New Short Story: Red Survivor

The Red Survivor is on a critical peacekeeping mission to deliver an ambassador to negotiate the end of a war that has humanity on the brink of extinction.

When Captain John Marchant orders the ship to respond to a distress call, First Officer Nick Williams immediately challenges the captain’s order. Nick struggles to persuade Marchant that the effort is futile and they are best served by staying on course to deliver the ambassador.

Ships explode, tempers flare, and their vessel is put in danger as the two square off.

In the Red Survivor universe, this is a standalone space opera short story that focuses on the inherent tension between Marchant and Williams. Buy your copy today!

Sneak Peek

“Starships can’t slow from above the speed of light in the time you’re demanding.” I kept my voice even and calm, though I was explaining something any first-year cadet would have known. “Is it possible, sir, that you’re letting your feelings get in the way of your impeccable judgment?”

He usually responded well to flattery, but it only served to further agitate him. He moved to take a swing. I stepped back and brought up my arms to protect myself.

The blow never landed.

His fist stopped midair.

“You’re relieved of duty, Commander,” Marchant said, his voice bristling with emotion like a hot blade thrust into a cold bath.

Blood Games – Episode 24



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

I ALMOST DROVE RIGHT past the mall and kept going. It would have been better for Kris if I did. She was way too involved as it was. But I thought of the kids, and that was what kept me going forward. 

I needed additional resources if I was going to track them down. Besides, I needed to ditch the car anyway because the drone had recorded everything that had happened and was following me. I’d turned my driver’s side mirror up to spot it but so far hadn’t had any luck.

I drove around the mall one time before I pulled into a parking garage. I’d never forgive myself if something happened to Kris. But I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t rescue the children. It was simple math, two lives against one.

My burner phone beeped as I pulled into the underground parking. Once I had parked, I saw I’d received a text from a number I didn’t recognize. It just said one word. Sorry.

I assumed it was Shannon texting me from a phone Diggon knew nothing about. Even though she’d made it obvious what she was doing, I didn’t know what to make of her apology.

The wound was too fresh. I supposed I should have been grateful she’d warned me but I wasn’t in the mood to think that way. Maybe once things had calmed down, I’d feel differently, but I was still trying to work my way out of the mess that she’d created for me.

Not bothering to respond, I left my car window unrolled and placed the keys on the dashboard. With a little luck, somebody would swipe the vehicle and throw DataRader off my scent for a few hours.

Blood Games – Episode 23




This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

I CAME TO A halt as soon as I turned. It was a dead end. Muttering a curse, I flipped around and saw the car had pulled up right outside the alleyway and that the front doors were opening. 

Rushing towards the driver I grabbed him by the arm, yanking him all the way out and ramming him up against the car while putting my pistol to the side of his head.

“Back away if you want him to live,” I said to the woman getting out of the other side of the car. 

Because it was Diggon chasing me, I had expected to recognize them from my time with Black Brick, but I did not.

The man I held at gunpoint looked familiar, but I was having a difficult time placing him. He hadn’t worked at Black Brick, I was certain of that, but I couldn’t say how I knew him.

“Back off,” the man said to the woman with a frown on his face that didn’t show much fear. He looked me in the eyes. “It doesn’t have to go this way.”

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“Easy,” said the dark-haired woman as she moved to come around from the other side of the car, thinking she was gaining something by getting closer to me. She had her hand at her side as if it rested on a holstered pistol. “Just calm down.” Her voice sounded familiar, so I took a closer look while jabbing my gun into the man’s neck.

“You’re the woman who almost chased me down.” She’d had blonde hair back then. The darker color suited her far better. The blonde had looked fake, and while she’d been attractive before, she was now stunning. It was a struggle to take my eyes off her even while she glared at me.

Blood Games – Episode 22




This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show: 

IT WASN’T UNTIL AFTER I’d walked several blocks that I realized I’d never done anything about the wound on my arm. I hadn’t even thought about the possibility I might have left blood in the Suburban.

Cursing, I punched the brick wall of a store I was passing, which of course made things worse. After examining my hand, I determined I was lucky to not have broken any fingers. Several of my knuckles were bleeding, but that was a small price to pay for such a loss of control.

I was on edge and I knew it.

I wasn’t prone to such outbursts, but this was the second time in just a few minutes. Perhaps it was a good thing I hadn’t returned to Reed’s place, who knows what other mistakes I might have made? The pain helped cut through the thickness I felt in my mind.

Maybe I had at least slowed down the police by wiping away my fingerprints, but the possibility of leaving behind DNA was a serious oversight.

