Connections eMagazine August 2018 edition

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Connections eMagazine

August 2018

Message from the Editor The Purpose of this eMagazine is to connect readers and bloggers with authors. This is a FREE magazine that is produced quarterly. I hope you will take the time to look around. There are some amazing authors in this issue. All listings were nominated by readers who loved the books. Those highlighted in this issue were selected as finalists based on a strict set of criteria. With warm weather, comes picnics in the park, new adventures and lazy afternoons. Why not do it with a good book? You’re next journey is waiting... And we have some great contenders in this issue. Be sure to take a look around, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive an automatic email with a link to each new edition. Just click the box below and fill out the form. Be sure to include all required information. Don’t worry, your information will never be shared or sold.



Reader’s Choice Finalists... Get to know this year’s finalists, their work, and the final winner’s of the 2018 Connections eMagazine Reader’s Choice Awards.

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Facebook Melanie P. Smith | Editor

Top Ten Finalists

In every issue... Free Books

Hot Deals—99 Cents Author Tips and Tricks Flash Fiction Paige Carter


Darkly Wood II


Pondlife: Blue Moon Eclipse


Revenge of Zeeka


Dragon’s Rock


Beautiful Fury


Pablo the Storytelling Bear


Cassie’s Quest


Montgomery House


A Walk up Kinder Scout

10. Coping Mechanisms

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The Connections eMagazine Reader’s Choice Award is open to all independently published authors and their work. This is an annual award. Authors can be nominated by anyone who has read the novel.

Books are judged on cover design, character &/or world development, good flow & compelling into, presentation, and Reader’s Choice . We had a lot of great entries this year and the competition was close. I hope you will take a minute to check out the winners.

Categories Thriller | Mystery | Horror


Paranormal | Fantasy | Sci-Fi


Children’s Picture Books Children’s Chapter Books (Click the link above to be taken to individual category winners) 3rd—Bronze




Gold Medal Darkly Wood II by Max Power This chilling sequel to Darkly Wood brings us back to the mysterious wood perched above the sleepy village of Cranby. The mystery returns with love and terror walking hand and hand through the seemingly innocent paths of the place that has generated many fearful tales. This time however, there is an even more sinister presence. Much time has passed since Daisy escaped the terror of the wood and on the surface little has changed. But behind the tree line, a new danger lurks. Fans of the original will be taken to darker depths and first time readers will discover the true art of storytelling from the mind of the award winning author Max Power. Heart stopping, fast paced, unrelenting danger lies waiting for you between the pages. Sometimes love is all you have. Sometimes, love is not enough. Darkness is coming‌ Intro: Great intro, strong & Interesting Descriptions, draws you into the story and the folklore of the story . Character/World Development: Unique and compelling characters, entertaining and disturbing Cover: Excellent, Professional, mysterious background w/ optimistic foreground, uncluttered Presentation: Professionally edited, No obvious typos, professional grammar, formatting and overall presentation Prize: Gold in Overall and Thriller Categories

Thriller | Mystery | Horror

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Silver Medal

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Pondlife: Blue Moon Eclipse by Patricia M. Ahern Fantasy tale of a young girl, her brother and friends who find themselves in a world of magic, shapeshifting, fairies and monsters and a battle between good and evil. Issie Hartford’s dad has been missing for three years, yet she clings to the hope that he will return. Her family are forced to move to Meadowstream Manor, her dad’s family home, after a very peculiar meeting at Newton and Roach solicitors. Finding an old map and book sets Issie on a journey of discovery which leads her, her brother and three friends to Meadowstream Pond. They find themselves drawn into the mystical world of Pondlife and a battle against time to save the pond and its inhabitants. Will they be in time? Hope is all she has…

Intro /Character/World Development: It has all the ingredients of a magical adventure but is also well-grounded in real life values. It teaches children the importance of caring for the environment, respecting nature and working together to achieve a greater goal.

Children’s Chapter Book

Presentation: Professionally edited, No obvious typos, professional grammar, formatting and overall presentation

Prize: Silver in Overall and Gold in Children’s Chapter Books

Bronze Medal Set in 2036, the world of Zeeka Chronicles is modern and futuristic. No one is aware that something evil is afoot. The villainous Zeeka is planning revenge and is breeding zombies to wipe out the Islanders on Gosh. Why does he want revenge? Is Zeeka a man or a beast? New technology and scientific breakthroughs in the field of medical science set the stage for the unimaginable in this tale of a hateful man, kidnapping, love, lies, revenge, female robots, a ghost, a deadly virus, sixty programmable zombies, corruption in the police force, and a hero you will love. Dr. Steven Sharpe knows Zeeka's secrets. Can he expose Zeeka without risking his life and that of his beloved family? Will Detectives Jack Wildy and Jerry Cole discover the truth? Can secrets remain buried? What part does Janet, Raynor, Mandy, Miranda, and Zombie Number Nine play?

Zeeka Chronicles by Brenda Mohammed

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Intro: Good futuristic setup, interesting hook and compelling characters . Character/World Building: Great world development. Reader is introduced to a tropical beach that contains robots, and confusion – or is it hallucination?

Cover Design Great contrasting colors, genre specific Professionally edited. No apparent issues.

Presentation: Professionally edited Prize: Bronze Overall | Gold Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal

Sci-Fi | Fantasy | Paranormal

Paranormal | Fantasy | Sci-Fi


Children’s Chapter

Children’s Picture


Mystery | Thriller | Horror

Buy Now

Thriller | Mystery

Darkly Wood II by Max Power

Intro: Great intro, strong & Interesting Descriptions, draws you into the story and the folklore of the story. Character/World Development: Unique and compelling characters, entertaining and disturbing This chilling sequel to Darkly Wood brings us back to the mysterious wood perched above the sleepy village of Cranby. The mystery returns with love and terror walking hand and hand through the seemingly innocent paths of the place that has generated many fearful tales. This time however, there is an even more sinister presence. Much time has passed since Daisy escaped the terror of the wood and on the surface little has changed. But behind the tree line, a new danger lurks. Fans of the original will be taken to darker depths and first time readers will discover the true art of storytelling from the mind of the award winning author Max Power. Heart stopping, fast paced, unrelenting danger lies waiting for you between the pages. Sometimes love is all you have. Sometimes, love is not enough. Darkness is coming‌

Cover: Excellent, Professional, mysterious background w/ optimistic foreground, uncluttered Presentation: Professionally edited, No obvious typos, professional grammar, formatting and overall presentation Prize: Gold in Overall and Thriller Categories

Horror Winners Intro: Strong intro to main character, immediate description of conflict . Character/World Development: Great wold development, makes you feel like you are right there on stage participating int the performance conducting a live orchestra Cover: Colors set the mood well. Nice effects with title, draws your eyes immediately

Presentation: Formatting good, no extra spaces few grammar issues. Overall presentation welldone

Buy Now

Perceval’s Secret by C.C. Yager In June 2048, American Evan Quinn conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Vienna, Austria as Americans and Chinese conduct talks in that city about their economic relationship to prevent a global economic meltdown. Evan defects and brings a "Day of the Jackal" secret with him that could change the course of the talks and ignite a global war. Viennese Police Inspector Klaus Leiner, convinced Evan is an American spy, especially after CIA operative Bernie Brown takes an interest in him, organizes a surveillance operation to collect evidence for his arrest. Evan must stay ahead of the police and CIA while establishing his new life and music career. He believes he’s left America behind but has he? Whom can he trust? Too late, he realizes that he could be his own worst enemy or his best chance for survival.

Bronze Medal

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Broken & Abused by Tim Dutton Intro: Great intro, starts strong with a great hook and leaves the reader wanting to know more Character/World Development:: Great character development. From the first sentenence the reader understands the strong bond between partners Cover: Catches your attention, balanced design Presentation: Very few if any errors, no extra spaces. Overall presentation is excellent Prize: Bronze

James Bodey Bodine, AKA: Bo, hates perverts and thinks that those that prey on children are the worst of the bunch. What happens when Bo, goes up against human traffickers, preying on children. Bo and Leroy are two of the best bounty hunters in the business. They are more than partners and best friends, they are family. Bo is just starting to function after the death of his wife and unborn son. He has issues of rage. When Leroy is killed by human traffickers, Bo will have to learn how to investigate a murder, not only to get justice for his friend, but also to keep from being framed for the murder himself. Bo and the current sheriff have a history and the sheriff will do anything he can to pin the murder on Bo. Will Bo be able to contain and use his rage to stop the traffickers and rescue the Broken and Abused, Or will the rage consume him, and leave him among the Broken and Abused? Broken And Abused is a fictional novel, based off of actual events and people. Enjoy the read and never forget the real life Broken And Abused.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Daniel stood in the shadows, watching his nemeses as she sorted through documents. She was becoming a bigger problem than her mother. If he just knew what she had. If he could get ahold of those documents, then things might return to normal. But he’d tried... and failed. Breaking into her house had been a calculated risk. One he was sure would pay off. But now the place was locked up like Fort Knox and he still had no idea where she kept that file... or what was in it. He noticed movement on Hamilton’s back porch and slipped further into the shadows. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end when the pesky neighbor stopped abruptly and focused on the tree lined border... exactly where he was standing. Dax stepped onto his back porch and inhaled the cool morning air. He glanced next door and grinned. Paige was at it again. Lately, all she did was study the information she’d gathered on her mother. He was sure she’d solve the mystery, eventually. Until she did, he’d be a good neighbor and distract her. He was halfway across the backyard when he felt it... someone was watching. Him or Paige? He shifted and studied the line of trees that bordered the property. It was too dark to see anything but someone was hiding in the shadows; he was sure of it. He didn’t think, old habits surfaced and he took off at a dead run.

Continue Reading Impetuous Flight


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Caroline Pritchard strives to showcase the most unique artists at the Daulton Gallery, but the elusive glass artist known as F.W. proves to be her most difficult undertaking. Renown for his privacy, Caroline discovers F.W.’s true identity only to find the man behind the art lives a reclusive lifestyle with no wish to display his art in a gallery. Finnegan Walsh dislikes distractions. And he extremely dislikes having people in his workshop. He loves working with glass and creating pieces of art. Simple. However, since meeting Caroline Pritchard, his space is threatened, and the quiet life he strives so hard to maintain is immediately disrupted.

Beautiful Fury by Katherine E. Hamilton

Into: Interesting start, good flow, great detail. You feel like you are visiting a small New Mexico town from the very beginning.

Character/World Development: Great Character development, great descriptions of the area / town. Right from the start it has a rustic, desert feel.

Presentation: Overall presentation is excellent, no apparent issues

Cover Design: Good use of color, good contrast, well put together and attractive. Black creative title stands out against desert pastel background

Elizabeth Montgomery wishes to honor her grandfather’s memory by moving back to her hometown of Quinton, Georgia, to take care of her grandmother and to remodel their family home. Unfortunately, rumors spread of mysterious happenings haunting the property, and the only contractor willing to take on the project is Jackson Dean, the long lost nephew of her grandmother’s chief enemy. Jackson Dean moves to Georgia to reignite his family relations, but his work poses a threat to a peaceful transition. He accepts the job on Montgomery House to prove his skills as a contractor, but what he is not expecting are his feelings towards the granddaughter of Sissy Montgomery, and his personal quest to mend more than just the house. Elizabeth and Jackson must learn to work together on more than just construction, and their hearts must face more than just family prejudice. Can years of family rivalry truly be forgiven? Montgomery House by Katherine E. Hamilton

Intro: Good flow, great intro to character, her ambition and the smalltown atmosphere she grew up in and has now returned to. Character/World Development: Vivid descriptions that set the scene well from the first sentence. Story begins with enough history to help the reader connect with the character immediately Cover: Cover does a great job of creating atmosphere, great landscape, well composed, colors create a soft contrast and helps define genre well Presentation: Professionally edited, very few if any errors. Overall presentation is great.

Intro: The story starts with an “illicit� kiss – what more can you ask for in a romance? In one sentence, the author is able to make an emotional connection with the reader and introduce passion, emotion and conflict. Great hook Character/World Development: Emotional and compelling into to main characters. Vivid detail describing initial setting, you feel like you are actual there in on the train with her. Cover: Great Contrast, color sets the mood well, dramatic use of silhouettes, eyes are drawn to the sunset and the subtle ship in the distance

Buy Now...

On Different Shores by Rebecca Bryn

Presentation: Professional, no errors, typos, or formatting issues A young poacher is found guilty of killing Lord Northampton's gamekeeper and is transported to Van Diemen's Land for life, leaving behind the common-law wife he loves. Pregnant and penniless, she faces the appalling lack of rights for women in Victorian England and is forced to make hard choices. While he suffers the deprivations of a brutal life in chains, she is determined her child will know its father; she embarks on a dangerous endeavour to follow her lover across the globe. Will the cost of her actions prove too high, for her and for all those she loves? (Inspired by family history and real events.)



Additional Finalists We had a lot of great nominations this year and it was difficult to choose the winners. Competition was stiff and the scores were close. These two may not be medal winners, but they are definitely worth checking out.


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All items on Sale at time of publication, however prices are subject to change and may not be permanently reduced

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Set in 2036, the world of Zeeka Chronicles is modern and futuristic. No one is aware that something evil is afoot. The villainous Zeeka is planning revenge and is breeding zombies to wipe out the Islanders on Gosh. Why does he want revenge? Is Zeeka a man or a beast? New technology and scientific breakthroughs in the field of medical science set the stage for the unimaginable in this tale of a hateful man, kidnapping, love, lies, revenge, female robots, a ghost, a deadly virus, sixty programmable zombies, corruption in the police force, and a hero you will love. Dr. Steven Sharpe knows Zeeka's secrets. Can he expose Zeeka without risking his life and that of his beloved family? Will Detectives Jack Wildy and Jerry Cole discover the truth? Can secrets remain buried? What part does Janet, Raynor, Mandy, Miranda, and Zombie Number Nine play?

