Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Garret Cooper Series Tour and Giveaway

 


The Greatest of These

Garret Cooper Series Book 1

by Greg Wendleton

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

What happens when a global pandemic, a life-saving vaccine and a criminal conspiracy come to a boiling point? Garret Cooper is a naïve, paid assassin who is leading a double life. Conspiring against him and looking for a massive payday are his mentor and former teammates. When they attempt to frame him for murder, conspiracy and treason, he must question everything he thought was true, and confess his hidden life to his wife. In this first book in the series, Garret Cooper uses his wits to overcome the obstacles he faces on the beautiful island of Maui.

The Greatest of These is a fast-paced page-turner that will capture your imagination...a must-read!


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CHAPTER ONE

I woke to an unusually bright light blasting through the

transom window above my king-sized headboard I

wearily rose from my bed and stumbled toward the closed

blinds covering the window overlooking my backyard

I opened the blinds and was dumbstruck by the white,

flakes falling from the sky to join the several inches that

glistened in the early morning sunshine as it covered the

ground

“What the hell…”, I mumbled to myself

“It’s called snow”, said my wife, Fonda, who lay

propped on her side in our bed One strap of her nightie

had slid off her slender shoulder and exposed a tantalizing

view

I stared at her and then blurted, “I know it’s snow,

but where did this come from?”

“The sky babe, where else would it come from? It

was predicted ”

“Predicted? What are you talking about? We live

in San Antonio, Texas, for crying out loud We don’t get

snow!”

“Jim Cantori”, Fonda stated matter of factly.

“What?”

“Jim Cantori, The Weather Channel? He’s been

talking about it for the past several days. An Arctic blast

all the way south to Houston.”

At this point Fonda was sitting upright and the

other strap had slid lower off her shoulder leaving her

nearly full exposed. At my present age of 47 I was no

longer built like the 5’10” fullback who had played at the

University of Texas…..at San Antonio twenty-five years

ago. I carried 210 pounds on my thick frame, but had

gotten a little soft in the core. Right now I was feeling a

little firmer.

“Well, I don’t pay attention to the Weather Channel,

but I’m paying attention to you.”

Fonda smiled, a devilish grin erupting on her

beautiful face as I confidently strode back toward our bed.

Right as I was getting ready for my smoothest of moves I

felt a cold, wet nose goose me from behind. Damn, it was

Chief, our neighbors Chocolate Labradoodle. He had

just woken, probably because of my Ric Flair strut and

the Nature Boy “woooo” that I had just let escape from

my mouth. I forgot we were dog sitting for our good

friends, Chad and Jamie Wilhite while they were on a

vacation trip to Maui. Now, of all times, he needed to go

outside and take care of his business. Damn!

I have to admit, I’m not a dog lover at heart. If they

are someone else’s pet, that’s cool. But generally speaking,

dogs are high maintenance and I had my hands full

maintaining Fonda. Of course, we don’t have a fenced

yard that I can just let him out and hustle back into bed,

so my body was quickly returning to it’s 47-year-old state,

a little soft around the middle. I’ll have to get dressed,

hunt down a coat, and take Chief for a walk. What was

I thinking when I told Chad I’d be happy to keep Chief

for the next week? I sure wasn’t planning to go on a walk

in several inches of freshly fallen snow.

“Sweetie, do you want to go on a walk with us?”

“Uh, no! It’s Saturday and I’m going to stay right

here in my bed. I’ll be here when you get back though.

Oh, don’t forget to take a grocery bag with you.”

I looked dumbfounded and said, “Why do I need a

grocery bag?”

“To pick up Chief ’s poop.”

“What? I have to pick up his poop?”

“Oh yeah. Bless your heart.”

“Shit!”

“That’s right.”

How did I not know this stuff? My name is Garret

Cooper and, after all, I’m a fucking spy!