Growling to myself I put it from my mind as I ducked into a McDonald’s bathroom. My makeup was almost gone, so I washed off what little was left and went into a stall so I could work on my new disguise without interruption.

My smartphone rang. It was Kris, but I didn’t answer. Perhaps I would never take a call from her again. That would be for the best. She and Maxine might think they have things together, but when Maxine had split from her former partner, any degree of operational competence had gone with him.

It would be reckless for me to allow them to be part of this. Without me pushing they would remain on the outside of the action. And that was where they belonged.

The Hikers: Chapter 2

2

I grabbed Jessica’s hand, pulling her off the trail and behind some bushes. She was so surprised she didn’t protest or bat away my hand. I released my hold once I was certain we were hidden from anybody who might come down the trail.

I had initially thought the gunshot had come from above us on the mountain, but I now doubted that assessment.

We had mountains on all sides of us. Their presence could have masqueraded the original direction of the sound, and it didn’t help that I thought I could still hear an echo.

I decided to trust my initial instinct and act as if it had come from up ahead but remain open to the possibility it had come from another direction.

“It isn’t hunting season,” Jessica said, her mouth right by my ear. The warmth of her breath sent a shudder down my back that I was unable to repress. I tried to pretend like it hadn’t happened as I studied the incline of the mountain. Even if it had been hunting season, the car we’d parked beside had been a regular sedan. A shiny black Chrysler with dark tinted windows. It was also clean as if it had been recently washed. I had a difficult time seeing the owner of the car strapping a gutted buck to the top.

“Might just be somebody doing target shooting,” I whispered, but I doubted this would be a popular area with shooters because it was too wooded.

“Then why drag me into the bushes?” Her eyes were big, and she panted for breath. “You aren’t trying to take advantage, are you?”

I noticed she was still whispering, so she must have known how ridiculous the idea sounded.

“The gunshot came at a perfect time.” I gave her a wry smile. “Chances are there’s no danger. Just somebody doing some shooting. Let’s give it a few minutes and head back down if there aren’t any more shots. We’ll come back for the view another time.”

“There isn’t going to be another time.”

“Yeah, sure. We’ll give it a few and then leave.”

Do you know how awkward it is to be crouched in the brush right beside a woman who has just broken up with you? So close that your bodies are touching and you can feel her breath on the back of your hand?

It’s the very definition of awkward.

I glanced at my watch after only a few minutes had passed, and wished it had been an hour. I wanted to just get up and go, particularly considering how we were both doing our best to not make eye contact, but I wasn’t at all confident we were safe despite my words to Jessica.

The black sedan made my skin crawl the more I thought about it. I hadn’t thought to look at the license plate, but I was beginning to wonder if maybe it was from out of state. If it had been a large truck or SUV, I wouldn’t have been so worried.

But the black car was all business, and the gunshot had been close. 

After a few minutes passed, we made eye contact, but neither of us moved. I could tell she was just as worried as me.

“How about we wait five, ten more minutes and if we don’t see anything, we head back down? We can’t be too careful.”

She nodded. “No funny stuff while we wait.”

“How do you mean?”

“No more hand-holding or affection of any kind. I mean to carry through with it this time.”

This time?

She’d never broken up with me before. There was one night I could tell she had been bothered by something, but she’d been fine the next time I’d seen her, so I hadn’t thought anything of it.

It sounded like she’d been struggling with her decision for some time. It made me sad because I’d thought things were going well.

But I wasn’t going to tell her that, not now.

“I want to make sure we both get down the mountain safely. After that, I’ll drop you off and you’ll never see me again.”

She didn’t respond, which I took to mean she agreed. Something about the expression on her face gave away her confusion as if she were having second thoughts.

This decision had not been easy for her. If I were to try, I might convince her to give it another go. Perhaps that was why she’d wanted me to know why she was dumping me. If she had this much uncertainty, I wasn’t about to tip the scale. It would be better for us to both move on. But if it helped her get some closure, I was willing to bite the bullet.

“Why—” I stopped what I was about to say when two men walked down the trail. They both wore suits.

Pick up your copy today!

War of the Fathers Series on Sale This Week

All four books of War of the Fathers are on sales this week. The first book, War of the Fathers, is free. Lord of the Inferno, Enemy in the Shadows, and Blood of the Redd Guard are $0.99 but just for a very short time, then the price steps up a $1.00.

All of these books are also in Kindle Unlimited.

Links to each are below.

