Based On Your Votes
Thanks for your votes on the next novel in the Corps Justice series. Based on your feedback, National Burden is in the works. Tentative release date will be sometime in May 2014.
What Did You Think?
Hopefully you've had time to read Presidential Shift by now. I've gotten great feedback from some of you. Thank you.
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With The Editor
Adrift survived Round 1 of proofing and is now with my editor. If all goes to plan, you'll have the new Daniel "Snake Eyes" Briggs installment at the end of March. Here's the first chapter:
Chapter 1 (Unedited)
Your fault. The accusation floated along the edges of my subconscious, teasing me, blaming me, haunting me. I moved to swat the thought away, but my hand smacked into something hard. Wincing, I tried to open my eyes. They felt caked closed, rebelling from the night before.
The smell of must and dirt made their way into my muted senses. Finally cracking my lids open, I saw that I was lying on my side, facing a hay bale. I tried to rise, my stomach lurching at the movement. I closed my eyes again, willing the nausea to subside even as the spike headache stabbed painfully. Where was I?
After a few deep breaths, I eased to my feet, clutching a moldy wood railing for support. Tongue scraping along my parched lips, I looked around, squinting at the bright rays of sunshine streaming in through a crack near the door.
“He’s around here somewhere,” came the shout from the sunlit morning.
“Let’s check in the barn.”
I ducked behind two stacked hay bales just as three figures stepped into the barn, cautiously peering into the relative darkness. As my vision adjusted, I saw that one of the guys, a hulking figure in overalls, had a bandage covering his nose, the next one, almost a twin to his buddy, had his arm wrapped in a sling. The others looking healthy, one sporting a baseball bat, the other a long crowbar. By their appearance, they looked like brothers, or at least cousins.
“You two look behind the hay, I’ll take a look up in the loft,” Mr. Busted Nose whispered harshly.
They’d find me in a second, and I didn’t want to hide.
“You guys looking for me?” I asked innocently, standing up, stretching with a yawn.
Their eyes whipped around at the sound of my voice. “You’ve got some payback coming, boy,” said the leader.
“I’m sure we can talk about this, fellas. Why don’t…” I started as the farmboys cut off my lanes of retreat.
“Ain’t gonna be that easy. You broke my nose and busted Honey’s shoulder. There’s…”
“Wait, his name is Honey?”
Honey’s face turned beet red. “Let me take him, Johnny. I swear he’s…”
“I told you he’s mine,” said Johnny, slowly pulling an old revolver out of his pocket. “Now, it’s up to you whether you just lose your pecker or I fucking kill you.”
I raised my hands, not wanting a fight, wondering if my weakened body would respond to commands. “I don’t want any trouble, why don’t I just walk away before we do something stupid.”
“You shoulda thought of that last night, faggot. Tell you what, I’ll give you a chance. You take my cousins and win, then maybe I’ll let you walk away.”
I looked over at his cousins, noticing the bulbous nose of one and the cauliflower ears of the other. They were fighters. “Let me guess, boxer and wrestler?”
The cousins both smiled wickedly, showing off their yellowed teeth. Surprising they still had them all.
“Doesn’t seem fair to me,” I said. “I’d be happy to pay for…”
Without warning, the boxer cousin charged, swinging his baseball bat, aimed straight at my pounding head. Click.
My mind switched and reflexes took over. Crouching under the lumbering swing, my fist smashed into his groin, his momentum taking him over my right shoulder. One down.
Cousin #2 roared, but came on more tentatively, sobered by the easy takedown of #1. Thwap. Thunk, thwap, came the swings, hitting the elevated hay bales and railing, narrowly missing my dodging body. He was methodical, slowly corralling me into a corner.
The chop came, and I stepped into it, catching his hands overhead, a dribble of tobacco juice seeping out of his grimacing mouth. We struggled there for a moment, knowing that in a straight up strength contest, #2 would win. Not a possibility. I stepped wide with my left foot, swung my right leg behind him, and kicked back, pulled forward with my arms, flipping him over my right hip.
He landed with a thud, barely stunned, but I was on top. Take out the threat, came the order. #2 looked up, eyes wide, seeing the demon in my eyes, hand cocked, ready to deliver the death blow.
