Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pattern for Romance by Carla Gade

Pattern for Romance
Abingdon Press (August 20, 2013)
Carla Gade

Chapter 1

Boston, Massachusetts

July 31, 1769

The crack of musket fire resounded through the clouded sky. Hailstones, the size of goose eggs, pelted the cobbled thoroughfare as people ran for shelter. Thunder clapped and an onslaught of shouts and shrieks echoed nature’s vehement warning. Honour Metcalf sank to her knees in a puddle of quilted petticoats and toile—her mitted hands encased her head, vying for protection against the artillery of hail and confusion.

“Miss Metcalf, Miss Metcalf . . .”

A muffled voice reached her ears and she dared peek at the one towering over her. Blue eyes—those eyes—flashed concern, then vanished as a dark cloak enveloped her. Strong arms scooped her up, pressing her against the firm chest of her rescuer.

Honour could scarcely make out the blur of damaged brick and clapboard as Joshua Sutton’s long strides carried her away in haste. Glazed windows popped and shards of glass flew as hail continued to wreak havoc on shops and offices. Fallen birds littered the street amidst the frozen ammunition. Lightning flashed and Honour squeezed her eyes shut, willing away the shrill neighs of horses and the cracking of the icy brimstone beneath carriage wheels.

The pair made their way through a heavy wooden door and into a dimly lit foyer. Mr. Sutton rested Honour upon a long bench and stooped beside her. With trembling hands, she pushed back her taffeta calash. The boned collapsible bonnet provided some measure of protection from the torrent, but what would protect her from him?

“How do you fare, Miss Metcalf?” Mr. Sutton asked.

Honour’s heart pounded, much the same as Mr. Sutton’s
had, as she hovered against his chest. Her eyes darted around the room before her frightened gaze locked on his. Darkened and dampened by the storm, his hair spread wildly about his shoulders, his ocean blue eyes awaiting her answer.

“Miss Metcalf. I asked if you are well.”

The edge in his voice lifted her out of the fog and she rubbed her temple. “Mr. Sutton? Aye, I am well enough. Where . . . why are we here?” Honour glanced at the small leaded glass window, a piece of golden glass missing from a corner and other sections cracked.

“I found you in the street getting pummeled by hailstones. We took shelter here in the meeting house.” Thunder rolled again and Mr. Sutton’s eyes shot toward the door.

“How long will it last?” Her young sister was safe at the dame school, or so she hoped.

“That, only the Almighty knows.” He surveyed her as if assessing a length of cloth. “Are you certain you are uninjured, Miss Metcalf?”

“I am . . . I must go.” She attempted to rise, but a wave of dizziness overcame her.

“Please rest for a moment. You cannot go back out there.” His mouth drew into a line. “Perhaps we should pray.”

“Surely I did, as you carried me here.” A warm blush rose on her neck.

“I prayed, as well. Then we shall trust the good Lord for the outcome, shall we? After all, we have found refuge in His house.” The corners of Mr. Sutton’s eyes crinkled with reassurance.

Honour replied with a simple nod and regarded his kind face. “It is you who are injured, Mr. Sutton.” She extended her hand toward his bruised cheek, and retreated.

He instinctively found the bruise on his cheekbone, and felt his temple. A trickle of blood mixed with rainwater streamed down the side of his face. He looked at the blood on his hand and shrugged. “’Tis nothing. Perhaps some feverfew tea will help.”

“You might as well have been lambasted by rocks thrown by town delinquents. If your head hurts, as mine is beginning to, it will take more than tea, I fear.”

“The tea would warm me more. It hurts little.” The corner of his mouth curved.

“This is no time for mirth, Mr. Sutton.” Honour said, search- ing about for her satchel. “I would offer you a handkerchief, but I’ve none in my pocket and cannot find my workbag. I must have dropped it in the road.”

Mr. Sutton gestured toward her cloak pocket. “May I?”