Intro: Good futuristic setup, interesting hook and compelling characters . Character/World Building: Great

world development. Reader is introduced to a tropical beach that contains robots, and confusion – or is it hallucination?

Cover Design Great contrasting colors, genre specific

Presentation: Professionally edited

Dylan's life in the spellster tower has everything he should want: magical knowledge, safety from the King's Hounds and frequent clandestine affairs with women. All at the cost of his freedom. So when the chance to leave the tower— even as a leashed weapon for the King's Army—arises, he seizes it. When his first scouting mission goes awry, Dylan is left alone in a hostile world with the tower a distant beacon of safety.

Only the flirtatious Tracker, an elven man whose very presence awakens Dylan's longrepressed desire, can help him return to his old life before the crown discovers his unleashed status. But the risk of being branded a deserter may be the least of his concerns as whispers of an armed presence in the North threatens his home. Dylan must rely on Tracker to protect him even as everything he thought he knew begins to unravel around them.

In Pain and Blood By

Aldrea Alien

Intro: Great intro, grabs the reader from the first paragraph. Intriguing Character/World Building: Magical, vivd descriptions of physical surroundings and every day life seen through the characters perspective Cover Design: Cover is well balanced, eye-catching and depicts the genre well Presentation: Overall presentation is done well

Intro: Great hook,

immediate introduction to conflict

Character/World Building: Wor ld development begins on the first page, reader is pulled into the world of vampires, conflict and humanity immediately Cover Design Strong genre cover, good contrast, dark and compelling

Presentation: Well done, few errors

Zane by Amanda Sebring

“I’m a good vampire, Quinn. Not a good man. I can’t have it both ways, and neither can you.” Forget everything you know about vampires. They’re as mortal as you are. They’re born, they live, and they die as vampires. They eat, sleep, laugh, and bleed like you do. And when immortality isn’t an option, they have much, much more to lose. Zane Carus lost his father at fifteen. Over the next seventeen years, he built a family of rogue vampires alongside his sister, Savannah. The strongest of his kind in Vegas, Zane became a known, respected, and feared Coven Master, ruling the streets of Vegas like a king. Until he nearly killed a rival Coven Master in a brutal confrontation, and the rest of the Sin City Sanguines declared war. Now his coven has disbanded, Savannah is a captive of the rival coven, and Zane is being hunted by every faction in Vegas to answer for his crime. And when he’s caught, a horrific fate is already in store for him. Now, his old friend and former love, Detective Quinn Masterson, must find him and rescue him before his captors can carry out their demonic intentions. But pitting herself against every vampire, vampire hunter, and hybrid in Vegas is a deadly venture. When even her allies turn against her, she must take matters into her own hands to see her vampire safe again, even if it costs more than her life to save him

Intro: An Assassin on a mission. Story starts strong but violent Blackmailed, cornered, and screwed. That’s what happens when you get caught…If you’re an assassin, that is. When a contract killer teams up with a four-star general to track down an elusive terrorist group intent upon detonating a nuclear bomb inside their city, sparks fly and not of the romantic variety. Racing against the clock through the desert, facing harrowing odds and dire consequences should they fail, they discover that the terrorists aren’t always the ones to fear… and may not be their true enemy. Set in the ruins of New York, WAR MACHINE is a fastpaced adventure thriller filled with betrayal, suspense, and alliances that quickly turn into deadly enemies. Destiny in the Shadows hauntingly echoes the state of the world today and the fate of the heroes determined to save it.

Character/World Building: It is evident

from the beginning the main character is a ruthless killer out for revenge. Strong beginning

Cover Design: Good contrast

Presentation: Professionally edited

Jen Maddox is a few days into her summer study abroad program and has loved every moment on her cruise-ship-turned-collegecampus. Everyone tells her that the experience will change her life, but none of them realize just how right they really are. One night Jen goes out on deck and encounters five other students. She knows Charlie from one of her classes and he’s a funny, friendly, regular guy. Picture-perfect Dani and his gorgeous wife Mariana live right down the hall from Jen, and she has seen TS, who’s built like a truck, around the ship, and recognizes the cute, but quiet Thomas as well. Then Jen sees something that isn’t humanly possible. Jen would have thought that it was all a dream, if not for the fact that Charlie, Dani, Mariana, TS, and Thomas are making every effort to cover it up. Suddenly, the five of them are everything but normal and Jen is determined to figure out what they’re hiding. When she does, her life really does change. Jen expected to spend her summer studying the cultures of Latin America, she never dreamed she’d learn about a magical culture instead. But Jen’s childhood fantasy come true is about to turn into a nightmare; there’s something on the ship. Something dangerous. Suddenly, everyone on board is threatened by a creature that Jen never even believed existed. Jen and her new friends might be the only people who can stop it! Now Jen has to learn everything she can about her new world before it kills her. And her friends. And maybe everyone on the entire ship.

Intro: More than Magic - interesting hook. Starts strong Character/World Building:

Great world development. The book starts on a cruise ship where everyone is a stranger.

Cover Design Great cover, the background would look relaxing– your typical summer vacation scene - if not for the girl. Your eye is immediately drawn to the young woman and the haunted look

Presentation: Professionally edited

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Non-Fiction Coping Mechanisms by Tracy Black

Intro: This is a difficult but compelling topic written by a survivor. From the first page, it is clear the book will deal with coping mechanism (also clear by the title) and how to deal with triggers as an adult . Informative: First sentence clearly identifies the topic of this book. The author immediately makes a connection with her target audience... fellow survivors. Cover: Cover is professional, eye-catching and intriguing Presentation: Very professional presentation. No typos, extra spaces or grammar issues detected.

Coping Mechanisms demonstrates how adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse can cope with stresses that occur in their everyday lives. Adult survivors can find life to be a bit more difficult, and feelings of isolation, fear, loneliness or being frozen in time are not uncommon. The casual or innocent things which trigger flashbacks bring back painful and unwanted memories. A simple sound or a smell can trigger the brain and transport you to ‘that’ time or ‘that’ place. A number of survivors have contributed by writing about their personal experiences and how they cope. They bravely share their stories and explain how motivational exercises and self-help have made their lives manageable. Coping Mechanisms examines the practical ways of coping and explains how you can implement them. Don’t allow the demons from your past to haunt your future.

Silver Medal

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Living Abroad Successfully by Rachel Smets Do you wish you could live abroad? Where would you go? What would you do once you got there? Whether your dream is to escape your current life, become a globetrotter, explore new career paths or just enjoy life elsewhere, this book is for you. In this book, you will learn to: • Plan and be prepared for what comes next • Adjust to your new life and settle in smoothly • Recognize and understand cultural differences • Make successful decisions while on your new journey • Live life without regrets thinking, “if only I had done it”

Intro: Living abroad... sounds like an adven-

ture. And from the first sentence of this book, you feel like you are actually there – in a new country, enjoying the sunshine at a small café in the place of your dreams. Great hook! .

Informative: The authors uses sight, sound,

smell... and your dreams to pull you into the topic. Even if you’ve never considered living abroad, the author makes it sound appealing and even possible.

Cover: Cover is professional, intriguing and fun... great appeal

Presentation: Great overall presentation.

No apparent grammar issues, typos or extra spaces

Bronze Medal Is your organization using diversity and inclusion to evolve or is your organization stagnant? Has your organization used diversity and inclusion to improve the bottom line? Has your leadership used measurable diversity and inclusion efforts to create new or improved products or services? The United States and the global economy are evolving at a rapid rate. Changes in demographics, social media, technology, and global economic partnerships require evolving organizations to meet the demands of the diverse population. Organizations that refuse to develop or worse, take actions to try to maintain the "status quo" are doomed to extinction. Have you used diversity to grow your organization?

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Intro: Topic is current and compelling Informative: Appears to have a clear objective and relevant to the business world, which is the author’s target audiences, Cover: Cover is well designed and topic specific. Subtle but eye-catching

Have you used diversity to improve your bottom line? Diversify or Die introduces the use of diversity and inclusion as a powerful tool to evolve all aspects of the organization, including: The creation of the diversity equation. - The creation of the definition of diversity. Use of Diversify or Die to improve your bottom line. Tools to measure diversity and inclusion efforts. - The means to motivate managers to support and use diversity and inclusion efforts.

Diversify or Die by Eric L. Guthrie

Cover : Appealing to small children Illustrations: Professional, good contrast

Storyline: Easy to read and understand, good message

Cover: Appealing.

Illustrations: Great pictures, appealing to small children

Storyline is easy to understand, educational with a great message

If you could change something about yourself, would you do it? When Sarah Simpkins is teased about her shadow in the school playground, she finds herself wishing she didn't have one. That night she has the chance to make the wish come true. But will losing her shadow really make her happy? Nick Jones’ critically acclaimed debut children’s picture book deals with issues such as bullying and self-confidence from a refreshingly original angle. Illustrated beautifully by Si Clark, Sarah’s Shadow taps into the young reader’s imagination and leaves them with a powerful, positive message

Bronze Book 1 in the bestselling 'Harry The Happy Mouse' series. 32 pages of illustrations by award winning illustrator Janelle Dimmett. Harry's Lovely Spring day follows Harry the mouse as he learns the value of kindness, and that one small thing to someone could mean something huge to someone else! Teaching children the value of kindness.

When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor? Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle antibullying message even the youngest reader will understand. New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld imbues Stick and Stone with energy, emotion, and personality to spare. In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature.

Croak! Bleep! Ring! Ring! Zobott wasn't normally so noisy. Join Praxx as he discovers why his best friend is making such a racket. Zobott is...The Ringing Robot! A fun sci-fi picture book - for children aged 2-6 - about how NOT to tidy the house!

Cover: Eye-catching

Illustration: Fun, very appealing to children, colorful, great contrast.

Storyline: Cute, short, entertaining with a great message

Intro /Character/World Development: It has all the ingredients of a magical adventure but is also well-grounded in real life values. It teaches children the importance of caring for the environment, respecting nature and working together to achieve a greater goal. Presentation: Professionally edited, No obvious typos, professional grammar, formatting and overall presentation


Patricia M. Ahern

Fantasy tale of a young girl, her brother and friends who find themselves in a world of magic, shapeshifting, fairies and monsters and a battle between good and evil. Issie Hartford’s dad has been missing for three years, yet she clings to the hope that he will return. Her family are forced to move to Meadowstream Manor, her dad’s family home, after a very peculiar meeting at Newton and Roach solicitors. Finding an old map and book sets Issie on a journey of discovery which leads her, her brother and three friends to Meadowstream Pond. They find themselves drawn into the mystical world of Pondlife and a battle against time to save the pond and its inhabitants. Will they be in time? Hope is all she has‌

Illustration / Content: Great for young readers. Interesting and adventurous

Cover: Simple, good contrast, eye-catching

Lucy Evans is a modern day explorer! A teen with adventure in her heart and a smartphone in her pocket, Lucy explores the world and describes what she sees. Lucy is a smart, connected young girl who loves adventure as much as she loves her trusty smartphone. In the style of old-fashioned adventure stories, the InstaExplorer books are brought right up to date, with fun pictures from Lucy’s Instagram account, and details of online research. In the second book in the series, Lucy Evans the InstaExplorer heads to the hills and valleys of rural Wales. Stumbling across a crime scene in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Lucy is determined to solve the mystery of a missing woman, along with her artist cousin Bethan. Set against the backdrop of Welsh language speakers and local folklore, this is a hauntingly atmospheric tale.

Cover: Great cover, good contrast

Illustrations/ Content: Great story, compelling and adventurous

Of course having a magical servant is not quite as exciting as it seems and there follows a number of misunderstandings and misadventures, including being kidnapped by gypsies. Then Cassie’s mother is caught in a roof-fall in a forgotten tomb in Egypt and Cassie finally realises that she is going to have to use the ushabti for something other than her own pleasure and desires. But Kesbet the ushabti sees Mrs Byfleet as a tomb-robber, not a discoverer and Cassie finds that her father was also a victim of Kesbet’s protective curse. Can she find the strength to force Kesbet to obey her commands to save her mother, or will the ushabti fulfil his ancient task of punishing all those who desecrate the Pharaoh’s tomb?

Ten year old Cassia Byfleet has a secret. She has found a magical Egyptian effigy called an ushabti which can grant her wishes – and Cassie needs wishes badly. Her archaeologist father died in the Great War, her mother has gone to Egypt to help Howard Carter with Tutankhamen’s newly discovered tomb and she is left in the charge of her despised Aunt Maude. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Aunt Maude has a new friend, Mr Judd who comes to visit bringing his three children and their dog with him. The twelve year old twins, Bruno and Rawley, immediately take a dislike to Cassie, but their nine year old sister Edie, along with her little dog, Major, are soon firm friends with the lonely little girl, who is still grieving for her lost father and missing her mother.

Cover: Catchy & adorable . Perfect to draw in young children

Storyline: Charming story, great message, entertaining

Bill loves polar bears and Pablo, a magical toy bear, tells him stories about a polar bear who lives in the wild and one that lives in the zoo Our second bronze winners in the Children’s Chapter Book category . Congratulations!

On a mixed up rainy, sunny day, The rainbow monsters love to play. Jump on a cloud and join the rainbow monsters in their fun and games. Come and meet each of the monsters and learn the colours of the rainbow. Sylva and her family escape to their own enchanted woodland at every opportunity. Riveting adventures, hunting for fairies, and stomping in puddles have inspired Sylva to write stories for her girls. Just click on the book image above to buy one for yourself. In addition to writing, Sylva is a great supporter of fellow authors. Thank you for your generous support of Connections eMagazine and this years’ Reader’s Choice Competition!