The Hikers: Chapter 1

1

I smiled awkwardly at Jessica as the wind blew through my hair, making me want to shiver. I kept it from showing by doing some exaggerated stretches. My grin wasn’t as confident as the one I’d given her when I’d first picked her up. She seemed about to break up with me, and I figured I should let her know I knew something was wrong, but also still show her some affection in case I was reading the situation incorrectly.

“How much further?” she asked, not returning the smile while avoiding eye contact by looking further up the trail.

“A couple miles, maybe more. We should start climbing soon.” The hike had been mostly flat, but I knew from online that the last several miles were steep. I had been looking forward to seeing the honeycomb caves and the view from the top, but if she really were going to end things with me, I’d prefer she did it now and got things over with. I could always come back some other time when the situation wasn’t so emotionally charged.

“Let’s get going.” Her voice was resigned, and I wondered what she was waiting for. Why didn’t she just go ahead and rip the band-aid off already? 

“As you wish.” Something caught my attention in the grass. I bent down and picked up a worn leather wallet. “Suppose I’ll have to find the owner when we get back,” I muttered, sliding it into my pocket without looking for who it might belong to, something I probably would have done if I hadn’t already been feeling uncomfortable.

Jessica nodded as she glanced at me. I smiled, this time forcing myself into a full grin, but she still didn’t return it, making my insides colder than ice.

I knew that look so well. I’d seen it a few times before and even remembered giving it to others.

And just when I was starting to think she and I really had a future. 

I reviewed the morning, trying to think of what I might have said or done to cause such a shift in her thinking, but I couldn’t come up with anything.

Things had started out well enough. When I’d picked her up, she had greeted me with a hug and kiss, as warm and affectionate as any she had given me during the two months we’d been together.

At least she hadn’t asked to go to a public place. It was unlikely anybody out here in the wilderness would be audience to what I was expecting. We hadn’t seen anyone on the trail all morning, and I would have assumed we were alone on the path had it not been for the other car parked at the trailhead.

“Are you ready?”

I could tell by the way she asked she was no longer enjoying the hike and she was just trying to get through it. Perhaps she’d been unsure before we’d started but as we’d gone on, she’d firmed up her decision.

I tried to think of something I might have said but couldn’t come up with anything. Our conversation had been pleasant and friendly.

“Yep,” I said, wiping away the smile and giving her a serious look, racking my brain for anything that would give me a clue about what she was thinking. “I really think we’re going to like the view.”

She muttered something I couldn’t make out as she pushed on ahead, hiking up the trail with a renewed sense of purpose.

We shortly came to a bend and began to climb the mountain. It was steeper than I planned on, I wasn’t as active as I had been two years ago. I needed to lose ten pounds before I would be comfortable again.

I followed after, giving her a safe distance so if she were to fall down the steep incline, I’d have a warning before she hit me.

The climb was strenuous. I soon found myself distracted by the strain. And if she was determined to finish this hike, I was glad to have something else to focus on instead of stewing about what was coming.

Ten minutes later she stopped and pulled a water bottle out from a pocket on the outside of her backpack. She unscrewed the lid and took a long pull.

I put the mouthpiece of my water reservoir to my lips and took a sip.

Even though we’d been hiking for more than an hour, you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. If I looked closely, I might have spotted a drop of sweat on her forehead or some moisture on her neck. I, on the other hand, had sweat forming around my armpits and on my chest. My back was slick, especially where my pack made contact with my shoulders and waist.

“This is pointless.” Jessica put her water bottle away and finally met my eyes. “I’m breaking up with you.”

Even though I’d been expecting it, her timing took me off guard. Perhaps she had meant to finish the hike but had become impatient. I studied her and then slowly nodded, giving it some thought before answering.

“Sure, no problem.”

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”

“I could tell you were going to do it. No biggie.”

My response surprised her, but I’d been down this road before and had learned it was best to let somebody go if that was what they wanted to do. I wouldn’t gain anything by trying to convince her to stay. I’d only look weak. While I preferred that we didn’t break up, nothing I could say would change her mind.

“I’m not playing around.” Jessica’s eyes narrowed. “I’m quite serious.”

“I understand.” When I saw her skeptical look, I went on. “I’m not saying I’m happy about it, but if you’ve made up your mind, I’m not going to change it. I know better.”

“Aren’t you curious why?”

I didn’t answer for several long moments. The question felt like a trap, and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to spring it.

“If you feel the need to tell me I’ll hear you out—”

“Hear you out?” She frowned. “You have got to be kidding me. Look you’re a nice enough guy—”

A gunshot cut through the late morning air. It came from just up ahead.

Pick up your copy today!

