Oh, My!  I have so much to catch up on!  We’ve actually published two more cozy mysteries and two sacred and 2 religious books since this one was published let’s do at least one this wee.  The is from our newest book, Accidental  Anomalies: From the section about the mothers:


Chapter 1


2025 had been an eventful year for Aspen. On New Year’s Day, Michael had proposed to her: her sister had gotten married in February in a Valentine’s day service to Michael’s brother David, now it was Aspen’s turn to marry. Mom and dad had their fortieth anniversary in April; she had passed her state nursing boards in May and now she stood in the same cathedral as her sister Diem had stood in February, waiting to wed.

The cathedral was a large one, with tall stained-glass windows marching down the walls on either side of the oak pews, a finely carved crucifix hanging in front, flowers everywhere in varying shades of pink and lavender. Aspen smiled at her mom and dad as she took her place by her soon to be husband, Dr. Michael Simmons, a well-known geneticist who headed up his own research foundation. The smell of candles, scented rose and mint, greeted her at the front as she took Michael’s arm and faced the minister. Aspen seemed to glow in the candlelight of the church, in her long ivory dress, embroidered with roses and embellished with small pearls, the waterfall of her train spread out on the steps, a small tiara holding her veil in place. She held pink sweetheart roses, lily of the valley and white/pink rubrium lilies, blended in with ivy and mint. She handed off her flowers to the maid of honor, her sister Diem who had been married in this same cathedral to Dr. David Simmons, the brother of Michael, a specialist in the study of genetic disorders. His compassionate care of those who had inherited diseases was becoming legendary and the brothers were credited with a new gene-splicing therapy that had all but eliminated Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Their work had improved the lives of thousands of already born sufferers, who had had their symptoms ameliorated by his approach. They had been working on using the same treatment on embryo’s and it appeared these diseases would be eradicated. The Center for Genetic Studies was lauded worldwide and the sisters could not believe they were marrying the two men responsible for saving so many and easing the suffering of many more. Aspen was a nurse and had met Michael when he had come to the small hospital where she worked. She knew from the news reports he had recently been widowed.  They had begun dating a few months ago: he had shown her pictures of his son Liam, but he was away at school and she had not met him yet. Michael had introduced them by phone and said Liam would come home shortly before the wedding.  Aspen had thought that odd, but Michael had said Liam had a fragile disposition and was in special care. 

  Her sister Diem had met David at a Renfest the summer before. She was a social worker who worked with troubled kids in the schools. She loved the Ren fest and dressed up in costume as a gypsy, telling fortunes. Her mother had always said she had second sight, like her grandma. Diem laughed it off and said she simply looked at people and could tell from their body language and gestures what they needed to hear.

The minister cleared his throat, smiled, and began the service for Aspen and Michael.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the front of these witnesses to join this man and this woman together in Holy Matrimony, which is an honorable estate…” he began, smiling at the couple and looking up at the congregation, frowning a little at the reporters in the back. The pack seemed to follow the doctor’s everywhere they went, gatecrashing any event for a look at the celebrity geniuses. Even a wedding was not sacred to them.

The service seemed to last forever to Aspen as she repeated her vows with Michael and they kissed, then went to the reception and off on their honeymoon.

Mom had made their cake, a three-story affair, almost identical to her sister’s, except at the top stood a doctor and nurse as the bride and groom. A cascade of icing flowers tumbled down the sides from the top layer, all in pinks and lavenders, roses and violets, that seemed to fall and then circle the bottom. The food, prepared by mom’s favorite caterer, was excellent. Their wedding photographer was everywhere, taking pictures for her album, slightly hounded by the paparazzi. Aspen’s brother joked about playing his violin for both weddings; Saul was a concertmaster for the local orchestra, and he had gotten together several of his musical friends into a very acceptable string section augmented by a harp and they performed for the wedding and the reception at both weddings. People seemed to fall into a trance when he played, losing themselves in the music.

“Only difference between you and Di is you didn’t dance in the aisle on your way to the reception,” Saul joked with her as they shared a dance.

“Well, Di has always been a little bit more flamboyant than me. I’m the army nurse, remember? Loyal to country, steady as a rock, head down in the work. I dance very seldom. My heart was skipping though.”

“I never thought you’d settle down and get married. But when you did, my word! What a man you’ve got! Not only tall, dark, and handsome, but brilliant. You and your sister did well,” remarked their father coming up on them, tapping his son’s shoulder to take over dancing with his daughter. “May I have this dance, dear?”

Aspen and her father went to the middle of the room and did a simple waltz around the room several times before Di and David joined in, and then Michael took over and Dad took mom and shortly everyone was dancing.

“I hope you’ll love our home,” whispered Michael in her ear as they settled into a slower dance. “I’ve had it re-done for you. I didn’t think you’d want Callie’s things everywhere so I packed them all up.”

“I’m sure it will be fine. You said it was close to the Center?”

“Yes, about a mile. David lives next to us about another half mile down the road so you and your sister will be close. I forgot to ask, do you like dogs?”

“Dogs? You never mentioned dogs, but I guess they’re fine.”

“Good. You’ll need to get used to Marco and Polo. They’re a little noisy.”

“Marco polo?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’ve had them since they were puppies and King Charles spaniels live a long time. Callie couldn’t stand them. Course, she had Persian cats and they couldn’t stand them either.”

She laughed. “OK, I was worried you were going to reveal you raised bull mastiffs or something. In the military, we had a K-9 corps and I used to go over and help exercise the dogs. Marco and Polo will be a walk in the park. I can take them on my morning run.”

They went over and posed as they cut their cake, and after getting their own pieces, went back to the table to eat and accept congratulations. David and Di joined them. Michael and David’s phones rang almost simultaneously and they got up to talk outside.

“I’ve been in your house,” smiled Di. “It’s lovely. I helped the movers rearrange things a bit for you so you ought to feel right at home.”

“When do you head back to school?”

“I’m not. David and I decided that the first year, I’d be a stay at home lady of leisure and he’s strongly suggesting that I join him in the work at the center. They see a lot of children and he thinks I’d be an asset.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Actually, not bad. My contract was due to be re-upped this fall, and I’ve just told them I’m not coming back. I’ll be talking to the Center HR in a couple of months, soon as I’ve finished getting totally settled in, I’ll work at the Center. I think I can make a good contribution there. Of course, we both want kids so if I get pregnant, I may be staying at home for a while. I’d like to homeschool our kids.”

“Well, I am so close to completing my MS in nursing: I’ve passed my national boards and in just one more quarter, I can start my own practice. I’ve gotten my advanced OB/GYN clinical completed so I can be a midwife as well. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing. Still, we want a family too. Once we get back from our honeymoon, I go back to school five days later, so doubt I’ll have time for much house fussing. Of course, I never thought I’d get married. I’ll have to adjust a few plans.” The men came back, all smiles. A few more pictures, another dance, and it was time to escape. Di and Aspen went into the dressing room, Aspen changed into her traveling clothes, got her purse, and went out to meet with Michael. Tossing her bouquet to the bridesmaids, she made her way to the Ferrari that Michael drove and they were off to the airport.

Michael had kept the location a secret, but suspected she’d like the Cayman Islands as well as anyone else he’d taken there, and they spent a grand two weeks there exploring and enjoying before going back home.

“So back to the races, Monday,” she said as they boarded the plane for home.

“You could come work at the Center,” replied her husband as he strapped in. “We can always use good nurses.  Your sister is going to work there as well.”

“Center is tempting but I like my job at the county hospital. I’ve been there since I mustered out of the Army last year. I enjoy being in obstetrics and next month I’ll do my last rotation to have my Master’s work done. I want to be a nurse practitioner/midwife and I am so close I can taste it. One quarter away, that’s all.”

“I know. But your training is just what I need at the clinic. And besides, we want to start a family, right?”

“Kids will be great.”

He kissed her. “Then let’s keep all our options open and never hide anything from each other.”











Chapter 2


It was 2023. Faye and Eria, twin sisters, wore matching mermaid-styled dresses, sparkling with sequined fish scales, as they walked down the aisle towards the men of their dreams. Under short veils they wore smiles and glitter makeup twinkled on their cheeks. They each carried bouquets of cascading mini roses and daisies, with blue and green shaded ribbons that had small seashells glued onto them. They walked arm-in-arm down the center aisle of the chapel by the sea. The chapel faced the ocean, with an entire wall of glass overlooking the beach and lighthouse and sea, which on this occasion was calm and blue/green. The family and friends of Faye and Eria sat in their pews and smiled to themselves. With satisfied looks, they all thought it was about time something good happened to these favorite daughters of the village.

The twin’s parents had died in a car crash six years before, so they’d decided to give each other away at the service. Both girls were schoolteachers in the small coastal town and were liked by students and parents alike. They could not believe they were marrying world-famous scientists David and Michael Simmons. They’d be leaving the Carolinas and moving up to the Center in Virginia. However, they still had the old family home that was near the beach and promised to come back and visit. The old pastor had been the girls’ minister since they’d been born twenty-three years before; he’d married their parents thirty-five years previous to this day and he couldn’t believe he was able to do this last service for them before he retired. “I married their parents, I baptized their family, I buried them, and now I’m marrying these angels. Full circle with this family. I hope I’m around to see their children.” He got a little choked up at one point during his homily as he remembered the family lost to the community, and several others teared up as well, but no one could stay melancholy for long. It was so wonderful, a dream come true, a happy beginning for the twins who’d had such a lonely time of it since their family died in the crash. The girls had been joint valedictorians in high school and had figured on getting jobs in a factory in the nearby city, but the town wouldn’t stand for it; they must have schooling.

The entire town had put a fund together to send them to college; they’d been raised by the local principal and his wife after their parents’ deaths, and after graduation they had taught in the local elementary school for two years. Everyone felt as if these were their kids, their offspring, and the close-knit group was thrilled at the wedding. It hardly seemed possible Eria, the little princess and her sister Faye, the tomboy who played clarinet sitting in a tree by the church, could be old enough to be married and to such illustrious doctors. Everyone was so proud.

After the service, the girls changed and the reception was held on the beach, with a huge bonfire and hot dogs and burgers on the grill. The cake was tall and had artfully created white chocolate seashells decorating it, with two couples by a lighthouse on the top. The disc jockey played Hawaiian music over the waves, the champagne and wine flowed, and everyone had a wonderful time dancing around the bonfire. Afterward, the couple flew to the Cayman Islands and enjoyed a honeymoon that was peaceful, fun, and gave them all sunburns. Coming home, they moved into the large home of David Simmons, as Michael’s home was still under construction.


It was 2020. The bride wore an ivory gown that had been her mother’s thirty years before. It was held in a small country church in southern Ohio, surrounded by fields that had been planted to corn and soybeans and clover. Next to the little stone church was a cemetery holding all the ancestors of the little village just a mile down the road. Bria’s father was the minister of the congregation. The bride carried violets and lilies with one peace rose. The flowers had come from her Aunt Suzanne’s garden. It was simple, elegant, dignified, and ever so joyful. The small pipe organ blared the wedding march as Bria was escorted down the aisle by her older brother Anthony, since Dad was already up front with Dr. Michael Simmons, who waited with his brother David, the best man, up front. Afterward, the church had a picnic out behind the church under the shade of some oak trees that had seen dozens of weddings. The people hugged and gifted and discussed crops over the picnic. Everyone took pictures of the bride cutting the simple cake and applauded when David drove them to the airport. It was a satisfyingly grand day.


Callie waited for the organ playing the wedding march. She stood nervously in the back of the church with her father.

“Are you all right, honey?” he asked her. “I can’t believe you’re getting married. You don’t seem old enough to do this.”

“Daddy, I finished college two years ago, remember? And I’m already working in IT. David is a wonderful man.”

“It just doesn’t seem you’ve known him long enough.”

“I met him at work, Dad, you know that. He came in to have our company do some number crunching stuff and I met him and yes, I know it was only a few months ago, but I really do love him.”

The organ switched over to the wedding march when the two bridesmaids took their places beside the matron of honor, and the flower girl and ring bearer made it to the front without too many incidents.

“We could still escape,” he whispered.

“Daddy,” she reproved. “Come on.”

Her father sighed, kissed her on the cheek and they started the short march to her future. “Can’t blame a man for trying,” he muttered. “There is just something creepy about his eyes.”


Gabrielle and Hope worked at the newly named Center for Genetic studies in 2019. Gabby was a lab tech and Hope worked in the grant office. They were officially good friends. After the Meteor Holocaust in 2015, when the population had been decimated, it became politically incorrect to be a gay couple. Every working womb was supposed to get pregnant and try to have a healthy, normal child. Due to odd radiation from the meteor, ten percent of the population were mutated; some had birth defects that couldn’t be cured and were humanely put to sleep at birth.

Ten percent had hidden defects that were discovered later so asylums had been set up for them. If they appeared harmless, they were released to be raised to hold menial positions. They were tested as they grew. If anything really odd occurred – and the rumors were pretty bad as to what odd was – they could be humanely euthanized and autopsied to see what had gone wrong. The other eighty percent of births were normals: cherished and wanted.

Gay couples were seen to not be contributing to the re-population of the earth, even if some had been artificially inseminated and born children. Despite the former gains made in gay rights, anyone not perceived as straight was derided, picked on, and forced out of jobs unless they “did the right thing” and got pregnant. Even then, their lifestyle was watched by the public with suspicion, as if their lives alone had kept the earth from being safe from the disaster. After all, San Francisco had fallen into the ocean in the cataclysm. It must be God’s judgment on the queers and everyone else not towing the line. Churches were full of people trying to get right with God; just as many bars were full with people trying to forget. It was a strange time.

Dr. Mike and Dr. David were sympathetic to the problem. They suggested to Gabby and Hope they marry as a formality. Dr. Mike’s wife had died in a motorcycle accident recently, and he was lonely. David wasn’t married, not for lack of trying. He’d been engaged twice, and the women only knew he wasn’t married now. The previous fiancées had worked at the Center and when their engagements had gone south, they left to avoid seeing him anymore. Mike suggested he and David marry Gabby and Hope; as the wives of two prominent geneticists, they’d stop being treated as second class citizens. It would be totally platonic; if they wanted to get pregnant, they could be impregnated artificially, do their patriotic duty, and still be closeted wives. David had built a huge house, they could all easily share it; after all, five bedrooms, four baths, a fenced-in yard on ten acres of land covered in trees and gardens gave everyone enough space.

Dr. Mike had this adorable little boy Liam who was around six years old. He always wore turtleneck shirts and spoke three languages with a lisp. Dr. Mike said he had a sensory issue, so he always had gloves on his hands. He was a cheerful little fellow, following Dr. Mike around, chattering to people who paid him attention, quiet when no one did. There was a playground out back for the children who used the Center daycare; the free daycare for the workers was just one of the benefits of working in this enlightened place. Liam never seemed to go out when the other kids were there, but one-time Gabby could have sworn he had lifted up the big tractor tire sandbox and moved it by himself. She couldn’t have possibly seen that, of course, must have been a trick of the light outside. After their windows were broken by rocks one night, and their tires slashed in the parking lot, Gabby and Hope married the doctors in a quiet ceremony in the mayor’s office downtown.

They flew out to the Cayman Islands and had a great time as a foursome of friends. Mike and David had work in the islands and Gabby and Hope enjoyed the freedom that comes with being young, married, and beyond reproach. They thought they’d made a great deal. In six months, they decided to both go to a fertility specialist that David knew and were both artificially inseminated with David and Mike’s sperm. To their joy, they got pregnant easily. Sometime in their second trimester, both ladies disappeared. Their bodies weren’t found. David and Mike had the local sheriff and his men come and search the property and they found a note saying Gabby and Hope were secretly gay, they were sorry for hurting Mike and David but they could not live a lie anymore; they couldn’t stand being married to men and they were leaving. Their clothes, their car, their purses, and all the wedding pictures were gone.

The public uproar would have been terrible, had not Michael and David quietly called in a couple of favors to avoid the PR mess that was just waiting to descend on Arlington and the Center and themselves. The local judge considered the circumstances in chambers and signed off on their annulment. The Center personnel felt bad that David and Mike had been taken in by the two misfits. They were quickly forgotten except for some gossip.

“I always thought there was something odd about those women,” said one maintenance guy as he was cleaning a lab. “But really, to totally bamboozle two fellows as smart as the docs? Really? Doesn’t seem reasonable.”

“They were lookers, you know, and both of the Docs had lost their wives last year to accidents, remember? Maybe these were just, you know, one of those rebound things. You know how nice the doctors  are, considerate and always helping out folks. They might have been lonely, and the two gold diggers figured they’d get themselves into something that paid better than what they were doing.”

“Yeah, maybe. Still, I can’t help but feel bad for the Docs. I wonder if they’ll ever get hitched again?”

“I don’t know. Stands to reason they might, I mean they both love kids and they’re not old and worn out. They’re rich, handsome, and available. I suspect some nurse will get her eye on them soon.”

“Why a nurse?”

“Oh, nurses are always trying to marry doctors. They speak the same language.”

“Nobody could possibly keep up with the techno-speak they talk in these labs,” frowned her companion. “Is this the night we do the shelves?”

“No, the schedule says floors tonight, shelves tomorrow. You can’t read?”

“Lost my copy again.”

“Oh, let me just copy mine. Here’s the copier. That’s funny, isn’t that the note those women wrote? Why’d they leave it on the copier?”

“I thought the police had it?”

“Guess not. I’ll just copy this schedule and put it right back.”


2017 might not be such a bad year after all, Ivy reflected as she waited in the front office of the justice of the peace. Ivy wore a light blue suit as she stood next to her intended. She couldn’t wait to leave this town. Michael was an up and coming doctor; he and his brother were researching in their own lab in Virginia. Michael was going to join him in a couple of weeks. She and Michael had been living together for a couple of months now; he’d just completed his residency and was ready to join his brother. He was a good man, a kind lover, and he hadn’t flinched a bit when she told him she’d gotten pregnant despite the birth control. He told her they needed to get married at once, his child would have his name. She’d told him all about her first son, the one who had been born one of them, the different ones. The ones who had been changed by the leftover poisons from the meteor strike that had killed a third of the population. He’d asked to see her medical records on it. It interested him because he was a doctor and he was very nonjudgmental about Sam, the father who’d disappeared when she got pregnant, leaving her to raise the boy alone. They’d pulled the records up online from the home he lived in and he’d studied them carefully.

“I don’t think we have anything to worry about, Ivy,” he said. “The tests done on your son and yourself didn’t show a persistent genetic problem. It was smart of you to send your son to be cared for in an asylum. He’d have had a hard time growing up in regular society. We can shelter him in our home now. He can grow up with us. I have the training to see to his medical needs and if we need some help, we can get it. Do you visit him very often? Does he know you?”

“Yes, every chance I get, at least monthly. He looks just fine; you’d not know there was anything wrong with him. As he gets older, though, he’s sort of developing scales.”


“It’s some sort of skin disorder. The home isn’t sure what they mean.”

“Does he seem to have normal intelligence?”

“They tested him as above normal at the mutant asylum. He does his work online. He’s spot on developmentally and he’s very strong. He’s three and can already read. He learns really fast and is doing third-grade math. When I visit him every month, he begs me to bring him home. I can’t, of course, it breaks my heart. He’s getting better care and training than I could ever provide as a waitress. I’m just so worried they’ll terminate him.”

“After we get married, we’ll take him home. I’ll build a fence around the back yard so people don’t have to see him if his scales get worse. You can homeschool him. He won’t have to go out and be hurt by others and we can prepare him to go to college and such ourselves. If his IQ is normal or even advanced there’s no reason he can’t live a good life with us.” 

“I thought that the mutants weren’t allowed to plan on college. Don’t they just train them for well, service type jobs or factory work and stuff?”

“If the person is gifted and parents know enough people, there are ways around those rules.”

Ivy had not believed  her luck. True to his word, when they got home from their Vegas honeymoon, they went to the Asylum for Disabled Children and checked her son out, then had gone to Virginia. Little Liam had been so happy to ride in the car and go home. Michael’s brother David had been building his house and they moved into two rooms that were done at one end of the house and Ivy cooked for all of them, staying home, caring for her son and her two men, as she put it. Her baby grew within her and she found out it was another boy. Michael had a tutor come and teach Liam three hours a day and he made fast progress. Their son Dakota David Simmons was born in September, a healthy seven-pound, 3-ounce baby who could bellow like a steam engine. Ivy had planned on breastfeeding and had been doing that for nearly a year. Liam loved his little brother.

Michael had a motorcycle, a Goldwing. According to the crash reports, just as the baby was weaned, she had strapped him to her back in a carrier and went for a late autumn ride. She’d taken a curve too fast; the report read, overcompensated, spun out, and flew over the steep side of a cliff. She was killed instantly. The baby carrier was empty and even though they used trained police dogs, the baby was not found. Liam was heartbroken. He became very close to Michael and Uncle David and followed them around. Once in a while, for his quarterly check-ups, David had to draw blood and run tests. A housekeeper came daily for a couple of hours to clean and do laundry; they ate at the center. He had a tutor and nanny and life went on. They never found his little brother.


This is the first chapter of our newest Cozy mystery, Criminally Crocheted-https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08H1CP2QS

Chapter One


“Friends,” said the pastor of First Church, John Atherton, “We are here on this occasion to say good-bye to a member of long-standing in our congregation. Marie Clamons was a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor, and member here for the past 32 years. Marie could always be counted upon to help out when asked, and she has left a hole in our church’s hearts that won’t be filled easily. Shall we have an opening prayer?”

The congregation lowered their heads. The white coffin was open at the front of the church and the number of flowers around it paid tribute to the love shown by the little town of Lyonsville to a woman who had long lived here.

Her sons, Liam and Toby, along with their wives and children, sat in the front left-hand pew. Matthew, her other son, was in prison, but his wife and their children were also in the pew. The rest of the congregation sat in their accustomed places, along with community members. The back three rows on the left-hand side were filled with solemn Amish folks, neighbors who had known her and cared about her.

In the basement, the church ladies were setting up the funeral dinner for the family and close friends. The new pastor’s wife was directing. “There, that ought to be enough salad to go with the lasagna and garlic breadsticks, and that cake Hannah sent over is lovely,” she pronounced. “Ethel, what do you think?”

“I believe we need more punch,” she answered in a practical voice. “We’ve made up just three pitchers and folk are apt to be thirsty – it’s hot outside and when they come down from the cemetery, they’ll be thirsty and they like to stand around with a glass in their hand as they chatter.

 Mrs. Atherton looked surprised. “I hadn’t thought of that. Wait a minute, David? Brian? Where are you two?” she frowned at her little boys who were under a table with what looked like a stuffed toy, but on closer inspection turned out to be two kittens. “Just where did you get kittens and take them back at once. Now, Ethel, you were saying?”

“We have some who attend the funeral dinners regular like,” replied Ethel who nodded at another church deaconess who had started setting up pitchers of punch in the refrigerator. “I’d say we needed at least six full pitchers, not three, and maybe another pan of garlic breadsticks.”

“But there were only thirteen members of the family,” Sally Atherton protested. “Most of the congregation won’t be back after the motorcade to the cemetery surely?”

“I’d not be so sure. Some won’t go to the cemetery but will wait upstairs until the folks come back and join them downstairs. I’m a wondering if one lasagna is enough.”