Featured Artist

Author Tips and Tricks The web is a wonderful tool. There’s instant access to a wealth of knowledge on any topic - including SelfPublishing. Here are a few examples to help authors along the way.

How to Make an Audiobook

How to Start a Story in First Person: 8 Pointers

How Writers Can Use Punctuation to Great Effect

The 8 Fears That Hold Writers Back

How to Create a Back Book Cover Blurb That Sells

How Readers Discover New Books

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Top 10 Scene Problems

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The Difference Between That and Which?

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Copyright Samples

Setting Up HTTTPS & SSL on Wordpress

Get Into Your Writing Groove

Reader & The Children’s Book Review

Traveling Book Junkie The Indie View

Smexy Books

Under the Covers

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Old Man by Nico Laeser An old man with a violin, lame from a work injury and left to survive by the skill of his hands. To the ear, a modern day Paganini; to the masters of society, a grotesquery upon the streets. His ability to earn by daylight, stolen by the tastemakers. His choice and ability to earn by twilight fuelled and facilitated by the very same. His tool by day, a violinist’s bow. His tool by night, a flat bar of steel to pry open the upper-class’ windows. He would lose his life for his crimes. May he rest in peace.

Beautiful by Nico Laeser I watched her every morning, walking awkwardly, with her head down, her face hidden and recessed in the shaded cave created by her long dark hair. From where I sit with my morning coffee, I’ve seen how beautiful she is. Today, when she turned the corner, she looked up at me for the first time and asked me to stop tapping my foot. I was confused by her request, but seized the opportunity. “You’re beautiful when you’re not hiding your face.” “There are beautiful creatures all around us, too small to see unless you watch where you’re putting your feet.”

Fight by Nico Laeser They poison the soil so the food we eat will kill us. They poison the sky so the rain will kill us. They poison our minds so we kill ourselves and each other. There is only one outcome for us and that is death, slow and painful, or swift and vengeful. If we are to die, then we all die together. Our chance for survival is zero, and our chance for vengeance is slim, but as our lives are forfeit so shall theirs be. We'll drag as many of them, with us, into death as we can. Stand and fight.

Fortitude by Melanie P. Smith The sun peeked over the horizon, illuminating the thin layer of fog that covered the entire field. Horses whinnied and a large bull pawed the ground; making a thumping sound that echoed throughout the entire valley. Timmy crouched low to the ground, determined to succeed. He was starving and that fresh pie on the window sill looked delicious. He moved forward, stopped, waited; then, moved forward again. Nearly there... Suddenly, large hands gripped his shirt and he was dangling in the air... busted! “Beat it, kid.”

Timmy hit the ground running, he’d be back... tomorrow. And, next time, he’d succeed.

The Child by Senan Gil Senan As the child gets older, he spends more time outside the cabin. The old man leaves out meals which sometimes get eaten although more often left. Only a diet of freshly killed meat gets eaten; the less cooked the better. He rarely gets to see his son, but on one occasion, he is disturbed by a brief glimpse of his gangly weak frame, but it was not his unashamed nakedness, rather than the fact that he has a young man’s body at the age of seven. And beyond the forest clearing, the traps are always sprung but the catch taken.

Clever by Senan Gil Senan “Do you know what your problem is; you have exactly the wrong kind of intelligence. You're too clever just to take orders, you have to look at the motives behind them, but you're not smart enough to benefit from your knowledge. You stand there looking at me with suspicion in your eyes because after all these years you still don’t appreciate who's got your back and who enables you." As usual, her words fell on deaf ears. Every inch of him displayed indifference as he shuffled past while she continued holding the door ajar, “Next time use the cat flap.”

No More Ultimatums by Barbara Speake ‘All packed up and ready to go are we?’ Shit, she wasn’t expecting him back and the taxi was due any minute. This was a nightmare. He stood in the door of the bedroom blocking her way. ‘I’m going Dean and you’re not going to stop me this time.’ ‘Sure about that.’ ‘I’m leaving you. We both know it’s for the best. It’s not worked for a long time.’ ‘You’re right about one thing, you are leaving, but for good this time,’ he hissed, as his giant hands clamped around her neck and the taxi beeped its horn outside.

Accused by Barbara Speake Matt would have liked to protest, but it was pointless. He could see it in the eyes of the jury, especially the women. Even his wife seemed to be taken in. Damn. Maria had been so convincing, he almost believed her himself. Except that it was all fabricated, tiny truths completely misconstrued. Then the two final witnesses: a man who had been through the same scenario with Maria and the psychiatrist who explained her fixed delusion state. The faces of the jury changed. ‘Not guilty,’ the foreman announced. The truth: the supposed stalker had in reality been the stalked.

Taking Her Chance by Barbara Speake ‘You are a liar,’ she whispered, as he lay on the floor, blood oozing from the knife wound. ‘That’s her perfume on you.’ ‘I swear, it’s not. Our Jackie gave me a hug when I left. It hers you’re smelling. Please, call 999. And call my sister. She’ll tell you.’ He groaned in pain.

She stared at her husband, considering her options. He’d tell the cops. She rushed upstairs and packed her case, plus the money and passport she’d stashed away. Plenty to get her to Spain. His face was ashen now, breathing laboured. She smiled, slamming the door.

The Moon by Ian D. Moore ‘The street lies still, expectant, yet unsatiated. Rows of dwellings mixed with refined, individual spaces. Mist curls knarled fingers around static lamp standards, pillar boxes, and parked vehicles, the cold touch of dark night embodied. I see them, the first of the day-breakers, dark-circled eyes masked by product lines. They go, like sheep to the machine of the city, sacrificing their freedom for money. Soon after, muted, tech-dependent partners push ignored offspring towards the store, ignorant of the world beyond their phones. I retreat, far from this inhuman, human invasion, back to the sanctity of darkness, but I see them all.

The Crater by Tom Benson Our flight and lunar landing had been textbook so I was expecting something. It happened. ‘Hello Mission Control,’ I said, ‘did you register that tremor?’ ‘Yes Explorer Four. When you leave the capsule be vigilant.’ I risked a look at the Earth before I descended the steps. Following five minutes of effort I stepped on the surface and reported. ‘Mission Control, I’ve reached the area.’ ‘According to our calculations a new crater has formed. It seems impossible but it looks like it’s one kilometre deep and very close to you. Please investigate.’ ‘Okay Mission Control, I’m looking into it ...’

Eternal Dark, Eternal Silence by Rebecca Bryn Eyes tight closed, breath held, her fingers slid across her belly and hips, moved down her thighs, and brushed against something hard and unforgiving beneath her. She wasn’t in bed, then, her nightmare not a thing of dreams. The surface was too rough for metal – wood, perhaps. It smelt resinous, like pine. No light played through her eyelids, no sound to be heard but her own panicked breaths, no movement of air but that from her mouth. She clamped her lips together and forced down a scream. They wouldn’t have, would they? She daren’t move for fear her dream was true, yet she had to know. Her left hand crept sideways and her heart lurched as a wooden wall stopped her movement mere inches away. She moved her other hand from her side and a whimper escaped her throat. Trembling fingers traced the walls of her small prison, and then its roof, and came to rest mere inches above her face. There was another wall behind her head and if she stretched her feet… She opened her eyes then and screamed, though no-one would hear her. No-one would ever hear her again.

Leaving... by Rebecca Bryn Bags are packed, the furniture’s gone, and the house is empty. Silence echoes from the walls and drowns my plea. ‘Don’t go without me. Don’t leave me behind.’ The words cringe like a small whimper. Doors slam. The windows are high. I can’t see out. I’m crying now – a tearless wail more like a howl. ‘Please don’t leave me alone.’ Voices – I catch words but not meaning. ‘Cassie? Where are you? You coming?’ Cassie, that’s me. I leap at the door yelling. ‘I’m here! I’m here!’ The door opens and I leap into Mum’s arms, tail wagging fit to burst.

My First Visit to Our New Lidl by Rebecca Bryn ‘Bing bong. Welcome to Lidl. Aisle 3’s closing. Please use aisle 4.’ ‘Quick, beat that woman.’ ‘Bing bong.’ ‘Bing bloody bong.’ ‘Bing bong. Aisle 4’s closing. Use aisle 5.’ ‘For f….’ ‘I could stuff the manager in one of his freezers and shove a frozen chicken up his…’ ‘No-o-o-o. She’s beaten us to aisle 5.’ ‘Bing bong. Aisle five’s closing. Use aisle 1.’ ‘RUN!’ ‘Bing bong. Welcome to…’ ‘Shut up!’ ‘I’m the manager…’ ‘Bing bong.’ ‘Grab the chicken.’ ‘Bing bong.’ ‘SHUT UP!’ ‘Bing bong. Aisle 1’s malfunctioned.’ ‘Grab him.’ ‘Open that freezer.’ ‘Bing bong. Thank you for shopping at Lidl.’

Wishes by PA Ruddock "Sam stared at the shiny red Ferrari. It was awesome, he thought. In the adjacent lane, Louise was admiring Sam’s BMW with all its cool accessories, miffed she was still driving her old ford fiesta. A passing cyclist wished he was old enough to drive while a pedestrian wished he could afford a bike, so he didn’t have to walk to work every day … The locals had clubbed together to buy Danny an electrified wheelchair. It even had 'go faster' stripes. It was super. No more tiring himself out. Danny was the happiest little boy in the whole world."

Campfire by Sylva Fae It's amazing how a campfire can soothe away stresses. The breeze clears my mind and my breathing slows to the rhythm of swaying branches. Troubles drop like autumn leaves. There’s nothing to do but sip coffee and stare at flickering flames. They lick at the cloth, hissing as they consume the evidence. I grimace at my aching shoulder. It's a good ache though, sign of a job well done. Flames reduce the bloodstained clothing to ashes. Fresh earth clinging to the spade is the only reminder now. I sigh into the breeze and drink in the contentment of newfound solitude.

Cycles by Penny Luker I’ve been a good mother. Carried you for nine months, fed you and kept you clean. I’ve helped you with your disastrous marriage and now it’s your turn to look after me. I’m moving in with you. Come and pick me up.

You were a long time getting here. I’ve been waiting ages. I didn’t know you lived in this big house. What do you mean; you managed to find a space? ‘Just looking after you mum in the way you looked after me. You remember you put me into care when I was three, well now it’s your turn.’

Goodbye by Max Power I kissed her lips for the last time. They were cold, indifferent and disinterested. Watching the light fade from her eyes had not been easy for me . She had promised to love me forever, taken me from boy to man, fooled me into loving her and like a devil, she had purchased my soul. I gave it away all too cheaply and got only pain and heartache in return. Our lips were dry and clung to each other like desperate lovers , but it was an illusion. I took my soul back as I squeezed her throat. Goodby my sweet love...

Life by Craig Stephens Of all the things they’ve told me, I am really glad that one thing was right. The pain is gone now, not even a dull throb. I can feel the air cooling my lungs as I take the time to appreciate every breath. Keeping my eyes closed, so that my starry view does not remove this peacefulness that is settling around me. This cold warmth causing a numbness that envelopes my body, such as a cocoon I am ready to be reborn. A feeling of weightlessness as I draw breath and yet I am no longer breathing. Am I dead?

Senses by Craig Stephens Sliding my finger around the rim, allowing the viscose liquid to collect within troughs around its tip, the minor undulations verging on sensuous. My mouth starts to salivate, at the mix of heady aromas and knowing what treats the liquid holds, something I have been waiting for, sometimes even dreaming about. The warming pleasure and the desire, no the need to have more, even the need of sharing the moment with another more if they are willing. Raising my fingertip to my nose, I fail to resist any longer, dabbing it onto my tongue. I enjoy a very good whisky.

Trial by Rhonda Hopkins Lila testified. Jean was a psycho supervisor and everyone hated her, including Lila. But, Daniel had argued publicly with Jean the day before peanut shavings had been added to her coffee. One little sip and Jean gasped for air; her allergy injection not where she kept it. In minutes, she was dead. After testifying, Lila watched the rest of the trial, and waited. It didn’t take long for the verdict to come back. Guilty. “I didn’t know you had it in you.” Lila’s fiancé and prosecutor whispered. “Good job, but next time, erase your laptop’s search history regarding peanut allergies.”

Illusions by Cathy Donnelly The sun illuminates the fast-flowing river as it crashes against the boulders. The droplets twinkle like stars in her inner darkness. A shiny stone beneath the water catches her eye. It sparkles like a diamond. She plucks it from its resting place before it is washed away. But in her hand, it is but a dull object. There is more beauty in illusion than in reality, it seems. What if she just let go and embraced illusion? She throws the stone back and follows it into the river. Perhaps she too can shine again.

Emergency by Chris Robertson 911 what's your emergency? My daddy is bleeding. Your daddy is bleeding? Yes. What happened to your daddy? The doggies got him. Doggies? Yes. They got mommy too. Are you near your daddy? No. The doggies are still biting him. Ok. Help is coming. (Barking and snarling can be heard getting louder.) The doggies are coming. Can you hide sweetie? N... (Words are cut off by a scream as growling and barking dogs are heard entering the room. There is a thud as the phone hits the floor. Growling and a wet chewing sound are all that can be heard now.)

The Smell of Lamb by Matthew Hughes The smell of Lamb floated from the kitchen, table laid for two places. George poured a glass of wine for both. He picked up his glass and took a sip “it’ll soon be ready my love,” he smiled softly. Suddenly the timer went off on the kitchen, George shuffled to the hob and turned the heat down before returning to the table, he placed a single red rose on the table opposite, “sixty four years, sixty four single roses, it’s just a shame you haven’t seen the last seven,” he picked up the photograph and kissed the picture.