Roads to Redemption

Garret Cooper Series Book 2

Garret Cooper continues his search for Conrad Bishop and Jackie Ming throughout Central America in this, the second book in the Garret Cooper Series. While Garret and Fonda attempt to establish a new life on Maui, the threats posed by the dangerous fugitives continue to threaten their existence. Conrad finds himself embroiled in a feud and Jackie battles demons that continue to haunt him. Friends, both new and old, lend assistance to the manhunt as well as the efforts of many men to find a better path in life...their personal road to redemption.


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CHAPTER TWO

Fonda and I rose from our first-class seats, I’m not an

idiot, and prepared to disembark from the American

Airlines, Boeing jet Bidding the friendly and diligent

flight attendants aloha, we walked off the plane and up

the jetway, into the Kahului Airport terminal We each

made a quick pit stop to freshen up before we continued

on to the baggage claim area We had four pieces of

luggage that we needed to claim, so I procured one of the

carts that were available for rent We didn’t have to wait

very long since our luggage, like us, had received priority

handling on the flights from San Antonio and Dallas

We collected all four large suitcases and checked inside

the two pieces that also carried our locked handgun

cases Yes, we had filled out the appropriate paperwork

and declared their existence in our luggage

I texted my friend, Scott Crowley, when we had

landed and arranged to meet his wife, Leilani, and him,

just outside the terminal They had driven two cars to

Kahului from Lahaina to greet us One was their new

BMW 7 series sedan, painted a beautiful metallic silver

with plush leather interior. The other vehicle, was their

old BMW 7 series sedan. It was a 2017 model, painted a

charcoal gray. I had purchased the older model Beemer

when Scott had informed me of his new acquisition. It

was a win-win, since they didn’t need two sedans, and we

needed a vehicle. We had sold both of our cars on the

mainland instead of paying to ship them to Maui.

Because of COVID, we were still wearing face

masks and did not hug each other. Instead, I grabbed

Scott’s hand and shook it with abandon. I was glad to see

him and from the gleam in his eyes, I could tell he was

glad to see me as well. I then took Leilani’s had in both

of mine and bowed slightly, before saying, “It’s so good to

see you. Both of you. Please, let me introduce my better

half.” Reaching for Fonda’s hand, I grasped it and led her

to the forefront. “Scott, Leilani, this is Fonda. The best

thing that ever happened to me.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard so much

about both of you and appreciate everything you’ve done

for us.”

Leilani spoke before Scott could formulate a

response. “We are honored to meet you as well. Garret

has spoken so much about you, I feel like I already know

you. I’m looking forward to really getting to know you.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I was going to say!” added

Scott.

We all laughed at his comment and began to load

the four pieces of luggage into the spacious trunk of

our newly acquired sedan. Scott and Leilani had made

a dinner reservation at Mama’s Fish House for seventhirty,

so we each settled into our respective sedans and

headed out of the airport and onto the Hana Highway,

for the short drive to Paia. Initially, we rode in silence

until Fonda spoke. “They weren’t really what I had

pictured.”

I asked her, “How’s that?”

“Well, Scott is pretty close to what I had envisioned,

but Leilani is absolutely beautiful!”

I laughed, then said, “Funny, that’s what people tell

me after they’ve met us for the first time.”

Fonda punched my right arm and we continued

the journey to Mama’s in silence. Passing through Paia, I

did not point out the Rock and Brews parking lot where

Chad and Jamie had been abducted. Some things are

better left unsaid. I followed Scott into the parking lot

and we parked in a remote area away from the majority

of the other vehicles. I allowed Fonda to take in the

moonlit night and the scenery that made this such a

special spot.

After a few moments, I said, “Shall we?”

“Oh, wow, yes, let’s catch up to Scott and Leilani.”

We took each other’s hand and strolled to the main

entrance of the restaurant. Fonda, spun around slowly,

taking in the scenery and the décor. I was so glad she was

enjoying this evening, so far. Much to my delight, Pat,

one of the managers of the property, saw me standing by

the hostess stand and walked over to greet our party.

