The Lady and the Officer
Civil War Heroines Series Book 2
By Mary Ellis
This book can be purchased on Amazon.com for a great price!
Late June, 1863
“Gentlemen, please take heed to what your horses are doing to my flowers!” Madeline Howard spoke with as much authority and indignation as possible after two long years of war.
Four blue-clad officers paused in their conversation to gaze down on her heat-wilted ageratums and hollyhocks. Beneath their horses’ hooves the flowers were trampled beyond recognition. The soldiers offered faint smiles and then resumed their postulating and pointing, affording her as much attention as a gnat.
Except for one officer, who straightened in his saddle and removed his broad-brimmed hat. Tugging gently on his reins, the man guided his mount out of the flowerbed toward the road. “Good afternoon, miss, General James Downing, at your service. I apologize for the damage.” He tipped his hat and then turned his attention back to the others.
“Madeline Howard, General. Mrs. Howard.” She marched down the porch steps. “Now if you would kindly move your meeting to someone else’s yard, I shall be forever in your debt.”
A thin, gangly officer mounted on a sorrel mare was quick to retort. “See here, madam. In case you’re unaware, the war has come to the fine Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with the arrival of Robert E. Lee’s infantry. Your posies are of no importance to the Union Army.” His glare could have cut down an oak tree.
“I’m well aware of the war, sir. My husband died on the banks of Bull Run Creek, living me alone to run this farm.” Madeline settled her hands on her hips with growing indignation. “Those Rebs you’re chasing marched through last week, stripping every ear of corn from the fields and every apple from my orchard. They stole my chickens, killed my hogs, and led my milk cow away on a tether. They took every bit of food from my kitchen and larder. So if I request that you not to trample my flowers for no apparent reason, I would think you could oblige me.” Maddy completed her diatribe with a flushed face and sweating palms. But after months of privation, she had lost her temper.
The Spirit & The Skull by JM Hayes is available on Amazon.com. Enjoy Chapter One!
My shadow ran ahead of me, winking in and out. Low clouds scraped the top of the rocky slope I struggled to climb, allowing occasional flashes of sunlight. I hurried, bearing important news for my band. Nightmares I already couldn’t remember had forced me from my sleeping robes that morning and sent me racing through the dwarf willows along the banks of a stream filled with glacier melt. I felt desperate to share what I’d discovered on my scout. Why hadn’t I found the band already? They should have come farther than this. What slowed them? If we weren’t well south of this tundra before another vicious winter hit, we’d freeze and starve again.
The slope grew steeper as I scrambled over weathered shale and clawed my way up unstable conglomerate. The peak stood at least twenty times my height. Not something I wanted to climb, especially as the rock on this weathered ridge increasingly crumbled beneath me as I put my weight on it. The moss- and lichen-covered surface tumbled me back down toward the stream, even though I grabbed at it with fresh enthusiasm as the lion followed me out of the willows. He snarled and I attacked the rock face with renewed vigor, grasping any stone that might lift me higher than he could climb.
The lion was old, but still deadly enough to steal my life with one snap of his jaws. A young lion would have brought me down already, though a healthier lion probably wouldn’t have bothered with prey as ancient and scrawny as I. This fellow sported as many gray hairs as gold, tottering after me on aching joints. The wind tore at me, trying to gift me to the starving beast. A sudden burst of chilling rain stole more feeling from my frozen fingers and made the rocks even slicker before racing away to the south.
Crooked Lines by Holly J. Michael was released July of 2014. Enjoy a section of Chapter One here and then go buy the rest at Amazon.com!
The End of Childhood
“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” ~ Earl Nightingale
White Gull Bay, Wisconsin
It didn’t occur to me at the edge of the pond that I’d broken the sixth commandment, actually committed murder. I was busy working out a deal with God, swearing to Jesus I’d become a nun if He helped me breathe life back into my baby sister’s limp body. At the time, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t Catholic.
Now, a week after the funeral, Mama set me straight while flipping pancakes in the kitchen. “Daddy blames you for Kara’s death.” She said it like I’d let the milk spoil because I hadn’t put it back in the fridge, but the weight of her words cemented my bare feet to the green linoleum.
She reached for a platter and set it under the open window. The morning sun highlighted old stains, batter spills, and cracks on the brown laminate countertop. A cool morning draft rustled the faded yellow gingham curtains. Mama got a deal on that material from Woolworths before Kara was born. Along with curtains, she sewed four sundresses for each of my sisters and me. It wasn’t fair that the fabric was still with us, fluttering over the sink, yet Kara came and went as quickly as the wind.
A Highlander in Peril by Kara Griffin was just released in July of 2014! Do you have unlimited reading on your Kindle? Read it today for free and then tell your friends how much you loved it!
Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
Four months later, April 1223
Many ladies enjoyed being in court attending to the queen and participating in the lively parties. Such gaiety to be had amongst the revelers: men and women from the most prominent clans in Scotland.
