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Cas Peace The Challenge book tour #interview & #giveaway

 

The Challenge – Circle of Conspiracy –
By: Cas Peace
Published by: Albia Publishing
Release Date: April 19, 2014
Pages: 426
Friend against friend, lover against lover, ally against ally.

 
Conflict is coming …

Nine months have passed since Brynne Sullyan helped forge an alliance between the realms of Albia and Andaryon. A fragile peace reigns as both sides recover from the events of the previous year. Then mysterious raiders strike Andaryon villages. Attempts are made on the life of Albia’s High King.

As Sullyan scrambles to find those responsible, unseen enemies threaten to pull apart everything she has worked for, including her marriage.

 

  To betray either one would break her heart, but if conflict is inevitable, she must make a choice …

 

The alliance begins to crumble, and Sullyan finds herself caught between two monarchs: the king she’s sworn allegiance to, and the man she loves as a father. 
First I’d like to say a huge “thank you” for hosting me and helping me showcase my work. I really appreciate it. I enjoyed answering the questions and I hope everyone enjoys reading them. And that they enjoy my books too, of course!

Please tell me about yourself.

I’m Cas Peace, a fantasy and non-fiction author from the UK. I live in Hampshire, in the south of England. I’ve been married to my lovely husband Dave for 24 years, and we live in a 1900s cottage in a delightful, small village. We have two rescue dogs, Milly and Milo. I love singing, and as well as writing and recording the folk-style songs and music for my books, I also sing in our local church choir. My hobbies include playing the bodhran (Irish drum), gardening, and caring for my large collection of cacti. I also used to work in stained glass, but don’t get the time for that now.
What is something about you that no one knows?

This is a bit embarrassing really, but I must have been a bit of a whiney child because my father’s nickname for me was “Grizelda Pugh”. I hated it!
What is your workspace and writing routine like? Share a pic of your workspace if you like.

Cas's outdoor workspace (2) - Jess

I have two workspaces, depending on the time of year. When the weather’s good, I love to work outdoors. I take a small table outside and sit so I can overlook my garden. Because we’re in a small village, and we live down a single-track, dead-end lane, it’s often really quiet apart from birdsong. In the colder weather I work in my study, which also doubles as a music room. As for my routine, I rise around 7.15 a.m., have breakfast, and then walk the dogs for an hour. After that I answer emails, and then get down to work – either writing or editing (I’m a freelance editor and proofreader). Lunch is usually at 12.15 p.m. for an hour, and then I work on until 3 p.m. when the dogs get their second walk. I finish work around 5, or 5.30 p.m., and then either relax, practice some music, or do whatever Dave and I have planned for the evening.

Cas's Study -- Jess
What are you reading now?

At the moments I’m reading “I, the Sun” by Janet E. Morris. Janet is a best-selling, highly-acclaimed US fantasy, sci-fi and non-fiction author, and I particularly love her Sacred Band of Stepsons novels. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to her a while back and was thrilled when she read and thoroughly enjoyed my own novels. She likes them so much that she has endorsed them. I can’t tell you how much that means to me!
Some favorite books and authors?

I particularly love Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series; I avidly read Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; I loved C J Cherryh’s Chronicles of Morgaine (the heroine of my own novels owes much to Morgaine); I really enjoy Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels; the Lord of the Rings is a favorite, as is author Barbara Hambly. There are many more!
Animals are a huge part of your life. Are they good company when writing as well?

They certainly are! I often get lost in my writing when I’m actively working on a book and I have sometimes been known to forget to eat. Milly and Milo aren’t too keen on foregoing their dinner, or their walks, so I can rely on them to let me know what the time is. I’m always amazed at how accurate they are regarding dinnertime, or walkies time. They are often within a minute of the time I usually take them. Also, if I get a bit stuck on something, or if my writing doesn’t feel like it’s flowing right, I will stop and play with the dogs. They are great at knowing if I need distracting, and walking them can both soothe me if I’m feeling frustrated, or help kickstart the ceative juices once more. I wouldn’t be without my precious dogs. I’d love to own a horse again, too (it would have to be a Friesian, like Sullyan’s Drum) but it’s one of the most annoying paradoxes of my life so far that although I could now afford to buy and keep the kind of horse I’ve always wanted, I have neither the time to dedicate to one nor the physical strength to look after it properly. I guess nothing’s perfect!
Do you prefer human or animal company?