Only then did Honour notice his greatcoat draped awkwardly around her shoulders, her short chintz cape beneath, which she’d hastily donned, perchance it rained. He must have covered her when he whisked her away from the harsh elements—including British officers. When they came rush- ing toward her, she had crumbled to the ground, and her legs turned to porridge despite her urge to flee. But the dark sky and giant balls of ice caused her to succumb to nature’s assault.

Like the fire and brimstone punishment of the ancients, God had thrown water and ice to execute judgment upon her.

She attempted to remove the coat, but he stayed her hand with his. Though cold, his firm, yet gentle clasp exuded the warmth of one who cared. Or was it her mere imagination? Her heart dared not hope.

“No. You need it for warmth. One would scarcely know ’tis a summer day.” He retrieved a handkerchief from his coat and wiped at his cut. He refolded the linen cloth and placed it inside a pocket of his damp-about-the-shoulders waistcoat. “Now tell me about this satchel of yours. Is it of great importance?”

She worried her lip and nodded.

“Perhaps we can yet find it. If not, you might obtain a new one from my father’s store, if you’d allow me to replace it.”

Honour wrinkled her brow. “Though I do appreciate your offer, Mr. Sutton, it must be found. ’Tis not only my workbag, but of special value to me. It was a gift from my late mother.”

“Let us hope, then, it may be retrieved . . . once the storm has passed.” He glanced upward to the vestibule’s high ceiling, and her gaze followed—the hail continuing to pound the slate roof of the church in an unnerving staccato.

“Yes, I do hope. My mother taught me to quilt and the embroidered bag once belonged to her. It is dear to me, indeed, as far as material things. Though I do hope you do not think me selfish to speak of such a small matter whilst people may yet be out there in the storm, injured and dealing with the damage.” She rubbed the base of her skull, the dull ache inten- sifying, yet she wished not to concern Mr. Sutton.

The man grinned, and a darling crease appeared by his mouth. “I do not think there is one thimbleful of selfishness inside you, Miss Metcalf.”

“Then you do not know me well enough, Mr. Sutton.” Honour smiled shyly and lowered her gaze, her heavy lids beckoning her to succumb to the drowsy feeling tugging at her.

“Perhaps we may remedy that.”

“Mmm.” Her eyes grew leaden as an aura of slumber descended upon her.

“Miss Metcalf!”

Honour’s head bobbed up. “Yes?” She felt as though she were floating in the ocean—submerging one moment, and above a wave another.

Joshua Sutton still knelt before her, his eyes stayed on hers, as if he could hold her up by sheer will. Then he peered down at her quilted outer petticoat. Aye, she’d worn her favorite blue silk quilt today, with her blue and yellow toile polonaise gown. Did he find her attractive? She felt her damp skirt. Mercy, how could he? She must look like a shipwreck.

“Your quilt, Miss Metcalf. It is sublime. Is it your own handiwork?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you,” she whispered, trying to remain alert. “I learned from my mother. There was never a finer quilter than she.”

“I have heard you are an adept quilter, but I have never seen evidence of it until now. Your mother taught you well. Perhaps my father can make use of your services for men’s banyan robes and waistcoats, since we are no longer able to obtain quilted cloth from England.”

Honour stared through him, her vision blurring him into two.

“Dare I say, it is a pity your hem got wet . . . Miss Metcalf, are you listening?”

Honour leaned over to inspect the hemline of her petticoat. But instead of seeing the quilted cloth, she found darkness, as the sound of hail and Mr. Sutton’s smooth voice faded into nothingness.


“Who goes there?”

Joshua recognized the deep baritone voice at once. He looked up as the parson entered through the vestry doors, only to greet him with Miss Metcalf slumped against his chest. “Reverend Cooper, we have come to seek shelter, though the lady has just now has swooned.”

Lantern in hand, the reverend’s eyes widened as he came near. “Good heavens . . .”

“Please help me lay her on the bench. She was battered by the hailstorm and it seems to have done her in.”