“I think that’s enough,” came a deep voice, followed by the rack of a shotgun shell.
I didn’t lift my eyes, still poised to strike, seething.
“Let him go, son,” came the order from whoever had entered the fray.
It took an extended moment. Inside, I uncoiled, easing off my opponent.
“Now look here, Mr. Herndon, this guy attacked us…”
“Let me guess. This happened at Pappy’s last night?”
“Yes, sir. Sent me to the hospital with a broken nose, and Honey with a bum shoulder.”
“Seems like I already heard the story, Johnny. A little bird told me you boys were harassing that pretty little waitress and this kid stepped in. Now, you gonna tell me that didn’t happen?”
“That’s what I thought. Why don’t you take your cousins on out of here. Enough fun for one day.”
“I said, get your tails off my property. I could just as easily call the sheriff for trespassing and assault. Your choice.”
The leader of the redneck band grumbled, but ended up gathering the wounded and headed out the barn door...
I hope you're having a great summer. Things have been busy around the Cooper household, but Book 4, "Presidential Shift", is still underway.
Thought you might like to get a little taste.
Here's the first slightly edited chapter for your reading pleasure:
7:04am, December 15th
The runner sped past a woman pushing a lime green jogging stroller. Despite his fast pace, the jogger didn’t look winded. Adjusting his white Adidas cap as he turned into the public park, he scanned the area from behind Oakley running glasses. His brown hair could barely be seen peeking out.
There was a hidden alcove of trees off to the right and he ran that way. Headed toward a row of park benches he waved to a thin man seated wearing a heavy parka. The dark-complexioned man looked up from his Arabic newspaper at the sound of the man’s footfalls and returned the wave with a smile.
The runner floated to a halt in front of the bench surrounded by a tight copse of pine.
“Morning, Mansoor!” the runner offered with a smile.
“And a good morning to you, Richard,” the Middle Easterner replied, in slightly accented English. “Are you finished with your exercise already?”
The man nodded. “Yeah, just a quick run today. Probably head to the gym after work. Mind if I stretch while we chat?”
“Not at all. May I offer you some of my tea?” Mansoor asked.
“Is it that stuff your cook makes?”
“That stuff is great. Much better than the crap you get at Starbucks.”
Mansoor nodded. “It is one of the many things I miss about my country.”
Pouring tea from a silver thermos, the young runner Mansoor knew as Richard stretched. He glanced up casually to see his friend pouring a second cup. Without taking his eyes off Mansoor, he reached down and looked to be adjusting the sock around his ankle.
“Funny I keep bumping into you like this.”
Mansoor looked up from his tea. “If I was a suspicious man I would think you might be following me Richard,” he responded playfully.
His companion shrugged. “What can I say? I guess I’m into good-looking Arabs with hot tea.”
Blood rose to Mansoor’s face as he waved away the compliment. They’d only met days earlier, but had quickly found they believed in many of the same things. Most importantly, they’d spoken at length about the wars still being waged in the Middle East. Mansoor had found it comforting to meet such an enlightened, and handsome, American. It hadn’t taken long to figure out that Richard was probably gay, although his last comment was the most overt flirting either one had yet attempted.
“Why don’t you come have your tea?”
Richard nodded and sat down next to his friend. He took the paper cup and held it up in toast. “To new friends.”
The two men tapped their cups together and took sips of their tea. Mansoor savored the taste of his past. Soon he would be able to return to his country. He smiled at the thought.
Richard looked up from his tea and cocked his head. “What are you thinking about?”
Mansoor shook away his thoughts and focused on his prize. “I was thinking that maybe we should do dinner sometime. What do you think?”
Richard’s light complexion flushed slightly as he took another sip of his tea.
“What is it, my friend?” asked Mansoor, stroking his slick goatee carefully.
Richard shook his head as if to say he was too embarrassed to respond.
“Come, Richard. You know you can tell me anything. What is the matter?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you. It’s…it’s kind of a secret.”
Richard took another hurried sip of his tea. Mansoor placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Please tell me,” he whispered. His oversized obsidian eyes glinted with excitement.
Richard nodded and leaned in as if to whisper in his ear. Mansoor shuddered involuntarily and moved in closer. Richard used his left hand to bring Mansoor’s head closer. It was an almost intimate gesture. His lips were right next to Mansoor’s ear.
