It is 1782 as an old woman stumbles through a familiar row of headstones clutching a metal strongbox that holds her diary, coins, a pistol, and a map. She must bury the strongbox in the exact spot she described in a recent letter to her last blood relative. Someday she prays a relative will read the letter, uncover the box, and find their way to the two bags of gold and jewels she and her partner looted from a Spanish ship and buried on an obscure Caribbean island. After she falls to her knees at her father’s headstone and buries the box, the woman lies down and dies.
Over three hundred years later, Dr. Abigail Hathaway-Chance learns her mother has unexpectedly passed, perhaps under suspicious circumstances. When the family attorney hands Abi two letters—one from her mother and one her mother found under a floorboard years earlier—she is propelled onto a dangerous journey where she must enlist the aid of professional treasure hunters, Jacsen Kidd, a descendant of the pirate Captain Kidd, and his partner Pericles Schmoond, a renowned chef and author known as, “The Food Archeoligist,” and evade a ruthless cleric, his partner a reputed “Mafia” kingpin and a band of thieves with the hope of finding the fabled treasure of her nefarious ancestor. But Abi and Jac have no idea they are about to discover much more than they ever imagined.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Jacsen Kidd Adventure/Mystery
By Robert James Glider
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2017 Robert James Glider
All rights reserved.
The Shenandoah Valley, Virginia Just past midnight, March 21, 1782
A musket ball pinged off a large boulder, and the report echoed through the valley.
Hidden behind a big oak tree, an old woman covered head to toe in a black cape stifled her scream. She clung to the tree and listened to the reflecting sound until it diminished. Then she heard the sound of brittle underbrush snapping. She peeked out and watched three riders emerge from a wooded hillside path fifty feet away onto a gravel road. When they stopped, the distinctive blue-and-white uniforms of the Continental Army stood out in the muted moonlight, golden epaulets on the men's shoulders indicating high rank.
The shot had agitated the horses. They stomped their hooves on the roadway. Their warm breath rose as a vapor in the frigid air. The tallest of the three riders dismounted, stretched, and groaned.
A burst of wind rushed through the high treetops.
The woman cupped her hand around her ear to hear his words.
"It's been a long ride, and my back and arse hurt." He let out a loud grunt, bent forward, and covertly sneaked a peek up the hill. Stroking his horse along the neck, he stepped up and patted her nose. "Easy, old girl."
As he turned back toward the top of the hill, she heard him say to the other two men, "This is the right place. There are two soldiers hidden in the trees at the top of the hill pointing their muskets at us. I don't know if they can see our uniforms in this mist. We'd better get up there and give the password before they shoot again."
The old woman looked up toward the sentries at the top of the hill and down at the men on the road. She prayed that, if there was a confrontation, it would end fast so she could finish her mission.
A large clump of icy snow fell from a tree nearby and hit the ground. The sudden noise resounded through the open space causing one of the men on horseback to look up toward her. Fearing discovery, she ducked her head behind the tree and exhaled her held breath. Unable to move, she cast her eyes toward the sky and prayed she wouldn't be discovered.
"What was that?" The tall officer re-mounted his horse and looked out to where his fellow officers were pointing.
"Not to worry. It's just melting ice falling from the trees."
The men on horseback, with their hands in plain sight, slowly advanced up the hill toward the soldiers.
She watched the hidden sentries stand up and raise their muskets. One of them stepped forward, lowered his musket, raised his right hand, and jerked his palm forward. "Halt! Give the proper words, or we'll drop ye where ya stand."
The three officers put up their hands so the soldiers would see they were not armed. In a melodic tone, together they voice the words, "Ma ... ry Ball."
The password must be the name of General George Washington's mother, the woman thought. She watched both sentries lower their muskets and wave the officers forward. The men dismounted, handed their reins to one of the soldiers, and moved to the fire's warmth. The sentries tied the horses to a fencepost several feet away from a rusted iron gate that fronted an old church.