“Why, of course.” The parson set the lantern on a small table and shuffled over to help.

After laying her down, Joshua stood and faced the minister. “Thank you, sir.” Joshua had never seen this man of the cloth in such disarray—without his powdered bob wig and crisp black suit. Instead, he wore breeches and a plain linsey-woolsey waistcoat.

Reverend Cooper became aware of his disheveled state. “You must forgive my appearance. When there was a short reprieve from the storm, I went out to assess the damage, as the sexton is away, then it started up again and soaked me through.”

Reverend Cooper swiped an errant lock of hair into place over his balding head, and replaced his cap. “Now what happened to the young lady? Who is she, pray tell?”

“I found her collapsed in the street being accosted by the hail. A few British officers were about to give her aid, then I arrived. I told them that I recognized her as Miss Honour

Metcalf, an employee of Mrs. Wadsworth, the mantua maker. Before I could say more the officers fled to help others.”

“Mmmph.” Reverend Cooper’s brow wrinkled with concern. He pursed his lips and signaled Joshua to continue.

“Most of the shopkeepers locked their doors in the chaos and we were far from our own. I was greatly relieved to find refuge here,” Joshua said.

Reverend Cooper clamped his index finger across his jaw. “Rather fitting, I say, to find a safe haven in the the Lord’s house when mysterious elements from heaven descend.”

Joshua released a slow breath. “Indeed it is.”

The reverend’s wiry eyebrows twitched. “Though I suspect you are not entirely comfortable here.”

“Not entirely, sir.”

The minister nodded, “You are Joshua Sutton, the tailor’s son, are you not?”

“Yes, I am.”

“How well do you know this young lady?”

“I am briefly acquainted with her, as Sutton’s Clothiers and Wadsworth’s Mantua Shop have occasion to do business with one another. But we are not attached, if that is what you are asking.” An embarrassed grin formed on Joshua’s lips and he shook his head in denial. He had no interest in an attachment even to one as lovely as Miss Metcalf.

The man cocked his head and arched an eyebrow. “You might consider it.”

Was the reverend jesting or accusing? Joshua swallowed. “Pardon me, sir, but I am uncertain of your implication. I assure you it is as I said. My intent was for her well-being. Would you have me marry her simply because you found me here alone with her? I assure you it is entirely innocent.”

The man issued a sardonic grin. “It is why some young couples seek me out mid-week. In fact, I wed a young couple this morning at Widow Lankton’s home. Her niece, you know. I understand you are acquainted.”

Joshua grimaced.

“Pardon me, son. I should have refrained from mentioning it. But I thought it would be of particular interest to you. You must be relieved to see her settled.”

Joshua clenched his jaw and stared at the stone floor. It should have been he who wed Emily Guilfold. But now, his name was marred, and her reputation sullied, despite her attempt to “settle.” Though she did not confess any sin, some assumed. Why else would she marry Leach so soon after she’d broken off their own attachment? Because of it, some said Joshua had been inappropriately engaged with her. He hoped the gossip would abate until matters could be set straight. He’d refrain from going to taverns for a while—and mayhap Sunday meeting. Though Mother would tan his hide if he was absent from their family pew.

“Yes, Miss Guilfold informed me she was to marry by spe- cial license. Though I did not know the marriage was to occur this day.”

“Mistress Leach, now,” the minister said. “By all appear- ances the couple wed in haste, but you may put yourself at ease. Widow Lankton assured me it was for the best, though I am not at liberty to discuss it in detail.”

Why must the old man ramble on so? Joshua’s character was blemished; he did not need to dwell on it. Nor did he wish to hear about “Mrs. Leach.”

A soft groan came from Miss Metcalf and the two pivoted in her direction. Joshua would deal with his irreverent thoughts later.

“Does she need an apothecary? A physician perhaps?” Reverend Cooper asked.

“I suppose that she does.” Joshua went to the door and pushed it ajar against the pressure of the wind. Ice pellets con- tinued to descend, now mixed with rain. He hoped it would subside soon. “I should go for Dr. Westcott.”