Suzanne quietly came in from the back door accompanied by her sister Alyssa. “Hello, Ethel, we just thought there might not be quite enough so we each brought a bit to add to the food. Just in case certain folks crash the party?”

“Thank you so much,” replied Ethel. “How are your families?”

“They’re upstairs. We snuck out to bring in the food.” She and Alyssa set two pans of lasagna and a plastic grocery bag down.

“If you put the lasagna in the extra oven and add these bags of salad to the salad you have, ought to suffice,” added Alyssa.

“You’re a godsend,” said June Long. “I’ll just pop these into the other oven, and put the bags of salad in the fridge, and then I think we ladies can head upstairs and catch the rest of the service.”

Sally looked a bit confused. She went to get her boys only to find they had disappeared. “Drat! Where are Bryan and David?” she muttered.

“Little boys, ‘bout this tall?” asked Alyssa, gesturing.


“They each were heading out across the parking lot to the barn across the way when we were coming in. I’d have intercepted them if I’d realized they were AWOL.”

“Oh, my, our first funeral and those boys,” she started heading for the back door.

“Wait! Don’t worry,” said Suzanne. “I do believe I see my boy leading two little kids back. They look sort of guilty.”

Alan, Suzanne’s nineteen-year-old son, entered the back, holding the hands of two little boys firmly. “These have to belong to somebody,” he announced. “I caught them going into Miller’s storage barn,”

“They’re mine and boys what were you doing?” demanded Sally as she set about washing their faces with a wet dishrag. 

“We was doing what you said,” protested the six-year-old Brian. “We was taking back the kitties. They live in that barn. We found them.”

“They weren’t lost,” said Alan. “They belong to the Miller girls. It’s their dad’s barn.”

“Mom told us to take them back and we were,” David, all of eight years old, said just as firmly. “We always listen to Mom, not big mean boys who drag us across the parking lot.”

“I did tell them to put them back when I saw they had them here in the dining hall,” she admitted. “I assumed they were strays. I had no idea where they got them.”

“No harm done. However, they can’t just wander about and we all of us watch out for the children,” answered Alan. “And for the record, I was not dragging, you were lagging and we have a service to attend. Mom, you ready to go?”

“Yes, son,” answered his mom. “Thanks for retrieving the boys.”

The women all put away their aprons and quietly made their way upstairs to join their families. Toby was just beginning his eulogy to his mom. He was looking down at the podium and waited until the women found their seats.

“Thank you for the chance to speak about my mom, who was the most wonderful woman in the world. My mom, Marie Anne Clamons, was born in Claremont, Michigan, back in1952. When she was 8, her family moved to Berlin, Ohio and she grew up there. She got married to my dad, who is also deceased, in 1975. They had three boys, Arthur, who died in the war, Matthew who went to war and came back so changed that,” his voice choked a moment, “He went far astray and is now not with us. I’m sorry for all the pain he caused. Liam was the next son and I was born last. Liam will share in a little while. Our stepbrother Troy is here today as well and his wife and their two children.

“Due to circumstances, I wasn’t raised with my brothers. Mom raised me by herself. I had a lot of difficulties as a child, I stuttered, and I had braces on my teeth and wore glasses. I came in for more than a little teasing, but Mom was always there to help me feel better. Mom worked two and three jobs at a time when I was little to make ends meet. She tried hard to give me everything I needed and some of what I wanted. It wasn’t always easy. She gave up so much for me.

“Mom was a fabric artist. She made most of my clothes when I was growing up, and her own as well. From the leftover fabric, she made wonderful quilts. She gave some away, she showed them at the fair. Mom was an expert quilter and made all of her children quilts to remember her by; she created a quilt that won the State Fair one year and was bought by a quilt museum. When we were going through her things, we found a stack of quilts in her room labeled, for my grandchildren. They’re all twin size, all different, all wonderful, and I’d like to give them to you grandkids right now.”

He stepped to the side of the stage and came back with an armload of quilts in bright colors. “This one is labeled “for my oldest grandchild,” I think that would be Betsy, Troy’s oldest. This one is for the youngest and that would be Anne Marie, Liam’s baby girl. These three are for boy grandkids, so Mikie, Billy – Troy’s other two – these are yours and Eli, Matthew’s little boy, come get yours.

“Esther, this one and this one are labeled for girls, which do you like? The lavender one, fine. I’ll hold this one and this one for the next two grandkids, whoever they might be.” He paused as the excited children went back to their mothers holding their pretty quilts.

“We boys, as Mom called us, she already gifted with quilts before she passed. There was one other quilt in the box. It’s a full-size quilt and she wanted to give it to the town. Mayor Stevens, would you accept this for hanging in the town museum in mother’s honor? Thank you, please pass it back to him for me.” He handed the quilt to an usher, who took it to Mayor Stevens, who looked very touched by the gift.

“Mom didn’t have much, but she had love. She had peace inside her heart. She hated what happened here over the last couple of years, and her inadvertent part. Towards the end, she asked me to read this to you all when the time came. Then Liam will speak and anyone else who wants to say a few words, and we’ll sing her favorite hymn, I Come to the Garden Alone. Here’s Mom’s letter to the town.” He unfolded a letter and took a deep breath.

“Dear neighbors,

I won’t be there when this is read to you. I wanted to offer my sincerest request for your forgiveness to anyone who was harmed by my son and daughter’s actions. If I could make it all right, I would. It grieves me to know that some were hurt so badly, some even died, and so many damages. But I know this town will go on. You always do. I’ve always loved that about Lyonsville; no matter what the problem, the church ladies will get to work on it, they’ll get their husbands moving to build or repair or fix and it gets done. You have the biggest hearts in creation. Thank you for being kind to me over the years and kind to my boys. I haven’t got much of this world’s goods and there is no way I can make any restitution, but I hope that the quilt I made for you all will bring some of you comfort if you get to see it in the museum. Don’t feel sad for me. This cancer is a temporary inconvenience on my way home to live with the God I have always loved. I cherish my faith and my family and God knows how much I love you all. When you get here, please look me up. I’ll be most likely in my flower garden having talks with bees and hummingbirds as I transplant geraniums and roses. God bless you all and see you someday. Please take care of my boys.

 With respect,

Marie Anne Clamons.”

Havilah and Honey were crying, as were several folks in the congregation as Toby left the platform.

The pastor stood up again and asked if anyone had anything to say about Marie and memories of her life. Several took turns. Finally, the pastor announced the final hymn, it was sung and they all filed past the coffin.

Casey whispered to her husband Brad, “Liam didn’t speak.”

“He couldn’t. He was crying and I think the pastor understood and just moved on,” replied Brad in a whisper. They filed past and left. “You want to ride in the cruiser? I need to lead the processional with my lights on to the cemetery.

“The cemetery is just back of the church,” said Casey. “Not much of a ride.”

“I know, but the custom is to ride the person around the town for the last time. There’s a proscribed route and we end up back here at the back of the cemetery. It takes about a half-hour. It’s respectful.”

 “OK, long as I’m in the front seat,” smiled his wife. They got into the cruiser. The funeral home had put little flags on everyone’s cars and Brad waited until the pallbearers had carried Marie out to the hearse and slid the casket in. As soon as it seemed everyone was ready, he turned on his light, backed out slowly, made sure the hearse was next, followed by the family cars, and drove slowly down Main street and to the roads that bordered the little town. The drove past Marie’s home where Toby now lived alone. The flower beds were bright and cheery, as if she had just worked in them that day. They drove on past the Amish neighbor’s farms, horses in the fields, laundry on the line, neat and rustic. Turning the corner, they headed down the next road outlining the little town and continued with lights flashing, twenty-five miles an hour, forty cars, and a hearse.

Back at the church, most of the Amish friends of Marie had simply walked over to the gravesite, where a tent had been erected and they stood quietly waiting for the rest of the folks to arrive. They had each carried out a flower arrangement at the assistant funeral director’s instruction; he placed them so they would not interfere with the casket being placed on the lowering device. It was quiet and peaceful, a warm autumn day with leaves just starting to turn.

In the squad car, Casey watched bemused at the scenery. “You couldn’t ask for a prettier day for a funeral,” she said.

“It is,” replied her husband.

“It’s almost like we have closed a chapter on the town,” she replied.

He nodded. “After everything that happened over the last couple of years, and making it through the Founder’s Day Anniversary, it almost seems anticlimactic.”

“I know what you mean. It’s good to know things will be quiet again and we can get back to pretty much normal.”

“There is that. You heard about the final sentencing of Marie’s kids?”

“No, been pretty busy catching up at the office. Too many DV cases lately.”

“Matthew was determined to be sane enough to stand trial, you remember, and is undergoing treatment for his PTSD, but is going to be in jail for 25 years to life. Lizbeth is in a hospital in Cleveland for the next three years, after which she has a three to five-year sentence, and after that, she will be out on parole. Her husband accepted a pastorate up in Cleveland so he can be close to her. Liam was not charged as he cooperated and was found to have been under extreme coercion.”

“I’m glad Marie got a chance to hold her grandbaby, Anne Marie before she passed.”

“She outlived the doctor’s predictions, all right. Here it is nearly October. She was a good woman, stubborn as a mule, and dedicated to her family. Community is going to miss her, her old friends Sophia and Mildred especially.”

They lapsed into a comfortable silence as they turned and rode down the third road in the square around the town.

“What shall we do for our anniversary?” he asked as they turned down the final road. 

“I’ve been thinking about that,” she replied as they turned the last corner and headed back towards the church cemetery. “I’ve never stayed in that big fancy B&B in town. How about we stay there for the night?”

“Don’t want to skip town?”

“Only if we could fly back to the islands,” she smiled. “I’d like to do that for our 25th anniversary, should we both live so long. This is just our six months anniversary.”

“Oh, we’ll go back to the islands before that,” he grinned. “Chuck wouldn’t hear of us not flying out sooner. They want us to meet their little one. Well, here we are.” He pulled in and parked, then shut down the light. He got out of the cruiser and met his boss waiting.

“Seems like we got us a prankster,” Erick Black stood tall and nodded respectfully as folks walked past towards the burial. He joined Brad and Casey as they walked towards the gravesite to pay their last respects.

“What now?” asked Brad.

“Wife’s pretty put out about it,” replied Erick quietly. “Last night, somebody yarn-bombed Mildred’s mailbox and put an African violet in the box.”

“Yarn bombed? Have the Yarn Sisters gone out of control? That’s just weird,” Brad frowned. 

“Neither Mildred nor my wife wanted me to take the yarn bomb off the box, but I had to and they were some miffed. Said it was beautifully done, single crochet in white yarn, one large blue button on the bottom holding it on. I pointed out if they liked it there, they oughtn’t to have called to report it. But a plant in the mailbox? That’s odd.”

“At least no one got hurt,” said Casey. “Is it Mildred’s birthday or anything? Some of the Yarn Sisters group have a funny sense of humor.”

“They swear it wasn’t one of them.” sighed the sheriff. “Wife says she’s not making Yankee pot roast until I give the evidence back.”

Brad chuckled. “Looks like you have to decide if it’s actually a crime and act according to law and not your stomach.”

“I can’t imagine life without Wednesday night Yankee pot roast followed by a nice cuddle with the wife on the couch while we watch old John Wayne movies. Don’t you think I look a little like the Duke?”

“Boss, if you don’t quit, I’m going to laugh out loud at this funeral,” grinned Brad.

“Hush, you two,” scolded Casey. “What will the folks think?”

“They’ll think we’re back to normal and we got some kid who has learned to knot covers for mailboxes running wild in the town.”

Brad drew a deep breath and held it to avoid making a scene. Casey couldn’t help it and stifled a giggle.

“Ah, Brad, guess what? We’re back to normal crime,” she whispered.

“All we need is a shoplifter and things will feel normal,” he said a sotto voice. “Shh yourself.”

They arrived at the grave and stood with their heads bowed and their hats in their hands as they came up to the other mourners. When it was done and the coffin lowered, they went back to the car.

“I’ll be home at six, dear,” he said as he pecked his wife’s neck. “Unless there’s a sudden crime wave.”

“Takes time to yarn bomb, so I think we’re safe,” she said. And tell Erick if he wants, we’re doing barbeque tonight, although I doubt his wife is going to really starve him. Not if John Wayne’s on the after menu.”

This is a chapter from our book, Calm Instead of Clamor: just because of the times we live in-I wrote it to try and help my readers deal with the ever-increasing fear in our world…hope you enjoy it.  It’s also available on Amazon:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27


The peace God is speaking of here is the peace a child feels as they snuggle in their parent’s arms, no matter what is happening around them.  

I remember a story my dad told me when I was a child, something he had witnessed that had stuck with him until he died an old man.  


He was in World War II. He was in the Army Air Force and he traveled all over the world doing maintenance and fueling the planes for the actual pilots. He had always wanted to be a pilot, but he was nearsighted, and back then, you couldn’t fly with glasses. He contented himself with being the man on the ground backing them up.


He went to China, India, and England among other places. He told me the story of how at one place, they were seeing heavy action. They had native people do housekeeping chores for them on the base and during the fighting, he’d fuel a plane, lock it down as he called it, jump down and the plane would rumble out, another take its place and he’d fill the next one. During a lull, they’d run back into the tent barracks and grab some coffee or relieve themselves. On his trip to the latrine, he saw several of the housekeepers hiding behind the latrines, holding their children in their arms. He didn’t speak the language and he asked what on earth they were back there for from someone who did speak Hindi and who obligingly asked them for Dad.


“They say they never bomb latrines. They bomb weapons and planes and barracks; they not bomb toilets. Safest place to be.” He was told. He shook his head and went back to work.


The thing that struck him though was that all four women had babies in their arms who were sleeping through the entire bombing. It was as if a war was not going on. They were in their mother’s arms and as far as the babies were concerned, they were safe. He said he never lost the picture of those ladies behind the bathrooms, holding sleeping babies while the sound of war all around them went on. The world might be crazy but the babies had peace in spite of the smelly environment and the bombing and the shooting.


Was it a peace that the world gives? Heavens no! It was the peace that comes when you trust someone.


It’s the kind of peace we can feel inside us when everything around us is falling apart. Are we surrounded by invisible viruses and do we have to hunker down in our homes, not go out except for emergencies and provisions, not see anyone? That’s fine. We’re taking precautions. Viruses are not Bigfoot, sneaking up to grab you. If you aren’t exposed, they do not magically turn up in your blood system. Remember your science class as a kid? We disproved spontaneous generation.  






I have the second book in the series out and now will send forth a chapter from number 2, Criminally Quilted- enjoy!


Lyonsville was a quaint little town that seemed frozen into the small-town mold. The main street was lined with shops, the people all knew each other’s business and seemed to care for each other. The busiest time of year was tourist season when people from the city would escape to the little town in search of antiques, Amish and anonymity from their overspending and overeating. There had been very little in the way of crime and the largest problem seemed to be shoplifting during tourist season, an occasional fender bender, and sometimes a drunk and disorderly. Sheriff Erick Black had been in the office as long as anyone could remember, and his deputy, Brad Malcom, was the son of the last sheriff. Continuity and consistency ought to have been the town motto.

Sometime in the middle of the year before, the local farms and businesses began to be attacked by vandalism, each action escalating from the last. Each time an act occurred, an ornate, professionally made, pieced quilt square had been left at the scene. The local quilt shop experts were at a loss as to who could be doing the blocks and were cooperating with the town police to try and put a stop to the troubles. Even the local Amish farms had been attacked; nuisance things at first – animals let loose, fences cut, a small fire – but the last things to occur had been two kidnappings from two separate families. Brad had been kidnapped but found; however, David Hershberger and Miriam Fisher were still missing. The Amish were closing their shops in town and traveling in groups only to come into town; those who had jobs were using English drivers to take them to and from their jobs. Children were being kept out of sight. 

And the average townspeople were feeling spooked and starting to act suspicious of each other; several had obtained Concealed Carry permits and bought guns, many had security alarms installed on their houses or businesses. Some openly wore their pistols. It was beginning to feel a little too much like a bad western movie set. The town council had voted an emergency measure and the Sheriff had hired on two more deputies; instead of closing for the night, the station was open twenty-four seven and patrols were made all night. The bank added security. Even the church had started locking its door during the day, which greatly upset the Pastor’s wife, Lizbeth, who felt God’s church should always be open. Her husband reminded her they’d only been here three years and perhaps this was the new normal for the town. She was not convinced.

When things turned very serious, culminating in the kidnapping of the deputy and the murder of a retired schoolteacher, the FBI was requested to join in the search for answers. We come into this chaos just after Brad had been released from the hospital after having been kidnapped. The agents are looking for patterns, for motives, for anything to give them clues to the perpetrator.

Troy Bellows, FBI agent, Deputy Brad Malcom, and Sheriff Erick Black studied the map of their town of Lyonsville. Two-inch copies of the nine-inch quilt blocks had been pinned to it where the events they represented happened, and the time and date noted. The map was beginning to resemble a lap quilt.

“I’m guessing our next incident will happen either here, to fill out this side of the street, or up here,” Erick said. “I hope they aren’t murders.”

“I want to try something,” replied Troy. “Get out the fabric squares and let me go over to your friend’s quilt shop. I want to see something.”

“Thought we couldn’t use civilians?” asked Brad.

“They have a tool in back of the shop that ought to help this along. They aren’t going to see anything they haven’t already seen.”

Grabbing the box of squares, Troy went over to the Fiber Mavens and walked in. Erick stayed on post and Brad went out to watch the areas they were worried about. Brad considered the events to himself as he walked his beat.

The church has been hit twice, he muttered silently as if his thoughts were a chewstick being used by a parrot. So have the fiber folks over there. Of course, the second time could have been to cover the quilt store; the first the fiber store, the hobby store has been hit, sort of fills that block except for the museum. Haven’t hit the museum store. No business has been hit twice, but if you look at it that way, they haven’t either and they may be up for one more hit. Lordy, I hope not. If anything happened to Thom or Suzanne or Alyssa or anybody over there, no, no, to make this thing go together, they’d have to hit either the Rose Garden, the Library or I think Finian’s. This block has been hit lightly, and the murder victim wasn’t a store owner, he just had a house end of Main Street. Why go after a retired teacher, even if he was an algebra teacher? He was no longer torturing kids’ minds about quadrilateral equations . . . The other house end of Main Street is a rental and nobody’s there right now. Checked that last night, nobody in there. So, this block here is up for attack but what and when is it going to happen

A pumpkin orange Volkswagen drove past. The young man inside was heading out of town; he turned at the stop sign, most likely headed for the state route. A few more cars went by. Brad walked slowly, savoring the spring, looking at the street. He came to the park and checked, kids were all inside and, until he checked the park just before they were due to go out, they would be kept inside. No need them to see someone’s dead cat if that happens. Darndest thing, killing that little poodle, stringing it up in the park. Sick bastard was what he was, whoever he is. Kill an old lady’s dog like that. Glad she’ll be getting a new one soon., Marcy’s good for offering one from the next litter. Hope it looks just like her old one. Yarn ladies sure did stick together over that. I guess we should be lucky they haven’t yarn bombed the town street entrances to protect it from intruders. Maybe they could use Kevlar yarn – I am not going to suggest thatMayor’s wife is just feisty enough to do it. He smiled to himself and shook his head as he waited on the corner to cross.

He looked at the Volkswagen as it went around the block and passed him again then drove out of sight. In the back of his head, something was bothering him, nagging him. Something that ought to be evident but he couldn’t pull it to the front. He strolled down the street to the Oakhurst Bed and Breakfast, nodding to townspeople, checking the stores and getting the all-clear.

He walked up the paving stones and knocked at the door of the Victorian-style mansion called Oakhurst. “Morning, Sandra. You got a minute?”

“Surely, Deputy, you come right in. Our last guest just left and I was going to go clean up the rooms and be ready for tonight’s reservations.”

“Did one of your guests drive an orange bug?”

“Well, actually, yes. He’s a nice young man here on a work trip. He’s been coming for the past few months to attend to business. Always polite, doesn’t leave a mess. He’s booked reservations through to June, every two weeks or so spends a few days and leaves. He’s quite the regular.”

“Is he related to anyone in town?”

“Not that I know of,” she replied. “Coffee?”

“No, got more walking to do this morning. We’re cautioning everyone to be careful. If you have security lights, have them on, if you don’t have a security system, seriously consider putting one in.”

“We have that already installed. Odd you mention it though.”

“Why?” asked Brad. 

“Our recurring client has a security business. I have his card here somewhere.” She looked in her desk, then stuck a business card in her copier and made a copy, giving it to him.

“Here it is. Matthew Solomon, Security Systems Inc. His company is from Chicago, but he works out of Cleveland. He installed a system for us two months ago and it works like a champ. I’m going to suggest at the next Chamber of Commerce meeting those who don’t have systems look at his. They’re not that bad cost-wise and they sure seem to work.”

Brad took the copy. “Thank you and keep your eyes open. Wait, did you have an intruder? Have you had the alarm go off?”

“Well, not officially but husband went down to let the dog out around 3 a.m., forgot to disarm it, sat on the back porch waiting for Bitsy like he always does – you know, he’ll fall asleep out there on the back waiting for her to finish – and she comes up, nudges him and they both amble back inside. Anyway, he like to have had a heart attack when it went off, the porch lights and the alarm roaring like a tornado siren right over his head. He was just about rattled to death. He was fully awake, the dog howling, when he came in and turned it off. Dog won’t go out back to do her business at night now, we have to go through the garage breezeway and let her out in the side yard. She refuses the back. I’m so glad we didn’t have guests that night. Our neighbors were upset enough.”

Brad smiled, “That would have been a sight. Too bad you hadn’t videoed it: you could have made some money off America’s Funniest Videos. Anyway, you know it’s going to work just fine if and when someone comes sneaking around. That will give you a sense of peace, I suspect. You let us know if you need anything.”

“Will do,” she said as she ushered him out the door. He continued his beat, checking in at differing stores. He arrived at Finian’s where he was greeted by a nervous Finian Ippish.

“I’m so glad you’re here!” he exclaimed. “I was going to call. You will not believe what happened! It must have occurred last night, and I just can’t explain it. I’d think I had ghosts. I just don’t know what to do.”

“Slow down, Fin,” soothed Brad. “Just what’s going on?”

“Come to the back of the store. Nothing’s been bothered out here. It’s in back.”

They exited to the back room, through the employees only door.

There across from the door on the wall was a painted quilt block. Brad immediately pulled out his phone and sent a picture to the Sheriff.

“And they left this block, just like that one, tied to the furniture in the corner.”

“Was anything taken?”

“No, but the oddest thing. Several old pieces were leftover back here in a corner, and they were all marked and tagged.”

“Marked and tagged?” said Brad gently, trying to hurry up the almost vibrating Finian. The tall, thin man shifted his weight from one side to the other, swaying in the room like a tree in a slow summer breeze. His eyes were wide, his face pale, and his normally neat hair mussed. 

“Yes, come and look.”

