Get ‘Em While They’re Hot (On Sale)!

Around the globe, extraordinarily gifted children are abducted.

In the Sinai, archaeologist Lynne Raven searches for proof of the Exodus and finds a papyrus that proclaims the emergence of a prophet sent to defeat the darkness that threatens to consume the world.

Meanwhile in London, a powerful cartel manipulates politicians and controls a think tank with an unthinkable agenda.

One thing connects them all: the truth about Connor Mackenzie.



Special delivery!

Jack Spangler was a night owl and, snowstorm or no snowstorm, he did not appreciate interruption in the middle of his work to take his pregnant-and-alone neighbor Katie Maxwell to the hospital. But off he went, since the alternative was to deliver her baby right in his living room.

Things only got worse from there. Somehow, he found himself mistaken for the non-existent Mr. Maxwell and whisked into the delivery room to help young Jeremy into the world. He even found himself caring about the baby – not to mention Katie herself.

Living next door to a crying new-born was enough to make Jack crazy, but craziest of all, it looked as if making marriage – and instant parenthood – a priority was the only way to stay sane.


When is a Facepalm Not a Bad Thing?

Answer: When the solution to your problem has been right there in front of you all along.

CTW 2014b3cc2-aaoa2bcover2b2528final2529

It took Collin and me ten years to write Chasing the Wind. The idea was conceived in spring 1998 and the book was originally published in May 2008. In between, there were multiple changes, revisions and rewrites, until the finished book bore little resemblance to the early drafts. It was frustrating at times, but I’m happy with it.

One of the cuts that were necessary involved the storyline of two characters, Alex Stewart and Robyn Cantwell. I loved the characters and decided the sequel, An Army of Angels, would focus on them…but it didn’t take long to discover that I hadn’t really thought it out. As secondary characters, they worked…but was there enough for a standalone novel?

I’ve been wrestling with that problem since 2008. I knew how their story started, I knew how it would end, but I didn’t know how they would get from A to Z. I didn’t want to give up, but I just couldn’t figure it out. I’ve shelved it at least half a dozen times. I even considered turning it into a romantic comedy after plotting a series of comedies featuring Robyn’s five brothers.

Nothing worked.

I tried serializing their story, along with stories involving characters from four of my previous novels, on a separate blog. It didn’t work.

Then, at 3:00 this morning, the solution presented itself. Most of my best ideas come at the most inconvenient times, so it’s not really that much of a surprise.

I’ve wanted to write shorter novels ever since I discovered James Patterson’s Book Shots. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re novels that average 150 pages, fast-paced, perfect for readers like myself with chronically short attention spans. I realized that the format would be ideal for continuing the story Collin and I started in Chasing the Wind. It would be the perfect way to move back and forth through all of the characters’ stories and still stick to the timeline.

Now to find out if it’s going to work….

Character Blog: Connor Mackenzie and Lynne Raven Mackenzie, Chasing the Wind

A few years ago,I did a series of character blogs–getting into the thoughts of my characters. From time to time, I’ll be reposting these entries for those who weren’t around to read them back then….

CTW 2014

Connor says:

I was attracted to her right off, but I wasn’t seeing her as more than a bedmate–a temporary one at that–at the time.

I didn’t even want to go to the bloody lecture. Sarah wouldn’t let it go. I realised she wasn’t going to give up. It was really quite odd, because Sarah and I have never been close. Why she wanted me with her that night remained a mystery for months to follow.

When Lynne told me of her difficulty in obtaining funding for her dig in Egypt, I saw an opportunity. I had made plans to fly to Cape Town the next day, to lie low the until the furor subsided. This, however, was a much better option. No one would be looking for me on an archaeological excavation. I would be living in the middle of nowhere with a woman I found quite appealing. 

It had definite possibilities.

Edward wasn’t going to be an easy sell, but he understood the urgency of the situation. I couldn’t stay in London. If I did, I could well end up in prison. What we had done was illegal. If the Foundation provided Lynne’s funding, it would all be perfectly legal and no one would be the wiser. It would not be connected to me. And if I got it on with the lady while in exile, all the better.

I had no idea then how it was all going to turn out…. 

Lynne says:

There’s no such thing as coincidence. Nothing happens by accident.

I wasn’t even supposed to be in London. I’m an archaeologist specializing in Biblical archaeology. I’d been working on a dig in Egypt, searching for proof of the Exodus. Yes, that Exodus. My partners and I had been there for a while, almost three years. The money was running out, and we hadn’t been able to secure further funding.

Then came the call.

A colleague who had been slated to give a series of lectures in London was injured at his dig site and was unable to fulfill his obligations in Britain, so he asked me to take his place. That might not seem odd to you, but this guy was someone I’d always been at odds with professionally. Why me? I wondered. Why had he asked me, rather than someone with whom he actually got along?

I didn’t question it too closely, though. I figured a couple of weeks in London would give me a chance to take one last shot at finding the funding we needed to keep going. It was my last chance.

Then I met Connor Mackenzie, and everything changed.

I’ll never forget that night. I walked into the lecture hall, and he stood out like Chris Rock at a Klan rally. He was wearing worn jeans and a leather biker jacket. He was of average height, with light brown hair that was almost blond, and blue eyes that, well…. He looked a lot like Ewan McGregor.

We talked briefly. When I told him of my funding dilemma, he suggested he might be able to help. I didn’t take him seriously, but he was so compelling–all right, I confess. When he asked me to have dinner with him, I didn’t want to refuse…. 

A Prophet…or an Experiment Gone Horribly Wrong?

Today’s excerpt is from Chasing the Wind, my favorite of my works. It took Collin and me ten years to write and revise, during the worst period of our lives, but we stuck with it–even when agents and publishers who wanted to work with us insisted we had to turn it into something I didn’t want it to be in order to sell it. Early on, it was a screenplay. I finally realized we would have to self-publish it in order to make it the story I really wanted to write, so in 2008, that’s what we did. Then a few years later, I told Collin we had to rewrite it, switching from third-person point-of-view to multiple first-person POVs. We did, and it was re-published by Creativia. The ebook edition is available via Amazon at a special promotional price–$.99–now through Wednesday!

This is the story of Lynne Raven, a Biblical archaeologist with a failed marriage and a yearning for motherhood, and Connor Mackenzie, a mysterious benefactor with an incredible secret he has yet to discover himself….


