Pierre the Peacock is delightfully illustrated with a valuable message. It is about acceptance, friendship and a valuable lesson in how we should treat people. Come with us as we meet Pierre, a peacock who thinks that he will get friends just from his pretty looks. When he meets Jerry, a colorblind little boy, he teaches Pierre that what matters is how you treat people, not what you look like. A lesson for all of us!
About the Author
Jocelyn Mooneyhan Lacey is a native of Johnson City, TN, where she graduated from Science Hill High School and East Tennessee State University with a B.A. in Mass Communications. She met her husband, Steven Lacey, at ETSU, and they have since lived in Maine, Rhode Island, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and now have settled in New Jersey for the time being. She also shares her home with two dogs, a cat, and three fish.
When investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name. Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend–a true heartbreaker, according to her brother.
With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat–before it’s too late.
Too much downtime always made him nervous, kind of edgy as he waited for the other shoe to drop. It had been a week since his last client had headed back to Nashville, a week of peace and quiet he should have enjoyed.
Instead, he had this nagging feeling that something bad was coming down the line.
Lounging back in the chair behind his desk at Maximum Security, Brandon Garrett looked up at the sound of the front door swinging open. A gust of cool, late October winds swept in, along with a petite, whirlwind of a woman with the prettiest strawberry blond hair Bran had ever seen.
She had a sweet little body to match her fiery curls, he noticed, outlined by the dark blue stretch jeans curving over her sexy little ass and the peach knit top that hugged her breasts.
It wasn’t tough to read the anxiety in her big green eyes as she surveyed the room, but instead of heading for the receptionist’s desk, those big green eyes landed on Bran and as she started toward him, there was something about her that rang a distant bell. Interest piqued, he rose from his chair. “Can I help you?”
“You’re Brandon Garrett, right? You were a friend of my brother’s. Danny Kegan? I recognize you from the photos Danny sent home.”
The mention of his best friend’s name hit him like a blow, and the muscles across his stomach clenched. Daniel Kegan had been a member of his spec ops team, a brother, not just a friend. Danny had saved Bran’s life at the cost of his own. He was KIA in Afghanistan.
Bran stared down at the girl, who was maybe five-foot-four. “You’re Jessie,” he said, remembering the younger sister Daniel Kegan had talked so much about. “You look like him. Same color hair and eyes.”
She nervously wet her lips, which were plump and pink and fit her delicate features perfectly.
“My brother said if I ever needed help, I should come to you. He said you’d help me no matter what.” She glanced back toward the door and his mind shifted away from the physical jolt he felt as he looked at her to the worry in her eyes.
“I’ll help you. Danny was my closest friend. Whatever you need, I’ll help. Come on. Let’s go into the conference room and you can tell me what’s going on.” When her gaze shot back to the door, his senses went on alert.
“I didn’t mean I needed your help later,” Jessie said nervously. “I meant I need your help right now.”
Gunshots exploded through the windows. “Get down!” Bran shouted to the other guys in the office as he shoved Jessie down behind his desk and covered her with his body. Glass shattered and a stream of bullets sprayed across the room.
Jaxon Ryker popped up, gun drawn, and ran for the door. Hawk Maddox and Lissa Blayne were shuffling through their desks, arming themselves. Jonas Wolfe drew his ankle gun and ran for the rear entrance, ready for any threat that might come from there.
“Black SUV with tinted windows,” Ryker reported. Six feet of solid muscle, dark hair and eyes, Jax was a former Navy SEAL, currently a PI and occasional bounty hunter. “Couldn’t get a plate number.” Jax’s gaze swung to the front of the room. “Mindy, you okay?”
The little receptionist eased up from beneath her desk. “I-I’m okay. Should I call the police?” Around here, it was never good to jump to conclusions.
Bran hauled Jessie to her feet. He could feel her trembling. Her eyes looked even bigger and greener than they had before. “Are they coming back?” he asked.
“I-I don’t know. It could have just been a warning.”
Bran turned to Mindy. “Unless someone’s already phoned it in, let’s wait to call the cops till we know what’s going on.” His attention returned to Jessie. “We need to talk.”
She just nodded. Her face had gone pale, making a fine line of freckles stand out across her forehead and the bridge of her nose.
Bran took her arm and urged her toward the conference room. “Keep a sharp eye,” he said to The Max crew. “Just in case.”