Ignored by SK Holmesley Back to his mistress and pointedly sulking, he continued to stare at her. Before he'd turned his back, he'd seen her through the kitchen door and knew what she had there. The woman suppressed a laugh and gently called, "Howie? Are you hungry, dear?" She held up a strip of meat she had cut off the steak she'd gotten for her dinner. Howie continued to hold her gaze as footfall by footfall he stepped around. Once his body was aimed the same way as his head, the little owl graciously accepted the strip of meat dangling from the woman's hand.

She Rang by Leslie Hayes She rang me on the anniversary of when we began, as I thought she might. “Do you remember?” she said, tears choking her voice. “The nights we loved, the days we laughed, that time by the river we were chased by swans, the dancing that we did, the way our bodies were so much in tune... but most of all the promise we made that whatever else we would be friends forever... do you remember?” I noticed the pain in my chest, the hot refusal in my heart to be duped again. “Do you remember that you lied?” I said.

Refuge by Leslie Hayes That summer I lived in the garden, pushing my hands deep beneath the soil to free the weeds, using my fingers rather than a trowel. I wanted to be close to the dirt, to embrace the very soul of it. I found myself thinking that soul and soil were almost the same word. I didn’t want anyone else there apart from the small brown bird that watched every day from the fence. I fancied it was there to tell me something. Time passed, somehow. The garden was a refuge. The unbearable sympathy of other people could not reach me there.

I Don’t Know What I Did by Leslie Hayes “Look at how you make me suffer!” she wrote. “I still love you, dream about you, would do anything to understand what went wrong between us. It was all so wonderful before it wasn’t. I know I made mistakes, maybe quite a few I admit, but I’ve gone over and over it in my mind, and I don’t know what I did or said that made you never want to see me again. Can’t you please at the very least write and explain. I need to know!” “Even now you make it all about you,” I thought. I didn’t reply.

Impetuous Flight Daniel realized he was in trouble. Hamilton was too observant. The instant Dax stopped and shifted his attention, Daniel cautiously turned and started to make his way back to the car. His steps were slow, deliberate and methodical until he heard the distinct sound of running. Dax was after him and he desperately wished he’d left ten minutes ago as he’d originally planned. His heart was racing and he felt like he was breathing through a straw as he darted for the car. At least he didn’t have far to go. Dax entered the aspen and juniper forest, carefully looking for signs. He spotted the broken branch almost immediately. From there it was easy to follow the deep footprints his prey had made as he traveled across the damp leaf covered woodland and soft sand. He was zigzagging through the trees and rocks when he heard it... his voyeur was running. Dax moved as fast as he dared, careful not to miss a clue as he headed toward the back road. Chances were pretty good the intruder had parked there and walked in, which was also a clue. One Dax would consider...later. He ran faster now, sure he was on the right path as he dodged low hanging branches and leaped over rotting tree trunks and rocks until he reached the rarely traveled dirt and gravel road that eventually connected with Manti Canyon. From there, the culprit could go anywhere. Dax exited the thick trees and made his way onto the roadway. He rested the palms of his hands on his knees in defeat. The car was gone. A cloud of dust trailed in its wake, twisting and turning with the wind as the vehicle rounded a bend. Dax had caught a glimpse, just enough to recognize it as an older model Chevelle, probably seventies era, but restored or well cared for. Most likely, it was the same car Paige had seen leaving her house while he was out of town helping Jaimie. His neighbor had gotten a partial plate, he hadn’t even managed that much. The vehicle didn’t have one. Once the driver felt comfortable enough, confident he’d escaped, he’d probably pull over and replace it. Dax sighed and slowly made his way toward his residence. He’d been so close but had failed again. Would they ever catch a break?

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Paige was standing against the railing when Dax approached. “Morning run?” she asked with a grin. en.

“Coffee?” he asked as he pulled open her back door and stepped into the kitchPaige followed and waited.

“Someone was watching,” he said as he set the carafe back on the warmer. “I started for your place, nothing but a steaming cup of coffee on my mind when I realized someone was in the trees, watching. I gave chase, he won.” Dax dropped into the chaise lounge that he was beginning to envy. It was sturdy and far more comfortable than any of his patio furniture. Paige frowned. “Watching?” “Looked like a Chevelle, no plate and I couldn’t get a good look at the guy. He was too far down the road by the time I exited the forest. Just got a glimpse of the back of the vehicle as it careened around the corner.” Dax kicked up his feet and savored the hot liquid.

“How do you know it was a guy then?” “Footprints,” he glanced up. “In the leaves and the loose sand, men’s boots. If I had to guess I’d say...size twelve.” Paige looked at Dax in disbelief. “You seriously want me to believe you can tell the size of a man’s shoe by the quick glance you got as you chased him through trees and over rocks?”

Dax grinned and shrugged. “You don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself. They’re all over, can’t miss ‘em. The ground is damp. If you hurry, you can even get pictures and everything.” Paige was out of her chair and through the door in seconds. She had another clue. One that was right up her alley...forensic evidence.

Impetuous Flight “Don’t forget the tire tracks on the dirt road,” Dax called as she darted across the back yard. ***** Paige sat at her desk scrutinizing the pictures. Dax was right, they were size 12. She was impressed. She’d never admit that to him, but she was. He was good. He’d probably make a great cop. She wondered again why he’d left the Army. Her last conversation with Nathan had been difficult and contentious but it left her with new insight into the man Dax Hamilton had been. He was a good soldier, really good. Even General Nathan Porter had been impressed, which was rare. Paige heard it in Nathan’s voice. So, why the sudden career change? She might never know and for some reason that bothered her. She wanted to know everything there was to know about her talented neighbor. They’d shared a couple brief kisses, but since then...nothing. Dax wasn’t exactly standoffish, but he wasn’t pursuing her either. She’d never met a guy quite like him before, and if she were going to be honest with herself, that only made him more appealing. “Paige?” Margie called. “Yeah,” Paige stood. “Gage needs your help,” Margie paused to speak into the radio. “He’s at the Sinclair... down on Main. Just past the Courthouse.” “On it,” Paige said as she started for the door. “What’s he got?” she paused to ask before heading out. “Robbery,” Margie said absently. “Robbery?” Paige froze. “Are you sure?” “Positive,” Margie nodded. “Now, go. He needs your help with the scene and corralling witnesses before they disappear.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “I’m on my way,” Paige said as she hurried from the building and slid behind the wheel. Within minutes, she was pulling into the popular gas station. “Ever heard of a radio?” Gage grumbled.

“Sorry,” Paige said as she stepped through the door and glanced around. “How can I help?” Clearly, her friend and colleague was in a mood today. “Two girls around back,” Gage pointed to the door. “Said they needed some air, but I think they’re just trying to sneak away. I need statements.” Paige studied a long haired guy in dirty jeans standing in the corner, leaning against the wall. “He’s fine,” Gage assured her. “The girls...” “Okay, okay.” Paige stepped out the side door, proceeded around the corner and instantly collided with two teenaged girls. She was barely able to grab each of their arms and avoid landing on her behind. “Not so fast.” “We didn’t see anything and we...uh... we have plans and need to go,” a medium sized girl with too much makeup said as she tried to free herself from the deputy’s grip. “Plans will have to wait,” Paige said, directing the duo into a large bay door that led to a service garage. She gave them a forceful nudge onto a bench then glanced around. The bay was deserted. Hopefully, Gage had secured the worker before he bolted, claiming he’d been out to lunch or picking up parts. Finding good witnesses was getting more and more difficult these days. She took out a pen and began to ask each girl the standard questions. Paige was nearly finished when a middle-aged man stepped through the open bay door. “Can I help you?” he asked. “No,” Paige turned. “We were just finishing up. You see the robbery?”

Impetuous Flight “I already talked to the young man inside,” the guy said shaking his head. “Didn’t see enough, that’s for sure. Why a guy would barge in and demand a free ride is beyond me.” He turned and headed for a vehicle that was elevated by a sturdy lift. The car was clearly getting an overhaul of some kind. Paige smiled as the mechanic went to work, still mumbling about hard work, ethics, and video games. Paige stepped back inside and motioned for Gage. The large officer casually strolled toward her. “Need anything else?” she asked when he stopped directly in front of her. “I retrieved the tape and as far as we know he didn’t touch anything but I’d like you to watch it before we go. If he did leave a print, I want it.” Gage turned and headed for the back office. Forty minutes later Paige had watched the video half a dozen times and still wasn’t sure if the guy had handled anything on isle four. She strolled toward the back end of the store and studied the area. If there was a clue to be found... she was determined to find it. She walked slowly, scrutinizing a display that was positioned in the general area hoping something... anything, would jump out at her. She finally had to admit there was nothing to find. Paige turned to Gage. “He could have handled the shot glasses, but so has every other Tom, Dick and Harry that’s entered this store. If the owner is willing to bag them, we can preserve the evidence for later... if there is any evidence, and that’s a big IF. It’s also possible he was just biding time... waiting for most of the customers to leave before he hit the place.”

“What do you think?” Gage asked. “It’s your call,” she sighed. “If the owner says yes, I’d take them. But he may balk. He’s gotta know it’s a long shot.” “We’ll take them,” Gage decided. “He already told me to take whatever I needed. He’ll be fine. Let’s get these bagged. I have a lot to process and it’s already been a long day.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8

Paige frowned. Something was up with Gage Clayton and she was going to find out what. ***** It was past dinner time and Paige was starving. When she learned Gage had a lot of evidence to process, she immediately offered to stay and help. It would give her a chance to speak to him about his mood. Turns out Dean was thrilled about their new part-time addition, but Gage... not so much. Duncan Havilland had dated Gage’s younger sister awhile back and it hadn’t ended all that amicably. If Gage had seen Duncan oh... never, it would have been too soon. Tensions were running high and Duncan was making things worse. His cocky attitude was beginning to push Gage’s buttons and that was never a good thing. Sooner or later, Paige knew the situation was going to come to a head. She just hoped neither one of them landed in the ER as a result. She pulled into her driveway, shut down her car and started for the front door, then paused. The issue this morning, combined with the break-in and everything else that had happened since her arrival, had her on edge. She rested her hand on her weapon as she slowly made her way around her entire yard. As she approached the back door, she nearly jumped out of her skin when the door opened and a large man stood shadowed in the doorway. “You plan to shoot me with that thing?” Nathan asked casually as he stepped onto the back porch. “Nathan?” Paige asked in disbelief. “When did you get here? Why did you come for that matter? I thought you had a big mission in the works and wouldn’t be available for at least a couple weeks.”

Impetuous Flight “It was postponed a few days and I had a little time on my hands so I thought I’d sneak away and check out my favorite girl.” Nathan Porter settled into a chair and pulled out a cigar. Within seconds the air was filled with the pungent smell that Paige had always hated. She’d never tell him that, he was enough of a gentleman he’d snuff it out, and she liked seeing him relaxed. It was something the good General rarely did these days. Paige wondered if he’d ever settle down and just enjoy life a little. She smiled to herself, not likely. “I know that smile,” he studied her. “Up to something are we?” “Nope,” Paige said as she settled in next to him. “I assume Dax let you in.” “I haven’t actually talked to Dax yet. You told me where the spare key was, I waited around for nearly an hour but when you didn’t show, I decided to make myself at home. Quaint little place you got here. Not exactly what I imagined, but I think it suits you.” He took a long draw on the cigar then blew out a cloud of smoke. Paige knew he was acting casual, but he was watching her like a hawk. Something was up, she just had no idea what. “Did Dax tell you about this morning? Is that why you flew out?” she finally asked. “No,” Porter frowned. “Like I said, I’ve been busy. When I realized I had a break, I headed straight here. If that Ranger of yours tried to call, I didn’t get it.” Paige was about to respond when her stomach growled, loudly. “Sorry,” she laughed. “Long night.” “I stopped in Ephraim and grabbed a pizza at that Papa Murphy’s place on the way here,” Nathan told her. “It’s ready to throw in the oven, I was just waiting for you to arrive.” “Seriously?” Paige grinned. “I love their pizza, let’s go.” She casually glanced at her neighbor’s house but it was completely dark. Dax must be busy or out somewhere. Tonight it would be her and Nathan. Even better, they had a lot to catch up on. “How’d you know about Papa Murphy’s anyway?”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “Carmen,” Nathan said as he tapped out his cigar and left it outside. By the time he made it into the kitchen, Paige had already unwrapped the large pie and was placing it in the oven. “You remembered,” she said as she closed the oven door. “How could I forget?” Nathan moved forward and wrapped Paige in a fatherly hug. “I’m glad you are doing so well, sweetheart. I’ve been worried about you.” Paige smiled and enjoyed the contact. Nathan Porter was the closest thing to family there was without sharing a bloodline. “I told you I was fine.”

“Yeah, you did. I guess I just wasn’t sure I believed you,” he admitted. “I mean so much has happened since you arrived. I had to see for myself.” “Well, I’m glad you did. I’ve missed you old man,” Paige teased. “Now, I hope you don’t mind but I thought we’d use my finest paper china. No dishes that way.” up.

“Paper is fine,” he agreed as he settled in for a relaxing evening of catching

***** Nathan was still on Eastern Standard Time so when five o’clock rolled around, he rose before the sun and headed downstairs. Once the coffee was brewed, he moved outside. The air was cool and crisp, a touch of winter embraced him and he suddenly missed his amazing wife. He’d invited Sophie to join him but she’d had a previous commitment and the notice was too short to change it. As he glanced across the dark expanse, he wondered what it would be like to live in a small town, to slow down, watch the sun come up each morning with his beautiful bride lounging by his side. Every once in a while it was tempting to take that leap, but then reality set in. He and Sophie were two of the same. Both led busy, sometimes chaotic lives, but they loved it.