Lady Frances Jordan wasn’t like most ladies. She preferred to sit inside a stuffy, dust-filled solar reading old tombs, dreaming of one day taking to the seas on an adventure like the old Vikings. Life had a peculiar way of making one do things they didn’t wish to do.
She’d been in Edinburgh nearly six months at the behest of her lord and guardian, Lord William of the Hume clan whom she called uncle. He’d been an endeared father-figure to her since her own papa died ten years ago.
Hearts Stolen by Caryl McAdoo will be available this September! Enjoy a sneak peak today!
Just thinking about him made Sassy want to stick her tongue out like she used to do to her father when he ordered her around. But Charles had married her, and she promised to love, honor, and obey him.
She loved the man alright, leastwise she guessed she did. If he’d only treat her like a wife, not a child… Of everyone, he should understand most that she was grown; coming on sixteen, as mature as she would ever get.
Rosaleen he’d called her. She hated her given name. Pshaw, she could do both, visit her mamma and have his ol’ supper ready. As the sun peeked over the treetops, Sassy leaned forward and tickled the mare’s ribs with her heels.
“Haw, pretty girl; we don’t have all day. He said he’ll be back by dark.”
Stretching her gait, the mare flew over the rolling terrain. The wind whipped Sassy’s hair behind her. Oh, how she loved riding, always had. In barely any time, she slowed the mare into a lope and topped the last hill before Kickapoo Creek.
That’s where she always let Bliss get a sweet drink, but not too much, from the easy flowing stream. With only another eight miles to her folks’ place, she might make it in time for some breakfast leftovers. She clicked her tongue.
Her mare cleared the far bank then her snort and shiver shifted Sassy’s attention to follow Bliss’ gaze. Two bare-chested Indians sat on painted ponies. The bigger one pointed a long handled club at her and whooped.
Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold be Iain Reading is available for purchase on Amazon.com. Do you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription? This book is available!
Back Where The Entire Adventure Began
As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn’t possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, “Empty,” they weren’t kidding around.
The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn’t worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn’t the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.
The mystery of the disappearing fuel.
The enigma of the missing island.
The conundrum of what do I do now?
“Exactly,” the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying ‘I-told-you-so’ kind of voices. “What do you do now?”
“First, I am going to stay calm,” I replied. “And think this through.”
“You’d better think fast,” the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. “If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is. Don’t forget that you’re almost out of fuel.”
“Thanks a lot,” I replied. “You’re a big help.”
Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. “This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over.”
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I’d had, the friends I’d made, the beauty I’d experienced, the differences and similarities I’d discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.
Or I should say, “my epic flight almost around the entire world,” in light of my current situation.
And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.
“Okay,” I thought to myself. “Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through.” I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I’d ever flown. Every emergency I’d ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.
Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?
Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.
“It’s been a good run at least,” the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. “You’ve had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime.”
“That’s it!” I thought.
Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.
All the way back to where this entire adventure began.
Do you have a Kindle? Getting By is now available for a great price!
When Emma Anderson arrived at San Francisco International Airport, she regretted accepting the distinction of being the maid of honor to Gaby’s—her childhood friend—wedding. It had been years since the last time she set foot in Menlo Park, where her parents had been killed. The rug where she had been shoving her feelings since that day looked bumpier than a camel’s hump. Who could blame her; if she hadn’t been selfish they’d still be around. Ever since that fateful day, Emma has been perfecting the knack of Getting By.
Cade’s wedding in Menlo Park—a city close to San Francisco—might be the perfect place for Jake Knight to shake the memories of his ex, Emma Anderson for good. Single, available women galore for an entire week was the perfect medication, one he intended to take three times a day for an entire week to return to his player days. It was a plan the former spy thought flawless until he came face to face with the maid of honor. Jake’s perfect retreat turns into a flight, fight or hide week of celebrations.
Begin Reading Chapter One:
Nights meant sleep and dreams—my archenemies. The Crowley to my Dean Winchester, the Green Goblin to my Spider-man, the list of superheroes and their opposites was long, and so became the analogies I used on a daily basis. My lack of sleep began with Dad and his conditions for me to continue my art. Then came my parents’ deaths. Those took a toll on me because I mixed dreams with realities and hopes. Not once did I have a nightmare, all of them were sweet and real. Seeing Mom and Dad on those nights filled my gut with nails, and my head pounded with the reminder that they were gone the next morning. Those had been merely fantasies that would never become a reality.
For the past three months I had been evading sleep and working overtime, over the overtime. The dreams of elevators, trips to sophisticated-secluded spots after a week of work and delicious nights with a man who I was required to forget in order to move on, came daily—nightly. They not only hit me with vengeance, but they came tangled with what humans liked to call hope. The urge to crawl inside myself to avoid the need of his touch, kisses and whatever it was that we had not long ago, consumed me. If I had the powers to morph into an animal, it’d be a sea turtle and I’d stay inside my shell for the next hundred years. Past the stage of melancholy and into the real world, I pushed my body outside of the bed and into the shower, where I got ready to face the Clements and the house next door.