Depends on the human! I’d prefer to share the company of those humans I love the best with the animals that are dearest to my heart. But if we’re talking in general terms, and en masse, then I’d have to choose animals. Humans have grown too arrogant, too grasping, too uncaring of others or the world about them for their own good. Animals only take what they need to survive – they rarely massacre their own kind or seek to destroy their environment. We, as humans, need to remember where we came from, and realize that this earth, this Universe, wasn’t put here simply for us to rip apart as we please.
Please share about your latest book, The Challenge.

The Challenge begins the second Artesans trilogy, Circle of Conspiracy. In it, the reader will learn much more about the plans and nature of the Baron – the person trying to destroy Artesans by eradicating the craft. Wheels that were set in motion in the first trilogy, Artesans of Albia, now start to bear fruit, and in the worst of ways. The Baron’s machinations have far-reaching and disastrous consequences; consequences that might prove too far along to prevent.What do readers have to look forward to next? The next book in the series, The Circle, will be published very soon – maybe even in time for the second half of this blog/review tour. Buying links will be included if this is the case. And the final book in the second trilogy, Full Circle, should be available around April 2015. Then the final trilogy, the cataclysmic Master of Malice, will be published during 2015 and 2016. I can guarantee it will be both shocking and packed full of action and suspense! Please do keep an eye on my website for details. You can also hear and download (free) the songs and music associated with my Artesans of Albia series, and also find information on my editing and proofreading services for writers. See www.caspeace.com

 

Series Synopsis:
On a foolhardy foray into a foreign realm, Taran Elijah is attacked by a terrible weapon known as the Staff. Killing its wielder, he escapes into Albia, inadvertantly carrying the Staff.

Concerned by the vicious raids that follow Taran’s actions, Major Sullyan of the High King’s forces crosses into Andaryon to seek diplomatic resolution to the crisis. She is captured and tortured by Lord Rykan, aspirant to the Andaryon throne.

Slowly dying, Sullyan escapes his clutches. She offers her skills to the Hierarch in defense of his throne, finally confronting Rykan on the field of battle. Her handsome Captain and lover, Robin Tamsen, embarks on a desperate quest to recover the Staff. But Rykan’s greedy General, Sonten, is two steps ahead of him.
If Robin cannot lay hold of the weapon before Sonten does, Sullyan’s life and the lives of all Artesans are forfeit.

The race for the Staff has begun.
Review Quotes:
“Cas Peace has a most beguiling method of pulling you into this very well thought out world she has created. You simply fall in love with her characters, and then you cannot put the book down.” -P C Dodge, Amazon Reviewer.
“If you enjoy being whisked away to the realm of fantasy, I strongly suggest this unique, special read! Hands down, one of the best fantasy series I have ever read!” -Ashley L. Knight, author of FALWYN
“I have just loved this entire series. Cas Peace is a master storyteller, providing a depth and breadth of information about her worlds and their people that is just staggering. Her characters are complex and multi-dimensional, and I have very much enjoyed reading this series. I am also looking forward with great anticipation to her next novel in this series. I heartily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy, strong world-building and beautiful storytelling. Highly recommended!” -K. Sozaeva, Amazon Vine Voice and Top 1000 Reviewer.
Cas Peace’s Artesans of Albia trilogy immediately sweeps you away:  the drama starts with King’s Envoy, continues unabated in King’s Champion, and climaxes in King’s Artesan, yet each volume is complete, satisfying.  The Artesan series propels you into a world so deftly written that you see, feel, touch, and even smell each twist and turn. These nesting novels are evocative, hauntingly real.  Smart.  Powerful.  Compelling.  The trilogy teems with finely drawn characters, heroes and villains and societies worth knowing; with stories so organic and yet iconic you know you’ve found another home—in Albia.
Now there’s a fourth book on Albia’s horizon:  The Challenge, also Book One in Peace’s forthcoming sub-series, the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy, proof of more Albian tales on the way.  So start reading now.  I, for one, can’t wait to find out what will happen next. -Janet Morris: The Sacred Band of Stepsons; the Dream Dancer series; I, the Sun; Outpassage.