Richard whispered, “I have to kill you now.”
Mansoor’s eyes widened as the killer inserted a double-edged blade into his throat. He struggled against the pull, but the executioner held on to his head and twisted the knife forcing the man’s lifeblood out in a steady flow.
The Middle Easterner’s eyes glazed and his movement stopped. Moving quickly, the assassin laid the dead man down on the bench and covered him with the open newspaper. Next he wiped his blade on the man’s jacket and returned it to its sheath.
He heard a rustling from the woods and turned to see another man dressed in running gear walking toward him.
“You okay?” asked the blonde man with the ponytail.
“I’m good,” Cal Stokes answered. He looked down at his watch and exhaled. “Let’s get back to the hotel and get cleaned up. We’ve gotta be at the Oval office in two hours.”
"Presidential Shift" coming early Fall 2013
Well, friends, here's your first dose of "Council of Patriots". We're still on track to have the final novel available in November, and subsequent novels coming out every two months or so. Thanks for all the great feedback on the cover and content. I couldn't do this without you all.
Semper Fi and happy reading!
C. G. Cooper
7:35am, September XXX
Congressman Zimmer knew he was in deep shit. The last six months replayed in his mind. Ever since that episode in Las Vegas, his life had drastically changed. He remembered the incident like it was yesterday. Hell, he’d relived it every night in his dreams. He hadn’t had one decent night’s rest.
Six months earlier Congressman Brandon Zimmer, a promising first-term United States representative from Massachusetts, was on the rise. Although barely thirty, Zimmer was no novice in the political world. He’d first accompanied his parents on the campaign trail as a newborn. His father, U.S. Senator Richard Zimmer of Massachusetts, employed young Brandon over the years in positions ranging from runner to assistant campaign manager.
After graduating from an elite private school, Brandon matriculated to the Ivy League. His father, a Harvard alum, pushed for his son to follow his lead. Brandon decided to rebel and go to Yale instead. He did, however, attend Harvard for his MBA.
During his years in school Brandon excelled in academics and always elected to be part of the student council. Yes, politics was in his blood.
A year prior, Congressman Brandon Zimmer won the vacated congressional seat in his home district in Massachusetts. Although a staunch Democrat, and his constituency were as well, he narrowly won. The early campaign looked promising and his staff expected a landslide victory. Zimmer had the good lucks the media loved. He was also the son of a long-standing, and extremely popular Senator.
Despite his status and the endorsement of his six-term father in the Senate, Brandon’s playboy ways were soon splashed throughout social media. Pictures of Zimmer dancing with naked coeds at a Mardi Gras bash in New Orleans the year before, almost sealed his fate. Soon other reports, photos and videos surfaced. It was only through the damage control of his staff and his father’s wealthy backers that he was able to squeeze out the election.
After the fiasco his father put his foot down.
“Son, this is your last shot. I will not come to your rescue again. You’ve got to learn to control your urges. Do you really want to give up everything we’ve worked for?”
Although he’d promised to leave his partying days behind, halfway into his first year as Congressman, Zimmer accepted the invitation of a small Japanese lobbyist who represented the gaming industry. Brandon first met Ishi Nakamura at Harvard Business School. They’d both enjoyed women and parties. After graduation Zimmer entered politics and Nakamura entered the family gaming business in Las Vegas. They’d kept in touch over the years and always promised to visit.
Not long after Zimmer was sworn in, he received a call from his friend. Ishi wanted to offer his congratulations and let Brandon know that he was now heading his father’s small lobbying firm, Ichiban Gaming. Brandon was honestly excited for his friend and mentioned that they should linkup sometime soon.
Six months later he received another call from Ishi.
“Hey, brother. Just wanted to let you know that we’re having a couple of your peers out here in a week to show them around. Didn’t know if you might like to join them. You could make some new friends and I can give you a tour of Sin City,” Ishi invited.
Brandon moaned before answering. “I don’t know. I’m on a pretty short leash around here.”
“Come on. What happened to the Brandon that used to sneak weed into Professor Flannigan’s lectures?”
The freshman Congressman chuckled, “I’m in Congress now, Ishi. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time already bit me once.”