“I have seen storms as this in my lifetime. You should not go out again until the torrent ceases. I fear it may continue for some time,” the clergyman said.

Joshua shut the door. “But what of Miss Metcalf? I tried to keep her awake by talking, as I feared she might’ve obtained a concussion.” Joshua glanced at her still form. “Perhaps we should wake her.”

“Sleep might be best for now, son. At least, until the storm has passed.”

Miss Metcalf murmured unintelligible words. The men shifted their attention toward her, and then the reverend bowed his head. While Reverend Cooper entreated the Lord in silence, Joshua knelt by her side. He cast aside his own misery, as a strong desire to stroke her deep auburn locks and calm away her fears emerged from some place deep within.

He brushed a loose tendril from her pallid face. “Hush now, all is well.”


Reverend Cooper cleared his throat following a quiet “Amen.”

Joshua withdrew his hand. He would not allow himself to succumb to such feelings.

Yet, as the beauty slipped into unconsciousness once more, it occurred to him that she’d called him by his Christian name, Joshua. Worse yet, he addressed her in kind. Honour. Sweet, talented, and lovely Honour. Everything the beguiling Miss Guil—Mrs. Leach—was not.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Lost Medallion by Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick

The Lost Medallion
B&H Kids; Mti edition (June 1, 2013)
Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick

Chapter 1

The Dig Site

Aumakua Island, Present Day

The tires of a battered, blue dirt bike skidded to a stop
on the dusty road. A worn boot lowered the kickstand, and thirteen-year-old Billy Stone hopped off. Dressed in faded cargo pants, a short-sleeved shirt, and a khaki vest covered in pockets, his dark hair was damp with sweat. Eyes shining with a mixture of excitement and fear of discovery, he scanned the razor wire-topped fence that surrounded the dig site.

Reaching into his worn leather pack, Billy pulled out a ring of thin, metal lock picks. Keeping an eye out for guards, he selected a pick and set to work on the padlock securing the main gate.

Inside the fence, a tired, dust-covered worker rounded the corner, heading for the gate. Billy flattened himself to the ground, holding his breath as the worker approached, ready to jump up and make a run for it, if necessary. But the man, completely unaware of Billy's presence, walked past without even seeing him.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Billy went back to work on the lock. Having done this many times before, the lock soon popped open with a soft click!Billy tucked the picks back into his pack and slipped inside the gate, pulling it closed behind him.

Bent low, Billy darted from one hiding place to another, crouching behind trees and pieces of equipment. Slowly, he made his way to a large tent that served as the dig site's headquarters. Seeing no one around, Billy dropped and
quickly rolled under the bottom of one of the tent walls.

Inside, technicians worked at tables covered with arti- facts, laptops, and soil testers. One wall was completely covered with maps, each dotted with marking pins and scribbled notes. The other walls were lined with either filing cabinets or tables loaded with artifacts and digging tools. Keeping low under the tables, Billy edged his way toward the tools. Reaching up, he snatched a small kit from one of the tables. Now all he had to do was keep quiet and roll back under the edge of the tent to escape.

But at that moment, one of the men sprayed a recent find with compressed air, sending a cloud of dust into the air and up Billy's nose. Pinching his nose shut, Billy covered his mouth and tried to stifle the sneeze. Praying no one would notice, he jerked up the bottom of the tent and rolled under. The instant he was outside, the sneeze exploded out, startling the workers inside the tent.

But, glancing around, they saw no one. Shrugging, they returned to their work.

Billy took cover behind a nearby bush. Pausing to get his bearings, he spotted a weathered-looking man, obviously the dig's boss, studying a map with one of the workers. Billy knew he couldn't let the boss see him, or he'd be in real trouble.

Sprinting off in the opposite direction, Billy ran until he came to a large hole about a hundred feet square and three feet deep. Dropping down into it, he carefully spread out his tools—much like a surgeon—and went to work.