Impetuous Flight He might slow down, but they’d never leave the big city. They might, however, try to come visit Paige a little more often. Movement next door caught his attention and he slowly strolled across the expanse. He paused at the top of the stairs and studied the man who currently sat motionless in the shadows. “Dax Hamilton, I presume.” “Hello, General,” Dax said softly. Nathan studied a man he felt like he knew but had never actually met face to face. Dax was large in stature, fit and a little too solemn. “You heard about your team?” he finally decided, moving forward and taking a chair next to Dax. “Heard what?” Dax asked, glancing at Nathan then back into the dark nothingness. “Okay,” Porter shrugged. “Probably better this way, plausible deniability.” Dax focused on Nathan. “Why are you here?” “Here?” Nathan glanced around. “As in at your house, or here as in Manti?” “Both,” Dax asked, watching Nathan for the slightest tell. “Here on your porch because I wanted to talk to you in private. Here in Manti, again to talk to you, but mostly to see Paige. I had some time and wanted to head out to see for myself the setup, the community, the danger.” “Makes sense, for a man like you that is.” “It’s a relatively straightforward mission. In and out. These guys are trained for far worse. It’s not like the last time,” Porter added. “It’s never straightforward when the Rangers are involved. You wouldn’t be sending them if it wasn’t risky,” Dax objected. “True enough,” Nathan conceded. “I know what happened in Zabul. That wasn’t your fault. And this mission is completely different.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Dax looked away, a little surprised Porter had looked into the details of his last mission. “It’s really not,” Nathan pressed. “Sure, it’s dangerous. I’ll give you that. But it’s always dangerous when we call in the Rangers. This one is more like... Kandahar.” “What?” Dax studied the General. “Did you read my entire jacket?” Nathan smiled. “Of course.” Dax shook his head in disbelief. There had to be hundreds of pages of missions, commendations, and letters. “Doesn’t matter.” “It kind of does,” Nathan disagreed. “Look, I didn’t know Sanchez. I know of him. I know he was respected, hard-working and well liked. I also know he gave his life for his country... willingly. Grieve for him, but don’t hold it against him that he died while you lived.” “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Dax objected. “You know I do,” Nathan said with more compassion. “Let me tell you a story. One that is much like your own, only reversed. I was a young Lieutenant. We were traveling through one of a hundred hellholes in Vietnam. Things went south almost immediately. I was faced with the same scenario as Corporal Sanchez. The difference, he saw the big picture. He knew you had to live for the rest of the team to survive. I was more shortsighted than that. I let my Captain take the risk. Oh, I argued. I volunteered to go in his place, but in the end, I obeyed his order. He died, I lived. That’s when the devastating reality set in. Our commanding officer was dead. It was my responsibility to get the team out safely. I failed on that front. You see Captain Redding had received updated plans just before we were attacked. He didn’t have a chance to relay the new exit strategy. I led our team into a massacre, not knowing the chopper was several clicks to the left. Three of our men died, several others were injured severely before we got out. Had I died and Redding survived, those men would still be alive today.”

Impetuous Flight “That’s not your fault,” Dax said softly. “No,” Nathan agreed. “Not really. I couldn’t have known what we were walking into. But it’s always weighed on me just the same. Sanchez knew what he was doing. He’s a hero, that doesn’t make you less of a soldier or a leader. A good man died, and that’s a tragedy but the rest of you lived and that is entirely because of you.” “I didn’t...” Dax began. “I read the file, remember. I know what happened. You saved those men. One man didn’t get home to his family. Six others... did.” The two of them sat in silence for several minutes remembering the gruesome reality of a war they never wanted and the responsibility they felt for the men who depended on them to survive. “Anyway,” Porter finally said. “I’ve been thinking. I could use you on my team.” “My life is in Manti now,” Dax answered immediately. “And Paige needs me, whether she wants to admit that or not.” “I agree,” Nathan sat back. “I need an adviser on my team. Someone who understands the Middle East, someone whose been there... in the capacity you have. Someone I can trust.” “I thought you were the advisor,” Dax frowned. “Why do you need me?” “That’s true,” Nathan admitted. “I am. But I haven’t been there. The Pentagon develops the plan and forwards it to me for review and input. I have Carmen do the hard data collection, she’s amazing by the way. Paige really came through for me on that one. But I can run strategy all day long, study maps till doomsday and still not know the terrain. I’ve never been in the mountainous region. I’ve never been on the ground. You have. I’ve been given permission to bring someone in, an assistant so to speak to counsel on a case-by-case basis - as needed.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 You don’t have to move. You never have to step foot in Washington if you don’t want to. We can issue you a secure line and give you a government email. The upside... you get your security clearance back and the boys can talk freely about upcoming missions. It’s a win for everyone here, just think about it. I’ll leave the papers when I go.” “Hey,” Paige said as she climbed the stairs to Dax’s back porch. She immediately realized she’d interrupted something. “I thought we’d head to the Farmhouse for breakfast. The old man has to fly out later this afternoon. He should have a good meal under his belt before he tackles that airplane food, right?”

“You guys go,” Dax suggested. “I was hoping the three of us could do this together,” Paige argued. “It will give the two of you a chance to get to know each other and me a little more time to harass my favorite General.” “Retired General,” Nathan added as he stood and wrapped an arm around Paige’s shoulders. “What do you say, soldier? Breakfast on me?”

Dax glanced from Paige to Nathan then back. “Fine,” he stood. “I need a second to lock up and grab my wallet.” ***** Two hours later the group was still occupying a table in the back of The Farmhouse Restaurant. Dax was in a better mood. Nathan was right, his men... former men that is, were good. If the mission was like Kandahar, that had been pretty straightforward. Go in, grab the prisoner and bolt. Was this another rescue mission? One the US didn’t want the world knowing they’d executed? How many of those had Dax led throughout his career? Too many to count and he was proud of the fact that, at least on those occasions, he’d never lost a man. His team, his friends, would be okay. He had to believe that. So, what about the job offer?

Impetuous Flight Was he ready to consult? He knew he’d never return to the life no matter how many times Solo and Bucket begged him to. But maybe he could ensure their safety from behind the scenes. It might be worth taking a closer look. Dax was jolted out of his thoughts by Paige’s cell phone. “Hey,” Paige answered. “Seriously? I’ll be right there.” “Go,” Nathan urged. “I’ll call you when I get back home. Sophie will want to say hello, anyway.” Paige jumped up, gave Nathan a big kiss and a hug then turned to Dax. “Sorry.” “I’ve got this,” Dax smiled. “Go save the world.” Paige was laughing as she rushed out the door. “So,” Nathan studied Dax. “Make any decisions?” “Yeah,” Dax pushed his plate away. “I’m in. I’ll take you back to Paige’s. While you pack, I’ll fill them out and you can take them with you. Stop back by the house before you leave.” Nathan grinned. “I’m happy to hear it. This arrangement, well I think it’s going to be perfect. Once we get those credentials reinstated, I’ll send you the instructions to access your email. I have something in the works I could really use your input on. Different team, but guys you might know. This one is going to be dicey.”

Dax stood. “I got this.” “Naw,” Nathan also stood. “I’d like to buy. You can treat me next time.” Dax raised an eyebrow. “Thought you said I wouldn’t need to travel.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “You won’t,” Nathan shrugged as he handed the cashier his card. “I’m planning to bring Sophie out here to see the country. I think she’ll like it. And Thanksgiving is coming up. We might just plan a real family holiday with turkey, stuffing and the whole messy event. Paige makes the best pumpkin pie. I don’t know what her secret is, but I’ve never tasted a crust as good as hers. Maybe you can help me convince her it’s for a good cause.” Maybe,” Dax chuckled. “What about Paige?” he asked soberly. “Did you tell her about my consulting gig?” “

“No,” Nathan shrugged. “I would have but I was waiting to get your answer before I said anything. Go ahead and tell her. The jobs not a secret and she’s used to me not sharing the details with her. She’ll understand.” “I hope so,” Dax worried a little. They’d always shared an open and honest connection. Would this damage that part of their relationship? Only time would tell.

***** Paige stepped into the Chevron and looked around. Gage and Duncan were there. Oh, goody! “Hey guys,” she said cheerfully. “Tell me he left a clue this time.” “Manager is pulling the tapes,” Duncan supplied. Paige glanced at Gage, who was involved in a serious conversation with a middle-aged woman at the moment. Must be a witness, she wasn’t wearing a name tag. She slowly began to walk the area. Duncan followed. “Do you think he left a clue?” Duncan asked seriously. “I’ve walked through here already but didn’t see anything suspicious.”

Impetuous Flight “I don’t know,” Paige said absently as she studied the door to one of the refrigeration units. “Stay here and guard this. Do not let anyone get near this door.” Duncan frowned. “Why?” “Just do it,” Paige moved forward and caught Gage’s attention. “What’s up?” he asked immediately. “I need to see the video. I need to know if the perp went anywhere near that glass door back there,” Paige insisted.

Gage motioned for the lady he’d been talking to. “Ma’am, can you tell me if the suspect was at the back of the store? Over by where that other officer is standing?” The woman furrowed her brows in concentration for several seconds. “I believe he did go back there. Yes, he came in the door with a young lady. I don’t know if they were together, in fact, I don’t think they were. She went over there and got some coffee then left. He turned right and headed for the coolers. He was back there for several minutes before he slowly made his way to the counter and pulled the gun. I’m sure of it,” she added. “Thank you,” Gage guided her away from Paige and spoke for a few more seconds then returned. “What’s up?” “I need my kit,” Paige smiled. “There is a clear palm print on the cooler. I want it. We can compare it to any fingerprints on the shot glasses from yesterday. If any of them match, we know we found our guy. I’d also like to watch the video to make sure it was him, not someone else that created those prints.” “You pull the prints, I’ll track down the manager and we can go from there.” Gage headed for a back room as Paige headed out the front door.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 ***** The group was now back at the station gathering fingerprints from tiny shot glasses. “You guys do know that we now have fingerprints for every six-year-old within a hundred miles, don’t you?” Duncan shoved the shot glass he’d just finished away and sat back. “What makes you think he even touched these?” “We have a witness that saw him pick up one of the glasses as she walked by,” Paige said casually. “What’s wrong Hav? Too much work for you here in the big city?” Duncan laughed. “Manti? The big city? Are you serious?” “Compared to Laurel Bluff? Yeah,” Gage added. Duncan frowned and Paige felt a little bad. She wasn’t taking sides on this one and didn’t want Hav to think she was. Gage and Duncan were going to have to work things out soon because she didn’t like walking this fine line every time she spoke. Margie approached the group with a frown. “What’s up Marge?” Duncan asked. “The Norton’s are at it again,” she shook her head in exasperation. “Weston is apparently drunk and insisting he can plow the field. Gerald is trying to stop him but Nancy says the two of them are engaged in an all-out brawl. She’s terrified one of them is going to get injured and they won’t get the crops finished before it freezes this weekend. They’re predicting that big storm come Friday.” “I’ve got it,” Duncan stood. “I need a break, anyway. Wes just needs a firm hand. Unless you need me, I think I’ll deal with this and check off for the day.”

Impetuous Flight “Thanks, Duncan,” Margie said, obviously relieved. “Go ahead and clear once you talk some sense into those two boys. I’ll let Jer know you won’t be in until next week.” Duncan pushed through the door at the same time Gage asked the question Paige had on her mind. “Why not until next week?” Gage pressed. “I mean, with Jericho headed out of town tomorrow aren’t we shorthanded?” Paige frowned. “Where is the sheriff going tomorrow? Nobody told me he was headed out of town.” Margie smiled. “Guess he didn’t know he was supposed to ask the new guy for permission.” “You know what I mean,” Paige said defensively. “If we’re short, all of us should know that. Who’s in charge, anyway? We do have a robber on the loose.” “Jericho will be available by phone and if we have an emergency, Chief Strong is available,” Margie countered. She always sounded like an annoyed mother speaking to a petulant child when she used that tone of hers. A tone that told the two deputies not to push this any further. It didn’t go unnoticed that Margie had not revealed anything about their boss’s mysterious trip. “I think I’ve got something,” Paige said nearly two hours later. “These look like a match.” Gage stood and walked to Paige’s desk. “I agree. Let’s send them to the lab to verify then we can run them through the system and see if we get a hit. We just might have a name to go with that picture by tomorrow.” “Maybe,” Paige sealed up the prints and handed the bag to Gage. “But he also may not be in the system at all. Let’s wait and see what we find.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Gage took the bag and returned to his desk. He pulled on his jacket and turned to leave. “I know you are getting caught in the middle of this and I’m sorry. I’m working on it, I promise.” “I’ll manage,” Paige assured him. “But Teddy, I won’t take sides. I know he hurt your sister, but he’s been nothing but nice to me. He’s been professional and as much as I love you and Sabrina, this is work. It can’t be personal.” “I know,” Gage grinned. “I’m kind of getting used to that nickname again. Never thought I’d say that but it’s true. I don’t want you in the middle and Sabrina is mad Dunc is here in town but she’s coming to grips with that reality as well. I will, too. Just give me a little time.” “That I can do,” Paige smiled. “Now, I’m going to stretch my legs, take a spin around town and then head home. I think we’re onto something here. Margie stopped them before the two deputies left the office. “I’m going to send the photos to the media. Someone might recognize him. Phil got the hotline set up earlier today. If we do a statewide press release, we might get some good tips. I just wanted to warn you because we are going to get a lot of bad one’s as well and tomorrow might be a busy day running down leads. Most of which will be false.” “Got it,” Paige smiled. “Even more reason to do a quick sweep then head home. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a late one.”