In the back corner stood several pieces of older fifties furniture, a vintage red Formica-topped dinette set, a couple of retro plastic chairs, an avocado green couch with two tub chairs, covered in plastic, a couple lamps and vases, a wooden bamboo headboard and footboard for a full-size bed. All of them had tags on them. Brad cautiously turned one over – it said, “reserved for the devil and his hell” on the back of it. Another proclaimed, “Stolen goods;” still another “there is no redemption” and “Remember Sharon Tate”.

“May I have all these tags?” asked Brad. “We need to check for fingerprints.” He took out a plastic baggie. Finian nodded yes and Brad gently removed them, wearing gloves, seven tags in all. “Anything else?”

“Only that I had these all wrapped up in a plastic tarp. I have the provenance for the furniture on file over here.” Finian went to the corner where several file cabinets were placed. He studied a second, then went to the bottom drawer, leafed a moment and pulled out a file. “Here it is. This stuff was all bought at the same time at a Sheriff’s auction. Previous owner had been foreclosed on and everything sold, just allowed to keep personal items, that would be clothes and maybe toys or a few sentimental items. Says Dad had bid on her sewing machine but an Amish couple got it. What do you think it means, all that stuff about hell and all? Do you think we’ve got a cult or demon worshippers or something?” Finian hurriedly crossed himself. “Lordy, I hope not. I drive eighteen miles to get nearest Catholic church for mass each week and go to confession for absolution monthly and I try to be a good man but this whole thing is just creepy.”

“I’ll need to take the file. I’ll send a team to brush for fingerprints, but I don’t think we’ll find any on the furniture. Do you have the tarp?”

Finian looked around. “Let me look.” He scurried around the storage area and came back with a blank look on his face. “Unless I find it later, that may be the only thing they took. I can’t understand why they’d take a dirty old tarp? They didn’t touch the office that I can see, they didn’t riffle the files, nothing but the tarp is missing, really, except my nerves. They’re shot to hell.”

“Your dad was a solid businessman. Why didn’t he sell this stuff years ago?”

“You know, I asked him that once. There were a lot of bad feelings about the way the foreclosure went, and a lot of bad feelings about how that woman and her kids were put out on the street after a really bad divorce left her pretty well penniless. And then the husband’s debtors all descended on her when they couldn’t find him and she lost it all. He didn’t think it would be good for business to sell it and so he wrote down here,” Finian put on his glasses and showed Brad the notation. “Told Mrs. C I’d hold till she could come to redeem it all. Don’t display.” She did come back and buy back some things over the years, a few items, a cedar chest that had been her mother’s, some lamps, a desk, but hadn’t gotten these and they just sat here and Dad never put them out. One thing you could say about my dad is he always kept his word. He told me not to sell them as long as Mrs. C still lived.” He frowned. “I guess that won’t be long now, from what I hear. Rumor has it that she’s dying and her son’s taking care of her. I believe I’ll ship it out of town and sell it in my uncle’s store in Cleveland. It ought to fetch good prices. It’s been in storage so long and it’s all in pristine shape.

“This is Marie Clamons’ stuff? Really? May I take that file? I can bring it back after it’s been checked over.”

“Of course, anything to stop this from happening again.” Finian went into the office and came out with a cross.

“I think I’m going to get another of these, have our priest bless it and hang it in the office. I’m hanging this one out here in the storage room. It can’t hurt, right? Maybe add a St. Benedict medal as well. You think maybe I ought to hang something on each wall, sort of making a cordon around it all? I could have my priest come and bless my business again. What should I do about the painting?” Finian was nervously babbling, studying the shop, touching things here and there and hung the cross on the opposite wall, pointing towards the widow’s furniture.

“Can the block just stay there for a few days? Our FBI guy may want to study it.”

“It’s actually sort of pretty,” remarked Finian. “I’ll leave it. I can hang St. Christopher there in the middle or St. Nicholas. They’ve kept me safe from shoplifters before.”

Sighing, Brad put the tags, the file, the quilt block all in a large bag and reminded Fin to lock his back door. He headed over to the quilt shop to locate Troy and show them all the latest acquisitions. As he left, he thought a moment and called Finian’s daughter and asked that she look in on her dad later in the morning. Then Brad charged down the street to the Fabric Avalanche.

Meanwhile, as Brad had been working with Finian, Troy had walked into the Fiber Avalanche carrying a large expanding file. On his way he noticed the Fed Ex driver taking a delivery into the pharmacy, the people out shopping, a few early tourists taking photos, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He turned in at the Fiber Avalanche.

Lydia greeted him. “Any word on Miriam?” she said anxiously.

He shook his head. “No, but I wanted to ask if you could help me a moment?”

“Certainly. What can we do?” replied Suzanne coming out from behind the cash register where she had been sitting, waiting on customers and working on hand quilting a block in a hoop.

“Do you have a quilt layout board?” he asked. “You know, one of those big felt or something boards with a grid on them to put pieces upon for planning?”

“Surely do.”

“Do you have some fabric in the town colors?”

Suzanne looked at Lydia. “I didn’t know we had town colors.”

“Let me put it another way. Is there a color that is always used at ceremonies locally?”

“No, pretty much we use what’s appropriate to decorate for the season.”

“Then do you have school colors?”

“Yes, those we have. The school colors are gold and silver.”

He shook his head. “Let me see the strips you have. FBI will reimburse for this.”

“I think the closest we could come would be dark yellow and grey as far as the school colors. Most quilters don’t use solid shiny gold or silver. Here’s our display of strip colors. Do you see any that might work?”

Studying the strips, he considered, then chose several colors. He held them up to show her and she said, “Lydia, show him the design wall grid we use. I’ll see to the customers just coming in. Hello, Mrs. Harmony and Mrs. Olsen, so nice to see you again!” Suzanne went to greet her customers, Lydia and Troy went to the classroom.

Lydia quickly took down the blocks that were in the planning stage on the wall. “It’s magnetic and pieces are held up with these little magnets,” she explained to Troy. He nodded. “We made our wall to our specifications with the guys’ help. Most of them are 60 x 72 inches; we made ours a bit larger so that we could use it in classes. It’s 72 inches high, 96 inches long.”

“Then let’s put this in place as a town map.” He studied a minute. “If we use each 9-inch square for a business or place, we can grid out the town in blocks and see what happens.”

“Haven’t we done that with the thumbprint map?” asked Lydia.

“I know, I’ve been told about your map and I’ve seen ours, but I think full size will give a better feel for what the perp is seeing as well.” He started putting in the roads using 2-inch strips.

“We’ll use the solid dark cream for streets, darker ivory for outside binding and put the proper number of buildings along the main street. Whoever is doing this is an artist and I can’t see them using a fabric that wouldn’t fit in with the general color scheme they have been using for the blocks. I’ll use spacer blocks I made out of plain fabric my wife had for places that haven’t been hit yet.” He put the farm squares in their proper places and put spacer blocks between them wherever no crime had occurred.

“You can go back to work, you don’t have to watch me,” he said to Lydia.

“It’s interesting,” she replied. “It sort of fits but the 8 by 12 grid is not working. The normal 9-inch square quilt is an 8 x 12 grid. You need to change that to fit what is actually happening. This quilt is not a regular quilt; it’s what we call a landscape quilt. People make them to show old childhood towns, commemorate town events, that sort of thing. They aren’t really regular.”


“All quilt squares don’t have to have binding between them, like streets. Let me show you. Except for the middle strip, it’s working.” Quickly she reassembled the squares. “See? This is master level work. The different patterns blend in together and match. And look here? The colors are patterned as well; the darker quilt blocks are centered up here, by this corner. They slowly lighten down to the opposite corner where they’re almost pastel. It looks like a cloud is coming over the sun – Sun and Shadow we call that in quilting. And see? This end is finished with the death of the teacher: he was the last patch down here and his block is modified: see this little block in the corner? This is a coffin block quilt and they added a little coffin or headstone here in the center. That’s a change from normal. There are three missing places, Finian’s, the Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast, and Mike’s Not Your Normal Antique store. And the excitement we had at the bank is out of sequence.”

“Excuse me?”

“Look, it doesn’t match the color shading sequence. I am wondering if it needs to be shifted like this,” she moved a blank square up, moved the bank square down. “Now the shading is correct. Everything is in order. But what is on that side of the bank – what’s in the blank square?”

Tony studied it for a moment and nodded. “There’s a vacant lot there, something burned down, they just put out a few trees and benches and didn’t rebuild. I’ll have to go in city records and figure out what it was before. Meantime, you missed a place,” he commented.


“The widow’s place. No one has attacked her. Of course, she’s in Chicago right now visiting her sister.”

“How do you know that?”

“We have ways,” he smiled. He stepped back and studied the quilt, making note of some ideas on a tablet. “I can’t leave these here. I just need to take a few pics.”

He took pictures from several angles. He leaned back and studied it. “The dates are not a pattern. Some are clustered, some are weeks apart. There is a definite pattern in colors. Is there a pattern in the style of block? I don’t see it.”

“Yes, there is,” replied Suzanne coming in from the front of the store. “All the blocks I see up there were popular as retro in the 1980s. The patterns are older than that but if you look back to the 1980s, these were the most used patterns.”

“How would you know that?” he asked.

“Quilt history is a specialty I actually teach,” she smiled. “The college in Ashland has a course in fiber history in America and I literally wrote the book on it.” She went over to the bookcase and pulled out a book. “After it was published, the college dean saw it, called me, invited me to come teach the class every year when it’s offered, using my book. He said it was the most complete and logical treatise he’d ever seen on the subject,” she shook her head quietly, somewhat embarrassed. “I still have the letter and I read it sometimes when I wonder if I’m accomplishing anything at all, like during tax time. It’s also good for intimidating rivals and making my kids work harder to match up with their old mom. Here, let’s look.”

She opened the book about halfway, thumbed a couple of pages. “Yes, here it is. Now that’s strange! All of those blocks are on page 65 in the book. I have a page for every era. Whoever is doing this has something to do with the 1980s. The only other ones I can see not used,” she looked up and down and lightly drew a pencil line around some blocks. “Churn Dash, Double Cross, Sailboat, Amish Pinwheel, and Compass. He or she has used all the others.”

“May I have a copy of this page?”

“Do you one better. I have an autographed copy of my book I’ll be glad to donate to the cause. We need to catch this killer.” She went over to another shelf and pulled out a book just as Brad came in through the door.

“Hi, Suzanne, Lydia. What’s this block called?”

“Another one!” exclaimed Troy. “Who got hit now?”

“Yeah, another one.” He handed the square to Lydia. She studied it and handed it on to Suzanne.

She opened her book and showed him. “Just like the others. It’s on this page, right here, third row down, different colors than my book, but same block. It’s called Double Cross. History says that usually someone who had been cheated or jilted at the altar or something made one to get rid of their frustration and used it on the least used bed in the house to show disdain. I think it’s rather pretty myself.” She went over to the copier and made a two-inch copy and gave it to Brad who nodded thanks. “I’m in a quandary. While I am flattered someone has seen my book and read it, why it’s being used to plan crimes is beyond me. It’s not exactly a thrilling bestseller; it’s a textbook.”

“Do you think they’re trying to frame you?”

“I hadn’t thought of that!” she exclaimed.

Troy turned around and added a block. “Ok, Finian’s Furniture goes right here. That side of the street’s done.”

Troy put the book in his file as he and Brad carefully removed all the blocks from the wall and placed them in the file, and were just starting to leave when Troy’s phone rang and the radio on Brad’s shoulder went off at the same time. Troy put everything down and answered his phone; finishing quickly and hanging up, he nodded at Brad, grabbed up his things, and they sprinted to the station.

While the men had been at Finian’s and Fiber Avalanche, Erick was sitting in his office trying to do paperwork when the dispatcher sent through a call. The voice on the other end of the line was frantically trying not to babble.

“Sheriff, you need to come now. There’s a body on the altar.”

“Excuse me? Who is this?”

“This is Pastor Primo. I came in to work on my sermon, went into the sanctuary and there’s a body in the pulpit.”

“Be right there. Don’t touch anything.”

He had radioed Brad and called Troy from the quilt shop.

“Brad, Troy, go to the church immediately. We have another death.”

The two men entered the station and all three went out to the squad car, leaving a deputy and dispatcher at the station. The dispatcher was already calling for forensics and an ambulance.





I haven’t even got the cover back yet from this new book, but am giving you a chapter to get your mind running: tentatively called Criminal Quilting, give it a look:


“Doctor, you have to be wrong. She’s not old enough to die.” The young man leaned forward in his seat in the doctor’s office. “Mom didn’t have any symptoms or anything.”

“I’m sorry, son. Your mom’s had a hard life. She did all the best she could, but she has pancreatic cancer. There is little to nothing I can do about it.”

“Then treat her.”

“There isn’t any treatment at this stage except for palliatives – keep her comfortable, get hospice involved. The cancer will spread slowly at first and then more rapidly. She won’t be uncomfortable for a few months yet, but I’m afraid your mom has about six months of good life left, and then she’ll need to go on painkillers to control discomfort and she’ll live about six weeks after that. There is nothing anyone can do to stop it.”

“But how did this happen? She was fine last summer when I came home from college and just said she had to take some treatments.”

“We tried removing the tumors. We did. But your mom worked all those years exposed to solvents and she smoked all those years and she had diabetes; it all just caught up with her.”

“If we hadn’t been so poor, she could have afforded better food,” fumed the young man. “Had dad not copped out on us, she’d never have had to go work in that factory.”

“That’s all past history, son. There’s nothing we can do now except make sure her last days are happy ones.”

“But I just got out of college and I wanted to be able to help her now. She’s worked all these years for me; I want to show her some gratitude and I can’t in six months. She deserves years of simpler living.”

“I’m sorry. Think, man, you learned about this stuff in school. You know there is nothing science can do, it’s pretty much all palliative now. You can get a second opinion, but if it were me, I’d take her home to live and allow her to just enjoy what time she has, maybe take some short trips, a quiet place to be.”

The young man bent his head. “All that study, all that work, I took extra jobs to avoid debt so I would be able to help Mom as soon as I graduated. I’m in a great place now, she’s so proud of me. She’s been so good to me. Now she’ll go back to that crappy little apartment above the grocery.” He shook his head. “Well, I can support her now. I’ll see she doesn’t want for anything.”

“Your mom is on disability now. When she got the diagnosis originally, I was able to push that through so she could stop working. She’s quit smoking, as of six months ago.” The doctor paused, then added, “I wanted to talk to you both about hospice care.”

The young man shook his head and shuddered. His mother came out of the exam room to meet him and he drove her home, back to her little apartment.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Mom?” he asked softly.

“I wanted you to graduate and not come tearing home to rescue me,” she said flatly. “You earned that degree with your stint in the army and you did grand and I am so proud of you. Someday, you’ll find a nice girl and settle down and have kids and be able to take good care of them and you promise me you’ll not run away from them like your dad, you hear me? I talked to the social worker at the hospital and she says Hospice has a nice home for folks to go to. At first, you’re in your own apartment but as you get worse, you sort of move to a more care needed part until it’s over. I won’t have to climb any stairs or anything. I won’t have to cook or run errands. I can just watch TV and maybe putter a bit in their flower beds. I have always wanted a flower bed again. I can take my plants with me.”

“Mom, how about if I find us a place without stairs and I take care of you?”

“Now, don’t go dumping your career because of me. You need to finish what you started twelve years ago. I’ll be gone soon, and it doesn’t make any sense to uproot you. I’d appreciate it if you visited and maybe found time for a girlfriend? Grandkids would be good to think about,”

Her son set his jaw. He took a deep breath and answered quietly. “I’m going to take care of you, Mom. Don’t worry. I will. And I believe I will just take care of some other things as well. Don’t fret yourself. The right girl will come along, and the right things will be done. They are going to remember us in this town.”


Chapter 1

Miriam Miller and Lydia Fisher rode together to their jobs in downtown Lyonsville. Their brother Eli drove the carriage for them; he was tasked with going into the market for his mam, and he would drop his sisters off to their jobs and return later to fetch them to their homes. Their kinder were being watched by their own older sisters. Miriam and Lydia enjoyed working during the tourist season. Not only were they paid, but the employee discount also came in handy for buying needed fabric for their family’s clothes.

It was a lovely fall day, leaves turning and making the burning bush hedge in front of the public library change from a quiet green to a vibrant red. Driving slowly down Main street, they saw the librarian, Mrs. Olsen, unlocking the front doors to the library as they passed; she nodded and smiled. Miriam waved back. The Public Library was popular Lyonsville; the librarian and her helpers and volunteers kept it tidy and in order. Mrs. Olsen had several computers set up so local folks could access the web. There were children’s programs and adult programs that ran on different evenings. The downstairs had been turned into three meeting rooms, an office, and storage. Colorful bulletin boards greeted anyone using the rooms with the announcements of the week and rules. Upstairs, the library had a reading room full of magazines on neat shelves, a youth room where kids could come and do artwork, a children’s section complete with a playroom of educational toys with regularly scheduled read-to-me hours. Then there were the stacks, books and books and books in all different subjects, over twelve thousand and access through the computer to thousands more available online. With the blessing of the city council and the library board, Mrs. Olsen had a lending library of tablets for seniors that could be loaded with books from the big state library, and many a senior decided after using one for a while they had to have one of their own. Through a special program, they were able to get a tablet and case for a modest amount, then they took a class in how to access it from the library and download six books a week for themselves. Mrs. Olsen was gratified that the program worked so well, as it was her brainchild. Grants and gifts from local industries paid for the extras that the library operating funds could not, and due to public interest and support, it was a very nice, up to date little library important to the people of Lyonsville and enjoyed by many of the residents, English and Amish alike.

Eli noted as he drove his horse towards the shops that the traffic had calmed down since school had restarted; most tourists had left. Eli pulled the buggy behind the Fiber Maven’s yarn shop where Lydia worked; her boss, Alyssa Martin, had gone to the trouble of putting up a small shelter and tie-out for horses since there were so many Amish customers. She had installed an outdoor water spigot so the horses could be given water while their owners shopped and three black stock buckets were hanging next to the faucet. Eli grabbed a bucket and went to get some water for the horse as his sisters climbed down. Miriam quietly said to her sister, “I’ll see you at lunch. About one?”

“Ya, the rush should be over then, and we can eat in the employee room,” replied Lydia. “I’ll put our lunches in the refrigerator.”

“We had a new shipment come in last night,” Miriam said as she waited for Lydia. “I suspect I’ll be putting it away this morning.” They walked into the back door together. “We have that new Beginning Quilt group coming in at eleven. It’s always good to help others learn.” Miriam continued.

As they chatted, they hung their bonnets and shawls in the break room, straightened their aprons and checked in, splitting and going one to the left and one to the right from the shared room. “And we have a Knit and Kneel group starting this afternoon. I do enjoy those,” answered Lydia.

Alyssa and her sister Suzanne had inherited the building together when their parents had passed. Their mother had had a fabric store on one side of the building with the other side for storage. When the sisters inherited it, they expanded the building. Now there was a widened connection area in between where there was a bathroom that opened into both stores and a back room that had become a joint employee room. The storeroom stretched on either side of the back of both stores and the offices for the two stores were at either end of the storage area. It felt as if there were three buildings connected. Upstairs were two apartments,

 Suzanne’s son, Alan Martin, had the apartment on the right and acted as a night watchman most the time; the other apartment rented out to old Mrs. Harmony, who had lived there alone with her poodle and Himalayan cat from the time their mother had owned the building. Mrs. Harmony knew everyone and everything going on. She was still a faithful attendee to yarn groups and church. She was an avid knitter, so much so that last summer, she had yarn bombed the bench in front of the Fiber Mavens’ Shoppe in a lovely red, white and blue for the Fourth of July celebrations and would have knitted or crocheted around the tree trunks had she not been stopped in time. As it was, and to make it all match, the Yarn Sisters group had yarn bombed the other two benches on the block for July 4th so they’d match. After the holiday, they quietly took the playful results off the benches at the request of City Council – and it was a request since two of the council member’s wives were members of the yarn group and they really didn’t want to cause a town-wide incident with their wives.

When Alyssa and her sister had taken over the building after their mom’s passing, they had decided to be synergistic and make one side of the building a fiber shop, offering yarns, fibers for spinning, sewing and knitting, crocheting and needlework supplies. Alyssa was an experienced knitter and spinner and kept a wheel here in the store available for quiet moments. She offered classes in spinning, dyeing, knitting and had two other ladies help with crocheting and needlework classes.

Suzanne had updated, enlarged, and renamed her mother’s fabric store, calling it Fabric Avalanche, and added a classroom that both businesses used to hold groups. There was always a quilt on a quilting frame to which anyone could take a moment or two and add a few stitches; when it was done, it was bound and raffled for a local charity. They’d raised over three thousand dollars for the local Amish school and the local women’s shelter that way, and women vied for the honor of piecing the top that would be the next charity round robin.

On either side of this building, their husbands had bought lots and expanded the building to add storerooms and had set up shops as well. Alyssa’s husband, Thom, operated Thom’s Hobbies. He carried anything radio-controlled and science/techy. Most of the men and boys in town were in there at some time. He sold everything RC, be it robots, trains, planes, or hovercraft; lots of science kits, electronic parts and gizmos; and, for some odd reason, six jars of penny candies upfront by the cash register: butterscotch drops, lemon drops, root beer barrels, pink wintergreens, lollipops, and jawbreakers in a cinnamon so strong it was hard to keep them in your mouth; indeed, most kids didn’t for long – they licked them for hours instead. There was a mason jar with a slot in the lid to put your pennies in, and the proceeds went to the local 4-H club for their yearly fair booth supplies.

On the other side of the ladies’ building, Suzanne’s husband, Mike, and son, Alex, operated Not Your Normal Antique Store. It had an extremely eclectic feel, not just old furniture, glassware, and pictures, but unusual books and odd memorabilia. For instance, Mike had the first articulated prosthetic hand, which was rumored to be haunted and to move around the store by itself at night. He had a missionary cabinet organ made to be carried from place to place, unpacked and used for evangelistic meetings; there were a six-foot high walking spinning wheel and a theramin that you played by just getting your hands near it, and, for some reason only known to Thom, an embalmed cat. You never quite knew what he was going to add to the mix that seemed part museum, part store, and was very much loved by tourists and townspeople alike. All four businesses filled one block of Main Street.

The Amish and English got along well in Lyonsville, the main street of the town being a blend of English and Amish stores and shops. People coming off route 30 would turn up Main Street, passing the first two blocks of neatly maintained, mostly white-painted, single-family homes. Several homes had front porches and flowerbeds. One or two had twinkly lights on topiaries by their front doors. There was one odd Pepto-Bismol pink cottage in the row; every year, it gave the zoning board a conniption to realize they could not do anything about it as it was owned by the mother of the owner of the largest company in the township and he was not going to allow them to make his mom, 89-year-old Mildred Snipes, upset. He promised he’d paint it a quieter shade once she passed on and he inherited it. She seemed immortal to the Zoning Board.

The pink house, as everyone called it, was on the corner of Main and Pickman Street, and if you crossed the street and continued down the sidewalk, there was another ivory-colored house and then one of the two bed and breakfasts in town. The owners had bought a large house and the lot on either side, fenced it all into one large yard with picket fencing, put a pool in the back, and planted lots of climbing roses on the fence. The front yard was a rose garden as well, with stone walks running through the flowers and around to the back; on a warm summer day, the smell was intoxicating. They always seemed to have flowers blooming; there were not only roses but a variety of flowers planted so something was always in bloom somewhere. If you walked through the front arbor, you’d see a large two-story home, with a wraparound porch populated with several rocking chairs, a glider swing, and small tables that had checker games or decks of cards on them. Beth and Franklin Stevens ran the Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast, and they were famous for their plate-sized cinnamon rolls at breakfast.