 

 

Cas Peace was born in Hampshire UK, in 1957, and has lived there most of her life. Her first career was as a horse-riding instructor, and horses remain very close to her heart. She then spent 13 years working for the British Civil Service before leaving the UK to live in Italy for three years, 1991-1994. She speaks passable but by no means perfect Italian, and loves to return to Italy whenever she can.

 Cas’s other great loves are anything to do with animals, especially dogs and horses, (she supports many animal charities) and also singing.


 Cas loves folk songs and along with her husband, who plays guitar, has performed in many a Southern England folk club. Sometimes they even asked her back! She writes folk songs to accompany her fantasy novels, and offers them as free downloads from her website.

November 24thJ E Haldeman/ Fenix Fire Designs – Guest Post/Playlist
November 24thInside Mikey’s World – Character Interview
November 24thPenny Writes – Review
November 25thA Book and A Cup of Coffee – Review
November 25th4 Cover To Cover – Excerpt / Spotlight
November 26thPinky’s Favorite Reads – Author Interview
November 26thDeal Sharing Aunt – Review/Interview/Top Ten
November 28thDonna K. Weaver – Review
November 28thDogs Moms Visits – Excerpt/Spotlight
December 1stA_TiffyFit’s Reading Corner – Review
December 1stJess Resides Here – Author Interview
December 2ndRooms with Books – Author Interview/Excerpt 
December 2ndPenny Writes – Review
December 3rdPaul Kater – Special Feature
December 3rdThe FlipSide of Julianne – Author Interview
December 4thJourneys & Life by Oregonmike – Review / Top Ten
December 4thCabin Goddess – Special Feature
December 5thPixie Vixen Book Reviews – Guest Post

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Irish Winters latest release #giveaway Top 10 post @irishwinters1

Book, giveaway, top 10 list. Enjoy people 🙂

Conner (In The Company of Snipers, #5)
By: Irish Winters
Pages: 339
Published: November 3, 2014
Publisher: Windy Day Press

Connor Maher is about to find out. As if dogging the brutal Sonoran Cartel through sun-baked Utah isn’t tough enough, he’s come face to face with his worst nightmare. Diminutive ex-Marine spitfire, Isabella Ramos, has just three words to say to him: I. Hate. You.

Heartache hurts so much worse than gunshot…

How many times can a man say he’s sorry?

Like he hasn’t heard that before.

Why was he the one who got to live?

Izza only accepted the Utah operation because he’d be there. It’s time Connor knows the truth, but how can she trust him with her life much less the secret she’s come to share? He’s nothing but grief personified behind the guise of an blue-eyed, honorable man. Not until the cold-blooded SC dumps her and Connor in the farthest corner of the relentless Utah desert does she begin to realize….

There are worse things than death… 


The wife of one handsome husband and the mother of three perfect sons, Irish divides her time between writing at home and travelling the country with her man while – writing. (Seriously, what else?)
She believes in making every day count for something and follows the wise admonition of her mother to, “Look out the window and see something!”
To learn more about Irish and her books, please visit www.IrishWinters.com.

Irish Winters is an award-winning author who dabbles in poetry, grandchildren, and rarely (as in extremely rarely) the kitchen. More prone to be outdoors than in, she grew up the quintessential tomboy on a farm in rural Wisconsin, spent her teenage years in the Pacific Northwest, but calls the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah home. For now.