***** Paige straightened her shoulders and knocked on Dax’s front door. Hopefully, he’d be up for dinner and some conversation. She knew Nathan had pressured him for something and she needed to know what.

Impetuous Flight “Hey,” Dax said as he took a step back to let Paige in. “Hey yourself,” she said, handing him her coat. “You busy?” “Just threw dinner in the oven. You want to stay?” he offered. “Love to,” she moved to the couch and settled in. “I saw the news. Robberies, huh? Guess that’s why you bugged out so quickly this morning.” “Yeah,” Paige sighed. “We’re short on clues, though. He’s good. I’d say he’s a professional.”

“Have you checked the prison?” Dax suggested as he handed Paige a glass of wine. “Could be a recent release. Career criminal that was rehabilitated and released.” Paige laughed. “Dax Hamilton, I think you’re more cynical than I am.” “Probably,” he grinned. “Doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” “We might have prints,” she told him. “If so, we’ll run him through the system and see what pops. If you’re right, he’ll be easy to identify. If not, we’ll have a bigger challenge.” “I haven’t seen him around town,” Dax pondered. “But he has to be staying here. If he’s hitting places here in Manti, he has to be close. Might want to check out the summer homes again. See if he’s squatting.” Paige stretched out on the couch and sipped her wine. “So, what did Nathan want from you?” Dax relaxed into his chair. “Knew you’d get to that eventually.” “And?” she glanced at him and waited.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “He asked me to be a long-distance adviser or consultant I guess. He’ll send me stuff, I’ll look over the plan and get back to him.” “So, that’s why he came to town?” she frowned, a little hurt it had been business not pleasure that had him flying across the country to her little oasis. “I’d say maybe 25% me, 75% you. He could have just asked over the phone and mailed the docs but since he was coming to see you, he brought them with him.” “I doubt that,” Paige disagreed.

“Think what you want, but I know I’m right. He told me as much. He enjoyed spending time with you. In fact, he said he wants to stop in more often. We might need to get started on that guest room overhaul sooner than we planned. You might need a place for Nathan and Sophie to crash in the near future.” “What?” Paige sat up. “He said that?” “He said he was going to talk to Sophie about flying out for Thanksgiving. He also said you make a mean pie. I’m hoping you will prove him right,” Dax grinned. “Pumpkin pie is my favorite part of the holiday.” Paige considered. Was it possible Nathan had come out for her? “What did you tell him? About the job, I mean? You going to take him up on the offer?” “For now,” Dax sobered. “I’m going to give it a try.”

“You left because something bad happened, didn’t you?” Paige decided. “You could say that.” “Will you tell me sometime?” she practically whispered.

Impetuous Flight Dax sighed. “It was a mission. One I can’t talk about. We were in Afghanistan and things turned on a dime. We had been suspicious and weary of our interpreter for some time but our driver, Salah, confirmed it. Sayeed, we learned later, was working for the Taliban. Salah overheard a conversation he was translating between Solo – one of my top men - and a local farmer that we believed was assisting us with Intel. Salah quietly got my attention and translated the actual exchange. The farmer and Sayeed were coordinating an arms deal. Once they had the merchandise, they planned to turn on us and take out the entire team. We were able to intervene and Sayeed mysteriously disappeared. I have no idea if it was the Taliban or friends of Salah’s that made that happen and I can’t say that I care. We took a large team in to take down the farmer and were unprepared for the numbers we encountered. We were pretty sure there would be resistance, but the guy was apparently a Tribal Leader. We thought he was a lowlevel operative. Things went south and one of my guys ended up saving my life at the expense of his own.” “I’m sorry,” Paige said sincerely. “I know it’s not enough but I’m sorry for your loss.” Dax shrugged. “I left and thought I’d never look back.” “Then General Nathan Porter entered your life and you couldn’t resist?” Paige studied him. “I don’t get it. Why accept if you want out?” “The night before I met your General, I got a call,” Dax admitted. “From one of the men,” Paige assumed.

“Yeah,” Dax nodded. “From Solo. He and Bucket are headed back in. Back to Afghanistan. Until now, they’ve been able to avoid the area. This time is different. It brought back memories and anxieties for all of us. Solo especially. He couldn’t tell me much but I think they’re headed back to Zabul, or at least somewhere close. He was a little freaked but trying to play cool. The fact that he called me told me everything I needed to know.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “And then you freaked a little?” Paige said in understanding. “A little,” Dax shrugged. “I can’t explain the bond to someone on the outside. I’m going to worry until they are safely on American soil. Most of the guys bolted when I did, or soon after. Bucket and Solo stayed. They have a few more good years then they too will retire, move on to a nice cushy desk job at the Pentagon or something. Until then...” “Until then, you need to be able to check in. See that they are okay. Know what mission they are assigned to carry out. Working with Nathan will give you that backdoor in. I get it. Just know, Nathan doesn’t like to let those close to him go. When it comes time for you to bail, he’s going to fight you like nobody has ever fought before. He respects you. He may have given you an in, but you earned it. And that means you have earned the right to leave anytime you want. Don’t let him tell you otherwise.” “Voice of experience?” Dax asked. “On steroids,” Paige grinned. Just then the alarm went off on the oven. “Soups on,” Dax said as he stood and moved toward the kitchen. “Table or living room picnic and a movie?” “Picnic and I get to choose the flick,” Paige followed. ***** Bethany Kirkwood stepped into the bank and slipped off her coat. As she glanced around, she was relieved to see the branch director was nowhere to be found. She had a good job and would never complain to anyone but Mr. Owens made her uncomfortable. Nobody would believe her if she told them he watched her sometimes, in a creepy, middle-aged guy way. Everyone knew he’d married the prettiest woman in town. A former cheerleader who still wore too much make -up and clothes made for a woman in her twenties, not her fifties. But Janice thought she looked hip and the town humored her. Who was Bethany to argue?

Impetuous Flight Invisible, that’s who. Which is why people would laugh if she suggested her boss treated her inappropriately, or passed by just a little too closely, or stared at her boobs sometimes. So, Bethany trudged along, hoping this was the year she’d get that scholarship and could move away for good. She worked quickly, preparing her workspace for customers. Her manager, Gracie Timmons, stepped up beside her and motioned for Bethany to follow. Apparently, Owens had already been there to punch in his code, because Gracie hit a few keys and the large vault door slid smoothly across the floor. They worked together, counting money, recounting then locking up. Bethany slid behind the counter just as the clock hit nine and Gracie unlocked the doors and moved to her own desk out in the open. The bank was open for business. ***** Vito Copley double checked his go bag, for this job everything had to be perfect. Once he hit the place, he’d need to skip town for good. But that was all in the plan. He had enough dough to get him to Texas, but this last hit would give him a little buffer just in case. One nobody needed to know about but him. Hopefully, Danny still had that apartment over his garage. He’d crash for a few days then light out for the coast. Just another week tops, and he’d be living the life he deserved. His thoughts shifted to the good old days and his heart started to race. There was nothing like a good heist to get the blood pumping. And that last heist... well, that had been the bomb for sure. It’s what had kept him going for the past five years. The rest of the crew was gone now. Bennie had been busted for snuffing out that prostitute in Orlando and would be in for life. Colin was popped nearly two years ago. The moron always had overestimated his abilities. Vito wasn’t the least bit surprised when he’d heard his friend got into a deadly shootout with the local police. That meant the loot all belonged to him now. Served them right for laying him out that way. After stashing their load, he’d returned to Vegas only to be shackled and hauled off to prison.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 At least neither one of them had any idea where he’d stashed their bootie. Five years in a maximum security cage had taught Vito not to trust another soul. He was out and he was staying out. If he never saw Ely, Nevada again... it would be too soon. His mind returned to his most recent job and the bimbo broad that could have ruined everything. Good thing he was in Podunk. No way would a small town cop catch the prints on the back cooler. But still, he hated loose ends. Lucky for that skank teen he was blowing this town for good. Otherwise... well, revenge was sweet that’s for sure. He glanced around the trailer, making sure he’d gathered up everything. He didn’t have time to think about some chick he’d never see again. He had work to do. The trailer had provided the perfect hideout but if he left one fingerprint, one stray hair, one little clue, the locals would figure out who he was. It might not matter, but again... he hated loose ends. When he was sure every trace was gone, he locked up and headed for the car. Now the hard part. He’d need to stash the clean ride somewhere and hope nobody noticed it. Then walk back here and hook up with the throwaway. It was going to take at least an hour. That would put him at the bank just before lunch. Hopefully, he could beat the crowd because he wasn’t willing to wait one more day. He’d hit this small town on purpose, knowing the cops wouldn’t have a chance of catching him. But, the downside was smaller takes, which meant more jobs. There was always a tradeoff. He climbed behind the wheel and headed for the south end of town. ***** Bethany glanced up and saw the man enter the foyer. Dang, she was so hungry. If she dealt with the guy quickly, maybe she’d still make it to the diner before all the tables were full. “Can I help you?” she said forcing politeness.

Impetuous Flight “Keep your mouth shut and give me everything in the till,” Vito ordered. Bethany’s eyes widened in stunned disbelief. She must have gone too slow because the man pulled a gun from his pocket and fired one shot toward Gracie. Her boss fell to the floor and Bethany screamed. Daniel Owens was in his back office when he heard the commotion. He rushed to the front and froze. They were being robbed? He silently slid around the corner and headed for the back door. Maybe he could escape before anyone saw him. He heard the gunshot and then one of the women screamed. They didn’t pay him enough to deal with this kind of danger.

Gracie was in pain but she knew it wasn’t life threatening... not if she could get the bleeding under control. She reached under her desk and pressed the panic button. At least the cops would be here soon. Then she slid out the bottom drawer of her desk and grabbed the scarf she’d placed there this morning. Once she had it secured around her upper arm as tight as she could get it, she peeked around the corner to see how many patrons were trapped inside. She let out a relieved sigh when she realized it was just her, Bethany and the robber. Well, and Mr. Owens must be somewhere in the back. Hopefully, he’d stay hidden, maybe contact the police and let them know what was going on. ***** “What is that noise?” Paige complained as she stepped back into the office area from the back evidence area. Jericho rushed from his office. “Bank alarm.” Then he was out the door. “What bank?” Paige called after him but he was long gone. “What bank, Margie?”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “Zions on Main,” Margie said with a sigh. “Looks like our thief has upped his game.” “Probably,” Paige agreed as she rushed to her car. She pulled in beside her boss and scowled. “Weren’t you supposed to be out of town on something mysterious?” “You’ll be glad I’m here,” he said as he glanced around. Then he pulled out his phone and disappeared. Paige studied the area carefully. There had to be a getaway car. She glanced up when Duncan Havilland pulled in behind her car, followed by Dean and Gage. Knowing they’d cover the front, Paige cautiously headed around back. The car had to be there somewhere. Within minutes she spotted an old Saturn with truck plates across the street in the market parking lot. “Hey Margie,” she called through her radio. “I need a plate run.” Within seconds Margie had confirmed her suspicions, the plate was stolen. Paige glanced around, wondering how to disable a car quickly but effectively. She jumped when Gage stepped in behind her. “Slash the tires maybe?” he asked casually. “Are you serious? Can we do that?” Bank robberies were technically the FBI’s ballgame, but Paige hadn’t actually worked one before. She was out of her element here and knew it. The best she could do was look for evidence and clues then let her colleagues do the rest. The feds would arrive any minute, anyway. Gage pulled out a pocket knife and had flattened two tires within a matter of seconds. “Hope you were sure that’s our car.” He grinned as he strolled purposefully back toward their boss. “So, what’s the plan?” “As far as I can tell, the suspect doesn’t know we’re here yet,” Jericho decided. He was about to continue when the back door opened and a man stepped outside.

Impetuous Flight Paige glanced at the bank for several seconds then decided to check out the car. If there was anything in plain sight, it might help them get a warrant. She was standing next to the vehicle, looking for the slightest clue when she heard the back door open behind her. She pulled her gun and darted across the street, pointing her weapon directly at the man sliding through the back doorway. “Stop right there, mister.” “What?” Owens froze and stared wildly around looking for an escape. He had come face to face with Deputy Paige Carter and a very large gun. “Wait, I’m not... I’m...” “Well?” Paige pressed. “He’s in charge at the bank, put the gun down Paige,” Jericho moved forward. “Yeah, slider,” Gage joked. “Can’t you see he’s about to pee himself?” Owens scowled but let out a sigh of relief when Paige lowered her weapon. “Hav, you take him across the street and get a statement. The Mayor’s aware of the situation and will have a room available in the City Building,” Jericho turned to look at the car. “Looks like you took care of that problem.” Paige watched as Duncan escorted the strange man across the street, then across Main to the City Offices. When had he snuck up behind them, anyway? And who was watching the front door? She was about to ask when several black SUV’s pulled into the lot of the Market. Agents in black suits exited and began to study the bank. “Looks like the feds arrived,” Gage surmised. “Is that...” Paige grinned. At least one of the Agents was her friend Sean, and he was headed their way. “Agent Wilkins,” Jericho reached out a hand in greeting.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “Sheriff,” he glanced at Paige and grinned. “I don’t remember there being this much excitement when we worked together. Are you sure you haven’t found a bad penny or something?” “Not funny,” Paige scowled. “How is this my fault?” She turned to Gage and pointed with her thumb. “Blame him... the other two robberies are his. We’re pretty sure this is the same guy.” “Yeah?” Sean focused on Gage. “Any leads?” “We’re waiting on a print verification, then we can run it through AFIS and see if the prints hit on anyone in the system.” “I’m on it,” he headed back to his vehicle and the other agents. Within minutes, the entire bank was surrounded by feds and the locals had been relegated to the Command Center for a briefing by the SAC. The FBI had taken over an entire section of the City Office building and was using their large conference room for central command. ***** Vito paced the floor. Now what? This wasn’t supposed to happen. It was supposed to be an easy job, in and out, then on his way to freedom. The minute they realized who he was, this was all over. He would not go back to prison. Five years had nearly killed him. Once he’d stepped out of that prison a free man, he’d known what his life would be. A life on the run, living as someone else, always careful not to leave a trace, a life without crime. But he had to get to Texas first and that meant a couple jobs, some easy cash and a long, lonely stretch of road.

