Excerpts: Chapters 11 and 12

Hello, Dear Readers!

As we approach the launch of Book 2, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse, on October 20, I am continuing the excerpts, in chapter order, for you.

So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you enjoy these ongoing tidbits!


From Chapter 11, “Down the Cellar Steps”

Moki, one of the detectives, asks Isabela about Madame Ronescu, Isabela’s casita renter visiting from Romania:

“I’m just happy we haven’t had any more strange noises or footsteps since the other night. Those unnerve me.” Goosebumps rose on [Isabela’s] arms.

“Speaking of unnerving,” Moki said, “has anyone seen Madame Ronescu lately?”

“I saw her yesterday afternoon while you kids were gone, and I was in the garden,” Isabela said. “Madame was apparently returning from some errands because she was carrying a large shopping bag. She took a short-cut through the cathedral churchyard. I saw her walking past the area near the crushed daisies.”

“Broad daylight, Moki,” Lexi said quietly with a smirk. “Convinced now she isn’t a vampire?”


From Chapter 12, “Going on a Lion Hunt”

The detectives are following up on a clue pertaining to “lions on moonlit perches” from the Puzzle Poem. Lanny has a plan:

[Lanny says], “. . . we’re going on a lion hunt all over the house and grounds to see if we can find lions on some kind of ‘moonlit perches.’” . . .

[Isabela says], “Well, there certainly are a number of lions on the estate in the forms of statues, tiles, and paintings. They’re the symbol of my great-grandparents’ favorite movie studio, so they added them to the décor of the house. I don’t have a clue about the ‘moonlit perches,’ though.” . . .

Lanny [says], “. . . we have to use our time wisely–and not only because of the intruder. Don’t forget that we also have a case at the ARC. So, Moki, let’s get busy. How about if you and I scout around outdoors? Would you girls be okay with starting on the first floor? If you have time, head to the second floor. When Moki and I finish out here, we can take the third floor.”

Excerpts: Chapters 9 and 10

Dear Readers Anticipating Book 2,

Here you go! The next set of excerpts in chapter order for Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse.

So, get a clue, Readers. Book 2 launches on Amazon on October 20 in paperback and eBook. The eBook will be available on additional platforms that day, including Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play Books. The paperback will become available by order from indie stores in November. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these sneak-peeks at my forthcoming book!


From Chapter 9, “Churchyard on the Third Floor”

Lexi is reporting about a call she just received from her mother. Dr. Abbott is the director of the Antiquities Research Collective:

“. . . Mom was just reminding us that Aunt Connie arrives late this afternoon from Washington, D.C.”

Lexi had already explained to Isabela about the twins’ aunt, Connie Marlton, a photojournalist with the International Geographic Institute. Dr. Abbott had hired her to photograph his new ARC exhibit, “Gemstones of Antiquity,” which would open to the public the next day.

“We’re all supposed to go there tonight for the special preview reception. You’re invited too, Ms. de Cordoba. Mom also said Bruce wants us four kids to come over today if possible to catch up on some lessons.”


From Chapter 10, “Gemstones of Antiquity”

Some of the ancient gemstones have been stolen. Dr. Abbott has hired the detectives to investigate. They are at the preview party at the Antiquities Research Collective (ARC). Lanny, the head detective, is asking Dr. Abbott a question:

“Dr. Abbott, do the media or other ARC employees know about the missing gemstones?”

“No, not yet, Lanyon,” the director whispered. He seldom used the twins’ nicknames. “The police think it best to keep that news quiet until their investigation is further along.”

“Which stones are missing, and how did you discover the theft?” Lexi whispered back.

“Well, Alexia, Mr. Dayton has a tally sheet of the stones. He discovered this morning the numbers didn’t add up during his count. There are ten missing. As to which stones, let’s go over to the display case, and we’ll show you where they were.”

Excerpts: Chapters 7 and 8

Dear Botanic Hill Detectives Fans,

We are getting closer to the launch of Book 2, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse, on October 20.

I am continuing the excerpts, in chapter order, for you.

So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you enjoy these tidbits!


From Chapter 7, “Casita, Cathedral, and Cemetery”

Isabela and the four detectives continue on to the western edge of the grounds and arrive at a cathedral and its churchyard:

“This brings us to the churchyard of St. Barnabas Cathedral,” Isabela said. . . .

The building was mammoth and a stunning replica of European Gothic architecture. Ivy growing profusely on some of its pointed exterior arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses indicated the building had been part of the community for many years. Circular rose windows and tall lancet-shaped stained-glass windows dominated the beige stucco walls every few feet. For now, the kids could only imagine how beautiful the interior must look when sunlight permeated the colorful glass mosaics.

After staring up at the building for a full minute, Moki felt dizzy and shook his head. “So, what kinds of things are planted in a churchyard?” he asked casually.

“Dead bodies, old buddy,” Lanny replied, not missing a beat.


From Chapter 8, “Mud and More Paper”

Isabela and the detectives discuss theories about the case over breakfast:

“I still think Big Foot has a secret way in and out of the house,” Lexi said, “and not by the usual windows or doors.” . . .

“Lexi makes sense,” Moki said. He winked at Lexi as he reached for more bacon. “Bigfoot maybe came in by a longer route. That let his or her feet dry off, and the mud get scraped off first.”

Isabela paused, held her coffee cup in midair, and said, “Yes. And remember I mentioned that no alarms have been triggered, yet an intruder seems to gain access to my home? Hmm . . . sounds to me like this old house might have some secret passageways or hidden rooms! What do you kids think?”