“Mr. Cooper, I’m so pleased to see you again. We

have a special table for you with a beautiful, moon-lit

view of the cove.”

“Thank you, Pat. To be honest, I didn’t think I

would be back on Maui so soon. Please, let me introduce

you to my wife, Fonda.”

“It’s an honor to meet you Fonda. You and Mr.

Cooper will always be honored guests of Mama’s Fish

House.”

“Thank you, Pat. Garret told me of your kindness

when he was here last month. I am so happy to be here

tonight. This is such a beautiful spot; I can’t wait to try

the food.”

“Well then, let’s get you seated. Please follow me.”

“By the way, this is Scott and Leilani Crowley, dear

friends of ours from Lahaina.”

“Ah yes, I remember seeing you both before. It’s

good to have you back.”

Scott replied, “We love Mama’s Fish House, and

I’m sure we will have more reasons to visit in the future.”

We were seated at a round table and Fonda was

offered the prime seat, looking out the open-air window.

Leilani accepted the seat to Fonda’s left. Scott and I filled

in the spaces next to our wives.

Fonda whispered, “I can’t get over how pretty this is.

I grew up in the west Texas oil fields and never dreamed

I would be living in a place like this. Italy is the closest

place I can compare the beauty to.”

Leilani leaned closer to Fonda and replied, “Wait

until you see your first sunset at your new home. It will

take your breath away.”

Our waiter came to our table and greeted us,

offering to take cocktail orders as he placed tonight’s

menus before us. “We have a wonderful, fresh of course,

Ahi, that we can prepared broiled, charcoal grilled, or

pan seared. It would be served with a jasmine rice, fresh

grilled vegetables and our house salad.”

Scott asked for a wine list, and we deferred on

ordering cocktails. “We are celebrating tonight. To new

beginnings. Dinner is our treat tonight, so anything you

want, please don’t hold back.”

Fonda smiled and said, “That is very kind of you. I

will drink whatever wine you select.”

Scott chuckled and added, “I’m not much of a wine

guy, so, maybe, you could recommend something?”

Fonda accepted the wine list and spotted a

Cakebread Chardonnay and recommended they try

it. When the waiter returned with the Sommelier,

Scott accepted Fonda’s suggestion and a bottle of the

chardonnay was ordered. With a flourish, the Sommelier

bowed, acknowledging his approval and slipped away to

select the vintage. Meanwhile, the wait staff removed the

red wine glass and freshened our water glasses. Moments

later the wine steward returned and presented the bottle.

Being helpful, Fonda stated, “That looks lovely.”

With expert care and panache, the cork was

removed and placed on the table in front of Scott. Scott,

thinking quickly, said, “Please allow the ladies to give you

their opinion.”

The gentleman poured a small sample into Fonda

and Leilani’s glasses and the two ladies sipped the wine

and nodded their approval. With that, the four wine

glasses were filled and the Sommelier, placed the bottle

into an ice bucket and excused himself. “Enjoy your meal

and the excellent wine you selected.”

Scott raised his wine glass and offered a toast, “To

your arrival on Maui and to new beginnings!” We clinked

our glasses and repeated, “To new beginnings.”

The wine was excellent. The apple and peach notes

hit our tongues and was going to be great with the Ahi,

no matter how it was prepared. Scott took a second sip

and then set his glass down. “You know, I’m a Coke man

myself, but I could get used to this.”

Once again, we all laughed with Scott, and then

ordered dinner. We all chose the Ahi, Scott and I going

with the charbroiled preparation. Leilani chose the seared

and Fonda selected the broiled preparation. We ate our

house salads and shared tidbits about our past lives and

got to know one another. The ladies seemed to have

found a rhythm and were soon discussing decorating

ideas for our new home.

Scott, seizing the opportunity, said, “Since the ladies

are discussing decorating, I should bring you up-to-date

on the status of your house. It is coming along very nicely.”

