Over eight previous delectable novels, the seven members of the Sisterhood have exacted multiple pounds of flesh from men who have wronged them. Michaels's latest revenge fantasy finds them living in exile in Barcelona, where they receive word that Pearl Barnes, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, will expose one of their contacts in the U.S. if they don't help her keep her own deep dark secret. Barnes runs an underground railroad for women and children who have been abused by their husbands and boyfriends, and her former son-in-law, Tyler Hughes, has threatened to expose her illegal activities if she doesn't throw an upcoming vote. The Sisterhood members are soon plotting to get back across the pond-no easy task, since they're wanted ladies-in order to swing into action and deliver revenge that's creatively swift and sweet, Michaels-style. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hokus Pokus (Sisterhood Series #9)by Fern Michaels
Not Even An Ocean Can Keep The Sisterhood
From Helping A Friend In Need. . .
There is no match for the Sisterhoodthe seven friends who have taken vigilante justice to a new levelnot even the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Although the women foiled former FBI director Mitch Riley's plot to frame their friends Judge Nellie Easter and lawyer/b>… See more details below
Not Even An Ocean Can Keep The Sisterhood
From Helping A Friend In Need. . .
There is no match for the Sisterhoodthe seven friends who have taken vigilante justice to a new levelnot even the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Although the women foiled former FBI director Mitch Riley's plot to frame their friends Judge Nellie Easter and lawyer Lizzie Fox, now they must remain in exile or risk capture. They can't complain about their opulent digs on a remote, luxurious mountaintop, but the ladies desperately miss home.
Their wish to return might come true sooner than they expect when they receive a panicked call from Supreme Court Chief Justice Pearl Barnes, who faces blackmail for her own illegal brand of justice. Now the women must not only sneak back into the United States, but also remain undetected as they investigate. But how do you make seven women disappear? With a nosy reporter on the brink of exposing them, the clock is ticking as the Sisterhood tries to create a little magicand save the day. . .
Praise for Fern Michaels and her Sisterhood novels. . .
"Revenge is a dish best served with cloth napkins and floral centerpieces. . .fast-paced. . .puts poetic justice first." Publishers Weekly on Payback
"An unforgettable story." Rendezvous on Weekend Warriors
Read an Excerpt
By FERN MICHAELS
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Fern Michaels
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBarcelona, Spain
Charles Martin stood in the middle of his command center, a setup that would have been the envy of the CIA or the White House if they knew about it. He stared at the wraparound television monitors that displayed the 24-hour news channels and what was going on in the world in real time, but right now he wasn't interested in the news. He was trying to come to terms with Judge Nellie Easter's excited voice on the satellite encrypted phone at his ear.
"Slow down, Nellie. Tell me again, word for word, what Justice Barnes said to you." The voice on the other end rose shrilly and Charles could hear the fright in the retired judge's voice. "All right, all right, I'm getting the picture. I'll call Jack as soon as I hang up. Try and get some sleep. I'll get back to you in a bit." The squawking on the other end of the line forced Charles to hold the cell phone away from his ear. "That's an order, Nellie."
Charles walked over to the round table in the middle of the underground room. He sat down, his mind going in all directions. If Nellie was right-and he had no reason to believe she wasn't-he had to take seriously the threat to his beloved Sisterhood and Nellie herself, not to mention Jack Emery, Harry Wong, Lizzie Fox and Maggie Spritzer.
He wondered why he was having so much trouble comprehending Chief Justice Barnes's extracurricular activities. After all, he and the Sisterhood were doing the same thing-breaking the law and serving justice their way. He realized suddenly it wasn't Pearl Barnes's activities that troubled him but the threat she'd made to the Sisterhood. Blackmail was something he absolutely would not deal with. But, he asked himself, was it his decision to make?
Charles looked down at the Patek Philippe chronometer on his wrist and then up at the row of clocks hanging between the plasma monitors. His girls were still sleeping since it was Sunday morning. Jack Emery would also be sleeping but he had no qualms about waking up the district attorney back in Washington. Before he could change his mind he pressed the buttons that would allow him to have a private conversation with Jack.
The groggy voice on the other end of the phone mumbled something that sounded like, "This better be good."