A gusty wind enlivened tree shadows thrown from the fire's light onto the wall of the church. The large cornerstone at the church's entrance was carved with the date, A.D. 1671. The church's steeple stones had dislodged over the years leaving a gaping hole that exposed the bell tower. Bordering one side of the church, a small graveyard filled with white stone markers crowded the edges of a weathered gray picket fence.
The woman couldn't hear the officers as they whispered a few words to the sentries before pushing through the gate and entering the church.
The stillness of the night was upset by a burst of wind sending ice crystals like a swarm of hornets toward the two sentries as they warmed themselves by the small fire. Wrapped in a tattered blanket and shivering, the shorter guard looked toward the church before reaching inside his coat. He took out a silver flask, put it to his lips, chugged two swallows, and handed the container to his partner. "Heah, this corn whiskey will warm your innards."
A loud cracking noise broke the stillness as the old woman moved quickly through the forest to get closer. She found another large oak nearer to the cemetery gate. With one hand she covered her mouth to block the noise from her wheezes. She said a silent prayer with her eyes toward the heavens and listened.
"What was that?" The taller guard pointed his musket into the darkness and whispered, "Something crunching through the snow."
"Sounded like a deer, not a Tory," the other guard scoffed.
"But I thought I heard something ... from over there. He pushed his musket forward, pointing in the direction of the sound, and he strained his eyes to see through the darkness. After a moment listening and hearing nothing but wind rustling the branches on a nearby stand of trees, he lowered his musket and moved back to the fire. "You were right. Must've been a deer."
The old woman let out her breath and looked up to the sky. She asked God to make the soldiers depart so she could complete the final act of her life. Her husband, a doctor, and her son, a lieutenant in the Continental army, had been killed in the war's first battle. Beneath her cape she hardly felt her mangled arthritic hands, which were wrapped around the cold metal strongbox she held tightly to her bosom. She must bury the strongbox in the place she described in a letter she had posted the day before to her last blood relative. The box contained her diary, several coins, a pistol, and a map she had gouged into a soft piece of leather many years ago. She had very carefully wrapped the diary and map in several layers of heavily oiled cloth and leather to help safeguard them. Someday, she prayed a relative would read the letter, dig up the box, and discover the way to her treasure — two bags of gold and jewels she and her partner, Mary, had looted from a Spanish ship and buried on an obscure island in the Caribbean.
Fearful of giving away her position, she looked toward the church. Please, dear God, let my tribulations end so I may die in peace. She prayed that the strategy meeting inside the church would conclude soon, or the Reaper would overtake her, and she would join her loved ones before completing her mission.
A gust of wind whooshed through the treetops. Snow fell from the branches and settled on the surrounding ground. Her shallow breaths burned her lungs. She reluctantly set the strongbox on the ground so she could cover her mouth to muffle the sound as she choked back a cough. Feeling in control once again, she took a small bottle from a pocket in her cape and took a sip of the liquid it held. She knew that, if it were not for the alcohol bolstering her resolve to insure her legacy, she'd gladly welcome the end of her mortal existence.
Minutes felt like hours. Frustrated, she clasped her hands together once more and prayed for God to provide inspiration to the strategists inside the church so they might conclude their plan. And she prayed that her life would not end before she could carry out her purpose.
She heard the familiar creak of the church's great oak door as it opened. Hushed voices ordered the sentries to attention as the door closed with a thud. Moments later, the groan of the church gate brought a smile to her dry, cracked lips.
She watched the eerie green glow of the lantern light fade into the gray ground mist that covered the road. She watched as the sentries kicked a bit of snow and dirt on their fire. Soon all of the soldiers mounted their horses and rode away into the dark forest. Craning her neck back to look upward through the darkness, she thanked God for hearing her prayers. Elated as the alcohol inhibited her pain, she bent over, picked up the strongbox, clutched it to her chest, and continued her journey. She stumbled past the smoldering sentry fire and reached out with one hand to push the cemetery gate open. She entered the graveyard and stopped to catch her breath.