CTW 2014

Caitlin Hammond

The woman was hysterical.

Her husband wasn’t in much better shape. He could barely talk, struggling to answer my questions in fragmented sentences. Their six-year-old daughter had been abducted from their backyard. There were no witnesses, and an exhaustive search of the neighborhood turned up nothing.

“I don’t understand how this could have happened,” the child’s father said, choking on every other word. “She only let Mandy out of her sight for a minute.”

He looked over his shoulder at his inconsolable wife, being tended by a neighbor. “She’s always been an overprotective mother,” he said, lowering his voice. “Mandy’s our miracle baby.”

“How so?” I asked, taking notes. In the years I’d been with the FBI, I’d found child abduction cases to be the biggest test of my objectivity. If somebody took my kid, I’d probably hunt them down and kill them. Kidnappers and pedophiles should always be turned over to the parents. The courts might let them go. But you didn’t hear that from me.

“We’d been trying to have children for years, almost as long as we’ve been married,” the distraught father went on.  “We both come from big families and wanted kids of our own, but it just wasn’t happening.”

“Is your daughter adopted?” my partner, Jack Farlow, asked.

He shook his head. “No, no,” he said. “She’s ours. We went to a fertility clinic when we couldn’t conceive. It took everything we had, all of our savings, but Mandy’s worth it.”

“You had difficulty in having a child,” Jack said slowly. “Who was at fault?”

The man was at first puzzled, then angry. “What kind of question is that?” he asked. “What has it to do with Mandy being missing?”

“Probably nothing, maybe everything, depending on the circumstances of her birth, sir,” Jack said. “Did you use an egg or sperm donor?”

The man shook his head. “No,” he said. “Mandy’s ours, one hundred percent. She was conceived by in vitro, but we used our own…you know.”

“We have to ask,” I apologized. “If your daughter were not biologically yours, then we would have to consider the possibility that the biological parent might have taken her.”

“We’re her parents, no one else,” the man insisted. His face reflected his deep fear for his child’s safety. “Please bring our baby home. Please.”


“I only turned my back for a moment,” the distraught teacher repeated over and over. “I never left the schoolyard!”

A six-year-old boy had been abducted outside a prestigious Seattle school for gifted children. No one saw it happen, even though there were several children in the schoolyard, being picked up by their own parents. Everyone was being questioned.

“We understand, Mrs. Harwood,” I said in an attempt to calm her.

I don’t understand!” The emotional outburst came from the child’s mother. “You were responsible for him! You were supposed to be watching him!”

“I was watching him!” the teacher attempted to defend herself. “I was watching all of them! I only turned away for a moment!”

“Long enough for someone to take my son!” the angry mother shot back at her.

“Easy, Mrs. Wyndham,” Jack urged. “She won’t be able to remember anything if you keep attacking her.”

Charlotte Wyndham turned to the window, hugging herself tightly as if trying to shield herself from the chill of fear that consumed her. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She said her husband was in Paris on business. He’d booked a flight as soon as she called him, but he could not be there before the next morning.

“We only had each other, until Noah was born,” she said. “Neither of us have any other family, and we both wanted children. When we couldn’t get pregnant on our own, we sought out the experts. It took us three years and thousands of dollars to have Noah, but he’s worth every penny. If anything happens to him….”


The woman’s body was found in her car, parked in the driveway outside her Florida home. She was still in the driver’s seat, her seatbelt still in place. She’d been shot in the head at close range. Her five-year-old son was missing, presumably taken from his car seat.

We questioned her husband at length. He was frustrated by the endless probing. “My wife is dead, my child is missing. Why are you wasting time questioning me?” he demanded.

“You found her, sir, ” I said. “We have to start there. With you.”

“She had no enemies,” he said irritably. “None. She got along with everybody. I always envied that about her. She was the peacemaker. I was the loose cannon.”

“Were you a loose cannon with her, Mr. Reynolds?” Jack asked.

“No, of course not.” Roger Reynolds didn’t miss the implication. “What are you asking me?”

“Only if there were any problems between the two of you.”

“You think I killed her?” Reynolds asked incredulously.

“Did you?”

“No, of course not!”

“What about your son?”

“What about him?”

“Were there any problems regarding the child?” I asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Reynolds snapped. “Our son was perfect. Perfect.”


Lynne Raven

Dear God, how long has it been? As I stood at the window in my hotel room in London, looking at the city below, I found myself feeling like I’d just landed on another planet.

I should probably explain. I’m a field archaeologist. Home is wherever I happen to be excavating—at that time, “home” was Egypt. The only people I see on a daily basis are the members of my team. Restaurants, theaters, shopping—all are rare luxuries. My wardrobe is simple and functional, much like everything else in my life.

As I looked at the royal blue tunic I’d planned to wear that night, I realized I hadn’t worn it in months. It didn’t fit my normal lifestyle. Too feminine for a dig. Thinking about it, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d made the effort to be feminine, to actually look like a woman. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt like a woman, the last time I’d wanted to feel like a woman. Feeling and acting like a woman always seemed to get me into trouble. I had discovered long ago that I got on better with people who’d been dead for a thousand years than I did with the living.

I’m not one to spend a lot of time worrying about my looks. For what? I’ve been divorced over a decade and can’t remember the last time I was on a date. I turned forty that summer, but on the good days, I could still pass for thirty. I had fine lines around my eyes—“archaeologist’s squint,” an occupational hazard more than a sign of aging. I haven’t changed my hairstyle since college—it’s long, dark and threaded with strands of copper from being out in the sun all day, every day. I know I don’t look my age. But there are times I feel it acutely. I got good genes from my parents. Genes that I haven’t been able to pass on to any children of my own. The thought of the children I’d never have and the family I hadn’t seen in a year brought a wave of unexpected sadness I couldn’t shake. It was Thanksgiving in the States. How many years had it been since I’d gone home for Thanksgiving or any other holiday? I told my parents I was too busy, but the truth was that it was too painful to see my three sisters with their children. Seeing what I’d been missing.

I always believed this was the path God had chosen for me. I could never have been satisfied with the life my sisters led back in Missouri. Taking the easy route had never been my style. We all have a purpose. I believed without doubt that mine was to find evidence that would prove the events described in the Bible had actually happened.

