Saturday, January 27, 2018

Golden Streak BoxSet Release Day



For a limited time only, all 6 Golden Streak Erotic Romances for one low price. Follow the hot, sexy tiger shifters on their adventures. 

Ryland: Bronwyn didn’t need this crap and she certainly didn’t need it from a bunch of rich pricks that seemed to be out to make her life worst than it already was. She stepped off the elevator and headed for the door. No way was she working for these idiots.

Alistair: Ally is on the run and has no idea why she’d stepped in to save the arrogant lawyer. She detests them as a general rule, and since her ex-husband is one…well, Ally doesn’t want anything to do with the handsome man.

Lance Isaac wants his wife back―he needs her back―to die for him. But when Alistair steps in and takes her away Lance decides to kill them both.

Neal: Rayne Morrow trusts no one, she’s been burnt too many times. All she wants is to lay low and keep her little flower shop open. But too many people owe her big money and refuse to pay up. If she can’t collect soon she’ll have to close. Golden Towers needs to decorate their building, but Rayne misses her appointment and is immediately suspicious when the Goldens wish to work with her anyway. Especially since she knocked their enforcer, Brock, on his ass just for touching her.

Brock: Emma Cole has had a rough life. She’s a deaf mute on the run from her family. Rayne Golden’s flower shop is as good a place as any to blend into the background and remain anonymous. In her silent world she has no friends and wants to keep it that way. She especially doesn’t want the attention of the huge handsome man claiming to be her mate.

Jules: Lenore MacFinley, Lenny to her friends, is a homicide detective, and a damn good one. But when she finds herself next on the hit list, things turn deadly. Broke and critically injured, Lenny wants nothing to do with the handsome, bossy Were Tiger.

Keith: Living a life of exile made for a lonely existence. Banished from her realm for a crime she didn’t commit, that’s the life that the king had condemned Harley Pennington to. Sentenced to a life of solitude away from the people she served, the people she loved. With her departure she was given a warning, that if she fell in love and took a mate that she would be brought back and immediately put to death and her new mate along with her.

Amazon USA http://amzn.to/2rG7gZ9
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2Ec2c10
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/golden-streak-series-boxed-set-kathi-s-barton/1127888994?ean=2940158985898

Smash Words https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/784442



                                     Happy Reading , 



Coming Soon  Feb 2018







Monday, December 11, 2017

Chase The Sons of Crosby Release Day



Chase Crosby didn’t know what he wanted right now. He was trying to get a grip on who his new mate was. He was told she was an ice dragon, but that wasn’t right either, she was a protector of the ice dragons. He had so many questions, and all he could do was sit there while she was locked away in his freezer to recover from her injuries. 

Emerald was a warrior, and she had no idea what she was going to do with a mate. Even though the vampire appealed to her, she was worried the people chasing her would hurt him or his family to get to her, and she couldn’t allow that.

A Homeland Security Agent had gone rogue and he was after Emerald. He didn’t know exactly who or what she was, but he was going to prove she’d been around for centuries, and it didn’t matter who he had to go through to get to her.












Recommended for 18+. Contains graphic sex and language. 
Spencer Graham had been trying to get a hold of Jason Crosby for weeks, but he didn’t seem to answer emails, mail or the telephone. She had an idea that would make them a great deal of money, but she needed him to invest in her project before it was too late. So, barging into his home at 4 a. m. was the only solution as far as she was concerned. She didn’t, however, expect him to answer the door naked and proposition her as soon as she walked in the door. Spencer did the only thing that came natural to her, she knocked him on his ass…. Jason Crosby was nearly two thousand years old, and in all his days as a vampire, he’d never seen anyone quite like her, not that he thought that was a good thing. He didn’t. She was his mate, and he was only going the tolerate her because he had to










Mystery Paperback Winners so far 2017

Karmen Davis
Loan Smith
Karmen Davis
Barnadette Jorden Robinson 
Karmen Davis 
Janet Rodman 
Shona Wesley
Kathy Apa 
Edith Woolls 
Donna Chizewsky
Lorrie Engelbrektson
Debra Lipe
Tia Blackey
Renee Johnson 
Kim Kushibab
Renee Johnson


SWAG WINNERS 
Lorrie Engelbrektson
Shelia Hardin
Elisee Jackson
Ashley Phu 

{ Winners you should be getting you stuff this week in the mail }

For  winners if you have not gotten your signed  mystery paperback please 
contact  my PA  for info  she will have the tracking numbers 