New Short Story: The Hikers

I have a new short story out on Amazon today, The Hikers:

Tim gets dumped by his girlfriend Jessica in the middle of the wilderness and then hears a gunshot. Fearing the worst, they hide in the bushes. Moments later serious-looking men in business suits come traipsing down the trail. 

While Tim and Jessica try to decide what to do next, the men return, looking for a missing wallet. 

Just when Tim thinks they have figured out a safe path from the forest, they are caught at gunpoint. He must think fast and speak well; otherwise, there will soon be three bodies instead of just one.

If you enjoy thrillers with a witty hero that end with a twist, this short story is for you. Fans of Jeffery Deaver and Lee Child will enjoy this yarn. Buy your copy today!

Sneak Peek

Jessica shuddered. A cold feeling swept over me. Something was wrong. Men don’t hike in suits. Ever. I all the sudden wished we’d just turned and ran down the mountain when we’d heard the gunshot. My instincts had been to go for cover, but now those men were going to get down to the road and see that they hadn’t been alone out here.

A bead of sweat dripped into my eye, but I ignored it. I hadn’t given it a second thought when I had parked my Toyota Corolla right by their car. Would they care? Would they become suspicious when they saw my car but didn’t run into us on the trail? Or would they wait to see if we knew something?

As we waited for the men to pass, I noticed Jessica’s hand was touching lightly against my own. I wanted to yank it away but did not. It felt good, but at the same time, it filled me with bitterness.

“Wait here,” I said once they’d disappeared down the trail. “I’m going to see if I can figure out what they were up to.” It wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I needed some distance between her and me, otherwise, cracks might start to form in my ambivalent exterior.

“Nope, we’re going down. We just need to give those men plenty of time—”

“Perfect, wait here. I won’t be long.” I walked in the opposite direction of the men, checking every step to make sure they weren’t coming back up the trail. 

Get it today!

Blood Games – Episode 21



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

MY HEART BEAT IN my ears and my head hurt as the final image of the man I’d shot hung in front of my eyes, threatening to distract me from the road. My hands would have been shaking if it hadn’t been for the way I clung to the steering wheel.

His hand had moved for his pistol while he begged. He’d been about to kill me, hadn’t he?

I replayed the event in my mind, wondering if there’d been another way out of the situation. His face had changed right before I’d fired, when he’d brought up his gun and thought that he’d had the upper hand. He’d thought he’d played on my emotions.

But I couldn’t get the image of what the bullet had done to him from my mind. It was a struggle to keep my focus on the road. Each breath was a battle.

He’d meant to kill me. I’d known it and had shot first. It had been my only option.

When I reached an intersection, I took the corner faster than I should have. The wheels on one side left the ground and I was afraid the vehicle was about to roll. In my hurry to leave I hadn’t put on my seatbelt, so I gripped the steering wheel even harder and jammed my feet up under the pedals, hoping I would survive.

When the tires slammed back onto the road, I exhaled. I pushed my foot onto the gas pedal, making the tires squeal. The potential accident had distracted me from my thoughts, but now that it was over, they came swirling back like a hurricane, threatening to uproot my sense of self and reality.

It had been him or me. I knew it. He had known it. If he’d put his hands in the air and surrendered he would still be alive. But knowing that didn’t make it any better.

Blood Games – Episode 20



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

I BIT MY LIP to keep from swearing aloud as I looked at my watch. It was time to cut my losses and get out of here.

How long before Reed’s men showed up? Five minutes, maybe ten?

This place would soon be crawling with them. It was frustrating to be so close but not have the time necessary to get to them.

The silence stretched on while I considered my options and adjusted to my disappointment.

I was so close.

The door would stop my bullets. The metal my knife had scraped along the inside wall reminded me of sheet metal, something I could shoot through. The kids were probably with him, so I couldn’t risk it.

Reed had taken a foolish risk by taunting me. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have checked this room, seen it was empty, assumed the doors were closets, and gone on my way. Maybe I would have stopped if I’d have noticed the deadbolt, but I wouldn’t have given it much time, assuming it was a locked utility closet.

I bit my lip, trying to figure out if this was something he’d done on a whim, thinking I wouldn’t find him so fast or if he had another angle. Probably the latter, considering how he’d been acting for the children.

I ground my teeth as I wished for the briefest opportunity to shoot him. One moment with him in my sights and this would all be over.

This terrible game of his—how else could he think of it? —had cost too much blood. I wasn’t so far from my roots to think so much death was a trivial thing.

Even I still had some limits. If not so much in what I did but in my ways of perceiving a situation.

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