Ten things I didn’t know then (before I published the book)

1. I didn’t know how much a bad review could crush me, or how fast I could develop thicker skin, brush the unkind words off, and move on.
2. I didn’t know how difficult it could be to find a good editor. Yikes!
3. I didn’t know how good it would feel to finally see your manuscript in print. Yay!!
4. I didn’t know what a pain in the neck Smashwords is and CreateSpace could be.
5. I didn’t know I could receive so much spam on Facebook from strange men who think I have a beautiful smile. Get real, guys. I can see you coming a mile away.
6. I didn’t know how deeply my stories would touch the men and women in the Armed Forces. I’ve personally heard from veterans of the Korean War and all the way to snipers come home from the Middle East Conflicts. God Bless the American Soldier.
7. I didn’t know that I’d have a love me wall in my office. It’s gorgeous. All my book covers are framed and hung where I can see my guys the minute I turn the light on.
8. I didn’t know I could fly until I stepped off the ledge, spread my wings, and fulfilled my dream of a lifetime. Yes!
9. I didn’t know how exhaustingly fun it could be to publish 5 books within a year.
10. I didn’t know how many good people I’d run into along the way, like my layout genius, Emmaline Hoffmeister, and her super talented hubby, Rhett. Or my over the top publicist, Amy Del Rosso; and my amazing editor, Ashley Argyle. I’m surrounded by the smartest people and I love it! ☺

November 10th ~Steve Sutherland – Review
November 10th ~ – Review
November 11thKristin Holt – Review
November 11th ~ – Review
November 12th ~Jen’s Reading Obsession – Review 
November 12th ~My Secret Bookspot – Review
November 13th ~ – Review
November 13th ~A Book and a Cup of Coffee  – Review
November 13th ~Reads All The Books – Review
November 14thThe Pleasure of Reading Today – Review
November 14thAmazeballs Book Addicts – Review

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Bookworld Book Club #Giveaway

I’m so happy to share a giveaway supported by the wonderful people at Bookworld. I’m a big fan and have purchased from them many times so this is extra exciting for me considering what great books they have offered up for one lucky winner. This will be of particular interest to those who are part of a book club. Australian entrants only, sorry everyone else.

These four novels are all crime-fiction a particularly popular genre at the moment. For those not in the know there is a Bookworld book club promotion where you can nominate your own book club to be book club of the month and receive the clubs next read. May I suggest these crime reads for future consideration.

Jaye Ford

Miranda shrank away from him, arm pressed to the driver’s door. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘I’m already dead. That’s my name now. That’s what they called me. I’m Already Dead.’ Journalist Miranda Jack is finally attempting to move on from the death of her husband by relocating up the coast with her young daughter, Zoe. Then a single event changes everything. On a Monday afternoon as she waits at traffic lights, a stranger jumps into her car and points a gun at her chest. Forced to drive at high speed up the motorway, Miranda listens to the frantic, paranoid rants of Brendan Walsh, a man who claims he’s being chased and that they’re both now running for their lives. Two hours later her ordeal is over in the most shocking fashion. Miranda is safe but she can’t simply walk away – not without knowing the truth about that terrifying drive. As a journalist Miranda has always asked questions. But this time the questions are dangerous – and the answers might get her killed…

Linwood Barclay

Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry’s wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents’ seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals. But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown. For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it.
Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn’t fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable…

Fredrik T. Olsson

Nothing would make me keep a diary. Except for one thing. The realisation that soon there won’t be anyone around to read it. William Sandberg. A broken genius, snatched from his home. Christina Sandberg, his ex-wife. She does not believe their lies. Our future hangs on their survival. If they fail, we are all lost.