Impetuous Flight This was not in the plan. How had the police discovered the hit so quickly? Had he been spotted? Had a citizen tried to come in, only to see the gun? Had someone heard the sound of the shot? Or...he shoved the gun against the teller’s head. “Did you press the button?” “,” Bethany sobbed. Tears were running down her face but she didn’t care. Would it matter how she looked if she was dead? She didn’t think so. Her mother would certainly disagree but at the moment Bethany really didn’t need the nagging voice of Kathy Kirkwood pounding in her head. “No,” she said more forcefully. “You’ve been here, with me, this whole time. I couldn’t have done it without you seeing me. I swear, I wanted to, but I couldn’t.” Bright idea, moron. Tell the guy you wanted to get him arrested. He’ll be thrilled about that confession for sure. Vito looked around. The woman was right, she hadn’t signaled for help. The other woman was still lying on the floor. He hoped she wasn’t dead because that would only make things worse. Not that he’d be getting out of here alive as it was. He couldn’t go back in a cage. He wouldn’t. That left offing himself or taking out a few cops before they got him. A vivid image of Colin entered his mind and he finally understood what had led his friend to a gunfight with the cops. If you were going to go down, might as well go down fighting – right? He thought so and so had Colin. It was something they had discussed at length... in another lifetime. At least it seemed that way. “Who else was here? There had to be someone else.” “Umm...” Bethany hoped Mr. Owens had found a way out of the building. “The director,” Gracie said weakly. “Our director was in his office.” She rested her head against the cold tile floor, wishing the pain in her upper arm and shoulder would subside.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “Gracie!” Bethany jumped to her feet in surprise. She had only taken two steps toward her friend when pain radiated across her cheekbone. The monster had hit her, slapped her across the face. She crumpled to the floor, holding her palm against the throbbing pain. Vito walked across the room and aimed the pistol at the woman on the floor. “Where is this director?” Gracie glanced up and cringed. Maybe she should have kept her mouth shut but she knew Bethany. The girl wasn’t good under pressure. “He was in his office in the back.” “You move, you die,” he said as he turned and headed down the short hallway that led to the back offices. Bethany jumped to her feet and moved to Gracie. “Are you okay?” Tears continued to roll down her face but she ignored them. “I think so,” Gracie tried to sit but decided it was too difficult. “We need to get out of here.”

“Do you think the boss is still back there? Is he in trouble for sounding the alarm?” Bethany pressed. “He left,” Gracie admitted. “I saw him. He came out of his office, saw it was a robbery and snuck out the back.” “Maybe I can get you to the door,” Bethany glanced toward the front entrance and chewed on her bottom lip. “You need a doctor. Maybe...” “Who can access the vault?” Vito demanded, he moved a little closer, an aggressive but deliberate action. He needed them to be intimidated and scared. “The Director,” Gracie choked. “Who else?” Vito said as he kicked Gracie in the stomach.

Impetuous Flight “Nobody,” Gracie wheezed. “I don’t believe you,” he began opening drawers and scowled when he spotted a ring of keys. “What do these go to?” “My car, the outer doors and the vault. But, you need two. That key plus the one that Director Owens has will open the door. One key does nothing.” Vito kicked her again in frustration then walked away. Once he located the large, secure door, he slid in the key and tried the knob. Nothing. That’s when he spotted the second keyhole. So, she’d been telling the truth after all. There were a lot of precautions for such a small town. Had they been robbed before? Once again, Vito began to pace. ***** “Yes!” Sean jumped from his seat and approached Paige and the crew. “Found him.”

“You sure?” Paige asked, knowing the answer. Sean wouldn’t be this excited if there were doubts. “Positive,” he held up his hand for a high five. Paige humored him. “So...” Sean said slowly. “One Vito Copley was released from Ely Correctional Facility on the twentieth of last month. He was assigned a parole officer, given his instructions and ordered to check in the following week. He hasn’t been seen since.” He dropped a prison photo in front of the group. “Meet Vito,” Sean dropped a still photo obviously taken from the camera in the bank. “That’s my guy,” Gage snatched up the picture for a closer inspection.

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “Your prints were a match,” Sean confirmed. “I sent the PO an email, he’s on his way as we speak. Now we just need to talk him out.” Special Agent in Charge Clive Rickman, Sean’s new boss – a guy Paige happened to know Sean hated – stepped forward and held out a hand in demand. Gage looked up, obviously considered, waited, and studied the photo a moment longer. “Paige Carter,” Rickman practically sneered. “Maybe you could explain the proper procedure in this kind of situation to your... colleagues. If you can remember protocol that is, which I highly doubt. There was a reason you didn’t make it as an agent.” Gage shifted, Paige stomped on his foot. He glanced at her, took another good, long look at the paper he was holding then finally held out the photo. Rickman snatched it away and stomped out of the room. “I think our job here is done,” Jericho said as he stood. “Thank you, Sean. As always it’s a pleasure doing business with you.”

“You’re not leaving are you?” Sean asked, clearly upset. “I mean, that’s just his way. I hope he didn’t offend you.” “Don’t worry, we have other work to do. Just make sure you catch our guy.” The sheriff turned and headed for the door. He paused just outside the conference room. “Otherwise, we’ll let you know when we’re finished with him.” Jericho disappeared, his men followed.

Paige paused when Sean gave her a desperate look, then shrugged and left the room. She sighed as she pushed open the exterior door and stepped outside. The sun was warm for a change and she took a minute to soak in the rays as she tried to push the encounter with Rickman aside. She failed miserably. Might as well get back to work, she thought as she glanced around wondering where everyone had gone. She finally spotted them near the disabled car. When she approached the group, she noticed Jericho was on the phone.

Impetuous Flight Duncan stepped up next to her. “He said he needed to check in with Margie.” Paige nodded and waited impatiently. “Let’s hear it,” Jericho turned to her as he disconnected the call. Paige frowned, her boss was annoyed but time was crucial so she didn’t ask why. “I want a warrant for that car. Do you think Tolman can get one... like now?” “Why?” Jericho asked. “So I can go through it thoroughly. I want this guy for the other robberies and this car is our best chance to make that happen,” Paige argued. “Why now?” Jericho pressed. “James is going to ask why we are in such a hurry when there is a hostage situation going down just a few feet away. He’s going to insist we wait for the Feds and work with them to process the car. Why now?” “Because if we wait, we’re going to lose it,” Paige explained. “I know these guys. I know Rickman. He can’t wait to take every last shred of evidence out of my grasp and leave us begging for crumbs. If we wait, you will never see this car again. Professional cooperation is a fairytale when it comes to him.” Jericho raised an eyebrow. “Something you want to share with the group?” “Let’s just say there’s history... an indirect one. If we don’t do this, we’ll never get the chance.”

Sheriff Walters studied his deputy for several seconds then pulled out his phone and dialed James Tolman. Within minutes he had a promise for a warrant. “Dean, you head over to the courthouse and get a certified copy, in duplicate. I want this kept out of the system until it’s finalized.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Dean smiled and headed for his unit. Sometimes living in a small town had its perks. By the time the Freakin’ Bureau of Impertinence discovered what they were up to, it would be too late to stop it. His boss had just ensured they won round two. ***** Twenty minutes later, Paige was underneath the car scraping weeds, dirt and debris from the undercarriage. When she heard Rickman’s voice, she ignored him. “Agent Carter,” Rickman said a little louder. “I demand to know what you are doing under there.” Paige slid the material into an evidence bag and pushed her body completely under the vehicle. “Sheriff Walters,” Rickman sounded relieved. Paige smiled when she spotted the sheriff’s distinct set of cowboy boots. “Your employee is even more insubordinate, disrespectful and downright unprofessional than she was when she worked for us. Would you please take care of this?” “What might that be?” Walters asked coolly. “She is tampering with evidence and I must insist she cease and desist immediately.” “Come again?” Walters narrowed his eyes at a man he was coming to despise.

“This car,” Rickman flailed his hand toward the vehicle. “It’s evidence. I need it preserved. My case just might depend on it. I have already made arrangements for a federal truck to respond to pick it up.” “Then I’d say you have a serious problem,” Walters said calmly.

Impetuous Flight “I don’t understand,” Rickman pressed, sighed then continued as if he were addressing a child that was misbehaving. “Let me be as clear as I possibly can. This is federal evidence, a truck is on the way to remove it from this parking lot. If your employee does not come out from under the car immediately, I will have no choice but to arrest her for obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.” A local tow truck pulled into the lot and parked directly behind the car in question. Frank Hopkins jumped from the truck and approached the group. “This the one, sheriff?” “That’s it,” Jericho grinned. “Take it to the lot we discussed and keep the location to yourself.” “Exactly what do you think you are doing, Sheriff?” Rickman moved to block Frank’s path. Paige slid from beneath the car and gave Jericho a nod, then quietly retreated to her vehicle. Once the bags were locked securely inside, she returned just in time to see her boss casually present SAC Rickman with their warrant. Frank latched onto the car and was pulling away before Rickman exploded. Paige cautiously approached the duo. “I hate to interrupt but Sheriff, can I borrow Gage for an hour or so?” Walters studied Paige then nodded. “Wait just a minute missy,” Rickman took two steps forward, and was in her face before she realized what he was doing. Paige didn’t back down. “That’s Deputy Carter.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “One of my Agents will be joining you,” he motioned for Sean. “He reports to me and you better believe he’s going to tell me if you find anything. Don’t think you’ll have the time to pull another stunt like this one.” He began shaking the pages the warrant was printed on. “If you say so,” Paige turned and headed for her car. “I’m not sure kicking the dragon is your best course of action right now,” Sean whispered when he caught up to her. “Rickman is pissed. What did you guys do?” “Took away his toy,” Paige opened her door. “You driving or riding?” Sean considered. “Driving. I’ll follow you.” “Gage,” Paige called. “Boss says you’re with me.” Gage slid into the passenger’s seat and studied his friend. “Where we going? The guy still has two women in there.” “Rickman is pulling rank. The feds are in charge of bank robberies so Jer is giving it to them. We are investigating your two open armed robbery cases,” Paige supplied as she pulled onto the highway and headed south. “I don’t like putting Bethany and Gracie’s lives in their hands. You sure they can handle this?” Gage pressed. “Gage,” Paige glanced his way then focused on the road ahead. “Rickman is a control freak. He’s arrogant, condescending and likes to flex his muscles. Back there, he’ll relegate us to rubberneckers. Out here, we’re doing something and I think I know where Copley was staying all this time.” “What? How?”

Impetuous Flight “From the car,” Paige shrugged. “It’s what I do. You know that. And I might be new around here but there is only one place I can think of where we can find brown trout, domestic grass, sand, charcoal and cedar with a little sagebrush and quacking aspen thrown in for good measure.” “And a cozy place to stay without suspicion,” Gage grinned. “You got all that from the bottom of a car?” “Yeah,” Paige floored it abruptly. Gage grabbed the dash, Sean honked as he was left in her dust. Paige laughed and continued on. The two deputies had driven the entire area of Palisades State Reservoir and had started on the outlying area by the time Sean caught up to them. Paige pulled down a rough, dirt road that led off into the trees. When she spotted the abandoned trailer, she knew she had her site. Now, how to deal with Sean. She would never ask him to do anything that would get him into trouble with his boss. But calling Rickman meant turning over the evidence. There was no doubt he’d done this on purpose. But his arrogance may just be his downfall. “Funny, Paige,” Sean grumbled. “You trying to get me fired?” Paige shrugged. “I’m sure Jericho would hire you.” “Not the point,” he marched past her without another word. Gage watched the exchange carefully, worried this case would damage their friendship. “Don’t worry big man,” Paige moved forward, in the opposite direction from Sean. “He’s a forgiving guy and I had to make him mad. Now, we get to work.” “You did that on purpose?” Gage wondered if she’d ever done something like that to him. “I needed a good look at these tracks before Sean noticed them,” Paige crouched to study the imprint. “Sports car of some kind. Lightweight. Blue.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Gage snorted. Sean grinned. Paige had done it again. “Never underestimate our girl here, Gage.” Paige stood. “Now what?” “Now, I call Rickman and tell him we believe we’ve located the guy’s hideout, Sean provided. “He told me if you find a car, a house, any property whatsoever... he wants to know about it. So, I’ll tell him.” “Sean,” Paige warned. “You know when he finds out I have another lead and you didn’t mention it... he’s going to blame you.” “Oh contraire my dear,” Sean grinned. “Because I’m going to tell him. I am going to give him a choice. You always did underestimate me. Why I claim you as a friend, I’ll never understand.” Paige laughed. She didn’t underestimate Sean. He was just always two steps ahead of everyone, including her.

“Sir,” Sean said into the phone. “We located a trailer and believe it’s where Copley was staying. Here’s the thing, the locals are heading deeper into the woods to.... well, if you ask me it’s a long shot but there’s another set of tires. Carter wants to see if she can find the car. You want me to stay here, wait for a warrant or follow her around the wilderness?” Sean’s smiled widened. “Got it. I’ll watch for them.” He disconnected and laughed. “Rickman says you never did have any sense and I should stay here and wait for the additional manpower he’s requested to get here and help me. They’ll bring in a federal warrant but they’re coming by air. You’re not going to have much time I’m afraid. Fly away my free bird... make me proud.” He fluttered his hand towards the side of the house.