Past Rose Garden and first on the left was Ricci’s Restaurant, which was famous for its ravioli in eighteen different combinations and Italian ices in strange flavors like Orange Mango Banana and Lime Whiz. Across the street, Fred’s Finer Diner served traditional Amish food along with marvelous baked goods from Hannah’s Bakery. The two restaurants enjoyed a friendly rivalry; Tuesdays seemed to be Italian night in town, and on Thursdays Amish noodles over mashed potatoes were popular with local folk. Next in line came the public library and the Sheriff’s station on the left, with the post office and First Bank on the right, making up the third block of Main street. Hannah’s Bakery was operated in a small shop attached to Fred’s by Hannah Byler and her three daughters and was a quiet, unassuming place. Every morning at 6 they opened the doors and the most enticing odors would emanate from the front door, luring people in by their noses as they walked by to work. Their muffins on Monday’s always sold out by nine, and the locals knew to get there early.

Continuing down the street, Finian’s Fine Furniture stood on the third corner, carrying all furniture that was not Amish; owned and operated by Finian Ippish II, having moved into the store when he was fourteen and buying it from his father’s estate when the old man died. He had a bachelor’s apartment over his store, the same one his father had dwelled in after his mother died. Finian was a loner, a sort of reclusive man who was much into conspiracy theories and “real wood furniture”, as he called it, “not this paste-board stuff from China.” He was respected by the folk in the town for being honest, enlarging his furniture business and adding staff. He had a degree in fine arts. He longed to be a museum curator. He settled for talking to Thom and helping him find acquisitions for the antique/museum store. In turn, Thom had him over for dinner once a week and they watched Antiques Roadshow with a passion.

The Getalong Café was operated by Jane and Alan Long and served up pizza, cheeseburgers, even vegetarian burgers, fries and salads, a little of every kind of American food. They had photos of famous folks who had eaten here since 1955 when it first opened; from Eisenhower posing with the original owners to Travis Tritt smiling as he and his men stopped in their big tour bus on the way to the performance at the state fair, effectively filling up the entire back parking lot with one vehicle. The décor had been changed now and then but had been restored to the original checkered tablecloths on round tables, with a long bar with tall stools. Their two kids, Mikey and David, bussed the tables after school and in the summer.

Across the street on this block sat St. Edwards Park that adjoined the schoolyard in the back. Children were allowed to go over to the new playground in the park at recess since the school grounds didn’t have enough land for a good, all-ages playground and had settled for a fenced-in smaller one for the “littles”, Kindergarten through second grade. It was a big thing for kids in third grade to move to the park playground with the “bigs”. The school was progressive, with raised flower and vegetable beds, a greenhouse, and a small observatory. The children grew vegetables that they took home to their families, and any excess was donated to the local church pantry to be given out to whoever needed food. The school had hired an older Amish gentleman to teach the children agriculture, and many of them ended up lifetime gardening enthusiasts. The observatory was open weekend evenings for the public, and the middle and high school students took classes that meet in the evenings.

Back on Main Street, Dave’s Market took up the last available block on the left side. The store manager, David Hershberger, carried all the regular groceries, plus bulk foods and some general store items; they sold fishing worms and lures, they had camping supplies and souvenirs, and an Urgent Care operated next to the pharmacy at the rear of the store. Marti Davis was the nurse practitioner and her husband, Liam, was the town pharmacist. Across the street, the BP gas station was run by a perpetually engaged couple, Francis May and Stuart Hahler. Francis was an incredible mechanic; her husband-to-be ran the gas station books and kept inventory but never got his hands particularly dirty. Francis, on the other hand, never seemed to be able to get all the oil and grease out of her nails or off her face. Next was a coffee shop that had the best biscotti and donuts in town, run by an older gentleman, a widower named Reggie. By his shop squatted the bookstore, Reflections, operated by an older hippy lady, Melody Bibby. She played sitar music, served coffee in odd flavors, had couches and chairs to sit in as you check out books, and the back half of her shop, facing the back alley, was the town’s laundromat and tanning salon. The final building held Armstrong Hardware, operated by a young military veteran, Matt Armstrong, who was also a volunteer firefighter, which was good since the last full block on this side was the fire department. In the same building as the hardware was Suzy’s Beauty Salon and Spa, which actually had a salt room for those of more esoteric tastes, a manicurist named Ben, and a masseuse who worked part-time named Melissa. Ben was a slight man who was an avid jujitsu practitioner. Melissa taught piano on the side; she had incredibly strong hands. She also volunteered as a fireman. On occasion, she helped farmers with haying, finding that working in the outdoors was exhilarating. She is at least a foot taller than Ben. He doesn’t seem to mind.

Several of the side streets have small businesses as well, and once the main street dead-ends into the crossroad, Winchester Avenue, the “fancy houses” line the street. Several dated back a hundred years, full of bric-a-brac and formal porches; big mansions that boasted brick sidewalks and stained-glass windows in the entrances. There are large oak trees that buckled the sidewalks along this road, making it shady and somewhat treacherous; some of the houses had old ironwork fencing, others low cut hedges. Here the second bed and breakfast are situated on the corner of Winchester and Marble lane. The building is huge, imposing, and formal, with ironwork fencing and gates. If the ancient trees in the front yards could talk, they’d reminisce of parties on the patio, brick streets, horses and carriages, long dresses and beaver hats. The B & B was a Victorian-style home and the owners, Sandra and Joseph Michaels, had retired from the craziness of being Chicago CFO’s in their respective companies to this bed and breakfast. The back was a formal garden, with a labyrinth made of short hedges that ended in a covered gazebo holding a ball fountain, constantly spinning. The swimming pool was enclosed; there were benches in shady spots outside, and the understated elegance of an older era showed in the fireplaces in each room, the deep claw-footed tubs in each bathroom, the antiques in the formal dining hall and living room. Their morning spread was a sight to behold, usually no less than three kinds of quiche, hot homemade croissants, fruit salads, coffee in differing flavors, pastilitos filled with homemade jams and cream. Once a month they hosted a mystery dinner that was incredibly popular with tourists and, offseason, with the residents of the town. They served dinner as part of the mystery night and people were encouraged to wear costumes matching the theme. Many locals spent wedding anniversaries here; their anniversary suite was private, comfortable and their wedding or anniversary package included fine chocolates, a complimentary bottle of champagne, and a basket of hot homemade bread rolls and local cheeses. A small gift shop carrying local homemade jams, jellies, and small Amish crafts was to the left as you entered. The Michaels named their bed and breakfast Oakhurst Manor.

Main Street was lined with alternating dogwoods, flowering pears, and crabapple trees. The streetlamps were Colonial in style and come on most the time at dusk. Between the trees were either a wastebasket and bench or a raised flower bed, lovingly tended by the local garden club. The street lamps had alternating flowering baskets of pink, white, or blue petunias, with banners hung underneath advertising the different organizations in town, from the Rotary Club to the churches, to Kiwanis, to the 4-H clubs and the extension office, the Chamber of Commerce and visitor’s bureau, the school, AAA, VFW, the Moose, Elks, and the Weight Watchers club. All the banners were green except the two for the churches; those were purple.

The First Church was just beyond the cemetery. Huge old oaks and maples shelter the cemetery, and each family seemed to have their own little plot, some decorated elaborately, most more simply with spring bulbs or the occasional small flowering shrub. Pastor Malachi Primo, his wife Lizbeth, and their three children lived in the parish house beside the church. Services were promptly at ten Sunday mornings, with Sunday school following to allow for him driving to his other church, a larger one, in a nearby town and being there for noon services. Most weeks he made it home by three. He and his wife are high church in heart, but they tone it down for the little town. Pastor Primo still wore robes, there were still candles, but the litany was shorter and the homily friendlier. He never preached outside the pulpit. The church held frequent fundraisers for missions and the church ladies were active in helping those locally who they saw as less fortunate.

At the First Church, they had prayer meetings on Wednesdays at 6 so all the stores promptly closed at five since just about everyone except the Amish attended meetings at First Church. There was a group that operated a house church that meets on Saturday mornings, eating brunch first, studying and then eating lunch together before going out and spending time at the local church aid society where they assisted in handing out food to those in need in spite of doctrinal differences with First Church. They occasionally could be counted on to help people with an overdue rent check or utility bill; they would help folks move from one home to another and seemed really nice people; just thought of as a little odd. They always could be counted on to come to work bees to pretty up the town or help someone out who found themselves in a jam. No one disliked them; everyone was pretty much cordial to the home church folks; they just have some odd ideas and don’t mean any harm, and this is America.

Sheriff Erik Black was proud of his town, and his deputy Brad Malcolm would deliberately make sure he would be in the park during recess at the school. He drove slowly around, watched the kids, occasionally stopped to do some paperwork until the recess period was over. Kids easily ran up to the car and talked. He knew all of them.

On this pretty fall day, Lydia entered the yarn store just as her boss was turning over the Open sign. “Good morning, Lydia,” beamed Alyssa, as always smiling as she came back to the register. “I put your latest creation in the front window, and we just got in a new order of Seven Sister’s yarns and I’d like you to price and arrange them over there on the left side where I made space by the other exotics. I can’t believe I was able to get that color everyone’s been asking about, the variegated blue, green, teal skeins. It’s just a gorgeous merino, baby yak mix that you will not believe. And see what I found over the weekend? I actually got some vicuna. It’s going right up here by the register so I can keep an eye on it. Feel how soft it is.” She held out a twenty-five-gram ball to Lydia.

“That’s the stuff that’s made from those mountain animals, ya?”

“Absolutely. It’s three hundred dollars a ball.”

“My! Who is going to spend that?” gasped Lydia, quickly handing the ball back to Alyssa as if it were hot.

“You might be surprised, but maybe not. You know Allison Drummel, whose husband Alex runs the bank? She wants to get some to try out. I told her I’d try to get it but that it would be pricey. She read some articles about vicuna sports coats costing $21,000 or some such thing so she was going to make a scarf for her husband for his birthday. She told me she might not be able to get him a coat but least she can do is make a scarf. Nothing’s too good for her husband. After all, he got her that Prius she wanted. She wants four balls of it.”

“Mighty fancy stuff, I’d say,” frowned Lydia. “On another note, it looks like we have eight signed up for the learn to crochet class and nine for the intermediate knitter’s group.”

“Excellent! I always like to teach those groups. Fun to be around others of like interests. I’ll get these notions hung up from this box, you start on the yarn.”

“Sounds like a plan,” smiled her assistant, taking a box with her and heading to the shelves.

Over at Fabric Avalanche, Suzanne and Miriam were just getting the shop set up for customers. Miriam had cut off and set aside a lovely dark green length to make her two little girls dresses this week. She got a good employee discount. She also made quilt samples for the shop and had unpacked a new lap quilt she had completed the night before to be hung up as an example for the next quilting class. Just as they were getting it put up on the quilt clamps by the classroom door and were making sure it was straight, along with the sign-up sheet beside it, deputy Malcolm came in the shop.

“Morning ladies,” he greeted them. “Wie gehts?”

Miriam smiled. “Your Dutch is getting much better. And we are fine, ya?”

“To what do we owe the honor of Lyonsville’s most eligible bachelor coming to a fabric store?” asked Suzanne as she climbed down the step stool.

“Don’t know about eligible but needed your expertise. What does this signify?” He held up a patchwork block.

“Well, that pattern is called Broken Dishes. It’s normally made into a runner and given to newlyweds as a wish that their dishes will always be full and not break,” Miriam smiled. “Are you taking up quilt making?”

“No, it was found at the scene of a crime.”

“Excuse me?” gasped Suzanne. “Crime? What sort of crime?”

“Last night sometime, the front window of Ricci’s Restaurant was Broken, and this was wrapped around the rock that broke the window. It’s pretty, those nice green and white colors and all, but whoever broke the window was up to no good. Nothing appears stolen, just vandalism. But I don’t think a kid would have taken the trouble to make a quilt square to waste this way. I’ve seen enough of this quilt making stuff to know it takes time and skill to make one like this. Shame to waste it this way.”

Miriam took the square, holding it in its evidence bag, turning it over and studying. She handed it to Suzanne who did the same, then handed it to Brad. “Nice neat stitches, handmade as well, and cut out with pinking shears so it won’t ravel. Yes, whoever made this knew what they were doing. And they knew the square names and such – choosing Broken Dishes to break a window on a restaurant – that’s sort of telling, isn’t it?” she observed.

“What are you thinking?” asked the deputy.

“I’m not certain. Suzanne, what do you think?”

Suzanne took the square back from Brad and studied it well. “If they were trying to make a statement, Broken Dishes seems to me to have been what they were planning but didn’t get to. They broke a window, not a dish. Unless they were interrupted and didn’t get to break any dishes. At any rate, whoever did this was not an amateur. They knew how to sew, how to piece. Let me check something.” She went over to the solid colored fabrics and held the piece up.

“Appears to me they used this, this and this bolt – see the fabric matches up in weave and color. So either they bought that fabric here or at one of the other dozens of stores who stock this brand. The big Walmart and the chain stores don’t carry this quality of fabric. They buy cheaper. Only quilt stores carry fabric with this quality. I don’t think it was here, however. See the darker green? Our bolt hasn’t been touched. We just put it out this morning.” Suzanne took a moment while she wrote down something.

“And the lighter green I just cut off the first piece this morning, here it is. There have been some of the ivory sold off that bolt,” observed Miriam.

“This is the name of the jobber who brings us our fabric that comes in solids. If you call him, he might be able to tell you what other stores in the area carry this fabric. It’s going to be a lot of footwork for you.” Suzanne gave the paper she’d written on to Brad.

“That’s why we get the big bucks,” he joked. Thank you for your help.”

The deputy left the store. Miriam looked at Suzanne. “Can you imagine a quilting criminal in our town?”



A Chapter from book three of the falconcrest Chronicles!



Chapter One


The library had a bright fire in the fireplace with a hanging pot of warm cider swung slightly out from the flames to prevent it getting too hot. A tray with wooden goblets was sitting on a table between chairs drawn up semi-circled around the fire. The rest of the room was dark, in shadows; a single lamp was lit on the huge wood desk on the far side of the room, faintly revealing walls lined with books and bric-a-brac collected over years by differing lairds. There was one set of books behind the desk that was lovingly kept dusted and highly prized: the continuing journals of the clan head men since the clan began some four hundred years before, just after the great war. Some of the books were from the before time and were carefully bespelled to keep the old knowledge alive, histories of odd places that no longer existed except in bard’s tales.

Even Francis grew befuddled (and more than a little envious) when he read books about technology the ancient ones possessed. He had been able to decipher some and it had influenced his own creations. Still every year we seem to lose a little bit more of the old knowledge. Perhaps it is just as well. Much of it seemed destructive. It was a comfort that the worship of the Creator had come down through the centuries, and the Word was still the same as before, or at least the priests think it was unchanged, he reflected. Francis had left the feasting earlier than the others, not unusual for him. He liked crowds less each year and found comfort in the library or his workshop. Things seemed more certain when he worked with his hands. Books never seemed to fight back. He sat down with a book and he waited for them to come.  The celebration was nearly over, so he should not have to wait long.

Once the three day feast celebrating the victory over Shadowblade, the Myst and the evil they had caused in the land had finished and the men had retired to their tents to sleep before the next day’s travel, Hadrian  made his way to the library. Lucan and his lady Amanda, David and Nightsong, Allytha, Samuel and his wife Maryanne, Michael and his sister Morgana, the remaining Clan Falconer family, assembled in the library with Francis and took seats as Hadrian entered after, closing the doors.

The youngest sister, Morgana, poured hot cider for them all, and they settled in to hear what Hadrian had to say.

“The King rests in his rooms next door, and the kingdom rests as well,” began Hadrian. “There remains some unfinished business between the folk of magic and this clan.”

Lucan stirred uneasily in his seat. “Does this have ought to do with my brother Isaac telling me I was a changeling?” he asked. “It seems an odd thought: who would I have come from if it were true? And where is the real me?”

Hadrian nodded. “I knew it would bother you to have your older brother declare that. However, there is more. You and Allytha bear powers that the other seven children of your mother and Da did not have, and that would start rumors like the one Isaac tried to get you to take to heart. Added to the rumors about your newborn, it could cause difficulties for your people.”

“So am I a changeling?”

“There was a changeling, but it was not you two.”

“Who then?” asked Francis.

“It was your mother. Well onto  fifty years ago, the old Clansman McElroy had a daughter. She died soon after birth and her mother was despondent. Her husband feared for his wife’s life as she grew ill with sorrow and an infant was found to give her in place of the child lost:  My predecessor gave the child to her. Milady adopted your mother fiercely and would let no one say the child was not clan born. The clan accepted your mother as their own. They had no inkling what they did. And through her, the magic has transferred down to the children. Normally, one out of four are affected to some degree in a family that has magic. There were nine of you, so two had strong powers, Lucan and Allytha. Her powers manifested early, so your Mother sent her to us for training when she was ten, and she has done well in harnessing her powers and using them for good. Yours, Lucan, were not noticed until later, and you just began training five years ago. Your son is already manifesting. No one knows what his powers will be when he reaches maturity. Already the King fears that he could be turned.”

“I heard a little about that earlier, a suggestion from one of the King’s advisers,” replied Lucan frowning. “My son hummed and it somehow destroyed the Myst? And why did I feel compelled to hum as well?”

“The Myst thrived on war. It thrived on hate and anger. The baby exuded peace and innocence. In trying to escape the pain of good, evil put itself where it could be captured and crushed. None but an innocent babe would have been able to do such a thing. And only a baby who already had the gift of song manifesting could have done it. So yes, Ian Alistair did save the kingdom. He fulfilled the prophecy, as did you.” The siblings sat back, recognizing what he said was true but stunned at the idea.

“So in a way, we’re all changeling blood?” asked David. “Is that why Isaac and Andrew turned?”

“No, they turned due to their own inclinations and greed. Greed makes changelings of us all.  They did not have natural powers but resorted to blood magery to get what they wanted. Now,” Hadrian continued. “The King will try to remove the child for all sorts of marvelously thought up reasons, but it is not advisable for this child to do anything but to be raised as a normal child by his own mother. He needs to run in the fields, play with animals, learn to swim. He needs to have freedom to explore. He will also need a tutor. In due time, that tutor will come to you from Aisenbald. Before that, he needs a dragon.”

“Excuse me?” objected Lucan.

“His grandmother insists he have a dragon to care for and ride. It will arrive on his sixth birthday. She will choose it, train it and send it along. You need to grow your herds pretty large to help care for it.”

“A dragon? His grandmother?” sputtered Amanda.

“Have you not guessed that the changeling, the babe’s grandmother, was the daughter of Kaya Meika, the wizard? Kaya Meika had a child born to her she could not raise. The past leader of Aisenbald  brought her infant, your mother, to the grieving wife of Laird McElroy to raise. When she was fourteen, she spent time in Aisenbald, much as Allytha did. She traveled widely and came back here, where it was arranged that she should marry your father, heir to this keep, joining the clans and stopping a blood feud that had lasted a hundred years. They had nine children. Two turned bad, Isaac and Andrew. Two inherited the magic in different forms; Allytha is a master wizard. You, Lucan, are a beastmaster, among other things you may discover. You married a woman who has magic. Together you have had this child who is of earth, water, air and spirit. Now, the rest of you, listen to me. Magic manifests itself in the children to the seventh generation. You are only the  third generation, and in this generation it should be building to full strength. There will be less born in each generation until it rests in your clan. You, as you are married and have children, need to watch carefully so that any children born can be early tested. I suspect Aisenbald will be replenished by this clan and others over the next few years.”

“Replenished? What are you meaning?” inquired Francis. “Are there not enough wizards about?”

“We have sent out many to help the land, herbalists and healers, home wizards to help clan heads lead wisely. Something has been decimating the ranks of our trained people. As you saw in Lyla, some have been captured by those gone bad and kept enslaved. Incidentally, Lyla has been safely taken to her next post to set up to be an herbalist in a small village. It made quite a stir when she was dropped off with her bundles and packages by a dragon. Quite effective as proof of someone’s abilities to have them dropped off that way. The people in the village were most impressed. Lyla has a cottage set up for her, and in it she has a dragon scale hung behind her work table. She’s busy already with folks needing help. But back to the problem we have.” He waved his hand and his cup refilled. “Of the shamans and wizards sent out, some have been murdered, some simply disappear. Some have died of old age. Whatever the reason, at one time there were, spread over the land, over ten thousand shamans helping to care for this country. Now there are but three thousand. Our ranks are much diminished and we cannot do what is needed to keep the wards and barriers up against the things of darkness. We have a shortage of five hundred healers alone. The Kingdom is susceptible to plague. Things from the far north are creeping in and starting to ravish the lands. The wards are weakening.”

“Does the King know?” asked Michael.

“He knows, does not understand, but he hears us. He does understand the reports of villages destroyed and forests burned. He tried to blame it on dragons, but they honor the truce. And another thing, the priests are lessening in number as well. Churches are falling into disuse just as our people need them for encouragement and faith. Children are not being sent to be trained. Somehow, things of the spirit are being dispensed with by the land. We don’t understand  it. We can’t find a pattern or reason to this. It is being studied. We ask that all those with magic in their heritage watch their children carefully for any signs that they need to be trained. This family especially due to the inherited magic from Kaya Meika. This family especially.”

“A dragon?” said Lucan.

“You’re still back on the dragon?” groused his brother Samuel impatiently. “Dragon, you know, big flying lizard that talks? You’re going to have one for a pet.”

“You are going to feed it,” snapped back his brother Lucan. “And just where will it sleep?”

“Gentlemen, you will see many more of those dragons than the one stationed here,” interrupted Hadrian. “We are asking them to once again take the skies and watch our lands since we are so few. And Kaya Meika thinks she may stop in to see her grandson now and then when she is passing thorough.”

“She is welcome to visit,” began Lucan. “Wife, is this not so?”

She looked at him, then Hadrian. Then at the baby asleep in her arms. “I think we may have discussions over this, husband.”

“Slowly, I should think, and perhaps over a good bottle of wine.” Hadrian took a long gulp of hot spiced cider. “Now I really must go. Be careful. Try to go back to normal life and send word if anything odd seems to be happening to the baby. By the way, David, when your child is born,”

“Whoa, wait! What child?” David exclaimed. He looked at his wife who was blushing.

“She is due in six months. Nightsong already knows, but I suspect it’s been so busy she hasn’t had time to discuss it with you properly. When the child is born and you have her welcome celebration and naming ceremony, be sure your sister Allytha is there. She is capable of screening whether or not the babe is born of power. There are indications it may be the case. And Samuel, Maryanne’s daughter is already showing power.”

“I don’t know how to break this to you but we haven’t got a daughter,” replied Samuel.

“Yes, you do, or will in seven more months. Maryanne, my dear, you may not have realized yet that you are expecting. And Francis,” but was interrupted.