“I know, I know. I’m just giving you a hard time. Look, consider it payback for all those times you hooked me up with your rejects. I promise to wine you and dine you and nothing else.”
Brandon took a second to respond. What could it hurt? “Well, as long as we stick to food, shows and little gambling…I guess I can go.”
Congressman Zimmer wished he’d said no. The trip started out like any other fact-finding junket. Lectures and meetings followed by expensive dinners and more meetings. It all fell apart for Zimmer on the third night.
After a long day hobnobbing with local gaming contacts, Brandon needed a break. He slipped away and headed back to the swanky new hotel-casino, Zeitaku, owned by one of Ishi’s clients. Ducking into one of the many bars he’d toured earlier in the week, he soon found a dark corner and made himself at home.
Halfway into his third martini a gorgeous blonde walked into the almost deserted bar. Wow. Look at the body on that one.
She sat down at the bar and ordered a drink from the Japanese bartender. After a couple sips from her cocktail her eyes wandered around empty bar. Almost squinting she caught Brandon’s eye. She smiled sheepishly and went back to her drink.
Five minutes later the young woman walked towards the restroom but veered over to the Congressman’s alcove.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to bother you, but are you by any chance Congressman Zimmer?” she asked shyly.
It wasn’t every day that Zimmer was recognized in public, but his ego always loved it.
He plastered on his best man-of-the-people-smile. “Yes I am.”
The blonde smiled ecstatically. “I thought so! Do you mind if I sit down?”
Brandon gestured to the other seat. “Please.”
Her name was Beth. She was also from the East Coast, and had gone to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They hit it off immediately after ribbing each other about the strength of their alma maters’ basketball teams. Zimmer conceded that UNC was a perennial powerhouse on the court. His concession made Beth beam with pride.
They stayed in the bar until it closed, drinking countless martinis in the process. One thing led to another and the pair eventually made it back to Zimmer’s penthouse suite.
The next thing Zimmer remembered was waking up with his face cradled in Beth’s perfect breasts. He felt severely hung-over, but that was nothing new. Must have been a really good night, he thought.
Something felt strange as he started to move. He didn’t remember getting into any kinky jello stuff, but his hands and midsection felt sticky.
His eyes were still blurry and he could just make out Beth’s peaceful face. Man was she sleeping hard. He pushed himself off the young woman, looked down, and screamed.
Everything came into stark focus. Beth’s beautiful body was completely dismembered. Her arms and legs cut off. The huge amount of blood was soaking the king-sized mattress. Still screaming he looked down at himself and saw that he was covered in blood as well. Even worse, he raised his hands to his face and realized that his right hand held a long serrated knife, caked with congealing, sticky blood.
He screamed once more and fainted.
When he came to, hotel security staff was wandering around the hotel room. All were Japanese. They’d apparently wrapped him in a robe but neglected to clean off any of Beth’s blood. He started to panic as he took in the scene. Beth’s body was still visible, but now surrounded by camera-wielding security crew. He even noticed one man casually taking videos of the room.
The cameraman noticed Zimmer awake and motioned to one of the other men. The man nodded and headed towards the fallen congressman.
The security man walked over to Brandon and addressed him in heavily accented English. “Congressman Zimmer, I am head of hotel security. Would it be possible to take your statement now?”
Brandon didn’t know how to answer. Was he going to jail? What the hell was happening?
“I’d like to call my attorney first,” he forced out with as much conviction as he could muster.
The head of security nodded. “I understand, Congressman. However, this is a highly sensitive issue. I would recommend cooperating with us. Failure to do so could make the situation much worse.”
“What do you mean much worse?”
“Let me just say that you would not want these videos to get leaked to the police or the public.”
Brandon head started to clear as did his bravado. “Are you trying to frame me?”
The security man looked almost contrite and bowed before answering. “Of course not, Congressman. You do see our dilemma…”
He was interrupted by Ishi Nakamura bursting in the door.
“What is the meaning of this?!”
The head of security bowed in deference. “Nakamura-san, I did not know that you were acquainted with the Congressman.”
Ishi looked enraged. “Of course I am, you idiot. Does Mr. Saito know about this?”
“He does. Saito-san wanted me to take care of this personally.”
Ishi calmed and replied, “Tell him that I am here and wish to speak with him.”
