to him for a long thirty seconds before pulling back. She searched his face, her eyes moist. Under the glare of the Cherokee’s headlamps, he noted a dark bruise under one cheekbone, poorly obscured by a smear of cosmetic concealer.
Even less hidden was the panic and raw fear in her face.
She kept one hand firmly on his arm, her fingers tight with desperation. “Tucker, I need your help.”
Before he could speak, she glanced to the boy.
“Someone’s trying to kill us.”
 
 

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James Rollins
JAMES ROLLINS is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets–and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

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  Website , Twitter , & Facebook .

GRANT BLACKWOOD
In addition to his New York Times bestselling collaborations with Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, GRANT BLACKWOOD is the author of three novels featuring Briggs Tanner: The End of Enemies, The Wall of Night, and An Echo of War. A U. S. Navy veteran, Grant spent three years as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer. He lives in Colorado.

Catch Up with Grant Blackwood on his

  Website , Twitter , & Facebook 

 

January 10th Book Blast Participants:


Tour Participants:

Stop by to join in on the tour you can participate or just check out the awesome reviews & giveaways!  

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for James Rollins and William Morrow. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of War Hawk by James Rollins. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through January 17th, 2017.

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours