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Maggie Parker is learning to make magic and after a showdown with Simon Wesley, it’s clear she’s running out of time. But nothing is going as planned.
Did she just turn a mouse into a corgi? Oops… Magic is a lot more complicated than she realized.
Not only does Maggie have to find the compass, she has to rescue a friend of her late father who may hold the answers…before the world realizes she’s living on borrowed time.
A Godwin Knight has teamed up with Maggie and Bernie, swearing to protect the Elemental on her journey, even as more humans wake up to their magic.
But Maggie needs to figure out who she can trust, including that tall drink of water, Jake. She needs a plan and fast.
Will she find the other four Elementals in time to put the machine back together?
There was a flash of sparkling gold light just outside the window, followed immediately by a loud crack of wood splintering and the sound of chickens squawking in the backyard.
“What the hell?” Maggie Parker stood suddenly upright, holding very still to try and catch any more sounds. Her knee banged against the tall, wooden dresser and she let out a short breath of air, choking back a grunt of pain. Nothing.
No, wait, there’s one. A loud clang, like something was knocked to the cement floor of the garage out back.
She looked out the window, down in the direction of the small garage at the back of her yard. Someone darted past the window, followed by another streak of gold light. “Oh, come on…” She let the words out slowly, sucking in her bottom lip even as her reflexes took over. Four solid years as a robbery detective will do that to a body.
Maggie easily dove across her bed and landed on her feet, sliding open the drawer in the nightstand. She scooped up her nine-millimeter service weapon and ran for the stairs in one fluid motion. The toe of her running shoe caught on the cracked wooden tread, third from the bottom but she caught herself and leapt down the last few, already building up speed. “Really have to fix that someday,” she mumbled as her hand took the corner, moving faster.
Out the back door she went, across the small patch of grass, turned yellow in what passed for winter in Austin, Texas, cold air filling her lungs. She jogged past the chicken coop, only the two white feathery Brahma raised their heads to look at her, squawking before going back to pecking at the ground. The eight other chickens were warmly nesting in the coop.
In a matter of moments, she was in the side door of the garage, quickly taking note of the jimmied lock. Her trained eye told her it was done by someone with some skill.
She raised her gun, placing herself by the door in the confined quarters. “Whoever you are, you’re not going anywhere. Picked the wrong house, dude.” The metal shelves jostled as a rubber mallet and pliers slid off and hit the hard concrete. She raised her gun, keeping her breathing even. “Let’s not make this any more complicated. Do the right thing and come up with your hands raised over your head, fingers spread.”
“Son of a centaur.” It was a deep, rumbling voice, clearly frustrated. Sounded like he smoked way too many cigarettes. He was muttering something else, but Maggie couldn’t make out the words.
A strong odor of damp earth hit her in the face as the man came into the center of the room, his arms by his side. He was no more than five feet tall with only a rim of grey hair on his shiny bald head, and baggy blue pants covered in dirt, held up by striped suspenders over a green wool sweater. Maggie relaxed, just a little.
She arched an eyebrow, even as she looked to make sure he didn’t have an accomplice. “Were you looking for a warm place to hang out? This isn’t a shelter, but I can help you find a place.”
The slight old man huffed in anger and balled his hands into fists. “That again! These are decent enough clothes.” His words came out in a whistle through his jutting front teeth. He patted the pockets of his pants, releasing another wave of the mossy smell. “I’m not homeless, Peabrain.”
Maggie cocked her head to the side, still holding up her gun. “Okay, name calling, very nice. Well, which one of us is about to get arrested, asshole?”
“Asshole is just a nickname. My friends call me Bernie.” He spat the words out, his face flushed. “You can keep calling me asshole.”
“Bernie, you’re an odd combo for a criminal. You broke in here like you’ve done this before, but you’ve been banging around like you left your glasses somewhere.”
He cut her off, waving his arms. “I have never needed glasses! Slipped on that grease stain.” He looked back over his shoulder and back at her. “Place needs a good straightening up, if you ask me.”
“No one is asking and from the looks of things, you caused most of the mess.” Maggie lowered her gun, letting out a deep breath. “Look, Bernie, I’m gonna need an explanation.” She waved her hand at the mess in the garage.
“Your training, I suppose,” he muttered, taking a small step to his right.
Maggie furrowed her brow, tucking a long strand of brown hair behind an ear. “Do we know each other?” Her shoulders dropped down a little. “Oh geez, are you one of my mother’s friends? Was she doing another white lady sweat lodge? Are you high on something?” She shook her head. “That collection of people she has in her house, no offense.”
“None taken, I’m not one of them,” he grumbled. He took another small step to the right, sliding an old green metal tool box with his foot. Half of the tools were already spilled out onto the floor.
Maggie looked at the toolbox and up at Bernie. That was the clang she had heard earlier.