                                                                         Happy Reading,


You can find and follow me here





www.goodreads.com/author/show/4787929.Kathi_S_Barton





                                                              Next Release Dec 25th 2017





Chase put the book down on his desk and thought about what he’d just read. He’d been doing that a great deal lately, reading about the woman that was still in his freezer. She had been hard to figure out, what she was and how she’d come to be, but Kilian had come to his rescue just yesterday and had helped him a great deal. Not that he still didn’t have a million questions, but for the most part, he did have a better understanding and knowledge of what she was. “Do you have a question I can answer for you, Lord Chase?” He told Spud, a friend of Jewel, that he didn’t know, what he wanted to ask right now. “Understandable. The lady queen, she has put someone in charge of watching over her. There are few who didn’t want to be here, but she has picked a couple to help you as well. The helper is called Sunshine. She will be here as long as the Lady Warrior is.” Chase had found out that while Emerald was very powerful and old, she wasn’t an ice dragon, but the protector of them. Yes, she was created in ice, but had the appearance of a human in all ways. It was so she would to be able to withstand the heat should there be a need, but her job was to fight with and to protect dragons, dragons made entirely of ice. And not just any ice either, but ice so cold that it was as hard as stone, which would only melt when the heat from the sun shone directly on them for one thousand years. He’d never heard of such a thing. “Where is her dragon, do you know?” Sunshine, his new helper, bowed before him and told him that she was looking for him now. “So, is he dead or alive? Or don’t you know that yet?” “I believe him to be dead, my lord, but I can’t be sure just yet. Forgive me for not having the answer right now.” He told Sunshine that he didn’t expect her to have them all right now, but to keep looking. “I am, my lord. We all are. To have an ice dragon alive would be a great thing.” He didn’t know why but he let it go. To his way of thinking, to have a full-sized dragon around would be scary. But then he hadn’t ever met a dragon, so he wasn’t sure what full sized could mean. To him they were great creatures that smashed houses. For all he knew they could be no bigger than the faerie in front of him. Emerald had been in his freezer for a week now. She’d come out on occasion, stare at him or whoever was in the room with him, then go back inside. Her sword was always drawn, and she was covered from head to toe in ice…her shield, he’d been told. He’d also read that she would be cold at all times, much like someone that was dead. He didn’t want to think about that too much. The rest of his day was spent trying to catch up on some paperwork. He’d moved all his office—well, most of it—into the kitchen when going back and forth between there and his actual office was too time consuming. Besides, he thought that it was working out better anyway, as he seemed to be getting more done than sitting in his office, staring at the wall. 

Dad had been making it to his house about suppertime every night since he’d been told that Chase had his mate. It had been both wonderful and nerve-wracking at the same time. He loved his dad, more than anything, but he asked too many questions and in a small space of time. And that was what made him tense about this entire thing, not having the answers when his dad assumed that he should.  As soon as he walked in the door, Chase put up his hand. “No, I’ve not spoken to her. Yes, she’s still in there. No, I’ve not learned anything more than I did yesterday, and no, I’m not going to go in there and see if she needs me. She’s fine where she is.” Dad sat down, but looked to be a little miffed. “Dad, I’m scared enough without you adding to my already overflowing cup of what ifs.” “Can’t a man be curious about his newest family member?” Chase said that he could, so long as he didn’t ask him about her. “You think she’s going to be all right in there after all this time?” “No, I think she’s dead and I’m only waiting until you leave before I go in, wrap her in a thick blanket, and bury her in the back yard.” His dad growled. “Dad, I don’t know anything about her other than she worked for Jewel, knows a lot of languages, and that someone, someone deadly, is after her.”  “There are a lot of people around town that don’t belong here, so you know. And Jason has talked to a few of the people in your mate’s neighborhood, who said that Emerald has helped them out a bit, so they don’t tell them anything.” He said that Jason had told him that last night. “He said that he’s got some people watching those guys in the hotel too. I thought that you should know that they’re not moving around much during the day, mostly in the evening, asking questions. I think they figure that people would be more respective of a few questions after they’ve had dinner. Morons.” “Are they human?” Dad told him that a few of them were, but they were wolves for the most part. “Do you know if they’ve registered with the pack leader? That could be an easy way to check them out.” “They’re by the books, I can tell you that. Donald said that not only had they come to him to tell them that they were here, but they gave him some story about being here on a shopping expedition. To put in a plant of some kind. I don’t know what that would be, and Donald said he can’t ask.” Yeah, Chase knew that as well. They had to report to him if they were wolf, but not tell him why they were here other than to say it was business or vacation. “He said to tell you that he has his men and women working in the hotel that they’re in, and they have been snooping around.” “I hope they’re being careful. These men don’t seem the sort to mess with.” Dad said that they were being extra careful, as they seem to have suspicious minds as well. “What do you mean? They figure someone is looking into their lives?” “Said that while they’re in the rooms—cleaning up, you know—there seems to be a lot of luggage, and most of it is locked up. They can’t tell, like one of us can, what’s in there, but they don’t bother them. One of them told Donald that they could smell silver in the cases, so were kind of afraid to touch them.” Dad looked around then back at him, and Chase found himself leaning in to hear what he had to say. “I’ve been in their rooms…not so they’d see me, but in there. They have all kinds of equipment that I had 

to ask what it was when I got back. Jewel is helping me find out what it is, but mostly it’s lab equipment. And a big saw. Like them kind that you’d have when felling trees for a house.” “To remove my head.” They both stood when Emerald came out of the freezer and spoke. “I’ve healed for the most part, but I now need to feed.” Chase felt his own body’s need to feed overwhelm him. Sitting down, he tried to calm himself and his beast. It wasn’t working. He needed her, they both did. When she moved by him to the sink, he growled low and she paused to look at him. “You’ve been here for more than a week, and I’ve not been able to feed either. I’m sorry. I don’t want to rush you or scare you, but just letting you know.” She nodded and poured herself a glass of juice, juice that he knew for a fact hadn’t been in his refrigerator before she’d opened it. “You know what I am to you.” “My mate. I’m not sure how that works with you being a vampire, but I’m not an easy person to know. I’m a loner as well.” She drained the glass of juice then poured herself another. The next time she drained it, it filled on its own. “What is it you expect from me?” It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her to come sit on his naked cock. To let him have her in a very carnal way. But he only looked at her, hoping to Christ that not only could she not read his mind, but that she wasn’t as dangerous as he’d heard she could be. Then he realized that he’d not answered her yet. “Expect? Nothing that you’re not willing to give me. Answers would be great, but having the questions in any kind of order or even coherent right now isn’t going to happen. I’ve been reading up on what I could find, or someone has given me. I know a little about your kind, but that’s it, just a little.” She asked him what he wanted to know. “You’re a warrior. Where is your dragon?” “He died some decades ago. More than I care to think about.” He nodded and told her that he had figured that was what she’d say. “I was harmed when he was taken off the field we were fighting on. He died later, from other wounds. Not that it matters, but the people who are looking for me now, the ones chasing me, they think that I can tell them things about why I’ve been alive for so long. Something about pictures from long ago. I don’t think that they know what I am. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying to find me. It’s been hard to keep away; they must have resources that are good. But I can’t let them capture me for any reason, because that would cause a lot of creatures a great deal of trouble. Including you. And if I won’t give them what they want, then they’ll simply remove my head.” “They have lab equipment with them. And as you said, a saw to remove your head. I’m thinking, unlike you, that they know just what you are and what you could bring to them if they were to capture you.” She didn’t say anything, but sat at the table he and Dad were at. “What can we do to protect you? I’m assuming that somewhere along the line, you’ve trusted people before who betrayed you. I won’t. Never. And neither will my family.” “As I have been told before. Sorry, but my levels of trust don’t include you just yet. That doesn’t mean that I won’t eventually, but for now, I don’t.” She didn’t elaborate, 

and he didn’t ask. If he was honest, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know. “You are the son of Crosby, the vampires that saved the Queen Kilian.” “Yes, and you are Emerald, dragon warrior, rider and protector of the ice dragons and last female of your kind.” She nodded, and he could see her shifting under the fa├žade of clothing that she had worn when she’d come out of the freezer. “You’re magical, the most magical creature that has ever lived, too.” “Yes, and by being my mate, you are as well.” He had already figured that would happen, but it didn’t make it any easier for him to question her. “You will be safe with me, Chase Crosby. This I can promise you with my sword.” ~~~ Kilian was excited and afraid to meet the warrior. She knew who she was, of course. All creatures of the earth knew who the great Emerald was. But when she entered the dwelling that housed her, she knew immediately that while she was healed, she was still very weak. Looking at Chase as he sat with her at the table, Kilian wondered if he knew that she was just as hungry as he was. “I’ve come to bless you with some of my magic.” Kilian had only come to talk to the warrior, but knew that she was going to need more than she was getting right now. “My lady, you need to feed, and soon. I’m sure that you’re aware of this, but you’re unwell.” “I’m all right. I’ve been talking to the vampire here.” She nodded at Chase and he smiled. Kilian loved this young man—because he was to her, young—more than she did any of the others. Which was saying a great deal, as she loved them all very much. But Chase had a heart of gold, and he was as kind a person as she’d ever met. “He has it in his head that he’s going to protect me. I don’t need protecting from a vampire, or any other creature that comes to this house. So we’re coming to an understanding, he and I. He’ll let me do my job and not get in my way.” “You do need him, however.” Emerald looked at her, and Kilian could see that she was angry. At who or what she didn’t know, but she bowed before her. “You need only to tell him and Chase will help you.” “He cannot, and you know this.” Kilian said that she knew no such thing, and looked at the warrior when she laughed. “The vampire isn’t going to be—” “Chase. Say it…my name is Chase, Chase Crosby.” He grinned, and Kilian wondered if he knew how much more handsome he was when he did that. “You have to stop calling me the vampire, as that isn’t something about me that a great many people know. Chase. You can say it in several languages, I’m sure.” “It would be all the same, as well you know. But there are things that you don’t understand. You can’t get close to me, vampire. I am a danger to not just you, but to all mankind if they find me. Especially here.” He asked her why here. “You are here. So is your family.” “Yes, so they are. And for what it’s worth, they’d help me in any kind of way that you needed. But as for the men in town that are here for you, I can tell you right now, they have no idea where you are, or that you’ve healed. Nor do they know exactly what we’ll do to them when they try anything. As I said before, we’re a tight family of 

vampires, with magic that none others have. Also, we can call on many other packs and leaps at any time. They like us.” She asked him why he thought that they’d not get to her. “Because, I have taken care that they don’t. And we have people working in the building that they’re in who are watching their every move. Even what they eat and what they send back to the kitchen. Did you know that they don’t drink anything but water? Why is that, I wonder? It could be that they, like me, don’t care for sugary drinks, but who knows? But they like water.” “So, they aren’t human.” Kilian laughed when Chase told her no shit. “I’m not one to fuck with. I have a great deal riding on me staying alive.”  “Yes, you do, and so do I. I have my life and everything that I am riding on you staying alive.” He stood up and Kilian marveled at his height, as she did all the Crosby boys when she was near them. “My brothers and I are working very hard on keeping you safe, and have been since you were put into my freezer to heal. We’ve all taken turns in making sure that you were taken care of, that you had all that you needed, and that no one, at least only those that we trust, knew where you were. As far as anyone knows, they haven’t any idea that you’ve been in my freezer all this time.” When Emerald stood up as well, Kilian decided that she’d come to talk to the warrior some other time, and slipped out of the house as quietly as she’d entered. She found herself smiling at nothing when she made her way back to her home.  There were going to be fireworks when those two came together, and Kilian was glad that she was close enough to see them when they did. The Crosbys were a powerful group of men, but they paled considerably when their magic was put against one as strong as the warrior. Chase was going to be a vampire to be reckoned with, more so than he was now. “My queen?” She looked at Sunshine and allowed her to speak freely. She found this rule, as old as she was, the most annoying of all of them. To have to ask to speak to her. “We have located the body of the ice dragon, my lady. Three, as a matter of fact. They have been dead for a great many years. His body, like that of two others, has been hidden within the caves of the mountain. By the same hand, we believe. They have not been bothered, my lady. Their bodies are still as they had been when they entered. No human has ever touched them. Not in all these years.” “The ice warrior, you think she put them in there?” Sunshine nodded. “How did they perish? Were you able to ascertain that?” “Yes, my lady. Two of the dragons were very old and worn out. They wished to die and did so. They have been moved and put to rest in the gardens here. I hope that is all right with you. The cave they were found in, it was not proper for ones such as them. Her dragon, the ice warrior’s, he was killed by his own hand. She brought him to the cave to be with his family in his last moments, I think. But he ended his life on his own.” Kilian asked how they were related. “His parents, my lady. Both his mother and father were put there by the warrior, as well as several, smaller dragons that were killed by war. The dragon of the ice warrior, he had been hurt badly when he was hidden away. He finished himself to free her of his life.” 

He had been her true dragon, and Emerald should have died with him…her heart having beat with his. But since he killed himself—the only thing he could do for her to be free to move on—her life did not end with his. As soon as he died, by his own hand, it separated their hearts. Her heart would beat for only Chase now. It was the thing that Kilian might have done, should she have been a dragon for a warrior. “How do you know this? That he died by his own hand?” Kilian was handed a thick slab of stone, hand cut and a great many years old. She read the accounting of the incident then looked at Sunshine. “Have you told anyone of this?” “No. I was to tell his lordship, Lord Chase, but I thought you should know first.” She nodded. This changed so many things for them. “He gave her his all, my lady. All that they were, even his parents, was gifted to the warrior for her service to them. This is a great thing he did for her. And the title that is now hers.” The king and queen of the dragons had been found, it seemed. After all these many years, their bodies had been found, and Kilian was both saddened by their deaths and happy that someone had taken care that their bodies were safe. She herself had looked for them whenever she was out and about, the earth not giving her their whereabouts, and now she knew why. Emerald had hidden them away so that their forms could be safe. For all of them. “Tell the Crosbys that I wish to speak to them. All of them. And the warrior. She might know what her dragon has done for her, but I have my doubts. But I have to let them all know what this means. Not just to Chase and Emerald, but to the family as a whole. There will be others now that will come for her, and when they do, there will be hell to pay.” Sunshine asked if she could be paired with the warrior. “You will need to ask her, my child. And do not be surprised if she tells you no. Her life has been hard since she was created, and I doubt she has had a friend or helpmate at all since then.” “I will await your conversation with them before I put the question to her.” Kilian thought that a good idea. “She is the queen of the warriors as well as the queen of the dragons. When she brought them all together, do you think she knew what she had done?” “She might have, as I said, but I doubt it. The note that was left for her, where did you find it?” Sunshine told her that it had been under the king, with the two crowns that they had worn. “I would say that she didn’t know, nor does she have any idea what they have given her. And indirectly to young Chase. He will be…well, I hope he will be more receptive of it than Jason might have been before meeting his own mate. Otherwise, we might have a greater war on our hands than we have ever had.”  She didn’t think that Chase would be a problem, not with this or anything that had to do with his mate. But Kilian was as sure as she stood there, in her garden, that Emerald would be. She would be angry at a lot of things, but mostly at her dragon for putting her into such a position. Kilian was both looking forward to telling her and not. This wasn’t going to be easy, she knew it. 





Monday, November 13, 2017

Larson: McCullough’s Jamboree Release Day



Virginia is a bestselling paranormal romance author. She does much better with her stories than with people. When she’s in her “writing zone,” she won’t even eat unless her mother hands her a plate and reminds her to do so. She wouldn’t be making the trip to the McCullough’s if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Go, see the child, make sure he has a good home. That is the plan. Simple…not.

Larson is having his own issues. Being blamed for the murder of one of his clients, which he didn’t do, has him closing up shop and laying low for a few days. His mom insists that he show up for dinner to meet their visiting guests. Larson would rather stay home, but she’d have his hide if he did. 

Larson sees the beauty from across the room and makes his way to her. Before he even reaches her, he catches her scent. She is his mate. Now what is he supposed to do? He has his life just the way he wants it and a mate wasn’t figured into that equation. On the other hand, the way she flushes when she returns his stare has him thinking anything but pure thoughts. Maybe having a mate wouldn’t be so bad after all.


Amazon USA  http://amzn.to/2mosrfI





Amazon Paperback  Coming Soon 



Colin McCullough gets the phone call that all military families dread―his brother Hawkins has been shot. Colin only wants to thank Hawkins’s commanding officer for saving his brother’s life, but he can never seem to get past the guards in the hospital’s hallway to personally thank the man.

Major Lauren Burcher is all Army and head of a special task team usually sent in to clean things up. This time, her team is ambushed by friendlies, and Lauren and her best man Hawkins McCullough barely make it out alive―they were set up. Someone wants them both dead.

Another attempt on Lauren’s life in the hospital fails miserably, and when Colin scoops her up in his arms to place her back in the hospital bed, he finds a gun pointed at his forehead at point blank range. In that moment he realizes this bad-assed scary woman is his mate. 

Lauren wants no part of this mate business. Relationships get messy and this jerk is bossy as hell. And Lauren doesn’t take orders…she gives them. But it will take all of them, his family and hers, to keep her and Hawkins alive….





Who rescued who was still a little vague, but they escaped just the same. The lab called him SA-8, and they had made him into a very powerful weapon. But to Reese he was just Josh, a boy that could do amazing things, but a boy none the less—not a lab rat. That was two years ago—the lab had been relentless and lethal in their pursuit. With her big rig running on fumes, and their last dime spent, they wound up on a small town in Ohio….

Parker McCullough found an abandoned big rig parked on his land. It had been there a few days, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Calling the authorities seemed like the logical thing to do, but when he tried to do so, his cell phone went flying from his hand and a teenage boy appeared from nowhere. Parker thought the boy was an Elite Shifter, and after hearing a little of the boy’s story he wanted to help.

Reese didn’t know who all these people were, but if she and Josh didn’t get away from them, the “others” would find them and they’d all be dead, just like all the other people who had tried to help them along the way…. And now the gorgeous shifter, Parker, had her trapped in the kitchen claiming to be her mate…. She didn’t have time for herself, and she didn’t want to see them all die because they’d helped her and Josh—Reese was out of options.








Mackenzie’s shift at the hospital had just begun when they told her that a patient friend of hers was back in the ER and asking for her. When she entered the curtained room, the last thing she expected was for a McCullough to be sitting next to her patient. It wasn’t Hawk, thank god, but the man looked enough like him he could have been his twin. Hawkins McCullough was on her shit list, and if this man was related to him, she didn’t want anything to do with him.

It didn’t take long for Dustin McCullough to figure out that this feisty doctor was his mate. And when he found out that his brother had hurt her, it took a great deal of strength to keep his cat from killing him.

Mackenzie was at her wits end. Random attacks to her person and bullets flying had the entire McCullough family in an uproar. And just when they thought they had everything about under control, Hawkins drops a bombshell that had them all stunned. 

Can Mackenzie find it in her heart to forgive Hawk before it’s too late? 





Mystery Paperback Winners so far 2017

Karmen Davis
Loan Smith
Karmen Davis
Barnadette Jorden Robinson 
Karmen Davis 
Janet Rodman 
Shona Wesley
Kathy Apa 
Edith Woolls 
Donna Chizewsky
Lorrie Engelbrektson
Debra Lipe
Tia Blackey
Renee Johnson 
Kim Kushibab
Renee Johnson


SWAG WINNERS 
Lorrie Engelbrektson
Shelia Hardin
Elisee Jackson
Ashley Phu 

{ Winners you should be getting you stuff this week in the mail }

For  winners if you have not gotten your signed  mystery paperback please 
contact  my PA  for info  she will have the tracking numbers 