As for why I was in London, I hadn’t planned on being here. Three weeks before, I’d been minding my own business, working on my dig in Egypt when that call came, asking me to do a series of lectures in London, to replace a colleague who’d been injured in an earthquake in China. The request surprised the hell out of me, since it came from someone I not only didn’t know well personally, but had been at odds with professionally. What was it Dr. McCallum had called me? Too much of a dreamer to ever be a serious archaeologist. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t about to debate the merits of his request. It had been so long since I’d taken any time off from my work, for any reason…and as much as I loved it, I’d been feeling the need for a break for a long time now. It was a feeling I’d never had before, one I was at a loss to explain, even to myself. Work had been my whole life for…how long? Ever since the divorce.

I was giving serious consideration to adopting a child, maybe two. Not babies. Older kids. Kids who could live the way I live and actually enjoy it. There are lots of kids in the world needing parents. It doesn’t matter if I give birth to my kids or not.

Being in London would hopefully also provide me with an opportunity to seek the funding I needed to continue the dig. Time was running out and I’d already been rejected by the three private foundations that had funded my previous digs. God, I need a miracle, I silently prayed. That’s what it’s going to take if I’m to continue my work—Your work.


I saw him enter the crowded lecture hall. He was hard to miss. He looked so out of place in the sea of conservatively dressed attendees—but it didn’t seem to bother him. He wore faded jeans and a beat-up black leather jacket. He was with a young woman, a petite brunette who looked as aristocratic as he was scruffy. His light brown hair was in desperate need of a comb. His boredom was evident in his body language, the way he shoved his hands down into the pockets of his jacket. I decided I’d lost my audience before I even got to the podium.

“I fail to see why you couldn’t have come to this event alone, Sarah,” he said, annoyed. “You know quite well that I’ve no interest in spending the evening listening to a decrepit old man talk about life in some desolate outpost of Hades, digging up the pathetic remains of people who lived in another millennium.”

The woman shook her head disapprovingly. “If you had even bothered to read the brochure I gave you, you would know that Dr. Raven is a woman,” she told him.

“No difference,” he said with an offhanded shrug. “Frumpy, gray hair in a schoolmarm’s bun, sensible shoes, no doubt.” He looked at his watch. “I’m going to need a pint—or two—to get me through this evening. I’ll be back. Eventually.” He turned to leave the lecture hall and we were face-to-face. He smiled, and his whole face seemed transformed by it. His eyes, blue and intense, instantly softened. “Hello,” he said in a low voice.

The woman came up behind him. “This is Dr. Raven,” she told him.

He extended his hand to me. “Connor Mackenzie,” he introduced himself. His Scottish brogue was unmistakable. I noticed that he didn’t introduce his date.

“Lynne Raven.” I shook his hand. “I left my sensible shoes back at the hotel,” I said, feigning regret.

He looked embarrassed. “You heard that?”

I nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

“I’m sorry—”

“Don’t be.” I smiled. “I get it all the time.” It was the truth. People are always surprised when they discover I’m an archaeologist. They always expect us to look and act like Indiana Jones. I do have the hat and the leather jacket, but no bullwhip. I used to wish I’d had one when I was still married. My ex could have benefited from a good whipping.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “You certainly don’t look like an archaeologist.”

He wasn’t expecting Indiana Jones. He was expecting a fossil as old as some of my finds.

I laughed. “Having heard your description, I’m relieved to hear I don’t look like one to you.”

He looked me in the eye, which was a little unnerving. “I think you’re quite beautiful,” he said.

I could feel my cheeks flush. I couldn’t remember the last time a man had made me blush. Maybe my ex-husband, but that was another lifetime—one I preferred not to remember. “Good save,” I said, a bit unnerved by the intensity of his stare.

“Are you enjoying your stay in London?” he asked in an awkward attempt at small talk.

“Very much,” I answered, grateful for the change of subject. “I spend most of my time on excavations. This has been heavenly.”

“Where will you go when you leave?” he asked.

“Egypt,” I said. “We’re digging in the Sinai, near the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.”

He looked amused. “You don’t really expect to find stone tablets—” he started.

I shook my head. “The tablets were taken to Israel in the Ark of the Covenant,” I explained. “They were still in the Ark when it disappeared from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. It’s been rumored that the Ark’s now somewhere in Ethiopia, but no one’s been able to prove it. Much as I would love to be the one to find the Ark, we don’t expect to find it in Egypt. We are searching for evidence of the Exodus in general.”

He laughed. “Have you found the secret to parting the Red Sea?” he wanted to know.

I didn’t hesitate. “Yes. It’s called faith.”

“I’ve heard archaeologists are now using modern technology to aid their work,” he recalled. “Computers, satellites—”

“We do.” I drew in a deep breath, thinking of the equipment I still needed to continue my work. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t helped in this case. We haven’t found anything significant yet. This has turned out to be a long-term project, which means it’s been costly. My funding’s been cut off, and other sources I’ve used in the past have already turned me down. I have to find a new source of funding ASAP. Time is running out, if I’m going to continue my field work.” Why was I dumping this on him? I glanced toward his female companion, who was watching us intently. “I think your girlfriend’s getting the wrong idea.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,” he said. “She’s my sister.”

Only then did I realize that he was still holding my hand. I withdrew it slowly.

“Have you eaten?” Connor asked.

I shook my head. “I’m beat. I thought I’d just get some Chinese takeout after I’m finished here and call it a night.”

He laughed. “A rare trip to the civilized world and you plan to spend the evening in your hotel room? That’s unacceptable.” he said. “Come have dinner with me.”

“I don’t think so—” I started.

“I may be able to save your project,” he suggested.

I was more than a little skeptical. “How?” He didn’t look like he had enough cash to pay for dinner. Except for the watch. The watch he wore looked very expensive. He probably stole it. Or so I thought at the time.

He winked, lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “My trust fund,” he told her.

I nodded slowly. “Right.”

He wasn’t about to give up. “I could surprise you. What have you to lose by hearing me out?” he asked.

I hesitated for only a moment. “All right,” I said finally. Even if he didn’t have the means to save the excavation, there was something so compelling about him, I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t want to refuse.

God help me, I was thinking.

An Army of Angels: Alex

AAOA cover (final)

4 – My Brother…Or My Father?

I sat in front of a computer at the public library, staring at the image on the monitor in disbelief.

He’s dead?