First choosing a small, sharp-pointed trowel, Billy began digging into the soft dirt along the wall of the hole. He hadn't been working long, when his trowel scraped something hard. Gently loosening the dirt around it, he pulled the object from the earth. Picking up a soft brush, he carefully dusted away layers of dirt, revealing the end of a two-hundred-year-old fishing spear. As Billy studied his find, a shadow fell over him.

"I want you out of here," the boss said angrily. "I want you off this site right now!"

Billy stood up and faced the man. "Let me help you," he pleaded.

"You can't help," the boss said with hint of sadness in his voice. "You don't belong here."

"But I'm an archeologist!" Billy insisted.

"You're thirteen, and I don't have time to worry about you."

"Please!" he begged. "I . . . I can clean tools, take notes, get coffee . . . dig holes."

The boss shook his head, "You're too young for this kind of work."

"You never used to say that," Billy accused. "Come on, I'll do anything you need."


"Yeah, I promise," Billy said, his hopes beginning to rise.

"Go home."

Billy's heart sank. "But . . . Dad . . ."

"Dad" was forty-six-year-old Dr. Michael Stone. Once a world-famous archeologist, Dr. Stone was now something of a joke in the archaeological world. His quest to find the lost royal medallion—a medallion that many archaeologists didn't even believe existed—had become an obsession, ruining first his career and then his family. His once-handsome face was now weathered and lined, his brown hair streaked with gray. Staring down at his rebellious son, he scowled.

"But, Dad . . . there's no one there," Billy finished painfully.

Taking Billy by the arm, Dr. Stone led him back to the main gate. "Go home, Billy," he insisted, shoving him outside and locking the gate before walking away.

Billy stared after his father before turning back toward his bike. Kicking a rock, he sent it skipping across the dirt road. The last thing he wanted was to go home.

When Billy's mom, Kale'a, had been alive, home had been a wonderful place to go back to. The house had always been filled with music and singing and delicious smells coming from the oven. But with his mother gone, "home" was just an empty house full of painful memories.

As Billy walked, head down, he almost ran into two men, who were stapling papers to the dig site's fence. Billy recognized them as Cobb's thugs.

Cobb was the most powerful—and the most evil—man on Aumakua Island. Though he pretended to be a respect- able businessman, in reality, he was nothing more than a thug himself. A thug with a lot of money—he practically owned the entire island. Few people were willing to cross him.

One of Cobb's thugs was named Kalani. He was thin with dark, wavy hair that hugged his scalp and framed shifty eyes. He was known for being extremely intelligent—unlike his partner, Makala.

Makala was huge and strong with a patchy, coarse beard. He was Kalani's opposite in every way . . . except cruelty. Both men bore the blood-red tattoos of a cobra on their right arms, marking them as Cobb's men.

Kalani looked down at Billy. "You know," he said, his voice turning sickly sweet, "we could use an archaeologist like you on our team. Cobb appreciates your talents, while certain others . . ." he said, jerking his head back toward
the dig site and Billy's father, "do not."

Billy ignored the remark, his eyes scanning the papers they had stapled up. Seeing the word "foreclosure" in large, black letters, Billy was furious. Lunging past Makala, he ripped the papers off the fence.

Makala grabbed Billy's arms and held him. "Are you kidding me?" he said, giving Billy a rough shake. "Gimme those," he barked, snatching the papers back. Then shoving Billy toward his bike, he shouted, "Get lost, you little brat!"

Billy threw the men a disgusted look, then jumped on his bike and angrily cranked the engine. Zooming off through the jungle-like terrain, he splashed through streams and jumped small hills. His tires squealed loudly as he hit the paved road and headed for town.

Kalani and Makala finished stapling up the notices and then climbed into the front of a sleek, black sedan.

"What do you think, Mr. Cobb?" Makala asked, as they both turned to face the man sitting in the shadows of the back seat.