Excerpts: Chapters 5 and 6

Dear Kids and All Readers,

As I promised, leading up to the October 20 launch of Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse, here are the next two chapters, excerpted.

So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you enjoy this week’s sneak-peek!


From Chapter 5, “A Rude Awakening”

Lexi and Rani were the first two to grab their robes, shuffle into their slippers, and scramble out into the hallway. Within seconds, the boys were there, flashlights beaming, also trying to process the loud crash.

“What the heck was that?” Lexi asked. . . .

Isabela said, “I’m pretty sure it came from outside. Come with me.” She flipped on the hall lights, then led them at a run down the entire length of the hall to the twisting staircase leading to the third floor. She paused there and said, “There’s a solarium upstairs with a perfect view of the back gardens.”


From Chapter 6, “At the Root of It All”

After sunrise that morning, Isabela and the four detectives are out checking the estate grounds for what caused the crash. They end up at the rental cottage (casita) at the rear of the enormous property:

Before they had knocked on the door, loud, deep barking could be heard coming from inside the little house. As the door creaked open slowly, out plodded Isabela’s milk- chocolate-colored dog. . . .

The girls were so distracted by the dog that they were entirely caught off-guard by the sound of a deep voice rasping from behind the cottage door.

It slowly opened just a crack more. “Who’s there?”

Excerpts: Chapters 3 and 4

Dear Kids and All Readers,

As I promised, leading up to the October 20 launch of Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse, here are the next two chapters, excerpted.

So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you enjoy this week’s sneak-peek!


From Chapter 3, “Mysterious Footsteps”

After Lorenzo’s letter is read, the group hears mysterious footsteps coming from the room above. They decide to investigate:

Lexi led the charge into the entryway and toward the grand staircase that curved up the walls. Rani hiked up her sari and soon overtook her friend. The others bolted up the stairs silently two at a time, not even bothering to hold onto the wrought iron banister. They were on the second floor in a flash to find the source of the eerie footsteps. . . .

The two girls were the first to burst into the lavender-scented room. . . . On first inspection, no intruder was to be seen.

The kids quickly and fearlessly fanned out with Isabela’s nodded permission, searching the large walk-in closet, master bathroom, mirrored dressing room, even under the king-sized bed and behind the heavy brocade window curtains.


From Chapter 4, “The Puzzle Poem”

Isabela has read the detectives the Puzzle Poem (a kind of treasure map in six poetic stanzas from Lorenzo with supposed clues to the whereabouts of the emerald). After discussing it, everyone is tired and heads to bed:

The kids quickly chose their two rooms, goodnights were said all around, and lights were turned out. Soon, everyone settled down to a long sleep with the wind and the rain still hammering outside.

That is, until the crash at four a.m.

Excerpts: Chapters 1 and 2

Dear Kids and All Readers,

As I promised, today, July 23, begins two excerpts a week from Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse.

We are approaching the October 20 launch. Yay!

So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you enjoy this week’s sneak-peek!


From Chapter 1, “A Mystery from Eucalyptus Street”

A tremendous thunderclap propelled thirteen-year-old Lanny Wyatt right off the plush living room sofa. He had been dozing there after a heavy dinner, mesmerized by the drumming rain outside and the fire roaring in the enormous fireplace of the historic mansion on Eucalyptus Street. The immense estate had once belonged to an old-time Hollywood actor and actress. Their portraits, among others, had been staring down at him. Earlier he’d thought it was funny that the portraits’ eyes seemed to follow him around the room . . . but later, lying on his backside, not so much. The thunderclap was the final straw. He had scrambled to his feet

Lanny walked toward the floor-to-ceiling French doors and squinted through their tiny square glass panes. Beyond the flagstone patio, on the estate grounds, he noticed darkness had overtaken the old, windswept eucalyptus trees. Sheets of rain were blowing sideways, pelting and rattling the mansion’s windows. For split seconds, lightning illuminated the foliage with eerie strobe-like effects, giving the trees and expansive, rolling lawns a surreal, colorless appearance. This was the kind of night anything could happen. . . .


From Chapter 2, “Emeralds and Ancestors”

Isabela de Cordoba, the young woman who has hired the detectives to find an enormous emerald hidden on her family’s enormous estate in 1940, is about to read a letter. It is now 2015:

“I received an unexpected call two days ago from an attorney, a Mr. Troy Landis. He’s a partner in a long-established law firm here in town. He said he would be giving me a ‘secret letter’ written to me by my great-grandfather Lorenzo—more correctly, written to ‘Lorenzo and Alondra’s eldest descendant three generations hence’ and to be presented by an attorney on that person’s twenty-first birthday. My birthday.

She reads the letter from Great-Grandfather Lorenzo (excerpted):

“My dearest and eldest descendant of your generation —  . . . You are no doubt wondering why you are receiving a letter today from your long-deceased relative. No doubt you have also heard many stories down through the decades about “The Leticia Emerald” that was found in India. The emerald is indeed the primary focus of this letter.

I received the emerald in the mail from my sister, Leticia, who was in India in 1940. In the last five years, I have been unable to determine whether or not my brother and sister were ever the legal owners of the stone. This has haunted my dear wife, Alondra, and me to the point where we recently decided to hide the emerald for the rest of our lifetime and the lifetimes of the family’s next two generations. Hopefully, by the third generation descended from me, of which you are a part, some information will have come to light as to where and to whom the emerald truly belongs.

You are hereby charged with finding it if you choose—a Birthday Treasure Hunt . . .”