It couldn’t be. Finding Andrew was my last chance, my only chance of getting the answers I needed. My only chance to find out what the future held for me. There was no one else I could turn to, no one in whom I could confide.

I continued to stare at the image on the monitor. Andrew was chronologically older than me by almost ten years. His hair was longer and he had a beard now.

My hand went to my own hair. I saw my own reflection in the monitor as well. At first glance, we were no longer identical….


I hauled a squirming, soapy mutt from the washtub and turned the spray on him to rinse him off. The little ingrate managed to wiggle himself free of my grasp and shook his whole body violently, showering me with suds. “Dirty little rodent!” I laughed, hauling him up by the scruff of his neck and returning him to the rinsing sink. “Here I am, trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, and this is the thanks I get!”

“You really like these guys, don’t you?”

Recognizing her voice, I turned. Robyn stood in the doorway, watching me with open affection in her eyes. “Employees only allowed back here,” I said, looking around to make sure nobody on the staff had seen her come in.

“Relax,” she told me. “As I told you before, I have special status around here, thanks to my record number of adoptees. Nobody’s going to say anything.” She paused. “Except maybe hello, which would be better than I got from you just now.”

“Hello,” I offered weakly.

“Hello. Be ready to go soon?”

“Give me ten minutes–I don’t think you want me in your SUV like this.” I gestured toward my soaking wet clothing.

“I’ve had a lot worse in that old klunker.”

“Ten minutes.” I dashed off to change into the dry jeans and shirt I kept there for the days the dogs got rowdy.


“I was beginning to think you wouldn’t even come here for a visit,” Robyn said as she braked her SUV to a stop in the driveway.

“Did I ever say that?” I pushed open the door on the passenger side and climbed out just as her army of pets came charging across the yard to greet them.   “None of them bite, do they?” I called out to her.

“Some of them don’t even have teeth,” she laughed. “About half of these guys are really, really old. Old critters in shelters are hard to place–a shame, since they make such good pets.”

“Most people who come in are looking for puppies or kittens,” I agreed.

“They don’t know what they’re missing.”

I grabbed the grocery bags in the back seat as the animals ganged up on Robyn. She reached into her backpack and took out a large freezer bag full of treats, tossing them out. The animals grabbed them enthusiastically.

I followed her into the house via the torn screen door off the kitchen. The kitchen was big and cluttered. Jackets hung on the backs of the chairs. Food and water bowls were lined up against one wall. Dishes were piled up in the sink, and the trash can overflowed.

“I see Paulie forgot to take the trash out,” she observed with a shake of her head.

“I can do that,” I offered.

She nodded. “Great. There’s garbage cans out front, at the end of the drive,” she said, in case I hadn’t noticed them when we came in.

I nodded and gathered up the trash. It took me less than five minutes to do the task. “Any other odd jobs I can do while I’m here?” I asked when I returned to the house.

“Maybe after dinner.”

I loved her house. It was homey. Lived in. Very different from where I’d grown up. My parents’ home had been almost antiseptic. My father was a control freak who wanted perfect order at all times. I couldn’t remember ever being allowed to leave toys in the middle of the floor or get dirty at play.

“I’ve changed my mind,” I told Robyn over dinner.

“About what?” she asked.

“Your offer, if it’s still open,” I said. “I’d like to move in here–temporarily.”

She nodded. “Of course the offer stands. As you can see, there’s plenty of room.”

“For three?” I asked.


“I want to adopt two of my buddies from the shelter,” I explained, grinning. “But to do that, I’ve got to have a home to take them to.”

She laughed. “They got to you, didn’t they? Y’know, when anybody makes references to ‘dumb animals,’ I always find that funny, because they’re not dumb at all. They just speak a different language.” She passed me the potatoes I wasn’t able to reach in spite of my best efforts. “Sometimes, I think they conspire to get themselves adopted–like one turns to another and says, ‘Watch me get that sucker over there to take me home,’ or ‘Hey, he looks like he eats well. I’m going where the food is!’”

I nodded. “They probably do, at that.”

“So who’d you get snookered by?”

I laughed. “Snookered?”

“Don’t make fun of my vocabulary–that’s a word I got from my grandma,” she said, tossing scraps under the table, which created a feeding frenzy.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” I assured her. “To answer your question, I’m taking Garfield and Odie.”

Garfield and Odie?” She roared with laughter. “You are kidding–”

“It fits, believe me. Wait’ll you see these two together,” I said. “The cat’s fat, lazy and manipulative, and the dog’s an idiot.”

“Apparently not so much of an idiot that he couldn’t do a snow job on you,” she pointed out.

“All right, so maybe he did.” I paused. “You have to see this mutt to believe him–he’s so dumb, you have to wonder how he managed to stay alive out on the streets. And the cat…broader than he is tall. No exaggeration.”

Robyn smiled. “I’m glad you changed your mind about this, Alex. I think you’ll be happy here.” She paused. “I should probably warn you, though.”

“Warn me?”

“This is as quiet as it will ever be around here,” she told me. “When everybody’s here, it can get pretty crazy.”

“I was sleeping in a bus station when you found me,” I reminded her. “Does it get crazier than that?”

She laughed. “You have a point.” Then: “I do think you’ll like it here, once you adjust to the chaos.”

“I know I will.” I paused. “This is the first home I’ve ever been in that actually felt like a home.”

She hesitated. “What about your own home?” she finally asked.

I shook my head. “That was more like a hospital than a home,” I remembered. “Sterile, antiseptic, never cozy. Never comfortable.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Anything but,” I said. “My father had a thing about germs.”

“Like Howard Hughes?” she asked, recalling the eccentric millionaire’s descent into mental illness in his last years of life.

“Yeah. Times ten.”

Then I abruptly changed the subject. Again….


“My parents were hippies,” Robyn told me.

I thought she was joking at first. “Hippies? You mean–”

“Hippies,” she repeated. “Pot-smoking, peace-and-love believing, down-with-the-establishment hippies. They didn’t turn respectable and get married until I was twelve.”

I grinned. “You don’t act like a love child,” I told her.

She laughed. “How is a love child supposed to act?” she wanted to know.

I shrugged. “I don’t know…I just don’t think you act like one.” Take your foot out of your mouth, idiot, I told myself.

“I was born and raised in a commune. I’m the youngest of six kids. Mom and Dad said they decided to keep trying until they got a daughter,” she continued.