“Just wait a minute. I don’t even have a wife.”

“Eliza will be a good woman for you. She is strong in faith and one of your children will follow the path your father thought to have you tread, that of the church.”

“Just how did you know we’d been talking?” blustered Francis. His brothers pointedly looked at him with raised eyebrows.

“She loves machinery and technology as much as you do, and she is skilled in making gadgets. She is a nimble weaver of fabrics. You will find her expertise joined with your own to be quite useful. And the twins will be fine. Just let nature runs its course and I shall be glad to be at the ceremony.”

“Twins? My Lord! I haven’t even kissed her yet!” Francis gasped. “Don’t I get some say in whether or not we get married?”

“At this time, let us just say you have the wizards and church’s blessing if that is how your courting goes. Oh, and she likes fresh strawberries, soft cotton fabric, and elderberry wine. Not together, you understand, but for future reference.”

Michael stood quietly in silence. Hadrian looked at him. “Michael, I know your heart is still empty from the death of Celesta. Do not keep sorrow so close so long. There is one coming who will gladden your home again.” Michael nodded. “She has hair so red that it seems to glow, with eyes that change from sea blue to green and gold. She is quiet, and she tracks as well as you.”

“That’s not possible,” Michael said slowly. “And it’s not been a year since my dear wife was slain by childbirth fever.”

Hadrian smiled at him. “It’s been two years, Michael. Watch for her to come in the late fall from a place not expected. She will be accompanied by a child and a white horse.  She has gifts, but you will not learn of them until later.”

“What about me?” asked Morgana. “I know I haven’t got anything special about me particularly, but still, what can I do to help?”

“You can be the best aunt these little ones have ever had, right up to where you get married and start having little ones of your own.”

Morgana smiled. “I’m getting married? When?”

“You’ve met the man in question. He is a good man, with a kind heart and strong arms. More than that, I will not say. But you will have at least one shaman among the children you bear. And remember, you are an expert biologist. Your studies into plant genetics have been noticed by many.”

“More than one child?”

”No more information, young lady. Now the rest of you, there are some things you need to know about the Kingdom and particularly about the incursion of evil along the northern regions. It is not good.”

They leaned back, and settled in to hear what would be the first of many reports, their heads still reeling from their future.



Chapter 1

“Lucan, I cannot express my thanks that you would come to this meeting of the clans during your matrimonial year.  By all rights, you ought to be home with Amanda getting better acquainted.” The older man dressed in the clan colors of Elphinstone spoke gravely as he looked at the men gathered around the long mahogany table that was said to have come from the Olden time, before the Great War. Lucan stood and addressed the clansmen.

“I take my responsibilities to my wife seriously, sire,” Lucan replied. “However, she and I both take our duty to the clans in even higher respect.  We plan on growing old together; that can’t happen if we are under attack constantly by such as we are discussing.”

The other clan heads nodded. 

“Truly said.” answered the Headman. “ So let me bring all of you the latest information I have.  Most of the clans are at peace; true, there are the usual small brush fire incidents on borders, no one expects those to go away; after all, we will always have young men, they get a little hot headed, they have to blow off steam.  As long as there are elders, we will talk those out.  However, there is a disturbing occurrence that started two months ago, while you were busy rebuilding Clan Falconer.  It appears someone or something is targeting clan headman’s families.  So far, one wife, five children have been kidnapped, always at evening, always in total quiet, nothing left behind to even show signs of struggle, and there are no ransom demands, no notes, nothing.  There is no pattern to the kidnappings. It is as if they have walked through a door and gone missing.” There were concerned murmurs.

“I’ve heard,” said the head of Clan Whiteclaw, “That the Southern clans have also lost family members. I think we need to speak with them as well and see how large this problem might be.”

Interrupting the meeting, the large door at the end of the hall swung open, there was a trumpet blast and with a decisive, swaggering step, David the King of the United Clans of America marched in, followed by his advisers and bodyguard. The guards placed themselves inside and outside the door, by each window and directly behind the King as he marched to the head of the table. Clan Kincaid’s chief stood up and gave him the head place.

“Your majesty!  We had no idea you were coming, no preparation has been made for your stay,” sputtered the clan head of Kincaid.

“None is needed.  I heard you were assembling about this grave threat and that there would be personages from most of the tribes here. I am on pilgrimage and I needed to speak with you all, so I hustled my hostelry folks to get me here in time to greet you. There is a grave threat to us all.” He sat down in the proffered seat. His men  stood behind him and his advisers stood on either side.

“I know you are talking about the kidnappings.  I wanted to let you know what it appears like from the capitol of the United Lands.  You have had six kidnapping in this region: I am here to report there have been in actuality fourteen kidnappings; the clan heads are meeting to your south and west on the same problem and have called upon me to give guidance in this difficulty.”  The men murmured at the table. ” It appears it is always the headsman’s  family members being taken. I understand you have had a wife as well?  She seems to be the only adult taken so far from this region, is this not true? In the east it has been one wife, one infant, in two different families.”

“Sire, she was taken with her newborn babe.” answered the headman from clan Armstrong.

“Then the kidnappers may have needed her to care for the babe; that is actually hopeful.  They may be keeping them alive.  Has anyone received any kind of note or demand?  No?  Neither have the other families.  The children range in age from the newborn you just reported to 18.”

“Do we have any idea where they are being taken or by whom?” asked the head of Clan MacLeod.

“None of the scrying I have done seems to have effect; as soon as the children cross the clan lands boundaries they disappear. While they are on the land, they appear to be horseback; as soon as the territorial boundary comes, they disappear.” spoke a voice.  Allytha seemed to float into the room, she moved so smoothly.  Sister to Lucan, she had all the skills of a sorceress, but with a heart as pure as mountain spring water. “I have spoken to other wise people, it is the same in their clans.”

“Well, if you can’t locate them, how can we?” asked Lucan’s brother Samuel.

Nichaelmas entered the room. “If his Majesty will tell me the other clan’s names and when they were taken, it is possible there will be pattern we can follow.”

“My son, Noasta, will be here this evening with all the information we have to date compiled.  The is one more bit of business I must attend to before I leave. Lucan, please stand.” The king left his place and came to stand beside the young man.

“By virtue of the fact that you saved the kingdom from your brothers and have acquitted yourself in honor as a wise man, it was decided in High Council to combine your holdings Falcon hold and Hightower, to be combined under the name of Falconcrest. It was further decided that since the title of knight was already conferred upon you, that it is acceptable to admit you into the rank of Lord. You will help with the governance and protection of our Kingdom, and your lands will be free of taxes for the next five years. All will be done to establish you as a Lord, and you will join us at the House of Lords Spring and Fall  Councils to assist in the running of this Kingdom we all love. What say you, Lucan?”

Lucan took a deep breath.  “I am most honored by your confidence in me, considering three years ago I was just the youngest brother in a family of seven brothers. I only aspired to be a goof farmer back then.”

“destiny and the Creator had another idea,” smiled the   King.  “Much has changed in three years. You and your brothers have proven yourselves in battle and peace to be leaders. Michael, Samuel and Francis, come forward. You are to be knighted for your services and serve here in Falconcrest. A manor home will be built for each of  you, close enough to protect and lead the forces in all the Northern clans yet mainly based here. David, brother of Lucan, you are advanced from simple healer, which you no longer are, to the full rank of Medical Lord. You will be in charge of all the clinics and healers within the Northern clans. Since the old Lord Ravenheart died, you are to take his place. You bear the title Knight Doctor. Kneel, all of you.”

The King took his sword and laid it on the heads of each of the four men in turn. He then gave each man a small casket, holding their pay for the first year in gold. He gave each man his writ of office and title in a precious wooden reliquary, and he gave each man a small jewel box with their official chain and key to the kingdom, along with some jewelry for their wives showing their rank.  He tuned to the other men.

“Now, goodmen of the Kingdom, what say you?”

The clansmen cheered and congratulated their new leaders. The King smiled.

“Then I expect you to take their word and commands as coming from your King. Help them in this quest to stop these monsters, whomever they are, that are stealing our children. This is my command. Now I must leave now to meet with Hadrian. Then I am off to visit the Shrine of St. Mark and ask the good brothers to pray for us in our time of need.”

He stood as did all the rest of the clansmen. He greeted each man in turn, clasping their arms in solidarity as was the custom of liege Lords. He bowed to the ladies present and marched out.

The clansmen looked at each other and sat down.

“That settles it in my  mind,” declared Jonah, head of Clan Noman.  “Lucan, with all your Magikal comrades and connections, we want you to head up the search for our children. We will all provide whatever help you need.   My daughter Anna, just seven, was one of those taken. Her mother is beside herself and I find I do not think clearly as well.  I look at her place at the table and cannot eat.  She is our only child.”

“I would ask also,” Illia, headsman of clan Macilroy spoke up.  “My son Jacob, a good lad, just entering training to become a knight, is gone.  He went to bed and next morning did not come to breakfast.  His bed was neatly made, his room closed when we went upstairs to find out where he might be.  An open book lay on his desk where he had been reading before bed as was his habit.  He did not take cloak or boots.  Nothing was disturbed, as if he had never been there.  Yet from the open book, I know he was.  He is my eldest, my heir, just age 11 and he must be found.”

Lucan sat with his head bowed.

“And meanwhile, Falconcrest will go without a head to care for them, and my dear wife will be alone again.  Yet I do not begrudge this fight and she will not.  Brothers, will you join me in this quest?”

Samuel, Michael, David, and Francis, his brothers, all agreed with a nod of their heads. 

He turned to his sister Allytha.  “And will the wise ones help us in the quest?”

“I speak for them all,” declared his sister.  “We will not stop until this has come to full justice.”  The wizards present nodded in agreement. 

“And is the church behind us?” he asked of the clergyman present. Father Osgood nodded. “We can pray, we can watch and people talk to us. We will pass what we find at once.”

Dovic, fire wizard, closed his eyes and then opened them. “Hadrian says he is expecting the king and offers the support of the Wizardtown Aisenbald to the quest.  He says Godspeed.  You need to go to the slaver’s town, Myantha, and look for one named Lyla, indentured at the inn.  Free her and bring her back to Falconcrest.  She will be invaluable later.”

“I shall go provision myself from your larder, if that is acceptable, and leave as soon as I have gotten the  information from the king’s son, perhaps as early as at dawn,” said Lucan.  The clan head nodded. “God be with you all.  Keep us in prayer.  I may call yet on some of you to help me.”

“We all pledge to help in all ways we can,” intoned the clansmen.

“Then we will provision as we pass your lands. If we need more, we shall ask.”

Lucan stood, as did the others. “I shall send word to my wife.” 

  “Then we shall go home and wait your summons for help.  And we will all send a man and a wench to Falconcrest to aid your wife in taking care of the house while you are absent.”

“I have no need of hostages to keep me to the task,” Lucan said stiffly.

“Not hostages, they can come and go, but they will stay and help her. She will have need of those of her people around her before it is over,” said his sister. “I should suggest the couples from Clans Kincaid, MacLeod, Macilroy go to Hightower. Your people are excellent with animals and the flocks are there this time of year. Those from clans Noman, Elphinestone, and Whiteclaw go to Falconcrest. She is more in need of fighters there, and women who have skill with herbs.”

“You think this evil will turn into a war?” asked Lucan.

“Anything fights if cornered, and we will corner it.”

 “Then have the king’s son come to me as soon as he has arrived. My sister and I and my brothers have much to plan and we shall retire to our tents to do so.”


Here’s just a small part of the newest work:



Curiosity and the Spirit made you pick up this book: the idea of escaping a hum-drum, inadequate form of spirituality has intrigued that part of you that still has hope; the normality of having a commonplace experience instead of what God intended  gnaws at the edge of your mind. If you are reading this book, I am assuming the idea of getting closer to God in just a few short weeks has intrigued you, whetted your appetite  and touched your soul.  You may be  a searcher, or someone dissatisfied with a lukewarm state of soul or you may be someone who has long walked with Him and feel that for some reason nothing is working anymore.  You feel as if the prayer warrior within you has gone on vacation and shows no sign of coming back from the beach.

At any rate, you have tried and failed to set up anything that has worked for long to bring you closer to God and the peace of mind that brings. You are tired of halfway change.  Your Christianity has turned into yearly resolutions that are kept about as well as sudden diets. You may think the routine of daily life does not allow you time to bring yourself in sync with God; there are not enough hours in the day to pray and study; keep up with everything  leaves you feeling dissatisfied and upset. Whatever the reason, you are looking for some way, some  reason, some formula or schematic or equation to make the unease go away.  I felt that way once and what I learned about escaping that feeling is the rationale behind this book.  I have hope for you, based on my own experience, solid provable research into how your mind works and a faith that this is what God wants me to write for you.  I was where you are once.  I found a way out, and I want you to come along the constantly narrowing path to God-achievers. 

Among the roles I fill in my life are Wife, Mother, Grandmother, church  planter, shepherd, farmer, author, artist and Social Worker.  The ways people live their lives  fascinates me.  I never have quite enough time to read all the journal studies done about people.  I do try, although sometimes  I find  it’s hard to comb through all the jargon to find small nuggets of truth that I find useful in my work in counseling and coaching people.  Over the years, the gleaning and application of what I learn  while doing private study to what people who come to me need is a cause and effect sort of serendipity not unlike a choir or music group playing; you know it works, but unless you’re the orchestra conductor or the composer you are never quite sure how it goes together, it simply does and it makes the listening a pleasure.  The aha! moments I see in my office as something clicks within people is a wonder I don’t get over.  I like to see it happen so I keep track of what seems to be the most problematic for my patients and for my church members and then  I go into research mode to find answers for them and in doing so, often find it helps me as well.  In the last few years of work, I have noticed people are frustrated by mediocrity; they are tired of the sameness, they want something to pull them to a safer shore, but a shore where there is creativity and kindness, love and no loneliness, a place of acceptance and energy.  They want to make changes, especially within their spiritual lives, but the habit of get up, eat, work, home again, shower, TV/social media and sleep, over and over, is killing them.  The habits of a drone like existence makes them lonely, angry, bitter and helpless.  Since we weren’t designed to be hermits, nor to run along a hamster trail, it’s no wonder our habits are destroying our lives.

A short while back, I got very interested in habits; habits being automatic behaviors that have been wired into our brains through repetition; I wanted to find out  what it takes to make them, what it takes to break them, how we can control them.   Too many of the people I  work with were struggling with stopping the consequences of habits they’d made early in life and now were paying for, yet felt helpless to do anything.  Their habits were killing them.  They’d developed them  early in life and they wanted them to go away.  They wouldn’t go easily without a struggle and the struggle is what we need to make stop.  You can’t get rid of consequences, they happen as cause and effect.  For instance, you smoke two packs a day for twenty years, you will most likely develop lung cancer or some form of lung disease.  Will stopping smoking stop the disease?  No, of course not. It will help you get stronger, but you will still have to fight the cancer battle which your own actions caused to occur. 

It’s a little like  taming lions.  When a lion is little, (or so I am told. I do not raise lions, only children, alpaca, Pomeranians,  canaries and Siamese cats) when a lion is less than three months old, they are cuddly and easy to play with and they are simple to get away from.  You stand up, slip them off your lap and walk away.  They may give chase but they really aren’t all that hurtful. When a lion grows larger, say nine months, they are much more determined, stronger, and it might take someone helping you, interceding as it were, to get away from a determined young lion.  You’ll come away with bites, scratches and a decided decision not to go in that cage again.  But once a lion is full grown, you need someone with a gun or a tranquilizer dart to slow it down or kill it outright and you will not get out unscathed.  You will get hurt.  You could even die.  The same is true for habits.  You can smoke a cigarette or a joint once or twice with friends and put it down.  You can overindulge on alcohol, or tell white lies, or cheat on your taxes and probably get away with it for a  time. You can neglect to pray daily, and think to come back to it.  As time goes on, and you continue to smoke, the poisons that are addictive get stronger and harder to overcome.  You can still stop doing it, but you may need some help, like nicotine patches, a support group or a good scare from your doctor.  As time goes on, not praying, not actively putting God first will gradually lead to a sort of spiritual ennui that is much like Alzheimer’s-you remember things in the past but the present state of your soul eludes you.  The Spirit wants to talk to you, and sometimes you rouse yourself enough to go to a revival meeting for a few days, but after the hype is over, you slip and nothing changes except the load of guilt you feel.

I know from experience, the longer you let it wait, put it aside, and think I’ll do it tonight, or tomorrow morning, or when Lent comes or  it’s going to be my New Years’ resolution next year, you come to the place where it seems too hard, there are simply too many distractions to  read the Bible, or think of Him, or talk to Him.  You have officially drifted and eventually that Old Serpent will whisper you’ve gone too far, it’s too hard, you’re too busy, nobody does that anymore and you wander into a complacent mode.  You know you’re a Christian although you can’t quite remember to call on Him when needed, or where that verse in the Bible was that you need right now, and your soul somewhat closes its’ spiritual eyes and goes to sleep.  The Spirit, in an attempt to wake you  up, sometimes resorts to extreme measures to get your attention,  and sometimes, even that doesn’t work anymore. Has God moved?  No, you lost anchor, you are out to sea and you need rescued.  When it gets that far, you need a complete revival, a re-doing of  your habits, a turning back, repentance if you will,  in order to regain that first love, that flush of affection, that security that He is there for you.  It’s not something to day dream about or reminisce about, it’s a call to action. Sometimes something out of the ordinary comes along and you suddenly realize you’ve neglected Him so much you’re afraid to talk to Him.  The cancer comes or the car wreck happens, or the marriage problems start, you lose your job,  whatever the crisis may be, and you find yourself lost  with no one to comfort you and you wonder where is God?  He didn’t go anywhere.  You wandered.  The fact that you have gotten a copy of this book may be a leading of the Spirit to bring you  back to Him.  This book is written to help you find your straight path out of the bad habit of ignoring the Lord of the Universe and engaging in behavior that will being you closer to heaven.  This book will help you develop a habit of putting God first and accepting His leading and His rewards.

So if you’re trying to get back to Him, or perhaps you never knew Him in the first place, or perhaps you’re a new believer and wanted to make changes in the right way,  whichever is the case, let me assure you, He is a gentleman, He is a lover, He is still there waiting for you to make an appointment with Him every day.  The question you ask me is simple: how do I get from point A-which is where I am- to point B, where I want to be, in the shortest, fastest way possible?  I am glad you asked.  With a prayer and a song, let’s begin our odyssey, the pilgrimage we are beginning to activate our God Habit.




Dan let us put in a sample chapter of his latest:  This is from The Majestic Spectrum of God’s love, out April 30,2019

Chapter 1

 Please Read This First

There are very few chapters in this work that can be considered stand-alone. There is an underlying theme that is being built, rather like building a house or a cabinet. It needs to be built in an orderly fashion. You don’t start with the roof; you start with a foundation.

I’m setting a foundation here so we are all talking and thinking on the same idea before I add to it. Once you have been through the work in its entirety then going back to particular chapters makes more sense and you will comprehend better what I am trying to say.

Two times in the fourth chapter of John’s first letter, John uses the phrase, “God is love.” In verse eight he says this, “He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.” “…God is love.” I have come to say this is THE prime axiom, the PRIME axiom – a statement self-evident from common experience. From this all else hangs. All aspects of life and learning have something to say about love, how it works, how to (or not to) live it. This phrase is the root, the background, the framework of this study.

Up front I am going to lay down some bullet points which will be further developed later but these assumptions are needed to provide some sort of foundation on which to build our discussion. Our first accepted assumption is simple and I am repeating it just because it is so important:

  • God is love. All other assumptions listed hang on that idea. It is the central prime axiom of life.
  • The purpose of our existence is to be part of a web of relationships. We were never meant to be alone and we fill a need in God’s love as He fills a need in ours.
  • “Doctrine” comprises expressions, descriptions of specific aspects of reality. A simple analogy would be this; white light passes through a prism and spreads into colors. The colors are called a spectrum. Looking at the spectrum tells us something about the source of the light. Each color, each line provides another bit of information. Spectrum analysis is used to determine what a tested substance is made of; doctrine does the same thing. It’s not God; it’s not His Son or Spirit; it’s simply a description of what He is like and what we need to be like. Often it describes how relationships work.
  • The Bible is our foundational resource for understanding several qualities of love and reality.

The Bible isn’t just a book. It is a library in a single binding. The Bible is comprised of the work of forty authors writing over a span of 1500 years.

  • There are observations we can draw from life, living and language that can aid our understanding of concepts raised in the Bible.
  • Words are sound symbols into which we pack ideas. Every field of study has its language and nuances of meaning. Learning what God is about certainly has its lingo. At times it may seem a little tedious or even strange. Unless our understanding of the language we use is in close agreement we can wind up just blowing vortexes of heat and smoke and miss what is meant to be understood.

Numerous “systematic theologies” have been written. Many churches and associated entities have a “creed” and/or “statement of beliefs.” They all read like a table of contents. Occasionally a text is written that is based on a statement of beliefs and expands the statements to make them more palatable. While they are all carefully, accurately and truthfully written, by very well-meaning scholars; in all such statements and books I have seen they are all fundamentally flawed. That flaw tends to lead to a perspective that misses the essential point of the whole exercise. To merely generate a list of doctrines (with their supporting references) found in the Bible is to miss the point of the doctrines. They are not built on the first three bullet points noted above. As God’s love is studied it fans out into an array of doctrines and expressions. Some of those doctrines are going to be addressed in this work but we are going to do our best to cast them as fragment expressions of God’s love. They are a piece of a picture. Taken together, they show a wonderful Creator, Redeemer, Lover.

There is another idea that bothers me about “Christian evangelism.” We approach people as if they have an understanding of what “salvation” is about and assume it is something desirable they want. Why would I want to be “saved” and live forever? For most people there is an innate desire to live. Even so they may wonder why. To some people sitting on a cloud, playing a harp and singing praises to God sounds like head splitting boredom. I prefer a pipe organ to a harp. It doesn’t do clouds. Many Christians look forward to heaven where there is no sickness, old age, death, pain, discouragement and so on. The suffering that we face here won’t be there. Well, that’s all to the good. But once the pain is gone, what now? The idea of spending eons around the throne praising and adoring God is good, but somehow, there has to be more than that. After a while, won’t it sound repetitious and robotic? You can count me out of that one too. Of course there is a place for God to be our god and due adoration presented. On the other hand, He gave us these wonderful brains; He meant us to use them, and singing the Hallelujah chorus every day throughout eternity is not going to keep our interest when there is going to be so much surrounding us. We present a heaven too small to keep our interest. We paint a dim picture. There is more than enough room in heaven’s plan to live, learn, play, work, fellowship with fellow humans, other “people” in God’s creation, angels, in addition to rightful and central fellowship with God. What about travel and sight-seeing? Even if we revved up our RV and went galaxy hopping, it would take a few million years just to get the “lay of the land” and find a few things we would like to come back to learn about. Believe me when I say all the animators in Hollywood and other places could not dream up much of what we are going to visit.

I hope to provide a sensible, delightful perspective on citizenship in God’s kingdom in present and future tense as generally described and experienced from expressions from the past.