                                                                         Happy Reading,


You can find and follow me here





www.goodreads.com/author/show/4787929.Kathi_S_Barton


                                   Next New Release Is Nov 27th 2017 Sorry No Pre Orders




Larson looked at the headlines again. There was something so final about it that it hurt his heart to think that his friend was gone. Not just him, but his wife of twenty years as well. Thomas and Donna Simmons had been found on an inflatable boat three days ago. Defensive injuries were all over their bodies, as well as several gunshot wounds that had more than likely had them suffering all the way to the end. The newspaper hadn’t given him as many details as Lauren had, but the paper had said that their deaths— murders—were being looked into. And where their boat had disappeared to. They had been shot in the head, both of them, and put on a dingy, he thought it was called. “I’m sorry.” He nodded at Lauren when she spoke. “I have some people looking into things since there are a lot of unexplained events. Also, and I don’t know if you know him well, but their partner is saying some pretty damning things about you.” “Me? What does he think I did to them?” She said it was about money. “I was his investor and nothing more. I mean, 6 Kathi S. Barton we were friends too, but I never borrowed anything from his partner. The last time we spoke, he asked me to sell off some stock that he had and I did. It’s all recorded too.” “Hang onto it…the recordings, I mean. The partner is saying that a week after Tom and his wife went away, you called him and told him that there was a deal just too good to pass up. He in turn told you that Tom was away and that he didn’t make those sorts of decisions. But you insisted.” Larson shook his head and told her that the partner had called him. “Well, like I said, hang onto those recordings. Also, you should think about closing up for a couple of days.” “Why?” She told him. “You think he’s going to make trouble for me? That somehow, he can tell others that I’m a cheat and a liar? Why would he do that? I didn’t do anything wrong.” “I know that, but you know how people can be. They’re untrusting and will latch onto anything that they can to make someone else have less than them. It’s the way the world works. As much as it sucks, you know as well as I that it does happen.” His phone rang then and he answered it, but almost as soon as the man on the other end, Harley Wells, said his name, he made sure that things were being recorded. And he put it on speaker phone so that Lauren could hear as well. “Mr. Wells, I didn’t expect to hear from you. Did you need some investing done?” Lauren slid a note to him about warning the other man he was being recorded. “You did listen to the options, didn’t you? I mean, this is a very good place to have your money grow.” “Yes, I listened to all the options. Is this your way of asking me if I know that I’m being recorded? Besides, you can’t use it, not now that I’ve put it out there that you’re being sued 7 Larson by me. Anyway, I want you to know that I want that money back, and the shares put back where they were.” He asked him how he thought he couldn’t use the recordings. “Because I’ll just say that I didn’t call you. That you’ve doctored this whole thing, much like you did for my partner. He shouldn’t have sold off that stock. I was hoping to use it.” All sorts of things jumped into Larson’s mind, but looking at Lauren, he knew better than to say anything to Wells. Instead, he read the next note that she slid over to him. He didn’t want to ask but she pointed to it again. “Did you kill off Tom and his wife? For their shares?” Wells said that he had and that he’d do it again, but he’d be more careful this time. “Careful how? I’m assuming that you think you’re the beneficiary to their estate.” “I will be.” He laughed again. “Thomas do Jenny think October left me Vince.” Larson asked him what he was doing when he started just saying words with no rhyme or reason to them. Lauren sliced her fingers over her throat and he hung up. “I don’t know what just happened here.” She nodded, but he could see by the look on her face that she was worried. Or thinking. Either one of them, he wasn’t too happy about. “Lauren, please tell me that you’re going to figure this out.” “Oh I am. And you don’t have to worry too much about him. I’d steer clear of him for sure, but I’d not be answering my phone for the next week or so.” He asked her if that would make him sound guilty. “Perhaps, but in the end you’ll be fine.” “And that garble of words, what was that?” She told him he was making words to sound as if he’d made a tape of their conversation. “Why would he need to do that? I mean, I’d not even have the first clue about that.” 8 Kathi S. Barton “But I would.” He asked her what she meant, thinking that he knew what she was saying but wanting her to confirm it. “If I were in a position to use a recording of someone’s voice to get them caught, then yes, I’d do it. And he would know that. It’s no secret to anyone now as to what I’m capable of. Everyone thinks I work with the president. That I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that he’s safe. Then there is the added fact that I made sure that our former president went to jail for a very long time.” “Why me? Why is he coming after me? I didn’t do anything that wasn’t asked of me. I’m honest as the day is long. Why is he telling me that he murdered them, and is going to go after their estate? Especially since he knew he was being recorded.” She said that she didn’t know, but she was looking into it. “I’m going to lose my business, aren’t I?” “No. Once this gets out, that he’s done this, then it’ll go back to normal. But until then, I think you should have your business closed up, just for now, and go work on your new house.” He thought about his home and all the work that was being done on it. “Where are the recordings that you use?” “I put them in the safe every night. I don’t even use them a second time. Ever.” She told him that was smart, but she wanted them. “All right. I can do that. Lauren, he killed that couple.” He turned in his chair to get into the safe that was under the carpet at his feet. “Yes, and while they don’t know it, I’m afraid that their kids are next.” He realized then that Wells had mentioned the children by name and told her. “Yeah, I have a detail on them now. They’re with their grandparents for the time being, but there will be more guards around them at all times now. And don’t talk to them. I know you want to go there and see them, tell them you had nothing to do with their parents’ deaths, 9 Larson but he’s more than likely waiting on you to do that. We have to play this very close to the vest.” For the rest of the afternoon he took steps to close his business. Larson knew that it was only temporary—he hoped—but he was still depressed about it. As he called in the service to have them answer the phones, he handed over all the recordings that he had in his safe to Lauren. She said she’d make sure they were safe. Going to his new home, he watched his dad and grandda as they worked at taking the railing down. It was cast iron, and the previous owners had painted it a bright blue. It was chipped for the most part, but Dad had told him that he could have it looking as good as new in no time. They were going to dip paint it black to match the shutters, the real kind that actually covered the windows. Larson was glad to see something going right. “You here or going again?” He told Dad what had happened. “Well, I’m thinking that if Lauren says she can fix it, then she can. I got me some helpers