“You have five brothers?”

“Yes. Mom and Dad gave them weird names like Peace and Love. I was originally named Karma.”

“Karma?” I laughed aloud at that.

Robyn made a face. “We all changed our names as soon as we were legally able to do so.”

“So you have five older brothers…..”

“Yep. All big guys, too. Pro wrestlers.”

“Thanks for the warning,” I said. “They do know we’re, uh, just friends, right?”

Robyn gave me a look I didn’t quite understand. “Yeah,” she said. “They know.”

She sounded disappointed….

An Army of Angels: Alex

3 – As Fate Would Have It….

I shifted uncomfortably in the seat of the crowded Greyhound bus as it approached the city from the east on the San Bernardino Freeway. In the darkness, most of my fellow passengers slept. Sleep for me, however, did not come easily. A woman seated in the back of the bus with a crying baby was having the same problem. I smiled to himself, a weary little smile. The kid was proof of perpetual motion: he never stopped crying. I was surprised any sound could come out of that throat after all this time.


I sat up and attempted to refold my jacket into a more comfortable pillow. What’s the use? I asked myself. In another fifteen minutes, the bus would be stopping, and I’d be looking for someplace else to call home, however temporarily.

Home. I don’t even know the meaning of the word.

I looked up at the lights. Lights illuminating the freeway, lights in buildings. I tried to imagine what the people inside those buildings were doing. Office buildings, with workaholics burning the midnight oil, trying to get rich. Hotels, filled with weary travelers, families on vacation, cheating spouses having trysts. No matter who they were or what they were doing, those people had somebody with them, or somebody to go home to.

I had no one. Not anymore.

I looked down at the folded newspaper in my lap. It was three years old. The headline read: SCIENTIST SOUGHT TO TESTIFY IN GEN TECH CASE. The caption under the photograph read Dr. Andrew Stewart, but the face was my own. The same light brown hair, the same blue eyes, the same bone structure–everything was the same. We were identical twins, even though we had been born to different mothers in different countries, ten years apart.

Some would call that a miracle, others an abomination. My mother had seen it as the latter.

The bus left the freeway and headed downtown. Los Angeles suited my needs perfectly. It was the perfect place to lose oneself. I wanted to drop off the face of the earth. What better place to do it than this city of dreams? The City of Angels. I found it amusing. If this place were indeed populated by angels, if angels existed, if Heaven existed, I would certainly be banned. I’d never be permitted to set foot on holy ground. I’m a walking, talking sacrilege, I thought miserably. Man’s slap in the face to God.

By the time the bus pulled into the station, the crying baby in the back had finally drifted off to sleep. His mother’s peace would be short-lived. The moment she moved, rising from her seat to disembark, the howling began all over again. I hoisted my backpack onto one shoulder and slipped into the line in the aisle. As I stepped off the bus, I was assaulted by a variety of sights and sounds. Los Angeles was truly a melting pot, populated by people representing a wide range of cultures and speaking a multitude of languages. I made my way through the crowd and entered the large, cavernous station. There were faded fiberglass chairs in lines in the center, some taken, most empty. A row of vending machines lined one wall. There was a snack bar that was now closed, and small TV sets that operated on quarters. Homeless people slept on the floor at the far end, their worldly belongings stuffed into tattered backpacks, duffels and totes.

I lowered my own backpack from my shoulder and looked at it for a moment. I’m one of them, I thought, drawing in a deep breath before moving forward. Might as well join the crowd.

I found a spot in a corner and lay down, drawing my body into a fetal position. I rested my head on the backpack and finally began to drift off to sleep. Had I become so accustomed to this life that it no longer bothered me?

I hadn’t been asleep long when the shrill whistle issued by a policeman roused me. I sat up as a group of people rushed into the terminal and started rounding up the homeless. I thought they were cops at first. I scrambled to my feet.

“Come with me.”

I turned. Behind me was a young woman who looked to be in her late twenties, dressed in an Old Navy T-shirt and faded jeans. She had warm brown eyes and long auburn hair that hung in messy curls about her shoulders. “You sure don’t look like a cop,” I told her, confident that, unless she was armed, I could easily get away from her.


“I’m not,” she said, looking mildly insulted. “I’m from the Guardian Angel shelter. You need a place to stay?”

I regarded her with amusement. “Do I look that bad?”

“You’re sleeping on the floor in a bus station,” she reminded me. “It’s a no-brainer.”

I scratched my head. “Yeah, I see your point.”

She pulled herself to her full five feet two inches. “Well?”

“Well what?” I asked.

“Does a warm bed and hot food appeal to you or not?” She looked around. The people she’d come with were already leading several others out of the terminal. “We only have limited facilities.”

I nodded. “You talked me into it.”

She gestured toward the door on the opposite side of the building from which I had entered. “Our van’s outside.”

“My mother always taught me never to get into a car with strangers,” I said then. “I don’t even know your name.”

She shot me an impatient look. “I’m Robyn,” she said. “Robyn Cantwell. And you?”

“Alex Stewart.”


“More soup?” Robyn asked, refilling my bowl without waiting for an answer.

I nodded, unable to speak with my mouth full. Until she had put the bowl in front of me, I hadn’t realized how hungry I was–or how long it had been since I’d last eaten. I was sure my table manners were deplorable, but she didn’t seem to notice–or to care. She sat across the table from me, watching me intently. “So where are you from, Alex Stewart?” she asked finally.


“Nowhere,” I answered, my attention remaining on the soup.

“You have a family.”

“Did I say that?”

“You said your mother taught you never to get into cars with strangers,” she recalled. “I have a photographic memory.” She tapped her temple for emphasis.

I grinned. “I was being sarcastic,” I confessed.

“So there’s no family back home?” she pursued.

“No family, no home.” I went back to my soup.

She didn’t give up. “Everybody comes from somewhere, Alex Stewart.”

“I come from a test tube,” I deadpanned.

She laughed. A beautiful, open laugh. I liked the sound. It had been a long time since I’d laughed–or heard anyone else laugh like that. It was funny how something so simple, so often taken for granted, could become so precious when one was deprived of it.

“More sarcasm?” she wanted to know.

“What do you think?”

“I think you’re not like most of the people I see come through here,” she answered honestly, offering me some crackers.

“Yeah? How so?”