“What the hell are you doing with Poppy’s toolbox? You break in here to steal some old tools?” An ache centered in her chest. The tools were the only thing her grandfather had left her in his will last year. She had put the box on a shelf and left them there. It was still too painful to look through them. But it didn’t mean someone could take them. “Answer the question. What do you want with the tools?”
Maggie lifted her gun back up, the hair on her arms starting to stand up and a familiar tingle spreading along the back of her neck. She got it every time something was about to go down. The muscles across her back tensed.
Bernie peered at her, squinting his eyes like he was sizing her up. He shrugged and turned, picking the metal box up and dumping out the contents.
“Hey! That’s all I have left from my grandfather.” Maggie felt a flush of anger and ran across the room, dropping to one knee. She was still holding up her gun even as she pushed the tools out of the small man’s reach. But he was already ignoring everything except the small wooden puzzle box that was resting lightly in the palm of his hand. A satisfied grin broke out across his face.
“Not a chance!” Maggie shouted.
He had picked Maggie’s favorite from the tool box. A useless wooden box her grandfather let her play with as a child but was never able to open. It was decorated on every side with a different element of wind, fire, water or earth. On the top was an engraving of a compass rose. Bernie looked all around and waved his arm as he made an attempt at an end run around the detective, barreling at her. She put out her foot to trip him up, combining it with an elbow to his midsection.
“Oof!” He blew out sharply, losing his grip on the box as it dropped toward the floor. “No, not this time!” he called out.
They both reached up for the box at the same time, fumbling it through their fingers as it continued to tumble off course, headed for a puddle of water where rainwater had seeped inside the garage. The box landed on its side, making a small splash as Bernie gasped, his eyes growing wider. His voice came out in a whisper. “Peabrain, what have you done?”
“What?” Maggie looked back and forth quickly between Bernie and the box, which was already vibrating, the shaking growing more violent by the second. Maggie didn’t hesitate.
She scooped it up, cradling it in her hands and felt the vibrations from it travel up her arms, chattering her teeth. A wave of energy passed through her that felt exactly like the last time she rode a roller coaster and flipped upside down, twisting around a steep curve.
“How is this possible?” Her voice had a hum to it as if her entire chest were vibrating. But just as suddenly, it stopped, and the stillness hung in the air. She swallowed hard and realized she was still gripping her gun in her other hand. “Hope you don’t have plans, Bernie because I’m going to be asking you questions for a while.” Maggie never took her eyes off the box. A shudder went down her spine.
Bernie stood frozen right where he was, his mouth hanging open as one by one, different parts of the small box in Maggie’s hand shifted and pieces unfolded like petals, revealing an inner chamber. Inside was a small brass compass with five black needles pointing in different directions covered with a clear glass face. One of the needles was pointing directly at Maggie.
“The compass, it was yours all along,” gasped Bernie, staring at Maggie. “You’re the new Elemental.” The compass began to make a whirring noise, the needles spinning as the tiny cogs behind it spun, faster and faster. The round knob on the top of the compass popped open, pushing it up at an angle and small, metallic wings spread out to the sides, fluttering as the compass took flight.
Maggie watched the wings movement. “I’m pretty sure this is not possible,” she whispered, as the intricate piece of machinery hovered in front of her face. She put her hand up closer to it and it dropped back into her palm, the wings folding up as the knob popped back into place. She heard Bernie swear under his breath. “Leo swore it couldn’t be you.” Bernie put out his hand to touch the compass, laying inert in the center of the open box, still in Maggie’s hand.
“Back off!” Maggie recovered herself, remembering why she was standing in her garage on her morning off. She kept out her hand that held the compass, not sure what to do but made sure her other hand was pointing her weapon at Bernie.
“You’re going to need to put those hands up, Bernie. I haven’t forgotten that you broke in here. You’re coming downtown with me unless you can give me a really good reason for why you know the first thing about me and how that connects to breaking into my garage and what you want with Poppy’s tools.”
“Not the tools…” Bernie wiggled his fingers above his head, muttering the same garbled words Maggie had heard before but she still couldn’t make out what he was saying.
“What are you…”
Large, clear bubbles floated in a cluster near the ceiling of the small, cinder block garage caught her attention. Maggie frowned but didn’t have time to do anything more than that.
An old ball peen hammer rose off the floor from the pile of tools and landed neatly in Bernie’s open hand.
Maggie felt another shudder go down her spine but there was no time to make sense out of any of it. “Have to stop eating brownies from Mom. I told her that wasn’t cool after the last time.”
Bernie’s arm was already pulled back, launching the hammer in the direction of Maggie’s head, leaning into the pitch. She ducked just as the hammer breezed past her head, tucking her chin, just for a moment. “Okay, now we’re done playing. Attacking an officer guarantees you that ride downtown.”
Maggie’s head was only tilted down for a second but when she looked up Bernie was gone, and so was the compass. “Not a chance he got past me.” She ran across the short divide, ducking behind the metal shelves but there was no sign of him. “How the hell did he get past me?”
A large moth fluttered near her head, and she swatted at it, her head still working on a swivel.