In no way is this a definitive study. As a young fellow I climbed a fire observation tower in a state park. The staircase spiraled upward inside the frame of the tower. The entry point was at ground level on the east side of the tower. Each time I came to the east side of the tower I had a different, less limited perspective on the scene around me. When I got above tree level the vista broadened greatly. With this study we enter a tower of knowledge and understanding at ground level. Each time around will build on previous background and see things from new perspective. Even as we walk into eternity this model still fits.



Book two is in the roaring 20-50s!


I decided to put Chapter 6 in for you to read: it’s one of my favorites-this is the Oberllyn family starting 1920 and progressing through the century…

Chapter 6


“What’s that smell?” Gordon wrinkled his nose and fanned the air as he entered the hotel room.

“One of the ingredients for the death ray is an extract from musk. Only musk I could get here was from those two skunks over there. I put them to sleep so I could extract it safely and put it to distillation.”

“You mind if I open a window?”

“Must have dropped shut while I was working, yeah, good idea.” He went back to work at the plans. “Now, if I add Sulphur to this …”

Jerome looked at his brother.

“You know, back in 1888, when Noah was in Europe the first time monitoring Wilhelm’s succession to Kaiser in Germany, he felt that there was a lot of animosity there. What do you think if perhaps we are thinking too much of the Black hand thing and not enough to what’s behind some of the other activities of that government?”

“What do you mean?” quizzed Gordon.

“You know, 1888 was a really interesting year. In our own church, the big meeting over righteousness by faith nearly tore the congregation apart. A.T. Jones and his friend Wagoner presented messages that upset all the brethren, being backed up by Sister White, and she ended up in Australia.”

“Yeah, so? It ended up for the best. We now have a well-established work in that country. The dear lady is safe in California now.”

“And Wilhelm came to the throne and some of his first actions were to declare himself Supreme War lord and amp up his generals? He keeps making those speeches and firing up his people, while on the other hand saying he doesn’t want war.”

“I think we all know it’s a given he is going to try and make this war happen.”

“I know, and Noah is back in Europe trying to get a handle on the feeling of the people. His last report says he isn’t sure of the Black hand.”

“Didn’t Wilhelm say that Czar Nicholas of Russia and he are cousins?”

“Yes, and they’ve been sending telegrams back and forth for some time now.”

“I sure don’t like the sounds of that shaping up.”

“We best keep an eye on it. Now, let’s look at this machine. What did Tesla call it?”

“He said three machine plans were taken from his lab, a death ray, an earthquake device which he thinks has already been used to cause the San Francisco earthquake and to sink the Titanic, and some sort of mind alteration device. This is supposed to be the death ray. I can’t make heads nor tails of some of his ideas.”

“Well, the incidents do fit into the time line of when his plans were stolen and they did cause damage.” looking back to the plans, he sighed. “He does make interesting notes.”

“Well, if the earthquake machine is in operation, it could cause no end of difficulty.”

“Well, so could Wilhelm. At least I understand most of his ramblings. Say, if you studied the earthquake device we are pretty sure works, could it help you understand this one?”

“One better. I’m turning Adam loose on it as soon as he arrives. He’s worked with Edison and finished his engineering degree; I suspect he’ll understand this better.”

“He comes in at noon. It’s nearly that now. I’ll go meet him at the station.”

“And I believe I’ll send a telegram to Noah.”

The two men went out.

Gordon went to the telegraph office and quickly sent out a message to Noah. “Noah Mathis: Watch Serbia. BH pullback, Caution advised, safety plan in place for you/yours. GO” he paid the operator and headed for the train station.

As he got closer, he checked his watch as he heard the train pull in from several blocks away.

When he heard gunshots, he started to run. He came upon a scene that seemed surreal for all of a second as he took his bearings, got into a position behind some trunks and returned fire.

His brother Jerome was on the ground, rolling for cover. Adam had climbed to the top of a box car and was lying flat to make the smallest target available. Two people were lying on the ground, others were still inside screaming.

“What the devil, Jerome? All you had to do was pick up Adam?” He called.

“And I almost did when three men jumped aboard and started firing. I have no idea if it’s a hold up or what.”

“Adam’s up top. Do you know if he’s hurt?”

“I don’t know, but one of the men tried to grab him and was dragging him to the front of the car: Adam objected to being used that way. When the men started shooting at passengers, he got free and jumped overhead. He pretty well incapacitated the would be kidnapper on the way up. Don’t know if they were going to use him as a shield or if he was the object.”

“We’ll assume he’s the object. If we remove the object, we may be able to stop the carnage.” Gordon said.

Just then a sheriff and deputy joined them.

“What’s going on?”

“We think it’s a robbery. People inside are hostages. Don’t know who the robbers might be.”

“Well, we need to stop this. Folks are getting hurt. Any word on what they want?”

“Nobody has said anything.” Just then, from inside the car, a man called out.

“We don’t want to hurt anybody else. Just give us the man we came for, three fast horses and we’ll go.”

“What man?” yelled the sheriff. “You already shot a couple out here.”

“And for every minute you delay, we’ll shot another and toss them out.”

“What man?” yelled Gordon.

“We need a young man supposed to be on this train named Adam Oberllyn. He has something we need and we’ll just take him and go.”

“That’s our little brother, sheriff. I don’t know who these men are but Adam just came back from school. He couldn’t possibly have anything they want.”

The sheriff eyed them cautiously. “I don’t want any more shooting. We don’t know who it is in the car that’s doing the shooting. Can’t rush the car that I can see.”

“No, but maybe we can flush them out,” said Jerome.

“How we going to do that?” The sheriff looked dubious as he watched the train.

“I got an idea. Try to delay them, sheriff, while Gordon runs back to the room for something. He’ll bring back three horses so it looks like we’re cooperating. You keep the robbers talking to you.”

“This better work.”

“Hope so.”

“This is Sheriff Bateman. We don’t want anyone getting hurt. I’ve sent a man for some horses. Now who is this person you’re looking for?”

“He’s a tall thin boy, about 18, just got back from university, has a carpetbag with him and a case. We need him.”

“What you want with him?”

“Never you mind. You get him.”

“If he was on the train, is he still there?”

“No, he ran off after breaking my brother’s leg here. He went out the other side. You got to find him. We need him now. And we need the doc for my brother’s leg.”

“You going to hurt this young man?”

“No, we just need him. Our boss says he’s real smart and he wants to hire him for a job.”

“Your boss always kidnap the people you want to hire?” asked the sheriff speculatively as he stood up to get a better look.

“He wouldn’t come with us gentleman like so we had to try and persuade him.” replied the kidnapper.

“Can we get help to the people lying out there you shot?”

“You for sure bringing the horses?”


“You can move the people and put the horses over here by this door. You sending someone for the doctor?” he paused. “How are you going to find Oberllyn?”

“He’s not over here, and you shoot at whomever comes out of hiding. How do you expect us to find someone? He’s most likely in the bushes on the other side of the station. He’s not in the station back here. As for the doc, we don’t call him until the shooting stops. Not risking the only doctor in miles on a gunfight til it’s over.”

“My brother needs a doctor.”

“No doubt. This Oberllyn anything like the rest of his family?”

“What do you mean?”

Just then, the sheriff noticed both Jerome and Gordon had left the horses tied by the train as the men specified. On the opposite side of the train, bricks were thrown through windows and much cursing ensued, followed by a few gunshots and two men being tossed out the door. Gordon was on the roof, and helping Adam down the back side.

The sheriff stood up, he and his deputy with their guns drawn.

Three men were on the ground, gasping and shaking.

“Can’t breathe,” gasped one.

“Lordy, what is that stuff?” Other passengers were coming out of the train car, also red faced and gasping.

Jerome came from behind the car.

“It won’t kill you but you may not be able to smell for a while. It’s skunk musk. The two skunks are loose in the train car, mad as hornets at being woke up and flung through windows so you’ll need to give them a while to simmer down. Those men are your kidnappers-I got them each with a full grown skunk to the face so it may take a while for them to breathe. I’d suggest getting their weapons and locking them up pretty quickly.”

“That the man they were looking for?”

“Yes sir. My name is Adam and I just returned from working with Thomas Edison. They must have thought I had information on secret projects or something.”

“Did you?”

“No sir, I just acted as his go-fer all summer. I fetched things, carried, cleaned, you know, what they always do to interns. I was on my way here to meet up with my brothers and these men told me I was supposed to go with them to meet their boss and when I wouldn’t and the train pulled into the station, they grabbed me and started to haul me off. I kicked my way free and got out the other side and climbed on top. I had no idea they would start shooting people.”

“They mention who this boss was?”

“I don’t think so; they said something about my special talents being need by black hand or something like that, maybe it’s an Indian tribe?”

Jerome’s eyebrows went up. He slightly shook his head. Adam continued, “Anyway, thank you for rescuing me, sir.” he turned a little white and shaky. The injured were being carried to the doctor. “Are they going to be OK?”

“Doc will deal with them. I don’t want to be unfriendly, but maybe you boys better pull out of town.”

“It was my thought as well. We’ll go pack our things.”

“Man, Bill, whatever they got hit with, how we going to keep them in the jail?”

“We’ll put them in the back cell together. You can be on foot duty for a few days so you don’t have to come in. “

“I don’t even think tomatoes are going to cut that smell.”

Doc stood up. “His leg’s not broke, he’s got a good sprain is all. He’ll need to stay off his feet for a few days with it elevated. You boys give him a couple shots of rotgut and he’ll sleep. He’ll feel better when he wakes up.”

“Yeah. Well, until he realizes he’s in jail. Let’s get them locked up, Mac.” He jerked the men to their feet, grimaced and told them to walk in front of him, the brother with the sprain between them, supporting himself on their shoulders. Once at the jail, he locked up two of the brothers, then gave a half glass of whiskey to the hurt brother and sent him into the cell to lie down. Locking the door, he went out, shut the door to the jail and went out to wash up.

“Bill, those Oberllyn’s must have an interesting life to be carrying skunks around.”

“Doubt they have much of a social life,” muttered Bill as he tried to wash up at the pump.


Our first medieval future fantasy


Just the introductory preface and first chapter-you can get it for free April 1 thru 5th as a download-thank you for enjoying our books!; Lucan is a young man as he starts this book and matures as he grows older and we hope wiser…



Good day!  My name is Lucan of the clan Falconer.   My tribe is an old one, and proud and long in the service of our good King David.  We have sworn allegiance to the King and his clan and the United Country of the Americas.  I live with my family; my father Da is our headman and my Ma is wife and lady of the manor, my seven brothers and two sisters complete our family.  This journal is to explain why I am what I am, and how the Clan Falconer went to war with itself, and kept the Kingdom from crashing on the stones of time.  My story begins when I was asleep in my bed.

“What is that?” I muttered to myself as I looked around. The room was dark, the only light coming from the glowing of a torch. My eyes fell on a man in a dark robe, his jet black hair brushed to the side. His shining blue eyes were almost too bright, darting this way and that, as though looking for someone in the shadows. Thin as a wheat stalk, swaying as he stood, his eyes calculating his next move. I squinted to see his face and suddenly realized it was my older brother, Andrew. He’d always been tall, but when did he get so thin, so gaunt?  Was he ill?  He held a porcelain bowl, almost a vase that I didn’t recognize.  It appeared to be the finest porcelain from our neighboring clan, but the markings on it were unfamiliar. A voice came out of the darkness and instinctively I reached for my sword but it wasn’t there. It appeared I was as a wraith and they could not see or hear or feel my presence in the room. The voice said,

“Drew, we need more blood in order to complete the power spell you need give me. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take over this wretched clan.”

“You think I don’t know? Pass me the blood we have and gather my seven brothers together so that we can begin to sacrifice clan folk to fulfil the spell.”

“Yes, brother.” He hefted the half-empty porcelain jar  and went to a small cage holding a terrified small dog. I recognized it as one of the pups from Da’s last litter of hunters.   Reaching inside, pulled it out by the scruff, slit it’s throat and drained it’s blood into the vase.  He took it’s carcass to the fire and tossed it in.

“Andrew, make certain that no evidence is found to give us away.” I could not place the voice in the shadows. Andrew, my older brother I knew. I knew myself and my seven brothers. But who was the voice?

Andrew bowed so low that he almost spilled the blood. He wiped up the table and the drops that spilled on the floor, then removed the cage.  After handing the bowl to the person in shadow, he scurried away out the door with the cage.

The voice came out of the shadows and to my horror; I found it was my oldest brother Isaac. He strapped his sword belt on, then chuckled to himself as he drew his sword to look at its’ edge. “It is now time for the glorious battle against these sheep.”  He went over to the fire and tossed something in and the flames flared.  He poured blood on his sword, the drank the rest.  Placing the bowl on the mantle, he turned and I got a good look at his face.  He stood gaunt, pale, but not thin; his eyes on fire.  There seemed an odd glowing around him that slowly faded.  Wiping his sword on a cloth, he threw the cloth into the fire and strapped on the sword. He slipped into the darkness and disappeared. I woke groggy and trembling.  I shook my head and got up.  What sort of nightmare was this for a clan head’s son?   My brothers were true men, not sorcerer’s or witches.  Shaking my head, I pulled on my tunic and trews and set out to find my breakfast.

Chapter 1

 As I walked down the hall, I had to keep shaking my head as the vision kept returning, flashing on and off in a sort of persistent shudder.  All I saw went against all I knew to be true.  Oh, there was magic in the world, all right, left over from the great wars of the past, from before the shining time of death, when all changed, the old world and the people.  We lost our cities; we lost millions of people when the Shining came.  Now we lived across this great land as clans held together loosely by Kings of regions.  The Kings met yearly to settle disputes between adjacent Kingdoms.  But no great cities or flying machines remained as those mentioned in the Old Ones books.  Some machines still were made, some used, but much of what was called technology was lost, and was being forgotten.  Still magic remained, inherited in family lines.

 For a few minutes, I almost thought I was still in that cave with my brothers. I think the clan is in danger. I thought to myself. But when did I become a soothsayer?  I’m past the age when gifts show.  I stood still a moment but  my Ma called me “Lucan, it’s time for breakfast. Are you coming?”

“Coming,” I said. I stepped back into my room and I strapped on my sword for no reason I could put my finger on, other than a sense that something was not right.  I went down stairs where the smell of hot oatmeal and fresh fruit, homemade rolls and tea met my nose with a welcome. Ma always made enough food for an army. But then, we were an army.

Isaac was oldest, and expected to inherit Father’s position as head of the clan, a warrior in his own right, having been on guarding and raiding parties;  followed by Andrew, who loved to study, to read the Old Ones’ books, then Michael, who didn’t like to read at all but could shoot the eye out of a bird with a sling at 50 paces. Allytha was next, off apprenticed to a wizard as she seemed to have the gift. Samuel, next in line, was slow of speech but good with a sword-really good. David, named after our King,  loved medicine and healing. He was apprenticed to our wise woman but would be going in the spring into town to become a real physician. He seemed to have a way with healing. Francis, the next brother, seemed to dream a lot, and was always finding ways to make things more efficient.  Da would give him a task and he’d start it at once, certainly, as a good son should, but shortly would be found doing it differently and it almost always ended up being done better and faster.   Da claimed he was simply lazy and he was just thinking of ways to make it easier so he’d not have to labor so hard.  Our wise woman expected him to develop a gift for foretelling but so far he hadn’t had any real dreams, just day dreams that kept him from doing his chores soon enough for Da, and made him tinker with just about anything mechanical. He could keep our housebots running, and he’d made improvements on our windmill. Da thought he’d make a good priest since they have their heads in the clouds a lot. My next sister, Morgana, is the family darling. She sings, she dances, she helps mother and makes everyone smile. I am the last, and no one can quite figure out what I’ll be good for, so I am being trained to fight, and I am learning to be a farmer. I love animals and would like to be a beast master but Da says we have no place for that.  All we need are common farm animals to support the farmstead.

Da said the grace, and we dug in.

“I had an odd dream last eve,” I began.

“Oh?” asked mother.

“Aye, I thought I was in a secret room in the keep, and someone was doing spells.”

Da looked uncomfortable. “Did you see who was in the dream?” Thinking quickly, I shook my head. “Nay, but they were planning on doing the clan harm this day. They needed blood for some power spell.”

Da frowned. “Tis not good to speak of such things, but as you have started it, I have had a similar dream these last two nights running. A dark room I do not recognize, two men, a jar of blood. Is that what you saw?”

I nodded. “Sounds about like.”

“I’ve had a dream vision like the one you mentioned many years ago,” he leaned over and said softly to me so the rest would not know what was being said over the general noise of breakfast in a large family. “We were able to fight off the enemy but before I killed their leader he pointed to me and shouted so everyone could hear ‘You will be very prosperous and have many children.’ At first I thought he was giving me a blessing but then he said something that sent a chill down my spine. “One day one of your sons will betray you and kill everybody in your wretched clan and the Kingdom will fall”  I killed him and I ran to my best friend who was badly wounded and he said to me ‘I swear one day your sons will be able to defeat the demon spawned son of yours. He will save the clan. I’m sorry I can’t stop the curse.” He died there before my very eyes and I thought to myself Mother of God, I’ll have a family responsible for a rebellion.  I had no idea what the dream meant or what my friend meant and no way to find out. I had that dream the first time shortly after I became clan head. I had it again last night. And now you have had it. After breakfast, we’ll go to the wise man and ask what he thinks is going on. In the meantime, wise it will be for us both to keep out swords and dirks handy.”

I sat there pondering this when my brother Isaac came in, tousled and tired after what should have been a night’s rest. If I had truly seen a vision, he had been up, not sleeping, last night. I wondered if he was the one who would start this rebellion.   He sat down and started eating.

“You’re late, Isaac. Is not your ma’s breakfast a good enough incentive to be here on time?”

“I was out late with my friend Daniel. Remember he was staying the night?”

“Oh, yes, I remember. Where is he now?”

“He left before dawn, said he was needed at home. I thought it strange.”

“Well, food’s been blessed. Finish up and head to knight training at the armorer’s. You may have need of knowledge of swords.”

“Fine, da.” he started stuffing his face, literally. No one can shovel in food like my brothers. I don’t know how Ma keeps up with it.

“Isaac, mind your manners at the table!”

“Sorry, Ma,” he said after he swallowed.

After breakfast Isaac left quickly to the training area of the manor house to work on his weaponry skills. All of us, even the girls to a certain extent, were trained in archery, spear, staff, sword, and unarmed combat. Sword was the most popular among us boys and no one had ever bested Isaac at swords, though Samuel came close. I was still working on my lower stances. We have training bots who grade us on our performance and then pair us up for practice according to our skill levels. We are taught by bots and then apply our day’s lesson on each other. I was still in the lower forms. Isaac hardly ever fought with us anymore since he was even better than the bots programming. If I had to go up against him, I was in trouble.  He worked directly with the head knight.  However, this day, since I was youngest, I helped my Ma with the cleanup.   She shortly dismissed me and I then joined my brothers on the training field where my brother Isaac was fighting against a newly acquired training bot-it had more levels than our other ones. Since he had mastered the old ones, and the Knight assigned us had more things to do to arrange the security of our keep, Da thought Isaac needed to be challenged and for once I was seeing him sweat. He was parrying, hacking, and dodging but he couldn’t really land a blow on the robot who had several times tapped him and left paint marks. The bots had paint in their swords. Bots were programmed to pull their blows and paint you-everyone could see a record of your errors all over you. Usually, my brothers mail was unmarked but today, he had several bright green spots in various places and it was evident he was getting really upset. I decided to give him the arena and I headed over for staff practice. I set the robot to gain so that it would slowly get harder and harder to defeat him.  After last night’s dream, I wanted to ease into practice today. I dodged the first blow but I didn’t see the other side of its staff coming fast enough to react and it struck me right in the stomach. I fell to my knees gasping for air. The robot’s staff came down on me, but I knew that play and this time I knew it was coming. I dodged and swung my staff. I struck it in the head from behind. Sparks flew and the robot lurched forward but quickly reprogrammed itself to a higher level and it turned with its staff outstretched so the flat of its staff would strike me again. It came so fast that an average human being wouldn’t see it coming but I jumped and spun on my staff. I kicked it in the head and put a dent in the bot’s face. It struck my staff and I fell to the floor again. The bot decided to finish me off and it sent its’ staff down once more. I parried with the center of my staff and used the side of it to strike it in the face. The blow landed and the head came off. It went back into the floor to be repaired then I heard a voice behind me say, “Great job, midget.” Thinking it was one of my older brothers, my little brother battle instincts kicked in. I swung my staff and found it was parried by a sword. Isaac sliced my staff in half and had me at sword point in a matter of seconds.

“Oh, good morn, Isaac. How was sword training? You look a little green.”

I put the other half of the staff under my arm, showing I had no interest in fighting him. He lowered his sword and said, “Oh, it was just fine. I was pretty shocked at how much better that new bot is compared to the older ones. I suppose the older one will become yours now.” He smiled at me. I studied him wondering what I should say. He had some new bruises on his body where that bot hit him but turned out that it could have been worse. I nodded. 

 “It has gotten better, huh?” I rubbed the bruise on my stomach and winced.

“Are you okay?” Isaac asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I think that robot got me good.”

“Okay. Let me look at it and you might be heading for the first aid bot.” He reached down to take off my shirt but when he did the bruise wasn’t there. I touched the place where the bruise was but the pain was rapidly departing.

 “That’s weird. I swear it was there a little bit ago. Is this normal?”

“No, it isn’t. There are very few people who can heal themselves. However, there are none in this clan who actually can heal that fast at all, except the ones in our family. It’s a very strange ability. Did you know you were healing yourself?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I don’t know why that would be your first ability anyway.  Has this happened before?  You’re old to be developing abilities.”  I stood up, shook myself and felt strangely warm.

“Good to know I can heal myself. Da and I were going to go to the wise man today anyhow so I can ask him about things.  I’ve been having odd dreams.”  I looked at him steadily and Isaac got an odd look on his face.

“Hey, you want to train on each other?”

“Isn’t that dangerous? I mean sharp blades, wouldn’t that hurt?”

“No. I just put a guard on my sword.” He hit his sword against a staff in the racks to show me it clanged against the staff instead of slicing it in half like my staff.

“See? Besides you’d be able to heal yourself right?”

“I am not sure da would approve of this at all. Just because I seemed to heal once doesn’t really prove anything. It could have been a fluke of some sort.”

“Being a coward is not becoming. You need to get ready to help the clan protect itself and how better to do it than by fighting someone stronger and better than you.” he drew himself up to his full height and grimaced.

“En Garde!” I hardly saw his lunge coming. I ducked; after all, I did not even have my sword in my hand, just a half of a staff-which he cut in half again, letting me know his sword was not shielded anymore.

I drew my sword and parried his first attack but I thrust my sword at his chest. He dodged and with one downward swipe of his sword hit my sword hilt, disarmed me and I was at his sword point again. “Well, you ready for round 2?” He said.

“I wasn’t ready for round 1,” I picked up my sword, raised it and attacked. I parried and in one quick move disarmed him with a move I had seen one of the bots use when Da or the knights trained. I was surprised when it worked for me, but Isaac stood there shocked.  He  opened his palm and the sword flew back into his hand. He charged me. I parried his first attack and he had me put into a stand still. I tripped him, he fell, I disarmed him again and put my foot on his sword so the it wouldn’t fly back into his hand. I put my sword to his chest and he lay there defeated. His eyes got large.