Impetuous Flight “You are brilliant,” Paige said as she gave her friend a quick hug then darted for her vehicle. Gage slid onto the passenger’s seat and waited for Paige to pull away. “Are we really looking for another car?” “Yes,” Paige said as she pulled onto the dirt road that headed south. “We’re looking for a blue Firebird.” “How do you know that?” Gage asked, perplexed. “Because, Sean just told me,” Paige answered. “I told you it was a sports car and blue, Sean told me it was a Firebird. When it comes to cars and tire tracks, there’s nobody better. Trust me, we are looking for a royal blue Firebird.” “There is no way you could possibly know that,” Gage argued. “Care for a little wager?” Paige challenged. “If I’m right, you take Sean and me out for a nice hot meal. If I’m wrong, I’ll take you and the guest of your choice out... wherever you want. Dinner on me.” Gage considered, was it a bad bet? He didn’t think so. “You’re on.” His phone rang and he immediately answered. “Sir?” “Is she okay?” “Right.” “I’ll call as soon as we know something.” The minute he hung up, Paige demanded answers. “Gracie’s out, they talked the perp into releasing her for a hot pizza. She was shot and lost a lot of blood but she’ll make it. The bullet went in through her upper shoulder from the front and exited her triceps in the back.” “And Bethany?” Paige pressed. “Still inside,” Gage said worried. “The guy’s acting a little crazy. Says he won’t be taken alive and refuses to release his last hostage. I’m worried, she’s just a kid.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “I know,” Paige frowned. “But one good thing about having Rickman here... he brought Messer with him. Corey is the best negotiator the Bureau has. He’s Bethany’s best hope. I have faith in him. And you may not have noticed, but Agent Fenner is positioned on the rooftop across the street. Dillon’s a marksman, competes year round and usually wins the gold. If anything goes down, he’s fast Gage. It’s bad, but Bethany is in good hands. I wouldn’t have left if I didn’t believe that.” “Okay,” Gage turned to study the tree line. “Blue car. You do know this is like looking for a needle in a haystack.” “Not quite,” Paige disagreed. “Royal blue is going to stand out. And... if he drove the car out here he couldn’t have gone far. He’s been acting alone. I doubt he’d trust anyone enough to hitch a ride back. We have a narrow field of possibilities but not nearly enough time to search them out as thoroughly as I would like. You’re from here. Where would he hide a car for a quick getaway? He’s going to be coming from the bank, in a hot car. Possibly cops on his tail, although he probably believed he’d get away with this and have the time for a switch. So far, he hasn’t shown much by way of an alternate plan. Where would you park the car so it’s close to the highway, but not too close, and within walking distance of the trailer?” Gage considered. “Turn up there, to the right.” Paige turned. “Okay, there’s a road that butts up against that wilderness region and leads you directly out to 89. If it were me, I’d hide the car somewhere in the trees just before the bend... near that farm up ahead.” “Bingo!” Paige said triumphantly. “Gage you are brilliant.” “And that’s a royal blue Firebird,” Gage mumbled under his breath. He pulled out his phone and dialed the sheriff.

Impetuous Flight “Tell him we need a warrant to print the outside of the car,” Paige called as she pulled out her phone. “Tell me you got it,” Sean said in answer. “I found it,” Paige responded. “Can you do me a favor?” “I can try. The boys just arrived with a warrant to search the residence. For now, they’re inside. How can I help?” Sean asked. “I snagged that rusty piece of metal with the blue paint on it and I’ve compared the two. It’s a match. For the warrant, I’m going to need the old tires preserved and that emblem you spotted and pointed out with your whole free bird flight hand signal.” “The tires... easy,” Sean agreed. “No problem on that one. The emblem? That might be tricky. Any chance you can leave Gage to secure the scene while you head back and collect the evidence yourself? I’ll keep an eye on it, and can even testify I saw it but if this goes to court and there’s a chain of custody issue... well, that could get me in hot water with the new boss.” “Right,” Paige considered. “Okay, I’ll be back. Don’t let your goons mess with my evidence.” When she hung up, she realized Gage was scowling. “What?” she tried to sound innocent. “An emblem?” he said soberly. “I hope you don’t think you’re collecting on this whole sneaky bet thing. You lied, the bets off.”

“Sore loser,” Paige accused. “I have to go back, grab and bag it. Did you relay everything to Jericho? We’re going to need that warrant before the feds realize we’re two steps ahead of them. If I can pull prints and get a match with Copley another warrant’s a slam dunk. We can wait and go through both cars at the same time.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “He’s on it,” Gage pulled out a folding chair from the back seat of Paige’s unit. “I’ll be waiting in the shade, hurry. I also told Walters to send Frank out. He just dumped the other car so he’s on his way. Best you get back before he arrives. You know Frank doesn’t have a lick of patience.” Paige returned to the trailer, bagged the evidence and convinced one of the feds to secure the old tires for her. He claimed he wasn’t afraid of Rickman and wasn’t worried about retaliation. Paige hoped he was right because she knew Rickman and his buddy Todd Gray were the most vindictive people she’d ever met. She also knew the hostility Rickman was displaying had to do with Carmen’s untimely escape from Gray’s control. They both blamed Paige for that move. Gray was still furious and had done his best to undo the transfer. Too bad he was trying to undermine one of the most powerful ex-generals in Washington. When Paige pulled up, she spotted Gage circling the vehicle. He looked up when she approached. “We got the warrant. Judge Potter granted as much as he could. If we find prints, we’ve got the rest.” “Great,” Paige started for her car then stopped. “Anything further on the hostage deal at the bank?” “Not yet,” Gage sighed. “I was thinking, he probably believes this one is safe. I mean, I ran the plates and they match with the VIN. Comes back to a Benjamin Trevino. The guy’s doing life for killing a prostitute. But nobody reported it missing. I figure it could be a friend of Copley’s. When he got out, he paid the registration fee and had himself a clean, easy ride.”

“Could be,” Paige agreed. “So...?” “So, he probably didn’t wipe it,” Gage provided. “There could be prints all over this thing. Door, trunk, even tires. They’re new by the way, probably bought them with the money he stole from the stations.”

Impetuous Flight “I’ll grab my kit and we’ll see if you’re right,” Paige rushed to her car and back, ready to find a surface with a print. “Try the trunk first,” Gage prompted. “Come here, look at this. I think it’s a print. Makes sense, though right. I mean he probably stashed his clothes and stuff in the trunk and slammed it shut.” “Good eye,” Paige smiled. “I think maybe we just might have the SOB.” ***** “Hey, Margie,” Paige said in greeting. “I just sent you some prints, can you call the lab and see if they can do a quick comparison for me? Tell them I need to know if they match the previous prints on Vito Copley. Thanks, I owe you one.” Paige looked up just in time to see Frank pull off Highway 89 at the same time a large cloud of dust billowed in the distance. She was running out of time. “Come on Margie, I need you on this one.” “I’ll deal with Frank,” Gage offered. “Him, I can stall.” He glanced knowingly at the cloud that was getting closer. Paige kicked her tire and cursed just as her phone rang. “Margie?” “It’s a match,” Margie told her. “I sent the findings over to Judge Potter. He’s signing a new warrant as we speak. If you hear a ding... that’s your eWarrant giving you the authority to seize the vehicle and search it thoroughly inside and out.” “You’re an amazing woman,” Paige did a little dance when her phone pinged. “And I think that’s my warrant. Do me a favor and notify Jericho. I have company to deal with and a car to impound.” “I’ll take care of it,” Margie assured her. “Call Jericho if it gets ugly. He’s had about all he can take of that Special Agent in Charge out there. Are all SAC’s that arrogant and pigheaded or just him?”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 “Just a few,” Paige admitted. “Gotta go.” The instant she hung up, she skimmed the warrant and gave Gage the thumbs up. Then, she strolled to the new arrivals, ready for a fight. Sean climbed from the vehicle and approached Paige. “Situation is over at the bank.” “What happened?” Paige asked, knowing something was wrong. “Turd used the girl as a human shield and started shooting,” Sean ran his hand through his hair. “She took a bullet. Dillon thought he had a clean shot, but the guy ducked and jerked the girl to the side. The bullet went through her side and lodged in his stomach. She’s in surgery with a collapsed lung. Copley’s in surgery but expected to live.” “Shit,” Paige closed her eyes and leaned against the hood of the vehicle. “I know it’s always a possibility but Bethany is so young. She’s been applying to colleges, hoping to make something of herself.” “She’s like you,” Sean supplied. “Gung-ho to get out of Dodge and expand her horizon.” “Exactly,” Paige brushed away a tear. She banked there. Talked to Bethany nearly every week. The girl was a little shy, stifled by her mother’s constant nagging but a really good, smart, happy kid. “Sorry,” Sean pulled her in for a hug. “I’m fine,” Paige sighed. “Now, I was able to get a warrant for the car. Gage found prints on the trunk. It’s a match. The court just sent me the warrant. Frank’s gonna hook it and I’ll go through both cars tomorrow.” “We’ve got him on the bank robbery hands down,” Sean watched as Frank secured the Firebird and moved forward to speak with Gage. “Let’s finish up here and let the attorney’s fight it out.”

Impetuous Flight “Gage owes us dinner, but I’m afraid he thinks we cheated. He probably won’t pay up.” Paige teased as her coworker and friend joined them. “You did cheat,” Gage insisted. “You withheld valuable information pertinent to the case.” “Then I’ll buy,” Sean offered. “I’m starved and I was the one that concealed a very small portion of the truth. Sorry man, old habit.” “So the two of you have done this before,” Gage asked, shaking his head. “All the time,” they said in unison then burst out laughing. ***** It was late when Paige finally got home. The case was closed. Vito Copley was in jail. Gracie was recovering at home with family. Bethany was out of surgery but still not out of the woods. At least she’d made it through so far, Paige hoped the girl was strong enough to make a full recovery. Physical healing was only the first hurdle. Emotionally, the girl had been through a rough few hours and that was going to take time. Dillon Fenner was also struggling. He was good, one of the best... and he’d shot an innocent today. That wound was going to haunt him for a very long time. Paige wasn’t sure he would ever get over it completely. She glanced at her neighbor’s house and was surprised to see him strolling across the front lawn. “Hey neighbor,” Dax smiled. “Another long day, huh?” “You know,” Paige said as she pushed open her door. “I moved to Manti for a slower paced, easy going, neighborly experience. This job is turning out to be exhausting.”

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8 Dax shut the door behind him and turned to look at Paige. “Can I help? I mean you work hard all day and well into the night sometimes then you head home and immediately pull out that file on your mom. Can I help with that? Do something to give you a little down time?” “Let me think about it,” she said as she dropped onto the couch and pulled off her boots. She handed him a notepad with a list of names on it. “I’ve been trying to think of anyone and everyone that could possibly be that mysterious “J” my mom was writing to. I think he might be able to help but so far, none of those names seem likely.”

Dax settled into the chair across from hers and considered his words very carefully. “How did you decide who made the list and who didn’t?” “What do you mean?” Paige asked, settling back. “If your name has the letter J, you make the list.” “Not true,” Dax disagreed. “Judge Potter’s not on there. Keith Judd’s not on there, Jericho’s not on there.”

Paige frowned. “I hadn’t considered Steven Potter but when you throw in Judge, maybe I should.” She held her hand out motioning for her list back. Once she jotted down the name, she considered. “Keith Judd, was he around when mom was killed? I can’t remember. For some reason, I thought he was in Africa on one of his hunting safaris. And as far as Jericho goes, well that’s just... I don’t know, it’s not possible is it?” “Why not?” Dax countered. “If you’re going to make a list, make a list. Include both Keith and Walters. Then you can start eliminating them one by one. If you want to clear your boss, start with him.”

Impetuous Flight Paige focused out the window, considering. Could Jericho be the mysterious man her mother was in love with? If so, why hadn’t he moved heaven and earth to find her killer and demand justice? She’d have to think about that one. “Anyway,” Paige turned back to Dax. “What brought you out so late, anyway?” “Oh,” Dax cringed. “Well, Nathan called earlier. He and Sophie are definitely coming for Thanksgiving dinner. He said they would arrive on Tuesday and fly back home on Saturday.” “That doesn’t give me enough time to get the spare bedroom prepared, or furnished. What am I going to do? The room only has that full sized bed. It was fine for Nathan but not both of them.” “Relax,” Dax said moving to sit next to her. “I told Nathan to plan on staying with me. My guest room is finished and it has a nice queen size bed and everything. It’s just next door and Nathan will be up before both of us. He can relax at my house until you wake up, besides you’re working Tuesday and part of the day on Wednesday. I’m happy to entertain and you can pay me back in other ways.” He leaned over and gently kissed her lips, then the top of her head as he stood. “Now, I have an early day and you have had a rough night. I’ll grab breakfast and should get back around.... maybe eight?” “Sounds good,” Paige stood. “Thank you, Dax. Once again, you’ve saved the day.” She watched as her neighbor...? Friend? She didn’t know what Dax was right now but he was here and for now, that was enough. She’d meant to ask him about his friends, but she probably wouldn’t get an answer anyway. Dax Hamilton was now entering the world of Nathan Porter. The job would bring the two of them closer together. She just wondered if it would tear the two of them apart. With a sigh, she headed up the stairs, pondering Dax’s casual suggestion. Obviously, he hadn’t ruled Jericho out. Why had she?

Paige Carter Season 1—Episode 8

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