in the back yard, tagging what you don’t want to pull up. I guess this place had a nice rose garden years back, and they want to come in and mark them for you so you don’t pull them up. Said they’d help you make them pretty again.” He headed to the back yard, a place that he was beginning to think was never going to look good or be finished. But the moment he spotted the two women, he began to have hope. In the time they’d been here, not only were ribbons on some of the plants, but there was a large brush pile next to the patio. “Hello, Larson. My goodness, you have a wonderful place back here. I cannot wait until you put some of these beauties in the next garden show. You’ll win for sure.” He nodded at Mrs. Frank and told her what he’d found out about 10 Kathi S. Barton the gardens. “She, the missus here, she didn’t care much for people. I think her only solace after her son passed was this place. She sure did love to have her roses around. Did you find anything in the house that belonged to her?” “I’m not sure there was much left. The house had been empty, from what I understand, for a very long time.” Mrs. Frank told him to have a look-see in the barns. There was stuff in there. “You think so? I mean, why would it still be here after all this time?” “She didn’t have no one left when she got up there but for a sister that was as mean as the owner was nice. So this sister was some upstart that had it in her head that she was going to live here and carry on being queen of the town. Nobody liked the old biddy, and she only lasted a year, probably less. But she took all the things that were in the house and put them in the barn, last I heard.” He watched what she was doing as she continued to talk. “And when I heard that one of you McCulloughs had bought this place, I was tickled pink. You go on now, and you and me, we’ll have ourselves a look. Might be some things in there you can use for your place.” They walked to the big barn. It wasn’t tall like the one on his brother’s place, but it was huge in that it was one level of sprawling wood. He found the light switch just where she said it would be and turned them on. As they lit up, one after the other, he could see that someone had taken care to make sure that nothing was ruined. There must have been a dozen or so cats around. And every one of the boxes was set up on bricks that he was sure matched the ones on the patio just beyond the rose gardens. “I guess they’ll look up to you.” She was still laughing as she led him to the back of the barn. She was pointing out that someone had put boxes in this area, and each one of them was 11 Larson marked with what was in it as well as which room it had come from. “Looks like she put everything in here, doesn’t it?” There were over a hundred boxes of varying sizes. There were trunks too…most of them had faded labels on them, but he could make out some of the words. As soon as he realized that there was more in the next stall, he called his mom. She of all people would know what was good to keep or toss out. She said she was in town with the baby but would come by. “My mom, she’s coming to look this over. You think that anything in those trunks will be any good? This one here says it has wedding stuff in it. What do you suppose that is?” Mrs. Frank told him it might be a wedding gown for his new mate when she came along. He didn’t comment. Larson was terrified of having a mate. “She sure did have a good old time with packing this stuff up, don’t you think? It might have been easier on her just to leave it in the house. That’s my thinking anyway. Well, if you’ll be all right here, young man, I’ll go back to my garden. I don’t mean that it is, but I expect you to invite me out here when it’s in bloom. Maybe we can have a garden party when that happens. If you want.” Larson told her that would be fine with him, if the house was finished. She just laughed and walked away. Larson didn’t know what she thought was so funny, but he pulled one of the boxes off the shelf and cut the tape. It was old too, probably as old as he was, but when he opened it, he just stared at the contents. Boxes of seeds were in the box, along with when to plant them and what they were. He picked up the first one of about three dozen and read the label. Basil. He wondered if the seeds were any good after all this time, and opened the box to see them. Inside was a canvas bag of them that had been 12 Kathi S. Barton tied with leather. He discovered that they were all like that as he began to pull a few of them out. He wondered what Mrs. Frank and her ladies’ club would think of that. By the time his mom had shown up, he’d opened three more boxes, each one of them better than the last. And he had so much more to look through. His mom handed him little Samuel and opened some herself. It was going to be fun, just finding out what had been kept for the house. ~~~ “Mom, where are you?” Her mom was her lifesaver, and she grabbed her hand as soon as she was close enough to touch. “I can’t do this. I can’t believe I ever thought I could. We should leave.” “No. We have things to do here, and you can do this. If it gets to be too much, we’ll take a walk. The building is certainly big enough for that. Besides, I’d really like to meet these people. I know that we can’t take him home with us, but I’d like to know that he’s in good hands.” Virginia pointed out that they’d had them investigated. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean that they’re nice people just because they have money.” They had arrived late last night in this little town. The plane had been delayed twice coming out of California, but that wasn’t all. Her luggage had been misplaced, along with a couple of her mom’s things. As it stood right now, not only did she not have any clean underwear, but she had nothing to put on her feet but flip flops. And it was too cold for that. The company that owned the airline was sending over a credit card for them to use to buy some things, but she wanted her own stuff. It was why she had bothered packing it after all, damn it. Her mom tisked at her when she cursed again, then said, “I need to do something. Sitting around here is making 13 Larson me uneasy.” Virginia and her mom were to meet with the McCulloughs in an hour. But she had to find a place to get some of her necessities, as well as figure out when they could go home. “How about we hit that little shop there on Main Street? It looks like it might be open for business. I’ll buy you lunch.” “All right.” The shop had no name as yet, nor did it seem to be a place that showed up on her phone. But it had some lovely displays in the window, and she had already fallen in love with the pretty pitcher and bowl set that sat on a dry sink. “I think I’m going to enjoy having a little getaway here, if only I didn’t have to meet any people. And I mean any person. I like my quiet and the fact that no one is around me. But here…I mean, it’s so quaint, don’t you think?” It was. The entire main drag was decorated for the upcoming holiday…or what she thought of as a holiday. Thanksgiving was her second favorite time of the year. It was cold enough for a jacket, and the crunch of leaves under her boots made her smile. But here, it looked as if they had gotten a dusting of snow a few hours ago, and then there were the dark clouds overhead. This little town acted like this was the best thing to ever happen here. There were decorated pumpkins, as well as pretty candles. There were real cornucopias that had small pumpkins in them as well. One shop had brought in a large roll of hay, painted it bright orange, and given it a turkey face with cloth feathers out the back of it. Virginia