Jessie sank unsteadily down in one of the rolling chairs around the long oak conference table. The man she had come to see, Brandon Garrett, sat down beside her.
“Okay, let’s hear it,” he said. “What’s going on?”
She thought of the men who had just shot up his office and her pulse started thumping again. “Danny said if I ever needed help–“
“Yeah, I get that. Your brother knew he could count on me. Like I said, I’ll help you any way I can, but I need to know what’s going on.”
Bran was taller than Danny, around six-three, with a soldier’s lean, hard body, vee-shaped, with broad shoulders and narrow hips. Powerful biceps bulged beneath the sleeve of his dark blue T-shirt. With his slightly too-long mink brown hair, straight nose and masculine features, he was ridiculously handsome, except for the hard line of his jaw and the darkness in his eyes that contrasted sharply with their beautiful shade of cobalt blue.
“Start at the beginning,” he demanded.
Since she wasn’t sure exactly where to begin, Jessie dragged in a shaky breath and slowly released it.
“I’m here because of my father–Colonel James Kegan, Commander U.S. Army Alamo Chemical Depot. Just before he died a little over two months ago, my father was removed from active duty. He was charged with larceny–specifically the theft of chemical weapons stored at the Depot. Because the Army believed he was selling the weapons to a foreign entity, he was also charged with espionage and treason. I need you to help me prove his innocence.”
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
He was hired to kill her, but he’s not alone. Will he risk his life to save her instead?
Sara grew up on the Erie Canal with Jeremiah Streeter, owner of Streeter’s Ark, and Sam, the Ark’s bully. She never cared about who her parents were or where she came from, not until their helmsman is murdered and they hire a replacement.
Wolfe McKay and his partner have another job to do…kill the leader of the Canaller’s Coalition and his crew, then collect their bounty from the railroad magnate who hired them. But Wolfe soon discovers this job is far more complicated.
As Streeter’s Ark travels from Albany to Buffalo, Wolfe’s purpose takes a drastic turn when he and the crew find themselves the target of a deadly plot and a race against time to stop it.
A beautiful mule driver, the champion fighter who raised her, a half-breed Indian without a heart and an easy-going cowboy team up to track down outlaws and notoriously become known as Streeter’s Gang. This is their beginning…
Hudson Valley, 1852
Horace Vanderbrook sat at his desk with his green eyes planted on the door. At fifty-two years old, he was by far the wealthiest financier in the country. He thrived on a challenge and adored the kill. He had no patience for ignorance or drollery, felt no sympathy for the underdog, and never allowed any margin of error from anyone, not even himself. In all his life, he had made only one mistake. And it was that which had come back to haunt him now.
The butler announced the arrival of his guests and when they entered his study, Horace caught a frown. Both men looked more like desperados than professional gunmen. They wore buckskin pants, tall leather boots, and openly carried pistols about their waist. The blonde was medium built and covered with dirt from head to toe. The other stood over a foot taller with black hair and cold blue eyes. A half-breed, he surmised disdainfully.
“I’m Cole Anderson and this here’s my partner, Wolfe McKay,” the blonde man said as he slapped his gallon hat against his leg to get rid of the dust. “Rodman assured us if we came straight away, you’d make it worth our while.”
Horace remained silent. He wasn’t at all impressed with these men. This matter was an extremely delicate matter that needed to be handled both quickly and quietly, and they hardly seemed the type of men who would be discreet. And yet, he trusted Gunther Rodman. “You both come highly recommended for your efficiency as well as your discretion. This matter demands complete confidentiality.”
Cole glanced over at his partner. “That’s why we’re here.”
He wasn’t convinced, but he offered them a seat and folded his hands in front of him. “I will come right to the point. Jeremiah Streeter is the leader of the canal coalition. He owns a two-bit freighter called Streeter’s Ark and for the past year, he and his crew have used every devious tactic to destroy my railroad business. I want them stopped. Permanently. I am willing to pay you five hundred dollars for your trouble.”
Cole burst out laughing. “Hell, the only thing we’ll do for that pocket change is look for them in the nearest tavern.”
He stiffened. “What’s your price?”
“That depends.” Cole slid back in his seat and crossed his boots on top of his desk. “We usually charge a thousand bucks a head. That’s when we’re told their identity and location. Otherwise, we’ve got to tack on food and lodging expenses. We also need to know the details of their crime.”