James Lee Burke

James Lee Burke’s new novel begins in West Texas in 1934, and the story begins with a fateful encounter between the narrator, Weldon Avery Holland, and the notorious Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker – a meeting which ends with the sixteen-year-old Holland putting a bullet through the windscreen of Clyde’s stolen automobile. Weldon’s education in the evils that men – and women – are capable of continues as we move to the Ardennes Forest and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, where Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland saves his sergeant, Hershel Pine, from death by suffocation when he is buried alive in his foxhole under the treads of a Waffen SS Tiger tank. Weldon and Hershel survive the executions of the wounded by the SS and escape on a freight train deep into Nazi Germany. There, they stumble into an extermination camp deserted by the SS, and discover among the stacked bodies a young woman named Rosita Lowenstein – the second woman to change Weldon’s life. Weldon goes all the way to the Elbe River in the war’s brutal climax, but afterwards he is determined to find Rosita – eventually tracking her down in Paris, where they get married.
But Hershel has also found gold in the dross of conflict, claiming to have discovered the secret to the Tiger tank’s indestructibility, its unique welding process – and on their return to the States, it looks as if the two friends have not merely survived; they’re going to be rich. But as the two form a pipeline corporation and enter the oil business, they are about to encounter – amidst the super-rich of Huston – levels of greed and cruelty they thought they had left far behind in the blood and horror of war.

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Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain #coverreveal #giveaway

I’ve got an awesome cover reveal to share and Rebecca is kindly offering a giveaway as well. This book sounds brilliant and right now with a preorder you can get a copy for half price at 99c. The release date is the 20th when the price increases to $1.99 The giveaway for the book is open internationally and is for an ebook copy.

Magic-of-the-Gargoyles-Compressed-60p

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Someone has kidnapped a nest of helpless baby gargoyles and is using them as pentagram focuses, devouring their magic—and their lives—for a horrific, illegal power boost. Swept into the dangerous underworld of black magic, Mika Stillwater must cobble together her limited resources and skills to have a chance at being the hero the baby gargoyles desperately need. If she fails, the city will be at the mercy of the gargoyles’ murderers and their overwhelming destructive magic.

But pitting herself against powerful black-magic villains is proving just as deadly for Mika as for the gargoyles.

Preorder – US | Canada | Australia | UK

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Rebecca Chastain is the internationally selling author A Fistful of Evil, an urban fantasy novel. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. She has been employed as a VHS sales clerk, bookshelf straightener, government pseudo-employee, professional finder of lost sporting goods, and strategy guide wrangler in the video game industry. Dreaming up the absurd and writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old, and she’s incapable of stopping. She lives in northern California with her wonderful husband and two bossy cats. To be the first to know about new releases, sales, and freebies, sign up for Rebecca’s newsletter: http://www.rebeccachastain.com/newsletter/.

Rebecca can be found online at – Web Site | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook

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Blond Cargo by John Lansing #bookblast #giveaway

Blond Cargo

by John Lansing

Visiting with the Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tour Company

Book Blast on October 7th

on Tour at October 8 – November 30, 2014

Blond Cargo by John Lansing | Coming Soon

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Jack Bertolino, 2nd

* Blond Cargo does include some graphic violence.

Published by: Karen Hunter

Publication Date: 10/20/2014

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 9781476795515

Purchase Links:

 

Synopsis:

“A pulse-pounding thriller with a charming protagonist” (Kirkus Reviews), this gripping ebook continues the story that began in The Devil’s Necktie.

Jack Bertolino’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In Blond Cargo the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave.

A sizzling whodunit for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, Blond Cargo taps into the real-life crime world to deliver a thrilling, action-packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the explosive, unprecedented finale.

 

Read an excerpt:

4

Jack carried a Subway turkey sandwich, a tall unsweetened iced coffee, a bottle of water, and a smile as he keyed the security gate that led to the dock in Marina del Rey where his boat was moored. The marina was always quiet during the week. Just the way he liked it.

He stopped to admire his twenty-eight feet of heaven before stepping onto his boat’s transom and then . . .

“Yo, Mr. B.”

Jack never forgot a voice, which explained his reluctance to turn around.

“Yo, yo, Mr. B.”

Miserably persistent, Jack thought. He turned to face Peter Maniacci, who was dressed head-to-toe in black. With his outstretched arms draped over the chain-link fence, Peter looked like an Italian scarecrow. The black circles under his eyes belied his youth. The sharp points of his sideburns, his boots, and the .38 hanging lazily from a shoulder holster added menace to his goofy grin.

So close, Jack thought. His only worry that day had been whether to eat his sandwich dockside or out on the Pacific with a view of the Santa Monica Pier.