I had fallen in love with a three-bedroom house

that Scott and Leilani owned in Kihei, on the west,

or southwest coast of Maui. With its unique shape,

sometimes it’s hard to say what coast you are on while

on Maui. It had been their home prior to building their

current home in Lahaina. It was being used as a shortterm

and vacation rental when Chad, Jamie and I stayed

there, sequestered by the FBI. The backyard lanai and the

sunset view had captured my heart.

After returning home and discussing our future

life on Maui, we had agreed to purchase the house from

Scott and Leilani. He was wanting to sell it. I think

Leilani would have been happy to move back into it,

but that wasn’t to be. So, when we sold our San Antonio

home, very quickly for more than asking, we decided

to take most of the proceeds and pair it with another

three-hundred-thousand dollars from my ‘other career’

earnings and pay cash for the house. We just needed to

wait until April 15, when we were scheduled to close on

the San Antonio house to conduct the transaction here.

There were several improvements and updates that I felt

would really make it a home. So, Scott had taken on the

role as general contractor for the updates.

“The tile flooring has been removed from the whole

house and the engineered hardwood has been installed. It

looks great! Both bathrooms are just about finished. The

workers just need to finish the grout and set the toilets.”

“Scott, we’re eating.” Leilani gently spoke to her

husband, but got her point across.

“Sorry. Well, those rooms will be done in another

few days. The kitchen has been gutted and the new,

larger sliding door has been installed. It really opens up

the house to the outdoors. The cabinets are in and the

appliances will be delivered within a week.”

“Wow, they have been really busy!”

“Yes, they have. It looks like they might need

another seven to ten days to wrap it all up. It will be the

best hundred grand you ever spent!”

Fonda said, “I can’t wait to see it.”

Leilani added, “And to start furnishing and

decorating it.”

“Well, we have reservations at a hotel in Kihei that

we can extend until all the work is done.”

“Nonsense,” said Scott, “you’ll stay with us. We have

plenty of room and we’d love to have you.”

Fonda replied, “We couldn’t…”

Leilani didn’t let Fonda finish her statement.

Looking into Fonda’s eyes and placing her right hand

upon Fonda’s arm, she said, “You must.”

It was settled. I called the hotel and explained our

situation and they graciously cancelled our reservation,

only charging us for the current night. It wasn’t an issue

since I had paid a one-night deposit when I made the

reservation. They already had the money for tonight.

Our meals were delivered and the Sommelier came

by and asked if we wanted another bottle of Cakebread

Chardonnay. Since we had to drive to Lahaina, we begged

off and enjoyed what was remaining in the bottle with

our exquisite Ahi. Scott accepted the check and paid for

our first meal together on Maui.

I was full of hope as we left Mama’s Fish House and

drove the forty miles to Lahaina.


Greg Wendleton is a resident of Overland Park, Kansas where he lives with his wife, Jan, and their Chocolate Labradoodle, Chief. Greg and Jan first met in Hawaii while attending Radford High School. Their fathers were both career Air Force NCOs. Life took them in different directions until they reunited thirty-five years later. They have four adult children, all of whom are married, and four amazing grandsons.

After more than forty years in food service sales, Greg retired due to a rare eye malady. Afflicted with Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy which left Greg unable to drive or travel alone, he discovered a new passion. Always harboring a desire to write, but lacking the time to dedicate to the craft, his recent life changes opened new doors.

The Greatest of These”, an action/suspense novel introduces Garret Cooper, a flawed man who must overcome his own demons to rescue his father figure from imminent death. The author utilizes exotic settings, current events and a touch of self-deprecating humor to develop his characters and to create his stories.

Roads to Redemption”, book two in the Garret Cooper series was released on July 16, 2021, and “Judgement”, book three in the series is slated for release in late 2021.


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Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$10 Amazon giftcard,

Signed paperbacks of the two books

-1 winner each!



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