“I’m sorry.” I said handing his sword back to him.

“Sorry? When did you learn to do that? That was awesome!!!! Do it again!” He leapt to his feet.

He charged and I parried; he put me into a stand-still and with one quick circular motion with his sword he flung my sword out of my hands and had me at sword point once again.

“Beginners luck?” he questioned.

“I guess.” I replied. I picked up my sword and charged him. With one quick slash of my sword, I got one ugly cut on his hand. I spun around and launched his sword out of his hands and had him at sword point. Then out of nowhere he had his sword in his hand again and disarmed me. He had me at sword point yet again, reached up and flicker cut my shoulder.

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“Do what?” Isaac asked.

“How did you get your sword back? It was all the way across the room.” I said. “It can’t have been the magnetics.” All our swords were attached to us by magnetic fields so we would not lose them in battle practice. We had wristlets we wore that controlled the pull but they were only good for a few feet.

“Oh, that could be your next ability. When you practice long enough, your weaponry becomes one with you.  At least it did with me and Samuel.  It’s that way with Da.  I suspect it will be with you if you live so long.”

“Great, my next ability is a living sword, that’s just great.” The door to the practice room burst open and my Ma shrieked. “Isaac! Lucan! Come on, we need you outside right now!”

The presence of evil can be felt. It’s cold and thick and clings to your soul. Isaac stood quietly as I ran out to the front of the building. As the door closed behind me, I drifted in and out of vision. I trembled in silence.  This time I saw Andrew come in quietly to the lair of my brother Isaac.

“It’s time for the next injection. I distilled it from the blood as required. There was only enough blood to make a smaller dose, but it should suffice to bring you to another level of power.  Injecting is so much more efficient than drinking the blood.”

“Excellent, give it here.” He injected the potion into his vein. He dropped the syringe, reeled back, screamed and fell backwards to the ground. Andrew moved forward to see if Isaac was dead only to have a hand clamp around his neck, cutting off his breathing. He was lifted into the air and then was thrown across the room to land in a heap by the wall. Andrew sat up coughing and gasping for air with a smile on his face.

“Yes. Yes, I can feel the power coursing through my body.” Isaac looked at Andrew and pointed. “You,” he said in a voice that was not his own, “go and gather the others together. We are about to attack this clan. No one is the wiser. No one knows what is going on.”

Andrew straightened, bowed and ran out the door to fetch the others, laughing at what he had caused. “The fall of the clan starts now.” Isaac disappeared into thin air. I came to with a start as my mother shook me. “Lucan, what’s going on? How can you fall asleep standing up? Come along! Da needs us right now! We’re being attacked!”

I looked around and I didn’t see my brother’s lair, but the hallway to the front of the house. I shook my head to clear it and looked up, then ran with Ma down the long hall. What in the name of all that’s holy was that about? I thought. Did I just have my another vision? Why would my own brother do this? Is he really going to try and destroy the clan? He can’t be! I have got to ask the wise man-and how did I heal myself?


Just a hint of the wild times coming in the latest book, coming out next week, titled Kith and Kin Together Again…and I promise you, it gets wilder as it goes along!

Chapter One


President Timothy Cooper straightened his tie, cognizant of the fact that he was the leader of the Free World. It felt good to finally feel respected and listened to and he knew his Master must be pleased with him. He could hardly wait for the next Council. By then, the plan would have gone through and the world would be free of the useless eaters and polluters. He smiled, wondering at what his reward night be. A full Mastership perhaps? Control of a full region on his own? Being the stand-in President was good, but here in America, there were simply too many hide bound laws about free choice and freedom. Africa? India? Or perhaps Mother Russia? Now those places were subservient and able to controlled and led to the Way much better than here. That troublesome Cabinet simply put too many roadblocks in his full plans. And that Congress was a  horror to work with; he’d have to think about that. Today he would get rid of part of those problems. Today he would really become the leader of the Free World.

“Soon to be really free,” he smiled to himself in the mirror, giving a little nod. “Most will be released to the cosmos. Once we have destroyed those that block our progress, we can finish the plan, retire and allow this land to be retaken by Mother Gaia. And I shall undoubtedly be rewarded well.” He turned to his aide, put on his jacket and made his way to the Oval Office.

 “Do you have the lines so the people can call in?”

“Yes, sir. And we have set up the White House online presence to accept input from only our cells. All else will have blocking signals. We will be able to announce unanimous assent with the attacks.”

“When is the attack set to begin?”

“We have coordinated the attack to begin at 9:00, right after your speech. Most people will be watching the news broadcast’s talking heads digesting what you’ve said. By the time anyone is alerted to what is happening, it will be over. We shall declare temporary Martial law to do clean up and pick up of any stragglers while simultaneously releasing the reports of unanimous agreement with the speech and release the figures to support it. By the time Congress is back in session on Monday, we should be rid of those heathen and be able to move forward with our Divine Imperative.”

“Do not call them heathen,” admonished the President. “Misguided and unwilling to change to accept a new worldview, perhaps, but heathen? We reserve that title for our military populations” He adjusted his hair. “And I think my idea of attacking on a Friday night is a brilliant thought. Their religion forbids them taking action back.”

“Soon we won’t need military,” his aide pointed out. “And I don’t know about the not fighting back on Friday night. Are you certain about that?”

“Fairly sure. Noel has always refused to meet with the President on his Sabbath. Also, there will be those for some time yet who think they can fight us. For them, it is useful to have military.” They had arrived in the office and the President sat behind his desk. The teleprompters were set up, his speech in place.

“Mr. President, lift your chin just a little, yes, that’s perfect, lighting is ready.”

“Speech is to begin in two minutes. Is the staff assembled?”

“Yes, all here, waiting.”

“Excellent. Dr. Martin, are you ready to give the two minute eulogy to Obsidian, murdered in the line of duty?”

“Ready sir.”

“I shall spend the first five minutes introducing each of the new cabinet members; each will respond with the most difficult task they have in front of them as planned. That will pave the way for me to show the need for the State of Emergency I am declaring. After that, I shall give the rest of the speech explaining the rationale for the destruction of the so called Icons of Science, and the need for the populace to accept the new state of affairs. When I complete the speech, I will sign the documents in front of me on camera, and that will be the signal for the attack to begin.” Everyone nodded.

“Sir, on the air in 4, 3, 2, 1…now.”

“My Fellow Americans, after the untimely death of our President,  at my swearing-in ceremony,  I promised to move swiftly in the cause of justice and freedom and in finding the culprits who have caused all this pain to our country. I regret to inform you that even within this White House, we found those who were not worthy of our trust, those who were sympathizers to the traitors and so we have dismissed them. Charges for their perfidy will come later. In the interests of transparency, I want you get acquainted with those who have replaced the previous Cabinet Members. First, allow me to introduce Dr. Eric Martin, our new Surgeon General. Dr. Martin?” The camera was on Eric as he spoke.

“Thank you, Mr. President. I wish first to give honor to a person who was recently killed in the line of duty. Obsidian Charles, a wonderful lady, a veteran in the last war, a private person who did so much for her country as a researcher, was murdered this last month. Her body was found and is being buried with honor next week. Our intelligence shows that the last people she was seen with were Jasmine and Zyanya Oberllyn. They had lunch together. Her body was found that night. She had been poisoned and shot in the head. Of course, there is nothing definitive yet, but I want us to all think of this young woman and the service she had given to our country. I have a picture of her here, taken while she was in the military, serving as a nurse.” he held up a 5 x 7 picture. “And I want to thank the President for entrusting me with the position of Surgeon General. Our first task will be to stop the famine by cooperating with the newest combined research division of the federal government.”

“We grieve with you and her family,” replied the President. The next Cabinet member is..” and he started to introduce the next person in line.

Back at the Retreat center, Kai started a countdown.  “Everyone is on line. Are you ready, President Mileston?”

“Absolutely. I am so looking forward to blowing that man out of the water.”

“OK, interruption and broadcast in three, two, one – go.”

Noel spoke into the camera. “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret needing to interrupt our Vice President’s premature announcement. I am pleased to present to you our  real President, Francis Mileston, alive and well and talking to you from Colorado.”

On the screen in people’s homes, there appeared a split image. On one side, the Vice President was introducing his new Cabinet. His words were now being streamed along the bottom. On the other side, the previously thought dead President Mileston spoke to the American people.

“My Fellow Americans, I know this is a strange and complex night. I want to go on record as saying I am not dead; there was an attempt on my life and on General Markham’s life; we are both recovered and doing fine. I have not given up the office of President of the United States. As you can see from the people I am with,” the camera panned out and General Markham appeared, “I am fine. So is General Markham and his family. My own family appears to be held in our  own home on house arrest. I order the local Police to take over and take my family back to the safety of the White House. I am ordering the Secret Service to come to the Colorado lab of the Oberllyn family and take me back to Washington at once, where I will take my duties up again as President and I will deal with the usurpers who have ensconced themselves in my place. I repeat, I am still the President.  The attempted coup d’état did not work.  My Cabinet has not been dismissed, and the Oberllyn families around the world did not commit any form of treason or violence. Their only crime was in saving the world instead of trying to save just themselves.”

At the oval Office, President Timothy and his people were horrified.

“Cut that transmission! Do it now!”

“We can’t. We’ve been trying.”

“Then start the attack now. I want those people blown off the face of the earth!”

“Our communications with other countries are being jammed. The military outside the Colorado Dome are refusing to fire because they think the President is inside.”

“Then blow up the Command center in the Sanctuary. There’s no President there. If we can’t kill the pit of vipers, we can cut off its’ head!”

Inside the Sanctuary dome, the male family members took their places outside of the lodge, lined up a hundred yards apart with sagesticks burning and their hands held up in prayer. The women and children were in the middle of the land, in the vale houses, hunkered down and caring for each other until it was over. The wolf pack patrolled around the houses. In stark contrast to the bombardment outside the dome, it was eerily calm inside, no breeze ruffled the trees, and other than the men praying, and the feeling of the ground rumbling under their feet, peace prevailed. Through the dome, they could see the flashing of the explosions as the military switched to ever increasingly heavier equipment, guns, then grenades, then hand fired missiles. They could see military personnel dropping from the ricocheting bullets. The military drew their lines back farther but continued the bombardment. The men continued their prayers. The sky was blotted out above the dome by dust and smoke and blood spots dripped down the sides. Kai looked at Noel and his brother Gabriel. All three had tears rolling down their cheeks. They shrugged, lifted their hands higher, and continued to pray.



I’m adding the next one from Rebooting the Oberllyn’s: enjoy!  Go get some hot cocoa or coffee, a couple biscuits or cookies and relax-you deserve it!  Thanks for reading….


Chapter 1

“My Fellow Americans,   now is the time to make the changes we need so desperately in the world  – certainly this is not our parent’s world. I doubt my Father during his time in office held any idea what would happen just a few years after he retired from this great office; I am certain he thought he had left a lasting legacy of prosperity and peace. Unfortunately, his work was undone by the last elections. We have a chance to bring America back, to make it great again.” The crowd erupted in cheers as the candidate finished his opening remarks to the first presidential debate.

“He talks like his dad,” remarked Violet as she sat in her chair crocheting a shawl. She was dressed in her usual quiet dark business suit, with a fresh flower pinned to her lapel. She’d picked it that morning from their balcony flower pots, a single sweetheart rose in pale pink, with its’ stem inserted in a tiny bud holder broach, so it wouldn’t wilt. Her maroon briefcase  lay on the coffee table, mocking the quiet. She figured she could get one more row done before Noel came out of the bedroom and the kids had to be given over to their nanny for the day.

“Not unusual. Our son Kai talks like me,” her husband Noel stated as he lay down his newspaper on the table. “I miss our boys.” Noel was tall, spare, dressed in a gray pinstriped suit, longish salt and pepper hair combed back behind his ears. His smoky slate eyes glanced at the TV as he sat his maroon briefcase on the coffee table next to his wife’s matching case.

“Who’s  idea was it for them to go into the military after college? And there’s more tea in the kitchen and scones.” He nodded as he headed for the kitchen.

“I know, I know. They just seemed so young to go into the family business and I had no idea they’d volunteer for this kind of duty. I figured with Kai having that doctorate in genetics and Gabriel his master’s in chemistry they’d be headed for some  nice research division at skunkworks. They’re too young to actually settle down into a life work yet. I mean, Kai is just 24 and Gabe’s 20.”

“You didn’t try to block them with the brass, and you could have,” sniffed his wife. “I just hope they come home in one piece.”

“We always did.”

“We had some awful scrapes though over the years.”

“Most of them with elected officials now. I’d almost give anything for a good firefight instead of another congressional committee.”

“So why didn’t you agree to be on the joint chiefs?”

Noel growled at his wife, “Are you out of your mind? How could I keep track of my guys from the sit room?”

“You’re in there often enough.”

“Yeah, but as a consultant, I have more freedom.”

“So where are the boys?”

Noel sighed. “Classified, my dear.”

“My security clearance is higher than yours.”

“Not with me, it’s not.”

“Not knowing is killing me.”

Noel sat in thought. “I’ll just say they aren’t in a warm place.”

“So not the Middle East then. That leaves only 31 major conflicts. And I know they did not go into the research division as I requested they try for-it’s almost like they had to go fight.”

“We have good, patriotic sons. They want to do their duty. It is a heritage and tradition in our family to serve in the military. And they will be back in just another two months. Then there is two more years and they’re out.”

“A lot can happen in two years.”

Just then, Jasmine, their daughter called. Her picture popped up on the television screen.

“Hey, mom, guess what? I’ve been offered an internship at OSU.” She smiled. Her long hair was braided over her shoulder, she had dimples and tiny freckles across her nose.


“They really liked my master’s thesis. I’m going to work directly under Dr. Franken.”

“Marvelous. You’ll find him a great guy.”

“Don’t tell me-he’s an old colleague.”

“Served in the same psych unit back before you were a twinkle in my eye. He’s fair but won’t accept shoddy work, so be on your toes.”

“Will do, just called to let you know. How’s Micah doing?”

“He’s learning to cope with his autism. I mean, remember he’s just 8.”

“Yeah, but those algorithms he was working on…”

“Kai did the same thing at his age. He is bright. He’s not untalented. He just can’t handle people very well. He can’t read social situations; he can’t do crowds, he gets anxious easily…”

“I know autism mom, believe me. I did my thesis on it, remember? And having a little brother with it helps with the research.”

“Yeah, I keep forgetting you’re whizzing through college. You’ll always be my little girl sleeping on grandpa’s big bed, wrapped in grandma’s quilt.” Jasmine smiled from the screen.

“And besides, Micah is learning to cope: he spends a lot of time dancing.”

“Yes, there’s that. He’s learning the warrior dance for the next powwow.”

“He looks so cute in that new regalia.”

“Had he not grown so fast, he’d still be in his old regalia. Cute is not how I would describe regalia in the colors he chose, but he is sweet. Spaced out, but sweet.”

“Take care. I’ll be home for spring council at the land.”

“Can’t wait to hug you, darling.” As she closed the viewer off, Violet sighed. “I wish the boys would call, or write or something.”

“They might not be able to do that. They’re doing some pretty classified stuff.”

“But we have a lot higher security clearance and there’s nothing they could possibly be doing that we haven’t read briefs on already.”

“No, dear. They can’t. Trust me. They can’t. I’ll see what I can learn at the office today.”

“And I’m off to argue budgets for Human Services. Sometimes, I think macro practice is just insane. I should have stayed on the state level with this stuff; the bureaucrats here are enough to make a sane person consider a coup.”

“But you do manage them so well.”

“There’s just so many children without the basic necessities and this should have been fixed by now.”

“I’ve heard the population growth is making that impossible, and the graying folks of America are not putting in enough taxes..”

“They’ve been saying that since we were kids. It’s just an excuse for the rich to not face the problem.”

“You’re sounding a little Marxist today. I’m more worried about Lilianna. Have you heard from her?”

“Not since her last sighting in Chicago. She got away from that rough crowd, though, and she seems to be settling into study at the community college.”

“I wonder how long it will be before she takes off again?”

“I hope she comes to spring council so we can at least see her.”

“It would be lovely if she just called,” her dad fretted. “She always was a rolling stone. Not at all like the rest of the kids. I just don’t know how to deal with her. I almost feel like she’s in more danger than the boys. I have to go. Good bye and don’t hold supper for me. We’ve got some stuff in the situation room to discuss.”

“I’ll put it in the oven. I’m checking Micah and Serena and being sure they’ll be ready for the nanny when she comes.”

“You want me to what?” exclaimed Catriona Oberllyn, newly wed to Gabriel Oberllyn. “Now listen. This honeymoon was supposed to be on the shores of Tahiti, or at least that’s what you implied.” Catriona stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at her husband from her five foot three height. Gabriel was six five and decidedly uneasy as he faced his diminutive bride. Her curly red hair hung in long ringlets down her back. Her exasperation with the latest suggestion was evident by her effort to not burst into tears. “I really am tired and I just want to settle into our little rabbit hole house and hug little Gabe and have a nice glass of wine and sit in the hot tub…”


“We did make it to French Polynesia, dearest,” began Gabe. “And besides, hasn’t it been fun?”

“Fun? Gabe, in six weeks, I have ridden on a motorcycle over bumpy back county roads, on a plane that had an engine quit, picked up from the ocean by a helicopter, trail-ridden horses, flown a hang glider at night, got two days on a cruise ship, hidden in the back of an army truck, and I thought the camel went over the top but really, you want me to jump out of an airplane at night now? Why can’t we just drive over to the retreat center? Or have someone come get us? It’s not that far. I don’t think it’s even twenty miles from here. Why do wee have to jump out of a freaking airplane?”

“Well, it appears there maybe snipers nearby and floating down under cover of darkness…”

“Snipers? For heaven’s sake, when did we acquire snipers?”

“Not certain but Cougar contacted me this morning and suggested it might not be a good idea to just show up at the center by the usual transport. I had thought a nice slow walk might be a good way to show up at the vale, but he says there are snipers. We’re meeting him today to talk to him. If there are snipers in the woods surrounding the retreat center, I might need to do a bit of distraction.”

“Can’t we just call the folks and ask?”

“Tried that. No answer. It’s odd. I packed up our stuff while you slept and mailed them home. So all we need do is get to an airport and Cougar says there is a nice little private one near here. But we don’t have to leave the area until 5 so thought you might like to spend the day shopping a bit; that nice Amish fabric store you so like is just a mile from here, and we can come back by way of the ceramics shop, have a nice lunch and meander out to the airport, sort of a slow, expensive, quiet ending to the honeymoon…”

“My paints and brushes were all lost in the general mess when I was made a slave.”

“I know, but I talked to mom and you know where we had the craft stuff set up before? She said there’s a kiln and she is supposed to have had dad set it up in the little shed next to the craft shop. So if you buy some green ware and some paints, maybe you can do some things when you get home. We can have them shipped from here. We’ll meet Cougar around 5 after we’ve had time to shop.” Cat sighed.

“Shopping is the first thing you’ve said that made sense. I will consider the rest of it. Let’s check out.”

Since Gabriel had taken their clothes and mailed them home that morning while she was still sleeping in, Cat put on the clothes Gabe had laid out for her. She rolled up the clothes she had slept in and stuffed them in the bottom of her daypack. They went to the hotel office, Gabe signed them out and they turned in the key. Both wore daypacks, mostly empty, to carry their purchases. It was a lovely fall day and they started out for a walk, taking their time, window shopping near the little town of Berlin.

“Man at the hotel said there was a little Amish sandwich shop right along this road…there it is, right up ahead. Let’s have brunch, then walk on down to the fabric store. You said you’d like to get something to remember the trip by. Mom does that, and come to think of it, so does Jasmine.”

“I got a piece of Polynesian fabric in Tahiti, remember? But I need to put all the fabrics together to make a quilt of our honeymoon. Of course, the almost kidnapping by the goons in California and the almost being blown up event in Kansas and the cruise ship being taken apart by the storm will make it hard to find a pattern that brings it all together.”

“Guess there were some strange stuff I hadn’t figured on when I planned this little excursion and I am sorry about that. Still, our nights in the hut on top the mountain were nice.”

“Oh, the views on top those mountains were incredible. And that crazy raccoon that woke us up the first night; left all those little footprints on the boulders! I thought we had a bear!” Gabe laughed.

“He was a caution. We hadn’t expected the Ice Lady to have any minions left, but those freaks in California took the cake.”

“Did we get the camels back to the San Diego zoo? First time I ever escaped by dromedary.”

“Well, they’re big, strong, fast and pretty intimidating. Messed up their little kidnapping plot pretty efficiently. “

“How did you know the camels were tame enough to ride?”

“They give kiddie rides, right? How untamed can they be?”

“But technically we stole the camels.”

“No, we borrowed them. I know the keeper. He’s a brother. When he saw the guy with the guns, he knew there was trouble, so he let me borrow them. I shall remember with great fondness the look of abject panic on those guys’ faces as we charged them on camel back…and that glow in the dark spray paint we put on the front of them made it really look cool in the dark of the zoo footpaths. I made sure the animals got back to the zoo none the worse for wear and the paint washed out easily. After all, they are cousins to mom’s alpacas…how dangerous could they be?” Cat laughed as she shook her head.

“And I suppose this is all classified so I won’t even be able to tell our eventual grand kids about my honeymoon with the most romantically adorable, dangerous person on earth… But as for the fabric, I got some camel fabric for that part of the excursion. And the cruise ship had fabric with ships on so I got some of that. I have some mountain fabric. I have some sea fabric, and some with grass huts on it. I missed getting anything for Kansas, but I don’t know that I’ll find explosive jeeps fabric so may have to do a construction of an explosion.”


“Yes, sort of an applique of yellow and orange-red flames over a jeep.”

“Sounds interesting. Have to admit I wasn’t expecting the jeep to explode like that. More minions I guess. So what fabric do you need?”

“I need something that denotes the love through all the mess.”

Gabe looked thoughtful. “So what color is love?”

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

“Well, If Zinck’s doesn’t have it, I don’t know who else would. They’ve got gobs of fabric. Mom loves that place.”

“Well, at least it ought to be quiet. Still, that Amish bed and breakfast place we stayed at last night was nice. Maybe I’ll get Mom some fabric too.”

“Well, you get whatever you need, darling. You’ve been a really good sport about this really strange, not quite as planned honeymoon.”

“Zyanya and Jasmine told me there’d be times like this. I have to admit I didn’t expect them on my honeymoon. It will be one to talk to the grandkids about if we live long enough to have grandkids and get it all declassified. I hope little Gabe likes his presents.”

“Oh, pretty sure that won’t be a problem.”

“I miss that little guy.” she paused. “And his sister for always.” Gabriel put his arm over her back as he nodded and pulled her closer.

“Yeah, me too. Sure hope the retreat is still standing when we get home. We had an awful lot of clean-up to do on this mess, and sorry it impacted us so much. Kai and dad were busting their backs too.”

“Is it over? And wonder how the kids are doing.”

“Gabe and Kai’s boys are getting really rambunctious. Mom was supposed to see if we could get their tutor back.”

“It’s going to be quite a change to have all the slaves gone, and just family and Amish workers there. I think I’m going to miss all the workers. I actually made some good friends while serving.”