“How you doing, Peter?”

“How you doin’?”

Jack let out a labored sigh. “We could do this all day. What’s up?”

“That’s funny, Mr. B. How’s the boy? How’s his pitching arm?”

Jack’s face tightened. He wasn’t happy that Peter knew

any of his son’s particulars. When he didn’t answer, Peter continued.

“Hey, nice boat. I used to fish for fluke off the north shore. Long Island. I think I must be in the wrong business.”

“Count on it,” Jack said. “What can I do for you?”

“My boss was wondering if you could spare a few minutes of your time.”

As if on cue, a black Town Car materialized behind Peter and came to a smooth, silent stop. The car rose visibly when Peter’s boss, a thick, broad-shouldered man, stepped out of the rear seat.

Vincent Cardona. Expensive suit, the body of a defensive linebacker—fleshy but muscled. Dark, penetrating eyes. Cardona looked in both directions before leveling his feral gaze on Jack. An attempt at a smile fell short of the mark. A thick manila envelope was tucked under one beefy arm.

Jack had been aware there would be some form of payback due for information Cardona had provided on Arturo Delgado, the man responsible for the attempted murder of his son. He just didn’t think it would come due this quickly. He opened the locked gate and let the big man follow him down the dock toward his used Cutwater cabin cruiser.

As Peter stood sentry in front of the Lincoln Town Car, Jack allowed the devil entry to his little piece of paradise.

“How’s your boy? How’s the pitching arm?” Vincent asked bluntly. Just a reminder of why he was there.

“On the mend.” Jack gestured to one of two canvas deck chairs in the open cockpit of the boat. Both men sat in silence as Jack waited for Cardona to explain the reason for his visit.

Jack wasn’t comfortable with Cardona’s talking about Chris, but the big man had taken it upon himself to station Peter outside Saint John’s Health Center while his son was drifting between life and death. Cardona’s enforcer had scared off Delgado, and that might have saved his son’s life. The unsolicited good deed was greatly appreciated by Jack. The debt weighed heavily.

“It rips your heart out when your children have problems and you can’t do nothing to help,” Cardona said with the raspy wheeze of a man who had abused cigars, drugs, booze, and fatty sausage for most of his life.

“What can I do for you?” Jack asked, not wanting to prolong the impromptu meeting.

Cardona, unfazed by Jack’s brusqueness, answered by pulling out a picture and handing it to Jack.

“Angelica Marie Cardona. She’s my girl. My only. My angel. Her mother died giving birth. I didn’t have the heart to re-up. I raised her by myself.”

Mobster with a heart of gold. Right, Jack thought. But Cardona’s wife must have been a stunner because Angelica, blond, early twenties, with flawless skin and gray-green eyes, didn’t get her good looks from her father. Cardona’s gift was her self-assured attitude, which all but leaped off the photograph.

“Beautiful.”

Jack Bertolino, master of the understatement, he thought.

“And doesn’t she know it. Too much so for her own good. You make mistakes, my line of business. Whatever.”

“What can I do for you, Vincent?” Jack said, dialing back the attitude.

Cardona tracked a seagull soaring overhead with his heavy-lidded eyes and rubbed the stubble on his jaw.

Jack would have paid good money to change places with the gull.

“I shoulda never moved out here. L.A. I’m a black-socks- on-the-beach kinda guy. East Coast all the way. Never fit in. But I’m a good earner and the powers that be decided they were happy with the arrangement. Everyone was happy except Angelica and me.

“She turned thirteen, didn’t wanna have nothing to do with her old man. Turned iceberg cold. I tried everything— private schools, horses, ballet, therapy, live-in help; nothin’ worked. She closed up tighter than a drum. I finally threatened to send her to the nuns.”

“How did that work out?”

“I’m fuckin’ sitting here, aren’t I? On this fuckin’ dinghy . . . no offense meant,” he said, trying to cover, but the flash of anger told the real story. “I hear you’re an independent contractor now.”