was making mental notes of it all, just to use in a book sometime. “Do you suppose that they have any magical creatures about, and this is their way of making sure that things are friendly?” She laughed at her mom’s statement. “I know that you don’t believe in such things, but I think it’s possible. And 14 Kathi S. Barton you certainly write about them enough.” “I like the way I can go into my own little world and make up whatever I want about them. Not being real, that just gives me more to work with. Besides, creatures are around, but not very magical, I think. I mean, who would believe that anyone would be able to do some of the things that are in my books? No one, that’s who.” She held the door open for an elderly man and woman, and smiled when he tipped his hat at her. “Mom, this is going to be in my next book, somehow, someway.” The antique shop was busy. Two women beside the counter were having a great time talking about some other woman, but in a good-natured sort of way. Virginia supposed conversation with the woman behind the counter had been going on for some time too, from the way they’d gotten comfortable about it. Virginia noticed that in addition to the antiques on display, there were also things like old doorknobs and stained-glass panels. Virginia wanted it all, from the old silver napkin holders to the beautiful hand-stitched hand towels for the bathroom. She was fingering a beautiful doily when the woman from the counter came to speak to her. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Most of these things were left by a little antique shop that went out of business. The owner of the building bought it, and now I’m helping her sell these things at a more reasonable price.” Too much information, she thought, but Virginia told her that was nice. “You’re new to the area, aren’t you? I’m thinking that you’re not from around here.” “No, I’m not. My mom and I are just passing through.” Virginia walked away from the display, afraid now. As she went in search of her mom, a woman walked in and started 15 Larson to laugh loudly. “You should see what Larson has found, Becky. The barn is full of things we can help him out with if he decides he doesn’t want all of it.” Virginia smiled at her when she told her hello. “On my, but aren’t you a beautiful woman? I bet your mother is just as pretty. You have the most gorgeous hair.” Virginia was charmed. Not many people could put her at ease like this woman had, and in only a few seconds at that. She thanked the woman and told her how much she loved the shop. Nodding, she took her back to the display and handed her one of the many treasures on the table. “That is from the early twenties. I had to look up what it was for. Do you know?” Virginia turned it over and over in her hand, but hadn’t any idea. “It’s a glove stretcher. I’m supposing that it happens after you wash your gloves that they might shrink, but this might be the oddest thing I’ve ever had in here. And there are a lot of odd things.” As she showed her around, the other woman pointed out some of her favorites, and other things that she’d had to do some research on. By the time they were at the bowl and pitcher set again, the women still hadn’t introduced herself. Virginia met up with her mom just as she was headed to the counter with her own purchases. “My goodness, Mom. You’ve bought everything.” They were all three laughing when she glanced at the clock above the cash register. “I’m so sorry, but we must go. I have an appointment in a little while. This has been such a pleasure. And if you wouldn’t mind wrapping up that display in the window, I’ll pay for it now and pick it up later.” “An appointment?” Virginia nodded as she pulled out her credit card. “You’re Miss Basil, the author, aren’t you? I’m 16 Kathi S. Barton Bea McCullough. I have a meeting with you as well.” Every part of Virginia wanted to run. She had no idea why, but she had a feeling that she’d been set up. Which was ridiculous. Mrs. McCullough had no idea that she was in town already, much less in her shop, but shaking the feeling had her nervous and scared. Looking at her mom when she said her name, she felt her mind begin to close down. Her hands were shaking and she felt her breathing start to back up. The pain in her chest was heavy and scary. Just when her vision started to pinpoint, light dancing behind her eyes, she felt the sting of a slap across her face and looked at Mrs. McCullough. “Are you all right now?” She nodded and started to step away when she felt her feet tangle up. “Hang on now. You need to get your footing right. You scared me. Just take a few deep breaths and you’ll be just fine.” “Yes. I have panic attacks now and then.” She was seated in a firm but comfortable chair just as a bottle of water was handed to her. “My mom hasn’t ever hit me, but that worked. Thank you.” “Like I said, you scared me. I thought you were having a heart attack. Your mom explained that you have panic attacks though.” Virginia nodded and sipped the water. “If you don’t mind me asking, why? I mean, you came here for this meeting, but you looked like you were being taken to the gallows.” “I’m not good with change and people.” Bea sat down across from her and Virginia smiled at her. “In fact, it’s caused me quite a few problems with the business I’m in. I don’t go to signings anymore because of the way they make me feel.” She was beginning to feel foolish and wanted to leave. But Bea, as she asked her to call her, told her to sit still, her husband was on his way. Nodding, she watched her mom at 17 Larson the counter as she paid for her things. “I’m sorry you’re so nervous around people. My son, Larson, he’s like that too. He can handle a few people around him, but not a crowd. I think that’s why he works with his computer instead of going out in the public much. He has his brothers do that sort of thing for him.” Virginia asked her how many children she had. “Six boys, and now three daughtersin-law as well. My husband and I wanted a little girl so badly, so we kept trying. Then Colin started eating big people food by the time we had our last child, and we decided that we’d be better off with six boys we could feed rather than a pretty little girl to starve.” “There is just my mom and me. She raised me all on her own when my father took a powder.” Her mom said she was enough of a handful when she joined them. “Now she and I live together, and she’s still taking care of me. When I’m working, I sort of zone out to the rest of the world, and she keeps me cleaned up and fed. And the tea coming.” “I’ve read a few of your books. What the library has, anyway. And I’ve only just ordered the new one coming out. I’m excited to read it.” Virginia thanked her. “You should come to dinner tonight at our home and we’ll skip the meeting, that way you can get to meet my family and we can talk too. I’m to understand that you don’t want to meet your nephew. He’ll be with the nanny tonight. Too noisy with them all there. Say you’ll come over and we’ll have a party of it.” “I don’t know.” Her mom was nodding, so she gave in. “I don’t know anything about children, Bea. Not even enough to change a diaper, much less all the other stuff that goes along with them. And as for taking care of him, I can barely take care of myself most of the time. I think he’d be better off with people that want him and will give him a good start in life.” 18 Kathi S. Barton “You’ll be fine. And don’t worry about it, honey. I’ll send a car for you around five thirty and you can meet my clan.” Virginia nodded and told her they’d be there. When she was back in her hotel room, she couldn’t believe she’d said yes. She needed to get her head examined.