The head of security bowed and stepped outside to make the call.
Ishi turned to his friend. “What the hell happened, Brandon?”
Brandon’s composure slipped as he answered, “I…I…I don’t know. Last thing I remember is having a great time with this girl, and then I wake up and I’m straddling a corpse. What the fuck, man?!”
Ishi put a calming hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Calm down. I’ll take care of this.”
“How the hell are you gonna take care of this?! They got my prints all over and they keep taking pictures!”
Ishi paused and looked squarely at Brandon. “Do you trust me?”
Still panicking Zimmer couldn’t think of anything else to say, “I..I guess.”
Shaking his head Ishi scolded, “That’s not good enough. Do you trust me?”
Brandon looked at his old friend momentarily then nodded. “Yes I trust you.”
Ishi almost smiled. “OK. Now this won’t be easy but I may be able to call in a few favors. The owner of this hotel, Mr. Saito, is a client of my firm and a friend of my father’s. Let me see what I can do.”
Now in tears Brandon pleaded, “Do whatever you have to and get me out of this, Ishi.”
That was six months earlier. At the time all he wanted was to be out of that bloody room. Congressman Zimmer never had time to think about the consequences. Little did he know how much that favor would cost.
Turks and Caicos
9:00am, September XXX
Cal stretched lazily on the king size bed. The good-looking former Marine looked down at his well-toned body. At least he had some shorts on.
He looked across the huge suite. Neil was still monitoring the surveillance cameras. They’d been in Turks for just over a week, and had taken full advantage of the local amenities. That fact was clearly illustrated by the massive headache threatening to overtake Cal’s attention.
Cal snapped his fingers at Neil. “Anything new?”
Not looking up from the monitor the genius known as Neil Patel answered, “Nope. Our boy is still sleeping off his hangover.”
“I feel like I should be doing the same thing.”
Neil chuckled and looked back at his friend through his stylish Prada glasses. “You were pretty funny when Brian dragged you back in here last night. What the hell did you get into?”
Cal rubbed his hands over his eyes. “I was the idiot that thought he could match Master Sergeant Trent drink for drink.”
MSgt Willy Trent was an enormous man. Standing at just under seven feet, with the physique of an NFL linebacker, Trent was a hard man to miss. He and Cal were both former Marines and competed in anything and everything possible. The only problem with that, was that despite the fact that Cal was a very fit five foot ten former grunt, and a deadly warrior to boot, not many people could match Trent’s athletic abilities.
Cal changed the subject not wanting to make his headache even worse. “When does my shift start?”
“It’s nine o’clock now. You’re not on until eleven.” Neil went back to his vigil and coffee.
Cal tried to shake the cobwebs. “Sweet. That gives me some time to marinate under a nice hot shower.”
“You need it. You smell like a brewery,” Neil answered sniffing the air.
Cal gave his friend a middle-fingered salute and trudged off to the bathroom. As he soaked in the shower, his mind drifted. He thought about his entrance into his deceased father’s company, Stokes Security International (SSI). Had it really been a year since he’d started working at SSI?
It seemed like only yesterday that he had accepted the position as head of SSI’s covert wing. His cousin, Travis Haden, was CEO of SSI and a former SEAL. He’d not only enticed Cal into taking the position, but had also allowed the former Marine to utilize SSI assets to avenge his fiancé’s murder.
Cal had exacted his revenge in the gang leader’s underground lair, not far from SSI’s headquarters, Camp Spartan, just south of Nashville, Tennessee. It was a close fight (Cal had the scars to prove it), but he’d finally killed the criminal who’d taken his beloved Jessica’s life.
He still felt the bitter sting of grief. It had lessened over time, but Cal still couldn’t bring himself to start dating again. His friends knew it would happen in time, but none pushed.
Cal remembered Jessica’s funeral. A beautiful ceremony on a bright sunny day. They’d buried her on the grounds of Camp Spartan, and Cal often took a jog up to her grave. He liked to think that Jess was now watching over him as he continued his journey with SSI.
After the funeral, Travis had introduced him to the men that would completely change his life’s path: the Council of Patriots...
Hope you enjoyed this little excerpt. Be on the lookout for the full novel November 2012! Don't miss the trailer below...