It was Tommy Aronsohn, his old friend and ex–district attorney, who had set him up with his PI’s license and first client, Lawrence Weller and NCI Corp. But Jack Bertolino and Associates, Private Investigation, still didn’t come trippingly off his tongue.

And thinking of the disaster up north, he said, “We’ll see how that goes.”

“This is the point. I haven’t seen my daughter in close to a month. Haven’t heard word one since around the time your son was laid up in Saint John’s,” he said. Reminder number two. “It’s killing me,” he continued. “I’m getting a fuckin’ ulcer. Then this.”

Cardona pulled out the L.A. Times with the front-page spread reporting on the woman who had died when her boat crashed on the rocks at Paradise Cove. As it turned out, a second woman down in Orange County had washed up on the beach a few weeks earlier at the Terranea resort, scaring the joy out of newlyweds taking photos at sunset. Talk about twisted memories, Jack thought. As if marriage wasn’t tough enough. He’d already read both articles with his morning coffee and hadn’t bought into the pattern the reporter inferred.

“And the connection?”

“I got a bad feeling is all. She’s never disappeared like this before—not for this long anyway,” he said, amending his statement. “And then . . .” Cardona said, waving the newspaper like it was on fire. “It says here they were both blonds. Both about Angelica’s age. They could be fuckin’ cousins. Could be nothing.”

“Did you file a missing-persons report?”

Cardona gave him a hard side eye. “Jack, don’t fuck with me. We take care of our own.”

Jack thought before he spoke. “I’m not one of yours.”

“Semantics.”

“What about your crew?”

Cardona flopped open his meaty hands. “I get angina, I don’t call my cousin Frankie, who has a certain skill set but stinks when it comes to open-heart surgery. Look, I get it. You were on the other team. But this is straight-up business. One man to another. One father to another. I need you to find my girl. You got my number. Use it, Jack. Money’s no object. Find my baby.”

Strike three.

Jack didn’t answer. He stared out at the navy-blue water of the marina, past row upon row of beautiful yachts, symbols of dreams fulfilled, and knew they were empty notions compared to family.

Cardona hadn’t actually spoken the words you owe me, but they filled the subtext of everything he’d said. He was not subtle. The big man had reached out when Jack was in need, and Jack had accepted the offer. Now Vincent Cardona wanted his pound of flesh.

“This is everything I know. Last address, phone numbers, phone bills, e-mail accounts, bank, credit cards, friends and whatnot. The whole shot,” Cardona said, holding the manila envelope out in Jack’s direction.

“I have other commitments,” Jack stated.

“You look real fuckin’ busy, Jack, if you don’t mind my sayin’.” His eyes crinkled into a sarcastic grin. Vincent Cardona does charm.

Jack accepted the overstuffed envelope with a sigh.

“If she don’t want to come back, fine. No funny business, no strong-arm bullshit from my end. You got my word. I just need to know that my blood is alive. I’m fuckin’ worried and I don’t do worry too good. Sleep on it, Jack. But do the right thing.”

Cardona’s eyes locked on to Jack’s. Jack remained silent. He’d take a look. No promises, not yet.

Vincent’s knees cracked and the canvas chair squeaked like it was in pain as he stood up. He covered a belch behind his fist and rubbed his gut as he moved stiffly past Jack. The boat rocked when Cardona stepped off and walked heavily away, his Italian leather shoes echoing on the wooden dock.

The weight of the world. Jack could relate.

Peter Maniacci opened the gate for his boss and then the door to the Lincoln Town Car, which plunged to curb level as the big man slid in. Peter ran around to the other side of the car and tossed Jack a wave like the queen mum. He jumped into the Lincoln, which lurched forward before Peter could slam the door shut.

Jack walked into the boat’s deckhouse, grabbed a bottle of water, and downed two more Excedrin. He stretched his back, which was going into a spasm from yesterday’s violence, and chased the pills with a Vicodin to stay one step ahead of the pain that he knew was headed his way.

Jack had already decided to take the case.

 

Author Bio:

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” was his first novel. “Blond Cargo” is the next book in the Jack Bertolino series. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

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