“Ow, did that thing just bite me?” She pulled in her hand and saw two small red marks. “I just got bitten by a baby mothra.” She looked back up. “What a weird day.” Out in the yard the chickens were all out of the coop, running along the fence squawking. Maggie ran to the fence, easily jumping up onto the wooden cross bar to get a better look into her neighbor’s yard. No sign of Bernie anywhere.
She ran down the side of her Caribbean-blue bungalow and out to Pressler Street, but it was sleepy this time of day. A man in a green puffy coat with the hood pulled close against the wind, hurried along the street, not bothering to look back at Maggie. A small black Labrador looked up from a front yard two doors down and started barking at Maggie till she darted back the way she came. “Damn, where could that old man have gone?”
The chickens continued to race back and forth as the moth took to higher ground, flying closer to the top of the old pecan tree. It landed in the crook of the old tree where it was hidden from view, just as a large bubble popped next to it, releasing the small compass. The moth settled on top of it, biding its time.
Maggie’s brow furrowed as she jumped down from the fence, looking for any further signs of trouble. A white and black Dorking hen nipped at the wire fencing surrounding the coop, clucking loudly. “Calm down Gertie. The trouble has already passed.” She let out a sigh, one hand on her hip. “Best alarm system there is in my own backyard and that asshole got in and got out without a peep from anyone of you. Damn, what the hell just happened?”
She rubbed the marks on her wrist. “Did a compass really fly?”
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Elemental Earth Magic. Intergalactic Consequences. Maggie Parker holds the compass and her magic can change everything – but time is running out.
Can the Austin Detective find the other Elementals and fix the great machine to continue the quest? They’re only a few steps ahead of Simon Wesley and his dark magic.
Maggie’s still searching for answers. What happened to her missing childhood friend? Who’s been behind all the strange robberies? Why can’t Bernie change back from being a talking raccoon?
It doesn’t help that the Earth is trying to kill her and swallow her into its depths.
Nothing like knowing your life, as well as the lives of everyone you love are at stake to kick you into overdrive to survive.
Can Maggie stay alive and complete the quest to bring the five Elementals together and decide of the fate of the ship, which happens to be Earth?
Join Maggie and Bernie on their quest for the missing parts and uniting the Elementals to save Earth in The Peabrain’s Quest.
About Book 1:
Author: Martha Carr
Pub. Date: April 11, 2019
Publisher: Martha Carr
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon
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Find the compass, save the world or save herself?
For Austin robbery detective Maggie Parker, dating is harder than running down a felon, even if the guy is worth it – just ask Jake. Now add in magic.
When she finds someone breaking into her garage, stealing a favorite wooden puzzle box everything changes. Did she just see a compass fly?
Can she learn how to use the magic of bubbles to chart a new course in time? The mechanics may hold the answer.
Her new quest: Rescue the passengers on an ancient ship – a big blue marble called Earth – and save herself.
Recover the compass, find the other Elementals and help decide Earth’s fate.
Simple? It’s a lot harder than it sounds. And there’s that fourth date…
Hello, I’m a bestselling author from Austin, Texas. I live there with the good dog, Lois Lane and spend most of my time dreaming of Elves, Witches, Wizards and other magical worlds. I was a nerdy kid from the jump, performing magic at my little brother’s birthday party, saving up for DC comic books, inventing elaborate 3D board games or making treasure hunts with a lot of clues that led all over the house. Jeff was a very tolerant little brother who went along with my schemes. In those days, we were known as M&J.
But from the day I walked into the Philadelphia library and found out there was a place that would let me borrow books to read, bring them back and get more, I was hooked on telling a good story. My love affair with books has been a theme throughout my entire life but my first taste of getting a review was when I was nine years old.
My Dad dropped off the three youngest of us at the movies and drove off without checking the movie listing. It was 1960’s style parenting… Turns out it was a Vincent Price triple horror feature in black and white. Scary stuff in the day. Lots of blood and poisonous vines and a little murder. My brother and sister insisted on leaving but I knew this was the only movie I was going to get to see and I wasn’t budging. I stayed all by myself.
The next week when we were asked to write a Halloween story in school, I wrote my first thriller and filled it with all my newfound knowledge, with a twist. My father was called in to explain and like he did whenever he had to visit a principal for one of his kids (even if it was his fault), my father the minister wore his collar. Bottom line… I saw the power of words and weaving a good tale and just kept going. I mean, I scared the teacher with a good horror story – Vincent Price style. The wheels started turning.
Fast forward through writing for the Washington Post, having a nationally syndicated column on politics, a few books and FINALLY, I got back to that inner nerdy kid and started writing about Elves and Wizards and magic again in the bestselling series, THE LEIRA CHRONICLES. A little thriller, a lot of magic, some loyal friends, a swearing troll and a detective named Leira Berens who never gives up and always believes in the possibilities. All adds up to a really good time and feels like I finally came home. A lot more adventures to follow…
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