She considered her answer before giving it. “Most of them are out on the streets because they can’t take care of themselves. Mentally ill, handicapped in other ways. They can’t work, can’t pay the bills. Society’s cruel, so they end up out on the streets.”

“And I’m not mentally ill? How do you know?” I asked.

She smiled. “It’s not that hard to tell.”

I finished the soup. I would have liked another bowl, but was reluctant to ask for it. Instead, I pushed it away to let her know I was finished. “Do tell,” I urged.

She took the bowl and put it on a cart, then sat down with me again. “If I had to venture a guess, I’d say you’re above average in the brains department. Which makes me wonder how you ended up here,” she said.

I hesitated. “Family problems.”

“So you do have a family.”

“Yeah, I guess you could call what I had a family.”

Her expression softened. “That bad?”

“That bad.” I changed the subject then, unwilling to say anything more. “You said something about a soft bed. I’m really beat….”


When I spotted her dishing out breakfast the next morning, I asked, “Do you live here, too?”

She laughed. “Sometimes it feels that way,” she admitted, “but no. I live in the Valley. I’m filling in for a friend this morning.” She heaped eggs and bacon onto a plate for me. I took it, nodding in appreciation. I moved along in the line, figuring I’d probably seen the last of her. I took a seat at one end of one of the long, cafeteria-style tables that filled the lunchroom and ate alone, lost in my own thoughts.

“Need a job, Alex Stewart?”

I looked up. Robyn stood there, smiling down at me. Her smile was as warm and inviting as her laugh. “Am I now your pet cause?” I asked, regretting those words as soon as they were out of my mouth. She’d been concerned about me, and I sounded as if I resented it–which couldn’t have been further from the truth.

“Maybe you are,” she said with a slight nod. She didn’t wait to be invited to join him. “So, about that job.”

“What job?”

“At the animal shelter. There’s an opening. It doesn’t pay much, but it’s a start,” she told me. “Do you like animals?”

“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “The closest thing I’ve ever had to a pet was a lab rat, and you can guess how he ended up.”

She frowned. “I’m sorry.”

I grinned. “Not as sorry as he was.”

Robyn was silent for a moment. “Think you’d want to give it a shot?” she asked finally.

“Why not?” I said. How hard could it be for them to replace me when the time came for me to move on?

An Army of Angels: Alex

2 – On the Road to…Where?

I left New York two days later. I arrived in North Carolina on a sunny afternoon in the aftermath of a hurricane. The clear, cloudless sky seemed to mock the devastation nature had inflicted upon the land. The wrath of God, I thought grimly.


I worked in construction for six weeks, part of a massive effort to rebuild what nature in its fury had destroyed. Hundreds were homeless, living in shelters set up by the Red Cross. My work took me from Kitty Hawk to Cape Hatteras, working in every small town in between. I slept in shelters or on the beach, saving every cent I could for the inevitable, the time when I’d have to move on. I attended a local church near Kill Devil Hills for a time, but found myself disillusioned, more by the clergy there than by the congregation, I went back to studying my Bible independently, sitting alone in the sand along the beach. I often asked myself if it mattered that I was doing this for the wrong reasons as long as it got the right results. Did God care, one way or the other? If there was indeed a God, had He abandoned mankind? If not, where was he now? Why had He allowed so much pain and suffering to go on in this world? One had only to read the newspapers or watch the evening news to see war, crime, famine, disease, homelessness everywhere.

On occasion, I saw it right in front of me.

I came upon the scene as it unfolded: an elderly woman had been evicted from her home. All of her belongings were piled up along the curb. She was clearly distraught. All around her, human scavengers were digging through her things, taking whatever they wanted. No one was trying to stop them or do anything to help her.

“Hey!” I shouted, running toward them. “Get away from there! Leave her alone!”

The people stopped what they were doing. Most of them departed, but some refused to give up the things they’d helped themselves to. I approached the old woman. “You all right?” I asked. She looked like she might collapse. I could tell she’d been crying.

She shook her head. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she mumbled. “I got nowhere to go and no way to move this stuff, what’s left.”

“Don’t you have any family?” I asked.

“None that care about me,” she said sadly.

“How long have you been out here?” I took a bottle of fruit juice from my backpack and gave it to her. “Have you eaten?”

“No. I was making breakfast when the sheriff came,” she said. “They made me get out. Threw my eggs out, I think.”

“Have you been out here long?”

“Since about eight this morning.” She looked toward the door, toward what had once been her home. “The people who have stopped, they didn’t come to help, just to take what they wanted.”

“Nobody’s tried to help you?” I asked.

“Only you,” she said sadly.

I noticed a car slowing to a stop several yards away. A little girl who looked to be about eight years old climbed out and grabbed a large stuffed flamingo. “Hey!” I yelled, running after her. “Drop it!”

The child, terrified, dropped the flamingo. She climbed into the car and it drove off. “What are you people teaching you kids?” I shouted after it.

“Leave it alone!”

I turned. The elderly woman was trying to stop a man three times her size from taking her washing machine, but he was ignoring her pleas. I ran back to her. “Hey, buddy–that’s hers!” I shouted.

“She got put out–she ain’t got no rights to nothin’!” the big man argued. “Now get outta my way so I can get this on my truck.”

“You’re not taking it anywhere,” I snapped.

The man turned to face me, towering over me by a good six inches and at least a hundred pounds. “Yeah? You gonna stop me?” he challenged.

“As a matter of fact, I am.”

“This ought to be good.” The man looked amused.

I thought of David and Goliath as I drew back my fist and lashed out with as much strength as I could muster. I imagined the worst as I connected with the other man’s jaw.

The giant hit the ground with a thud.


I spent a night in jail. “You’ve been charged with assault,” the policeman who arrested me explained. “The guy you decked lost two teeth and suffered a concussion.”

“Not my fault,” I insisted. “He hit hard because he weighs about as much as a grown rhino. I just knocked him off balance.”


“He was stealing from that poor old lady!” I protested. “You gonna let him get away with that?”

“If you’d called us, we could have stopped him. Taking the law into your own hands is a mistake.” The cop led me to a cell and ushered me in, then locked the door.


I settled onto the hard metal bench that was jokingly referred to as a cot. No good deed goes unpunished, I thought.