"I don't know about good, Jack, but it is important. Wake up and get some coffee and call me right back." Charles broke the connection before Jack could protest.
Charles Martin, aka Malcolm Sutcliff, aka Sir Malcolm Sutcliff, thanks to his friend Lizzie, also known as Queen Elizabeth II of England, leaned back and closed his eyes. He let his mind travel back in time to when he was a young man in Her Majesty's Secret Service. He'd met a very young Myra Rutledge and fallen in love but Myra's parents had whisked her back to America and he hadn't seen her again until his cover was blown as an MI6 special agent. With his government's help he'd been relocated to America to protect his life and the secrets he carried in his head. His new job was head of security for Myra's Fortune 500 candy company. He smiled when he recalled how they'd fallen in love all over again.
If he ever had any second thoughts about his situation, all he had to do was look at Myra and he knew this was where he belonged.
He continued to smile when he thought about how Myra had asked him to help her break the law. Not that she had to twist his arm. He was so glad to be back in the field he would have begged her to allow him to orchestrate the game she and her adopted daughter had come up with. And while it was dangerous, he had enough contacts all over the world to pull it all together.
Charles was jarred from his reminiscences when the encrypted phone rang. "Good morning, Jack."
"Charles, do you know what time it is? Of course you do, you take perverse pleasure in waking me from a deep sleep. What's up?"
Charles told him. From time to time he could hear Jack's intake of breath and a few mutterings. "That's where it is at the moment, Jack. I want you to gather the others and meet at the farm. I'll arrange things on this end and we'll have a conference via satellite."
"Wait just a damn minute, Charles. Tell me you aren't thinking what I think you're thinking."
"What would that be, Jack?"
"I'm not snatching the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Do you have any idea how much security those people have? No. You have to be crazy to even think ... No! The others aren't ready for something like this. No. No, no, no! Even with Nikki and the others who are more seasoned, I'd still say no. Do you hear me, Charles? I said no. The old judge ... Nellie ... is so nervous she can't speak a clear sentence these days. Lizzie Fox and Maggie Spritzer are in no way ready for a mission of that magnitude. Even Harry will tell you to go pound salt. No! You are out of your frigging mind, Charles, if you think this is doable. It's beyond impossible. One more time, no!"
"What time can you get everyone together? Today is Sunday so it shouldn't be a problem. I don't need to remind you, you are all on call 24/7. I'm going to hang up now and make breakfast for my ladies. In the interests of normalcy, life goes on. Call me as soon as you have things set up."
"What are you making for breakfast, Charles?" Jack asked in a resigned voice.
"It's Sunday. Eggs Benedict. I'm waiting for the chickens to lay the eggs, which should be momentarily. What are you having?"
Charles laughed. But his laughter died in his throat the moment he broke the connection. Jack was right. Nellie's little group was in no way ready for such a mission. His heart heavy, he made his way up the steep stone steps to the main part of the house on the mountaintop.
"There you are, my darling. I missed you," Myra Rutledge said as Charles entered the kitchen.
Charles stared at the love of his life. He smiled the way he always smiled at the first sight of his beloved in the morning. "Did you sleep well?" he asked as he gathered her in his arms. Myra always smelled so wonderful.
Charles held her a few moments longer than usual, just enough time for Myra to worry. She stepped backward and asked, "What is it, Charles? Did something happen during the night?"
How well she knew him. He must be losing his edge. There was no point in trying to hedge with Myra. "Yes, my dear, something happened. I thought I would wait and tell all of you at the same time. I promised Eggs Benedict this morning."
"Oh, dear, I don't like the sound of that at all. Of course, wait and tell us all together. I gathered the eggs as soon as I came downstairs. Can I help, darling?" Offering to help Charles in the kitchen wasn't something Charles appreciated. It was more a standing joke than anything else because Myra was a terrible cook.
"Are we eating on the terrace? If so, you can set the table. Do you know if the girls are up?"
"Yes, we're eating on the terrace. I heard the showers running when I came downstairs. The girls will be down soon. How bad is it, Charles?"
"It's not good, Myra."
Myra didn't press the subject. Charles would talk only when he was ready to talk.