“The details?” he asked indignantly. “I thought money was your only incentive.”
“You thought wrong,” Wolfe stated, still leaning against the doorway.
Horace shot to his feet. “For starters, they put three of my best railroad bosses in the hospital. They’ve disassembled portions of my tracks, threatened my workers and awaiting passengers, contaminated coal bins, and continually petition the State against my efforts for expansion.”
“Has the law been involved?” Cole asked.
“I reported a few of the incidences to local Marshalls, but they said they couldn’t find sufficient proof against them.”
Wolfe stepped forward. “Then how do you know they’re responsible?”
Horace glanced down at the small wood carving on his desk. He didn’t want to tell them the rest. He didn’t even want to think about it. But his sister was right in that he had no other recourse. Confiding in the law would merely re-open an investigation that needed to remain buried. If word got out, it would cause a huge public scandal, one that would ruin his business as well as their family’s reputation.
And the last thing he wanted was for the past to be stirred up.
“A blackmail note was delivered to me the other day, which adds extortion to their list of crimes,” he finally replied.
“What did it say?” Cole asked, but Horace continued staring at the wooden horse on his desk and remained silent. “Sir, what did the note say?”
“He claims to have proof that I sunk a riverboat killing twelve passengers and crew. He’s referring to an accident that happened nearly twenty years ago. That bastard is deliberately dredging up the past in another demented plot to stall my railway expansion and I’ll be damned if I let him drag my good family name through the mud.”
“What are his demands?”
“They want twenty thousand dollars placed on a freighter called the Jaybird at the canal docks in Albany two weeks from tomorrow. That’s when Streeter is scheduled to return to Albany, again proving he’s behind this.” Horace finally snapped out of his trance and looked up at them. “I want Streeter stopped. I want him and his damn crew dead and buried by this time next week. I’ll pay you ten thousand dollars for the lot. One thousand now for expenses and the rest will be delivered to you when the job is complete.”
Cole jumped to his feet. “Consider it done!”
“Hold on…” Wolfe said as he reached over and picked up the wooden horse to examine it. “We need to see the note.”
Horace snatched the carving out of his hand, reached into his top drawer, and handed him the note. “Do you want the job or not?”
After Wolfe read it, he nodded in agreement.
Horace tossed the bag of currency to Cole. “Contact Gunther Rodman when you’re finished. He’ll pay you the rest.”
Outside, Cole mounted his horse and hooted, “Now this is what I call easy money! Let’s get ourselves a room and have a night on the town.”
Wolfe stood there, still contemplating the conversation. “I don’t like it. He’s not telling us the whole story.”
“Aw, Wolfe, can’t we just take things at face value for once? Vanderbrook is damn sure Streeter’s behind this and I got a hankering to have some fun tonight.”
“First, we’re heading to Fultonville,” Wolfe told him.
“Fultonville? What for?”
“After we inquire about Streeter’s Ark, we’re going to ask around to see if anyone remembers a woman by the name of Molly O’Brian.”
Cole frowned. “Who the hell is she?”
“Her name and hometown were inscribed on that wooden carving. And there were several others displayed on the corner shelf.”
Cole shook his head. “Why the hell are you always trying to dig deeper?”
“Fultonville’s a small canal town. Why would a wealthy railroad baron have a dozen wood carvings on display by a canal girl and then pay to have the canal leader killed? Not having all the facts just complicates things.”
Cole followed Wolfe down the drive. “Well, I think you’re the only one complicating things.”
The two men reached the small town of Fultonville by dark. After tying their horses to a hitching post, they stopped at the Inn for a couple of rooms and a drink. There were only a few patrons inside the tavern. Cole, being the more social one, struck up a conversation with the barkeep. He told a few fibs about how he was looking for work on the canal. Pretty soon, Zach was buying them a round of drinks and giving them a wealth of information.
First, they learned that Jeremiah Streeter was the one to talk to about a job on the canal and that his boat passed through town the day before making its way to Buffalo. Next, they heard all about Streeter’s bully who had been a champion fighter in his day and wasn’t to be reckoned with. Lastly, they discovered that Zach had lived in this town his whole life, sixty-two years, so he knew everybody.
Wolfe nudged Cole, urging him to pry more information out of Zach. Cole thought for a second, then grinned. “I used to have kin living in these parts, Zach. I don’t know much about them, except that Ma talked all the time about her cousin, Molly O’Brian.”