Cobb looked at them coolly. He was heavily muscled with sleek, black hair that he wore pulled into a low ponytail.
Everything about him—from his cold, dark eyes to his expensive black suit—suggested cruelty. It was something he had inherited from his ancestor—Cobra.

Cobb answered, "Our families have been searching for the medallion for generations. This kid is on to something.
Keep an eye on him."

"Not to worry," Kalani assured him, "we come from a long line of trackers."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Millie's Treasure by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Millie's Treasure
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
Kathleen Y'Barbo

Chapter 1

December 24, 1888
Chicago, Illinois
"I'm a Pinkerton agent, not a treasure hunter.”

Agent Kyle Russell knew he had raised his voice far louder than was proper when speaking to a superior officer, but he didn’t care. In previous cases, pleading his passion for the topic might have been a sufficient excuse, but this time he offered no apology. He was a man accustomed to working cases that mattered, not a flunky being used to further another man’s political career.

Henry Smith ignored the breach of conduct to point in Kyle’s direction. “The president has requested I put my best man on this case, and, unfortunately, you are he.”

If this was Henry’s way of praising him, the compliment fell short. Nor did it matter that it was Christmas Eve, and he had agreed to a meeting in Chicago when his mother wished him home in New Orleans to celebrate the holidays with his family.

“March fourth.” Henry shrugged. “Your time on this case lasts only until inauguration day. When the president leaves office, you can leave this case behind.” He removed his spectacles and pinched the spot where they rested on his nose. “What if I allow you to return to the Will Tucker case after this is all over? Would that sweeten the pot for working this one until the first week of March?”

Will Tucker.

The name held memories of a case that had become personal. Of a man whose exploits had wounded hearts and caused losses beyond the jewels he stole from his victims. That he had escaped from Angola Prison in Louisiana had been a thorn in Kyle’s side for more than a year.

“Before I answer you, can I ask why a president who was voted out of office is suddenly interested in Confederate treasure that may or may not have existed?”

With a lift of one shoulder, Henry put on his spectacles once more. “I would only be guessing, but I think he is looking to add some money to the government’s coffers. To leave on a high note, as it were.”


“Meaning he is promising to be back in four years. To be responsible for adding a substantial deposit of gold to the Treasury without taxing the people might help him get there.”

“Confederate gold for reelection?” Kyle shook his head. “Not seeing the point in it.”

“We do not have to see the point. And who knows? Maybe it is not Cleveland himself who’s asking. It could be anyone who runs in his circles. A cabinet member, one of his political backers, anyone.”

Henry walked to the door and closed it. “The assignment comes from William Pinkerton himself, son, so I suggest you take it seriously and respond accordingly.”

Kyle accepted the folder his boss offered and then opened it to give the pages a cursory glance. Though William Pinkerton ran the Chicago office with an iron hand, he rarely intervened in individual cases to make specific requests. Despite his misgivings, Kyle nodded. “All right.”

“That’s it? Just ‘all right’? Nothing else?”

Kyle tucked the folder under his arm. “What else is there to say, sir?” He paused to offer the beginnings of a smile to the man he had worked under for the better part of ten years. “Unless Mr. Pinkerton would be willing to write a note to my mother explaining my absence during her holiday celebrations. Not that it would do much good.”

Henry chuckled. “No, if she is anything like my wife, I would imagine not.” His expression sobered. “The agency appreciates you, Kyle. You are the best we’ve got. Mr. Pinkerton said so, and I will echo the sentiment.”

A compliment neither man bestowed lightly. “Thank you, sir.”

“Look on the bright side,” he said. “Maybe you will come up with some sort of invention that will uncover buried treasure.” At Kyle’s grin, he continued. “You already have one?”

“Borrowing on the theory of induction balance put forth by Bell, I…” Kyle shook his head. “The short answer is yes, though it’s not yet ready to patent until we have done more research in the field. At least, that is the opinion of Mr. Toulmin.”


“Our patent attorney.”