Outside in the brisk mountain air, Myra stretched and looked out at her surroundings. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Beautiful but confining. She as well as the others still hadn't gotten used to the idea that they were prisoners of a sort. How she missed her farm back in the States. Still, she was lucky she wasn't in prison and she did have Charles with her. Home was wherever Charles was. The girls missed home, too, especially Nikki, her adopted daughter. Still, if Jack Emery was here, Nikki wouldn't care if she ever left the mountain.
In some ways this was paradise and in other ways it was hell on Earth because to leave this beautiful mountaintop in Spain meant a life in prison.
And to think this all began when her daughter Barbara was killed by a hit-and-run motorist who was untouchable because of his diplomatic immunity. She and her little band of ladies had taken care of the killer vigilante style, and avenged her daughter's death. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
Myra's gaze went from the colorful flowers on the terrace to the sparkling blue Mediterranean below the mountain and then to the kitchen window where Charles was preparing breakfast for his flock. None of this could have been accomplished without Charles's expertise and the contacts he had in the covert world. Charles was her protector, her savior. God alone knew how much she loved that man.
Myra tilted her head to the side when she thought she heard a phone ringing in the kitchen, something that rarely happened. When Charles's special phone rang it usually meant trouble was brewing somewhere. She turned away to pluck a yellow leaf off one of the plants. When she turned around, Anna de Silva, childhood friend, one of the richest women in the world, and owner of this mountain retreat, greeted her with a huge smile.
"Another golden day in our lives, right, Myra? I don't think there's a spot in the whole world that can compare to this," Annie said, waving her arms about.
"Something is going on," Myra whispered. "Trouble," she clarified.
Annie's eyes popped wide. "When you say trouble, do you mean trouble or do you mean trouble? I didn't hear the bell ring at the base of the mountain. The cable car is still here. The padre said he would alert us if any strangers appeared in the village so the trouble isn't coming from there." She raced to the far side of the terrace to get a better view of the ocean below. "There aren't any boats down there except for two sailboats. That has to mean the trouble is back home."
"Exactly," Myra said softly.
"Do you think it has anything to do with our ... our little ancillary group?" Annie clapped her hands in glee, her eyes alight with expectation. "A mission! Oh, I can hardly wait!"
"And to think not too long ago you were vegetating on this mountain and I almost pushed you off it. Now you've turned into this ... this gung ho, bloodthirsty person."
"I prefer ass-kicking vigilante fighting crime the way only a woman can do it," Annie said, grinning from ear to ear. "I just love, just love getting the bad guys and making them pay. Our way. Oh, Myra, admit it, you love the action, too."
Myra laughed. "If I was thirty years younger I might just love, love all that action," she said, mimicking Annie.
"Age is merely a number. Most young people think people our age don't have sex, too. Look at you and Charles!"
Myra looked around, her face pink. "Annie, for God's sake, keep your voice down."
Annie lowered her voice. "Well, I'm not afraid to admit I could handle sex a couple of times a week. As you can see, there are no prospects up here on this mountain. I'm thinking of venturing forth in my quest for ..."
"For heaven's sake, Annie, will you be quiet? I don't need to hear-"
"Stop being such a prude, Myra. Sex makes the world go round. Just ask the girls. They aren't getting any, either. We need to do something about that. We aren't nuns, you know."
"I knew I should have pushed you over that mountain that day. Enough!" Myra hissed as the girls descended on the terrace.
"Good morning, everyone," Annie chirped. "Isn't it a gorgeous day? I can't wait to take a walk and a swim. Charles said he's going to have a barbecue this evening. Weenies, burgers and ribs." She babbled on as the others listened indulgently. It was hard not to get caught up in Annie's enthusiasm. "If Charles allows it, let's take a sail this afternoon."
"Well, scratch that idea, as wonderful as it sounds. Charles is not going to allow it," the ever-verbal Kathryn Lucas shot back. "I say we gang up on him, head down the mountain and head out to open water and never ever come back."
The others gaped at Kathryn as they grappled with the scenario she had just presented.
Annie looked around the table. "Myra said Charles's phone rang. That means there is trouble somewhere. I think, girls, we're about to go on high alert. Code red."