Zach leaned against the bar. “That would be Patsy’s family. He died of the fever years ago and left his wife, Maureen, and his daughter, Molly, behind.”
“Do they still live around here? I’d sure like to meet them.” When the barkeep fell silent, Wolfe nudged Cole again. “I’d be obliged to know where I could find them, Zach. Ma thought the world of Molly and now that my folks are gone, they’d be the only kin I got left.”
“We all thought the world of her, too,” Zach said mindfully. “Molly was a tiny thing with bright red hair, freckles and the sweetest face. I owned the general store back then and once a week she came to visit. I got a real kick out of her. They didn’t have much money and the minute my back was turned her fingers dove straight into the licorice jar. I let her get away with it, too. Figured she earned that bit of pleasure.” His smile left him. “But she married that fella from downriver and that was the beginning of the end.”
“What happened to her?” Cole asked.
Zach poured himself a jigger of whiskey, obviously choked-up, then came around the bar and sat down next to Cole. “I loved that little girl like she was my own, but she was canal-bred and he was a rich fop. The two just don’t mix, not in my lifetime. Maureen told me that Molly was being snubbed by her sister-in-law and all those other socialites and having a rough time of it. She was on her way up here to visit her Ma when the riverboat went down just north of Albany in Saratoga County. She and her baby drowned. Everybody on the boat died.”
“That’s a real sad story,” Cole said. “How’d the boat sink?”
“No one knows for sure. They said the larboard boiler must’ve exploded and it was ruled it an accident, but there were a lot of rumors flitting around and people pointing fingers.”
“Do you think it was done on purpose?” Cole asked.
“I’d bet my life on it. It’s rare for a boiler to explode and sink a boat in seconds without any survivors. But that was a long time ago.”
“When did it happen?”
Zach let out a heavy sigh. “Nineteen years ago this past May. Molly’s babe was just a month old. Maureen died a year later from pneumonia…and heartache, I expect. Now, all I’ve got left are precious memories and Molly’s carvings.” He pointed toward the small display behind the bar. “That little darlin’ could whittle with the best of them and she always won first prize. She sure loved horses….”
“I hear a packet called the Jaybird needs a deckhand,” Wolfe mentioned, breaking the silence. “Has it been through here lately?”
Zach tore his eyes away from the display and went back behind the bar. “Never heard of it.”
About the Author
Gail Meath composes historical romance novels that grip your heart and imagination. With a refreshing and captivating writing-style, she creates amazing characters who instantly draw you into their world and keep you wanting more, long after the ending. And with her love of historical research, she paints the perfect ambiance to sweep you back in time.
As a twenty-something corporate employee with a doctor-in-training girlfriend, Livingstone Modicai Ackerman—Liv, to his friends—personifies success. Yet all is not as it seems. His job is tedious and soul-gutting, his girlfriend is a vacuous, image-conscious snob, and, meanwhile, his pathologically narcissistic parents are constant irritants. Add to this the febrile political climate dominated by a reactionary group, the Patriot Posse, led by a mendacious radio personality with outlandish hair and catchy campaign slogan to “Make America Great Again,” is a presidential candidate—and he’s winning!
Overwhelmed and struggling to maintain a sense of dignity and worth, Liv quits his job, breaks up with his girlfriend, and leaves for Spain to explore the existential question: Why live?
Told with humorous charm and wit, Why Liv? examines why modern work is so devoid of purpose and why reactionary politics is so alluring in America. Most of all, it humbly attempts to offer a reason to persevere during difficult times.
The Comitans, huddled together like penguins in the Arctic cold, waved posters at passing cars, cheering heartily when one honked in approval. “Guns not Butter,” one sign read. Another, “When Liberals Lead, Freedom Bleeds.” And, predict- ably, “I’m John Galt.” I nearly ran headlong into them.
Goddammit, I thought. Why now?
The Comitans were a menacing omen. Others existed, of course, like the rain. New York was in the midst of a record, nonstop deluge. Some claimed it was global warming, but most climate models predicted the East Coast would see less rainfall, not more. It had something to do with shifting currents in the Atlantic. Convection, I believe.
Then there was the economic crisis. Nobody could have seen it coming, right? A speculative bubble, evident only after the fact. That’s finance. Good years, bad years—the price of prosperity, supposedly. Not really. It was perfectly predictable. The signs were clear.