“I see. Well, perhaps you will get your field research out of this assignment. See, a positive aspect to hunting treasure and calling it Pinkerton business.”

Henry returned to his chair. “Any chance you will ever leave us to work on those inventions of yours full time? I admit I am intrigued with the idea of the personal flying machine.”

“Ah, the flying machine,” Kyle echoed. Until recently, no one at the agency knew of his inventions beyond the rare mention of one in the reports he turned in after completion of his duties on any particular case.

Then came this particular project, and his cover as an inventor had been blown. One of the investors, an Ohio lawyer by the name of   Taft, was a close acquaintance of Henry’s and had shared his excitement in the invention without realizing he had breached propriety in the process. Henry had since been brought into the fold and was following each step with enthusiasm.

Kyle gave the question of his retirement only the briefest amount of thought. “As to when I will leave the agency? Not until the time is right.”

“And when will that be?”

“When the Lord says so, I suppose.”

“Fair enough.” Henry reached out to shake Kyle’s hand. “Just know I am going to be praying He remains silent on the job change for many years.”

They shared a laugh and then parted ways. A few hours later, Kyle was on a train heading south.

Unfortunately for Henry Smith and the Pinkerton agency, the Lord had already been making it quite plain to Kyle that his exit from the agency would come sooner rather than later. At least he hoped it was the Lord and not his own wishes that gave him hope he would soon spend all of his days and most of his nights working on the inventions that he and his best friend, Lucas McMinn, wished to patent.

Kyle wondered if he might pay a quick visit to Brimmfield Plantation, where Lucas, a retired Pinkerton agent, had settled with his wife, the former Flora Brimm. Perhaps Kyle could dig up a reason for the detour in the documents Henry had given him. After all, Natchez, Mississippi, was as likely a prime spot for hidden contraband gold as any other place in the Southern states.

Two months would not allow him time to delve into all the possibilities, nor could he visit all the locations where treasure had been claimed to exist. Somehow he must decide which were the stronger leads and follow them.

He dove into the file. Clipped to the second page was an envelope with his name written in Henry’s scrawling handwriting. Inside Kyle found a letter, a match, and a key.

While I cannot be absolved from keeping you away from family on Christmas Eve, I can at least make up for the fact by providing a brief respite before work on this case begins in earnest on January 2. Arrangements have been made for rooms at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis from tomorrow night through the aforementioned second day of the New Year. Should you find that your work on the missing gold case requires it, of course the agency will pay for as many nights past that as you deem necessary.

Our friend Taft suggested that the rooftop of the as-yet-unopened Cotton Exchange building on Second Street might prove just the venue for your test flight. To that end, he has secured access for you and assures me the three of us are the only ones who have knowledge of this. Thus, I hasten to warn that you must not be caught lest you alone will be forced to explain. And, per Mr. Taft, please remember to leave the key in the Weather Service office on the third floor before the service employee arrives at work after the holiday and realizes it is missing.

Consider this a small measure of thanks for your dedication to the agency. And no, I have not cleared this with Mr. Pinkerton, thus the need for the match. I am sure you will make good use of it, as always.

Best regards,

Kyle scanned the letter once more before folding the document in quarters and setting it alight. A quick toss out the open window and the flaming remainder of Henry’s correspondence was gone on the afternoon breeze.

Kyle leaned back against the seat in the sleeper car and grinned. So he would have time to make a stop at Brimmfield after all. And he would bring the flying machine to Memphis for its first official test of the steering mechanism they had been working on. In all, a good trade for taking on the ridiculous assignment of digging up Confederate gold more than two decades after the war had ended.

He arrived at Brimmfield Plantation in the dead of night to find the McMinn and Brimm families away for the week. That was a disappointment because he had hoped to convince Lucas to accompany him for the test flight.

Letting himself into the cottage Lucas had claimed as his workshop, Kyle packed a bag with the items he would need for the tests and then left a note before departing.

Come January 2 he might be chasing treasure, but he would be chasing the wind on New Year’s Eve.