It was just before dawn when another officer roused me to announce that I was being released. “You’re free to go, pal,” the officer said as he unlocked the cell. “You’ve become a bit of a local celebrity.”

“Me? Why?” I asked. Just what I don’t need.

“Your knight in shining armor bit netted you coverage by all the local news programs. We’ve been getting calls all night, people wanting to post your bail. The guy you clobbered, on the other hand, got so many angry calls, he dropped the charges.”

I hesitated. “What about the old lady?”

The cop grinned. “Somebody set her up in a new place and moved what was left of her stuff,” he said. “There’s some envelopes at the desk for you, too. People thought you should be rewarded for your actions.”


“Cash. Lots of cash.”

An hour later, I bought another bus ticket and was on my way out of town.


I was frustrated.

Whenever I had the chance, I’d go to a public library and log onto one of their computers, resuming my search for Andrew. He seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. Everyone else involved with the old man’s experiments had been located and hauled in for questioning, but Andrew had vanished without a trace.

Had he returned to London? I wondered. I realized now that I knew precious little about my twin’s life, beyond a few very basic facts: he’d been born in Scotland, raised and educated in London, and had lived in the US from the age of sixteen, when he began working under the tutelage of my so-called father.

Did Andrew have a family? A wife, children? Was he aware of my existence? The most important questions I had for Andrew could only be answered face-to-face.

If I could find him.


I wondered where my mother—Dorothea Sadowski—was now. I hadn’t seen or heard from her since the day she left Boston. She had made no attempt to contact me and left no forwarding address. I never understood why, until the day I learned the truth about my birth. I knew she hadn’t left because of the old man’s extracurricular activities. She’d known about his other indiscretions all along. I recalled confronting her about it one night over dinner….

“Why do you look the other way?” I demanded angrily. “He’s got an apartment near the campus. He takes girls there all the time. Everybody knows it, dammit! He’s making a fool of you!”

Dorothea shook her head. “You don’t understand.”

“No, Mother, I don’t,” I said.

“Your father and I, we don’t….”

I stared at her for a moment. “You don’t what?”

“We don’t have an intimate relationship,” she said, embarrassed.

I couldn’t believe it. “You don’t have sex?”


“If you two don’t have sex, how….” I couldn’t finish.

“You were conceived by in vitro fertilization,” she told me.

An Army of Angels: Alex

AN ARMY OF ANGELS Has Been Launched!

1 – Whose Child Am I?

I didn’t go to the funeral. I couldn’t. I thought about it as I stepped up to the front door of the house in which I’d grown up. I couldn’t go there and act like I really mourned that bastard. The only regret I had was that it didn’t happen much sooner.

I fished the key from my pocket and unlocked the door, entering with mixed feelings. I promised myself I’d never come back here.

I looked around the foyer. Nothing had changed. I ran my hand along the banister at the bottom of the staircase. Except maybe the dust. The old germophobe would have a stroke if he could see that.

I went to the old man’s study. There were two walls of bookshelves–mostly related to his work. There were framed documents, all recognitions of his accomplishments. There were no personal mementos, no family photographs. It wasn’t Joseph Sadowski’s style. The only thing that ever mattered to the old bastard was his work.

I pushed the familiar feelings of resentment aside. I hadn’t come back here to revisit the past. That was the last thing I wanted. The old man was gone now, and truth be told, I was glad. I wouldn’t be sticking around for the reading of the will. I was fairly certain I wasn’t mentioned in it, anyway. No, I’d come to get my personal property before the house was vacated and turned over to whoever had inherited it.

The old SOB always had cash in the safe. That made about as much sense as everything else he did. I opened the safe and found an envelope that contained a stack of large bills. I tucked it into my backpack and turned my attention back to the safe. You owe me, Joseph. This won’t begin to cover the debt, but I’ll take it.

There was also a small case containing half a dozen flash drives and flash drives. I turned on the computer, the one I’d never been allowed to touch while the old man was alive, then removed one of the drives from the case and put it into the USB port on the computer. The files appeared on the monitor. I opened them, one by one. It was all gibberish to me. Notes from the old man‘s work. Hard to believe that SOB was a genius, I thought.

Then something caught my eye. One of the files bore my name. I clicked on it and opened it. At first, it made no sense. Then I saw the words that in seconds turned my entire life into a lie….


I walked alone through the cemetery, not sure exactly where the old man had been buried. It took me almost half an hour to find the grave, even with the directions I received from the caretaker. “I’ll bet you’d be surprised to see me here, wouldn’t you, Father?” I asked aloud, studying the grave marker dispassionately. “To be honest, I’m surprised to be here. Never thought I’d ever come back. Sure didn’t plan on it–but then, I don’t really have anywhere else to go, do I?”

I knelt by the grave. “This is the closest thing I have to a real home, thanks to you. I don’t have a family, don’t belong anywhere. You never even told me who my biological father was.” I was silent for a moment. “People like me only have one true parent, don’t they?”

I found it appropriate that the marker bore only his name, date of birth and date of death.   “No ‘beloved husband and father,’ no sentimentality. I know how you would have hated that,” I said, as if he could hear me.

“So how do I find out where I came from, old man? You destroyed most of your records–and what you didn’t shred, the authorities seized. Anybody who might have known has either been arrested or has dropped off the face of the earth.” I took a deep breath. “Andrew knew, didn’t he? Of course–Andrew always knew everything. You let him in on all of your experiments.

“What about Mother–Dorothea?” I asked. “Did she know the truth? Would she be able to tell me?”

I stood up again. “If I were to make any bets, I’d say Andrew was more likely to know the truth. Problem is, I have no idea where your favorite son has gone.”

I forced a smile. “Hate to cut this short, Dad, but I have no desire to end up a lab rat–and I’m pretty sure if they find me, they’re not going to just let me ride off into the sunset. They’ll probably dissect me to see if I’m really human. No, thanks. See you in hell, Dad.”


I pulled my tattered baseball cap low over my brow as I extended my arm and turned my thumb upward. Hitchhiking wasn’t going to be easy–so few motorists were willing to pick up a man alone these days–but it was the only way I could leave Boston without being spotted. The authorities would have people posted everywhere–but what were the odds of being spotted out here, on the highway?

A car slowed to a stop on the shoulder a few yards ahead of me. I ran to it and found the driver to be an elderly man alone. “Where’re you headed, young man?” the old timer asked.