The sky was clearing, and a full moon was rising through wispy clouds. The muted light made the ice particles in the snow on the top of the gravestones shimmer like millions of tiny diamonds. She reached into her cape, took out the flask, and lifted it to her lips. Sucking at it hard to drain what was left of her liquid strength, she was satisfied that the container was empty. She licked the cap to get the last drop. As the warmth moved toward her belly, she drew in a deep breath and took several steps forward. Stumbling through a familiar row of stones, she fell to her knees at the headstone of her dear father's grave.
She took a trowel from a pocket inside her cloak and began to dig. She dared not stop; she was afraid that, if she did, she would not fulfill her legacy. Pain shot up her arms each time she thrust the tool into the frozen earth. An hour later, she had gouged out a hole large enough to set the box at least a foot below the surface. She rested for a moment to catch her breath. Then she filled the cavity with the excavated dirt and covered it with clumps of frozen grass. She pushed snow over the hole and flattened it until she was satisfied that all traces of her digging had disappeared.
Three hours had passed, and she was barely able to move from the pain racking her body. But she must. She struggled to her feet while turning to look at where she'd dug. Then she moved away from her father's resting place to find the two other graves she knew so well. Struck with emotion, she collapsed across her husband's grave and extended one hand out to gently touch the gravestone of her fallen son. A peaceful smile crossed her face. She realized her time was short. She closed her eyes to wait for the inevitable warm light that would lead her to the afterlife.
* * *
Birds flew by, some chattering, and others carrying twigs in their beaks to build nests on high branches in the large oak trees surrounding the graveyard. Day was breaking through a mass of purple clouds resting on the horizon. The old woman's eyelids fluttered open as the heat from a ray of sunlight touched her face.
Her mind wandered to her beginnings while her fingers stroked the gravestone of her husband. She shed a tear of sorrow for her father, William Cormac, a respected lawyer in County Cork, Ireland, until he was shunned after having an affair with a maid. Disgraced when the maid gave birth to a baby girl, his wife divorced him. He left Ireland with the baby on a ship bound for America.
I am that baby, she thought. I am Anne. Named after my father's mother.
Daydreams flooded remembrances of her happy years growing up in the Carolinas and the words she wrote in the diary:
The years pass. I am a young woman. I practice until I am better at fighting with a sword and pistol than most men. I kill a man in a duel and become feared by everyone in South Carolina where I grow up. I fancy this John Bonney, a drifter who says he be a pirate. I disobey my father and take Bonney for my husband. My father refuses to give me money, so I leave with Bonney for the Bahamas.
Anne gasped and wheezed. Sensing her end was at hand, she thanked God once more for allowing her to finish her mission, and she prayed for forgiveness for her past indiscretions.
"It's the first day ... spring," she muttered.
It was the last time in her mortal life she would draw a breath.
"Winter's end ... new life begins." She sighed. "I'm coming, Mary."CHAPTER 2
Early Morning, March 20, 2017
Discovering the remnants of a fish carcass near the water's edge, several aggressive seagulls bit at each other and squawked their claim for the tailless morsel. The recent low tide provided a wide expanse of hard-packed sand on the beach.
Several curious onlookers interrupted their jog along the beach to watch as Jacsen Kidd and Pericles Schmoond lay out long nylon lines, one behind the other, connecting them to two brightly colored airfoil chutes spread out across the moist shore.
Watching from several feet above the sand on the beachfront deck of Peri's Malibu home, wearing a bright red bikini, Nikki Thomas beamed a big smile while leaning her six-foot, hard, athletic body over the railing. Her burnt golden hair flowed in the gentle breeze, and her amber eyes glistened like morning dew in the muted sunlight. "Come on, guys, are you sure you want to do this?"