"Damn, Annie, how many times did you watch that last espionage movie?" Alexis asked.
"A lot. I needed to get the verbiage down pat. Lingo is all important in this business. You have to be able to converse with your adversary in a language so he or she understands how serious you are so you get your point across before you belt him in his Adam's apple therefore rendering him speechless so you can then speak in your own refined lingo. Any questions?" Annie asked breezily.
Myra sighed. She'd created a monster. "No questions. Just shut up, Annie. Please," she pleaded as an afterthought.
"For you, Myra, anything." Annie shook out her linen napkin with a loud snap.
Charles opened the back door that led to the terrace. He held it open with his back as he slid a serving cart out onto the flagstone terrace. He tried for a cheerful note but knew he'd failed when the girls stared at him with unblinking intensity. He shifted into a neutral zone and said, "First we have breakfast, then we can talk."
The rule of thumb at mealtime at the monastery on the mountain was that no business was discussed until coffee was served.
"Darling, it all looks wonderful," Myra said. "Whatever would we do without you?" She busied herself pouring their usual Sunday-morning Mimosas.
"Well, I for one never want to find that out," Annie said as she dug into her Eggs Benedict. Low-voiced murmurings echoed her delight as Charles poured coffee from an heirloom coffee server.
Anyone observing the scene would have thought the breakfast meeting was a happy occasion, what with the women making small talk, occasionally laughing at something one of the others said.
As Charles sipped and munched and tried to keep up his end of the conversation, his mind raced with what and how he was going to tell the women when they retired to the command center. His latest phone call had disturbed him more than he cared to admit.
He looked up, aware of the sudden silence at the table. "Yes, my mind is somewhere else. I wasn't expecting ... Well, let's just say few things in this life can surprise me. This morning I was surprised. So, clean up, ladies, since I did the cooking, and then join me in the command center where I will inform you of some very startling events that have just transpired on the other side of the pond."
Nikki Quinn's eyes challenged Charles, as did Yoko's.
"Both of your gentlemen friends are fine, ladies," Charles said, getting up from the table. "It really is a beautiful day. Did I tell you I plan to barbecue this evening?"
"Yeah, you said you were going to roast a whole steer," Kathryn mumbled.
"Hmmm," Charles said as he left the terrace.
"See, see, he didn't even hear what I said. I've never seen Charles so ..." Kathryn paused, suddenly at a loss for words.
"'Distracted' is the word you're looking for. Charles has always been unflappable. He's the glue that holds us together. I for one find this new Charles a little scary," Isabelle said.
"At least we know Harry and Jack are okay. Whatever it is, the problem is back in the States. Maybe we can go home again," Yoko said wistfully. "I would like to drive by my old flower shop to see what it looks like. Of course I want to see Harry, too. If we go back to the States I might decide to marry him."
Alexis hooted with laughter. "How will that work, Yoko, with you living here on top of a mountain in Spain and Harry Wong back in the United States? I seem to recall you saying the same thing the last time we were in the States."
The diminutive Yoko fixed her gaze on Alexis. She spoke slowly and deliberately. "Maybe I won't come back. Assuming, of course, that we even go back to the States."
"Then you'll go to prison," Kathryn Lucas said coldly. "This is our life now, so get used to it, kiddo."
Sensing a mini rebellion Myra slid her chair back from the table. "Girls, let's all calm down and wait to see what Charles has to say. I'll take Murphy and Grady for a short walk around the compound. It will be good exercise for the dogs and for me, too." "Knock yourself out," Kathryn said.
"What's bothering you, Kathryn?" Nikki asked.
"Nothing. Everything. I got up early this morning and went for a walk. While this mountain paradise is all rather wonderful, I don't know if I can stay here. I know, I know, prison is not an alluring alternative. My clock is ticking, Nikki. I can't even believe I'm saying this because when my husband died, I swore I would never look at another man, nor would I ever get married. Now, because I can't have that, I want it more than anything in the world. I don't know how you do it, Nik. Jack is back in the States, you're here, you're engaged. You're in love. Just tell me how you do it."
Excerpted from HOKUS POKUS by FERN MICHAELS Copyright © 2007 by Fern Michaels. Excerpted by permission.
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