“South,” I said. “As far as you can take me, I’d appreciate it.”

The old man nodded. “I’m going to visit my granddaughter in Hartford, Connecticut. I can take you that far,” he said.

“Thanks. I appreciate it, sir.” I tossed my duffel bag and backpack into the back seat and slid into the front passenger seat. The old man pulled back into the right hand lane and drove away….


From that day on, I never stayed anywhere for long. I never formed relationships, never let anyone get too close. I couldn’t.

Six months after I hitchhiked out of Boston, I was living alone in a third-floor walk-up in Harlem, all that I could afford when I first arrived in New York–but now, I was two months behind in my rent and facing eviction. My cue to move on. Time to head for a place where odd jobs would be more plentiful.

I ran a comb through my hair. That night, I was washing dishes at a diner in Queens. I would make barely enough to buy food. It had come to that–food or a roof over my head. I had gone from being the only child of a wealthier-than-Midas couple to working odd jobs to pay the rent. I’d gone from being their son to not knowing exactly where—or who—I came from.

I picked up my Bible as I headed off. I’d been studying the world’s religions since my days in Paris, knowing it would have infuriated the old man. I did a lot of things for that same reason—from growing my hair down past my shoulders to riding motorcycles to my love of classic rock music. I would have entered the clergy, had I not loved art so much.

Art. I hadn’t picked up a sketchbook in months, let alone a paintbrush. My heart hadn’t been in it since that day in Boston, the day I learned the truth about my birth. Would it ever be again?

Excerpt: Chasing the Wind

CTW 2014

Phillip Darcy

It was turning out to be one of those days. How had I ended up in Israel?

I looked at my watch as I collected my bags, trying to remember if I had reset it to accommodate the time change when I arrived in Athens from Moscow. At this point, I wasn’t even sure what day it was. Tel Aviv had the tightest security of any airport in the world. Not unwarranted, of course, given its history with terrorism, but it was still a pain, especially when I was in a hurry. Two terminals handled an average of 17,000 passengers daily. Each vehicle that entered the property was routinely searched. Baggage was screened thoroughly. Travelers were profiled in ways that would never be tolerated in the States. If they had been, terrorists would not have been able to take over our planes and kill thousands of our own. We won’t be done in by nuclear weapons—the ACLU will be our downfall.

I spent what seemed like an eternity in Customs, and I still wasn’t sure what, exactly, I was supposed to be doing there. The e-mail from the Boss Lady said only that I should take the first available flight to Tel Aviv and call the office from there. The fact that my editor was e-mailing me was an indicator that she probably wasn’t in a good mood. It meant she’d tried unsuccessfully to phone me. It bugged her that I was so hard to reach sometimes—deliberately so, I might add. Ally liked direct contact.

This had better be good, I thought as I headed off to the Solan communications center to make the call. When I received the message from Alberta Ashland, I was at the airport in Athens, waiting to board a flight back to the States. I hadn’t been home in six weeks and for once was actually looking forward to some down time.

So much for down time, I thought after considering deleting the offensive e-mail and claiming I never received it. Knowing Ally, she’d have my hard drive checked out to make sure.

I purchased a calling card and went to the nearest available phone. As I waited for my call to be put through, I took off my Chicago Cubs baseball cap and ran a hand through my hair. “Come on, pick up,” I muttered. “If I’m here much longer, they’ll charge me rent.”

A female voice answered on the fourth ring. “Viewpoint, good afternoon.”

“What’s good about it?” I grumbled.

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry,” I said. “Put me through to Alberta Ashland.”

“Who’s calling, please?”

“Tell her it’s Darcy. Tell her I don’t have a lot of time,” I snapped.

There was a pause on the other end. “Sorry, Mr. Darcy. I didn’t realize it was you. I’ll put you right through,” she assured me.

“You do that.” My patience was wearing thin.

Moments later, Alberta came on the line. “Darcy,” she greeted me with a cheerfulness that made me want to puke. “I take it you got my e-mail?”

“I got it. What’s this assignment?”

“Charlie Cross is there covering the conflict,” Alberta said. “He needs the best lensman I’ve got—and that’s you.”

“Yeah? When did you take up brown-nosing, Ally?”

“Much as I hate to admit it, you are the best,” she responded begrudgingly.

“I’m officially on vacation, remember?”

“You’ll have to postpone it. War waits for no man.”

“War? Is that what they’re calling it this week?”

There was a warning pause on the other end of the line. “I don’t have time for this today, Darcy,” she said finally.

I scratched my head. “So where is Big Thunder?” I asked.

“Tel Aviv. Leaving for Megiddo in the morning.”

I laughed. “Armageddon Megiddo?” I asked. “End-of-the world Megiddo?”

“The same. There was another suicide bombing there overnight,” she explained. “Six people were killed, including the bomber, seventeen injured.”

“This is not news, Ally. They’ve been at war since Moses came down from the mountain,” I pointed out.

“You’re not funny, Darcy.”

“I’m too tired to be funny. Funny takes effort.” I paused. “I really needed this vacation, Ally.”

“I’m sure. Who is she this time?”

“Who’s who?” I asked.

“The woman. You’re a chronic workaholic. The only time you want time off is when you’ve got some poor, unsuspecting woman caught in the crosshairs,” Alberta laughed. “You’re already paying alimony to two of your three ex-wives, but I hear you’re always on the lookout for number four.”

“You hear wrong,” I said. “I’ve sworn off marriage. If there were a twelve-step program for it, I’d sign up. From here on out, I only live in sin.” Hell, I couldn’t afford to be stuck paying out more alimony.

“If you say so.” Alberta was obviously in no mood to debate with me. “Listen, Charlie’s at the Armon Ha Yarkon. I suggest you catch up with him tonight. He wants to get an early start tomorrow morning.”

I took off my glasses and rubbed the bridge of my nose. “I’m glad it’s not summer. By midday, it’d be hotter than hell.”

Alberta didn’t miss the opportunity when it presented itself. “And I’m sure you have firsthand knowledge of hell.”

“As you said, I’ve been married three times,” I said.

Alberta started to say something else, but was stopped by another incoming call. “Got to run, Darcy,” she told me. “Call Charlie.”


I hung up, checking my watch again before leaving the communications center. So much for my vacation….


Chasing the Wind, copyright 2008 by Beishir Books. All rights reserved.