"Nikki!" Peri rolled his brown eyes upward to the sky, pleading. "I implore you to give me a reason not to fly."
Nikki laughed and waved to Peri as she turned her gaze toward Jac as he accurately pulled Peri's lines into a horseshoe shape. He picked up the line and snapped a locking carabiner to the motorized harness that would safely carry the big man's weight.
"Come on, Peri, you really enjoyed your first flight!" Jac teased.
"Jac, you promised that you would not tell that story to anyone," Peri pleaded with a forlorn look on his face.
Jac looked toward the eastern sky where the rays of the sun were breaking through wispy gray clouds sending shadows dancing across the beach. "I promise, I won't tell, but we have to fly."
"That's blackmail, Jac!"
"Come on, Peri, you know you can trust me. Just let's get this done before the sun is too high in the sky — and remember, we have a big night ahead of us."
Jac was looking forward to seeing the invited guests, particularly the several new friends he and Peri had met on their last hunt. Peri enjoyed changing hats from that of a treasure hunter to that of the role that had brought him fame and fortune — he was one of the world's foremost chefs. With a few surprises up his sleeve, Peri would prepare their traditional "end-of-hunt feast" from original recipes acquired in the countries and islands they had visited during their last quest. Jac hated gourmet food. He was a meat-and-potato guy, but he always reluctantly agreed to taste whatever Peri concocted. He would listen to Peri's rant that it was sacrilegious for Jac to eat a greasy cheeseburger when he had made a feast fit for a king.
"All right, Jac, I guess it's time to get this flying over with. I'm ready."
Nikki waved from the deck. "Good luck, guys!"
Jac grinned and waved back to her. His body tingled when she smiled at him. He shook his head when he saw the men onlookers with their gazes transfixed on Nikki.
Jac snapped his harness belt and checked the straps.
"You ready?" asked Peri.
It's time to get this show on the road, Jac thought as he remembered his and Peri's solo flight at the ultralight flight school in South Carolina last week. They had spent three days in the classroom before the first flight. And then the day had come for the solo. Blue skies with little white puff clouds, and sixty degrees. A perfect day. As they'd gone through the equipment, checking off the list of preflight protocols, Jac had seen that Peri was nervous.
"You go first. I'll take notes," Peri had said.
"Don't worry. You'll be ready to go when I land."
"Of course I will!" Peri said with a sheepish grin on his face.
Jac had flown a by-the-book solo flight, and landed the ultralite as if he had been doing it all his life.
The instructor complimented Jac and said to Peri, "You're up, Mr. Schmoond!"
"Peri, it was really easy," said Jac while unbuckling his harness. "You can do it. Just remember what you learned."
"I'm not feeling good, Jac. I'm not a bird!"
Jac had watched as Peri snapped his harness buckle and pointed his power pack up so as not to fill the canopy draped behind him with air.
"Okay ... here goes." The ultralight's engine kicked over and sputtered.
Jac yelled, "Push the throttle forward to full!"
Peri had signaled a thumbs-up. He closed his eyes, pushed the throttle forward, and pressed the start button. The engine coughed, sputtered, and hummed.
Peri pulled the throttle back, killed the engine, and gazed up toward the sky.
Jac said a prayer, flashed a thumbs-up, and watched the big guy run into the wind. When the airfoil popped up and centered above Peri, Jac muttered, "So far so good." He crossed his fingers behind his back and held his breath as Peri restarted the engine and gunned the throttle. Jac let out his held breath and smiled as he watched Peri's feet leave the ground. Peri let out a big whoop as he gained altitude.
Watching through binoculars, Jac had observed Peri execute several of the required turning maneuvers. But as Peri entered into the long sweeping turn that would bring him back to make his landing, Jac moaned. "Uh oh! Damn it! You misjudged your glide and killed the engine too soon!"
Excerpted from Golden Legacy by Robert James Glider. Copyright © 2017 Robert James Glider. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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