However, the Comitans were altogether different. After all, you could adjust to the lousy weather, but did it even matter if you went to work? Sunny weather only drove home the cruelty of cubicle captivity. As for the Wall Street-induced economic crisis, sure, it was ruinous, but mostly for those at a comfortable remove. For the wealthy, it was just momentary turbulence in the first-class cabin, a mere hiccup. The rich never paid for their misdeeds; the poor always did, even if blameless.
The Comitans were genuinely frightening and completely impossible to ignore. No sooner had you forgotten about the noisy irritants than a new crop arrived, spewing hate like crazed soccer hooligans and accosting you as you left the grocery store.
At first, I doubted they would ever converge on the city. It was a reasonable expectation given that, initially, they mostly stuck to their southern strongholds, holding rallies in places like Biloxi, Mississippi, and Decatur, Georgia. But then they began to spread, like a toxic contagion.
Although they kept getting closer, it still seemed unlikely they would actually breach the city limits. New York—cosmopolitan, progressive, diverse—personified the evil they detested. Why come at all?
But they did. It was a modern-day sacking of Rome. Thousands converged on Manhattan on chartered buses that discharged them into Midtown, from where they strategically fanned out across the city, heckling and jeering and picking fights like rabid dogs along the way.
I first spotted them in my neighborhood a few weeks ago. After that, my encounters were mostly from a distance, though each time less so. I should have expected the inevitable. After nearly colliding with a dozen or so of the rabble-rousers after turning the corner of Fifty-Second Street, I did what any New Yorker would do when crossing paths with the deranged and possibly dangerous: I stared ahead blankly. Streetwise. That’s what Gotham’s concrete canyons required.
In my peripheral vision, I caught sight of a seemingly dis- embodied hand from the huddled mass, finger pointing at me accusingly, and a swarm of sneering faces. Over the music playing on my earbuds, a “fuck you” registered, along with some other choice insults. I did not linger. The rain was getting heavy, and I was late for work.
“Looks like you’ve seen better days, Liv,” Jay said as I staggered into the office, soaked to the bone. On a positive note, I was relieved to have survived my first direct contact with the Comitans unscathed.
“Every day is better than Monday,” I sulked.
About the Author
Jon Sebastian Shifrin is a writer plying his trade in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, The Hill, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Missing Slate, The Indian Review, and Futures Trading. Jon also is the founder of the popular current events website, The Daily Dissident (www.dailydissident.com). His non-literary career in politics has taken him from the White House to Capitol Hill to think tanks in Washington and Europe. To learn more about Why Liv?, visit www.whyliv.com.
In this collection of original drawings, LJ Rohan with her furry and endearing canine muse, George Eliot, navigates her humorous and grateful journey through life after 50. Despite inevitable setbacks, L.J. firmly believes growing older has never been healthier, more positive, or more empowered. To quote Pearl S. Buck, “The heart never grows old.” To quote L.J., “Be Vibrant!”
While finishing my return to graduate school– after a thirty-year hiatus– I began thinking about how my new business as a gerontologist would manifest. A friend, and artist, and one of my staunchest supporters and cheerleaders, Ann McIntyre, put forth a novel idea. She suggested adding a visual element to my practice. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how that should look. I asked myself, how could I incorporate a visual something into a world of words? Trusting the answer would come at the perfect time, I waited. Cartoons, cartoons…then my Aha! Moment. I would include funny, but gentle, comments on aging to compliment my Facebook and website blog posts and other offerings, and share them on all my social media platforms. Adding my precious Havanese puppy, George Eliot, as my sidekick, completed the vision.
About the Author
L.J. Rohan is a Gerontologist, author, and speaker, covering the latest scientific research related to aging, the study of gerontology, and Aging-in-Place. She earned a Master’s Level Graduate Certification in Gerontology, from the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology. L.J. is also a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS).
L.J. holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Southern Methodist University. She has been a frequent speaker to groups and at universities, museums, and health-related institutions throughout the United States. L.J. created a Gratitude MeditationSM app featuring her hugely popular Gratitude Meditations. The app is available in the iTunes Store and on Google Play. Visit her at LJRohan.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram at L.J. Rohan-Gerontologist. L.J. divides her time between Dallas and New York City.