“I hope they found us kind to work for. Here’s the fabric shop. Your daypack empty enough to hold it all?”

“You have a pack too.”

“There is that. I can move the gun to my shoulder holster and the knives to my boots…”

“Gabe! You’re packing?”

“After the last three weeks, I’d go paranoid if I didn’t. I just want to get home and to my own little hideaway in the vale among people who aren’t putting targets on our backs…” They entered the fabric store and spent a couple hours picking and choosing, having fabric cut and getting notions. As they left, Gabe’s phone rang.

“Really? Great to hear your voice again. Is everything OK there? Oh? I’ve got to meet Cougar in a couple hours and catch a flight to night drop in to avoid the snipers. No snipers? Really? But he sounded so sure. Sensors all up, nothing there, hmm? I’m supposed to meet him at 01600 hours at the airport. Honestly? That will be interesting. OK, thanks for the warning.”

“Was that your mom?”

“Dad. There may be more of a problem than we thought, but looks like no parachuting tonight.”

“Well, that’s good news. How much greenware can we buy? He’s the shop and I hope they can ship it.”

“Can we pack it in the fabric?”

“It will shatter. Let’s see if they deliver it to the retreat center.”

“Sure hope they put shelves up in the craft shed… Let’s go see what they have.” They browsed, chose and wandered back out, stopped to grab a snack at a little Amish bakery. Gabe kept his eyes open but saw nothing except shoppers, tourists and other wanderers. After stopping at a small grocery for sodas, they headed out cross lots towards the private airport Cougar had suggested as a meeting place.

As they passed a stand of trees by a field, Cougar stepped out of the brush.

“Brother, over here, quickly.”

Gabe walked over, keeping Cat behind him.

“Yoh, brother. I see you. How goes it?”

“Plans have changed. The airport is no longer safe. You are to take this and go meet Kai at the ancestral lands.” He pointed to a small flat area in the field. There was nothing parked there.

Cat looked at Gabe. “Gabe, the emperor’s new clothes?”

“Not sure I can drive one of those,” started Gabe.

“It’s just a ground effect machine like the southern swamp folk use. It’s very quiet.” He went over and appeared to be adjusting something. “There. Now this is forward, this is reverse, pretty much like a dune buggy.”

“I see. Has it got cloaking ability?”

“What? No, it’s just quiet.” Cat looked decidedly uncomfortable, looking first at the ground then at Cougar.

“Cougar, um, friend, have you maybe been hitting the juice?”

“What? No, of course not. Actually, I’ve been working out and sticking to Adam’s ale. Now get in, rev it up and go up the road about 2 miles, take a left at the old logging road and be careful. Once on the logging road, be aware you’re in dangerous territory. It’s about six miles to the drop point from there. What was that?”

Cougar suddenly spun around, pulled his knife and ran into the woods. He came back a moment later. “Just a deer. Can’t be too careful. I got hit this morning,” he pointed to his arm, which had a bandage tied around it.

“You want me to look at that? I have my medicine pouch in my bag.”

“Won’t stop bleeding, must have used an anticoagulant on the bullet.”

Cougar seemed to sway a moment. Gabe walked over and untied the bandage. Under it the skin was smooth and unbroken and there was no sign of blood.

Gabe motioned Cat over who looked surprised. “Yeah, that’s not good, Cougar.” she said, looking up at Gabe.

“You have a camp anywhere you can lie down for a bit? Seems like the bullet went right through.”

“I have to keep moving.” Just then, Kai’s familiar hummer pulled up. The bright roses painted on the side made it a little more spectacular than perhaps was needed, but did keep him from losing it, as he often said.

“Yoh, the family!” he called as he left the vehicle. “I’ve come to fetch you home. Long walk from here.” Cougar squinted at Kai. “Do I know this brother?” he shook his head. “What’s that buzzing?”

Gabe took his shoulders gently, then pinched his neck. Cougar fell into his arms.

“Kai, he’s as out of it as a jaybird on fermented berries but he doesn’t smell like alcohol.”

“He thinks he was shot and you just walked through the invisible swamp boat,” declared Cat.

“Really? He must have drunk the water.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’ll explain at the retreat. Let’s load you all up and get you home. We’ll strap down Cougar in case he wakes up. Best disarm him as well.”


Last week’s chapter  to share- book four of the entire trilogy is also book one of the Present history: is that confusing, hope not.  remember, this nine volume set is divided into past history, present history and future history. Here then is chapter one of The Infant Conspiracy.

Chapter 1 of The Infant Conspiracy

Kai Dante Oberllyn hid in the deep construction ditch by the road as he decided what to do next.  He hadn’t expected there to be quite so many enforcers out at this time of day.  There were too many police, too many black vans and all of them seeming to be stopping to ask him where he was off to, as if it should bother them that he was out walking with a fishing pole, a pack and a dog.  Oh, and this parrot-can’t forget the parrot-has to be some city injunction or rule about walking around with an African grey on your shoulder… He’d been walking for an hour, gotten not even to the edge of the city, and he really wanted to be out by nightfall.

It was now dusk; there was at least 8 miles to go until he would feel like he could breathe.  I just can’t believe this has happened.  I thought we were safe.  We had the all clear for the baby, and my work for the government ought to have kept this from happening.

Just this morning he’d had a feeling something was going to not be good today-no reason he could see, so he’d shaken it off, told Zyanya to be careful, call him at lunch, he’d see her and they’d go for their usual bike ride.  When she hadn’t called at noon, he had come home early from work and realized something was terribly wrong.   His wife wasn’t home: since her fifth month, she’d been home.  Nowadays, the law said pregnant women had to quit work in their fourth month to ensure the health of the child.    He and Zyanya had been out on vacation during her fourth month, so when they returned, she was told to go home.  It wasn’t unusual at all: but Zyanya had hoped her pregnancy hadn’t been reported yet so they’d be able to save more of a financial buffer.  However, she’d been greeted on her first day back with a smile, a congratulations and a staff party telling her to enjoy her time off; they’d see her in six months and they all wanted to see pics just as she was delivered.  She was a little miffed about it but had spent the time getting the nursery ready. 

Zyanya was a fanatic about her house being clean but the place looked as though it had been turned upside down.  He knew she had been taken.  So many women were taken now; generally in their second trimester for mercy delivery and then were returned, told their child had had defects and been terminated.  However her last appointment had just been last week: the baby was normal, there was no reason for his child to be taken.    He remembered at Christmas when they’d told mom and dad about the baby and mom had wanted her to stay with them.  Mom said she felt something bad was coming down, she wouldn’t elaborate,  just said living in the city wasn’t going to be safe soon.  He’d laughed it off, told her they’d be back when spring came.  After all, he had to work to support three now.  

“Son, it’s getting bad, try to get out before she has to quit work.  We have room for you both at Sanctuary,” mom began.

“Mom, I want Zyanya to be close to good doctors.  That old retreat center you inherited from Aimee is miles out in the country.  We could get stranded out there.”  

“Kai, promise me that if you get even a whiff of trouble, you’ll leave at once.  Just lock the doors and come.  We’ll have a place waiting for you.”

Kai promised just to make mom happy.  Now he was not so sure he shouldn’t have stayed. Zyanya might still be safe at Sanctuary had he gone then.  Second guessing will kill me yet…

He watched as a car passed: he wanted to get out of city limits before dark.  It seemed clear so he stood up and headed out of Euclid.

As he’d gone through his home looking for clues, he pondered the last few days. His security rank at the lab was high enough that he was seldom questioned about anything.  He’d created so many patents for the company and the grants he’d gotten for the University that he thought they couldn’t be touched.  Obviously he was wrong. Somehow, this didn’t seem like an average harvest of a mutant child. They’d been looking for something.  None of his guns or knife collection were touched:  Zyanya’s jewelry was all there so it wasn’t a robbery.  He’d methodically went over his house, top to bottom. Zyanya would have left something for him to find: the first hint was some of her clothes were gone.  He found her wedding band on the bed and paused – she never took it off. He picked it up. He’d found her cell on the dresser, and her wallet with her identity card in it.  She legally couldn’t go anywhere without those, yet here they were. Going into the nursery, he’d noticed Zyanya had had time to rearrange the changing table.  She’d been allowed to take some baby things with her, yet  she’d rolled up two baby blankets into a circle with a line through it-she wanted to make sure he got the message.  She’d been taken, and he was not to come.

 He’d sat down and considered his options.  Normally, he and Zyanya biked everywhere, using the car rarely as he knew it had a readable GPS chip in it.  It was too traceable.  If he hiked, he could make it to his folks in four days.  He had no doubt he was being watched. There was no real privacy these days.  He had no idea why Zyanya might have been taken.  Perhaps this was the government’s way of making him take on the genetics project he was being pressured into, or just as likely to get him not to take it on.

  What surprised him was the suddenness of Zyanya’s disappearance.  He’d kissed her good bye this morning, told her not to overdo anything, suggested they’d go to Charlie’s for supper.  She’d intended to go to the fabric store and buy some fabric for another baby quilt.   She’d designed it last night and nothing in that monster stash of hers was the right color.  It had to be perfect for this first baby. And when he got home, she was gone, and the house was by her standards, a mess. 

 He’d went to the closet where he and Zyanya had put their hiking packs – they had them stashed in case another riot started like the one last year – with dried food, water tablets, basic survival things but Zyanya’s was gone.  His was emptied but nothing taken. He repacked it and found a note from Zyanya.

“Go home. Red situation. Three.” 

They had a saying-he’d say three-for three little words-she’d say “2” for me, too.   They had codes at work; a code blue meant something not legal going down, like someone getting into confidential files.  Code green; bad but not dangerous. Code red-unknown danger, get out of the line of fire…what could have made a Code Red in his house?

He’d looked over the land line and found the bug almost immediately.  He’d looked over his pack and found another one.   He’d went through the pack and found a third.  He’d repacked it yet again, added some portable weaponry and his hunting and fishing license.  He’d added a fishing pole and some water bottles and went outside.

His neighbor was in the yard, working in his flower beds.

“You going fishing, Kai?”

“Got a couple days off work, Erick, thought I’d see if I could catch some Erie cats.”

“Sounds good-catch one for me.  Want me to watch your dog?”

“I’ll put her on her outside run and the food on the back porch, if you could be sure she has water?”

“Why not I just bring her over here?  She’d be safer at night inside.”

“If it’s not a bother…”

“Zyanya meeting you?”

“Not that I know of. Why do you ask?”

“Saw her get into a black van today with a couple other ladies, carrying a suitcase.  It wasn’t a mercy van. It wasn’t marked except it had government plates. Is everything ok?”

“She’d have called me if it wasn’t.  I left her a note.  Let me get the dog food.”

He went inside and got Bear’s food dish and a Ziploc of kibble.  Bear was a happy, noisy pom and he hesitated about taking him along.  He didn’t really know how long he’d be gone.  He put Grey, the African grey parrot, in his harness and put him on his shoulder.  He thought about it, and checked Bear’s collar: sure enough, another bug. 

He’d taken it off and went outside with some cat food.  The old stray tabby that haunted the neighborhood showed up and purred while he clipped the bug to a flea collar on her neck. He went in, locked up and put the dry kibble in his pack.  He’d added some Nutriberries and pellets for Grey and went outside, locking the front door.

“I decided to take Bear along, he’d like a good walk.  Thanks for offering.  When Zyanya gets back, can you tell her I went fishing by the sanctuary lighthouse and will be back in a couple of days? I suspect she just went shopping with friends.”

“Going north then to fish? Sure enough, I’ll keep an eye out for her.”

Kai didn’t know if could actually trust his neighbors.  The old man seemed nice enough but always seemed to be outside when they went out and he wasn’t family and he wasn’t tribal.  Kai went to the end of the street, crossed the road and cut down south. He ought to be home in 4 days.  He’d have to stick to side roads-interstates could be dangerous.  He prayed his wife would be safe wherever she was.  He prayed for his unborn son, and he prayed for a safe journey.  He lengthened his stride into the long lope that ate up the miles when he and Zyanya went hiking.  It was 97 miles to Mt. Vernon and then he’d have to locate his folks. He’d never actually been out to the retreat center.  Once he cleared Euclid, he was less cautious and hid less and he made better time.



First book of the entire series, to get you used to the family in all it’s generations….Chapter 1 of The Oberllyn’s Overland

“Well, mother, it’s just about all I can stand,” remarked Elijah Oberllyn as he stepped into the kitchen.

“What happened this time?” answered his wife Elizabeth.  She was busy rolling out the dough for homemade noodles on the wooden kitchen table.  Behind her on the woodstove was bubbling a rich broth to cook them in.  From the oven came the wonderful smell of peach pie baking, and warm bread stood on the counter, covered in tea towels.  Elizabeth was short woman, with her long black hair, just starting to show grey, done up in a bun at the back of her neck, wearing a solid brown apron over a calico brown dress, and she looked capable of taking on the entire army and feeding it at once.  Bustling as she rolled out the dough, she reminded you of a wren on a branch, swaying and hopping from task to task, chirping merrily in between.

“That neighbor Jacks,” began her husband.  “He’s let his cattle get into my wheat again.  He says he’ll mend the fence but this time he said it was my fault because if I hadn’t planted wheat, his cows wouldn’t have been tempted, and he is talking about suing me for tempting his cows!”

His wife looked at him and finally said, “You’re serious?  He is going to try suing you for tempting cows?”  She started to laugh out loud but hushed herself when she saw how angry her husband was.  “It appears to me the only person to benefit from that would be the lawyers.”

“He wants my field to add to his farm.  He won’t mend the fences on purpose.  He’s expecting me to do his fence. He’s doing the same thing to our son.  He offered him a pittance for his orchard, and when Noah wouldn’t sell, he started rumors about him being half crazed since the church kicked him out during the great Disappointment and not being right so some of our own neighbors are questioning us for having our own services and I simply am not sure what to do.   It’s bad enough he picks on us but really, taking off after my son is just about all I can stand.”  Elizabeth considered for a moment, then said quietly to her husband,

“It’s not much of a witness to be fighting with the neighbors. Joe wants to go to California to hunt for gold, but Catherine is not about to drop everything for a wild goose chase.  Noah seems content here.  I haven’t spoken to Mary or Emily about it.  I suppose we could consider moving but I hate the idea.”

“We’ve lived here peaceably with our neighbors for years.  It’s only since those Jacks moved into their uncle’s farm we’ve had trouble.  Our land is fertile enough, but when Jacks heard we’d tried to buy his uncle’s farm once, he took a dislike to us.  And now look.” Her husband poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down, blowing on it to cool it, then looking at is wife with a pensive expression on his face.

“California is a right far piece to go,” he started. 

 “Elijah!  I was only giving you ideas from different members of the family, not saying I wanted to go.” His wife turned with her hands on her hips, a distinctly displeased look on her face.

“It’s a good idea and I might have to look into it.  I don’t want to be run out of town on a rail and that’s just what that Jack’s fellow is going to try and make happen. Besides, it’s getting too crowded around here. It wasn’t so bad before that train got put in.  Now there are more people coming to buy land and settle in and it’s just too crowded.”

“Well, you need to pray about anything before you go off half-cocked,” she said firmly. “Now go do your chores whilst I finish up supper.”

Elijah went back to his barn and finished cleaning out stalls.  His wife’s jerseys would be up soon for milking.  They’d cost him a pretty penny when he’d gotten them, but had proven to be just what Ma’s dairy business needed.  They gave rich milk, it made wonderful cheese and butter, and their farm was getting known for its good fruit and cheese.  Until that neighbor had moved here, everything had been going along fine.  Joe had a good thought, though.  Out west, there was plenty of land and it wasn’t crowded.  They could worship as they pleased on Saturday and not be accused of being Judaizers or crazy or anything else.  He had two more children at home and there’d be no land to give them as a farm of their own if he couldn’t buy up some land.  When his son Nathaniel got married, it was a good thing he was a doctor who hadn’t time to farm.  The farm was just too divided up as it was, what with Emily and her brood, and Catherine and David over by the creek running the small fruits part of the family business. Miriam’s man Joe being a lawyer had helped; they’d just needed land for a house and little garden for themselves, no real farming involved.  Noah and Mary had taken over the fruit orchard and were making a good go of it, and he and Elizabeth still had enough for him to raise the best horses and oxen in the county and keep mom’s dairy running, but they needed more land.  It just couldn’t be divided anymore and there was Thomas and Johanna yet to be grown and have a part. He supposed Thomas could inherit their home but where would Joanna go?  And that Jacks trying to force them to sell land to him they didn’t have to spare, he and his dirty tricks.  Hard to imagine what he’d try next.  Maybe Joe had a good idea.  I believe I’ll just visit the land office and find out about land west of here.  It surely wouldn’t be bad to have a look.

He came out of the barn and stretched.  His son Thomas came dashing up; that child never went anywhere at a walk, always running.  “Pa, you got a letter.”

“Oh? Thank you, son.  Let’s have a look.”  He took the letter from him.  It was an official looking document from the US government.

“Haven’t seen one of these since well before you were born.”

“Was that back when you and mama lived in New York?”

“Yes, pretty much when you were a baby, before grandpa died and we inherited the farm.”

“Wonder what they want?”

“Whatever it is, your mom and I will deal with it.  You’re supposed to have seen to the goats.”

“Done.  You know the mom angora is going to give birth any day?” he grinned. “Can’t wait to see them. I love the way the babies sprong around.”

“Well, you keep a good eye on her.”

Thomas hesitated. “Pa, I saw Mike Jacks over looking at mom’s sheep.  He had this funny look on his face?”

“Funny like how?”

“He said his dad doesn’t like sheep, they ruin the field.  I told him it wasn’t his field so not to worry about it.  He said something under his breath and walked off.  I don’t like him much, pa.  I was hoping for a friend that would move in that I could do stuff with but I don’t think he likes me much.”

“Don’t worry about him.  There are other folks to be with that don’t cause such aggravation.  Just be civil and leave him be.”

“Yes, pa.  He made Johanna cry. Oh!” he covered his mouth.


“I wasn’t supposed to tell you.”

“Stop right now.  You don’t keep secrets from me, ever. When was Johanna crying?”

“She went out to get the cows yesterday and Ellie Jacks was waiting and called her a cowgirl and teased her about her hair.”

“What’s wrong with her hair?”

“It’s sort of red, I guess.  And Johanna was crying when she helped with milking.”

“I see.  And you weren’t supposed to tell me?”

“Johanna said we were having enough trouble with this family and God wouldn’t want her complaining about it.”

“I see.  Well, you just let me handle this.  Must be about time for supper, yes, there’s mom ringing the dinner bell.  Let’s go wash up.”

Dad and Thomas washed up at the pump and went inside, hanging their hats by the door.

“That smell sure chirks a fellow up, ma.  Can’t wait to have some of your chicken and noodles.” Elizabeth smiled.

“Johanna, would you mind getting the field tea I made?  I put it in the springhouse to get cold.”  Johanna nodded and went out the door, coming back with a pitcher covered in a towel.

“ Mom,” she frowned.  “I don’t think we ought to use the tea.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Somebody’s been in the spring house.”

“Really?  How do you know?”

“The cheese’s are all on the floor and the milk’s spilt.”  Mom and dad rushed outside to the spring house where they found rounds of cheese scattered all over, the five gallon milk cans flipped, polluting the spring run over.  They looked around at the damage.  Mom shook her head.

“I hate to think we’d have to put guards on our home, but this is outrageous.”

“If we tell the sheriff,” began Thomas.

“He’ll say it could’ve been done by animals, that someone left the door open. There’s no proof.”

“Why don’t we make a list of what’s going on at least and ask him to watch out with us?” asked mom.

“We can do that.  Are the cheeses ruined?”

“The shelves are broken down.”

“Let’s see what we can do. Thomas – call Mick and Mike.”  Mike and Mick were the family mastiffs who spent most the time in the back field with the cattle.  The dogs came to Thomas’s call.  “We’d best keep the dogs close to the yard or at least one of them here.”

“Then who’s going to protect the cattle from coyotes?” asked Thomas.

“It’s not the four legged ones I am worried about just now.”

Thomas and dad reset the shelves, and they helped mom wipe off the wax coated cheeses and set them back.  While they did that, mom set the milk cans up and opened the overflow wide so the water could drain out and run clear.  Finally they stood up and went out.  Dad shut the door to the spring house and set Mike by the door, telling him to stay.  He took Mick to the barn and set him there and they went inside to eat.

The meal was a quiet one.  Ma and Pa were tight-lipped and Thomas and Johanna were quiet as they passed food around.

“I don’t care what they say.  Johanna, you have got the prettiest hair in the world.  It shines in the sun like gold and when you wear your green Sabbath dress I have the prettiest sister in the county.”

Johanna looked surprised and her eyes welled up.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

“I agree with your brother.  I am not quite sure why he said it but thank you for noticing,” said Pa.  Mom and Johanna just looked confused.  Suddenly, there was a loud meow from out back.

“What on earth!” said Ma, getting up.  She went out back where a strange collie dog had her pet cat up a tree.  She took a switch and chased it off.  The dog ran to the end of the driveway where Mike Jacks was watching.

“Lady, you’d better not hurt my dog,” he yelled at her.

“Then keep him on your own land,” she replied.

“Well, this is going to be our land when my dad gets done with you,” he yelled back.  “You’d better not let those sheep overgraze it.”  Mom picked up a bigger switch and headed down the drive purposefully in his direction and he ran off.  A passing wagon stopped.

“You all right, Mrs. Oberllyn?” said the farmer driving.

“I don’t know, Zeb.  We got neighbor problems. My spring house was attacked, they insult us and we just never did them any harm.”

“I heard about some of that.  Mr. Jacks was in the general store last week boasting he’d have your land soon.  I don’t know what he was talking about but I was coming to tell your husband if he was going to sell out, to call on me.  I could use good fields like yours.”

“I thank you, and I’ll tell Elijah, but we have no interest in leaving our farm.  It’s been in the family for over a hundred years.”

“Thought he might be blowing smoke.  But still, keep me and my sons in mind.  I’d rather buy from you than Jacks. Oh, and best be careful.  There‘s some weird rumors going around.”  Elijah was on the porch and waved to his neighbor.


“I’m sure they ain’t true. You say howdy to Elijah for me.”

“Thank you, Zeb.  By the way, did he happen to say why he wanted my land?”

“He said it was the best land in the district and I have to agree with him.  Your orchards make the best fruit, your cheese is wonderful and you’ve always been real supportive of our community. Shame to have you leave.”

“Aren’t planning on leaving.”

“I hope not.  Well, I best be getting home.  You remember my offer.”

Mom went to the back where Thomas had climbed the tree and gotten her Maine coon cat down.  He jumped into her arms.  “There, there, dear.  I’m sorry he flustered you so.  Shh, now. Shhh.”

“Mom, why do they hate us?”

“I have no idea.”  They went inside.  “We’ve never had this much trouble.”

“Mom, did you know Jacks have got slaves?”


“They have three of them.  I saw them out working his field.  And Mr. Jacks carries a whip.”

“I see.  Well, the good Lord never wanted slavery.  We earn our needs by the works of our hands, not the sweat of others.  Let’s try to finish supper.  It’s most likely all cold by now.”